I'm running a little experiment here. I've decided that while the glowing box babysits, I will pretend, for that half an hour that I would normally spend doing dishes or laundry, that I am actually a writer. Dum-dee-dum... I am a writer, and I am doing very important work here at my desk. Really. If I do this everyday, and gradually increase the amount of time as circumstances allow, then I can continue to call myself a writer, even if I am never published again. Surely if I keep this up I will eventually produce something of note; something I can point to and say, "See, I told you I was a writer."
It is becoming clear that my problem is not so much that I don't have time to write, which is true, but more that I don't make time to write. I don't take that time out of my day because it isn't a priority. It isn't a priority because I don't take myself seriously as a writer. I don't take myself seriously as a writer because I do not write. I do not write because I do not have time to write. I don't have time to write because I don't make time to write. The whole thing, spellled out as it is here, is quite pathetic.
I've been thinking a lot about what Mike said, and I wonder if it really is about the urge, the necessity to write. What if that is the missing piece for me; the thing that makes me not really a writer, but simply someone who enjoys writing? And would that be so terrible a thing? I like to pretend I'm something I'm not, but I don't feel a need to call myself an actor. Why must it be tied to my identity?
Well, I think some of it has to do with how I'd like to see myself as opposed to how I really see myself. Like, I want to be a writer. I admire writers. I admire all artists, but I have a special affinity for the writer. I understand that type of artistry that is creative, but still too tied to the intellect to truly transcend this earth, and therein lies the torment that is necessary for any really good art. I can dig it. The other part of it must be tied to my sense of who I am in actuality. I think that the more entrenched in motherhood I became, the more desperately I clung to that other thing.
"So, what do you do?"
"Oh, I'm a writer," and then, as an afterthought, as if it were possible to be an afterthought, "and I stay at home with my kids."
What is it about being aâ€” do I dare to say it? yes, I doâ€” Stay-At-Home Mother that makes me feel ill at ease? I don't feel uncomfortable while I'm doing it, except for those times when there is a tiny finger up my nose, or thirty pounds on my back, or a seemingly interminable shrieking in my ear. And even those aren't as bad as they sound, well, at least, much more tolerable than they sound. It's just when I say it out loud, which I don't, ever. You see, normally, I find comfort in labels. What is not to love about a nice, neatly lettered sticker that tells me exactly where something fits in, like the files in my box or the cans in my cupboard. When everything is where it should be, then I can relax. Only, I don't really want to fit in. In actuality, I require a bit more freedom than that.
When people think I'm a writer, they want to talk to me. When they think I'm a stay-at-home mom, they assume I don't have anything to say. I am reminded of how little we value children. That is really what it comes down to. I remember this from working in childcare. There is very little pay, and very little respect. I was a college student, and was therefore treated a little better because I was going on to do more important things eventually. We think of this kind of work as not really working at all. It's not professional work; basically unskilled labor. In fact, can it really be called work if there is no money involved? And it's not like I'm saving the world. No, just shaping the new one. The thought that my life would have seemingly more value if I went to work everyday and sent my children to be cared for by someone else, is baffling to me. I might be more at ease with that label, but I wouldn't be comfortable.
I have to remind myself that I choose this life. Everyday, I, we, make sacrifices so that our children can have this. So that they can have this foundation, which I feel is essential to who they are. I'm lucky I get to choose. So, really, what's a little identity theft when all of that is taken into consideration?