This urgency to write for myself has been building over time but it really took a few life events to help push me past the ‘kicking the tires’ stage. One was my now two year old daughter and the callous reactions of young and old alike at our venture into parenthood. As an older parent, the self-involved me is proud of my courage, endurance and appreciation at savoring every moment of joy my daughter brings. To outsiders though, I am identified first as my daughter’s grandparent – a person who is either babysitting for my adult children or, when out with both my 2yr old and my H.S. age daughter, a Mother who is heroic for taking on my pubescent daughter’s obvious mistake. Early on I wouldn’t correct those who made assumptions and labeled me ‘grandma’ but as I decided later on to stand up for myself and enlighten those individuals brazen enough to make comments to their ignorance, I learned that in neither case is there a winner and that hurt feelings will be had all around no matter what. Of course I knew that becoming a parent late in life was bound to lead to these types of incidents but I myself was wrong to an extent for believing that these incidents would be in some way comical and have no lasting effects. This realization solidified two beliefs for me. 1 – that I really had to stop giving a *#%(@ what people thought and 2 – I had to be someone my daughter would be proud of.
The second were other life events that had me facing my own mortality. I know I will probably never be a household name but I do want to leave a legacy of some sort. I believe we all do. My craft, I hope, is the ability to write well and to tell great stories. Time does not slow down or even stand still for a moment and every second that ticks by that is not qualified by your efforts to pursue what makes you happy is a second that flitters away and is gone forever. Sure I could be dramatic and say that any one of us can be run down by a bus tomorrow but more likely, all of those tomorrows will instead quietly slide past us until we wake up and realize that the extensive future that once lay ahead of us is now our frittered away past, with the sunset fast approaching. The time I have remaining for my children and myself is finite and so very valuable. I need to make the most of it that I can.
In keeping with this theme, I realized that in bowing to everyone’s expectations, I was pushing aside/down and back what was also making me feel happy and fulfilled. I needed to write. I identified as a writer and initially, I ignored that calling because I believed that there was no time for it when I had obligations to support myself and my family. I am definitely not saying that you must starve for your art but neither should you forgo your art. Work is a necessary evil for most of us but you must find balance in your life by also fitting in the things that make life worthwhile. For me that is writing. I tried to appease myself by incorporating writing in my work. I would volunteer to create presentation decks, writing policy documents and drafting training plans but these were just ways I used to fool myself into thinking I had it all. These were not outlets for the creativity that was welling up in my head; for the backlog of story ideas that needed to come pouring out. They were a means to an end that left me feeling unsatisfied.
So here I sit – fitting it all in. It’s not easy, I assure you and there are days when it would be so easy to tell myself I’ll catch up tomorrow but you can’t do that. When you accept the responsibility of pursuing your dream, you must take hold with both hands, go all in and don’t let go! Will I be anything more than and solitary author with little to no following, perhaps, but I only have myself and my children to answer to and those are people I can’t let down.