Motherhood & Words

This is the first morning in a long time that I’ve been able to sit down in my tiny office in a quiet house. Last week there was a five day weekend followed by early morning meetings and appointments. The early part of this week was hijacked by strep throat. (Not to mention I’ve been getting lots of kid-time on recent weekends because D needed to prepare for his thesis defense. Which, by the way, he rocked yesterday morning. Yay, D!)

But now I’m hoping that I will be able to move into a quieter and more productive few weeks. I’ve always been an extrovert, so I sometimes forget how much quiet time I need during the day to recharge. Maybe I’m becoming more of an introvert as I age? Perhaps. I just know I need to be able to sit in my tiny office under the light of my cozy lamp and put words on the page. I need the quiet to straighten my desk and to restore a little order to the house (without taking up too much of my work time, of course). I need the quiet to just sit and stare out the window into the backyard.

There is no music in the background of my day; just the low hum of the dehumidifier running in the basement, the occasional rumble of the refrigerator or furnace coming to life, and the click click of Aguita’s claws on the wood floor as she comes into the kitchen to let me know she wants to go outside.

Today, before I head out for my mid-day walk, I will remind myself to leave my phone at home. A walk is the perfect opportunity for a short podcast or a chapter of Coates’ beautiful Between the World and Me, which I’m listening to and loving—but I’ve realized that if I listen to something as I walk, none of that wonderful head-clearing takes place. I’m just adding more sounds, more thoughts—even if they are interesting and moving—to an already noisy place. So today, I’ll take off into the cold air with only the sounds of the city to accompany me. I know it will help.

What helps ground you these days?

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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. Sara on January 27, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I feel completely ungrounded right now. Too much Internet, too much staying up late, too much coffee, not enough outside time.

    The other day on a way home from an appointment, we saw a couple of neighbors we haven’t seen in ages. We walked down to their house with them. The kids—even with their range of ages—played inside and then asked to go out. We stayed out in the fresh cold lingering light until dinner time. I need more of that.

    I need to take the long way home from preschool drop off and take a walk in the woods.

    I need to shut down the laptop. Earlier. More. Go to bed. Get up early.

    I’m coming out of the pressure to keep up with all the deadlines that came with early January. I’m coming to the end of a group program that kept me from taking a much needed Facebook break. It’s time to find a little quiet.

    • Kate on January 27, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Oh yes, Sara, I hear you. Definitely yes to that long way home from preschool with a walk in the woods. Definitely yes to disconnecting more often and to good sleep. That’s been killing me lately. Here’s to finding that grounding again. I know you will! xo Kate

  2. Sue LeBreton on January 27, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Yes to quiet. I expected January to bring it but oldest home with exams-until Tuesday. She has been off since Jan 12- so I am ferrying her and spending time with her, well aware that it is precious as she is in grade 11. But trying to work to the background of Netflix is not my thing. I too have stopped trying to listen to pod cats on my runs/walks- that became too much like trying to cram every second of my life with “to dos” and not respecting the need to simply be. Have added snowshoeing with a friend to my weekly activity-feeds the soul so much more than the gym. Grounding energy to us all in the new year.

    • Kate on January 28, 2016 at 7:46 am

      Yes, Sue, exactly. And we don’t need any more to-dos! I love that you are snowshoeing weekly. Fabulous!

  3. Nina on January 28, 2016 at 6:35 am

    I like group fitness classes for the same reason . . . forces me to not have the phone nearby. I can sort of mindlessly follow the movements and let my mind think about other things.

    • Kate on January 28, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Totally, Nina! But sometimes those are even too much “noise” for me! (Though often a needed kick in the butt too!)

  4. Patricia on January 28, 2016 at 7:40 am

    I’ll have this kind of quiet, too, when my youngest goes to high school for the first time this fall. Meanwhile, I grab it when I can–like right now, 5:35 am Pacific time. Beyond that, it’s music piped into ear buds, because that’s the best I can do for making a private space.

    It makes me think of when that youngest kid of mine was about three, and all five of us were in his bedroom one night, being loud and raucous and having fun. He stood in the middle of the room and announced, “I just want a little piece of quiet!” Haha. That’s what I named my old iPod Nano: Little Piece of Quiet. Because that’s what it did for me.

    • Kate on January 28, 2016 at 7:48 am

      Ha! I love that, Patricia! Because we all need that piece of quiet! Next year is going to be a real change for you. Hard, on one hand, I’m sure. But I hope you’ll be able to revel in that expansive quiet. I look forward to reading about it when the time comes.

  5. Angie on February 4, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I’m actually enjoying podcasts on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym. It’s my reward for going. But Shawn has been traveling a bunch and when he gets home, I spend a lot of time staring at the wall, instead of being productive. 🙂 It’s like my brain exhales, and then I have to resist the urge to take a nap. I really do love quiet, alone time at home, like those moments you described in your post. I dream of long stretches of weeks where I could spend a few hours each morning at home. Like most people, there’s always something popping up that interrupts that flow. But I do try to protect that time as much as possible.

    • Kate on February 4, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      Ha! Angie, I am now going to picture you staring at the wall. Not really, of course. You need that exhale, though, after stretches of solo parenting!