I am staring at the screen unsure of what to post about. Writing this blog, which at one point was only intended to keep far away family and friends up to date on our comings and goings half way across the world, has become an essential part of who I am. For most of my life this has been true of writing. My earliest memories are filled with paper and crayons. Later, during my parents divorce, the computer became a lifeline for me at my father’s house. I could sit, for hours sometimes, crafting stories of children whose lives were cleanly knit together. My father is an excellent writer and he would praise my craftsmanship. He was most likely the first person to ever call me a writer. Those words defined me and gave me an identity I knew he was proud of. Through high school I held on to this identity-I became first the features editor of our high school newsmagazine, and later I became the editor. I left for college fairly certain I would pursue a career in journalism.
I spent my freshman year at Rutgers University writing for the Daily Targum. I covered the Rock the Vote event during the 1996 presidential election and had several feature stories published. As the summer of 1997 approached I considered applying for a writing internship in New York City. I wanted to be a writer, but the path was incredibly unpredictable and I knew that simply majoring in English Literature wasn’t going to pave the way for a successful writing career. I weighed my options and ultimately chickened out of the writerly life. I was scared. I was unsure of how to move forward. And, I was in love with a boy and he wasn’t in New York City.
I transferred to the University of Virginia to be closer to said boy and family. By my sophomore year I had abandoned my dream of becoming a writer and decided to enter the School of Education. To be clear, I had always loved school and considered being a teacher. But if I am honest with myself, my decision was more about wanting a predictable career field than about my love of teaching. Thankfully, the passion for early childhood education has come over the years, but I would be lying if I said that’s why I entered education in the first place.
Overall, it was a good decision. Paul and I ultimately got married by the time we were 22. We had Noah by the time we were 25. I doubt any of that would have happened on that timetable if I had pursued a writing career. And I have no regrets about the decision I made over 15 years ago. It has given me an amazingly wonderful life that I am thankful for every day.
But lately I feel the desire to write again. To just get thoughts down and make sense of the chaos that envelops my brain as a by product of having three young kids. There are only two things that help me gain clarity after a full day of teaching four and five year olds and spending time with my family-writing and running. Both are things that I am quite certain I will never achieve any recognition for and yet both are essential to my well being. They are the things that make me feel like me again.
But then there’s the guilt. The never ending nagging feeling that somehow I am not doing enough to be with my children. That every ounce of my being should be poured into theirs without any regard for my own needs. How did women get sold this bag of goods? Or maybe we weren’t and it is just in my mind. But I know I am a better mother when I’ve taken care of my own basic (and within reason) needs. And the children are certainly not being neglected-they have more time with Daddy or an extra trip to the park with our nanny. They are happy and thriving even when I put in 10 miles a week. When I disappear with a cup of coffee for an hour to type up a post. I need to be better about honoring these things. It is my children who benefit most.
I do often think of the E.L. Doctorow quote shared by Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life:
“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
So I’ve come to the end, with no real grand idea to close with, except that I must write and I must run. They are my headlights.
A few fun pics from the week:
My sleepy baby girl. I was in a music training almost all of last weekend and I missed her sweet face terribly. She wakes up in our bed most mornings and I’d say both Paul and I are totally okay with that. She’s our last baby and a few extra snuggles are just fine.Saturday morning soccer. It’s hot, humid, and pretty miserable after three hours, but the kids love it and it gives them a good chance in their week to run around on grass. That’s a novelty here in Mumbai. Diwali girls. Paul took the kids to the school Diwali celebration last weekend. It was a fun event and the kids really enjoyed it.
The two big ones. They drive each other crazy but are best friends. Couldn’t ask for a better brother and sister pair.