Hannibal Courier-Post

MEG DUNCAN: Life changes writing styles, topics

Meg Duncan is a columnist for the Courier-Post.
Meg Duncan
Courier-Post Columnist
Posted: Dec. 4, 2019 12:00 pm

Some weeks it's easy to find something to write about.

Whether it's a story I've been excited to tell or a revelation I've been excited to share, I just sit down at my laptop and it pours out. Before I know it, I've covered my word count, hit the send button, and am ready to watch House Hunters until I fall asleep.

(This is why I tend to dream about moving. Last night I was just about to move into my new house in Switzerland and woke up to find that Hulu had switched me to House Hunter International).

Other times, I can barely string together two sentences. I just sit and stare at the blinking cursor hoping that it sends me some sort of brilliant message I can put into words. Truth is, though, sometimes my deadline isn't convenient. Courier-Post readers see my column on Fridays, but my deadline is actually on Wednesday morning, and since I work on weekdays, Tuesday evening is my go-time.

Sometimes though, things come up. 

Once, the garbage disposal clogged with overcooked spaghetti noodles, and I stood beside the sink handing my husband stuff while he reminded me every few minutes that he told me never to put – you guessed it – overcooked spaghetti noodles down the garbage disposal.

On another Tuesday evening, a kid walked into the room at 7 p.m. and suddenly revealed a project due the next day.

“How long have you known that you need to recreate the timeline of the entire Mesopotamian Empire?” He shrugged and handed me a set of instructions dated August 18 – the first day of school. 

That week I wrote my column in between gluing pieces of the Tigris River to poster board.

I've hunched over my laptop in the dark with Shawn snoring beside me and my alarm counting down the hours until it's time to get up for work. I've furiously typed on my phone during a long night in the emergency room waiting for answers. And I've sat at the dining room table writing through the chaos of a family four – seven counting the pets.

But it's Tuesday evenings like this one when I really struggle, and lately there have been more of them.

Nothing is in need of immediate attention.

The homework is done, the laundry is located (it's not put away but everyone knows where their socks are) and everyone around me is healthy and content in this particular moment.

Yet here I am sitting over the screen completely lost.

I was once perfectly in tune with the season I was in. Mothering my littles was exhausting but the writing material was endless. These tiny people wandered around daily trashing my house and stealing my sanity, but in the midst of that mess, I found all the stories I could ever want to share.

Now we've moved into a new phase of life. Our kids are older and so are we.

With one boy who officially became a teenager in September, and another who turned 10 in August, things are different than they used to be. 

Although I would love to slow time, I must say that some of these changes are pretty wonderful. We can play board games together without anyone stuffing the monopoly money into the heat vent. We can go out to eat without anyone throwing his food at the people sitting next to us. Best of all, the boys can now stay home for short periods while Shawn and I have a lunch date or make a run to Walmart without them.

Even if they do go with us, there are no more tantrums in aisle five – unless it's Shawn when he finds out the total at checkout. 

In many ways I feel completely inadequate to write about being in my 40s and parenting a teenager.

But as each day passes the stories are growing and I'm gathering them. Just know that if my writing seems different, it's because I am different. I am changing with each day.

But that's okay, because everyone else is changing too.

Seasons change, life keeps moving, and suddenly we are in a brand new place. We just need a moment to find our footing.

That's what I am doing – grounding myself in a new season.

I'm just glad there are readers, friends, whoever here to share the experience with me. And that's one thing that will never change.