Friday, December 28, 2007

The Mom Thing

I'm on a weight loss/health site called sparkpeople. I really love it, because it offers amazing tools (calculators, recipe programs, exercise videos, strength training exercises), wonderful support, and it's free. On the side bar there are current topics of conversation through the message boards. This morning, one of those topics was "What is your biggest accomplishment of 2007?"

I wrote without hesitation: finally shopping my YA novel and getting a good start on my mystery series.

And then I paused.

Wasn't it a bigger accomplishment that my ds is back in a regular public school setting and doing well?

But that's his accomplishment, isn't it?

And then I thought, well, yes, it's his accomplishment, but I also gave six years of my life to help him get to that point. So, yes, it's my accomplishment, too.

But, you know, it isn't. And then I felt guilty, selfish, that I put my writing before what was a huge step for the family. That I was looking at ME in terms of my accomplishment rather than at my son's accomplishment or those of my students.

Because isn't that the nature of being a mom? That we subjugate? Especially if we're home full time? Because that's what our lives end up being about - our kids. Yes, our kids, and our spouses, and our parents, and our volunteer or part time positions out of the home, but really, we end up being all about our kids.

Or do we?

I'd love to hear from other moms on this subject. Or non-moms. Where do we, as moms, end, and where do we, as women, begin? And my comments above are in NO WAY a reflection that working moms are any less identified as moms than stay at home moms (just that you may get out of the house more often). ;-)

Okay... so why on earth would I feel guilty for posting about my own accomplishments rather than those of my son? What do you all think?

And now for a little book talk in honor of Day to Read, January 10, 2008:

It's vacation week, so I've been reading vacation-type books. I'm not finished with the second one, but I'm going to recommend both anyway, because they're both a lot of light fun.

The first is The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. This is a first in a series about Isabel "Izzy" Spellman and her wacky family of detectives. This is really a character driven book - the mystery aspects were almost non-existent, but I'd definitely pick up more by Lutz, as she had me on the floor laughing. And sadly, my younger self can relate to Izzy. (To find out why this is sad, you just have to read the book!)

The second book is apparently the third in a series, and it's called Foul Play: A Sophie Metropolis novel by Toni Carrington, a pseudonym for a husband/wife writing team. This one was billed as a mix between Janet Evanovich and My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, and I think that about sums it up. It's about a P.I. from Astoria, Queens, Sophie Metropolis, and the ins and outs of her neighborhood, family and her search for romance in the not-so-big city. It, too, is very funny. Happy Reading!


Jan said...

I think it was ok to talk about your writing. It doesn't mean that the other is less important or less of an accomplishment.

I'll have to check these books out. Anything that is like Janet E. has to be good. (((HUGS)))


Madam Crunchypants said...

Holy Thought Provoking post, Batman.

You've brought up something that's been weighing on my mind quite heavily since Punkin was born - "am I more than just the vehicle by which this amazing child was brought into this earth?"

I am. And because I am, I am sick of being introduced by my mother-in-law as "Punkin's Mommy". I don't appreciate the filthy looks people give me when I say I am going back to work next month.

Because as much as Punkin is my entire universe, I am more than her mother. I am a woman. I am a nurse. I am a friend, a daughter, a sister, a wife. I am all those things as well as being "Punkin's Mommy".

I don't think it's selfish to think of your writing accomplishment as the biggest goal you reached this year. Because that was something just for Jen, something that gives you an opportunity to appreciate your family and mutual accomplishments more - because you also have your own that help you maintain that outside identity.

My two cents, for what they're worth.

Flower Child said...

I read the Spellman Files - my mother-in-law gave it to me. Very funny. I don't even remember the mystery part of it - just Izzy.

As for the mom thing - I am not one- but maybe look at it this way: if your son crowed about his accomplishments don't you wish he'd mention you in his speech? I know my mom would appreciate being thanked for playing a big role in my successes. Basic care and feeding takes a lot of effort.

Flower Child said...

okay, I got confused - you should definitely crow about your writing! that's huge! especially when you still have to spend time on care and feeding.

soccer mom in denial said...

I've got a child on my lap eager to get on PBSkid ("not too much writing, mommy") so this will not be long nor nearly as thoughtful as your aweseome piece.

I think you should list both as your accomplishments. Both were of your doing, although the writing was more all of your while the latter was a team effort. :)

Back to Cruious George...

Yvonne said...

My sons (20 and 17.5) were just talking to me about how I've set aside most everything for years to "be here for them." This discussion was brought about by my recent surgery and other just for me projects and they think "it's about time." I think so too.

So I don't know if I accomplished much for myself in 2007, but I am formulating plans for 2008.

Luisa Perkins said...

My husband and kids are the light of my life; I spend a huge percentage of my time, energy, and resources taking care of their needs.

That said, I greatly dislike being identified solely as P's wife or C, J, H, T, and D's mom. I was Luisa long before I was any of these other things.

In our society, people tend to define themselves by what they do rather than what they are. One of the first questions asked at cocktail parties or other mixers is "What do you do?" Which usually means, "What do you do to make money," not so much, "How do you spend your days?" This is a dangerous trend, I think.

I feel I'm a better (more interesting, more giving, more centered) mom because I take time to cultivate and nurture my own interests even as I manage everyone else's needs. It's a tricky balance.

I'll quit rambling now! Happy New Year, friend. You should be very proud of what you have accomplished both as a writer and as a mother this year.

anno said...

Oh, you've touched on a sore point for me these days... as I arm wrestle members of my family for the computer... or internet access... or a few free minutes to think by myself. Of course you can be proud of finishing & sending out a novel -- the rest of your family should be, too!

Thanks for the book recommendations -- they sound perfect for a holiday break!

Jenn in Holland said...

What a great post Jen. And, yes, very thought provoking. I land on both sides of this too at various times. I think you are right to be proud of all your effort and accomplishment, individual and collective. I think we all should be so quick to notice the good things that we have done and are doing!

painted maypole said...

you know, count them both as ties.

and I think that it's OK to put things you do for yourself in a different category - because we as moms often DON'T take time to do things for ourselves, so the fact that you did is accomplishment in itself. No need to feel guilty about being proud about it (or doing it, for that matter)

and as for Day to Read - I'm taking your suggestion. Emma it is.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is a huge accomplishment. Congratulations to you! You should be proud. Look at what you've done!

As for where that sits in comparison to the great success your family has achieved? Well, we're talking apples and oranges, really. You just can't compare them and it isn't fair to try.

You can be proud of both things and all that means is, you're successful in MANY aspects of your life. And you can bet that one certainly effects the other.

You have a lot to be proud and thankful for this year!

Wholly Burble said...

I'm so pleased and tickled for you and what you've been doing this past year with your writing--I can truly see why that's what jumped to mind!

Unless you're eager to burn calories, I see no reason to sit and spin on an "either/or" answer to the question of being guilty choosing "personal" accomplishments over "mom" accomplishments with and for family. BOTH apply, BOTH are important, BOTH are true for you. One is about being a great Mom--one is about being a great You! (And you can't be all you can be as a GREAT Mom if you're not a well-developed, well-rounded Great You.)

And thanks for the intro to the books and authors--they sound delightful.