My thanks to Brooke Moss, who inspired this blog post. In today’s post, she talked about how she’s been getting grief from friends and family who don’t understand how busy she is as a wife, mother, and published author.
While I’m still awaiting publication (next month!), I can relate. After all, I have two kids and work full-time. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve gotten grief for not having time for anyone anymore. It started when I first had kids, and then got worse when I went back to work full-time.
I live a tightly regimented existence between the hours of 6AM and 8PM. I don’t really talk to my friends during those hours because I’m either getting ready for work, at work, or actively doing something for the kids. Playing with them, doing homework, coaching soccer, taking the kids to their various lessons, cooking dinner, or trying desperately (and futilely) to bring my house back from the brink of chaos.
It is a very… busy… life.
And then, to make things more interesting, I decided I was going to write a novel just over two years ago. So now, my days are regimented from 6AM to midnight.
I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands.
My friends (the ones who “get me”) understand this. I will make time for my friends, absolutely, and if one of them really needed me (and you know who you are), I would drop everything to help them, because honestly, they don’t ask. So when they do ask, yeah, I know it’s important.
Earlier today, during one of my fits of guilt, the husband and I were discussing my time, or lack thereof. I was telling him that if I invested the same amount of time on a second job that I have with the writing, I could have us out of debt. I’d never be home, and I’d hate it, but I would do it.
And do you know what he said? He said he knew I’d give up the writing if he asked me to. And then he followed it up with this kicker, “But I wouldn’t ask you to do that, because you’d be giving up the only thing you’ve ever had that was just for you. You’ve wanted this since you were ten years old. Who am I to tell you no?”
I wanted to cry, because he’s right. That man knows my heart. If he asked, I’d give up the writing. Just like my grandmother before me. And if I did that, I would spend the rest of my life… missing something. Eventually, I would tell my granddaughter about the stories I tell in my head to help me go to sleep. I’d tell her how I’d never been free to write them down, and she would feel sorry for me like I felt sorry for my grandmother all those years ago.
I was fifteen, and to this day, I wonder if that’s the only real conversation I ever had with her.
I sometimes wonder if she told me because she thought I might be the only person in the family who really understood. I never thought of my scientist grandmother as having the heart of a poet, but I guess she did. She gave up that heart because my grandfather told her it was a waste of time.
A waste of time.
My husband supports every crazy idea I’ve ever had–and I’ve had a bunch. When I told him I wanted to write, he got me a giant monitor so I could see it, because we didn’t know how long my vision would last. He’s taken me to conferences, driven me two and a half hours over the hill so I could attend meetings, read all my contest entries, and helped me choreograph fight scenes. He’s done all of that, while less supportive people have done nothing more than roll their eyes and suggest that I give up writing altogether to focus on cleaning my house or relaxing, as if the latest episode of Maury Povich is somehow more important. (Aside: is that show even still on?)
People who don’t write don’t understand what those kinds of suggestions do to those of us who do. When they tell me to stop wasting my time, they don’t understand that they’re not helping. That they are, in fact, attacking the very essence of who I am. Those people, who deride the “weird writer types,” are attacking me, because I am a “weird writer type,” whether I write down the stories in my head or not.
So when I don’t call, don’t freak out. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’m so busy I can hardly see straight. At the same time, I don’t need all sorts of unwanted advice about how I can achieve balance by giving up the one thing I have that is mine–writing. When you do, you are telling me I should give up that which makes me me.
I am not ashamed of who I am.
I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a teacher. I am a friend.
I am also a writer.
And there is no shame in that.