I'm having lunch with my agent (the lovely Brettne Bloom of Kneerim & Williams) today. The last time I saw Brettne was about a week before my little babe was born. We went for coffee. I expressed my concern about finishing my next novel with a newborn at home. Brettne, a mother of two young girls herself, urged me to be kind to myself about striking a balance between babies and books. She implored me to enjoy my time with my newest addition and assured me that there would be plenty of time to write and publish good books.
It was a wonderful meeting. Because this is just what I needed to hear; that there is really no rush. That my ideas and stories are going nowhere, that my little baby will only be little for so long, that the biggest concern is that I write the right book, a compelling book, when the time is right. I left my coffee date encouraged and thrilled that I am working with the right agent. And I am.
But. Here's the thing. In the past nine weeks, I've had this nagging, gnawing feeling that I should be writing. Actually, it's not so much that I should be writing, but rather that I want to be writing. Many times a day, I sit here, nursing my tiny thing, tickling her toes, chasing the big ones, and my mind is elsewhere - plotting prose, whipping up chapters, eager to get to my desk to write it all down. But I don't. I don't get there. The day blurs by and I am mush at the end of it.
And so. I will meet Brettne today and I wish that I could hand over a pile of crisp white paper and say it: Here it is. Somehow, despite the domestic chaos, despite the paucity of rest, I have eked out a solid draft. But I will not do this. Instead, I imagine, we will have another conversation much like the one we had last time. I will tell her that I'm having a hard time balancing the personal and the professional, self and other. And, because she's an understanding and wise person, she will tell me not to worry.
But I will worry. Because that's what I do. I will worry that this book will not get written, that I will continue to concoct excuses, that time will slide by. That my writer self will be scattered and strewn by my mother self.
But. As I write this, I realize something. Something at once simple and profound.
I chose this.
I chose to become a mother three times over in rapid succession. I chose to immerse myself in the very chaos in which I now fortunately flail. I chose to forgo the modicum of literary momentum I had built in the wake of publishing Life After Yes to have another child. I chose to put my writing on that proverbial back burner for the moment. This moment.
And so. I chose this. And this? This is amazing and frustrating and real and tricky. This parenthood thing, this mothering madness, this exquisite impasse. And I am happy I did. Even if it means that I cannot do something else I love to the extent I would like right now.
Albert Camus said it and I believe it wholly and deeply: "Life is a sum of all your choices."
This choice - to be a mother, to be a mother to many, to be a mother to many right now - is not just a choice. It is a part of my life. The life I am fortunate to lead, exceedingly fortunate to lead, even if it is not easy sometimes. And, with this in mind, maybe Brettne and I will not raise a glass to finished drafts, but to unfinished lives instead. And to choices. Those we are privileged enough to make.
Do you ever stop and look at your life and realize that it is the sum of discrete choices you have made? Do you have a difficult time balancing the personal and the professional? Do you agree that I should bask in this moment of motherhood instead of worrying about the birth of my next book? Do you agree that choice is at once a tricky and wonderful thing?