Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Writing Wednesdays

OK, yeah. I designated Wednesdays for writing topics, but things have been happening lately that are demanding my attention, causing me to question what I’ve been doing with my time, my skills, and my life and I can't seem to focus on much else. I suppose it’s timely--starting a new year defining ones values is not a bad thing, and I feel like I’ve not been making the best use of my time on earth lately.

Two more things happened today (that’s two in a long list of things) that pressed home the point yet again. One was a long, dreary staff meeting where I had to listen to other people being given sole credit for projects that I not only initiated, but also planned, developed and implemented through many hours of hard work. The other was a phone call from one of my daughter’s teachers about how she’s been cutting class and is close to failing. That’s been going on for a while now, and Emily is a very bright girl so there’s no academic excuse for her bad grades.

Obviously, something is wrong and I’m asking myself, I’ve been working long hours to provide a certain level of income for what? I know this is a common occurrence; if it weren’t, there wouldn’t be such sayings as “No one ever said on their deathbed, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’” And while from time to time I have made breaks away from it, attempting to put first things first, it seems like I repeatedly allowed myself to be sucked back into the money-work-stress cycle.

I remember thinking some years ago that if I just had more money, everything would be okay. Well, now I’m making forty thousand more per year than I was then. (Not that I’m well off by any means; the fact that I’m up 40K simply speaks to how poor I was.) However, I’m no happier now than I was then. I’m just as stressed worrying about my kid, just as unhappy that I don’t have the time or energy to pursue the things I enjoy. So I asked myself, since money didn’t make a difference, what would? What am I missing? The answer was clear: time and purpose. I’ve been lacking both--then and now.

Actually, I’ve changed jobs on a couple of occasions to give myself more time, but I realize now that I still lacked purpose; or else, didn’t commit fully to whatever purpose I’d used as an excuse for quitting. I think those times I switched jobs was simply because I was burnt out, but told myself I was doing it for better reasons; yet once the fear of poverty set in, I went back to the grind.

I just took some time off from writing this blog to have a long talk with my daughter. After our discussion about her grades, I also told her that I’m going to ask my boss if I can go to part-time. Her first words were (in a panicky voice), “But won’t that mean you’ll be paid less?” I said yes, but the money wasn’t worth giving up my life. She said it would be for her. That led to a long discussion about values, reminders of how we lived before vs. how we live now and if we truly were any happier, and how short and unpredictable life really is: my younger brother died suddenly a couple of years ago from heart failure; he was only 31. I don’t expect her to change her way of thinking overnight, but I believe the seed was planted that one thing we can’t buy is the most valuable thing we can have: time for our loved ones, time for ourselves.

Now, I’ll try to bring this back around to writing. :) Going part-time will only just cover the bills. But the freedom to spend time with her, to give her the attention she needs, to do the things that make me happy such as writing and painting--that’s priceless. I believe I can only become a better writer, painter and most importantly, mother, because of it.


  1. I wish more parents understood the concept of commitment as you do. Working in alternative education, I don't often deal with supportive parents who give their kids the attention they need to thrive.

    Here's an example of something I have had to listen to more than once.

    "I don't know what to do. I mean, he's sixteen. I can't make him study. He stays up all night, hangs out with his friends, and doesn't do a whole lot around the house. Does he drink? Well, yeah, but what kid doesn't? At least he only drinks on home, during the weekend. I let his friends come over. I won't let him go out and drink. Marijuana? Well, he experiments. But you know, we all experimented when we were young. As long as it isn't carried out too far.

  2. Thanks, Stewart. It's so hard - believe me, there are days I just feel like giving up. Before I ever became pregnant with her, I'd see how other parents & children were and, of course, knew it would *never* be like that for me. When I found out I was pregnant, everyone said it would be hard, would change my life forever, and I scoffed thinking, how hard can it be? All they do is eat, poop and sleep - anybody can handle that. No biggie.

    Oh, the folly of youth. :)

  3. Kate, this is a powerful decision for you to make. You go! I hope this will be the best move you've made, as a mother and a writer.

  4. Wow, life changing decisions, Rebecca. The kind you've made takes huge amounts of courage and strength. Like Edie, I hope that you are rewarded for your hard choices in the best possible ways.

  5. Thanks for your support, Edie and Michelle. I admit I'm terrified, but I keep reminding myself of the saying, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got." It's a big change and I'm hoping a good one.


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