I often find myself struggling with trying to find the right balance between dedication to my work(aka writing) and my life(aka family). Most of my days are somewhere between feeling guilty for writing while I could be spending time with my family, especially my kids since these young years only happen once, and feeling like a bum for putting off work to do something else. It doesn’t help that my mind is almost always preoccupied with some aspect of my writing, no matter what else I’m doing. My stories are most often the first thoughts I have when I wake up and last before going to sleep. Sometimes I wonder how other author, or working in general, parents get it right. Then again, maybe they don’t and are fighting for a sane balance right along with me.
Now, during the holidays, I struggle my hardest with it. I have been blessed with a wonderful and patient family and I don’t want to take the time I have with them for granted. I’m all too aware how fleeting life really is. I don’t want to be one of those moms that is always saying, ‘not now, I’m busy’ when my children ask for a story or to play. I don’t want to miss the first steps or first words, because I’m ‘too busy’.
Yes, work is important. Every good parent feels the desire to give their child(ren) more or better than what they had and I’m no different. It is very important to me that I get my stories written. I want to do my part to bring in an income to improve my family’s life and not feel that I’m merely taking advantage of their patience and support, but at the same time I want to live my life in a way that will leave me with the fewest regrets, no matter what tomorrow brings. After the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, I’ve been thinking about it more than ever and my heart goes out to those people.
So, I’m trying to do my best to put the most important things first while I can. When I’m tempted to say that I’m busy, I’m trying to remind myself to stop and ask myself, ‘busy doing what?’ Work can be put off for a few minutes, even an hour, to live in the moment. The work will still be there when the important moments are over with.
When I was growing up, my mother and I didn’t have much, but the good memories made up for any hardships we experienced or things we wanted but we couldn’t afford. Picking the berries that grew wild around our apartment on the native reservation, collecting acorns to roast, baking cookies, going camping, long walks in the woods, making up stories, and so many other things that cost us little to nothing, but I’ll never forget. She is a big reason that I grew up with the dream of becoming a writer. One of the things I loved the most was when we couldn’t afford christmas decorations, she made up inexpensive ideas for decorating the christmas tree. One year, it was decorating pudding cups to look like bells or to put pictures of family members on them. Another was making angels to hang on the tree. Another year it was painting and covering pinecones with glitter.
So, this year I’m passing on that tradition with painting the pine cones. Yesterday, I went hunting for pine cones with my 3 year old son and my father in law. For the first time in a long time I was able to let everything else go and be forgotten, living in the moment, without feeling any guilt about what I should be doing. And I’m glad, because I know that that was a moment that, while seemingly insignificant, would matter the most later. Making those cherished memories, like my mother did with me.