Thursday, January 27, 2011

Questions and Answers

Innocent enough conversation at a small dinner party last week, but it stuck with me, her question replaying in my head repeatedly. I was taking plates out of the cupboard, ready to load them up with meatball subs and salad, when she asked, "So, what have you been doing with your time?" I opened my mouth to answer and stopped mid-plate removal, a stutter in my movement. I put the plate down, turned and answered with the first reply that came to mind, "Well, I play with Abby and that's about it." She applauded my decision to stay home and then we moved on to setting the table and eating. The rest of the evening was a back-and-forth tossing of updates and questions. "We've been busy with lessons, driving the girls, my work transitioning positions last fall," she explained. "And how was your Christmas?"
I was admittedly shaken. The evening wasn't unfolding how I thought it would. I had a great time catching up with one of our favourite families, people who welcomed us warmly when we moved up here. But her questions kept posing itself in my head, demanding a more substantial answer from me. What do I do with my time? What will I do with the rest of it?
Those are completely loaded questions that I'm sure follow every twentysomething around. Four years ago my answer would have involved explanations of internships, my latest freelance article, my plans to graduate, a new job opportunity. Now it makes me feel inadequate to have such a simple answer, "I play with Abby, I prepare meals, I run errands, and I keep a house." That just sounds so antiquated an ideal.
And yet, I am incredibly happy. I am beyond satisfied and fulfilled. I've said it before, my love cup filleth and spilleth over. I love my days with Abby, I recognize they are fleeting and impermanent. I love preparing healthy meals, and being the source of her growth, and our family's health. I feel like a matriarch. I call the shots (and work through them with Rich), I don't have to work a job I don't like, and we make ends meet.
But the fact that my own answer bothered me indicated something might be askew in my life's proper organized items lined up on a shelf. Perhaps I need more in my answer, something that conveys to the question-asker and myself that I am working towards a personal goal. I would like to be more academically challenged, beyond keeping up with the news and reading the online Sunday Times. Something beyond, "And I make time for yoga," just to rest everyone's concerns that I don't make some "me-time."
I've sat on this for a few days, cried to Rich, looked online, listened to broadcasts on the radio about passions and obstacles, and have found a small ignited flame of an answer. I think I'd like to put more effort, more concentrated focus on writing. I'd like to start short stories and maybe not finish them. I'd like to write unrelated tangents and ideas and thoughts played out to see if they could go together. I'd like to start writing stories, and see what kind of fiction might be dancing around in my head. Or what kind of deep, personal insights manifest in written words.
I could ignore this idea, and keep doing what I'm doing and be totally happy. I won't be a mother to a young child forever. And when the day comes she is ready to go to school, and discover the world without my hand in hers, I could then dedicate time to return to my interests. That would certainly be easier than dedicating time to writing every day, starting now.
But if I know me like I think I do, these nagging thoughts about challenging myself and finding fulfillment in another non-reproductive arena won't disappear.
So, now to go answer my own question, "How do I start writing stuff?"


  1. Interesting, isn't it? We can be totally happy and yet somehow dissatisfied. Is it because I really need to do something for myself, something that's all about developing ME? Or is it because I've been brought up in a culture that believes that domesticity isn't enough? Or that even domesticity needs to be competitive (witness Martha Stewart).

    Anyway, whatever the reason, I know that *I* need to do something that's just for me. When you have a talent, it seems a shame not to use it, right?

  2. I would write something, but Fawn has stolen my exact words!!



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