Kris Woll interviews Aidan Donnelley Rowley, a contributing writer in This is Childhood, a book and journal about the first years of childhood:
What was your inspiration for writing this piece? Have you written other things about this age/stage?
I think the 1 stage is an amazing time when our babies begin to become people with quirks and personalities. I was inspired to explore this nascent phase because I don’t think there is any other year quite like it in terms of development and evolution.
What is it about age 1 you liked the most? The least?
What I like most about age 1 is the tremendous change and development. Each new day seems to bring with it new words and new skills. What I like least about the age is that it is most often a pre-verbal stretch where communication is often tricky. This, as we all know, can be a recipe for tears and frustration.
What do you wish you knew before you had a 1-year-old, or what advice do you wish you could tell your former self about mothering at that particular stage?
I wish someone had told me to relax about this (& all other) ages, and that I had listened. As parents, we care tremendously about our little ones & the milestones they are meeting—or not meeting—and I think more often than not we fret more than is necessary. Looking back, I wish I had breathed a bit deeper & soaked up more moments instead of overanalyzing them.
Besides your own piece, which other piece in the collection do you relate to the most? Why?
Truth be told, I found myself relating in good part to all of the pieces up to age 7. My daughters are now 7, 5 and 3 and I truly think my This Is Childhood colleagues captured universal elements of these ages.
How do writing and mothering fit together for you? How has that fit over time?
This is a question I ask myself all the time and my answer evolves. Today, I can say that being a mother has improved my writing but has also made it more difficult because I’m more stretched for time and it’s a challenge to find adequate time to actually sit down and tap out words. These days, I wake extremely early (4:15!) many mornings to write before my girls are up. It’s exhausting, but I try not to lose track that it is a dream to be juggling my girls and my writing.
What is your advice to other mother writers?
I’m hesitant to give any advice, but something I tell myself is to be kind to myself and also forgiving. Raising children is an infinitely complex and magical thing to do and to try to write (or do anything else!) as well is downright difficult. We must do what we can, when we can, and not berate ourselves too much. Before we know it, our kids will be big and need us less and there will be more time to write and do other things that matter to us. We must soak up these chaotic moments before they are gone.
What do you hope readers will take with them from your piece? From this collection?
My hope is that readers will come away with a sense that parenthood is an abiding privilege. Wildly complex and trying, but magical all the same.
Read Aidan’s “This is One” essay in This is Childhood, a book about the first years of childhood and motherhood.