Monday, May 29, 2006

In For the Long Haul... Or Am I?

I've got to be honest with y'all. Perseverence is not my forte. Shocking, I know, but true. There are only three things I've entered into with determination and stuck with: marriage (my husband told me up front that divorce wasn't an option), motherhood (guess I have no choice there), and writing (I'm still wondering about that one). :) Well, maybe a few more things, but they weren't nearly as important.

My child made a statement this weekend that had me reevaluating my commitment to writing. She told a man we'd met less than a hour before that, "Mommy doesn't like having children when she's a writer." Granted, I'd just bemoaned trying to get my children to listen to me and obey after telling both of them about a hundred times to get out of the muddy water puddle. Granted, my husband assured me that what she MEANT to say was "Mommy doesn't like children bothering her when she's writing." Granted, Counselor Shelley has assured me that if you worry about whether you are a good mommy or not, then you are a good mommy (must repeat this to myself over and over and over...).

I still cried after they went to bed.

Yet today, as I worked on the plot for my next book, I knew that I couldn't stop writing. The excitement I felt over these new characters and the conflict and the realizations, I just don't think I could give that up. I don't want to. Which means this is a really big deal to me. A life changing deal. Writing is the one thing I've persisted in for me and me alone. My husband and children couldn't care less if I stopped writing tomorrow, as long as I was happy. This gift is mine alone.

Though I think it is good for my kids to see me pursuing my dream, Mommy-guilt continues to rear its ugly head. I doubt it will ever go away. I'm doing my best to combat it with extra hugs and special outings this summer. I'll never be Mommy of the Year, but hopefully sometimes I can be Mommy of the Moment.

And I'll dream of the day when I can take my daughter into a bookstore and show her Mommy's book on the shelf. Better yet, one day she'll be old enough to actually read it. Then again, I may have to tear out all the love scenes, even if she is thirty. :)


P.S. What do you do when you're ready to quit the race? I usually call on my husband or a Playfriend or two or three. I can't hit the chocolate because I'm dieting for Nationals.


Kathy said...

Angel, being Mommy of the moment is what makes you Mommy of the Year. It's moments, whether spent in quiet solitude reading your child a book or celebrating a grand spectacle that make a year, decade or lifetime of memories. These moments are what your little ones will remember when they're older with children of their own.
And most importantly, you are showing your children that you are important, that no matter how hectic life becomes there is a part of your life that completes you aside from motherhood.

I've struggled with this and can tell you from personal experience that guilt never goes away. It won't matter what your family says or if other obligations interfere. Our responsibilities, as mothers, are far reaching and forever try to pull us away from the desire of our hearts... whatever that may be. You are doing the right thing as long as moments spent with your husband and children are wrapped with love.

Children only live in the moment but moments make a lifetime of memories. Always remember that.


Linda Winstead Jones said...

I don't think this ever goes away. Ask the other mavens how often I threaten to quit and get a real job. Ask them how often I decide that a regular job in fast food or perhaps as a greeter in a large discount store seems appealing. They swear there's some kind of schedule for these threats and/or promises, though I am blissfully unaware of any such schedule.

I haven't started filling out applications just yet, however. I don't get that far, thank goodness. Quitting when things get tough is much easier than perseverence. No one ever accomplished anything by giving up too soon.

Hugs on the kids. You know what they mean! And think of what a great example you're setting for your children, examples of striving for a dream as well as perseverence. :-)


Problem Child said...

Okay, if "Kathy the Wonder Mom" gets Mommy-guilt, I'm just screwed.

But the flip side of DQ's statement is the one that AC made not too long ago. She told a total stranger "My mommy writes books!" I wanted to buy her a pony for that statement.

I've had the same lecture from Counselor Shelley myself--many times. I've decided I'm not out to be the Best Mom in the World, just the Best Mom I Can Be.

Kathy said...

PC, it warms my heart that you think I'm a wonder Mom. As I accept your wonderous praise and my cyberspace statue let me just say my success all boils down to one thing... IDIOCY! Don't be fooled. I volunteer to do too much, freak out, run around the house like a bat out of hell, feast on chocolate, chastize myself for not being more organized, lament that I don't have time to focus on my own pursuits and collapse spent. I'm an idiot, plain an simple. I've never learned to sit on my hands when the cry for help goes out. (Now that I think of it, that is kind of a Superhero M.O.) :-)

Look up in the sky! More flexible than taffy, it's Super Kathy! LOL.

Maven Linda Howard said...

Angel, you gotta consider the source. Was this Diva-in-Training who made the statement, the one whose T-shirt should read "All Me, All the Time"? Uh-huh. Bless their little hearts, children are masters at manipulation, even when they aren't trying to be. It's a natural talent -- sort of like writing. You're either a writer or you aren't. I'm a writer the same way I'm an air-breathing organism. Quit? Yeah, right.

OTOH, sometimes the CAREER can be postponed, even if the writing itself can't. It's a balancing act, and sometimes the teeter will totter one way, sometimes the other. So you have to look at it logically: if you quit writing, would you be a better mother? Nope. I haven't seen you give your family short-shrift in any way. You don't neglect your children. You love them, you're involved in their lives, and you're there for them.

I read once that a parent's responsibility breaks down like this:

You spend the first two years of your child's life teaching them that they are loved regardless.

You spend the next sixteen years teaching them that they aren't the center of the universe.

Then you send them out to LIVE.

Angel said...

I love that description of parental responsibilities, Linda H.! Very appropriate.

And the glimpse into your life, Kathy, gave me a laugh. What people don't realize about our lives...

What great encouragement! Thanks ladies.

Instigator said...

I'm sorry I'm chiming in late! Things have been crazy around her for the past couple days.
But I couldn't let this pass without saying

You Are A Good Mom Angel!!

Not only have I seen you in action but what Counselor Shelley says is true. And the fact that you even question that truth (that you're a good mom) is evidence that you are. No one said being a good parent was going to be easy - in fact I think those two things are mutually exclusive - but you do the best you can which from my perspective is pretty darn good.

Take a bath, pamper yourself, and remember we're all here if you need us.


Oh and a little disappointment never killed a child :-)

Playground Monitor said...

I'm back in town after a relaxing long weekend and I'll tell you now that #2 son got home yesterday and I let him come to an empty house. I didn't cut my vacation short and I didn't feel guilty. He's a college grad now, he knows how to cook (or order pizza) and he usually spends most of his time here visiting friends anyway. We're planning a family movie night for later in the week.

I think Shelley is onto something there about being a good mom is you're questioning it. It's those women who never wonder who are the ones leaving their children alone all night while they go out drinking and partying or who abandon them as newborns in a dumpster.

I know it seems difficult now, but trust me (and I'm sure LJ and Beverly will back me up on this), the grow up before you know it. One day you'll turn around and DQ will be expecting her first baby and Little Man will be playing college football and you'll say "Where on earth did the time go?"

Devra said...

Mommy guilt doesn't disappear, we just learn to tune it out, tune into it or turn it off as we stumble thru our parenting years. It is a normal emotion associated with being a mom (and even being a dad!)

I gotta say it is a very cool feeling to take your kids into a bookstore and say "Look, Mommy's book is right THERE!" Now my kids actually ask me when we go into a book store, "Can we go see if your book is on the shelf here?" Of course when they hit middle school/highschool I will be a dork again, but for now, I seem to have some kind of cool. I'll ride it for as long as I can!

Do the best you can, knowing your intentions are good. Very few of us actually mess up our kids intentionally so cut yourself some slack. It is also a positive for kids to see their parents as people, and not just mom/dad etc.

Just like the song says "It's your thing, do whatcha wanna do..."