If you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad, you probably feel a lot like I did 21 years ago — I was the second rat. You know… The rat that has to wait to eat until the first rat pushes the lever so the food will come out? My husband was in the car business for 30+ years and as you can imagine, some months were great and some weren’t so hot.  But when my daughter was brand new, we were experiencing an a time like now — a time when the car business was in trouble.

We were also struggling because I quit my job to raise my daughter. It was a joint decision. We had been married 16 years; I had been in banking for 20, and was used to living comfortably. Our cut in pay was enormous!  We knew it would be, but even knowing that, I felt so helpless! I had never felt that way before. But suddenly, I was a stay-at-home mom and our standard of living was significantly diminished.

There were times when I didn’t have enough to buy groceries for us because I was buying diapers and formula. But, we decided to stick it out, at least until Shannon was in school. She was more important to us than anything after waiting for her all that time, and though there were times when we suffered a bit, she never has, not a day in her life.

But I really didn’t know how to make money outside of banking. I’d never had a business of my own, but I had tons of ideas. I had an antiques and collectibles business for a while with my big sister, which was fun and cool, but it didn’t make the regular money we needed. I watched the craft shows on TV, and started creating and painting, which was really fun. I actually ended up teaching classes in crafts, but I only got $20 a class and it was a long way from a real income.

But even $20 or money from a craft show helped, but I still felt useless and nothing was working! I was frustrated, angry with myself for not being more successful, but never in being a mom. I love my daughter and she was still the #1 priority in my life.  So, there was playing with her, reading to her, changing her, dressing her, making her bottles, giving her baths, doing laundry, cleaning, and all those things a mom with a newborn does everyday. It’s damned hard work on little sleep!  It was the hardest job I ever had, but it was also the best.

Here’s the funny part: My husband had written a science fiction novel and had a brand new agent at the time. He gave Patrick (yes, we’re both Pat) a tape to play at bedtime. It was a subliminal tape that was supposed to help with creative writing. So, we played it every night for weeks, and guess what? It worked! Not on my husband — on me.

So, it occurred to me that I could write and the books I was reading to my daughter helped reinforce the idea.  Growing up, I was always given kudos for writing, but HATED to do it. It just seemed like too much thinking, you know? Writing a grocery list was a chore before then, but suddenly, my brain changed.  I credit the tape. I was ready to try writing.

I made a pact with myself. I said, “If you sit down and write for one hour a day, while Shannon is napping, you can write one page each day and have 365 pages by the end of the year.” One page a day didn’t seem as daunting as a whole novel. I was relieved that I didn’t have to think about eating the whole elephant. I only had to eat that proverbial one bite at a time.

And it gave me hope.

So, I put in that one hour, every morning religiously, and after a while, it started to pay off.

If you’re feeling frustrated. If you need money or if you need an identity, maybe one hour a day will work for you, too. Get yourself a creative writing CD, play it every night, and who knows? Maybe you’ll look back at the end of one year and thank me.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a book of your own.

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