I saw a post recently by an author that bugged me. I have no problem with him arguing that if you want to be a writer, you write. I mean, that just stands to reason. You don’t get hired as a chef for a four-star restaurant without learning to cook first. You don’t become chief of surgery at the local trauma center without doing a lot of surgeries. And you don’t become a writer — let alone a renowned writer — without putting in the time.
No, what bugged me was his dismissal of any other occupation you might have for your time. As I think I’ve made clear, I don’t believe in burying myself in one occupation to the exclusion of everything else, so obviously I don’t agree with him. I also really don’t like personal opinion being presented as the One True Way. Breadth works for me, but that doesn’t mean I think everyone should be like me (with the exception to follow, of course ).
Even more specifically, one of the things he singled out as not being as important for his time was parenthood. Basically, he said he provides for his family, they know he loves them, and that should be enough without him making an effort to go to games, etc.
Wow, how utterly 1950s.
I’m not suggesting the other extreme — give up your own life for two decades until the kids are grown and gone, then try to remember who you are when you’re not being a helicopter parent.
Instead, I’m arguing for the middle ground. (Yep, I’m a centrist. Live with it.)
I think one of the most common things middle class parents tell their children is that they can do anything they want to do, that they can grow up to be anything, that they should follow their dreams. Well, look, if you really believe that, there are two things you have to do to make sure they believe it, too:
- You need to support their dreams — go to their games, their concerts, their recitals; read their stories; care about what they care about.
- You need to live your dreams so they know they’re not expected to put their lives on hold when they have kids of their own.
My mom always supported my dreams; she still does. And she had dreams of her own — I remember studying Italian flash cards with her when she went back to school to finish up her bachelor’s degree. I also shared the college commute with her when she went back to work on a second degree. She taught me by example, and I hope to do the same for my kids.
Yes, there are millions of mothers out there, and not as many writers. On the other hand, my kids only have one mother and can read any book they want. It’s a balance.
. . . and now I need to get back to this book I’m writing.