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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer, writing, and choices


I haven't been doing a lot on the internet lately. I haven't been reading forums or blogs,writing in my own blog(s), nor reading or responding to e-mail. As my excuse I say "Life has been in the way", but the truth is that I made the choice to back away from the 'net for a while. Not only did I need a serious break from the internet life, but there were - and are still - other things that I wanted to be doing with my time.

And that's what it boils down to, isn't it? The choices we make in life.

K. is out of school for the summer, and I'm wanting this summer to be a little more special than previous summers. I'm less crazy than I have been in recent years, thanks to a stabilized schedule and (more or less) regular sleep, and I really just want to spend time doing things with my daughter; things that she wants to do, things that I want to do, things that we want to do.

While it's a no-brainer choice for me to spend time with her, I'm finding that it will take more effort and work than I first thought. With limited funds (not to mention rising prices all across the board - rent, electric rates, gas, food) we have to figure out frugal/cheap ways to accomplish almost everything but staying home. We have to make choices about driving somewhere to do something fun or sitting at home and reading (or worse, watching tv). We have to figure out a way to acquire the supplies we need for projects. We have to figure out what we can make for lunch out of the food we have on hand.

It all comes down to choices. Even to the point of how we choose to react to circumstances beyond our control.

I suppose we, as a family, would be better off financially if I had continued to work all the years of the past decade, but me staying home (whenever possible) was a choice A. and I made together. If I were working, K. would be shuffled off to some daycare-type facility every day this summer. There would be no curling up on the couch together to watch the mid-morning cooking shows on PBS. There would be morning frolics in the pool. There would be no days spent sprawling at the library. There would be no impromptu visits to visit her great-grandparents - my grandparents - whom she is lucky enough to know in this age when few children know their parents, let alone their grandparents. There would be no letting K. sleep late then tickling her out of bed. There would be no early-afternoon phone calls from friends, no learning to cook, no weekly visits to the zoo to play with the stingrays or feed the laurakeets. This is the choice that I, with my husband, made: to give her these things, and so much more.

But that choice has cost us. Much of society sees our family as dysfunctional because only one parent works. More often than not I'm seen by outsiders as being a burden to my husband, judged to be lazy and worthless because I "contribute nothing" toward the finances. Yes, we would most likely already be in the house we want by now if I had been working all these years... but I wouldn't have been able to spend school vacations and summers with my daughter. I wouldn't have been able to be at home to take care of her when she was sick without worrying about my job. And then there's the pesky little feeling that I wouldn't have been the one raising her all these years if I had been handing her off to some daycare every morning on my way to work and letting them take her to school, pick her up from school, and help her with her homework or play with her until 5 or 6 in the evening when I picked her up. It's the choice we made, and as far as I know, we're all happy with it. I have to remind myself of that sometimes when I stand while being judged. While my instinct may sometimes be to react with all the self-righteous fury I can muster, the cooler part of my intellect calmly whispers that I have the choice to be better than that. It reminds me that it really doesn't matter what others think because whenever I pose the going back to work question to A. and K., both of them prefer I stay home for a few more years.

That is the choice that we, as a family, have made.

There have been sacrifices that go beyond financial measures involved with our choice for me to stay home and raise our daughter. Personal sacrifices. I gave up a career (that I really didn't like anyway, but it could have been used as a stepping stone to something I would have loved). I've not been able to go back to school (yet). I gave up adult social interaction... human social interaction (I won't call them friends because they weren't). More recently, I've had to set aside my writing because it's less important to me than fixing the chaotic mess my family has become. This is a huge blow for me. I was just starting to feel the edges of my writing groove again. It is, however, the choice I'm making.

I'm not giving up the writing completely, though. In fact, my husband just recently agreed to me registering a domain in the name I've chosen to write under. For the next two years it is mine, and with a little luck (and a lot of hard work) I'll be able to do something with it besides point the URL to the blog*spot journal I have for that name. Maybe I'll even manage to get something published.

But I know I won't be able to really work on that goal until after the summer is over and she's back in school. While this does bother me some, I'm also ok with it. It's the choice I've made. My family comes first. My daughter comes first. I know that soon enough the chaos will be calmed, and eventually my daughter won't want to spend as much time with me. She'll have learned all she thinks she needs to learn from me and will venture out into the world to make her own choices. When that happens, I'll have all the silence, peace, and time I need to write. Until then, this is my choice.

1 comment:

Lucie said...

I am touched by your choice... it was mine also. I stayed home to raise our 4 boys... it has been 18 years now... the youngest is 9...

Like you, I have felt alone and judged by many...and many times by our own families... But I don'r regret one minute our choice....so many memories are engraved forever in our sons' lives and ours. Small and great things...but mostly the small things are the sweetest to remember....

I discovered your blog today and I will come and read again. I wish you muc sucess in realizing your dream of writing and being publised...

Lucie