Kids and dreams - JJ Landis
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kids and dreams

Kids and dreams

How do you balance pursuing a dream with the reality of earning money and/or raising children? If you have personal insight or ideas or a story of success or failure and would like to be a guest on my blog, send me your story. You can reach me on social media or through the contact page on this site. I’ll be in touch!


My friend Carissa works fulltime and writes fiction for kids in her spare time. Here is what one of her recent evenings looked like!


Guest post by Carissa Magras: After a long day of fun family time, my husband is ready to be alone. Honestly, I am too. He heads to the book store while I sit down at my laptop to spend the next two hours writing. Having two hours dedicated to making progress on my latest project energizes me. I am excited and ready with a full tank of creative fuel.


As my husband shuts the door behind him, I glance at the clock and realize it’s the kids’ bedtime. “Perfect timing,” I think. “I’ll put the kids to bed quickly and then really have a completely uninterrupted evening to work. This is great!” Thankfully the kids are ready for bed, but with just one teeny tiny request: a bedtime story.


I pause. I sigh. I hesitate. I want to say, “No, not tonight.” But then I look at their little faces that are getting older every single day and decide to take advantage of the time I still have to read to my kiddos before they go to sleep. The three of us crawl into my daughter’s bed and my son hands me the book. “One chapter only,” I say, setting expectations and making sure my alone-time isn’t infringed upon more than five minutes or so.


About the middle of the chapter my daughter begins coughing. “I need my medicine,” she says. I hesitate again.


“Just stop and get the girl her inhaler, you’ll be done in no time,” I tell myself.


“Fine,” I reply. We make our way to the kitchen. If I’m getting the girl her medicine, I might as well make sure the boy has his as well. We struggle cutting open the hard plastic surrounding a new bottle of allergy pills, and finally all children’s drugs are administered. We head back to the bedroom to finish the five-page chapter, but as soon as it’s over my daughter begins complaining about her tummy hurting. I’m guessing it is a hypochondriac scheme as her way of getting a peppermint before bed, so I offer her the options of sleep or a warm bath to make it better. She chooses bath. Of course.


I send her off to the tub and plan on writing while she’s in there. Halfway toward my laptop, I hault, about-face, and inform her that she needs to wash her hair first. It’s been a week (I think), and so a bath would basically be her swimming in her own muck. I’m no mom-of-the-year, but I at least have sense enough to make sure she gets a shower first, bath second.


After giving her the new instructions, I head back to my laptop. “Mooommmm!!!” I hear screaming from the bathroom. I jump up and run. “What is it? Are you okay?” I ask, bursting through the door. “I got shampoo in my eyes,” she says. I sigh again. After some time helping to rinse her eyes out, get the bath done, and blow dry her hair, she’s finally ready for bed.


I tuck her in. I tuck the boy in. I walk over and sit down at my laptop. I hear the front door open. As my husband enters the room, I glance at the clock. It’s been two hours since he left. “I know it looks like I’ve been here all night, but I haven’t.” I say, exasperated.


I look at my screen. The energy, the excitement, the creativity juices that were ready to flow – they are now all dried up. I have only enough energy to slump onto the couch, eat some Ben & Jerry’s out of the carton, and watch Netflix. My mind thinks about the writers, the entrepreneurs, the successful people I know and admire. None of them have kids. I realize how there probably is some correlation there.


Two hours of my time to be wildly productive were just sucked up by simply putting my kids to bed. Classic “If you give a mouse a cookie” scenario. But I think of my kids and through the exhaustion manage to find enough margin to be grateful for them.


Raising kids is not easy. Raising kids while trying to be true to yourself and take care of your own needs sometimes feels impossible. But it’s worth it. It’s worth getting to be an example to my favorite small people, showing them that some things aren’t okay settling for.


Growing up I was taught, “You can be anything you want to be!” As an adult, and especially as a mom, I’ve come to realize that that was only a half-truth. I do believe I can be anything I want to be, but only if I’m willing to work hard enough for it.


It would be easy to quit on my writing dreams while I’m surrounded by sticky hands, dirty laundry, Legos, and tutus. But I keep going, not just for me, but for them. I remind myself they are learning that dreams are worth working hard for.


I teach them that adulthood isn’t where dreams go to die, but where discovery and success – that goes way beyond a simple paycheck – are created.


I teach them that by caring for yourself, you make a greater difference in the lives of your family and friends and the world. Everything I do is for my children, even when it seems like it’s only for myself.


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Carissa Magras is a writer, mom, and survivor of childhood abuse. Download a free chapter from her middle-grade fantasy novel, Into the Forbidden Forest, HERE! 







blog photo by Andrew Branch

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