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Monday, July 6, 2009

Back to "Business"

I planned on penning a provocative post about Sarah Palin or the conundrum of celebrity death, but those can wait. I planned on waiting until this evening to post because I am back to "business," hard at work finalizing edits for BLACKBERRY GIRL and I need to put that first until it is completed. But I can't wait until later.

I am sad. Nanny just texted me and said that the girls had a blast at the playground and that Toddler is soaked because she ran through the sprinkler. And as I read this text, I smiled. And pictured rosy cheeks and soaked ringlets. Cheeks and ringlets I've seen 24/7 for two weeks straight. Because as exhausting as "vacation" was, I was with my girls at every moment (except for when Grammy and Dad-Dad generously watched the babes while Husband and I slept in). And I got used to this. And even though I saw my girls a few hours ago, I miss them. And, yes, I'm being a bit melodramatic because we will reunite a few hours from now for music class. But this is about something bigger.

Maybe I should only work before 7am and after 7pm and during nap-time? Maybe I should put off career ambitions until the girls are in school? Maybe I should be soaking up this fleeting time with them? Maybe my priorities are off-kilter?

I know. I know. Tomorrow, I will probably feel better about things. I will realize that it is in fact possible to be a mother-plus. But right now, I am on the verge of tears about a missed trip to the playground. Right now, frolicking in the sun and sprinklers with my little girls seems to be the most important thing in the world. Far more important than blogs and books.

When will this get easier? Will it? Can "business" and babies truly coexist?


  1. I wish I could tell you! I wish I had my own answer. I know I feel the push-pull you write about almost daily. I get pictures from my nanny of my son at swimming class and ache to be there, but when I AM there I wonder what is going on at work and sometimes find myself frustrated and distracted. I know that juggling feels more natural to me, but then I wonder if that's because I've spent my whole life fleeing full-on engagement in something? Would I benefit from committing to parenting my small children in this way, for now? I don't know. I just don't know.

    Isn't that helpful? :)

  2. Lindsey - Thanks for another thoughtful comment. I wonder if the juggling will start feeling more natural one day for me too, or whether I will constantly pick it apart and analyze it and seek a solution to these perhaps unavoidable moments of motherhood malaise? Like you do, I sometimes wonder if my desire to do many things is a symptom of my inability to commit fully to one thing... I choose to think that I am attempting to live a more complex, fulfilling, layered life and that doing other things (writing, thinking) will ultimately make me a better person and wife and mother. Who knows? Something tells me that these questions will always outnumber the answers and that is okay. At least there will always be fertile ground for discussion and debate among all of us mothers and bloggers!

  3. I worked part-time when Firstborn was a baby, and I felt the same push-pull. Although I was away from him for only snippets of time, and if I left him at home it was always with his father, I still felt guilty and resentful and bitter that I had any obligation other than to just be with him. That is pretty much why I am where I am right now -- not working for pay. I couldn't handle the split obligations. But I don't know if it would h ave gotten easier. Maybe. You have a NOVEL, though. You will be PUBLISHED! That is FOREVER. It's pretty awesome. Let me know if it ever does get easier -- I am curious.

  4. Mama - I will certainly keep you (and all other ILI readers) posted on whether this push-pull phenomenon gets any easier. My hunch is that it will not, but that I will figure out a way to cope with the anxiety. I am thrilled to have written a novel and I am so excited (and scared to be honest) to have it published. It is my dream that I write many novels going forward and that I find a way to invest energy into writing and raising my kids in such a way that I stay sane and feel like I am not missing out on too much. It's interesting because when I am writing posts like this one - about the enigma of balance, the riddle of parenthood - when I am actually musing about what it means to be a mother, a good, albeit imperfect, mother, that I think I am actually becoming a better, more nuanced parent. Does this make any sense?

    Not that you asked, but I think you should write a book - about blogging and boys!

  5. Although maternal pangs/guilt vary from woman to woman, I can assure you that for me it has gotten easier. I'm sure part of this comes from having elementary school aged kids but I honestly don't sweat not spending every moment/being available to them. And I don't feel like I "missed" out on precious moments with them when they were younger because I went to work instead. I don't think any mother, working or otherwise, appreciates each and every moment they spend with their kids. Some moments you just know are special, others you completely miss, even if you are physically there. I do NOT think this is because, as you and Lindsey suggest, you are half-committing to motherhood. No one fully lives in every moment and you all need to cut yourself some slack (think Judith Warner's column on "Not-so-great expectations," you blogged about just a month or so ago). I'm betting that your kids, like mine, are happy, thriving creatures, and so what if you missed today's sprinkler fest, you chose to finesse your novel. Own the choice, for goodness sake, you didn't choose smoking crack over spending time with your daughters. As I've said before in other comments, I refuse to accept that pursuing my career and being a mom means I am a lesser mother. Yes, I miss my kids when I'm not with them but I believe I am a better mother because I spend time away from them. Maybe this is just me and everyone else agonizes about this but I hope you'll grow into feeling better about it.

  6. D - I very much hope that this all gets easier as it has for you, that as you say, I'll grow into feeling better about nurturing a satisfying career alongside my girls. Rationally, I wholeheartedly agree with the argument that no one can be 100% present at every moment with her children even if she is physically there all of the time, but emotionally, it is a different story. I liken my situation to turbulence. I know that turbulence is normal and natural and intellectually, I know that it is nothing to worry about, but when I am on that plane and it is tossing about in the sky, I am scared and worried and do not want to be there. Emotionally, I am often a wreck (though I do a remarkable job of holding it together now that I have little ones watching). Ultimately, I know that my kids are healthy and happy creatures who will likely benefit from having an intellectually-satisfied mother, but that doesn't make the day-to-day emotional push-pull much easier... Again, hopefully the anxiety/pangs/guilt will abate with time...

  7. A - I hope my comments didn't seem callous to your very real anxieties. On rereading your response and my post, I can see that my tone may have been misread. (it's one of the reasons I sometimes pick up the phone rather than email). Picking up on your turbulence analogy, I cope in that scenario by acknowledging to myself, that I am scared, that this is not good, but I also have the presence of mind to know that chances are, smooth skies are ahead momentarily. "The presence of mind" is what will come in time for you. I am sure of this because I am sure (even if you aren't) that you have made great choices up until now. Your life clearly works, you have an amazing family and a published novel to boot. Peace with your life is sure to follow.

  8. D - No, your comments did not seem callous at all. Please no apologies about tone. As you know, I am trying to elicit honest discussion here and so far, so good... I love the "smooth skies" analogy. Amazing how life can be for the most part smooth skies and then there are sudden and unpredictable moments of turbulence, even violent turbulence... And even though you know there are more smooth skies ahead, that turbulence takes its emotional and existential toll...


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