Friday, August 20, 2010

When being a parent doesn't matter

When I first arrived at this gathering of writers, I was impressed by all of the women who were mothers, but who didn’t make that their central point of life. They were fully engaged in the craft of writing, and some also had day jobs and/or another artistic talent they pursued.

Some of these women had grown children, and they helped remind me that there is a life beyond kids and I should keep that in mind, in order to prepare myself now for where I want to be then. Others had younger children, who they clearly cared for and missed, but it didn’t stop them from being away for 1.5 weeks and dedicating themselves to what interested them. And then there were quite a few pregnant woman – four, including myself, due between roughly Thanksgiving and New Years.

At the same time, in my area of interest, I felt a sense of – it’s OK to be a woman, as long as you don’t let womanly concerns, like the home and children, interfere with your craft. I felt a certain pressure to keep that part of me separate, I felt that taking pride and pleasure in my role as a parent was somehow shameful. I struggled to do that, because it is an essential part of who I am today.

In certain communities, such as I’d imagine the BlogHer gathering to be (I haven’t been) being a parent is a badge and a matter of pride, perhaps too much of an emphasis for my taste. But here, I felt like that aspect of my reality had to be separated more than I was comfortable with. I didn’t see why there couldn’t be a middle ground. Why it’s not OK for me to be concerned about issues of early childhood education, potty training and vaccinations, as well as issues of larger global interest.

Part of me was thrilled to be away from daily parenting to focus here. Part of me, at times, wanted me to run back to my child and spend time cuddling with him. Most often, I wanted to believe that I can do it all – I can be a quality parent, I can find time for my pursuits, and I can be taken seriously. The best I can do is to try.

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