Taking Myself Seriously

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A serious writer.

I find and place three pairs of socks. Brush three sets of teeth. Pack snacks in two different bags. (Also, spend an inordinate amount of time finding containers with lids for said snacks. Finally give up and just pack an entire sleeve of crackers.) I physically dress or coach the dressing of the kids.

Together, my husband and I buckle them into three car seats. I drop the husband at the hotel. Drop the oldest at kindergarten. Try to keep him focused on undressing and writing his name on the sign in sheet. Kiss goodbye. I take the other two to a friend with whom I’ve worked out a childcare exchange. Undress kids, chat for a moment, say goodbye, and run.

I am here, in my cold little office. The electric kettle is boiling and I’ll make a cup of tea. I light a stick of incense because I like doing something to mark the shift from my mundane to my sacred time. My writing time.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

It’s not enough.

I’ve come to realize that in the past week or so. There are two projects jumping for attention in my brain. Two projects that are languishing right now because all I can afford is an hour here, two hours there, of sporadic time. It’s hard to take myself seriously as a writer when time for research and writing comes second. Comes third.

I’ve decided that it can’t be something I fit into the spaces that may or may not open up in my day. I’ve decided that writing has to come first. That I have to look at this as a business that I am starting myself. As it stands, writing feels like a hobby. I want it to be my vocation.

I am the one who keeps myself from this. I am the one who is afraid to take the risk of finding more permanent, regular childcare and sitting down and researching and writing and maybe publishing my words. I tell myself that because I didn’t have “a Career” before having kids, that I have to be a stay at home mom. Talking to my husband about this, he answers: “Why? Says who?”

I feel like some kind of monster for not wanting to spend all of my time (literally, all of it) with my kids. But then, upon further reflection, I realize that many women don’t want to do this. They had jobs that they loved, or that they needed, before having kids. After having kids, they go back to them. I certainly don’t think they’re monsters. So why am I one?

The answer lies in the risk I’m taking. In diving into my writing like it’s a real, live thing that I want to spend a big chunk of my time doing, I’m taking a huge risk. It is essentially a business endeavor that may very well fail. I might never get published. Or I might choose to become my own publisher, and then suck at marketing myself.

Or, I might become my own publisher, market the shit out of my books, and become a successful author-entrepreneur.

But I won’t ever know if I don’t try. And I want to try NOW. I don’t want to wait three more years until the last baby finally goes off to kindergarten. Those three years will be miserable. I want to get started. I want to take the risk.

I am worthy of my dreams.

I am worthy of the risk.

And I am worthy of some form of childcare!

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Transitions

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As I went through his things this morning, writing his initials: A.M. on the tags of his coat, his hat, his mittens, his boots, his backpack, his blue plastic cup, it really hit me that this is who he is. He is A.M. Different from the other kids. Different from me. I am T.B. And today, his first day in Kindergarten, he begins moving away from me, from my sphere of control, from my ideas about who he is and who he should be. He begins to move into himself, begins to occupy his own life more fully. He’ll do things I know nothing about. He’ll learn things that I didn’t teach him. He’ll say his own name and ask the names of others. And this doesn’t scare me. I am so ready for this.

And here I am: T.B. Moving into my own life a little bit more, feeling more space opening up for myself, my dreams. More air for me to breathe. More silent moments for me to slip into. This writing today and the writing I’ve been doing each day this month, is a part of it, a part of moving forward. A part of my claiming, my reclaiming of what is mine and not-mine. The clouds reflect in the glass tabletop where I sit to write; the sky is lightening and, also, still grey. It is in transition as I am.

It strikes me that transition, this particular transition that has begun today or perhaps was begun weeks ago, is much like the quality of the days at this time of year, this far north. These shortened northern days are one long sunrise that fades into sunset a few hours later. It is a transition with blurred edges. No edges. It’s muted pinks and greys and mauves, it is always beginning and always ending, too. He has always been going to kindergarten and I have always been sitting at this table writing and writing. He has always been A.M. and I have always been T.B. and here we are, here we’ve always been in the indirect light of this winter day. He’s always been both mine and not-mine, always spinning closer and further away from me and I’ve always been doing the same, spinning closer and further from my self.

I sit here and write myself into the perpetual transition of the day, the dark morning fading to light fading to the dark night again. The sun rising and setting, so low on the horizon that soon we won’t see it over the hills that surround this river valley. He’ll go to school in the dark, he’ll come home from school in the almost-dark. I’ll write in the light, in the dark, in the dips and silences of the day. I’ll write my way closer as he explores further and further away. And then, before I know it, the other two will spin off on their own trajectories; are already spinning off on their own trajectories. We’ll all orbit one another and the light will rise and fall.