I've been selfish lately. And I'm not sure how I feel about it.
Lately I've been very focused on my own needs - and tonight was a perfect example. Yet my conflict stems from my not feeling conflicted enough - I mean I'm not mad at myself for being selfish, I'm more upset about not being more upset regarding the lack of time I've been spending with my children . . . Let me try to explain.
Over the last six months or so I have rediscovered the writer inside me that has been dormant for years. I've been writing short stories, blogging (obviously), journaling and now I'm thinking about writing a novel - something I have been thinking about doing since I was a teenager. I've always had this feeling inside that I have something to offer the world of publishing. I just always felt that it was meant to be, but like many things in my life, I've had trouble putting in the work and have struggled with the follow through.
But over the last six to eight weeks my desire to write a novel has grown and with NaNo coming up in a little over two weeks, my drive and focus has intensified. I've got an outline going, I've got characters running around inside my head, random scenes written on notecards (I've even color coded them and for anyone who knows me they know that I've never color coded anything). I've purchased a couple of How-To books and I'm currently reading some non-fiction regarding the topic of my novel.
This is where the selfishness comes in.
I worked at my "day job" today, then came home and hung around with my boys. My youngest was in desperate need of a nap (read whining incessantly) and my oldest son was doing anything he could to increase the volume of his brother's whining. So I laid down on the couch with my little one and he quickly fell asleep on my chest.
After a while, I gently moved my precious sleeper off of me and headed to the computer. I checked my email, I checked my myspace page, my writing group forums . . . Meanwhile, my older son was watching tv. I know, I know - Motherly sin of all sins; letting the television babysit my own child. There's guilty seed number one.
I continued to work on a short story I'm trying to finish before NaNo until my son woke up. I went back to the couch to hang out and then my sister called. I knew what she was calling about, I had left a couple of messages for her, so I figured it would be a quick call. Well, I started talking and couldn't stop. I just started going on and on about her wedding, an aerobics class we want to start taking, family stuff, relationship stuff, my writing stuff . . . an hour, and several attempts by my children to get my attention later, I realized it was getting late. Guilty seed number two.
It was dinner time - past what would usually be referred to as "early bird" dinner and our usual mealtime, so I made some chicken nuggets and the two boys sat down to eat. I wasn't very hungry and so I skipped eating (until I had some cereal, alone, about an hour ago) and started reading a book. When the boys were done I was still reading, so I let them play together for a bit. There was some friction (probably because they were trying to get my attention) and finally I exploded about all the fighting and the yelling and the running in the house . . . Guilty seed number three.
I sent them into the bathroom for baths, got them dressed for bed and did our nightly bedtime ritual of reading books and tucking in - too bad I was putting them to bed 45 minutes late. Perfect for my older son who has to wake up and go to school tomorrow morning. Guilty seed number four.
But while I feel guilty for taking time out to do what I want, when I want, too, I don't feel that guilty and I feel worse about not feeling guilty enough. Does that make any sense?
I know that I am a person and not only a mother and therefore have the right to do my own thing. I'm a strong proponent of that very mantra in fact. But I know that between work and my own timeouts I'm not giving my children the best of what I have to give. In fact, I'm short with them and lax in keeping their routine. Yet, I don't want to give up the time I take throughout the day.
And that's even before I start thinking about the state of my relationship with my husband. We work opposite schedules. We watch a lot of tv and spend plenty of individual time on the computer. We read. Basically the time we have together is spent doing individual activities - kind of like what's referred to as "parallel play" with toddlers. And so when I devote large chunks of time to my writing when the boys are asleep and my husband is home - there's guilty seed number five.
So I think that while we have been taught we can have it all - we can't. There are always sacrifices that must be made and things we will miss out on. The question is how do you balance it so that one person isn't always making the sacrifices, the same person isn't missing your presence in their life and the guilt doesn't eat away at you?
I don't think that I need more hours in the day (I'm exhausted enough as it is), but better management of my time - Something else to think about I guess.
Labels: children, guilt, life, mothers, NaNo, reading, selfish, stress, writing