Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Had A Dream

I would like to state categorically that I love my children and would do anything for them. This is not a disclaimer. In fact, it seems to be my problem. As my children have gotten older, their capabilities have grown. But I haven't really given them room to exercise those capabilities. Though I am realizing this is due mostly to habit, something tells me it's time to change it. Something, that is, other than my husband.

I am a "doer" and always have been. I have worked since I was 12 years old, and have loved every moment of it. When my children came along, I left my full-time job to become a full-time mother, a job I knew would be challenging and constant. Suddenly, my days were no longer filled and organized around meetings and clients, commutes and reports. There's no need for PDAs when everything is scheduled around NAPs. It was as if I had been building up momentum for 20 years only to come to a sudden, screeching halt.

After a while, I got used to the pace of motherhood and we fell into our routines. Over the next 10 years, my job of nurturing, encouraging and caring for my kids became very full indeed. As infants, they need everything done for them; as toddlers, they require constant stimulation and vigilant attention. But once they enter school, they begin to learn how to care for themselves. Sure, it happens slowly and in small increments--washing, carrying a backpack, doing homework, cleaning up after themselves--but it happens. And each year, those skills are built upon and expanded.

At least, they are at school.

Although my children don't need me to do as much for them as they did when they were small, it doesn't mean they don't want me to. For example, my 'tween is perfectly capable of washing his own clothes and cooking small meals. And my 9-year-old can empty the dryer, fold and put clothes away and wash dishes. Great! you might say. I would say it too, except that they don't do any of that stuff.

Why? Because I still do all those things. They were part of my original job description as stay-at-home mom.  Sure, over the last few years, my job has been downgraded to a part-time position, but I've still been continuing to work it full-time. In all my years of working--regardless of the job--no one could ever accuse me of being a slacker.

All this drudgery, of course, takes away from my writing time. And I know it's my own fault. But I think my brain has had enough, and is ready for something more stimulating than laundry after all these years. And this is why:

I had a dream the other night that I was working downstairs in my house, and found an unused room that had a beautiful old writing desk in it. My eyes lit up when I saw it, and I immediately started plotting where I could move it to so that I would be able to use it all the time.

But as I approached the desk, I realized that someone had made changes to it. The writing area was no longer made of wood, but had been converted to an electric, glass-top stove. And when I tried to open the cabinet below, instead I was met with a large, pull-out drawer that, I realized upon closer inspection, was not just an oven: when not in use for cooking, the drawer doubled as a bassinet.

I woke up screaming.

OK, not really. But what this dream made me realize is that for far too long, I have been putting my own desires aside to care for my babies, even though they are no longer babies. Instead of doing all that full-time work for my kids, I should have been using those extra hours to take back my desk.

So I've been making plans for change. Next week, the boys will be on vacation. But just because they won't be in school doesn't mean they won't be learning. It's time for some real life lessons; time to get their responsibilities off my plate and onto theirs. And then have them wash those plates.

I plan to be busy writing.

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