I recently went and had a date night with my lovely husband the other night. It hadn't been just the two of us in a minute. I have been working way too much and trying to get my writing career off the ground. My attention, sadly, has not been on us. Our daughter started high school this week. It's an amazing feeling to have a child start the beginning of the end of her childhood. So, the other night while I'm sitting with my husband, this beautiful man that I was so lucky to find, I realized how little time we've actually spent together and how incredibly perfect we fit.
We're not perfect. As in all marriages, we have our problems but nothing huge and we're humble enough to accept our own faults, love each other enough to accept the others' idiocies. He came into my life when my daughter was 7 years old, an already established little family. He had no qualms with it, part of the reason I knew so clearly and quickly that he was the one. From day one he was the most perfect father, the most amazing husband and I couldn't have felt luckier in my life. Since he came into our lives, there has been three of us and I have loved every second of it.
Many people ask me about having another child. I admit for a long time I wanted one with this man, this kind, charming man, because I wanted the experience of being pregnant with someone who loved me, with someone who was going to love this child. I wanted to have a man dote on me and get me ice cream in the wee hours of the morning. I wanted that experience that I never got with my daughter. I had her with a man who never really wanted a child, who never really wanted me. That was on me and I don't have any regrets on having my daughter. She is the best thing that ever happened to me and I couldn't be more proud of everything she has grown into being at this point... but still I wanted that experience of love, of unconditional love. I think all of my life that is what I have always been chasing but the thing is I got it. I don't need to have another child to catch that butterfly.
So, my girl is now in high school and I have this husband and I'm not even 40 years old. In 4 years, this kid is going to be a grown woman and on her own. She'll need us but not in the way she needs us now. For years, I've been terrified of that moment, terrified that I didn't do enough to prepare her, did too much to protect her. I've been terrified of not being needed so the idea of another child was comforting to me. I would just then take the need that my daughter gave to me and put it on the next. What was I if not somebody's mother? And here's the thing that I've come to realize since putting out my first book, I still have a life outside of her. My entire adult life I've had this little, perfect human being to look after. I've always had someone to think of before myself and not once have I ever regretted that... but who was I after my little bird leaves the nest? I am what I always was, a poet.
For years, I've held onto that dream of having a child with my husband even after I knew he didn't want another one. Not once did he tell me those words though, knowing how dearly I held onto that dream but over the last couple of weeks something has changed in me. It's been a rough year but an amazing year, too. I published this book and something amazing became apparent to me. I have a beautiful daughter who I have raised the best I could, gave her the best of me every day for the last 14 years. She will continue to grow and her wings will take flight and I need to follow her lead. I never gave myself a chance, used so many things as excuses as to why I couldn't do it all. While I wasn't looking, dreams came true. I found this man, this sweet man, who I never thought I would. I had a healthy, amazing child who I managed not to mess up too horribly. And now isn't it time I give myself that same chance?
Sitting there with my husband in that hotel room, drinking way too many rum and cokes, talking for hours about our fathers, our kid, our futures, I realized I wanted more of that. I was excited about it being just the two of us because it never has been. Our daughter is going to be amazing and fine and I don't have to worry about the foundation I've given this kid. What I realized now is that I am still so young with so much more to do. Dreams don't die. They just change. Somewhere in some other parallel universe, John and I had that baby and that baby is perfect but this universe? This universe I'm ready to see what I can do.
I sit here with my upset stomach, tooling around the internet, trying to figure out ways to promote this book and my mind wanders, as it always does. I started just thinking of the general concepts of dreams, the reality of them. I used to write my mom books when I was little about all sorts of topics but the best one was "All About Cats". This book, this beautiful paper book made with my tiny clumsy hands and staples, was incredibly endearing. Sadly, it is long gone and will probably never be seen again but I remember it fondly. So, at a very young age I fell in love with the written word, a love that has never faded even if I don't sit down and do it as often as I would like. The reality of life is that it needs money and writing these words does not pay for the braces on my kid's teeth... or at least not yet.
And then last week, I publish this book out of the blue, out of nowhere, without much thought other then I was going to do it. People said to me they had no idea I wanted to write, had no idea I had something so ready to go. I couldn't help to laugh. I couldn't help but to realize how much of myself I keep guarded. Then, I realized by publishing this book I have put my whole self out there. I have no secrets. My life is literally on display for the world to read.
I was asked why it took me so long to publish this. Well, there is the obvious. Publishing companies wouldn't give me the time of day. Literary Agents weren't much more helpful. That was a huge roadblock until I figured out how to do it on my own. It's a valid reason but not the main reason. I was scared to be so vulnerable. I have no idea what people are going to think of it and really it's OK either way. I just know that I have put myself out there for the world to judge and I did it on my own terms.
Listen, I'm not scared to show people who I really am but I am a private person. I will give you the shirt off my back without question but I won't always answer an intimate question. I make no apologies for that. This is what this book did for me. It has motivated me to keep chasing this dream and to not let it go. If I never make a living off this, that's fine but I won't stop putting my work out there. I know two things very clearly right now. One, I will not be a waitress for the rest of my life. And two, I will write many more great things. Maybe I will never write something as wonderful as "All About Cats" but it will be just as fulfilling.
So I did it. I published my first book, the very first book I wrote. It took me seventeen years to be brave enough to put it out there in the world but I did it. It feels surreal, to know my words are now on more then a computer screen or scribbled on a bar napkin. I hope people understand when they read it that it truly chronicles the hardest years of my life and there is so much of me in those words. It was probably ready years ago to publish but so many circumstances stood in its way, me being the biggest obstacle. I wrote it out of hurt, out of pain, out of being completely lost. I wrote it because it was the only way I knew how to deal with feelings I didn't understand. It may not be the best thing ever written or even the best thing I ever wrote but what it is is beautiful. There are so many of my flaws in there, so many harsh realities of why I am who I am. There are so many graceful moments that depict why I became who I am today and why I never let go of so many of the things I was. I don't know why now was the time. Something just clicked.
And as I write these words, my daughter is sleeping upstairs and I realize that I did this for her as much as I did for me. That sleeping kid looks up to me, has always looked up to me. I haven't done much to show her that anything is possible. Instead I've been waiting for something wonderful to happen. True, wonderful has happened by doing nothing to me but the one dream I've never been able to catch is this one. This book may not do well and I may have floated on this cloud for only a moment but I've already achieved something I never thought I would. And if she sees that? If she sees that, haven't I just given her hope that no matter what wonderful happens? That a dream that you thought would never come true happens. I am proud of myself for gaining this courage to put myself out there but I am proud of myself because I know that little girl is looking at me and sees that nothing is impossible.
So, my loves, the book is called Around The Bend: From Her To Me by Jeseca Robin Lowell and you can find it on Amazon. Even if you don't buy it or don't like it, I published it and, as a friend said, the rest is gravy.
I am trying to make a better effort in sitting down and writing more for many reasons. I do believe it makes me a better person after I have sat down to this computer with my coffee and my words. All the creative juice that festers inside is freed from its cage and now new ideas can form. The other reason I do want to make this my career. It is where my heart lies, the beautiful place inside me where my spirit truly dances. Tonight, my friends, I do have a topic and I am not just rambling about.
I was sitting outside my work the other day, smoking a cigarette when I had a minute even though I quit two weeks ago and the question of where my put my energy came bouncing into my head. I mean really what was I doing? When I go back through those doors, was that next table going to catapult me in the direction I really wanted to go? And if I took 30 more tables that day, what then? Where was up from there? And if there was no more up from there, why was I putting so much of my energy into it? And even if I get a promotion (which is pretty unlikely), wouldn't the next step there be a manager? And if that's it, do I want that? Why did I care so much about a place where I plateaued? A place that was just supposed to be a filler until my writing career took off? And so I realized that I got stuck.
Now, with all that being said, I do want to make something very clear. I don't hate my day job. I'm good at what I do and I enjoy interacting with most people I meet. I work hard, work very hard because that's who I am and I don't do anything half ass. What's the point of doing it then? I don't mind working the long hours or picking up the extra shifts or staying a little bit later. I genuinely care for the people I work with and, for them, I will continue to work as hard as I do. It's been a good place to me. I do not scoff at the things I have learned there because I truly have learned how to become a more humble woman. It's not about being the best. It's just about providing a service to the best of my ability and offering a helping hand where I can to the people around me.
OK, so the point? The point is that my day job is not a career and it was never meant to be. I got caught up in becoming everyone's hero that I forgot how to be mine. My daughter starts high school this year. It becomes clearer to me more every day that soon she will find her wings and fly off. I have not been an adult without a child to raise so I don't know what it's going to be like when she's gone... other then heartbreaking. So, when I was sitting outside smoking that cigarette I wasn't supposed to be smoking, I realized if I didn't redirect my energy, I was always going to be sitting on that dock, smoking that cigarette I wasn't supposed to be smoking. The point is this is where I need to place my focus, where I need to take the next step. I have been putting way too much of me into a path that will never take me anywhere. And don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with waiting tables but refilling sweet teas won't help me grow the wings I've always felt were there. It's time I take out my butterfly net and catch some dreams.
So, I'm sitting here, listening to the RENT soundtrack, one of my favorite movies, and I'm at a loss for words when an hour ago I had nothing but a lot to say. This is going to be a bit of a ramble because I don't have a clear plan here so bare with me.
I've noticed lately that I've been distracted, angry, a little bit lost. Like this post, I have no clear direction in my life. I have a wonderful husband, a brilliant daughter, an all right job, but very little of my own direction. Soon, my daughter will grow up and start her own life. For the first time in my adult life, I will not just be someone's mother. For a long time, that's all that I was. Then I met John and he's wonderful but somewhere along the line my identity has been merged with them, a mother and a wife... but who am I as a woman?
I remember being in my early twenties, raising this kid on my own, and having very clear lines of who I was and what I wanted. And then over the last few years, the kid hasn't needed me as much and I've wanted to make my husband happy so my priorities adjusted. Let me just say here I make no apologies and I have no regrets. I enjoy making my family happy. I enjoy making everyone happy. I love seeing a smile on their faces that I was able to cause... but I think I've become more like my mother then I ever thought I would. I started putting other people before myself to a point that it has made me lose my way. Again, I write these words with no malice, just an observation of myself. I think you have to keep yourself accountable. I never want to go through this life being completely unaware of my own faults, without fixing my direction when I've gone off course.
What I wanted when I was that twenty something really hasn't changed from what I want right now in my mid thirties but the difference is very clear. I know that from there to here, I am a much more gentle person and that gentleness is not something I want to lose. What I lost, not to be crude here, is my balls. What I lost is the ability to stand my ground when being run over by a freight train. It's a balance that I think we all fight, a battle that I will continuously fight. And, listen, I'm not complaining about anything here. I'm just taking stock of what I got and making notes on how to improve myself. I want to always learn, to always strive for better. There's a lot of life to live and we're not always going to be good at it.
What I wanted when I was twenty something and what I want now in my mid thirties is this: I want to find a way to publish my words in a way that gives them justice and make a living by doing something that I love. I want to watch my kid grow up and become the rainbow I have always seen in her. I want my husband to find where he belongs in his career that is going to satisfy him. I want to grow old with a smile on my face. I want to learn how to stand my ground without being a hammer. I want to remain kindhearted even when swords have been drawn. I want to be able to only smoke cigarettes in a social setting and not them any other time. I want to drink more coffee and more water and learn to like wine. I want to feel like it's fine to be angry when I feel anger and cry when I feel sad and not feel like I'm being judged for either. I want to learn how to let go and hold on and not apologize for either. I want to be who I thought I was going to be when I was a little girl... Wonder Woman :)