The Antithesis to the New Years Resolution

January 1, 2010 § 16 Comments


            There are worse things than telling a 4-year-old in her favorite pink leotard and pigtails that she will not be eating birthday cake like she thought. There are worse things than looking into her pure, green eyes and apologizing. There are worse things than mixing up Summer’s Gymnastics Party date, but two weeks ago, I could think of nothing worse. (To her credit, 4yo girl did not throw a fit like she could have. There was some mention of “Worst car ride, EVER”)

These types of things don’t happen every day, but they happen more than I’d like to admit.

            I don’t know what I want to change in the coming year, but I know for certain who I do not want to be. Me. Oh, I’m fine overall. I’m healthy. My children are healthy. I’m fortunate to be a stay-at-home-mom. I have a lot of friends. Real ones. I drive a Honda Odyssey!

            I’m also losing my mind.

            This is what I know: I cannot do it all, I fail, and I fall.

            My husband found me on the floor of our bedroom after the birthday party debacle. I was sobbing. He pulled me into his arms and held me. I said nothing while I felt inadequate. Quietly, he whispered into my hair all the things he loved about me.

            Maybe it’s the added stress of the holidays, but the last few months have been collectively horrible. I play the happy part of scattered wife and mom, differed through sarcasm, of course. (I cannot live without it) People see me smile, laugh, and have a good time, but underneath it all I find my careful façade crumbling.

            I fear my children will see through my faults. They’re still young, but it won’t be long until their perceptive eyes shine light on my hypocrisy. They’ll see where I fail them and my selfishness. They’ll see the things I think are secret and dark. I cannot impart wisdom I don’t have.

            How do I write, take care of a family, and house? There’s the problem right there, the order of the question. It should be: How do I take care of a family, house, and write? I can’t seem to quit this writing stuff. I’ve left if for far too long and now that I’ve returned to it, my mind won’t fathom turning away. I’m in the throes of a new relationship with words and it’s tumultuous trail.

            What will I change in the coming year? I’m going to be more honest. I’m going to tell people “no” more. I’m going to love my husband more. I’m going to wait until he’s asleep to write. When I feel overwhelmed, I am going to stop what I’m doing and look at each of my children’s faces. I’m going to pray for them. I’m going to thank God they’re here, thank God they’re healthy and remember that I have more love than one person can possibly deserve. 

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§ 16 Responses to The Antithesis to the New Years Resolution

  • That made me get a little misty… You are awesome. Like really… not being sarcastic at all here… You are 🙂

  • I’m lucky that I can do most of my writing while the kids are in school, and husband at work, but most days I feel like my house is falling down around me, and I just can’t stop writing. Then another writer friend of mine said, “In years to come what will you remember: your completed and hopefully published novel, or that your linen closet was organized?”
    Now, I tell myself that once I finish my novel (end of the month*fingers crossed*)and send it out the door, there will be plenty of time to clean the house. I will need something to keep my mind off the waiting.
    Don’t beat yourself up Harley May, you’re doing the best you can. Sounds like you have a great family.
    Happy New Year!

    • harleymay says:

      Michaele, what wonderful advice. It’s true I don’t need to let the little things like laundry bother me. I have to remind myself while my children are small that these days are numbered and few. I try not to say, “I can’t wait until….” because before I know it, they’ll be doing all those things I couldn’t wait for. These days are precious and my writing will happen just as it is supposed to. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Lorena says:

    Children are very forgiving and very accepting. And they won’t call you a hypocrite until they’re 15, and that’s only because they won’t realize you’re just being a good parent. So, you have a whole other decade to go 🙂

    And I promise, sobbing on the bedroom floor isn’t a rarity, certainly not for me anyway.

  • Don P says:

    Well, you can definitely impart the wisdom you’ve shown just now! 🙂 It can’t all be done at once. It’s also true that the time and energy devoted to one thing is taken away from something else. Some folks go for years never having figured that out and before they know it, they lose something they didn’t want to or even necessarily had to.

    The real trick is being mindful. I think it’s normal for any artist to be terribly aware of each moment not being spent persuing her art. The key, IMO, is be just as painfully aware of each moment spent not pursuing the other things that are just as important to you. Then, every second you spend writing or tending to something or someone else becomes a conscious and informed choice.

    I don’t always succeed, but I strive for that level of mindfulness and have built structures into my life to help me. Otherwise, I’m left groping along blindly, putting out fires, and having to fix things that broke only because I’d let it.

  • harleymay says:

    Lorena, thank you. Yes, I have a while before they’re 15. Sadly, it already seems like they’re too smart for me. I’m realizing that children are so perceptive! It’s good to know other mothers have meltdowns on the bedroom floor.

    Don, loved your line “painfully aware of each moment spent not pursuing the other things that are just as important to you.” It is all about a balance that I haven’t mastered. Yet. 🙂 Thank you for your words.

  • Simon L. says:

    “I can’t seem to quit this writing stuff. I left it for far too long and now that I’ve returned to it, my mind won’t fathom turning away. I’m in the throes of a new relationship with words and it’s a tumultuous trail.”

    I. Completely. Relate.

    It’s hard to tell my wife I haven’t read the book on parenting she asked me to months ago because I’m blogging and commenting and writing. How do we prioritize properly? I’m not sure yet, but in 2010, I hope I’ll find out how to find balance.

    I’m sure you’ll find a way, good lady. Here’s to getting it all done, with grace and elegance, in the coming year.

    • harleymay says:

      It is hard, Simon. Balancing time with the spouse has been the trickiest of all these. In a perfect world, they come first, and it’s hard to explain when you’re desires don’t line up with what right. Thank you for your kind words and support.

  • Its seems to be a common disease among writers. The fear we are abandoning our real world for the ones in our heads.

    My kids are older, My sons buy me shirts that say “I cleaned my house yesterday to bad you missed it” “Careful you might end up in my novel.””As soon as I finish this chapter” Thankfully all who know and truly love me understand this part of me, especially my kids. Yours will, too. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

    God made us so that we can not easily pat our own backs or kick our own backsides.

    And I like your new blog home.

  • Jennifer Spiller says:

    I just found the blog via a twitter. I totally relate. But, I’m a writer-mom too. The sobbing on the bathroom floor and feelings of inadequacy do not seem to be confined to artist-moms, however. Every parent I know has them. The few people I know who are on top of everything with their spouse and kids are miserable because they’ve utterly denied their own self.

    And to make you all feel better…

    My Dad is/was a writer/theatre director growing up. Driven, but never really successful. He alternated artist pursuits full time with working odd jobs for money. He was so much happier when he was writing or directing instead of working hard at something that had no meaning for him, we all pushed him to do what he loved. Now he has cancer and his time is short. I’m so glad we put his happiness first.

    People who love you want your happiness. Even your kids. I guarantee you’re a better mom when you’re happy and fulfilled, even if the cake burns, the dinner explodes and Martha Stewart would keel over and die if she walked in your front door.

    Happy New Year! It’s going to be a great one for finishing our novels and queries and watching the kiddos do crazy stuff!

    • harleymay says:

      Jennifer and Marissa,

      What wonderful words of encouragement! Truly, I am blessed to find such supportive people through twitter and the blog.

      “The fear of abandoning our real world for the one in our heads” Yes, exactly. You want to be here and present but denying yourself creative fulfillment is also stiffling.

      Jennifer, thank you for sharing the story of your father. What wonderful words to hear from a child of a writer. You give me great hope. Thank you.

  • Anne Riley says:

    Hi honey! You’ve probably already figured this out, but everyone struggles with the same stuff as you. Maybe not exactly the same – I mean, I don’t have any kids yet, so I can’t really relate there – but the whole priorities and time management is really tough for me. I spend most of my day at a job that I’m only halfway excited about, wishing I could be home, writing. I get home and have somewhere between half an hour to one hour of time when I can write – but if ANYTHING distracts me (laundry, the cat, dirty bathroom, dirty dishes) then it’s game over. Rob comes home from work and he wants to hang out with me, and of course I want to spend time with him. I’ve started writing on Saturday mornings before he wakes up, or going to the library for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. It stinks. But we’ll both pull through, you and I. We’ll get it figured out.

    • harleymay says:

      Annie, you are right! My plight is not unique. 🙂 The more I read about other people’s New Year’s resolutions, I’m encouraged by the lack of people who seem to have it all together. What a great support you are. Heart you!

  • Carolina says:

    Awwww…I feel you, Sweets. I’m so there. Every day. What you do is a full-time all-day, all-night job. Writing, unfortunately, is seen as a hobby and not an extension of you as we see it. But persist, my dear. Persist. In all things, there must be balance. So find that happy balance and beg and plead if you have to for the happy compromise with your family. It hurts so much because you want it so much. And I suspect, because they love you, that they will persist with you. So long as there is balance. At least this is what I tell myself.

    We all slip up with dates and events–and the fact that you had such an emotional response tells me how important your role as wife and mother are to you…surely, they see this. And yet, there is nothing wrong with adding “writer” to your identity. It is a part of you. And sometimes, when all is in balance, it should be a priority. When the kids are fed and brushed, and the husband is loved and tended and watered, all else falls away…and writing, your third great love shoul be your priority because it, too, sustains you. You don’t have to make excuses or justifications. It just is. Keep your blackberry/i-phone close in hand, so that everything stays in balance, but be sure to schedule a time for your writing. They say mothers need that ME-time, so make writing your ME-time.

    Big hugs….

  • zumba says:

    2010 is definitely the year to get accompolished. For fitness, exercise and getting rid of bad habits and just turning new leaves. Im in!
    Thanks.

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