Thursday, October 15, 2015

Crooked Paths

When I was young(er) I envisioned my professional life as a series of switchbacks. Always moving forward and every so often moving up. But when I stayed home to raise the kids, I skidded off that tried and true path and found myself, if not at the bottom of the hill, on a washed-out single track with no discernible destination.

Side note: I would like to encourage the use of a different term for a mom who leaves her career to raise the kids. Because the term stay-at-home mom is the lamest, most watered down version of what being a mom actually looks like. Sure there were many days when I didn't leave the house, had permanent knee and butt imprints in my jammie pants, and cried when Oprah had her a-ha moments. But still, there were many other days I was a mom in the wild, wrangling strong-willed toddlers and slobbery babies down grocery store aisles and past judgmental teenagers.

Now that I am old(er) and the days of questionable diapers and temper tantrums are behind me, I find that my path, while rocky and long, has taken me to a place that the younger version of me would never have considered. Because the 'me' of my early years would have tilted her naturally colored head, scrunched her line-less eyes, taken a sip of her perfectly chilled Viognier and declared this path unlikely, an unreachable dream, never happening. Then she would have enjoyed a blissful night of sleep, one of literally dozens back then. In the morning, she would have woken up, dressed in an unhurried manner, eaten a leisurely breakfast, chatted or made out with her husband before heading out, well-rested and probably singing, to her income-producing job in the city.

Man, that girl was annoying.

But I am on this path of my own making. And on it I am writing, have written, a book. This path I've chosen is not paved, it's not straight, it is riddled with self-doubt, and I'm fairly certain it plummets over the side of the publishing cliff.

But here I am. Trying to be a writer. Stealing moments of time with my keyboard where I get to disappear into a world of my own making.

And I love it. But don't tell the other me. She's a hater.

So there it is. The world I've been living in for the past year and the one I continue to inhabit as I write book two. I don't know where this path will end, but I do know that working towards something that nurtures passion feels, well, really freaking good.

I used to worry that my kids would only ever see me as the mom who did their laundry (not well, mind you), made their meals, kept the house in "order" and managed their busy schedules. I worried that my example wasn't good enough.

Silly me.

One evening last spring, the kids were watching Star Wars, and I was on my computer, earphones in, my music turned up loud enough to drown out Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker's epic battle scene.

I wrote my own final scene that night. When I typed the words The End, I took out my earphones and whispered, "I did it."

Someone pushed pause on the movie and the kids and Sean crowded around me. "What did you do, Mommy?" Sawyer asked, climbing over the computer to get into my lap.

"I finished my book. I mean, I'll have to edit it a million times and then revise it, and then probably rewrite the entire thing. But, I finished it." I stared at the computer screen, shocked.

Sawyer burst into tears and we all turned to stare at him. "Why are you crying?" I asked.

"Because now you're going to get a secret agent and become famous," he said between sobs, "and you won't have time to be our mommy anymore."

We laughed. Hard. I reassured him. "Buddy, that just doesn't happen. Chances are this book will never be read by anyone outside this family."

"Then why did you write it?"

A question my younger self would have definitely asked. But this me, this 40-something mom of three and wife of one, this me knows the answer.

Because I could. And I didn't even have to take off my worn-in jammie pants to do it. Would I like to be able to share that my book will be in bookstores and available for purchase on Amazon tomorrow? Yes, I would like that very much. Will it happen? Maybe. Maybe not.

But that's okay. The other day my daughter told me something that has made every twist and turn of my path well worth it.

She hugged me and whispered, "I'm really proud of you, Mom."

And that beats writing The End any day.


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6 comments:

  1. Thank you. I really needed that right now. I recently embarked on a similar endeavor and have had some of the exact same thoughts. My path too has twisted and turned so many times, most often too fast, nearly tossing me off around the corner along the way. And I often foolishly find my 'younger self' wondering what kind of example am I giving my daughter, do I really want this for her? Yet conversely I then feel guilty for pursuing my own dreams...quite the conundrum this " stay-at-home " Mom thing is...

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    1. It is, but your example for your daughter isn't just about what you do outside of being a mom. It's about who you are as a person and how you face whatever challenges you take on. And you are an amazing example for your kids both as a mom and in how you pursue those personal dreams.

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  2. We are all super proud of you, Melissa, for being such an amazing multitasker. In addition to listing "awesome mom" and "fantastic wife" on your resume', you can now add "successful author." For as I see it, anyone who can write a book, from beginning to end, is successful. I look forward to reading your manuscript/book.

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  3. congratulations melissa, if you need a getaway overlooking the meditterrannean sea , mountain views, proud open and mostly sunny skies, old rikety stairs leading to the town below with the best wine in france, I can arrange a little writing table for you in a corner of the chateau, from your devlish aunt Jan, ps babysitting free of charge

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    1. The short answer...yes, a thousand times yes. That sounds beautiful and perfect. Save a spot at that little writing table - you never know when your equally devilish niece might show up.

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