Another first day of school has come and gone and although I’m a woman of words not numbers, I sit in our silent house and count. My son has only two more “first days” before he graduates from high school.
My daughter, three.
When I took a leave of absence from teaching, they were in elementary school. How is it that these babies have grown so much while I still feel so very much the same?
Five years ago I sat at the computer, my days somewhat flexible for the first time in my adult life, and set goals I hoped were attainable. Among them, these:
– Be the best mom ever!
– Be the best wife ever!
– Write the best book ever!
Okay, that last one was lofty. And yet I approached the road to becoming an author with confidence. I believed I could do it. I would do it. After all, I’d waited forty years for these stars to align. I was prepared for this next step. Our family was ready. Eager, even.
So I wrote. I write. I’ve written.
First a memoir. Then a YA novel. A Women’s Fiction manuscript. Short stories and essays. Blog posts. Words for other sites. Still, the days are short and finding a publisher is long.
Especially when you’re afraid.
Of what, you may ask? Well, pretty much everything. But I’ll start with this:
That my manuscripts won’t find an agent (this happened). That I’ll find an agent but no publisher to buy my book (this also happened).
That I’ll sell my book but people won’t buy it. Or they’ll buy it but give it bad reviews. Or they’ll give it good reviews but I’ll have a deadline for the next book I’ll miss. Or I won’t miss my deadline but my second book will flop and everyone will discover I’m a failure.
(These things did not happen but I frequently lie awake at night afraid of things that have not happened.)
So. I fold laundry and wash dishes. I pack lunches and supervise homework. I walk the dogs, restock pantries, mark calendars. I create lists and check clocks; seek things to accomplish, notice what needs shifting, focus on what remains to be done before before before.
I’m very busy achieving the easy stuff. As for the hard?
I wait. And wait and wait.
“Once my guestroom closet is organized, I’ll begin…”
“After Thanksgiving, I can revise…”
“As soon as we’ve unpacked, I might finish…”
“Until the kids are back in school, I really shouldn’t…”
In the meantime, years go by. Half a decade. A chunk of this lifetime during which I’ve convinced myself I’m suspended – held captive by other obligations. This “other” holds me back from accomplishing what remains. I can’t take risks now because because
It’s easier to view the world this way. Easier to believe it’s not your fault you haven’t quite hit your goal (although you’ve certainly made strides). Easier to accept you haven’t realized your dream (although, indeed, it has at times been close enough to taste).
I want Jack and Karly to witness perseverance; to learn they can’t cross the finish line if they place their ribbon in the after after after.
They need a mother who writes and revises and queries and brushes off rejection to begin the process all over again. And so I will.
Because I want them to believe they can accomplish anything if they don’t give up.
I want them to believe, in this small way, that I am brave.