BAD MOTHER: Why I Didn’t Really Miss Them

First, can I just tell you how incredibly lovely it was to spend 10 whole days away from my children? Go ahead, gasp and shake your head at my brazen statement. Jump to conclusions and assume I don’t love my family. Send me hate mail.

It won’t bother me.

I am relaxed.

Ten days in the company of talented writers does that to a person. Ten days talking about what I love – words, books, writers, craft – ahhhhh. That Stonecoast winter residency was a very expensive spa retreat for my soul.

Harraseekett Inn photo courtesy Kerri Dieffenwierth

It didn’t hurt that we were eating and sleeping at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport. I spend the first few days quietly humming, Heaven, I’m in Heaven…then realized that people were staring.

I didn’t wash a dish or make a bed for TEN entire days.  I was not required to cook, wipe hineys or perform booger removal. There were no fights to break up, no need to remind anyone to wash their junk and the scent of poo never wafted to my nose as other humans passed by.

 

Of course on some level (buried so deeply inside my ecstatic mind that it hardly registered) I missed my family. I love them dearly. Really. So I refrained from looking at too many pictures and I tried to avoid my husband’s Facebook updates while he documented his single parent experience.

It was my family who seemed riveted to his posts. You see, among my people there aren’t many men who would stay home for ten days and assume the role of Mr. Mom. I’m amused by the way my family eyeballs Dave with a mix of suspicion and skepticism, always wondering exactly what his deal is – if perhaps he’s slightly touched. 

After ten years, the women have grown to love him and the men…well, he confuses the shit out of them. They don’t come around much.

All I know is that I came home to a clean house, happy children and one amazing man.

I’ve been back for nearly a week now. I walked through the door suffering from exhaustion but strangely recharged. My state of post-residency fatigue made it an interesting week. Fatigue led me to do some stupid things and a blog post will follow, but for now I am simply glad to be home. Mostly because ten days away from my children actually caused them to miss me thus, they have been angels for the past week. Either that or ten kid-free days soothed my raw nerves.

Whatever…check back in a few days because this morning my right eye started to twitch and Kate called Joe an “ass.” Something tells me that life will be business as usual by Tuesday afternoon.

Self Doubt

Since I began recalling the ability to recall, I recall loving books. More specifically, I recall loving words and the endless possibilities of their combinations. For me, words have always held a certain magic. When put together in carefully crafted combinations, words have the ability to transport you to different times, worlds and into the lives of others.

I also recall being thrilled when, at the age of five, I finally owned the ability to write letters and make my own word combinations and, since that time, I have wanted to be a writer. My entire life has been spent dreaming of penning best-selling novels and becoming a sort of younger, female version of Stephen King. He is one of my idols. King can place you in the darkest and most ghastly of worlds, evoking both fear and disgust, but his descriptiveness lends such an air of realism to the horror. He has kept me eagerly turning the pages of his books for 25 years.



Photo from the collection of the Hoover Library

As a kid, Laura Ingalls Wilder inspired me. When you put aside the whole Little House on the Prairie franchise, stop envisioning Michael Landon as Pa and pick up those books again, you (hopefully) recognize the importance of her writing. She wrote about America and the pioneers of the West. The rich detail of her books is awe inspiring. I can still read them and become swept into the 1870s. Her words have carried me away from the Big Woods in a covered wagon, feeling every jaw-rattling bump as they bid farewell to family they might never see again. She transported me to their dugout at Plum Creek and to their tiny prairie house where I sat by a crackling fire fearing that Pa would freeze to death in the blizzard. On pins and needles, I prayed that Pa would see the lamp that Ma had placed in the window to guide him safely home. I can’t wait for my girls to discover these magical books and hope that they still hold that same magic in a world of DVDs and video games.

Those two authors, worlds apart in their subject matter, planted the seed of a dream. For so many years, I kept my dream to myself. I wrote only for myself and privately and, for a time, I didn’t write at all. It can be hard to hold onto a dream when you are surrounded by negativity and people who are content with being unfulfilled. How is it that some people don’t dream? How is it that some people seem to get some kind of sick enjoyment out of killing the dreams of others? Thankfully, that person is gone from my life now. Oddly enough, the news of his permanent departure from our lives came on the very same day that I received a telephone call from USM/Stonecoast telling me that I have been accepted into the MFA in Creative Writing program. I like when coincidences like that happen. I have a hokey suspicion that ‘coincidence’ was a message from the universe, or God or whatever greater being possibly exists, telling me that my dream is very much alive.

a fair representation of how I view my Dream Killer

As the result of so many years with the aforementioned “Dream Killer,” my self-esteem has taken a few knocks. Despite the fantastic news from Stonecoast, I found myself filled with negative thoughts about the acceptance. I turned to David and said, “An MFA isn’t a real master’s degree.” He got angry. Later I said, “what if no one else is applying because of the economy, so they had to accept me?” He rolled his eyes and got angry.

My dream is becoming reality. Do I think that I’ll write a best-selling novel and become as famous as Stephen King or Laura Ingalls Wilder? No, but I can hope, right? When I was a child, there was a man in our family named John. He lived with my grandmother and he could ‘see’ things. He could also see dead people. So many of his predictions have become truths over the years. One of his predictions came when I was very small. He said that one day; I would be a famous writer. I know…what came first, the chicken or the egg?

This morning, my love woke up early and researched the country’s low residency MFA programs, their rankings and acceptance rates. He desperately wants me to stop doubting myself and my talent. He woke me to tell me that Stonecoast is in the top ten low residency MFA programs in the country and notoriously selective.

I will (try to) stop doubting myself now. Time to follow my dream…

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