Friday, February 17, 2012

i could be tilling the soil

I am a stay-at-home-mama-writer who struggles with guilt. How about you? If you're a stay-at-home-parent who's also pursuing your own work, do you feel guilt too?

I posed this question to a friend and fellow mama-writer in town at a book reading she had from her hot-off-the-press stay-at-home mom manual earlier this week (cover pictured). She answered no, not so much; your standards sort of slide, she explained (as a mother of two).

I know I probably worry too much because I dread so much being anything like my mom. I also know it's my responsibility, and certainly not my child's, to set the boundaries I need to ensure I get enough done of what's important for me to stay sane.

We live in a more child oriented time than ever. Many of us structure our lives around our new babies (unlike tiger moms and French parents who apparently expect a baby to smoothly fit into the life they already have). I've written that:
I am happiest when I can combine my work parenting with my work writing or reading, thinking or walking, or visiting with friends. Or even when cooking, cleaning, gardening, and doing errands. If you saw the movie Babies (2010), I like to think of my parenting style more like the Namibian mom’s than the styles of the San Francisco- and Tokyo-based moms. I don’t divide my work and chores from being with my daughter, caring for and playing with her; I incorporate them all.
I confess I was a bit idealist hopeful when I wrote that (the guilt, remember?!). But seriously, that Namibian mom didn't drop all her other work to dote on her child. She worked, and she played, and she cared for.

When I feel the guilt creeping over me in the days and weeks ahead when I ask Lilly to play by herself for a bit while I cram some work in to get my book manuscript off to my publisher on time, standing right next to her with my laptop on the kitchen counter, all the while watching her and talking with her too, I shall tell myself: I could be tilling the soil. 

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