Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mathematics and Balancing Time

As I've made it more and more public among my friends and acquaintances (and the internet) that I'm writing a novel, I have started to see a trend in the topics of conversation.  Conversations usually go like this:

Friend:  Huh.  Don't you teach math?
Me:  Yep.  Except I also majored in English as an undergrad.
Friend:  You don't see those together very often.


Friend:  How do you find time to do everything?
Me:  I don't clean my house.

On the first conversation:
Maybe you can answer this for me, but why don't we see more people who love mathematics and English (or the language arts, or writing, or whatever you want to call the subject) equally?  Every year at Parents' Night, I have at least three parents say to me, "Oh, I can't do math."  Some of them wear it as a badge of honor.  Maybe it's because I don't teach English, but I've never had a single parent say to me, "Oh, I can't read."  We live in a culture where illiteracy is horrible but it is okay not to be able to multiply or add. I don't understand that.

So yes, I am a math teacher.  Yes, I also love writing.  The two events are not disjoint.
This is a Venn Diagram of events that are not disjoint.

On the second conversation:
I am a mother to a toddler and a wife.  I teach high school mathematics full time.  I bake copious amounts of bread and muffins.  I sew and embroider.  I preserve jams, marmalades, pickles, and relishes.  A lot.   I also read and read and read and read.
It's not as simple as this, but I'll say it this way:  I find time to write because I make time to write.  Most of the time, that means other things don't get done.  Cleaning is number one on that list.  Sleeping is number two.  

I have also learned to use every waking second and have mastered the fine art of multi-tasking.  For example, I can usually get through one or two novels in a week because I listen to them on audiobook now.  Prior to motherhood, audiobooks didn't exist.  Now, I can do just about anything and read a book at the same time.  This buys me about twelve hours a week.  I brush my teeth while I shower.  Now I've earned another fifteen minutes each week.

I can't say I'm fully pleased with every decision I've made in order to allow myself time to write.  For example, a good friend told me she was making this for her daughter.  Wow.  Just wow.  I've decided my daughter will not have one.  I'm going to write instead.  Now, I have the fine fortune of wrestling with the guilt such a decision makes.  The little fairy on my right shoulder says, "Bad mom! You should show your daughter you love her and spend her nap time making this for her."  The fairy on my left shoulder says, "All right, Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt, get over it.  The sooner you write your novel, the sooner I can stop listening to you complain about what a horrible mother you think you are."  Am I a bad mom because of the choices I make?  Let's see how the little one turns out in twenty years.