Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I was a screenwriter in Hollywood.
It was a nice life. There were ups, there were downs, but all in all, it was a good gig. In my life prior to smalls, I rocked it. Not all the time, but enough of the time to keep my ego satisfied. I had an agent and a manager, a lawyer and an accountant. I had meetings and lunches. I knew who was who. All the things that make one feel established, legitimate -- real. It's only when the external validation is gone that one realizes that it was a pretty sweet perk.
Nowadays my life is perk-less.
Motherhood isn't filled with too much external validation. No -- most of the time is spent second guessing yourself, dealing with other freaked out Moms, some of whom are weird or competitive or the parent of a loathsome child who managed to just bite your small and punch them in the face. See, not a lot of ego involved... More the controlling of id.
When I made the very difficult choice to stop working I wasn't thinking about validation at all. I was thinking about stress, and that I could barely breathe, and that if I really wanted to do the job "right" and be all that I could be, I'd have to see my children a lot less. I might have humored that, but I wasn't seeing my children very much already, which didn't leave much wiggle room.
Basically, I was doing everything sorta fine. Not great, not good, just "eh". I was in damage control mode. Kid sick? Take 'em to the Pediatrician, stat! Rush back to work. Check. Crisis at work? Conference calls, wringing of hands, crisis averted. Check. Husband? Ships that pass in the night. Schedule date night, try and re-connect. Check.
Week after week. Month after month...
No one was happy with me. As I tried to spread myself to cover all my obligations, everyone felt short-changed. Especially my smalls.
This went on for a long time. Through the premature birth of my first small, his hospital stay, evaluations, and therapy. And then the birth of my other small, and through her first year. I tried. I really wanted to have it all.
Apparently, though, my Mother was right : You can have it all, just not all at the same time.
It took me awhile to really get that, and then, it took me even longer to own it.
One night, after a particularly grueling day, I was on the phone venting and lamenting to my Mother. At the end of my diatribe I remember saying, "Ya know, when I'm 80, sitting on my porch thinking about my life, I'm not going to be thinking about how many screenplays I've written or how much money I've made -- I'm gonna be hoping that my kids talk to me and that they're happy, and that they're leading productive lives..." There was a very, very long silence on the other end of the phone, and then my Mother said, "That's one of the sanest things I've heard you say in a very long time..."
I quit the next day.
**** I have more to say on this topic, but for now, I'm saying, "Put a pin in it..."