Motherhood & Words

Last night D. brought home Blizzards for the girls and for himself, and my “I’ll just have two bites of yours” turned into me eating half of his Oreo Blizzard. (Can you see why he doesn’t like to share with me?)
I have a friend who insists that DQ is not a “deliberate dessert” (meaning it’s not worth the calories the way a chocolate torte would be), but I beg to differ. (And what’s not deliberate about driving to Dairy Queen?) I haven’t had a Blizzard in a while, and I had forgotten how much I love them. I also forgot that eating ice-cream (even if it’s soft serve) in the evening makes it difficult for me to sleep. 
Which is why I woke up at 4 a.m.
And I got up because I have a ton to do. I had pushed all my other responsibilities to the edges of my plate in order to finish Use Your Words, and now those things are clamoring for attention: a book review; student writing that is long overdo (sorry, ladies!); a summer-fall freelance project I took on so I could (theoretically) have a break from teaching and have more time to write; a few outstanding permissions issues for the book (such a nightmare); and my grandpa, who is back home with my mom now, but not doing well.
So I’m awake and thinking about the next few months. I really want this to be a summer filled with hours and hours of reading. There are a couple of books I started this spring and had to put down in order to finish my manuscript, but now I’m desperate to get back to them, to spend my days immersed in someone else’s words.
This is what’s on my desk (some in various stages of being finished):
Tracy Seely’s My Ruby Slippers
Caitlin Shetterly’s Made for You and Me
Angela Balcita’s Moonface
Rae Meadows’ Mothers and Daughters
Alexa Stevenson’s Half Baked
Charles Baxter’s Gryphon
I’m hoping to have at least some of these authors as guests here at Mother Words, but with everything else I’m doing when will I finish these books? We have reduced childcare for the summer, and I’m so tired at night that it’s hard for me to stay awake to read. Maybe I need to start getting up at 5 a.m.? Going to bed as soon as the girls do?
How do you fit your reading into your day?

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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. Emma on June 8, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I struggle with this in general, but lately, I am fitting in my reading during middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. 🙂

  2. Ironmom (Julie) on June 8, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Audiobooks while I run! It's not as good, but it beats never reading at all.

  3. kate hopper on June 8, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Emma, I remember that! But I could never read while I nursed in the middle of the night. I was too tired. But during the day I spent many an hour reading with a nursing Zoe in my arms.

    Julie, that's a wonderful idea. And another incentive to run!

  4. Andrea on June 8, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Hey, aren't you the one who handed out "5 a.m. Writing as Ritual" to us in class? Just change "writing" to "reading" and voila, though I can't imagine it would be all that relaxing reading that early in the morning. I read in fits and starts, alternating with other activities and distractions. Helps to have a really engrossing book that pulls me away from other things, and which I can steal away to read in the middle of cooking, getting ready for work, etc. Right now we're thick in baseball season with 2-4 games per week. It would be kind of anti-social to read in the bleachers, so now I knit, and hopefully after the season is over, I'll read again.

  5. Mummy mania on June 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I've had some of my favoutite reading nursing in the middle of the night…. but now, it's a drowsy ten minutes before I fall asleep. Keep promising myself an early night to get more read but it never seems to happen. Good luck finding the moment..

  6. Sara on June 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I read a LOT in the early months of nursing. Then I was nursing less and then the baby was awake and making all kinds of smiles at me, so I'm reading a lot less. I often work evenings/nights and know I have to do something else before a go to bed. Sometimes its reading. I'm still often up with the baby before anyone in the house is up and I give myself that time to read or write.

    I'm interested in your list. Of them, the only one I've read is Half Baked.

  7. cath c on June 9, 2011 at 8:20 am

    dq is a luxury once in a while treat for the kids and me, as soon as the heat comes out for the season, which is in March. I tell myself the whole way there – a short ride – that's it's not a big deal,it's junk, but i thoroughly enjoy that choc-choc dipped cone every single time!

    as for reading, I am forcing myself to read again now. i can never seem to read more than a few pages at a time, once every couple of days. pre-kids, i read all day long every day. now, i try to read between when toots goes down for a nap and the boys arrive home from school – on a good day, that's about 45mins. on a bad one, i'm walking her up the stairs as the oldest gets off the high school bus.

    i just read coetzee's book, 'elizabeth costello' about a woman writer, what she believes herself to be, how she moves through the world. i really enjoyed it as a vegetarian, too. her thoughts occur primarily through public speaking engagements where she ruffles a lot of feathers.

    it sounds very staid, but i found it very literarily self-aware and engaging, esp since most of my conversation these days is occuring at the three year old level. it's a smart book i think you would enjoy, too.

  8. kate hopper on June 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Ha! Andrea, I thought you might call me out on that. I think I could get up that early to write (and I sometimes do), but I know I wouldn't be able to roll out of bed to read that early. Is that horrible?

    Mummy mania, I do the same. I tell myself I'll go to bed early with a book, but D and I need that time together, as well, so I always end up staying up later than I intended to.

    Sara, what did you think of Half Baked?

    Cath, the Coetzee book sounds fascinating. I loved Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace.

    Cheers to more reading for all of us!

  9. Andria on June 9, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Kate, you always inspire me. I need to get back on my duff, reading. I am going to make a list, like you, and stick to it…before my brain takes on the consistency of a DQ Blizzard. 🙂

    p.s. Thinking good thoughts for your amazing grandpa.