Motherhood & Words

Every Labor Day at my mom’s cabin, we unhinge the ladder from the dock, pull the boats from the water, and say goodbye to the lake—the lake I love, the lake the girls love—and I feel that familiar swell of melancholy as I realize another year has gone by.

In the last two weeks I’ve read a number of blog posts about the way time seems to be accelerating. Our children—who just yesterday were babies for God’s sake—are going to school, carving out space for themselves in the wider world. Our time with them at home, under the same roof, is finite.

These thoughts and words have been weighing on me. This probably has something to do with the fact that Zoë has crossed into the world of kindergarten, and Stella, my preemie, is on the cusp of double-digits. In just a week she will be ten. How did my three-pounder get so big? So tall? So confident? How did it happen so fast?

The last two years have been very busy for me. I was working full time and teaching and leading retreats as I launched Use Your Words, and that was a whirlwind. But even last year, when my grant-writing position was reduced to halftime, life didn’t slow down. I didn’t slow down. I had to pick up extra work in order to make ends meet, and then Ready for Air was in production, etc. etc. I could go on and on of course, but I promise I won’t (because that would be incredibly boring.) The point is that I was always harried, always rushed, and often at my computer, even when I was supposed to be with my family. That’s not how I want to live.

I still have too much on my plate. But the work will get done—it just will. I know that. So instead of sneaking away to write one more e-mail as my daughters watch an afternoon television show, I’m going to try to log off each day before I leave to meet Stella and Zoë at the bus stop. I want to really enjoy my girls during those long afternoons we have together. I want to cuddle with them and read with them, explore the neighborhood, and laugh, really laugh.

In a recent blog post, Katrina Kenison wrote that parenthood is “an ongoing education in the art of living joyfully.” I love that, which to me means: take time to appreciate each phase, each day; laugh often; love fiercely. Open yourself up to joy. Cultivate it.

That’s my goal.

How do you cultivate joy in your life?

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Marilyn Bousquin on September 6, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Hi, Kate. Another lovely, heartfelt post. Can you believe that my boy is 19? And because he’s still here at home, I find myself plopping myself in the kitchen when he’s cooking up his off-hour meals just to “catch up” and have time with him. Nothing fancy. Just presence. I, too, look back and regret the harried, hurried years that went by too fast and am learning now to slow down and just be with him. Loving every minute of now. all best to you, dearest, M

    • Kate on September 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Oh yes, Marilyn. I love that you have him at home and can do that! What a gift to be able to enjoy him like that! xoxo K

  2. Lindsey on September 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Oh, this makes me cry. Yes, yes, and YES. I don’t even feel like I have those long afternoons anymore, because they are at sports and I am at work and wahhhhh my heart aches with all that is already over. How can something that just two seconds ago felt infinite (the days – the hours themselves! – with my colicky baby) suddenly be so limited, so almost-over?

    • Kate on September 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Exactly, Lindsey! And oh I remember those long days and nights with a colicky baby. But now? Not enough time!

  3. Andrea on September 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Lovely, Kate, thanks for the reminder! It seems like I’m always trying to squeeze a whole life into the weekends…that’s no way to live. And yes…every day/week/year goes by faster than the one before.

    • Kate on September 6, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Oh I know what you mean, Andrea. Weekends are so hard when you’re working full-time!

  4. Sue on September 6, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    My Abbey is old enough to babysit now and she loves it. But sometimes I wonder if I should match the going rate and pay her to stay home with me. Time is our most precious gift.

    • Kate on September 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      Oh Sue, I’m sure she’d take you up on it!!

  5. Cecilia on September 7, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Hi Kate, I’m doing (or trying to do!) the same thing you’re doing – logging off my computer by the time my son gets off his school bus. I can relate to this all too well: “The point is that I was . . . often at my computer, even when I was supposed to be with my family. That’s not how I want to live.” And otherwise trying to carve out a big chunk of time where work, including my son’s activities, is just off-limits. It’s a challenge!

    Good luck with all your work!

    • Kate on September 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      It IS a challenge, Cecilia. But it’s so worth it. I was supposed to work today–I have so much to do!–but I just couldn’t bring myself to go to the coffee shop when everyone was home. So I didn’t, and we had such a lovely, relaxing day. I’m committed to more days like that!