Sunday, November 25, 2007

I know this has been a hotly debated topic in some circles, but as the deadline of the departure from my job grows nearer, I have been thinking about the dilemma many moms face these days--whether to work outside the home or stay at home with the kids. I have done both, and it certainly gets harder with each child. I loved teaching, but when I had my son, I was ready to stay home and grow a family. For the first 3 years I continued teaching and taking care of the family. With DH in graduate school, I had a lot on my plate, but I was able to do it reasonably. Then came the RA, sucking the energy right out of every cell in my body. Then came my daughter. At this point I gave up the job and in no time we were living on the poverty line until DH finished the Ph.D. and got his first professorship.

I've been writing and editing from home for the past 6 years and doing my best to take care of the home and family. I enjoy all of this. But of course there's the financial cost--no measurable second income. I went back to work to give my kids a better education (private school tuition--whew!). But, as a friend put it so well, the stress of it all has awakened the sleeping giant (RA) and I just can't continue. If I work, I have nothing left for my family at the end of the day, and I mean nothing.

But even without the disease, it's a hard choice to stay at home or go to work. I have always been a worker. I know it's not the same for everyone, but I always felt I had to work to be worth anything. Yes, this statement would offend many people. Blame it on my rotten childhood.

But now I see what a huge impact I have on my family. If I'm unhappy or stressed or exhausted, the whole family really suffers. (We won't even talk about the 6-foot dust bunnies crouching under the furniture!) This family needs me to hold it together, especially now. I just wish I could do it all--work and contribute some income and manage the house and the emotional needs of my family. But I can't. I am choosing to be that mom who can drop everything and run to collect a sick child at school or race around to this appointment or that one or just be available to bring the snack in on Tuesday. (as long as my own health cooperates, anyway.)

My writing feeds my soul, and I've been starving since I went back to teaching. Taking care of my family fills my heart, and I haven't been able to do that since I started teaching. It's interesting that we have to weigh everything with a completely different set of scales when we become parents. I love being a mom. I love writing. I love teaching. I can't do it all.

I guess I'm just thinking out loud, here. It's just interesting that I long for those things that my mother so freely abandonned. She didn't want to take us to the doctor or come to our basketball games or cook deeply satisfying meals. She had a career that she clearly chose first. If that sounds bitter, it is. But my choice is about more than doing a better job than my mother. It's about doing the job, period. Being a mom is a huge career, full of meetings and schedules and presentations and negotiations. How can anyone be expected to do all of that in two different place--at home and at the office?

Some people can, and at one point I was able to do it pretty well. But other factors have now forced me to truly make a choice. And I've made it. With a full and glad heart, I have chosen my path.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Time to Retreat...

I don't know how many drafts of the synopsis I've written and trashed, but I give up! After writing and re-writing whole new drafts of the blasted thing, I've gone back to my original and I'm just going to send it in to Blooming Tree Press, the mess that it is. I just can't look at it anymore. The holiday has fed my belly well, but my creativity is a little dry right now. Probably from all the stress of the job/health crisis and making the final decisions.

Anyway, I'm rambling in chaos now, but I will send off my little chapter and synopsis and just hope the editors can see something worth having in there. What I really want to do right now is read. Just dive into the stack of YA books I haven't read yet and get lost for a while. But it will have to wait until after Christmas.

I am leaving my job at that time, but my DH will also be preparing to leave his as he heads to MLA for some interviews (we hope!) In the meantime, my health is still rough and I'm hoping Christmas will bring some sorely needed rest and better blood test results. (RA stinks!)

Shake it all off...good thoughts, now!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

That Dreaded Synopsis Business...Again!

With my latest YA novel on the desk of my favorite editor, who is swamped for the time being, I've decided to throw my first YA back into the mix and submit it to the Blooming Tree Press open call. But there it is again--the synopsis question. I've revised the first chapter again and now I have to get that dreaded synopsis worked out before I can press the "send" button. I've read a number of suggestions (and I'll take more) but am still eluded by that "magic formula."

I've quoted a tidbit from the first chapter to introduce the primary question of the plot. But now what? I find myself wanting either to spill all the details or hold back too much. How do I find that happy medium? What does an editor really want to see?

I've marked today for answering that question. So off I go to tap my way to enlightenment on my laptop.

Here's hoping I find it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Birthday thoughts...

So it is, indeed, my birthday. I'm not afraid to admit my age--43. And despite the drama of the past several weeks, I feel tremendously blessed. One of my dearest blessings, apart from the unfathomable joy of my children and the love of my man, is a particular friendship that started almost the instant we moved to Pennsylvania. I met Lee on Connor's first day of kindergarten. She had a baby on her hip as she was ushering her 5-year-old into the classroom for the first time, same as me. Our children were the same age, and Lee and I were of the same heart--full of artistic drive and passion for our children and the gifts this life has to offer--even though she stands about a foot taller than I.

She is an artist, an entrepenuer, a vivacious spirit who has untold depths of kindness and optimism. I am so thankful that I met her. She now manages an art gallery in town and is phenomenal at her job. But even more, she is a phenomenal friend. I have been lucky to have been blessed by a few such friends in my life. My oldest friend, Lisa Joy, and I have known each other since we were 9 years old, and we still talk as though we've never been apart, even if she does live 5 states away.

I guess what I mean to say is that on this day that I get to celebrate chance to be a part of this world, I am counting my blessings in friends. And I have met so many here on-line. You have given me strength, courage, inspiration, and lots and lots of hope. Not to mention a little faith in my own writing. So tonight, I will raise a glass to all of you and let my heart be glad of all that I do have at this moment.