Friday was a day where two worlds collided.
Ok, that is a rather dramatic description of what really occurred. Friday was the first day of a weekend-long writers conference in Philadelphia that I waited all year to attend. A conference I have been excited about for months. A conference ripe with writers, editors, agents, experts, beginners and all those passionate about the art and craft of writing.
Friday afternoon, right smack in the middle of the day, was also Rella's pre-school graduation.
Of all the days.
Mother and writer, writer and mother. The two have been at odds since the very beginning, warring within my heart and fighting over the tiny morsels of my time.
Guess which one won?
My husband and a few friends tried to talk me into forgoing the graduation and attending Friday's workshops instead, knowing how much the conference meant to me and what a difficult choice it created.
"It's only preschool," Dr Fabulous said. It wasn't lack of caring that made him encourage me to boycott the graduation but rather his version of letting me know it would be okay. I could miss it and she wouldn't be scarred - I wouldn't be a bad mom. He was giving me the permission I often can't grant myself - to indulge the other parts of me that take a back seat to my all-encompassing role as a stay-at-home mother.
I toyed with the idea of choosing the conference, really considered it. In the end I asked myself this - One year, five years... five minutes down the road..which was I going to regret not attending?
When the answer came to me in a nanosecond with indisputable clarity, I knew without question where I wanted to be - not NEEDED to be, WANTED to be.
No obligation, no guilt. No half-heartedness.
My whole heart.
I wanted to see Rella graduate. I would have regretted it and of course I knew this before I even consciously asked myself the question. A conference can wait, a conference can come again.
Not everything in life does.
I can't explain how much I love writing, how passionate I am about forging a writing career and my goals of publishing. Because of this obsession, I often feel frustrated with the little time I can devote to my craft, my projects, my dreams. I squeeze writing in between the cracks of my day and devalue it constantly. It comes after the laundry, the cooking, the baths and the bedtimes. It comes last, it comes when I can fit it in and there is never enough time for me to make much progress. In that respect, I have always seen writing and motherhood as mutually exclusive. The two cannot co-exist peacefully. The two cannot share the 24 hours in the day, the psychic energy in my mind, or the space in my heart. That philosophy has caused me much frustration and disappointment.
Yet, this weekend I not only shared my two worlds but I came to realize they don't need to fight within me so much. Being a Mom is not a thing I do, a series of actions and behaviors that ensued after children came forth from my body. Being a Mom is an inextricable part of who I am. All the pieces of who I am makes me a better writer and person. Without motherhood, I would not be able to tell the stories I tell, see the world the way I do, or work so hard on my dreams. I need motherhood to write and writing, ironically, makes me a better mother.
Despite my awesome Canon, I just couldn't get a good photo of her on stage from my seat.
Ugh, the blurry heads in my way!!
My family comes first, before everything. Before my own life, literally and figuratively. Yet, that doesn't mean that I cannot be other things and dream complimentary, not conflicting, dreams. Women have done it before, they are doing it now, they will always do it.
What makes me able to write what I write and how I write is a direct result of my experience as a mother - whether I'm writing about motherhood or not. My perspective, my stressors, my joys, my growth, my love helps fuel everything that comes from me. Take these guys out of the equation? There are no muses, no journeys, no mountains. Maybe I need them and the tug of war that they create. Without that struggle, more than just my writing would fall flat.
I can't be two places at once, but I can make room for two things on one day. Or at least, this time I could. I missed some of the conference, but I did get to do both. It is the art of juggling, choosing, yearning - that tug of war, that balance, that questioning, that striving... maybe that all makes the passion more passionate, the writing richer, the family happier, the soul more multi-faceted.
Motherhood means balancing lots of things, but that in and of itself means you have a rich life. I'd rather have too much to juggle than nothing at all, right? I can only do the best I can and recognize that everyone else is doing the same. As long as I'm never unclear about what is at the top of the totem pole, I am good.
And by the way, I had an amazing time, learned a great deal and met some incredible people.
I also learned my memoir sucks.
But I also learned how to fix it... hopefully.
If you are near Philadelphia, check out the Philadelphia Writer's Conference next June.
And, if you do - tell me and I will find you and buy you a drink!!