Support Systems

 

 

I could talk all day long about my writing support groups…my fellow Debs, my critique partners, my supportive friends both near and far. And all of them have, in some way, contributed to helping me get where I am now.  As a single parent, having a strong support system is critical to my day-to-day functioning. It’s getting a little easier, now that my kids are growing older and I can operate on a slightly wider radius than before. But I still need people to step in for me when my writing or teaching obligations require me to be someone other than Mom.

 

But my biggest source of emotional and logistical support is my parents. They literally make it possible for me to work two full-time jobs – teaching and writing. They’re more like co-parents than grandparents, as they are involved in every aspect of my kids’ lives. Because of my parents, I’m able to get to work every day at 7:00 AM. Every day after school, my kids are at their house, having a snack, talking about what happened in their day, or playing handball in the alley. (Yes, both of my 70+ year-old parents are fierce handball players.) But they don’t just pitch in during the week.

 

They are more than willing to take the boys on fun weekend adventures so that I can meet deadlines, picking them up on a Sunday morning, and bringing them home, tired, happy and fed, right before bedtime. And they’ll do this several days in a row if needed!

 

Even before I started writing seriously, my parents were involved and invested. They took care of both boys every day while I worked, until they were old enough for preschool. And by take care of, I don’t just mean the basics…meals, naps, supervision. My kids grew up believing that time at their grandparents was filled with magical and engaging projects. They would construct elaborate explorations for my kids involving physics or science of some kind. Or simply climbing up and down a ladder for hours on end. Both of my kids are vegetable eaters because of my mom’s garden. They have explored marble ramps and foam tubing. They have baked hundreds of cakes together. They’ve explored the neighborhood, looking at ants or leaves. They’ve gone to museums.

 

Every day with my parents is an adventure, and both boys still jump at the chance to spend time with them. My parents let my kids do things I’d never let them do. When my boys want to try something, the answer over there is always Sure! What do we need to get started? And then they go out and get it. Right in the moment. There’s no wait for the weekend or that’s too expensive from them.

 

People always tell me how lucky I am to have parents like I do. I just smile and say I know.

 

And yes, that *is* my child on the roof.

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Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control. Her debut, THE ONES WE CHOOSE, will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2018.

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