Motherhood & Words

I woke this past Saturday morning in my own bed, not needing to jump up and rush to—anything. Donny headed off to golf, a well-deserved break after solo parenting for the week while I was on Madeline Island. So I got up, meditated, made a pot of decaf, and began unloading the dishwasher, waiting for my little people to wake up. I’d missed them.

The retreat at MISA was fabulous. What a gift to be surrounded by so many warm and smart and talented women writers for five days. But it was also exhausting. And I always forget that. Each time I head off to lead a retreat, I think, oh I’ll be able to get some of my own work done throughout the week. But it’s just not possible. If I want to meditate or run before our first meeting of the day, I need to get up pretty early, and that doesn’t leave time for writing or editing. Then the rest of the day is filled with group meetings and individual conferences. (And one evening a cruise around the Apostle Islands.) I was so tired by the end of each day (after the tears and laughter and wine and more tears and laughter and wine), that all I was capable of doing was lying in bed, watching Street Dance and Street Dance 2 on my phone. (Seriously.) They were somehow just what I needed. Then I slept, got up and repeated.

I was thrilled to get home to my family on Friday night. Donny had cleaned the house, and was ready to put steak on the grill when I walked in the door. I squeezed my girls and my nephew, who was over playing. Then my sister and nieces came over, then my dad. It was a lovely welcome home, and I just wanted to revel in family, in home.

The next morning, when I heard Zoë’s footsteps on the stairs, I paused my unloading of the dishes and went into the living room and swept her up into a tight hug. And when Stella came down a few minutes later, I did the same with her. Then I made them scrambled eggs and toast, standing at the stove, just happy to push eggs around in a pan for my daughters.

I’ve tried to do that this week—appreciate the small things, take deep breaths, trust that everything will get done. But “everything” this summer is a lot. On Friday I head out again, this time to Ashland’s MFA program for TWO weeks. I have been prepping: reading student work, adjusting my syllabi, and reviewing the faculty handbook, trying to make sure I’m not missing anything. I’ve also been writing this week, working on a new chapter of the autism/running book I’m ghostwriting/co-writing. I need to be plugging along furiously on that book because…..drumroll….it found a home! Triumph Books will publish it next spring, in time for Autism Awareness Month. All very exciting, of course, but it means my nose will be to the grindstone all fall. I can do it. I can do it. (My new chant.)

But for now, this week, for these few days, I am trying to soak up Donny and the girls, to squeeze them tight and imprint on them my love. I am trying to appreciate the small things and the not-so-small things so I can hold those in my heart as I make the long drive to Ashland on Friday.

What are the little things you are appreciating this week?

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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 July 16, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I’m appreciating:
    the smile on Kathleen’s face as she realized she was swimming
    my morning snuggles with Elizabeth
    our usual afternoon rest time (because it’s lacking this week with our swimming lesson schedule)
    rains that mean I don’t have to water the garden.

    Someday I will get to one of your retreats—right now it sounds more likely than getting to a point where I’m waiting for my little people to wake up

    • Kate on July 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Oh Sara, I love those small things. And yes, you WILL get to a retreat at some point. (Hopefully before the years where you are waiting for them to wake up!) It would be so fun to have you and Sue at the same retreat!

  2. Marilyn Bousquin on July 16, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    What a lovely post, Kate, glimpsing you “pushing eggs in a pan” & loving up your girls while being your badass lit-star self out in the world! I’m appreciating that my 20-year-old Sam has sought my company twice this past week & chatted with me for hours at a stretch each time. And how funny is this? Both times we were in our kitchen & I sat at the table while he pushed eggs around in a pan! (I swear. Eggs are his specialty.) And those eggs? Farm fresh from an elderly couple at our local farmer’s market. Every week she saves the jumbos for Sam & shows me pictures of her grandchildren. Small things sure can be jumbo! ; > xo, M

    • Kate on July 17, 2014 at 7:40 am

      Oh Marilyn, I love picturing you and your Sam chatting for hours on end! And that the couple at the farmer’s market save the jumbo eggs for him.

      I will be thinking of you a ton next week at Ashland! xoxo

  3. Tamara on July 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Kate, lovely post! You can do it!! Your writing, talent and drive are an inspiration to so many…especially your daughters.
    My simple pleasures today included gazing into the sweet angle face of a
    Two week old babe… Postpartum visit with a client and her daughter. Then an hour on the lake in my kayak…. Zen…

    • Kate on July 17, 2014 at 7:44 am

      Tam, thank you, my dear! And what a lovely day: a new baby, your amazing energy being given to your client, and then the kayak! It sounds perfect. xox

  4. Sue on July 17, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Last night the kids and I played Red Neck Life on the deck. I was tired after work and it was hot and muggy in the house but their joy and laughter with the game was the perfect antidote to my fatigue. I feel the hours preciously now that I am away so much more.

    • Kate on July 17, 2014 at 7:45 am

      Sue, that sounds lovely. I can picture you all laughing together on the deck. I love it!

  5. Nina on July 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Oooh! That’s big news that the book found a home. I’m seriously so relieved as if it was my own project. 😉

    • Kate on July 17, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Thank you, Nina! I’m excited that their story will be out in the world! But now to the writing!!

  6. Erin on July 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Oh good for you, selling the book! You are amazing. And have fun at Ashland- lucky students, those. xx

    • Kate on July 29, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you, Erin!! It’s exhausting, but it’s been gong so well here. And the book! I’ll get back to that when I’m home again! Please keep me posted on YOUR book! xo

  7. Autumn on July 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Oh Kate, this is a bittersweet post! I love the image of you making breakfast for the girls and catching them for hugs. These are such precious moments to savor. I hope that you’ve been able to relish in many more sweet moments with your family, rest a bit, and recover your energy in anticipation of your time at Ashland U. Those students are so lucky–about to be under your literary spell!

    The little things I’m appreciating this week? Definitely morning snuggles, the beautiful 70-degree & sunny weather the past few days, witnessing the kids master new skills in swimming class, a much needed hour-long face-to-face talk with my best friend, and some breakthroughs in therapy with M, which counts for something positive!

    Hope to see you in OH soon! xo

    • Kate on July 29, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Oh Autumn, what a beautiful and real list of things for which to be thankful! I’m sorry we won’t get a chance to catch up here in OH, but I know we’ll be in touch over the next months. And I can’t wait to spend another week with you at MISA! xo

  8. Andrea on July 18, 2014 at 7:43 am

    It all sounds divine, Kate–retreating, teaching, writing a book!–even if a bit tiring. Little things I am (or should be) appreciating this week: the very last of the strawberries. The sun out after three days of pouring rain. My big kid in my office with me before and after Rock & Roll camp.

    • Kate on July 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      Oh Andrea, I love those things! And of course the strawberries make me think of your wonderful essay about picking berries. Such a great piece. And Rock & Roll camp! I love it! xo

  9. Angie Mizzell on July 18, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Oh how I love the small things… especially in contrast to the big things. And congrats on all of the big things! And on continuing to meditate through it all.

    So, tell me about this Street Dance. Is it anything like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun with Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt? Because that’s one of my favorite movies of all time 🙂

    • Kate on July 29, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      Oh Angie, I don’t even KNOW that movie. Who am I? We need to watch it together with a bottle of wine. And then after that one, I’ll introduce you to Street Dance.

      Meditating this week (or two) of teaching would help a ton, but I’ve only managed one morning of it. So much work and then if I ant to run there is no time. But I’ll get back to it as soon as I’m home. Or maybe I can do both tomorrow morning if I prep tonight. AH!

  10. Lisa on July 21, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Kate, this week I am appreciating the fact that I was able to participate in your MISA workshop and see ‘The Master’ in action! What an enlivening and uplifting experience that has completely invigorated me to continue down the path of writing with a refreshed outlook! My many writing projects, my spirit, and my family all appreciate it!

    (And thank you for introducing me to Street Dance!)

    • Kate on July 29, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Lisa, please tell me you really watched Street Dance! And loved it!

      No really, I’m so happy that we had that week to work together, and I’m so glad you’re planning on being back next year. Cannot wait!