Motherhood & Words

It’s Friday morning. Both girls are at school. D is running errands. The house is completely quiet. I’m sitting in my tiny, cluttered office surrounded by half-read books, stacks of papers (the Use Your Words galley among them!), and my endless to-do lists. And I couldn’t be happier.

I always appreciated the time I was able to spend reading and writing at the coffee shop or here in my office, but now “appreciation” doesn’t begin to describe how I feel when I’m presented with an hour or two alone at my desk.

My job is going well—really well, in fact. I enjoy the work and my colleagues. But I miss those long hours at the coffee shop. Lately I’ve felt so disconnected from writing, from craft. What if I forget how to write altogether? I know that won’t happen, but the thought did cross my mind. For the last ten years, writing and teaching have occupied the majority of my brain space. I was always thinking of the next sentence, the next essay, the next book, the next presentation.

Now most days those things feel buried deep in my consciousness. I rush to drop off Zoë at school, rush to work, work work work, rush to the store, or to get Stella for piano lessons, or to my mom’s house to get the girls, and then we rush home. And in all the rushing around, it’s difficult to remember the joy of stringing words together to create meaning. It’s difficult to remember that delightful nagging I feel when a piece of writing won’t let me go. It’s difficult to remember how writing changes lives.

But then I get an hour of quiet, and that knowledge and understanding—and joy—begin to bubble to the surface once again. And that’s when I stop and smile at all the clutter, at the piles of books, at the dishes stacked on the stove waiting to be filed into the dishwasher, at our brown yard, strangely bare of snow. And I feel at home. I feel peace.

Peace comes to us in different ways. Perhaps it comes to you on a long run or as you hold one of your children tight in your arms or when you do some small kindness for another person.

Katrina Kenison has a wonderful post on her blog about reclaiming peace in our lives. She writes:

Peace is what we all yearn for, and peace is the gift that we can offer one another – in a word of forgiveness, in a smile, a hug, a kindness done, a gratitude expressed.

Peace is in each of us; sometimes it’s just a matter of being quiet enough to let it bubble to the surface. I hope that each of you finds peace this holiday season, and that it stays with you into the new year.

What does peace look like for you?

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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. Kristine on December 23, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Kate, thank you so much for this post, I needed a little peace this morning and found it in your words. Love, k

  2. Michelle O'Neil on January 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    My husband recently took our kids to his visit his parents, five hours away, without me. Being home by myself for three days was peace. I adore my family, but that time alone, pure bliss!

    (Came across you on Sonya Huber’s twitter feed. Use Your Words sounds like a great book)!

    • Kate on January 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

      I know what you mean, Michelle. I’m so glad you had that time to be refreshed! That’s for stopping by. (Sonya is wonderful, isn’t she?)