Thursday, January 16, 2020

Decisions At The Fork

                                                                    Photo credit: The Muppet Movie (1979)

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a wife and a mother. I can remember playing pretend with my dolls or having my friends play "house" with me, one of us being the mother and the other being the father. We played very stereotypically, pretending Dad goes off to work while Mom stays home and cares for the children.

For the most part, this dream came true. While I did work outside the home some of the time, I was able to fulfill my desire to stay home and raise our children. And when the youngest started pre-k, I began working as a substitute teacher at the elementary school where the two younger children attended. It was a financial sacrifice to spend those years not working a full-time job, but I do not regret them.

As a mother who worked as a substitute I had the flexibility to take off work to stay home with a sick child or go on a field trip or take one of the kids on a Mom-and-me field trip to do something fun or watch history-in-the-making. For example, I let my middle child skip school one day to go with me on a tour of the state capitol building. We visited the governor's office (but missed seeing him) and the state treasurer's office, where she was able to hold a stack of $100 bills worth $100,000. We were able to sit in the balcony and listen to the state senate debate a bill, after which, we enjoyed lunch together.

While my family did not amass any wealth during these lean years, I invested time into my children's lives. I lived my dream of being a Mom.

Now, however, my youngest child is in his last years of high school and my time as full-time Mom has wound down. And I don't know what to do. While I will always be "Mom," I don't know what the "and" will be. I am at a fork in the road and I don't know which way to go. Honestly, I am not even sure what my options are. I spent so many years dreaming about being a mom, then living the life of a full-time mom that I never considered what would come next. What happens when the last child moves out? What will I do with my time once the children are old enough to go do their own thing and they don't need me like they did when they were little?

I am slowly working my way through answers to these questions. I once thought I wanted to be a teacher. Obviously, I enjoy being in the classroom because I have worked as a substitute teacher for several years. I am so close to having my teacher certification, but I am unsure that I want to be in the classroom on a full-time, regular basis. However, it would be steady work with a steady income and benefits. So, there's that.

Also, obviously, I enjoy writing (why would I write this blog if I didn't?). While I am in the process of writing a manuscript for a novel and I write this blog, I am having difficulty in learning how to translate my love of writing into a money-making possibility. I am researching local publications and local online news sites to see if I can submit freelance articles, but many of these want to see my previous work. What if there is no previously published work? How am I supposed to break into a field to get experience when even the entry-level positions want experience? Feels like a catch-22.

So, here I am, sitting at this giant fork in the road and still no idea which direction to go. Oh! And guess what? Just because I have narrowed things down to teaching and writing, there are literally hundreds of directions I *could* go. I know that, but I have to start somewhere, right?

EDIT: I originally wrote this just over a year ago. In that time I have managed to find a bit of paying work as a writer. I have taken teaching off the table. While I love making those teacher-student connections, the reality is that my love for being in the classroom has waned.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The First Day of School and Missing My Momma

photo cred: Me

Today was the first day of school for my son. My youngest. My only child still in school. He started his junior year of high school today. In just two short years he will be moving off somewhere to begin the next phase of his life. But, for now, he's still home.

Every year I ask my school-age children what they want for breakfast their first day of school. Every year, without fail, the response is "chocolate chunk pancakes." So, today started with chocolate chunk pancakes and my son heading off in his new outfit. Once I dropped him off at school I went home to thoughts of my grandson beginning kindergarten today. It was a big day for my tribe! I really wanted to talk to my mom about all the milestones of the day.

I guess I never realized how ingrained it had become for me to call my mother on the first day of school. The kids have gotten back into their routine and the house is quiet again, allowing me time to talk to my mom about upcoming plans and other first-days. But, my mom passed away almost three years ago. My heart forgot for one brief beat and I wanted desperately to talk to her about how grown-up my son is and how big my grandson is. I needed to hear her voice reassuring me that all is as it should be.

There are times I miss my Momma so much I cry. Today was one of those times. My heart aches from missing her as much now as it did those weeks after she'd first passed away. Not always. Most days are good and thoughts of my mom make me smile, but somedays, today, it's almost like losing her all over again. Those days when my heart forgets for that single beat that Mom is not here. 

Well, enough melancholy for one day. My son had a good first day of 11th grade and my grandson had a great first day of kindergarten. My heart is full and my mom would be proud of all of us.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

They Do Everything Together

I recently discovered a thing called flash fiction.  It is a very short story. Short, as in as few as 100 words and usually no more than 1000. However, I found a weekly contest last week that is free to enter and has no awards, other than knowing the judge chose your story as a honorable mention or winner of the week.  This week, I entered this flash fiction contest, which requires a complete story be told in no more than 250 words. Cool thing is, my story won!  If you would like to read it, here it is. Please let me know in the comments what you think.


 “You should look at Bea and Thomas, “ Brittani speaks to her husband as she watches their elderly neighbors walking home holding hands. Bea’s short white hair blows up against her husband’s face as he leans down to gently kiss the top of her head.

“Justin! Look at them. They are so sweet. Do you think we’ll be like them when we’re that age?”

Justin glances out in time to see the couple’s exchange, “I don’t know, Brittani. Maybe.”

“Maybe we should plan more things together. I mean, Bea and Thomas . . . they do everything together,” Brittani says.

“Remember, Beatrice, the neighbors are watching,” Thomas says quietly against the top of Bea’s head.

Bea feels the rub of metal against her wrist, “Why do I have to be handcuffed to you, Thomas? After all these years, you should know I won’t go anywhere.”

“I can’t trust you, Beatrice. You remember what happened last time we went out without them?”

“You made sure I wouldn’t forget, but that was years ago.”

“Beatrice, we’re almost to the door. Once we’re inside and the door’s locked, the cuffs can come off. As usual.”

“Yes, Thomas,” Bea sighs resignedly.

Brittani closes the curtain and turns back to Justin, “Let’s promise we’ll try to be more like them, okay?”

Reaching into his pocket, Justin feels the cold metal pressing against his fingers, “Sure, Brittani. I promise.”