Saturday, February 1, 2014

What It Takes

I think slowly. I think out loud, in words on paper. I often think out loud here, on the blog, usually in the hope that you will think with me. Although I realize that is an odd hope, as I write and write and receive silence in return for my thoughts.

This week I've read two different articles. Both got my attention and in my thinking, were completely related.

I dropped each article on Facebook. The first one got people riled up. The second, barely noticed.

No worries there friends, you are beautiful, brilliant women and I don't say riled up in a negative way. It was an article that stirred emotions, but I think there is a reason for that.

Before I send you off to read the first article, a few thoughts, and yes, this is a participation post. Twice you will need to click the button and go read yet another set of words beyond my own.

The first piece to read is a blog post. I will confess I know nothing about the writer nor have I ever visited her blog. I did not read beyond this initial post that was passed along to me. A lot of women read it and get angry. I'd guess some men do too.

Here is the thing to remember. A blog is a place to think out loud. It's a place to work out some thoughts bumping around in your brain or heart. You don't have to take the writing as truth or agree with it. I would say though, you should respect the writer because blogging is brave.

Generally blogging is brave. Not for all bloggers, but for a bunch of us, we sit down and spill out our bare naked thoughts. Our thinking. An active thing in process that may in fact change over night as our brains work things through.

I, for one, woke this morning wanting to stay in bed and sleep longer, but had to get out of bed to get to the keys to put down the words and the thoughts. It is a living thing. Don't kill it.

So, that said, go read this: I Look Down On Young Women.

Now that you're all twitchy and grouchy, let's go.

In all honesty, I, a stay a home mom of 4 kids, read that article nodding my head thinking yes, yes, YES!! That's it exactly!

I won't sit here typing and saying that I didn't want to be a wife or mom. I won't sit here and say that I would change my life.

I will say, I don't think I could ever have understood then, what I understand now about these roles in life.

My life has been one where I've often just sort of ended up in things or places. I guess I've always just kind of floated along with things, taking them as they come and going with them.

In my college years, I couldn't pull it together to graduate, in the end, falling back on the idea that I didn't need a diploma to write books. Well, I don't have a diploma or any published books, so there's that.

Marriage and kids are things that I know I thought long and hard about. I know they are things that I picked on purpose. And yet, in a way, I slipped into them and wasn't fully clued into to what it would be like in the forever scope of time or what that would mean for the the rest of my years.

I think what Ms. Glass is saying, in a way, is the thing we all sort of knew but really couldn't put our finger on. She says the things that I've always in a way felt or maybe known, but were afraid to say. After all, who wants to be the mom that calls out "the emperor is naked" when everyone else is raving about his new clothes?

As a 40-something woman, we were brought up on the idea that we could do it all. We could have it all. Women could have a special brand of American Dream. Not only could we be whatever version of super mom was currently in vogue, but we could be kick ass career women too and none of us would suffer for it.

I don't know about other 40-somethings, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that that was a big fat lie.

No matter what I read or how many Mommy conferences I go to or how many Christian mom circles tell me that making meals and doing laundry and creating a special welcoming place in my home for guests is significant, it will never feel as important to me as being accomplished in a career.

I don't mean, as a mom I could go get a checkout girl job for a little extra fun money on the side or that I could have some part time low level job, and you know I don't mean that either.

I mean that if we are all really honest about it, being a stay at home mommy just doesn't feel as valuable as being an accomplished, respected career woman.

The caveat to all of this, though, are the women that intentionally picked being a mom as their most important and most desired part of life. That is completely different.

I'm the kind of gal that's slow to the party. I will fully admit that. I'm just now, in the last 5 years or so, getting hold of that drive that says, hey, if you're going to chase that dream, pursue it, accomplish it, now would be the time to start. You can't wait any longer. You just can't.

But here is the thing now, as I try to pursue my goals of taking my piles of book drafts into the real thing, I live in a place of constant grating conflict.

How exactly to I do it all? How do I figure out how to have this Women's American Dream that was sold to me as a girl? Is it even possible? Why can't I be smart enough or disciplined enough to figure out my time management to make it possible for me to give my all to my dream career? How do I become that organized? What am I doing wrong?

Then this article came across my desk, and things began to make a little more sense to me.

Take a minute and go read this: Why Mom's Time Is Different From Dad's Time.

Again, another article that managed to put into words the things I've been feeling as an undercurrent in my life.

It's the idea that I have large pieces of time to myself that I can use as I desire. Reality is, there isn't.

I do have large pieces of time in which I say I am quasi-alone. I am physically alone, without other people with me, but my time is still consumed by their needs.

Women are fed the idea, stay at home moms, are fed the idea that we can pursue our passions or our dreams in our "off" hours. Those few hours when the kids are at school or in the dead of night when they are asleep, those are our chances to be artists or photographers or writers or study and train to become doctors or lawyers or whatever it is.

We don't have those hours though. When the kids are in school, we are taking care of all the odds and ends and hanging bits. In the dead of night, frankly, we are just too exhausted to be awake, even though we are getting up all through the night to take care of more things and people, we aren't stopping to pursue projects.

For myself, here's what I know. Both articles ring true. They speak a kind of real truth in my life.

I know that it can be done. I know-because people tell me-that I should be able to use my time better or write my novels one sentence at a time in the 5 minute snips of time I get between fielding the chaos that is my every day, but I'm going to tell you, it will never be done as well as if I sat down and worked at it all day, every day as if it were an important, priority career.

I'm not trading in my family or my roles as wife and mom. I'm not tossing out my novel goals.

As an example, let me tell you this. In the hour or so that it took me to write this, I had hundreds of interruptions, even though I said over and over, "mom is working," "please don't interrupt," and there were two other adults at home. I even had to find my headphones so that I could put on music, not for peace, but simply to drown out the rest of the sounds. I turn the music up so loud I feel it inside my skull, but it buys me the "silence" I need to be able to hear my own words when I'm writing.

Multitask is a lie. It's really interruption.

This is my life, this wrestle of time and desire and dreams and responsibilities.

Remember, these are living thoughts, moving and changing. This is me thinking about this out loud, in a crazy off beat hope you are out there reading and thinking too.

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