Something happened to me Saturday. But, let me give you a little backstory before we get to that. I’m a writer, a ghostwriter, a mom, a girlfriend, a daughter–basically, I’m a very important person. But, often my life centers around making sure more people know how important I am (i.e., writing, marketing and branding myself as a serious writer), which means a lot of the very important people in my life see very little of me while I’m working.
For instance, several weeks ago my three-year-old was trying to get my attention. It wasn’t anything life-changing she was trying to tell me, and I’m sure I brushed her off as I often have to do. “Not right now, baby. Mommy’s working,” comes out of my mouth more than I care to admit.
My heart broke into about eight millions pieces when that rosy little face turned to me with sad eyes and she said, “It’s okay, mommy. I know you’re not listening to me.” Cue the superbly sad score in the story of my life. I had to stop everything and pull her into my lap to explain to her that I was always listening to her, even if I couldn’t respond at exactly that moment.
Which made me seriously contemplate the pros and cons of making a living versus just living. Oh, the list of cons is lengthy. Will I be able to pay my bills if I don’t get this project done for a client? Will I be able to reach my dreams if I don’t simultaneously write for other people AND put in the time necessary to push the books I write?: Will I be able to keep working from home where I can at least be “present” for my kids, if I don’t work every waking second?
Yep, ironically, I wouldn’t be able to do much if I didn’t do as much. On the other hand, that single thing on the pros list made me wonder how I could restructure my schedule: Will I be able to look back on this time and remember all the things I got to do with my kids if I don’t step away from the laptop and engage more?
So, I made a decision that day to work less, live more. And, then the next round of bills cropped up, and that thought went out the window. Basically, what I’m saying is, I don’t win much. 🙂
This Saturday life kicked the laptop out of my lap for me, and I’m proud to admit that I didn’t pick it back up (not immediately anyway). I was at a football game where my daughter was cheering. Mind you, my little Gemini ten-year-old is shy, sensitive and quiet. She’ll be the first to let you off the hook if you can’t do something for her and the first to put herself on the back-burner if she thinks you’re prioritizing something over her. I have to constantly reassure her that she means the world to me.
Thus, when she got out on that field to perform the first dance routine of the year, I made myself pay attention so she wouldn’t mentally de-prioritize herself on my behalf. And, guess what happened? She rocked! Literally, she rocked me to tears. I had no idea she could move like that, could remember so many dance steps, could put on such a show!
As I sat in the stands watching her, my heart was a balloon floating me up and into the sky. I had an epiphany. I was so excited and proud of her that my client could wait. My marketing could wait. Everything could wait.
Because more than I want to be a prolific writer, I want to be this kid’s mom. I want to see her do this as many more times as she wants. I want to be present for the games, the cheering, the lifestyle I never dreamed for myself. (I’ve never been into sports. I hate football, but I can watch a few sweaty boys tackle each other if it means I get to see her shine at halftime.)That’s the new dream.
Because at the end of the day what I, as a writer, had to remember was that–one way or another–I’m resourceful enough to make sure the essentials are paid for. It’s the drive to be “heard” that burbles in my veins insistently and keeps me working, working, working, and I have to stop. I have to step away.
I have to cheer now, write later. Because life’s too short not to.