The other day a rather desperate wannabe writer emailed me lamenting the fact that she wanted to be a published author, that I’d achieved so much and she was just a mother of two children.

Her email was shocking to me. I found it really jolting that she looked upon motherhood in such a contemptible manner.

And yet I do remember a time when I felt desperate too and somewhat the same.

I’ve only been published for twelve years now but I’ve been writing for twenty.

At the time I was taking care of my own four children and babysitting up to four additional ones per day. I was poor, I was swamped with childcare paraphernalia and I too felt that desperation in getting published.

Yet I have to say that being published hasn’t gotten me the ‘status’  I thought it would. I come from a very non-literary background. It seems like my family could care less with each new book that I present to them.

In fact I used to give free copies to family members and wouldn’t even get a thank you in return, so I started saving those free copies to give them as Eid presents.

In terms of fame and fortune, I am blessed. I truly feel blessed. J.K. Rowlings and Lemony Snickets aside, not many authors can say they make a pretty good living as a full-time children’s writer, and yet I do.

I love visiting schools and presenting to students and getting paid for it all is truly a dream come true.

But motherhood is on a completely different plane. And now that I’m a grandmother it’s even sweeter!

This afternoon I went to visit my daughter and her children. I played pat-a-cake with my three year old granddaughter Maryam. I taught her how to draw wiggly ‘M’s’ and wrote her name in Arabic on the little chalkboard in her room.

I told her the story of Three Little Pigs and watched her eyes go round when I got to the part when the Big Bad Wolf tried to blow the houses down.

Without children, there would be no readers for my books. Without children there would be no future. And these days with more and more women shunning real motherhood for ‘fur children’ (dogs and cats) I think being a mother is more important now than it ever was.

Having children doesn’t compare to writing books.

That’s what I told the lady. I said that writing would always be there. It only gets better with age because then you have more to say.

She should focus on her children, and I told her how I raised mine even while I nurtured my dreams of becoming an author.

Raising children and writing aren’t  mutually exclusive.

I plotted while I changed diapers. I wrote while the children napped in the afternoons. I completed my first five books that way. It can be done.

And now all that hard work has paid off, and I can enjoy the delights of my grandchildren. All those sacrifices were more than worth while.

And one of my all time biggest thrills was when my daughter informed me that my book Silly Chicken  was one of Maryam’s favourites! She would even re-enact the story, running through the house, opening the cupboard doors and looking behind the curtains, saying to herself, “We checked the cupboards, we checked the yard, we checked up and down the road and we asked the neighbours…”

(It’s the part where they’re looking for Bibi, the silly chicken.)

Now that’s status!

That really means something to me.

I spoil her with books. Every time she comes over I take one from my shelves and give it to her.

Toys break and get thrown out. Good books don’t.