In high school, along with wearing Talbots and carrying around a day planner, I watched Oprah. I liked her inspirational stuff, the days Dr. Phil would come on and say something that really didn’t make sense but really did make sense in the moment. Things like, “You’re a cat in a alley running from his shadow.” For the record, Dr. Phil has never said that, but it sounds like something he would say, right?
Anyway, so I watched Oprah for that and for her many segments on moms. One in particular that stands out in my mind was this segment in which Oprah allowed four moms to “live out the dreams” they abandoned with motherhood. One mom got pregnant shortly after high school, so for instance, her dream of becoming a Rockette was dashed. Another mom dreamed of becoming a singer, but years and four kids later, she “missed” that boat, or calling. On the show, Oprah allowed these women a day of “being” or “becoming” what they loved. So the one mom got to dance with the Rockettes and the other mom got to sing before an audience.
And in doing what they loved, finally, they cried. To me then, it seemed like a kind of longing kind of a cry, the kind that happens when you say to yourself, “What if?”
I was in high school then and my aspirations for having a baby were far off, but I thought about them nonetheless. And in thinking of them, or those aspirations, and in watching those women, I decided that if nothing else, I did not want to lose sight of my dreams in motherhood. I wanted to live a “fulfilled” life, and the idea of having a fulfilled life meant doing something, a talent, that defined me pre-motherhood, something that I could carry with me through motherhood. I didn’t want to lose myself. I wanted to stay the person that I thought I needed to be to say I “did it,” or balanced my dreams against the weight of motherhood.
So, for me, it was writing. Writing was, and is, one of the things that makes me happy. It’s the thing that I do in the, sometimes, scarce moments of “free time” that I have when my children are sleeping. It’s me, or the version of “me” that existed before motherhood.
I started this blog to hold on to that, I realize now.
I’m thankful for my writing. It makes me happy. It gives me something interesting to do when I’m not “being” a mom. It’s my “I’m a stay at home mom and __________.
It gives me something to reach for and not feel as though I’ve lost all the grains of ambitions that got me where I was before I had kids, where I am today.
It isn’t really the thing that 20 years from now I’ll look back on and say, “Thank God for my writing!”
One weekend, I was driving back home from dropping off my oldest daughter at my mom’s house for a weekend. I was driving and listening to some songs I never get to play when my girls are in the car with me. I was tired and emotionally spent in thinking about how much I miss them when they’re gone but sometimes wish them away when they’re here and I need to get “real” work done.
I paused, then, and began thinking through Katie Perry singing about her Friday night.”I want to be a writer, but even if the perfect writing opportunity came along, if it got in the way of me enjoying this time in my life as a mom and wife and woman, I probably wouldn’t take it.” No, correction, I would not take it.
Writing that out made my stomach hurt.
But, I’ll take it.
20 years from now, I want to remember I played, was a good teacher of womanhood and ABCs, kissed boo boos, read books that I wanted to read, loved fully, and laugh heartily at crawling attempts and “peek-a-boos” and bad knock-knock jokes.
I want to remember and love what I have now instead of blindly sacrificing all this to chase after a dream that can’t add to color my face in the final days of my life, a dream that I won’t even be able to hold on to 20 years down the line when they’re gone and I’m alone and able to write, finally, in peace, uninterrupted, to my heart’s content.
I get why those women were crying on Oprah, I think. I don’t think they were crying or mourning their lost lives, but what they gained since and the perspective it’s given to their older dreams.
I will keep writing because it really does matter to me. But I’ll only write at the very slow pace I’m at now, because writing is my yummy side, my icing on my large chocolate cake of all the other roles I assume currently.
So, this is me right now. And until my girls grow up, this is where I’ll be.