Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I Surrender! I Take It Back!

When I was a new mother of a single baby, I did not immediately surrender to motherhood. I especially did not surrender to homemaking. But as time went by and I had two additional babies (eventually, three children under five), I did. I was a mother and a homemaker, and I came close to embracing that role in my life as well as in at least one holiday letter sent out to friends and relatives. My relationship with housework has always been rough, but I do accept it as my responsibility, currently, although I do expect some help (and I don't do laundry).

But now I'm wanting to take a little back, to find a little ambition and figure out what to do with it. The first step is to permanently give up any thoughts of having any more babies. I know we're done, I really do, and there are plenty of good reasons not to have any more babies, but I still find it hard to state definitively that this is it. Nobody I tell believes me.

The second step may be to figure out which ambition to follow. Should I try to save the world? Should I try to write that bestselling historical novel? I have enviable leisure to figure that out; well maybe not leisure, exactly, but I don't have to work for a living, currently; I just have to take care of a house and three kids.

My biggest problem? I feel like my creativity is stuck, and I don't know how to crack it open. I think that my calling is to write. I am a published technical writer, but that, I'm almost sure is not my calling. I love to read. Lately my reading list has been a bit bland -- books about homeschooling, homemaking, and chick lit, mostly. But I'm a historical fiction nut. I love A Midwife's Tale, by Laurel Ulrich. I read fantasy: Judith Tarr, Ursula Le Guin, Shari Tepper, Anne McCaffrey. I like mysteries, but of all the genre's I read, I'd be surprised if I ever wrote mysteries. But where do I find the stories? I don't seem to have them. Maybe a scene here or there, but no complete story arcs. Maybe non-fiction is a better bet for me?

And then there's this baggage from my last worthwhile endeavor -- that is, being a mother to young kids. I still have those kids, and I'm still committed to giving them the best childhood that I can. It's just that I want to find a little something meaningful for myself, too. I'm petrified, that I'll look up in fifteen years and wonder what I thought I was doing with all that time. I recently listened to an interview with a homeschooling mother of one, whose life still seems to center around homeschooling -- her only daughter is 28! I don't want to send my boys to school, but I recognize that I'm afraid of the work of finding and following through with an alternative. There is an alternative school within commuting distance, but I'd have to work to pay the tuition. We have a relaxed lifestyle at home now, and that would change if we went that route.

And somewhere in there is finding some time for this new ambition. Although it's true that my kids are less work than when they were 0, 2, and 4 (they must be, right?), I find it hard to actually find that time in my day. Apart from creating and cleaning up three meals a day, plus snacks, plus keeping the house in acceptable shape, not to mention answering a hundred questions an hour with a smile on my face, there are plenty of family-type projects to work on, from photo albums to family movies to family room shades. And I've always struggled with routines -- I think I want one, I may even spend time creating one on paper, yet they never last for long. Yet I think that is what I need to carve out time for me.

Part of me is ready to jump right in, but another part of me thinks I need to educate myself first. I don't know enough to be able to write like Diana Gabaldon. And even though J. K. Rowling gets plenty of criticism, she seems to know plenty of history, mythology, and literature. Natalie Goldberg says to be specific: not just tree, but sycamore. I don't know anything about trees! But how to get there? What the heck did I do for nineteen years of school?! I think it has to be independent study, but I wish I had a way to make myself accountable for it.

But that is the beginning of my plan: 1) Read. Read more widely. Read things that are difficult. Think about and form opionions about what I read. 2) Write. Attempt to write fiction. If scenes are all I have, then just write scenes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm also way overeducated, but now 56 years old. I stayed home to raise my children, and gave up 'status', but I've never regretted it for even one hour. If I could do it again I'd jump right in to parenting at a younger time and if I could go back in time, I'd have more than the three children I did have. Unfortunately, the option isn't possible now. I have many talents, but in the end, I have learned most aren't that important, and I would give them all up for more time with my little children. Mostly, trying so hard to use my talents have gotten in the way of being practically useful. If I could do it over, I'd spend no time trying to fulfill myself, and spend myself in service and help to other people. I've learned that the rewards are so much greater, and the satisfaction so much longer lasting. I'd also not have nurtured my obsession with reading. In the end, it was wasted time, especially fiction. Don't long for success in the world. I've seen both sides, and the family side is the best. I'd leave my current job in a second if I could, to care for children. It's hectic, but so much more fun than without them.
Been There, Done That, Glad I Did