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Cathy: Prior complaints

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After my prior complaints of not feeling like I am writing enough and my excuses-disguised-as-reasons blogs, I took a couple of pages from Christa Miller’s comments and Suzanne Kamata’s Breakfast interview. I squeezed in a little writing in my novel this week. Granted, it was a little, and I hope a little more today. Baby C was post-nursing soundly sleeping on my lap, and my back was achingly curved toward the keyboard, but I wrote. Exactly as I am doing now.

When Suzanne mentioned that her most creatively productive time of her life came after she had her twins who came bundled up with lots besides being twins, I realized I had to get moving. When Christa said:

I think it’s very limiting to say one “can’t” write a novel in stolen minutes outside tap class. Every time someone says I “can’t” I say, “Oh yeah??” OK, so maybe you can’t WRITE A NOVEL that way… but you can draft scenes. You can outline. You can brainstorm characters. All of it counts.

I drank from her dare-me spirit. Somewhere this week I began to feel if I don’t write now, when will I? Baby C will be graduating from high school when I’m 60 years old. Do I start taking myself seriously about the writing and publishing then? Will I even be around that long? I’ve learned to live in the now so much, especially because of and from aspie S, that I put off an entire lifetime of predictions and goals or the working toward them until I have “me” time. Well, guess what. My boys have been out of town for over three weeks, and what have I done? Not nearly what I thought. The time slipped away from me with so much openness about it. I’m such a procrastinating dreamer. Well if I think about it, isn’t that writing, too?

So I hunkered down. I remembered a movie I love in which Stanley Tucci’s character befriends a ‘great writer’ played by Ian Holm. It’s called Joe Gould’s Secret. If you haven’t seen the movie, my apologies but here’s the spoiler: his secret was he never wrote the book he talked about for years, decades. He died incomplete.

I don’t want to die incomplete. I want to finish this youth novel. I want to finish other projects: a couple of screenplays, another novel, organize a lifetime of poems into submissions and slim volumes. I don’t want all to be said of me at my funeral is that I was a devoted mother. Oh, I want that, too, but I have so much more to say now and I don’t want to take my time for granted anymore. Ok, it’s time to get back to the book. Please, Baby C, stay asleep just a little while longer.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cathy, I am SO there with you on this post. You’ve encapsulated the push-and-pull of motherhood as a creative person. We want to focus on our families, and enjoy all the beauty there, but we also want to accomplish something in the creative-self department.

    I don’t want to die incomplete, either. And God help me, I do not want to be one of those people who always talks about their “book” but never manages to make it happen.

    As has come up several times on this blog, there are two sides that seem to be at odds: a) “You have an infant, and older children. Go easy on yourself. These days are precious and fleeting. It gets easier later on.” b) “There is no time like the present. If you really want to do something, you’ll do it. There will always be lots of good reasons to procrastinate. But if The Big Mac Truck mows you down tomorrow, will you have been satisfied with how you spent your time?”

    It seems to me that the only way to negotiate between these two camps is to become ultra aware of how you spend your time. There really are only 24 hours in each day. When you’re with your kids, be with them, and love it. When you have opportunity to create, do it. Don’t wait. And don’t lose traction in the spaces invbetween. Identify all of your time-drains and eliminate them. If surfing the web feeds you — even reading this blog — then great. But set a timer and limit yourself to 15 minutes. Then, do your creative work. Computer time and television are huge black holes that can eat up everything else if you let them.

    This is related to my suggestion to create a centering page: Decide what’s important and paste it to your forehead. Then look in the mirror at regular intervals. Seriously, it’s so easy to be distracted and waste time wallowing in guilt. But clearly, there IS a way to do what you want to do creatively AND be the mother you want to be. Many of the women featured in this blog are doing it. Go go go!

    August 14, 2008
  2. Cathy #

    15mins?! what, are you kidding?!

    well, if i can limit the boys to 30 min of video games/screen time, i guess i can do the same for my surfing. thanks for the tip.

    August 14, 2008
  3. This is the forever struggle, isn’t it? Finding that balance. I think the balance is different for each of us and sometimes maybe you (in the proverbial sense) really do just need to give yourself a break. I know I do. Case in point…this past weekend, I really wanted to get my Fatbook entries done (they are due on the 17th of each month, yet I never seem to make the deadline….life or death issue…no!). Didn’t get around to them on Saturday because DH and the girls and I went to the park and then came home and jumped in the pool. In the long run, that was more important than finishing those entries. Didn’t get to them Saturday afternoon due to those good old household chores. So I said, okay, I’ll do them Sunday. DH then invited some friends over Sunday and said I needed to just go float in the river with Deb and the girls while he and Bill slaved over the grill. Okay, twist my arm. Yet still in the back of my head I had that running list of things to do screaming madly. My point? I think sometimes we expect too much of ourselves. Sure, it’s important to us to leave a legacy other than “she was a great mom”, but then again, I’m trying to learn to see absolutely nothing wrong with that sort of legacy. I’m trying to accept the fact that I can’t do it all, so what I get done is just going to have to be good enough. I think maybe we try to cram so much into our days, checking off things that we feel we “should” be doing, that we forget to live in the moment. I’m trying not to do that. The moments are too short and will be gone too soon. Michael Phelps and all those Olympic athletes don’t live in the real world. We do.

    And yes!!!! 15 minutes of internet surfing?!?! simply not possible. 🙂 I don’t have that kind of discipline!

    August 14, 2008
  4. Cathy #

    yeah, kelly, though at the moment it sounds like we’re on opposite ends of that pendulum. i think i want something to show for who i am outside of mom. mom is great, but i’m cathy, too. i’m a little swallowed up in mom.

    and for me, it’s more like 15min/15x aday! this is going to be tough! like now for instance 😉

    August 14, 2008
  5. Maybe so, Cathy. I guess I just can’t see that for me right now. Don’t get me wrong, I do get “swallowed up in Mom” at times, too. Last night after I put the girls and the dog to bed and climbed in bed with DH, he was laying next to me asking me to scratch his back when the cat hopped up and got in my face wanting my attention as well. I call it the “everybody wants mama” syndrome. I’m blessed to a have fairly supportive spouse at home, though I often have a hard time getting him to see how much I truly do and how much he needs to be helping me more. He was raised in a family in which Mom’s sole job was raising the family. I was a latch-key kid…my mom and dad both always worked. So now, we fight those unspoken this is how he was raised vs this is how I was raised battles. The other thing for me, I think, is that I waited so long and went through so much to have these girls….years of infertility treatments and miscarriages…that now time really is precious to me. You mentioned you’ll be 60 when baby C graduates from high school. My DH will be 62 when our girls graduate, and I’ll be 55, so we are kinda right there with you on that one. Some people might say, well you (meaning me) had 37 years before your girls were born to make your mark on society…but honestly, who in the real world has created a legacy to leave behind by the time they are in their mid- to late-thirties? Sure there are the superstars, those Michael Phelps’ Miranda mentioned, but I’m not one of them.

    And by the way, I like that picture of you and baby C nursing you put in the post. I have a picture DH took of me nursing the girls (simultaneously and, therefore, with no hands to defend myself!), and even though my boobs are hanging out, it always makes me laugh because of the look on my face…and because of how much I cherish those times of babyhood. I know I’ll never have enough time to do what I want to do. I’m learning to accept that more and more every day.

    August 14, 2008
  6. Cathy #

    i hear you, i went thru quite a bit in last couple of years to get baby c, too, and i am appreciating these baby times even moreso this time around.

    with k, i was in such a rush for the next stage, i didn’t appreciate the one he was in – first word, great, now how about first steps! and i was fulltime in a job i hated. with s, well, he was a joy and a challenge right from the start, honestly, his first 3 years are a big old blur, eventhough i was available to him for most of it by taking care of others’ kids instead of going to an office. and then lots of extra care like drs galore….

    kelly, i love that you’re in a place where you appreciate momhood and your girls so much! esp with fulltime job and lots of projects of your own. i think this blog came out of my need to get busy on my own stuff – walk the walk, if i talk the talk.

    thanks re: pic. she had fallen asleep post nursing there. then dh snuck up on me w/camera. and me in a pre-preg tshirt, what was he thinking?! (probably ginormous gazungas)

    August 14, 2008
  7. ginormous gazungas, exactly! that is exactly what my dh was thinking too! LOL!

    August 14, 2008
  8. OMG, that’s what they’re ALL thinking….

    August 14, 2008
  9. Jen #

    What a great post and fantastic discussion! All of this is ringing really true for me, especially this week…. it’s always so nice to get perspective from others caught in the struggle.

    LOL about what they’re *all* thinking! I loved the pic, though (always love those nursing pics!) and it’s always wonderful to see my Baby Friendly Beads in action. I’m delighted to hear that you are still loving them!

    August 18, 2008
  10. Cathy #

    baby loves them, too. she likes sticking her finger in the disc hole while nursing, and waving it around.

    August 19, 2008

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