Friday, November 16, 2007

Flexibility is Key to Parenting -- and writing - The Oregonian REAL-LIFE MOM COLUMN

Real-Life Mom-By Cornelia Seigneur
"Flexibility is the key fusing parenting and writing"
Thursday, November 08, 2007

By Cornelia Seigneur W hen I'm asked how I keep up with parenting five children alongside my writing career, I realize I have no easy formula, kind of like my mothering. I do a lot by instinct, by learning along the way, by love and passion and prayer.
I have never been one for parenting books by expert Ph.D.s, and I do not think my mother was either. I take after her outside-the-box approach, looking at situations individually and flexibly. For me, there's no book of rules for parenting -- or writing -- or how to fuse the two.
Fusing being a writer and being a mother is like breathing -- both are just part of who I am. And combining the two is something that I figure out day by day, circumstance by circumstance, with a lot of heart and learning as I go.
Take a recent Tuesday. I had been working on a magazine story and waiting for a phone interview with a gentleman from a government agency in Salem; we'd been playing phone tag for days and finally had the chance to connect.
Typically, Tuesdays are my day to focus completely on my 4-year-old, Augustin, and we had planned a walk in the brisk fall air. But then the phone rang and Caller ID showed it was the government in Salem. I needed to take the call.
I told Augustin that we would be going on our walk shortly and he could read a book or listen to music -- OK, watch TV -- while I was in my office for what I promised would be a short time.
After closing my office door and answering the phone, I began asking questions and typing away. Then the door opened and my 4-year-old decided to do a little interviewing of his own.
"Mom, can I take my trike on our walk?" he wondered.
While still concentrating on the phone, I gave a little nod assuring him that he could and I made a sort of wave, trying to indicate I would be with him in a minute.
The person I was interviewing said nicely, "Oh, I hear a little one in the background -- I too juggled being a freelance videographer and dad for years at home."
So much for trying to hide. Thankfully my son was patient.
There have been worse times. I have literally locked my office door during an interview when I heard my 10-year-old twins bickering with my 4-year-old. Sometimes the kids have rattled the door to get in to tattle on their siblings.
I have a glass door to my office, so I've given them the "Don't mess with me" glance that tells them I mean business, or else.
And that works -- some of the time.

Cornelia Seigneur lives, writes and parents in West Linn. Reach her at


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