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"From Here to Maternity"

Copyright and beyond by Deb Stover 

Writers who have jobs outside the home often envy those who stay home full time to write at a more leisurely pace. Or do we? Perhaps, before we assume they have it made, we should step into an unexceptional day in the life of a stay-at-home mother who is also juggling a writing career. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself at home all day to write. 

With three children in the house under the age of six.... 

While in the midst of the love scene to end all love scenes, a small voice behind you commands your undivided attention. " Mommy, potty."

Grumbling to yourself, you do a quick file-save--a bastion against little fingers which may discover the keyboard during your absence--and rush the little tyke off to the bathroom to wait. And wait. And wait. 

The phone rings before the heir apparent has answered the call of nature, requiring a sojourn across a house that screams for a thorough cleaning. You deftly navigate a labyrinth of discarded toys and lunge for the phone on the fourth ring, only to discover an insolent dial tone when you place the receiver to your ear. 

Muttering another truly inspired oath, you pick your way back through the maze toward the child left unattended in the bathroom. Undoubtedly, a feat which would render even Evil Knievel paralyzed with fright. 

" Mommy?" Child number one calls from the general vicinity of the computer. Could she? Would she? You dash back across the house to your makeshift office in a tiny space which was once more efficiently used as utility room, where things got done. You know...completed. Really finished. 

Streaking into the office, you're greeted by an impish grin. " Mommy, look." Pudgy, chocolate-covered fingers jab at the screen-saver on your monitor. At least the little darling didn't rewrite your love scene like she did last time, though she did add some embellishments your editor felt " enhanced the scene considerably."

" Mommy?" Remembering the child left on the potty, you rush back across the house to rescue him, only to discover he's not only completed his task, he's also managed to mix every brand of cologne you and his father own in the sink. 

Convinced that with the right marketing technique, certain military minds might be persuaded to purchase this formula for experiments in chemical warfare, you look in the toilet. The child, who has previously refused to place his toxic waste where civilized individuals do, has achieved stardom. Two or three hundred dollars worth of cologne pales to insignificance when compared to triumphant toilet training. 

" Uh-oh." Those two little syllables send shivers up and down your spine as child number one peers around the corner into the bathroom. Wondering what calamity has befallen your household now, you venture into the hallway only to discover the door to the nursery standing ajar. Taking a deep breath, you remind yourself that the little angel only wanted to visit her new baby sister, not wake her up during what was supposed to be your writing time. 

" Movie time!" You round up your two ambulatory offspring and plunk them down in front of the television--aka babysitter--and plug in their favorite video. You know the one. It plays a minimum of sixteen times per day. Every day. Day in, day out, and even in your sleep. 

You make your way back to the computer, singing along with the video, the baby slung over your shoulder like an appendage, and wipe the chocolate off the keyboard with the dirty burp cloth your youngest is teething on. You seat yourself in the chair, position the pillow behind your aching back, and expose a breast to the screaming baby, commending yourself in the process for electing to breastfeed. The most decisive advantage to breastfeeding, you've discovered, is that it can be accomplished with one hand, freeing the other to type, sort of, one finger at a time. 

You retrieve your file, scroll down to where you left off in mid-love scene and stare blankly at the screen. 

" Sexual tension? You've got to be kidding."