Back to Work: On Living Dreams
It is a bit ironic that I’m writing a post called “Back To Work” two weeks before I’m due to have a baby – which means I could go into labor, like, any second. Nevertheless, here are my unfiltered thoughts on the momentous “going back to work.”
For me, going BACK to work is really more like going TO work, since I was a part of the workforce for such a short time before I had Madeline. I always thought I’d go back eventually; I never thought it would look like this.
Before I signed a contract with my agent, I wrote a chapter of my book to submit to him as a writing sample, which would eventually become a part of my book proposal. My husband, proud and thrilled and supportive, watched the kids all day. I drove to Panera and stayed from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, until the chapter was done.
2 days later I pulled an all-nighter to edit it.
I did the exact same thing the following week. On Dan’s off-day I drove to a coffee shop and stayed until a second chapter was finished. When I got home, the kids were fed, bathed, and in bed – the dishes were running and the cat litter and trash were taken out. Another editing all-nighter followed.
I pulled a third all-nighter in a two-week time frame to write out my proposal. I flew my BFF down to shoot a 2-minute book trailer/author introduction. In less than 2 months I hammered out a proposal, a video, and three chapters and sent them all to my agent.
Then I died.
As you might imagine, that schedule in the life of a stay-at-home mom of 2 very young children isn’t sustainable. It was kids all day, writing all night. I used Hermione’s time-turner for youth ministry, blogging, and cleaning.
That works for about a week before you’re legally insane from the lack of sleep – a ticking time bomb. At the end of those two months I wasn’t sure if I was more likely to kill someone or just collapse onto the floor and cry.
Instead, I went back to work.
Now, less than a year later, a grad student comes to my house two days a week to watch Sam and pick Madeline up from school. On those days, I write.
Going back to work doesn’t look anything like I thought it would. I thought it would be very glamorous and author-ly: sitting in coffee shops writing things. I thought – since I was able to hammer out those first chapters so quickly under such pressure – that surely the rest of the books would be as easy! I thought that two days a week would be a luxurious amount of time; one day for writing the books, the other for emails, blogging, goal-setting, networking, growing my platform – basically, a business party with my laptop.
HA HA HA HA HA HA.
Instead it looks like burning an entire writing day on 600 words because I just can’t get them to do what I want them to. It looks like weeks of blog-silence because, after a day of wrestling with words and the Ironman Triathlon that is “bedtime,” who has time for blogging? It looks like spending every post-bedtime-minute freezing meals, writing baby shower thank-yous, packing hospital bags, and washing baby clothes.
And eating – a lot.
But here is the point of this post.
I got to stay at home full-time with my babies for 5.5 years, and I still could, if I chose to. Instead, I am going back to work. I am going back to work writing.
The blessing is not lost on me.
There are a thousand English majors out there who are dreaming of becoming writers, and people keep telling them they better get their masters in teaching, or journalism, or some other such thing because they can’t make any sort of living as a writer.
But here I sit, with a college degree I’m not using (at least not in the most traditional sense), married with 3 beautiful children, and I get to go back to work writing.
The blessing is not lost on me.
I am living the dream.
The dream is a lot of freaking work – and tears, and guilt in parenting and marriage, and late nights, and stress, and fear, but that’s only because LIFE is a lot of work and tears and strain and guilt and stress and fear. Everyone is living with those things, but I get to live it doing what I love: raising my babies and writing.
The love is what keeps me inspired, keeps me trudging (those words, for me, are interchangeable) – because I know that this thing I’m doing is what I have been gifted to do. It is what I’ve been given the opportunity – against all odds – to do. I remain in a state of stunned gratitude.