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Monday, September 11, 2006

Letting Go

I had forgotten that my last post was called “Slowing Down” until I started writing this. It’s been unusually long since I’ve posted because I had to start teaching a week before the children went back to school. Then there was the Labor Day pot luck, the end of summer overnight camp out in Fairmont Park, the first day back to Irish dance lessons for Megan and her first fall performance, not to mention Philadelphians Against Santorum, for which I am a block captain. Yesterday I ended up speeding across the city to get to meeting for worship, a reminder that I haven’t mastered the slowing down thing yet.

So today starts the first full week of school for the children, and Megan wants to do a mind boggling number of activities: chorus, the school play, Irish soft shoe, and Irish hard shoe. But she wants to quit piano, for which I paid a deposit last spring. We are having some serious family discernment about how much we can handle and how to balance the encouragement of a child’s enthusiasm and talent with her less obvious need for down-time. We’ve talked to Megan about how she needs to let go of some of what she wants, while I’m secretly wondering if I need to let go of my desire to have her stick with piano. But the mom has to take the long view, and piano, while not as social and fun in the short term, has some real long term benefits. The mom also has to think about what’s best for everyone, so I must weigh Megan’s hoped for activities against how it will impact Luke’s schedule, as well as mine as Tom’s.

This issue of weighing what’s best for everyone has got me thinking in a new way about the book I’ve been trying to get published. When I first started writing about my spiritual journey as a mother, my children were so young it seemed inconceivable they would ever read. Now they are both reading, and I’ve realized that they’ll want to read anything I’ve written about them. Just recently they’ve both said that they don’t want me to write embarrassing stories about them, though they’ve said it’s OK to quote them when they say something profound or funny. I’ve been trying to respect that in this blog since they said it, even though Luke's antics have provided some of my best material. The bigger problem is that the book I’ve written includes stories that they will certainly find embarrassing during their middle school years, but also stories about how difficult motherhood has been for me at certain phases. I think all of it will be good for them to read as adults, when they’re old enough to understand the overall message of love and gratitude, but as children? I’m starting to have some doubts.

This raises some questions about the mysterious business of leadings, the Quaker term for things we feel led by God to do. I felt clearly led to write about my experiences as a mother, so maybe I just assumed that some publisher would feel led to publish it. Quakers say that “way will open” if something is meant to be. There are different opinions about what to do if way doesn’t open. Sometimes it may mean we have more to do (Should I rewrite the manuscript with more emphasis on Quakerism, as some have suggested?). Sometimes it means we just have to wait (How long? I’ve been waiting a year and a half.) And sometimes it means that this wasn’t meant to be.

The fact that the book hasn’t sold yet, combined with my fears about it hurting the children and a new idea about how to integrate some of the material into a completely different book I want to write (The Wisdom to Know the Difference idea I mentioned many months ago) made me start wondering yesterday if I should just let go of the idea of publishing the motherhood book. Mostly that feels OK, though it was years of work. Was it a waste of time? Actually, I don’t think so. I’m pretty certain that writing about motherhood, observing myself and trying to be more conscious, made me a better mother than I would have been had I not been writing. The process itself also gave me great satisfaction, which I think is important, even if it won’t pay the school tuition.

I’m still testing this new way of thinking about the book, but I actually don't feel that sad about it. I’m reminded that one of the book's major themes was learning to let go of what I wanted for the greater good. Maybe all those years of not getting enough sleep really did teach me how to let go.


Blogger expatmama said...

Hmm, I'm still hoping it will find a publisher, because I'd love to read it! Though I can understand your qualms about the kids reading it, and of course the not-knowing what to do or how it will all play out must be frustrting. Good luck!

4:06 AM  

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