“Writing is my icing”

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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.

“No regrets.”

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.

But…

It isn’t really the thing that 20 years from now I’ll look back on and say, “Thank God for my writing!”

No.

***

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 think.

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.

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25 Responses to ““Writing is my icing””

  1. Ditto, everything you said!

    When I left my 10 year career in marketing, in something I’d busted my balls for, I had little regret though I thought about where I’d be if I’d never left.

    But when I look back on the last 2 1/2 years of being a mother, I know that I’d never give up this dream – of being there for every moment of my child’s life. I want my children to look back on their childhood and say, “My mom was there for me. She shaped me, my memories, my life.” And that, my friend, is my dream.

    • Jessica says:

      I can so relate to your story! It’s weird because I never thought that I could be happy being where I am today, but I am. I do feel fulfilled. That isn’t to say that I don’t have rough days where I do second-guess my choices. But, it’s to say that right now, I am happy. Right now, I have no regrets. Right now, this is where I am!

  2. vanita says:

    sis you just hit the nail on the head for me. i look forward to when my kids are my age and love me for being the mom i am. there is no dream bigger than that one for me.

  3. Kimberly says:

    I want my kids to look back and remember that I was here for them, in the present, making memories together. That means everything to me.

    • Jessica says:

      Me too! I can’t imagine my life any other way than it is today. Yesterday, Nya told me that she is a “princess.” I asked why and she held her dress and twirled around very gracefully. She then pointed to me and told me I was a “princess,” too. The moment was priceless. Then, and many other occasions, I find myself realizing just how great this life is for me. And this isn’t to say that my life is perfect or will be perfect for another mom. But for me, it works!

  4. Kimberly says:

    I am still trying to find my footing as to whether I love being a SAHM or a working mom. Before I got sick I worked part time and that was a wonderful balance..
    But now I’m home, I love it. Sure there are days when I crave being with adults…like my trip to the Er last week…I was craving to be back in nursing shoes.
    But I want to to what is best for my child. What does he need. I guess that goes with the territory of being a parent, their needs over ours…but we do have to keep our voice higher…know what I’m saying?

    • Jessica says:

      I agree completely. There really has to be a balance. Because we matter, too!! I think I used to say that I just stayed home for my kids. But, for me, at least, that’s not true. My children, I know, would be fine in childcare, good childcare. I know this from my short-lived experience as a working mom. Nya had a babysitter who was absolutely lovely.

      Now that I’m at home and have found my groove, I realize that the reason I’m at home is not just because I think it’s good for my kids, but it’s because this is where I want to be at this time in my life. It’s about them, yes, but me, too.

      If working made me happiest, you know, I would get a job, just because my happiness is key to my family being happy. And I would have no regrets. And my children, I know, would be fine. Just fine. I say all this to say whatever path you choose, do think about yourself, too. Do what is good for your children, but also remember to do what is good for you. I hope this helps, friend. xo.

  5. Emmy says:

    This was beautiful! And yes, growing up I had dreams of being a teacher, a writer, and probably several others things– but ultimately tough I never would express it out loud, I wanted to be a mother. So why is it so hard somedays and I try and find anything else to do. It is what I wanted and it is wonderful and horrific and perfect in all it’s craziness- so I need to enjoy it and know I will be a better person on the the other end of it if I do it right now.

    • Jessica says:

      I’m glad you could relate, Emmy! It is hard and challenging and, I think, it’s normal to have second guesses. The most important thing is that you find your groove that makes you happy. I think we all have “bad” days or weeks, even, but so long as we, for ourselves, can remember what matters most to us, that’s key. :)

  6. Mirjam says:

    The funny thing is, that I had so many dreams, but my biggest one was becoming a mom. And just when I thought I had given up on all other dreams, they are starting to come true in a way so much better than I could have ever imagined.

    • Jessica says:

      That’s awesome! It’s amazing that I’ve heard that from many other moms – that they’re pre-baby dreams are coming true slowly, but surely. I think motherhood made me less afraid to dream and more focused on pursuing my dreams. Writing has always been a dream in the true sense of the word for me. I dreamed to write but never thought I would ever really write out loud. But, I am writing now out loud now…at a slow pace. But, I’m writing.

  7. I was never really ambitious. All I wanted was to have a happy home life.

    Now, I’m stuck in a quandary of sorts, deliberating whether I should be a WAHM or keep working my ass off in the office. I really appreciate the comment you left on my blog about that, by the way :)

    As an echo to your Katy Perry quote, yes, or rather no, I would not let my career get in the way of my mommyhood.
    Yes, it’s all about balance. It’s difficult, but possible I guess…

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you! I’m glad you found that comment useful! And I look forward to following your journey! I think the important thing to remember is that you must do what feels right for you. Right now, the arrangement that I’ve worked out, with me writing on the side, works. Tomorrow, if it doesn’t, then, of course, I’ll make changes. I think whether you’re working outside of the home or not, you can still be a great mom. You can still enjoy motherhood and your children. You can! I need to write a post on this, but the important part is that you’re happy! If you’re happy, everything else will fall into place!! :-)

  8. Galit Breen says:

    Mourning perspective, oh my does that ever say it all.

    And this mothering gig? As humbling and hard as it may be, it still magically shows exactly what’s important – overandoverandover again.

    (Love this post. So much.)

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you, Galit! Thank you for your words and for sharing this post with your Twitter followers! I really appreciate it! :-)

  9. My ambitions since becoming a mom have TOTALLY changed. I wanted to go back to school, get a higher degree etc etc etc. But motherhood led to me taking photos of my boy and that led to me becoming happily obsessed with photography. Trying to become a mother led me back to writing through my blog. Did you know that my original dream in high school was to become a world famous author? My orignal major in college was creative writing. Yep. It’s amazing how motherhood has reopened all of the old dreams and put the ones I thought I had aside.

    • Jessica says:

      It’s amazing how that happens! It’s amazing how our children and the process of mothering teaches new things about ourselves and others. Amazing.

  10. This is such a perfect gem: “was a good teacher of womanhood and ABCs”
    You have such a way with words!

  11. Lucy says:

    I read this a few days ago but failed to comment. I love it so much, I don’t even know where to start. In reading it again, I have chills. You communicated this perfectly, you articulated something I’ve known to be true but didn’t know how to express. This is why I don’t spend *enough* time growing Herbal Philosophy. Because I’m too busy being with my family. Sometimes I don’t even know why I try when I don’t have the energy that the company deserves. But I also don’t know if I can turn back, or if I should.

  12. [...] by Jessica on May 15, 2012 There’s a metaphor for what I want to say right now, but I can’t think of it. I hate when that happens. So, anyway, I want to talk about something that I’ve been meaning to talk about ever since my last post on writing being my icing. [...]

  13. [...] Writing is my chocolate icing. It’s the thing I do along with motherhood that sweetens this journey. [...]

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  15. […] Writing is my chocolate icing. It’s the thing I do along with motherhood that sweetens this journey. […]