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When I Write

By Elizabeth Matthews


I write in between blowing on hot food and gluing dried leaves to paper plates.

I write in between clipping fingernails and carefully picking up broken pieces of glass.

I write in between dropping uneaten food into the garbage and pulling tags off of unworn clothes.

I write in between filling the ice trays with a slow stream of water and wiping away coffee rings on the countertops.

I write in between scraping lint off the dryer filter and walking around the Play-Doh stains on the basement carpet.

I write in between searching for bobby pins and pulling the hairs out of the drain before drawing a bath.

I write in between squeezing the right flavor of medicine into the dosing cup and trying to brush through wet, knotty hair.

I write in between building a garage out of Legos and picking eggshells out of the cookie batter.

I write in between watching reality TV and reading a lengthy essay on the gluten free food movement.

I write in between taping the handwritten card to the present and accepting a piece of cake after eating pizza at the second birthday party.

I write in between learning how to fold paper to make it fly and traversing a crowded parking lot with two small children.

I write in between pressing on the tip of the boot to see if I can feel small toes and finding the right spot to tickle to hear a giggle.

I write in between safety-pinning the torn leotard and standing behind my daughter while she gazes at the older ballerinas dance on their pointe shoes.

I write in between seeing a large black spider crawl into the printer and squeezing my child who fears the large dog that sniffs around her feet at the bus stop.

I write in between trying not to look directly at the bloody wound on my child’s head and holding his arms down by his side while the doctor stitches it up.

I write in between standing on my toes, reaching above the doorframe for the pin that unlocks the door and squatting down to fit underneath a child’s umbrella.

I write in between poking myself with pipe cleaners as I bend them into giraffes and placing my foot in front of the wheels of a miniature shopping cart to stop it from slamming into a stranger’s ankles.

I write in between leaning against a locked door, taking deep breaths and erasing the letter “d” that is written carefully in pencil as the letter “b.”

I write in between hanging over my feet with my elbows crossed to stretch out my hamstrings and lifting a three-year-old into the air to drop the ball into the basket.

I write in between trying to avoid the sunlight from piercing sensitive eyes in the back seat and wondering if the beautiful woman who walks the baby down the sidewalk each morning is sad.

I write in between covering up the dark circles under my eyes and finding the strength to bounce a child up and down on my shins while my legs are crossed.

I write, alone, in between watching fallen leaves race down the street after speeding cars and the stillness that follows.


Liz Mathews is a Connecticut based mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs on books and writing at La La La ( Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town and Country magazine, and Literary Mama.

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