Destroy Everything But The Books

parenting and writing

I haven’t written a blog post in about two weeks now. Partly I was in a slump about the recent rejections by literary agents for novel #3, but mostly I was in a slump because my kids were on their mid-year break…and apparently my brain doesn’t work when they’re home. But, they are back in school (hurray!) and my brain is back on (hurray again!). I do feel like something is missing when I don’t get the chance/brain space to write. I think that must be one of the qualities of most writers: we feel incomplete when we’re not writing. God bless my kids always, but writing while parenting is a tricky business. Actually, anything while parenting is a tricky business, even just keeping your home habitable…

While the kids were on vacation, I recognized something about myself which I haven’t quite decided how to take. I recognized that I don’t get attached to anything materialistic. It isn’t that I’m such a deep, spiritual person that I shun materialism. I’d love to say that’s the reason, but it isn’t. The real reason is that I have kids. And my kids can ruin anything. Annnnyyyything. Seriously. And they totally believe that if they can, they should. Well, they probably don’t actually believe that, but with how they act, that’s totally what you’d think.

So I’ve stopped getting upset when they break more pieces off the chandelier. Or when the glass on the entertainment system cabinet crashes…again. Or when they rip my rug. Or smash my once-favorite mug. Or stain the couch. If it can get ruined, it will…and I have learned to just accept it.

I have mixed feelings about my lack of anger at all the ruined things. On the one hand, being unattached to all things material is really the best way to live. I completely acknowledge that. On the other hand, isn’t it a bit sad that I find nothing material to be precious? I love that chandelier. It used to be beautiful. And the stain filled couch, it was the best couch ever. But now they remain in a dying state, still useable but quite clearly no longer in their prime. And I’m totally fine with it. Have no plans of refurbishing or re-upholstering or anything. They’ll stick around until they fall completely apart. And so what, no big deal. Everything has a limited lifetime; my kids were put here to make sure all the things in my home die an early, painful death.

The one thing I do still find precious is my books. By ‘my’ I mean all those that I possess as well as the ones that I myself have written. About a year ago my son made the tiniest mark on the inside cover of my only copy of Normal Calm. I totally flipped out. “Why don’t you respect anything?!” And I went on and on. Just thinking about it now makes me livid.

I’m not sure where the discrepancy comes from. Is it just that I’m a writer, so books are valuable in my eyes? Is it that I’m a reader, so the written word is special, sacred almost? Or is it simply that this is my weakness?

I think it’s probably all of the above. And I have no intention of changing my book-protective mentality. I will shrug off the stained couch, chipped walls (their doing), and broken door frame (also their doing), but I will beat their asses if they come near my books!


Are you a writer and a parent? Do you feel the same way? Would love to hear your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Destroy Everything But The Books

  1. Papatia says:

    Omigosh, I get so upset when my son mistreat books or steps on them. I keep saying, “Respect books! There are precious subhanallah.” Walaye, I can relate >_<.

  2. Sameera says:

    Salaam sis….This piece truly resonates with me….especially the part concerning the books. I do give my books to my 5 year old since she likes to imitate my reading style – reading with a pencil to annotate.However , I am cautious that she don’t use other than a pencil to mark in my books. I do get angry sometimes when she carelessly puts my books or pens here and there. But I try not to too much restrict her because I’m afraid she would begin to fear books. 🙂

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