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November 16, 2008

When Do Moms Come First?

6 Have you asked yourself that question?  I have, many times since leaving my career in television.  I thought it would be a pleasure to leave the rat race and become a SAHM.  I fantasized about baking cookies, walking my kids to the park, cooking family meals, and reading (something other than scripts).    After four years at home, I have done all of these things yet I’m still haunted by a sense of dissatisfaction. 

When I worked, I blamed the feeling on my bosses, the demands of my job, the office politics; I thought staying home would eliminate my obstacles to self-satisfaction.  But, instead of blaming it on my work, I started blaming it on my family.  Days filled with fighting over homework, carpooling, grocery shopping, and cleaning dishes were not exactly soul-enriching endeavors.  I became angry, resentful of the people I loved.

I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was small.  I worked with tv writers and read stacks of how-to books on writing but fear and lack of confidence kept me from actually trying to become one.  Nevertheless, the dream continued to nag at me and in my 30’s I stirred up enough courage to take some classes.  Unfortunately, courage was not enough and with two babies at home, writing for hours a day just wasn’t a reality.  So I let myself become distracted.  After all, being helpful to others and checking off to-do lists was much easier to do than risk my own failure.

So here I am, close to 50, and still poked by this dissatisfaction. Only now, the poking is harder, deeper.  I’ve had two friends die this past year and while sitting at their funerals, listening to loved ones share their memories of the deceased, not once did anyone say, “I loved the way she washed a dish,” or “I remember how neatly she folded the laundry,” It made me wonder, what would I want people to say about me? It made me focus on what’s important.

I’ve had people compliment my writing before but I always excused it away, telling myself this teacher just wanted me to enroll in another class, or that friend was forced to say something nice… But when the teacher of my current writing workshop took me aside to compliment my work, I finally heard him, Maybe it was timing, my age, having seen friends die young, but this time I took it as a sign to cut the psychological crap and go for it.

Of course, the elation of that compliment lasted only a few days and I’m back to questioning my talent, but the ground has been laid.  I’ve told my husband I need help two afternoons a week so I can devote quality time to my writing.  This is a big deal since I never before had the confidence to ask.  I though about it, of course, but in my head I immediately jumped to what if scenarios –What if I sacrifice time with my kids and I’m not good enough?  What if we spend the money and I don’t get published?

Well, I’ve decided that it’s my turn to come first and I’m using this teacher’s praise as my personal tipping point.   For once, I’m going to stop blaming everyone else and I’m going to advocate for me.

So, back to my original question, when do moms come first? 

When they finally believe they deserve it. 

I’m going to keep reminding myself that I do.

Written as an original for LA Mom's Blog.  Fran B. is a mother, AND WRITER!, living in Los Angeles.  You can read more about the trials and tribulations in her life (and in her head) at her personal blog, www.merlotmom.com.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

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