recent blog post, the demands of published author life have escalated over the past months so that my writing career has now turned into a very full time job.
And of course, with the new demands, not only have I had to adjust, but my family has had to as well. Thankfully, my husband is incredibly supportive of my writing endeavors. And for the most part, my children are accepting of this new aspect of my life too.
But every once in a while, one of them asks, “So when you finish the third book of your contract, does that mean you’re done?”
Then that nagging voice slithers back and whispers in my ear, “Are you really doing the right thing? Should you spend so much effort on a writing career when you could use that energy on being a better mom?”
I watched the movie Secretariat last week which is based on the true story of a race horse and the woman who believed enough in her horse to help him become a Triple Crown winner.
The heroine, Mrs. Tweedy, was an ordinary housewife. Her inner struggle, struck a chord within me. At the beginning of the movie, she centers all of her time and energy on her family and had pushed aside her love of horses. When a death in the family forces her to return to her childhood home—a horse-breeding farm—she is put in a situation where she has to deal with horses once again.
Mrs. Tweedy’s passion for horses and her gift in relating with them is re-ignited. She begins to devote more time to the horse farm. In order to do that, she has to spend time away from her family. She’s forced to make hard choices and sacrifices in order to pursue her renewed passion. But she also realizes and says, “This was the work I was meant to do.”
It’s not always easy for her family. They question her decisions and sometimes even resent what she’s doing. But in the end, when they see her running hard after her dreams, persevering in the face of hardships, and fighting for what she loves, they learn to be proud of her.
Even though Secretariat was set in the 1960’s and 70’s, when expectations and roles of women were different, women today still face that “nagging voice.” If we pursue something we love, if we embrace our gifting, and if we devote time and energy to our passion, we often feel guilty.
Somehow we have the idea that a “good” mom, wife, or woman must deny her own gifts, talents, and passions for the greater benefit of her family. We fall into the trap of thinking that if we don’t devote one hundred percent to them, they’ll suffer, that if we’re not there for every activity, moment, or need, we’re depriving them.
And while I’m sure there are plenty of situations where parents are absent either physically or emotionally from families, most of us truly strive to do what’s best for our loved ones. It’s because we care so much about them, that we struggle with the tug and pull of pursuing our talents and abilities with the desire to fulfill our roles as mothers, wives, and women.
I’m not sure that the tug and pull will ever go away. But that doesn’t mean I have to give up being a good mom anymore than it means I have to give up being a good writer. The passions aren’t mutually exclusive.
Yes, pursuing both will require dedication, sacrifice, and hard choices, the same that it did for Mrs. Tweedy. But when we “run our races,” when we pursue our passions, we give our families the opportunity to become more independent, to handle more responsibility, and to have strength in the face of stresses and challenges.
Most importantly, through our example, we pass on the vision that they can run their own races. We give them the courage to use their unique gifts and abilities. And we model for them the hard work, dedication, perseverance, and passion required for the race.
Winning isn't so much about publication and best seller lists as it is about how we run our races. When we run (or write or whatever it is) to the best of our abilities and teach our loved-ones to do the same, then no matter the outcome, we can stand with confidence and declare ourselves “winners” just like Mrs. Tweedy did.
“This is about life being ahead of you, and you run at it.” (Mrs. Tweedy from Secretariat)
What about you? Have you ever wondered if you should devote so much time to your writing? Have you ever heard the nagging voice of guilt telling you that you shouldn’t be running your race? How do you combat the guilt?
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