Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's a life!

by Samantha Wilde

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, follow her off-beat blog, Wilde Mama or listen to her progressive radio ministry program You Are Loved.


  1. I love this saying: You are doing it, now find a way to love it...I needed those exact words today!

    You have such a busy life--you must have to remind yourself to enjoy each moment, as they go rushing by...thanks for the post today!

    1. Thanks, Lucy. I am reminding myself of that right now!

  2. Great post. Honest and thought provoking about the aches and pains of parenting, writing and living. My kids are older now (and I guess so am I) so I've survived the soul searching and the big questions. And here is where I netted out. If after a rough day/week/month/year I can still say that my blessings far outweighed my burdens then I count myself lucky. Period. As for life not being what we expected? That's what makes it a journey rather than a boring trip. The greater the risks the greater the rewards

  3. Very thoughtful post. My life had been in such a state of transition in recent years, I never now what to expect next. But it is always a great adventure.

  4. Sam, what a lovely post.
    It's hard to step back sometimes, especially when the details we need to deal with daily are so overwhelming, and just write for its own sake. But I love what you shared about needing to do just that. Or, I guess, finding a way to love it, amidst all the chaos :). Thanks for the reminder.

  5. First of all---FIVE EDITORS? Wow. That's a lot of literary midwives! :)

    Also, your mother had some great advice. It's so easy to forget that part, which strikes me as funny. Or sad.

  6. Write for the sake of writing. Great advice, Sam! And a lovely post. Enjoy this time with your children. As someone who is transitioning to an empty nest with my youngest 2 off to college, I'll tell you, it goes by fast!

  7. So hard to remember that we're authors because we love to write. My life has been a train wreck for weeks, but I've been trying to treat my writing time as a kind of mindfulness, and it's working. In some bizarre twist, the writing, which has thrown my family's life into chaos, has also become my therapy and my escape.

  8. This is a a perfect post for me today as I go back and forth between what project I should be focusing on next.
    I am also with a new first grader who is dealing with the "real world" a little more now.
    It's never exactly the way you imagine, but then you look back and see how it all fits into place.

  9. 5 editors. Yikes.

    Wonderful post, Sam.

    As far as expectations, I always remember that line from Broadcast News, where the William Hurt character says, "What do you do when your life exceeds your expectations?" And the Albert Brooks character responds, "Keep it to yourself."

    So far, my expectations have been dashed again and again ... but oh ... to have that kind of William Hurt moment!

  10. Your mother is Nancy Thayer??? I love her! Well, maybe that's because she blurbed my second book, but also because she's a great writer.

    As for reality lining up with expectations - whether career or personal life - that almost never happens. But that's OK. Dream of the best, do what you can to make that happen, and then deal with what actually happens. And, you know, there's always wine. And whine!

  11. Thanks, ladies! You know, it feels really good to read all your comments and know that I am in such awesome company! In the weirdest way, life does seem like less of a struggle when you know others are going through the same things. I appreciate your comments!