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Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Flickering Warm, Light

Motivation. It alludes me these days.

When I was a teacher, I stayed late, tweaked lesson plans, and served on committees. I endeavored to be professional, knowledgeable, and vibrant.

Then, for awhile, I was that mother. Extended breast feeding and homemade baby food. No TV. Daily enrichment activities and age-appropriate sensory experiences.

This then morphed into writing. I was going to become a freelance writer, a la David Sedaris, Malcolm Gladwell, or Erma Bombeck. I would work from home, crafting words and emotions while my children napped.

And now? It all exhausts me. I've given up on writing being anything more than a hobby, because those that want it work really, really hard. And I don't.  (Also, my kids don't nap anymore).

I am a loving, considerate, caring mother. But I cannot get excited about making fun snacks for preschool or planning parties for my older son's classroom.

When I drop off my kids at camps or school, I don't linger. I don't make small talk with the other mothers, exchanging chit-chat about sleep habits or the best deals on chicken breasts. I keep my sunglasses on. Or I text.

That fire within--to be the best, to be noticed, to be liked and have lots of gold stars--has become a flickering warm light.

I take pride in smaller things. A solid four-mile run. The paint roller gliding across the wall. Knobby knees. A soft hand clutching my thumb.

I don't know if my motivation is hibernating or forever dormant. Perhaps, in light of all the other things going in my life right now, this is the best I can do.

Or maybe, this is what I've always meant to do.

Maybe life is teaching me to care less, so I don't become careless when it really matters.

Does this ring true to anybody? Please share your insights.

20 comments:

CDG said...

The only motivation I have left is my writing, and I chafe at the lack of opportunity, since motherhood, a 53 hour workweek, and the demands of keeping a household running strip me of any identity but mother, wife, and nanny.

But if my house doesn't sparkle, and the novel isn't writing itself as quickly as I might like, at least my son wants to kiss my nose and read stories with me.

And that light is very good, indeed.

Ms. Moon said...

Girl. I get it. Better to have a warm glow in the belly than a fire, perhaps. I don't know. But I know it has happened to me.

Jessica said...

I can't tell you how true this rings for me. I listen to people talk about their lives at work and am baffled by their excitement because I just don't have that drive in me anymore and when it comes to things with the kids I am involved but not crazy-enthusiastic like I used to be.
I am so glad you wrote this, I truly thought it was just me. Maybe it is age or settling into our roles in life? I don't know but I feel exactly the same. I'm more excited about 5 minutes to read a book with my kids than about pretty much anything else.

Victoria KP said...

Does it ring true? Oh, honey it sounds like gospel to me!

Accidental Expert said...

This not only rings true to me...I think you secretly wrote it about me.

When the kids were younger I was the class mom, when on all the field trips, chatted with other moms. Now? Not so much. I also have a love/hate relationship with writing. I threaten to take it seriously, but then life happens, I get tired and nothing gets done.

Kim said...

Oh Nancy, YES! The best you can do right now. You are a gifted writer, the writing will come. I think it's so important to let the needs of the family guide us. THat to me is what's important. The rest, I know will come. RAising good men. That's what you're doing right now. And once you're ready to write that book, really ready, it won't matter that you didn't do it now. Big hugs. I love your honesty - we all feel it but are afraid to say it, in case it means that we've accepted that writing may be a pipe dream. And some people need to accept that. I don't think you are one of them.

Joann Mannix said...

Do you know how long it took me to write my manuscript? Longer, much, much longer than I care to confess.

As a mother of three girls hovering near the threshold of young adulthood, I can tell you that there was no way I could have written the words back in their little days. Young motherhood takes everything, your mind, your heart, your focus and all your energies. As they grow and their needs aren't constant, that fire will come back. You'll see. Mine was always there, burning under the surface. A few words here and there scratched across a notebook, were my biggest attempts back in those days. Take heart, Nancy. Writing like yours never leaves you. Trust me, sometimes I thought I wouldn't be able to get it back. But gifts like yours are yours for the keeping.

Yuliya said...

Maybe 'motivation' is being redefined. Let's go with that because this is exactly how I feel and I would hate to have to call myself unmotivated.
But please don't give up on the dream, some people have a gift that must be shared (I mean you)

Alex aka WHOA MUMMA! said...

Oh I feel exactly the same way - you expressed it so beautifully.

I hope my motivation is only hibernating. I have so much more I'd like to achieve.

angela said...

This is put so beautifully. I think that motivation waxes and wanes, and maybe it hibernates for a while so we can soak in our lives and bring those experiences back to our other passions when that fire is rekindled. (Even if it is years and years down the road.)

Amy said...

Oh YES. Oh YES. Oh YES. Not to sound like Sally from the Katz's deli scene...

TKW said...

In all honesty, with all you have on your plate, something's gotta give. I'm struggling with my creativity as well; it's hard for ideas to flourish in a rocky garden.

Nichole said...

Oh, Nancy.
I could have written this post.
I've been feeling this very thing...with a huge dose of feeling defeated thrown in for good measure.

Is this what getting old is like?
Or will we get a strong second wind?

Much love to you, my beautiful and honest friend.

Julie said...

Except for the paint roller on the wall (yeah. I suck at home improvement) I relate to every single word of this.

Truly.

I would love for my writing to be more than a hobby (and Sedaris? Bombeck? YES!) but I, too, lack the work ethic to bring it about...

My kids haven't napped in a decade and my husband likes me to go to bed when he does (not in a controlling way, in a sweet "keep me company" way).

He doesn't want or expect me to be up writing all hours of the night and I don't want or expect me to do that either.

I'm tired.

So yes. A warm light. Not a fire.

And that's okay. I suppose. Most days it's okay.

But I would love to wake up with a book contract.

Yep. I sleep enough to dream...

From Tracie said...

I have been so sapped of motivation the last few months.

I don't have the drive that I used to, and I kind of miss it. I feel like I need something to kick me in the butt and get me going again.

But I love that you said, "Maybe life is teaching me to care less, so I don't become careless when it really matters." I haven't thought about it from that perspective.

Paul said...

From the asshole with testosterone:

If your priorities have changed, that's one thing - and it certainly can be wonderful.

If maturity brings a wisdom that discredits the necessity of a guest spot on "The Ellen Show" or the words "published author" stamped on your CV/resume/business card/lower back, then that's one thing - and it certainly can be wonderful.

But if you're looking for a way to justify not working harder at something that deep down you know you still really want and know you'll be pretty disappointed about not having done when you're much older, then that's another thing - and it may not be wonderful.

There's a difference between recognizing your limitations and deciding you don't really feel like trying. There's a difference between realizing what is important in life and what is transitory, fleeting, and meaningless. There's a difference between the exhaustion that comes at the end of a long day that you've seized by the earlobes and shaken for all it's worth, and the stupor that almost *all* of us slip into through routine and habit and negligence. I speak as the chief offender in that - I know of what I speak!

If you want to be able to justify an addiction to chocolate, absinthe, jogging, or dwarf-tossing, justify it because you're working your ass off towards what you love, because you love it. You won't love the exhaustion any more, but you'll find the quality of that exhaustion markedly changed.

At least that's what the Tony Robbins DVD-set says on the back cover. I can't verify it's true because I'm too tired to tear off the shrink wrap. Let me know if you want me to send it to you.

AudreyO said...

Here's my thoughts...as we get older, our lives change in a multitude of ways. We have kids, we change, start or end a job. Friendships begin and yet others end. For me, this is just life :) My kids ask me questions all of the time. I try to think back to me being a teenager. I laugh, did I really do those things? Was I really sooooo passionate about something that today isn't even an issue I read about? In my 20's did I really not get involved in things that today I'm so passionate about? Again, for me this is just life. Sounds like maybe you're enjoying each day as it comes and truly stopping to smell the roses.

Sara said...

I can identify with this, even though my kids are both fully grown. There's a period of time in everyone's life where they have to slow things down; it's good to do this. I feel for the people who keep trying to do it all; they miss so much in their rush.

It's so important that you allow yourself this time of not being the one who doesn't do it all.

Every field has times of going fallow, or resting the soil. If this isn't done, it's hard for the field to sustain new growth:~)Let it be. You're where you are meant to be at this time.

erin margolin said...

I feel this. All too well. Especially with # 3 on the way.

Sigh.

xo

Jenna said...

this has become more of who i am as well. I can identify with the nursing and babyfood making and no tv stage even.

I loved hearing some of your internal dialogue, that youre analyzing yourself and appreciating different things as you're growing in unexpected ways.

Thanks for sharing your heart :)