Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Should, Must and Losing Yourself

I was a little shocked to find out that my last post was the end of August. I'd like to say that it was due to having lots of work, but really, I lost my Muse. I've been buried in the "shoulds" "musts" and "need to" and I've lost myself in the process.

Like any woman who has both young children and elderly parents, I've been doing a lot of juggling. My mother, who just turned 84, is healthy and lives on her own. She doesn't drive anymore so trips to the library, the bank, for haircuts and other errands get coordinated into my day. My daughter is only in school two days one week and three days the next, so I try to get my errands done on the school days. Days spent on errands are days not spent on job writing.

My mother in law is fighting an inevitable battle with metastatic cancer. It's robbed her of mobility, appetite, breath and dignity. For a woman as private as my mother in law, having a stranger help to bathe her has been very difficult for her. I'm trying to support my husband, my brother in law and my father in law, while gently preparing my daughter about the reality that sometimes sick people don't get better. I put my own sadness on the backburner, because I need to be strong for my family. I cry in private, or in a safe place like church, where it somehow seems okay to cry. It's a good thing I'm a funeral cantor: nobody thinks it odd to see someone crying at a funeral, and I cry when I see other people crying.

And then there was my cousin Murray. We found out in June that he was in total liver failure. He died August 23. Although I e-mailed him, I chickened out and couldn't pick up the phone to call him after I found out about his health situation. Murray was a kind, gentle soul and I'd made him cry before when we talked about his son, Allie. I knew I couldn't be strong talking to Murray when I was so devastated about the news, so I took the coward's way out and e-mailed him instead. Now I'll never hear his gravelly voice saying "I love you" again. He's left a pretty big hole in our lives. We didn't see each other very often because of life circumstance, but I knew that if I ever really needed him, he'd be on the next plane. He was a brother of my heart and I miss him, even though we didn't talk often, I knew I could. I miss that.

And although it was for the best, I miss my little black cat, Max. He was my constant companion during the day, always needing to be where I was. To this day, when I pull out a kitchen chair, I have expect to find a little black face popping out from under the tablecloth to inquire why I'm moving his bed. He was only a cat, but he was a good, loving cat and a good companion.

I'm mired in "musts" today. I must follow up on delinquent payments. I must come up with some story ideas so that I can earn money. I must revamp my website, I must find my brave and get better at self marketing so that I can build my business. I must read last week's submission for the critique group, even though it's ridiculously long. I must find the perfect cake to bake for what will probably be my mother in law's last birthday on Sunday and I must bake it on Friday because I'm away all day Saturday at a conference. I must book haircuts for my mom and daughter. I must figure out dinner. I must go to the memorial mass at church tonight for all the people whose funerals I sang at this year. I must wash the dishes, help my daughter with homework, figure out an approach that works in dealing with a teacher that we're having concerns with (and kindergarten is too young for this crap) and I must feed the 19 year old tabby who is yowling in the kitchen.

And then there are the "shoulds": I should revise my YA novel, taking into account feedback I've received. I should figure out an outline for the non-fiction book, and see where the gaps are. I should do NaNoWriMo because that seems to be the only way I get fiction writing done. I should work on a picture book text for the critique group.  I should finish flipping my winter and summer clothes. I should lie down and get some rest so that I can shake this infection that is lingering on and on. I should do some knitting and finish the horse sweater while it still fits my daughter. I should put on a load of laundry, clean a floor of the house, work in the garden, go for a walk with my daughter on a cold but clear fall day even though my hip has been locking badly and it will hurt.

And I can't seem to do any of these. My emotional well is empty and I'm wondering why I ever thought I could successfully work from home. All the old doubt demons are muttering around me, making me question my abilities and my professional self worth. I'm juggling like crazy, but still dropping balls.

Somehow, I need to find my Muse again. I need to do something that is only for me, that will nourish and sustain my being in the hard days ahead. I need to be a little selfish and steal some me time. I've forgotten to take care of me in the midst of all the musts and shoulds. But first, I need to make a pot of tea and do some homework with my little girl.

1 comment:

Janet Jarrell said...

You are always honest - admirable.

When you started your 'must' list, I stopped reading for a second and jotted down a few things I must do...silly.

Nice to see you have your life priorities straight. That assures no regrets.