My older son is transitioning from a kindergartner to a first grader, from "free-choice" every day, to rules, math, and no talking in the hallway. He comes home in the evening and needs to scream at me. Well, he needs to scream.
My baby is transitioning into a toddler. In the period of a month he busted out six teeth, learned how to climb out of his crib--and his high chair--and, for the most part, weaned from nursing. Putting him to bed, an activity that was once as easy as popping him off the breast and rolling him onto the sheets, now takes upwards of an hour and requires earplugs.
|These peaceful days are over!|
As for me, I am simply transitioning from being a person dreaming of her future to being a person living that future. And I have to say, along with my children, that it calls for a good cry--if not a good scream. It's not so much that it's harder than I thought, but that it's different.
I have had five editors for my latest novel. That's all the fingers on one hand! It took three years longer than anticipated to get that book published! It reads nothing like the original draft (and thank goodness), and I feel like it was more a collaboration with a whole board room of people than a genuine, whole-cloth personal creation.
I can remember wanting to be a published writer. Just like I can remember wanting--longing--to be a mother. And to be married. And to have a house of my own. All these are transitions. It makes me think of the time between labor and delivery called transition. For most women this is generally the most gruesome part of the birthing--that time when you aren't yet pushing and you feel like your head will explode. Get a few good birthing books and you can read incredible and terrifying tales of transition. A midwife will tell you this is the most exciting part--what you have been waiting for is almost here: your baby!
Of course this is and is not true. We wait for a baby. We wait for a book. We wait to get married or we wait to get divorced or we wait to get wealthy or thinner or smarter or more successful. When the baby arrives, though, it all just keeps on transitioning, from one stage to a next with such speed and outside of our control that I don't know a single person who cannot say--"it goes so fast!"
My mother, novelist Nancy Thayer, who has published 22 novels, has told me more than once, do not write for something. Write for its own sake. Not for money or fame or love or the desire to prove something to another person or to yourself. And the same, of course, we all know, can be said of life.
Many years ago, I went with my mother to Wales and saw some of the most incredible waterfalls I've ever seen. I still remember looking at one and thinking--in that awed, unbelieving way--that these falls drove on continuously, whether I observed them or not, flowing and rushing and moving constantly, with or without an admirer or a witness with a photograph or a word of praise.
It is more complicated than, if you don't love it, why do it? It is more like: you are doing it, find a way to love it. Because the whole thing is a transition, when you look back, of us, becoming ourselves. I see it so clearly with my children. And when I inhabit the little still places in my day--I see it also for myself.
Has your life matched up with your expectations? Your books with your hopes for them? And what do you do when you find it's different than you thought?
Samantha Wilde is the full-time, stay-at-home mother of three small children ages 6, 4.5 and 2. During naps and night times, she writes, ministers, teaches yoga, and reads. She is the author of THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME and the forthcoming I'LL TAKE WHAT SHE HAS (both Bantam Books). You can visit her at samanthawilde.com, follow her off-beat blog, Wilde Mama or listen to her progressive radio ministry program You Are Loved.