A different kind of 12-step program, you might say, but one that’s also filled with pain, discomfort, and uncertainty. (Also joy! But I have not gotten to those steps yet.)
After many, many, many months of querying agents in Canada and the U.S., I had a “bite” on Sept. 8, 2021 when an agent was “intrigued” with my pitch (synopsis, first chapter, and query letter) and asked to see the full manuscript.
She was the FIRST agent to ask for this. *happy tears*Read More
Back in 2010, when our son was only six months old, I bought a package of wooden door-hangers and painted special Christmas gift tags.
I liked the idea that there was a consistency to gift-giving — that our son (and later, our daughter) would always know exactly how many gifs they would get from us, and what categories those gifts would fall under.
The kids love being able to easily spot specific gifts under the tree, and deciding which categories to open first or last.Read More
(Shout-out to my LinkedIn profile for providing me with such exact dates. If it weren’t for reading about my own job experience on LinkedIn, everything would be a blur of “two thousand and something” and “before kids” or just … blank confusion.)
It was my livelihood for a decade — living from one assignment to the next, chasing down interviewees, juggling different deadlines, and hoping I’d get paid before I was really strapped for the cash from a particular invoice.
I’m still a freelancer, in theory, but only for a handful of clients I just can’t quit. I’m now also a full-time content marketing manager, which means I get a guarenteed paycheque direct deposited in my bank account every two weeks like clockwork, and I must say, WOW, it’s pretty amazing after 10 years of never knowing when I was getting paid. I still marvel at it, almost a year in.
The last time I was a full-time employee was when I went on maternity leave with D. Twelve years ago. TWELVE!
I was working full-time.
I was getting up early to write/edit novels.
I was sending out pitches (and collecting rejection letters).
I dreamed of being an author.
I had a small brown dog.
I was weirdly obsessed with chicken wraps and Twilight soundtrack. (Holds up.)
Oh, and Michael also had a buzzcut.
Of course, a lot is different now, too.
We own a house in the country, instead of a condo in the city.
We have two amazing kids (something I blogged about wanting, desperately, back in 2009)
We have two vehicles. (Ironically, lately I’m missing the Jeep we had back in 2009. Don’t tell my husband*** because he’s been pestering me to talk about trading vehicles or something, and I just don’t have the bandwidth for that kind of discussion now … or ever.)
***No worries about him reading here because the goof doesn’t even read my Instagram posts, which are way shorter than this, lol.
My goal in 2009 was to have beautiful babies — check! check! — and have a house I could decorate and organize to my heart’s content — check!
My goal in 2009 was to make a living with my writing, and I did! I’ve made a living with my writing ever since my maternity leave in 2010, actually, and now I make a living on my writing but also the related skills that come with that — like editing and magangement.
If not, maybe twelve years from now, I’ll be writing another post about how 2033 Heather also weirdly likes the playlists, red lipstick and Smoky Bacon chips of 2021 Heather. 😉
Over the last couple of years, it’s become increasingly difficult to write about my children for this column.
What are they comfortable with me sharing? How much do I feel I can declare, publicly? Am I writing something that might embarrass them, now or in the future?
Our son was barely a year old when I started writing a parenting column called Mommy Diaries for a local magazine …
… and when I started writing The Mom Scene for SaltWire Network newspapers, he was three and our daughter was one.
Now our son is 11 years old, in his second year of junior high school. (They renamed it a “middle school” over the summer, but he refuses to be demoted.) I can tell you he loves YouTube, Harry Potter, taekwondo, running and K-pop, but he’s creeping up on being a teenager, so I can’t tell you more than that. He deserves his privacy.
Even our “baby” is far from a baby. She’s nine going on 16, with highlighted hair and a brand-new set of braces. I can tell you she takes four dance classes a week, loves to act, and shines the brightest on any stage, but she rolls her eyes when I embarrass her, so I don’t dare tell you more than that. She, too, deserves her privacy.
When I started writing about life as a mother, it felt like there were thousands of things to write about — baby food, cloth diapers, potty-training, naps, sleep deprivation, tantrums, first words, speech delays, ear surgeries. I loved reading “mommy blogs,” and couldn’t get enough of parenting content because it summed up my whole world.
When my kids were in preschool and elementary school, there were entertaining stories to tell about screen time, playdates, birthday party drama and ER visits because of swallowed screws. (He was fine, and hopefully learned a lesson about dissembling and snacking on Happy Meal toys.)
There were serious topics, too. I wrote about struggles with postpartum depression, the crippling anxiety of raising children during a pandemic, and the enormous mental toll associated with parenthood. I wrote about the backlash our son experienced when he grew his hair long, and what it taught all of us about misgendering.
And while I know many people believe parents shouldn’t publicly share anything about their children, including photos, I have been happy with my decision to share bits and pieces.
I don’t regret the years I spent telling these stories, and neither do the kids — so far, at least. They enjoyed when their school bus driver taped up a column for everyone to see, or when a teacher stopped them in the halls to congratulate them on something they’d read.
For the second year in a row, schools across Nova Scotia will be reopening with a mask mandate — but, unfortunately, it may not last for long.
With the province scheduled to hit Phase 5 as early as Sept. 15, barely one week into the 2021/2022 school year, I’m worried about what a mask-free world is going to look like for our children under 12.
I know, I know — the vaccine wasn’t even available to most parents of school-aged children until the last school year was almost over. (My husband and I had our first doses May 19, and second doses June 28.) Since being vaccinated wasn’t an option during much of the last school year, it didn’t seem as terrifying to have all these unvaccinated children (and adults) walking around, interacting with each other.
But now that vaccines are here, available for everyone except our children under 12, the thought of sending them off to school unprotected is unnerving. Combined with potentially removing face mask requirements one week in, and you’ve got a perfect storm for worried, anxious parents.
FACE MASKS FOR KIDS UNDER 12
True, I could “force” my kids to wear masks at school even when they’re not required. But I can just imagine how well that would go over.
“My friends’ parents don’t make them wear masks!” Well, just because your friends
jump off a bridge — er, heighten their COVID risk, doesn’t mean you … Ugh, I’m already exhausted, just thinking of the arguments.
My kids (aged nine and 11) are excellent about wearing their masks. No, they don’t always want to, but they wear them without complaint when we’re out and about. They wear masks on lanyards. They wear disposable masks and reusable masks. They stuff masks in pockets and backpacks and jackets, so they always have a mask when they need one.
But if Nova Scotia enters Phase 5 and masks are “recommended but not required,” are they really going to choose to wear them? Probably not.Read More
I’m Heather Laura Clarke. I’m a writer living in beautiful Nova Scotia, I have a 12-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter, I married my high school sweetheart, and this is the story of my handmade life.
I have depression and anxiety, and I fight like hell every day to keep them from taking over my life. Creating things helps.
Whether I’m writing novels, decorating a room, busting out my power tools to build furniture, getting muddy in the pottery studio, sewing clothes, or cross-stitching a swear word, I’m all about using my creativity to craft a life I love.
I’ve been writing this blog since 2009, so if you dig deep into the archives, you’ll meet a bright-eyed 25-year-old newlywed who was basically obsessed with having kids, buying a cozy house, and supporting herself full-time with her writing. (Spoiler alert: she got exactly what she wanted.)
© Heather Laura Clarke and Heather’s Handmade Life, 2009-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Heather Laura Clarke and Heather’s Handmade Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.