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We who are about to breed: Molly Jo Rose.

October 4, 2011 \am\31 11:00 am

 

[In which WWAATD asks writers and other artist types about life as breeders/parents/kid-keepers.]

Name: Molly Jo Rose

1. What is your kid’s name, age?

I have one son, Atticus, who is a two-year-old fireball of awesomeness.

2. How do you balance your time between parenting and writing?

I’m going to be honest here and tell you I don’t. I feel like a truth broker with new parents in many ways. Here are some hard truths: pregnancy is incredibly hard, the first six months of your baby’s life are nearly unbearable, and being a writer while caring for a small child is nearly impossible. A fellow writer told me that she had the creative energy to write again when her daughter turned three. I’m ahead of schedule and have three or four essays in the hopper with my son at age two, but I’ll be damned if I can find the time to really write them the way I need to. The problem is sleep. We need to do away with that whole business.

3. What is the best piece of advice about being a parent and a writer?

A digital recorder is a good idea. I’m big on phrasing. Parents are masterful jugglers of both the physical and mental, but our memories suffer from constant distractions. A digital recorder or a notebook documents those brilliant lines that creep into my head while I am trying to tune out the four trillionth viewing of “Mighty Machines.”

I do think this is worse for women. I have as equal a partner as is humanly possible, but he cannot be the mom. But as a fellow writer, he is sympathetic and he forces me into the office, makes me lock the door behind me, and gives me the time to do what we do – you know, sit and think and hope for something heartbreaking to stream outward from our fingertips.

4. How has your writing changed since becoming a parent?

Being a writer/parent has forced me to question what being a writer means and to question the value of my own contributions in the writing world. Certainly, parenting forces everyone to prioritize, to question, to re-evaluate. If you can come away from that believing you still matter, that’s a huge deal. What else could give you that certitude? I know people with several published books who still question whether they should just go back and get a degree in Rhet/Comp. Having Atticus has saved me from reading a never-ending stream of composition theory bullshit.

5. Tell us something we don’t know about you and being a writer-slash-parent.

Becoming a parent makes you a better person than you were before, but I’m not prepared to say it makes you a better writer. Here’s why: Writers are, of necessity, self-centered. Parents are, of necessity, selfless – at least for the first couple years. If someone is writing really beautiful stuff with an infant at home, that person is likely going through some serious turmoil about their obligations as a parent, about what they’re sacrificing in giving that much time and energy to their writing. It’s just a terrible conundrum. I’m finally at a point where Atticus has to wait. He just has to watch more television so I can write. The first two years were his, but to keep him at the center at this point would be a disservice to both of us. And that’s what you have to come to – a decision that what you do matters so much that your child will be spending even more time with Yo Gabba Gabba. Fortunately, that show is pretty entertaining.

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One Comment
  1. October 8, 2011 \am\31 1:09 am 1:09 am

    I love this series. These blogMLGiants are dominated by, I don’t know, young kids. And to see folks my age going through the same things makes me feel not so alone at it. So many writers that spring to mind never had kids. And not that there weren’t writers who weren’t parents but maybe there’s something about our generation that so many of us are trying to have it both ways.

    Molly, I’m with you. The TV drives me fucking nuts, but it’s the lesser of evils. I really prefer the silence but I can tune it out to get a little work done. I got used to our son young enough to put in a pen, or his napping, but now he needs so much attention.

    So there’s guilt. I’ll allow what I know is not the healthiest atmosphere for a time, and it’s never enough time. But he’s learning to put up with me, and one day we’ll strike a balance.

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