Friday, March 4, 2011

Writer Mom Series: Masked Doors

I am a writer. But first, I was a mom. 


A few of you have mentioned over the past year that you’d like to hear more about my journey as a mom of four children. This seems like the perfect time.


I turned double 20s, yesterday. Never being one much concerned about my numerical age, I was surprised how hard I took it…and then I wondered why. And here’s what I learned about me the person, the writer, the mother.

"When one door closes, another opens..." Alexander Graham Bell


Doors open and close throughout this journey we call Life. It's a continuous revolution of opportunities, disappointments, slow periods and those that seem to fly by, growth, hopes, dreams, and wishes.


I'm not a huge believer that there's a golden book out there where God pens our every move and motivation. I believe a smorgeboard of choices is set before us, teasing and titillating us to become more than we think we can be.


Some of you know I've been struggling over the last two months. Most of my life, I've had one door that lead to another door that lead to another door and so on. I pushed hard, worked hard, and succeeded. Period. That's me. But lately, one door has refused to close to allow another one to open--the one I want desperately: novel publication. All the near hits with my work that turned into misses since November have attacked my creative juices. Somedays, I've felt like a flower losing its shadow in the sun, becoming invisible--alone. All my fellow flower buds have bloomed around me, yet I still have not.

As I pondered if all this effort was really worth it, I checked my Facebook account. The number of b-day well-wishes overwhelmed me. But not just that. Many included private messages about my writing and how they know I’ll make it and how proud they are of me. Wow.


My cyber driveling then took me to this great post about hating your writing and how that’s a good thing.


I noticed our post for Oasis for YA was up. It was about how thankful my Oasis sisters were for me. Me. Then I received a private b-day card from Mr. Lenny, himself. Seriously, I thought that would do me in. While wiping my eyes, I opened my email to find a message from a woman who’s not only become an inspiration to me but also a dear friend, Georgia McBride. She was concerned about me. I’ll leave it at that. 


Sitting back, I closed my eyes, reflecting on that door—that nemesis. Then, I had a light bulb moment. 


The door blinding me is a different door all together. And as I stared at it, what stared back was humbling—every memory I’ve ever had of my four children.


I ended up breaking down as I realized what I was seeing. My three oldest kids don’t need me to kiss their boo-boos or tuck them into bed. At 17, 14, & 12, they are building their own lives, friendships, and paths. My role is changing…and Mommy is taking it harder than she ever expected…and that is affecting more than motherhood. 


I’ve always been the tough mom. “Get up. You’re fine” or “You won’t feel it tomorrow” often came out of my mouth. My boys played hard and got dirty. I let them. They had late night camp-outs in their bunkbeds when they thought the hubs and I were sleeping. I let them do that, too. My daughter was the girly-girl in everything pink (and I relished it), until she discovered her big brother’s sweatpants. So, she wore sweats for a while. And the 7yr-old has a vocabulary of an 11th grader (both good and bad) and he is a genius with electronics. I correct and praise him. I've allowed them room to discover who they are, who they are meant to be. I can still do this as they grow older, just in a different way. 


But I mustn’t forget that as they grow and change, I still do too.

Double 20 is a right of passage for me. The remainder of Alexander's inspiring quote is "...but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."

My writing doubts are due to this change as a mother which I did not want to see. I don’t want to say goodbye to those late night coddlings with the kids, or never feel their little arms around my neck again. I miss the mess they made in the bathroom while taking a bath, and the way they’d waddle across the room dribbling milk from their full glass.


I miss them…and that was the first admission to moving forward as a person, as Mom, and as writer.


It may take me a little time to adjust to this new revelation, time to swallow and let those cherished memories fuel me up again. But I now know, I’m not going anywhere but up. My new door is open and has the most beautiful set of stairs for me to climb.

Are you with me?

On my Facebook Page I use this quote to describe myself: I am an evolution, continually revolving upon itself.


That I am.

26 comments:

  1. Great post. 40 is so young! I know it's hard to almost make it to getting an agent but then not. But take comfort that most of those who have got agents did not get them easily and had many close calls. I'll need that pep talk when I start submitting. Sometimes I get discouraged too. My manuscript still isn't ready to query and it may not be the one. And work and my daughter and my new blogging jobs have been squeezing out my writing time. But I have faith it'll happen when it's meant to be. At least on my good days.

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  2. I took 40 hard, too. However I ended up spending it on a ski vacation with a pair of 20-something friends. After out-skiing them (out-drinking them) and watching them collapse and moan and groan on the couch while I hauled two small children out into the bitter cold for a round of night-skiing, I realized that at 40, I was awesome, and at 20 something, they were pitiful!

    And as for near misses, I think you know about mine. But the revisions I made on my manuscript based on feedback from those near misses resulted in the one that wasn't a miss. It's hard not to despair, but looking back on them now, I needed each one. They were forward steps, even though I didn't realize it at the time.

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  3. This just won post of the day for using the term double 20s. I love it! I'm definitely going for that when I get there.

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  4. Oh writing gains us so much more than the art of creation. It opens doorways to gifts beyond our initial imagination.

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  5. Oh man...it hurts to swallow that lump in my throat. Though I'm not to that age yet, I often reflect on the time that keeps passing with my (4yo) baby. It's hard.

    And as far as the writing goes, you've got what it takes. No bull. I know all about wanting to quit. I started my book 3 years ago and only got an agent this January after many close calls and lots of heartbreak. I wish I had magical advice but really do the only thing writers, and mothers, can do--keep going.

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  6. hi miss sheri! im just real happy i could be a little help to make your birthday more happy. i gotta say no matter how old your kids get for sure they could always need you. maybe not to clean up spilt milk but for lots of other more older stuff. for sure hugs are for any age. i like that door stuff and im just real happy the next one got opened for you and youre going through and not looking back. hooray for you!!!
    ...hugs from lenny

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  7. Happy belated birthday, Sheri. I thought I was way older than you (I'm your senior by 3 years). But I guess if I'd done the math (unless you were a tween when you had your first kid), I could have figured it out. Never was good at math, though. ;)

    By the way, the double 20s rock. :D

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  8. Yes. I do totally get this. My youngest started school this year and I realized I no longer have any babies. They're all getting older (and it goins by SO FAST!). No more breastfeeding or making baby food from scratch. No more diapers. I'm not up ten times a night (well, most nights anyway) My kids can dress themselves, feed themselves and occupy themselves for the most part which left me with a huge void. I tried to fill it with writing and the querying process, but like you, it feels like there's an impermeable barrier I just can't get through and I've been wondering these last few weeks if I ever will or if I should even continue to bother trying. I can't help figuring if it's meant to be..well it would've frickin been by now. Alas, then I recall the posts by those who have made it and all the advice points to one thing-- just keep going. Keep at it. It's great that you've found insight into what's been bothering you. I completely get it and I'm so glad to hear you had a good birthday!

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  9. What a touching post. I know exactly what you're talking about, with both the writing disappointments and that feeling of your children growing up. Mine are 14, 13, and 11, and time goes by so fast. I guess there's always grandchildren to look forward to (but not anytime soon, thank you very much!)

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  10. Sheri, your post brought tears to my eyes! Life is hard, change is hard, but as I can see from your post, you face it with positivity. You're an inspiration!

    Happy double twenty! You'll make it, I know that for sure. It's just a matter of when.

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  11. I could have written this post! Double 20 is coming up for me too, and I'm going through so many of these emotions as well.
    Let's make our double 20's rock!

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  12. That was a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your heart with the rest of us. I'm glad you found an open door. I completely understand your feelings about that. Don't worry about the double 20's. They are actually THE best decade.

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  13. I appreciate your post. I'm also a mother of four, pushing double 20s, and not published...yet. But it's in you, keep going. It is always darkest before the dawn.

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  14. this is an awesome post, Sher! And I love how you were able to work in that AGB quote--I wasn't familiar w/it, and it's my new fave!

    Your babies are older than mine, but we're the same age, and I agree. You have to keep evolving and growing. Even though we're mothers for a little while, we're individuals much longer. and we do have to find *our* gifts. (((big hug))) to you. <3 xoxo

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  15. Thanks for the link about hating your own writing. I recently had a melt down of that kind and it's great to find out, it wasn't just me being emotional or something.

    Happy Friday

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  16. I, too, am going to hit double 20 this June. Something that has been bothering me some. My youngest started school this year and it was hard to transition from mom to writer and it took me a while. I love the snuggles and the little kid arms and know that it's quickly moving away from me. I get everything you're feeling. I wish I had words of wisdom but all I have is mutual feelings to offer. Hang in there and happy belated birthday.

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  17. Love your post. Tears pooled in my eyes. I can relate so much to how you are feeling. Hang in there, girlfriend. All will be well.

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  18. great post. I love that picture of the stairs going up. It's so important to look up once in a while and not just where your foot is going next.

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  19. @Dianne K Salerni, my friend and I were just saying the same thing about our ability at our age.

    Sheri, I miss my children being small, but they have turned out to be very cool kids. It's another adventure not to be taken lightly. Enjoy it.

    I just found your blog and enjoyed it. Good to meet you.

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  20. From one double twenty to another. You seriously ROCK, girl inside and out! ((throws my arms around you in a huge hug))

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  21. Well, this totally made me cry. My own writing journey is also very tied up in who I am as a mother and that journey. It is my defining role, so all other rolls are influenced by it. You put it all beautifully in this post. Happy birthday!

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  22. Sounds like a lot of us are in teh same position. I'm 40, have 4 kids, and everything in my life is changing. It's hard and good at the same time, and I can't figure out how my writing fits into it all. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. I turn 40 in 2012 and though a lot of my worries and frustrations are not the same as yours, I do know where you're coming from. Life has taught me a lot of lessons, the most important being don't get so caught up in the past and future you forget about today. Live for each and every day.

    But don't give up on your publication dream!

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  24. This is my first visit to your blog. Good stuff! I love your analogy to doors. I myself have just come out of a writing partnership I thought would be lifelong and I'm trying to discover what kind of writer "I" am. I know another door will open for me if I'm patient and most of all positive.

    Oh, and I have 3 little boys and I can relate to the grocery bill! I'm scared to see what it'll be like when they're teens. Ugh.

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  25. I SO relate to this! I hit the double 20s a couple years ago and seeing my kids grow and change so fast leaves me breathless sometimes. We're all works in progress. Enjoy the ride :)

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