Fight for Your Life

fountainI love to make everyone happy.

Now I reread that sentence and mentally insert “which is impossible” to the end of it. That’s the only way the sentence can be consistently true. I strive for the impossible.

I love my family and friends passionately. I am an active member of my communities. And yet it’s delusional to tell myself that I can satisfy every social expectation or perfectly balance any crowd situation. Geeze.

Tip of the day: Setting yourself up for failure is not the way to avoid depression.

So now, for the hundredth time, I acknowledge my powerlessness to make everyone happy and content, and then I realize that the cost of trying to achieve this results in one person almost always feeling unhappy when all is said and done: Me.

And I know it’s not all about me. My awesome parents made sure, in a loving and firm way, that I learned that from a young age that I wasn’t the center of the universe. Being a mother to a beautiful eight month old baby boy has been living exercise in giving nearly all my hours to another being.

So I strive to be an awesome mom and join mommy groups and visit with friends and fill my life with good things, but I struggle to write and push my creative projects into the light at anything more than a snail’s pace. The natural result of me in that kind of habitat: I’m eating chocolate by the handful, having no energy in the evenings except to lay in front of the TV, and whining through most of my conversations with anyone who will listen.

I talked to my husband about this. We planned the start of a rescue. We checked in with our budget. I told him how much I need time to myself. Just a few hours. We discussed the realities of having someone watch our son. I don’t have a detailed plan yet, but I am reminding myself that “figuring this out” is a series of trial and error, not a “get it right the first time or you’re out” kind of business.

I’m writing this post at my kitchen table listening to my son snooze through the baby monitor. But I’m writing. I’m fighting for this part of me that I honestly can’t just let die. I will be a mom and a writer. I can’t surrender my writing and I can’t surrender my son and I don’t instantly become “bad” at one when I add the other to my plate. I’m not slacking as a mom just because I want to write.

Patience and grace. I’ll need piles of this.

I will have to reorder my schedule and my priorities once again. I don’t know what’s getting cut and what’s getting set in stone, but it’s about to happen. I’m gonna fight.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

Comments

Fight for Your Life — 12 Comments

  1. Elise, I love reading these thoughts. The funny thing is that I could have written them myself – just yesterday. The tension between meeting the needs of your family and nourishing your soul by using your gifts is a continual balancing act. I’m impressed at your thought process and glad that you and your husband are sorting it out. You’re amazing.

    • Lisa! Thank you for writing this. It means a lot to me that you can relate, and I am actually gaining a lot of confidence in knowing that many many others are facing this same challenge and facing it successfully. Thank you for the encouragement! I am praying that you are able to find this balance, too!

    • Thank you! I hope that this very exciting start will be a success and something that I can keep up as a new regular pattern. Thank you for your prayers!

    • Thanks, Jan! It’s nice these days to know that some of the rougher parts are not permanent. I’m often disoriented by how “the only thing constant is change” but its these same changes that grow us and help us develop and help our children become more self-reliant. There is good in these days too, and I know some of these sweet moments won’t last forever, either.

  2. It is good to fight for what brings life. I am lapsed so often these days, letting go of my writing for other “good causes”, but your words remind me of my essential calling. Looking back on life with younger kids, I don’t regret any time I stole away from them to write. So you go, girl!

    • Oh thank you! I love hearing that you don’t regret taking some of that time for yourself. It makes me more confident that I won’t regret this either!

  3. Good for you, Elise!! I’m penning this note to you from the dining room table because I don’t have an office, but also because at least I’m in the same room with my family. It’s very easy to shut them out when one is a writer. I wrote until our second son was born and then I stopped for a very long time. It’s easy to do. Hang in there! The reason I don’t visit very often is because I cut out networking. I work my 11 hour day job, do the family/house stuff and whatever time might be left goes to writing. The only reason I’m visiting now is because I’m in between drafts of my latest and giving myself a short break.
    I just want to encourage you, my friend. You’ll figure it out! *high-fives*

    -Jimmy

    P.S.: Actually I was just tricking you to get your hands away from the chocolate so I could sneak some. 😉

    • Oh thank you, Jimmy! Good to hear from you! It is so hard to fit in the writing and the work. And you must write and you must spend time with your family. Those are important. Networking…well, that fits in only as you are able, right? Thank you for the encouragement to stick with writing. Kids and family are so important and I don’t want to shortchange them. At the same time, I don’t want to shortchange my deep need to keep working with words. Slowly but surely, I hope I will indeed figure this out!

    • I somehow missed this comment earlier. Thank you, Diane! I hope that, though this movement forward, I am able to find the balance, even if it means messing up a lot along the way, as I’m sure I will!

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