28 November 2011

Rolling In the Deep

On December 16, I will turn 47 years old.

This is fairly inconceivable to me. I am in denial. I have forbidden my children from telling anyone I am older than 45, the age I have chosen to remain for the foreseeable future. Yes, I am aware that in the past I have sworn to fight ageism by always, always telling my true age. But I think I might bail on that plan for a few years, because I'm a little freaked out by how quickly time is passing.

The other day, the Captain asked me when I started writing the blog.

"January twenty-third."

"Huh," he said.

"Yes," I answered testily, "I'm aware that I've been writing the blog for almost a year, and the book still isn't fucking done."

Silence.

This triggered my internal year-in-review, which happens before every one of my birthdays. This one dovetails nicely with my recent penchant for brooding and introspection. Although I am already beyond middle-age because it is unlikely, though not impossible, that I will live to be 94, I suspect I may be experiencing a version of The Mid-Life Crisis.

I've been thinking a lot about what I want. Not merely in an acquisitive way, but across the board. What do I want physically, spiritually, and emotionally, for me, and my family?  If I can answer any of those questions quickly, than how do I get what I want? Or, if the answer is more elusive, how do I define those goals? Am I even goal-oriented? Or am I just getting through each day, deferring what needs to be done to move forward, until I'm failing as a mother, a writer, and a wife? Because that's how I've been feeling. Like I'm treading water, and my arms and legs are growing heavy.

I'm going to try and take what I know about myself, and what I think I want, and really examine what I'm doing. Or not doing, for that matter. Because I've got to get out of this spot before I drown.

Do you know what you want?

9 comments:

  1. I say this not to curtail your goals and dreams, but to offer a different perspective. Please don't downplay the tremendous work and effort and love and wit and brain power it takes to get through each day in the House of Penii.

    Sometimes I think we set ourselves up for discontent because we schedule a set of benchmarks, big and little, for our lives. ("By the time I'm [fill in the blank], I will have [fill in the blank].") Often, the schedules for those benchmarks were set by younger, more naive, less informed version of ourselves. Those versions were great women, but we're smarter now. (Err, if that makes any sense.)

    The book isn't done, but you've had a year of surpassing benchmarks that you hadn't originally worked into the schedule. Please give yourself credit for what you did do while you're taking mental, spiritual and emotional inventory.

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  2. There is no damn way I can top Carrie's comment, because I totally wish I'd said it too. In fact, my reply was going to be something similar.

    When you go back and look at what you've accomplished in a year, be sure to count the HUGE things ... like feeding, entertaining, loving, laundering, and being there, for five boys, plus one Captain.

    This IS the hardest job we'll ever do! What we get done IN ADDITION is a freaking bonus.
    Julie

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  3. Just what Carrie and Julie said. One of the things I found hardest about being an at-home mom was the lack of tangible rewards. You clean and it gets dirty and messy again, you cook and everyone gets hungry again, you do laundry and as you're finishing the last load more dirty clothes appear, you help finish a homework assignment and there is another one. No finished product. No paycheck. No year-end review. Not much in the way of thanks either. Just the same crap over and over. And yet, this work is the most necessary important work that can be done. The fact that it is by and large invisible doesn't lessen its importance.

    That being said, what you wrote resonated with me. I do believe that we reach this mid-point in our lives and realize that life is indeed short and we ask ourselves what have we done with it and what are we going to do with what is left. It's not a bad idea to take a step back and look at where we are, but it is important not to diminish what we've done to get there.

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  4. WEBS. I'm three years ahead of you, and the same thing hit me as my 47th birthday approached. Because WOW fifty on the horizon. But now I am fifty, and it's not so bad. It's a good time to take stock and see what's going on. I've changed some things, and I've jettisoned some goals that at 45 were still very important to me. Take some time to think it through. (and thanks for sharing it with us.)

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  5. Voice of dissent, here (go figure). As someone who's in relatively the same boat as you, this is how I see it (YMMV). Mid-life was right about the time I realized that, not only did I not have to be responsible for every single thing that happened in the household, but that it was also perfectly reasonable for me to pursue my own goals. Mine. Not the family's, mine. It took me a while to recognize that I had everyone's permission but my own to do this. I don't think you've done that yet. Or, if you have, you haven't fully internalized it.

    Also, I think you're being a bit hard on yourself with regard to the novel. There is no set timeline to write a book. Some happen fast, some happen slow. It's like birth, the first one always takes the longest and causes the most problems. My novel took from sometime in 2004 through February 2011 to get the first draft done. Seven. Years. I started from scratch at least three times with only the main character remaining the same. I just (and by just, I mean tonight) finalized my edits, almost two years after I started my blog. Would you say I'm a failure because I didn't finish sooner? Of course not. Why would you even consider saying that to yourself?

    Listen (and I know this is getting long, I swear I'll stop soon), you're the only one who can determine your goals. And having goals is different than setting time lines for them. Publishing a book is a goal that will never be reached by the majority of writers. That's a fact. For me, as long as I'm working toward that goal, seriously so, I consider myself a successful writer. As long as my kids are healthy, happy, and have what they need (which, as we all know, is not necessarily what they want), I consider myself a successful mother. I would like it very much if you stop defining yourself by perceived failures, or the possibility thereof, and honestly acknowledge where you've succeeded. You haven't finished your book yet? So what? You've begun, which is more than most people can say, and you're continuing. You should be proud of that. What's more, if you find it's not for you and you decide to move on to something else, there's nothing wrong with that, either. Your teenaged boys are not perfect and are causing you aggravation? You're normal. Yes, you may (I'm trying to be polite, here) need to learn to ask for help when you're feeling overwhelmed. You are not Atlas. But Megan, you have both overcome and accomplished so much. If I ever see you wondering whether you're a failure again, I may have to come down there and kick your ass for you. Then I'll give you a hug, because I want to be supportive.

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  6. I was going to say what my dear (older and wiser) sister said, but she beat me to it because I was stuck in the car for TWO DAYS with no Internet. The horror! The horror!

    I also couldn't agree more with Karen; there should be a Mother Scouts Of America that passes out merit badges. Just think how full your kicky badge stole would be from this year alone! You got your Diorama Dilemma badge, your Redecoratoring Badge, your Weather All Weather badge, your Gallantly Gall-less badge.....I could go on but I'm tired and you are WAY too accomplished. Seriously, you're an amazing writer and mother. Go after all your new goals, but don't discount all you've already done.

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  7. I think I'll have to clarify a few things, but first I want to thank you all for your support, as usual! I'm basically muddling through my emotional muck, which isn't an easy slog for you readers. But I do want to say that I don't think I'm a failure, so much as I think I could be doing everything better. It's frustrating, and I'm really, REALLY, not even a perfectionist.

    I do recognize all that I've accomplished this year, individually and in my various roles. The progress on the novel sticks in my craw, because it is purely MY OWN. It's my creation, in a way that's different than the blog, which springs from my life. I want to finish it, for me. But I understand Delia's point-my One was ten hours of labor! And they still had to cut him out of me. Maybe if I hook up to a potassium drip...

    This process of examining what I want, unrefined as it is, will hopefully leave me like Barb--a little more clear on what's really important to me. Then I can finally cross that bridge to Mother Scouts, because I only made it through Brownies when I was little.

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  8. You're the second person to bring up this 'goal' thing in as many days...perhaps it's something I should start thinking about as well. It's a hard thing to do.
    If it helps with the age thing I'll start referring to you as my sister in all web forums :-)we can totally pull it off!

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  9. @kris-my-sis: See, I came up with your new web name! You can tell everyone I'm your sister from your mom's first marriage. That would explain the age difference, if we subtracted fifteen or so years from mine!

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