Signs

Today my son G said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you were a writer like you wanted to be.” I didn’t answer at first and he and C discussed amongst themselves for the millionth time how I could work from home and spend more time with them and C went off on his favorite tangent about how I should be a teacher and work at their school and I listened and struggled to find my voice.

Finally, I said, “I am a writer. I just don’t make a living from it.”

“Yeah, that’s what I meant.”

The truth is if I wanted to be a writer I’d be working on it. Saying the words “I am a writer” doesn’t make it so.  I haven’t written a damn thing that was not work related in about six months. Real writers make time for their craft. Real writers are compelled to get the words on the page. Real writers stay up late and wake up early to tell their stories. Real writers can’t stop writing. Right?

Maybe it’s just the winter blues (again). Or maybe I just don’t have it in me. Maybe I’ve lost my voice in a more significant way than I thought.

I’ve been looking for signs for a while now. Signs to point me toward what I should be doing next. Signs that the work I do every day is meaningful. Signs that my work as a mother has been successful. Signs that I’m on the right path. I see or hear things that make me stop and think and wonder if they are the sign I’ve been looking for, but they are fleeting and ultimately insignificant.

My friend posted this on Facebook:

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I’m already haunted.

There is no great time to have an existential crisis, but as a single mom of tween-aged twin boys with a full-time job (which is fraught with its own tangles and ties to my perceived self-worth) and a house to run and a mortgage to pay, this just doesn’t seem like the optimal moment to start questioning my true life’s purpose. But then I remember that this is a road I have frequently traveled. There are no signs to be found and the path seems like a giant spiral; I go around a little longer and a little wider each time, but I still end up basically where I started off.

My boys are getting ready to wrap up their elementary school education and move on to the next level. Middle school. When everything starts to matter and each step builds upon the last. I so desperately want them to apply themselves and make sure they are giving themselves their best chance at whatever comes next. I give them all sorts of great motherly advice and then follow none of it myself.

Try. Do your best. Take your time. Be thorough. Be confident. Use your brain. Find what you love. Work hard. Make good choices.

Get your shit together.

I guess I’ve got some writing to do.

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All or Nothing

G asked me with all seriousness,”Would you rather have everything in the world that you want and not have me and my brother or have nothing except for me and my brother.”

“Nothing except for you and your brother.”

“That’s what I thought, but I wasn’t sure because sometimes we annoy you.”

“Just because you make me mad doesn’t mean I would ever want you to go away. I would hope that you know that. There is nothing is more important to me than you and your brother.”

“I know. I just wanted you to tell me again.”

Now, this little conversation made me a little bummed because I would hope that he really knows I wouldn’t give him up for anything. I guess we all want that reassurance that we are loved and wanted and that there is nothing in the world better or more important than we are. But it really got me thinking about the choices we make in life. Most of us become parents and think we can have it all- everything we want out of life and being a parent too. For others, being a parent is everything they have ever wanted in life and nothing else even matters. And sometimes I think choosing to be a parent can seem like an all or nothing proposition.

I was tempted to brush off G’s question as “silly”, but he was sincere when he said it, so I was just as sincere when I answered it. Then I stopped to think that there are probably some parents who would like to have that choice…that they would choose to have everything else that they desired if they could only ditch their children. After all, there are people who drop babies in dumpsters, abuse, neglect, and even kill their own children. I just cannot fathom this. I also can’t fathom those who completely disappear from their children’s lives after a divorce or break up. In some ways, that is even harder for me to understand because that first group of people must surely be mentally ill. The second group of people are just incredibly selfish.

Before I became pregnant, I couldn’t imagine life with a child (let alone twins). I was hugely selfish. I had big plans and big dreams that I was eventually getting around to fulfilling all while I lived a semi-carefree life at the beach in San Diego. Life was pretty good. Once I was pregnant and there was no turning back, I definitely wondered what I had gotten myself into (oh, wait, I didn’t get myself into it…I had help. Not that you would know it. But I digress…) I kept believing that God had a plan for me that I wasn’t privy to, so I just tried to go with it. And day by day I grew deeper in love with my unborn boys. While I was going through my horribly rocky pregnancy, I felt like if I could just get them out and hold them that everything would be OK. Then of course when they arrived healthy and I was so incredibly relieved, I felt like I had truly hit the jackpot. Even when they told me I had to go home and the boys had to stay one more day. Even when I had to shuffle from my “hotel” hospital bed, down to the nursery where they were under the bili lights and could barely make it because of the pain of the c-section. Even when I had to take them home by myself. Even in those moments where I wasn’t sure I could carry on one more day, one more minute, I wouldn’t have traded those babies for anything. Even if God came from the sky and said, you can have a do over. In fact, I was so scared that someone was going to show up at my door and say that it was all a mistake and that I couldn’t have my babies. That I was still selfish and that I didn’t deserve them. That I wasn’t good enough to be their mother.

Having long suffered from self-esteem issues, I worked hard to be worthy of those babies. Or more accurately, to convince myself that I was worthy of my babies. To show them and the world and myself that I could be a good mother. And sometimes, I feel like I have knocked it out of the park. Other times, I still feel unsure and selfish and like an impostor. But I’m working on it. I’m trying to learn the balancing act; be a good mom, raise good boys, and try to achieve those big plans and big dreams. It is getting easier as they get older. I don’t have to be with them every second providing something educational or imaginative or active or whatever for them to do…they can choose these things for themselves. And if they don’t, I am trying not to be uptight about it. It won’t kill them to watch TV while I write or read or choose something to fill myself up. I couldn’t keep living for the hour a day between when they would go to sleep and I would collapse from exhaustion. It wasn’t filling me up. So, I’ve learned to take time for me and not consider it selfish. I’m learning that choosing to be a parent doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. Although, if I did have to choose, I would choose to have nothing but the beautiful boys who grace my life, for they have taught me “everything”.