Thursday, September 18, 2014

Confessions of a Terrible Mother

I have something to admit. Something I hate to even type, much less say out loud. Being the perfectionist that I am, I can barely bring myself to think it. But here it is:

Some days I wonder if I was really meant to be a mother. 

There. I said it. 

For as long as I can remember I've wanted to be a mom. I have never imagined my future without children, a family. And yet some days, when I'm losing my patience and nearing my boiling point with my spirited (read: stubborn, smart, challenging) toddler, I wonder if I was really cut out for the job I so willingly took on. 

Maybe I've made plans to hit the playground and story time at the library, but it's 2 PM and I have yet to get myself dressed after a morning of time-outs. Maybe I woke up with the goal of (finally) getting the laundry washed and folded, but am climbing into bed without even washing my hair much less the mountains of dirty clothes that just keep growing. 

Days like these (and oh-so-many other examples) make me feel like a complete failure as a mother. The voice in my head tells me I should be able to do it all, to keep the house running, keep the kids fed and entertained, keep it all together. But almost every day I go to bed reciting a mental list of all the thing I did wrong--or didn't do at all. 

I try to remind myself that I'm only one person. I listen as Hubby tells me I'm doing fine, doing all I can. Still the voice needles me, telling me I can--and should--be doing better. 

"Your toddler doesn't listen to a word you say. You need to teach him to be obedient," it says.  

"You didn't do the dishes today? Tomorrow you have to wash them and put them away."

"Why can't you make time for your writing? If you really wanted it you'd find the time."

Over and over these thoughts run through my head and I start to feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished. I wonder how someone who wanted something so badly could be so utterly terrible at it. 

And then my toddler comes over to me and says, "Snuggle the mommy," asking to curl up with me for some cuddle time. He kisses me and tells me he loves me and holds my hand and I realize I can't be as terrible as I think I am at this parenting thing. I do the best I'm able to do, and at the end of the day that's what matters. 

Am I going to mess something up every day: get angry, skip chores, fail at being perfect. Absolutely. But as I snuggle up with my toddler I realize I'm not messing up nearly as badly as that voice in my head wants me to believe.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Stepping Out

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to be at a local conference for writers. I've paid my registration fee. I've organized schedules so that Hubby is available to spend the day with the Peanut. I've pulled out my business cards, even if they do have my maiden name on them, and dusted off my rarely used tablet. I'm as ready as I can be for a full day of networking and learning.

But it's been a couple of years since I've mingled with other writers or attended a conference. I'm completely out of the writer's loop--and that scares the crap out of me. I feel like a newbie walking into a room full of strangers. I'm not sure who will be there of those I used to see regularly, and I'm sure there will be plenty of new faces. Will the regulars remember me? Will I remember them? Will I feel welcome, as though I'd never disappeared from their circle, or will it be as though I'm a new writer all over again?

I'm nervous, to say the least, but I'm excited, too. There's something inspiring and motivating about being around a group of fellow creatives, and I'm already preparing to soak up all that energy. I've roped a writer friend into coming with me, and this will be her first conference experience, so I'm also looking forward to being her introduction to the local writing scene.

In the spirit of being optimistic, I'm reminding myself of tips I've given to others in the past, back in the days when I attended writing events frequently:

1. Network, network, network. I'll try to talk to as many people as I can. I'll introduce myself to whomever I find myself sitting or standing next to and I'll introduce my friend to anyone I meet. I'll exchange contact information with each of them, on the off chance that we might be able to help one another in the future.

2. Follow up. I'll make sure to be in contact with every person whose contact information I collect within a couple weeks of the conference. I want to reconnect with the writing community and this is a great way to begin building relationships again.

3. Take notes. I won't just be taking notes on the sessions I attend. I'll also make sure to take notes on the back of business cards so that I remember something significant about each person I meet. This will help when I write those follow-up emails later.

4. Ask questions. People like to talk about themselves and their projects, and what you hear when you ask questions will tell you a lot about the people you meet. I'm a firm believer that if you ask questions and listen closely, you'll learn more than you would in any classroom.

5. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself. Have a pitch about the book you're working on. Know what "you do" so that when the inevitable question comes up you can quickly respond with a succinct summary of the types of work you do.

6. Be open. More than anything I want to be open to whatever I'm supposed to learn and whomever I'm supposed to meet at this conference. I believe that an openness to creativity, thoughts, and people will help me to get the most out of the experience. Opportunities and ideas can abound it I'm ready for them.

Wish me luck as I wade back into the world of writers!

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