Thursday, January 7, 2010

Still Life With Children

It is a delicate balance, the balance between being a parent and being an artist. I'm adding this post just after saying good-night and good-bye to my older child who will have left for school tomorrow morning before I wake up.

There is always a part of myself that longs for the kind of unlimited freedom I will be experiencing for the next week, for that unfettered, uncluttered ability to descend, body and soul, heart and mind, into the world of my writing, and that wants to have that kind of freedom all the time. A fellow MFA student at State was given a three month residency at MacDowell. Three months at MacDowell sounds like absolute heaven.

I envy her, but I can not imagine being able to do that. Not that my family wouldn't support me in it, but I can not imagine not seeing my kids for three months, not seeing my husband, not seeing my dog. But especially my kids. In three months, their lives could change completely. As maddening as it is to juggle the disparate demands on my attention, time, and energy, it is what I have to work with. And by my own choice. I freely admit that.

I have my dark moments. Those times when I think about what could have been if I did not have kids, if I had not met my husband, if it could have been only my needs I was dealing with on a daily basis. Those times I think I would not be working on what will be called my first novel, if it gets published (fingers crossed, knock on wood), but my fifth or even sixth by this point. Those times I think about where I could be instead of where I am.

I once heard Joyce Carol Oates say she would not have been able to write as much as she did if she had had children. I totally agree with her. And there are dark moments when I think, yeah, I could be Joyce Carol Oates or Margaret Atwood if I hadn't had children.

So I go, and I have my week, and I think, wow, three months would be amazing. Think what I could accomplish with three months of this. Think what I could experience. Think what I could write.

But then again, think what I would miss. John Lennon once said life is what happens while you're making other plans. And what I want to be writing about most of all, is life. Real life. With children. And spouses. And dogs.

No comments: