Sunday, August 7, 2011


"But you will come to a place where the only thing you feel are loaded guns in your face, and you'll have to deal with pressure." ~"Pressure" by Billy Joel

Pressure. I've been feeling it a lot lately: a tug-of-war between following my dream and caring for my family. I've wanted to be a published writer since I was very young. In some ways I've succeeded--I was a journalist and have a portfolio of published articles--but my ultimate dream has always been to publish a book--to be able to walk into a bookstore and find my humble words on the shelf beside those of so many others. I've been working toward this goal for years, writing and rewriting the rough drafts of various books and working on other pieces as well, all with my eyes toward achieving my goal.

For the past several weeks, however, I've felt as if my dream is just that--a dream. I don't know if I'll ever achieve it. I've written before about the pressure I feel to be a good mother and the pressure I feel to work toward my writing dreams: those two things compete, leaving me feeling guilty about the amount of time I spend with my children versus the amount of time I spend writing. Pressure and guilt. Some days I feel like I'm missing my children's childhoods as I sit and type at the computer. Other days I feel like my writing dreams are slipping away while I take my kids to storytime or bring them to playdates featuring perpetual games of Candy Land. I can't seem to find a balance. And the pressure to do so--to somehow come to grips with the guilt--has gotten to be too much.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Maybe I need to take a break from my larger projects--but only my larger ones. I could never stop writing completely; I would never want to. I need to write. I know that. Maybe I should just focus on my short stories, on my 100-word pieces, and on this blog. Right now, I don't know if I can keep working on my books, following that dream. I know there will come a point when my children won't need me so much--a point that I dread because it already makes me feel so sad. But maybe then it will be time to follow my dream. Or maybe that time is now, and if I don't do it right this second, I never will. I really don't know. I wish I did.



  1. "Nothing has a stronger influence on their children than the unlived lives of their parents." ~ Carl Jung

    Remember, you're doing more for your kids than just the nitty gritty details of daily interactions. You're teaching them what it means to reach for those dreams -- and ultimately, how to achieve them. They are looking to you for that example of what adulthood will be like.

    You are more than just a a Mom. You are infinity.

    Embrace your callings (all of them) and know that you are showing your kids in every breath you take just how powerful we (humans, mothers, fathers, adults) really are.

    You are amazing. <3

  2. Don't you see? Following your dream is caring for your family!

    I don't know what it's like to be a parent, and I'm not sure that I want to, but I have seen what happens to people who sacrifice their dreams because of guilt.

    The best way to take care of your family is to be happy and healthy. Your dream makes you happy, so you should do it.

    Maybe you need a short break, but don't give up. You're under pressure...use it! Pressure differentials drives the world's weather. Pressure keeps the blood flowing in your veins. Pressure, directed out of a nozzle, shoots rockets into space.

    You're under pressure. Direct it. Use it. All energy can be transformed, even mental energy :)

  3. Hey Dana, I know that feeling so well. There's no reason why you can't achieve your publishing dream and be a great mother at the same time. When your kids start at playschool/school you'll have lots of guilt-free time to write. Meantime, why not reduce the number of active major projects, maybe concentrate on just one, and use the scraps of free time you have to keep that project moving forward. JJ

  4. you dont have to stop! you shouldnt! i am in the same boat only at a different end. as the kids get older they will need you less, but yours need you most right now (and you are doing a great job enjoying them!) enter smaller competitions (get recognized & improve your skills), use spare moments to keep writing, it will help you keep your identity & your sanity. family is first, but you cant help them if you arent happy. if you took less blog time, you'd still be ok (with us) too =) we understand!

  5. I love Andrew's response to this! What he said. Part of being a good parent is living your dreams, so your children are inspired to do the same. Even by struggling with these questions of how to find the proper balance, you're setting an example for them. Something's not working? Stop, assess it, tweak it, and repeat as needed until it is working! The good news about not being perfect is that it helps your children face their own imperfections with grace and humor--or that's my take, anyway!

    I officially took June off from my WIP. Doing so took a huge weight off my chest. I did some good writing in July, but I haven't found my stride yet. That's OK. I have to work this dream in conjunction with all my other dreams. :)

  6. I can feel that you are really torn between the two ...the children and the writing ... but there's no reason for you to give up on your writing dreams .
    And don't beat yourself up too much , you are human ... it's okay to indulge in these conflicting emotions from time to time ... it's normal and healthy ...

  7. I also really love Andrew's reply!

    Balancing parenthood and writing is difficult. We don't go to an office where a child isn't tugging on our pants or banging on the keyboard every few moments. And while it's easy to say "Just write when they're asleep", it's not so easy to accomplish.

    Sometimes you have to step back for a while. If you have to take a break from your larger projects to regroup yourself, it's OK. It doesn't mean that you're giving up on your dream or that you don't care about writing anymore, it just means that you need a minute, and that's normal. I hope you figure out what's best for you Dana, but stick around on here! We'll miss you if you don't!

  8. Carissa: It's so easy for me to forget that the daily interactions aren't the only ways I'm teaching my kids about the world and about growing up. Thanks for reminding me that by following my dreams, I'm showing my children that their dreams are not only possible but worth pursuing.

  9. Andrew: What you said makes a lot of sense, and I hadn't thought about things that way before. You're right: doing the things that make me happy will make me a happy person, and my kids will see that. Thank you.

  10. JJ: Thank you for your practical advice--and for the reminder that I'll have more time to write once my children start school. (Thinking about that makes me sad, but that's another issue.) I like your idea of reducing the number of projects I'm working on. Now if only I can decide which ones to cut for now! LOL

  11. Tara: I love your idea about entering small competitions. Thank you for your encouragement and for urging me not to give up. :)

  12. Deb, I love your take on it all. Like you and others here have said, if I don't try to strive for my dreams, my kids will see that, and maybe they'll think that following dreams isn't worth the effort. I don't want to set that kind of example for them. I also love your attitude. I think I'm often too uptight about wanting things and wanting them NOW. I definitely need to calm down and take a breath... :)

  13. mish: You've really hit the nail on the head. I do have a tendency to beat myself up--to worry that I'm not doing things right or at the correct time in my life or... It's good to know that others experience this too from time to time.

  14. Caitlin: Thanks for your kind words! I know that I could never stop blogging--I love doing it, and the friends I've made here are very important to me. I appreciate your encouragement--for telling me that it's okay to step back from my projects for a while and that doing so doesn't mean that I'm giving up. I tend to forget that... :)