Writing, Parenting, and the Struggle for Self Improvement

Well, I am feeling increasingly like a real writer, mostly because I spend most of my free time (when I’m not chasing Amara, cleaning house, doing laundry, running errands or just sleeping) writing.

While writing the story, “Under the Shadow of the Moon”, I went through my usual process:
1. Wrote the story, feeling absolutely brilliant and clever.
2. Edited immediately after, still impressed with my own cleverness and astounding writing acuity.
3. Waited the requisite minimum of three days (I call this the “Three Day Rule”) to let the story sit.
4.  After the minimum of three days passed, I began the real round of editing. At this stage, I usually question my sanity – I mean, how on earth could I possibly have thought myself incredibly clever having written the drivel and inanity that streamed across the page? 
5.  Waited the required time it takes me to remind myself that there must be some merit to the story, if I took the time to write it (and enjoyed the process).
6.  Final step? I rolled up my sleeves and finished editing it to the point I was happy with it again.
Even after the editing process is complete, I usually have a number of improvements to make, but that’s actually awesome. It means I’m improving, and really, isn’t that the goal of being a writer? Heck, being alive?
Part of my renewed vigor at writing is because I enjoy it and, even when I’m not writing, I feel like I am a writer. I owe it to myself to do something I love, to hone this skill, and to show Amara that it’s okay to follow your dreams, even if it takes you a long time to get where you’re trying to go, or maybe never get there at all.

Sometimes it’s just about the journey.

And that really cuts to the crux of it. The other driving force behind my renewed vigor has a lot to do with my goal as a mother. To show my daughter that it never hurts to put yourself out there, even if the criticism can be stinging. When it comes down to it, we do have some choice in how we respond to those negative voices outside of our head. We can grow from it, or choose to let it stop us from being who we want to be. 
We actually had a conversation about this a while back with Nick’s folks. Times change, and each parent tries to do their best raising their children. I know I will (and probably already have made) many mistakes, as all parents probably feel like they do.  My story as a parent is still being written, but I hope in the end I will succeed at my primary goals as a parent:
1. Love.  My primary goal is that Amara know she is fiercely loved.  I want that love to carry her and fill her with confidence, because in being loved and in loving, she can go anywhere and be anything, with a happy heart.

2. Confidence and Fearlessness. I want Amara to grow up unafraid. I don’t mean I want her to ignore danger or the wisdom being aware of your surroundings brings (see the Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker). I want her to have the courage to be herself, in spite of the many obstacles life may throw at her. I want her to know that fear should not be a driving factor in her life choices – whether it’s the fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of your own voice, or fear of breaking the mold. Fear shaped my childhood, and grappling with fear has shaped my adulthood. If I can give her the confidence to follow her dreams and the ability to recognize the inhibiting effects of fear, well, I’m on my way.

3. Compassion.  Compassion is a difficult one to teach, but it really starts with recognizing your own feelings in every equation, then adding empathy to the mix. Everyone is fighting their own battle. It’s easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day struggles, and to fall into the “This is so hard.. Why did x do y and hurt my feelings?” We live in our heads, experience our lives through “me-centered” lenses, and we have to acknowledge that our experiences factor into who we are and how we see things. But we also have to realize that we are just a small piece of the equation. To really experience empathy, you have to break out of your own head, and imagine what it’s like to shoulder someone else’s burden for a while, and see if we are still upright.  Everyone crashes. Everyone hurts. Everyone laughs. Everyone cries. Everyone has someone who loves them, and everyone loves someone so much it hurts. If I can help her see how connected we all are…
4.  Let her be her. I don’t want Amara to be some “better me.” Mostly, I want her to be her. I want to let her discover the world, enjoy it, feel the grass between her toes, and show the world who she wants to be. Does she want to dance? Then, by god, I will move the world so she can dance. Does she want to sing? I will do what I can to make that dream come alive. Does she want to do martial arts? Soccer? Write? Whatever path those two little feet take, you can bet I will do my best to clear the way – but not stand in the way. Nor will I turn into a “helicopter parent.” When it comes down to it, she’s the kid and I’m really along for the ride.

So, those are my four primary goals. Who knows what the future will bring. I just know I’m a pretty lucky mom.

-The Rambler 

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