Today I’m happy to host a guest article from Gennifer Albin, a friend of mine and the author of Crewel. Read about Gennifer’s journey from SAHM to WAHM to WOHM (sometimes!) and how AP helped smooth the transition. And be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of today’s post – you could win a set of children’s books, as well as Gennifer’s new novel, Crewel.
When I first started writing seriously I had a precocious three year-old and an infant. My early attempts at writing involved sitting down to nurse my daughter with my macbook perched on a folding tray table. I got pretty good at typing with one hand, and as I nursed on demand, I also got a lot of writing time. Unfortunately, it was a precarious set-up and one afternoon while standing with wiggling baby in one arm, boppy on my lap, and three year-old at my feet, I realized too late I’d misjudged how close I had moved the table. My chair knocked into it and a glass of water sitting next to my macbook baptized the keyboard. And thus began my transition to out-of-house writer.
Which leads to the first way parenting has changed for me since I started writing:
I became better at mutual parenting.
I have a very supportive husband who’s always been on board with breastfeeding, bed sharing, baby wearing and all my natural parenting inclinations. He would grab the sling and the baby when we went out to eat so I could finish my meal. He loved having the babies in bed with us. He fed me spoonfuls of food during the early nursing weeks when I was still figuring everything out. But for all his obvious enthusiasm, as a stay-at-home mom I clung to mommy guilt when it came time to ask for me time. After all, how could I ask him to stay home with the kids after he’d worked all day? He rebutted this every time with a reminder that I was doing important work, too.
After the water incident, he encouraged me to go out to the library and work an hour or two each night. I resisted at first, but slowly we fell into the swing of it. We perfected how long I could be away before baby needed to nurse. We communicated if our needs changed. For instance, if one of the children was having a particularly rough time, he might ask if I could come home early. And as things got serious with the book, I relaxed into letting him take over the primary care so I could focus on my career.
Now we’re both at home writing and learning how to keep a household running. I no longer cling to what I feel are my responsibilities as a mom. We work together to meet our children’s emotional and physical needs, and it’s working for us.
As book deals happened and editorial letters arrived, I learned to ask for help, and I stopped trying to be perfect. You might think I learned those things from becoming a better mutual parent, and certainly all these transitions are tangled up in one another, but at the end of the day, I’ve always been the one who does it all. The kid who does the whole group project to ensure it’s done correctly and on time. That was me. Even as I became better at sharing parenting with my husband, I wasn’t good at asking for his — or anyone else’s — help, which had a lot to do with wanting things to be perfect. Well, one thing I’ve realized is that in my pursuit of control, I often took on too much, ensuring nothing I did came out perfectly. Yes, delegating a task to someone else means it will be done their way, but that’s not always a bad thing.
I also learned that it’s okay to need help. My family and I went through a lot before I sold Crewel, and I got pretty good at putting on a brave face and pretending everything was fine — that I didn’t need help. Once deadlines started hitting, I figured out pretty quickly that not only did I need help, but that no one minds if you ask for it. My family and friends love me and they want to help, and realizing that helped me find my tribe.
I’d been a loner most of my stay-at-home mom years, venturing out occasionally to a play date or group activity but never gelling with anyone. Part of opening myself up to help was opening myself up to relationships. I made new friends with similar lifestyles, interests, and values. Existing relationships evolved and grew. My mother and I discovered that writing and painting share many of the same joys and trials. My children’s extended family grew beyond the obligatory family holidays to include adoptive aunts and uncles and cousins. Now I have a whole network of people that lend me support every day whether it be emotional or practical.
But the one thing that never really changed was how Attachment Parenting naturally fit into my lifestyle as my family transitioned through the publishing process. I breastfed my daughter for two beautiful years. My children slept in our bed until they wanted their own. My son still occasionally crawls in with us in the wee hours, and our daughter dreams in her own toddler bed at the foot of ours. Most of the changes I experienced in parenting were my own; AP provided a foundation for my children during these transitions.
We find adventure in the everyday, and our attachment roots have produced four independent, curious people that are happy to explore the world, always knowing we’re secure in our relationships with each other.
Gennifer Albin is a recovering academic who realized she could write books of her own and discovered, delightfully, that people would read them. She lives in Kansas with her family and writes full-time. Her debut novel, Crewel, the first in a trilogy, will be published in October 2012 by FSG/Macmillan.
You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. She also blogs infrequently at genniferalbin.com and weekly at The League of Extraordinary Writers.
Enter to Win!
Now that you’ve read Gennifer’s story, enter to win a set of books from her publisher, Macmillan. They are giving one of my lucky readers the following:
All you need to do to enter is to leave a comment on today’s post. Respond to Gennifer’s story, or tell me one way that attachment parenting has helped you and/or your children make a transition.
Enter by commenting no later than 11:59p.m. on Monday, October 15, 2012.
Disclosure: I was provided with an advance copy of Crewel. All Amazon links are affiliate links.
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