Okay, so where has the month gone. More importantly: Why haven’t I managed to update my beer blog in three months? It’s not as though I don’t have work/ideas. My last post here was nearly a month ago and among my goals was to write a blog post weekly. Instead, I have been mired in (paid) work, a lot of kids’ stuff, and a dearth of inspiration. Even on those days that I’ve started to write, I invariably get sucked into a rabbit hole of various distraction and lose my focus. Another day of feeling like a total failure.
Add to this my daughter.
Once you get to be a certain age, invariably you probably know someone whose life—on the surface at any rate—appears to be more meaningful/successful. That person you knew in college who is speaking before the U.N. on a regular basis about human rights (um, yeah, I know her); the kid who befriended you when you were at the lowest point in your life who went on to have a multi-platinum-selling record (yeah, him, too!); the friend who always seems to be on top of his game with his writing efforts despite not being a full time writer (i.e. he’s writing before and after work and really advancing even though it’s supposedly your full-time venture and you’re stalled). Thus, knowing someone who has her/his shit together and comparing oneself is not that uncommon.
But when it’s your own child who has eclipsed you, it kind of stabs to the chest. Don’t get me wrong: I am so not jealous of my own kid (of course, I’m not a jealous person by my nature, so I’m thrilled for her). However, I do find myself noticing that I really don’t measure up to my own dreams (or what I thought were my dreams at some point along the path to middle age). Just as I see my friends and colleagues doing great things, I see my daughter’s hyper-focus and I wish I could be more like her. Instead, I’m watching The Way Way Back for the tenth time with my son while he tries to avoid learning anything in school (at least I’m raising ONE slacker!).
In the past month since writing my 52 challenges, I have made some real progress. I’ve lost between 8-10 pounds and exercised nearly every day, which is definitely a major reason why I’m not keeping up in the writing: If it’s a choice between updating the blog or doing an hour of exercise, the latter is going to win out. I am reading more and drinking less. I’m feeling less stressed and allowing myself to be present a bit more than is my wont. But it’s hard not to measure myself by all I haven’t done, by my failings.
However, I’m learning that it’s okay to be “a failure.” That being gentle and forgiving towards my own short-comings is a skill I’m still learning to embrace. I am and have always been my own worst critic. I see my gifts and how little society merits them, and I extrapolate into feeling that I’m totally worthless. In the meantime, I’ve started tutoring my son in reading/writing because he doesn’t know basic grammar (despite the fact that he gets the highest scores on all those ridiculous mandated state tests). He also doesn’t know basic math, so his sister is tutoring him with that. He’s also hitting puberty and has about a gazillion questions, plus I’m fighting a lot of stupid societal messages: in one breath he’s calling his dad by his first name while saying he suffers from not having “a male role model.” Not to mention all the ridiculous rape apologists telling him he’s excused from culpability if a girl wears a dress that shows off her bare shoulders. Helping him sort out who he is and to embrace his own identity apart from anything anyone else thinks is a major part of every one of my days.
And my parents are aging. And my taxes are due. And… and… and…
It’s the realization that I’m truly not making excuses. Maybe I suffer from poor time management, but this is the life I’ve built and the family I’ve always wanted. They are my priority.
So if “great novelist” never makes the obit, I shouldn’t feel like a failure. I’m just trying to get through each day, one day at a time. And a few pounds lighter.