04 February 2011

Standing on the Corner of Want and Need, Looking for Harmony

I want something. I am trying very hard to get it. But I haven't figured out if I'm being addict-y about it (a bad thing), or if I'm simply motivated and pro-active (a good thing). The questions I am asking myself, in order to label my behavior, are perhaps the same ones you have asked yourself at one point or another.

How do I define myself?
What do I want for my family?
What do I want for myself?
Can I have both?

Over the years, I've read a lot about the idea of "balance" in our lives. Work/home balance. Mother/self balance. But I think there is no "balance". Our lives aren't math problems that can made equal on both sides of the equation. There is only isolating the variable. If I want "x," I'm going to have to subtract something to get it. I call this practical harmony.

Practical harmony means if I decide to spend the day outside in my garden, my kitchen will not get cleaned. If I choose to go to bed with my husband, I will not stay up late and write. If one child has the equivalent of a nervous breakdown, the others will not get as much of my attention. There is no balance; there is only borrowing. And right now, I'm struggling with how much I can borrow for myself.

I have never had a career "outside the home." I've had jobs, but when One was born, I stopped working to focus on his medical needs. I went back to work part-time after Two, but when Three graced us with his presence, I was home for good. I'm not complaining; I feel like I kick ass as a mother, and I am proud to pencil in that title when I fill in the "Occupation" box on medical forms. But, now, for the first time in my adult life, I see the possibility of amending the form. I want to be a Mother/Writer.

I am excited about all that has happened in the past month, since I made the decision to publicly declare my intentions. I've opened my ears to other writers, and offered up my work for review. I've decided to share my thoughts, and been proud of the result. I signed up to volunteer (a lot!) at the Romance Writers of America national conference, because even though the damn book isn't done, I thought it might be nice to meet some other writers, and learn a few things. And that brings me to my dilemma.

I want to go to another writer's conference. It will be smaller than national, so I think of it as a chance to get my feet wet- a practice run.  Lucy March is a featured speaker, and I wouldn't even know about it if I didn't follow her blog. But I do follow her, and I did find out about it, and I feel like I already know some of the women who will be there, even though I've never met them. But that connection is already inexplicably powerful, and I'm not sure I should ignore that, even if it doesn't make sense.

The problem is that the Captain will be away at a hockey tournament the same time as the conference. I've called my sister to see if she can watch my children. (She hasn't fully commited). I've mapquested the route. (It's a five hour drive). I have a friend who will share her hotel room with me. (But I'll have to drive home late Saturday night). I'm trying to cover all my bases. And it feels a little addict-y. Like I want it too much, and I'm willing to really manipulate the universe to get it. If it's this hard to make it happen, is the universe saying I shouldn't go, or is it asking me to prove how much I want it? Can there be harmony, or is that impractical?


  1. Anonymous4.2.11

    First, speaking for the Universe (if I may be so bold), it does not seem as though there are too many obstacles in your path: sister willing to step in, room available to share, good test-run for the "big" one. If nothing had dropped in to place, then yeah, maybe kinda addict-y (I love the use of this word btw, may have to steal it). But so far it looks like you've got your bases covered.
    On another level, I am STILL home, and all my witchlings are (mostly) gone from the nest (although I AM trying to find a job). But my point was, that I never went anywhere when the kids were home, until I was given an opportunity similar to yours. I REALLY wanted to go, but kept saying "do I want this TOO much?"
    In the end, I went. The family did just fine while I was gone, and I am SO glad that I went.

  2. Julie! I had to go back and change the post after I read your comment. I think I had conveniently forgotten to add the obstacles-and that's a little addict-y. Then I thought I could just qualify it for you. But that's a little...you get the idea. So, thanks for inadvertently calling me out on my gloss over! We'll see how it all turns out.

  3. Megan, I think you [all of us, actually] can overthink things when we are battling the guilty voice [which may or may not be justified]. No one who knows you can question your commitment to your family.

    My hubby said something to me many years ago which has really stuck with me. He said this when I was struggling with leaving my FT job for PT work + stay with kids. He said: "Your children [and I] need you to be a happy person, for 2 reasons: It will make you a better mother and it will also give them permission to make choices in their lives that will make them happy, too." Maybe not now, but later down the road, and these choices may be small things [like a trip] or life-changing decisions. They need to know that we must be deliberate in feeding our souls.

    Hope that helps, and with all that you give them of yourself, you owe it to yourself to be a little selfish in replenishing the soul. Now, go! You have LOTS of support around you.

  4. And another thought... I totally get what you're saying about the obsessing and "manipulating the universe" to get what you want. I struggle with those same mental conversations about lots of things-- most recently the Begonia Red Eddie Bauer Girl-on-the-Go Trench coat, which I ended up ordering, thank you. Well, it was my Christmas money, and I needed an new one since hubby trashed my last one when he was staining the closet door [several years ago!], and I'll have plenty of opportunity to wear it at spring lacrosse games and fall football games, and well it had a hood and came in petite. Note the MANY reasons I was able to find to overrule the budget voice on the other shoulder. Manipulating the universe. Enjoy your conference.

  5. Okay, this may be a little enable-y, but if you check the Betty forum, you'll notice that there may be another room option that would not require you to drive home late Saturday night (not that I wouldn't like the company, you understand).

    I can tell you that I struggled with this a great deal, myself. My personal shove-yourself-aside rationalization tends to be in the form of, "I can't justify it." It's only recently that I've noticed that no one is asking me to justify it. And maybe, just maybe, that's because it doesn't need justification. It's something good I can do for myself (if I can wrangle the cash). I realized that I don't have to be the only one in my family with dreams instead of goals, sitting around the house wondering instead of going out in the world and doing.

    Crap, this doesn't even make any sense, does it? I've gone and made it all about me and you're not me, so... Please forgive me. I have a head cold.

  6. Delia: it makes total sense. And I just got over a head cold, so I'm more lucid. Feel better!

  7. Megan, I am saying this with love and hugs and an awareness that you may be giving me the finger right now...you're not indispensible. Someone said it to me once when I was sick and didn't want to leave work to go home. I teach school, I don't do thoracic surgery or anything that could cause someone to DIE if I didn't show up for a couple days.

    If your sister can keep the kiddos, go for it! You deserve so much for yourself and I'd hate to see you give up something that will feed your soul. I'm a FairyGodBetty and I grant you sparkly permission.

  8. PS I can't "justify" the dues to RWA since we don't have a chapter nearby much less go to a conference,so it's nothing but assvice.

  9. @lora: no fingers pointed or raised. My kids are actually great with babysitters, because they've got nothing to gain-it's me they cling to, begging for treats and more snuggling, laying the groundwork for a life-long pattern of behavior. Thanks for the sparkly permission-I feel so girly!

  10. So I'm putting my two cents in (even though at the current exchange rate that's only worth about .00002 cents) even though I know the decision is already made.....sometimes we have to work at harmony more than we think we should. As an outstanding shower/church singer I can say that sometimes the harmonies need more time because of all the moving parts. But it's worth it in the end.

    AND. If this was something one of your children wanted to do, would it seem like too much? Don't you deserve at least that much consideration as well?


Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.