End of an Era
Today, my only kiddo is graduating high school, an event guaranteed to launch a fleet of memories, including those related to motherhood and the career.
Early on, when I was just beginning and struggling to balance a more-than-full-time job and a new baby (grad school, too, while I was at it), I squeezed as much writing time as I could manage into naptimes. All too quickly, that was over.
Later, I wrote around those moments when he was happily occupied with his Little People or his Lincoln Logs or -- heaven forgive me -- those sing-along or movie videos I used to steal a little time. All too quickly, that was over, too, and he started off to school.
Since I was still teaching, I'd come home and spend time with the boy and the man, make their dinner and tuck the little one into his bed, then write between the hours of eight and ten-thirty every evening. On weekends and during the summer, I'd steal even more time as I was able. About this period, I began slipping away for occasional weekend writers' conferences, but as long as I came back with a Beanie Baby, he was all smiles.
All too quickly, that season ended, too.
When he was in the second grade, I made my first sale. As he wondered how this might affect his own life, I remember making the suggestion that he could help me at booksignings. With big tears in his eyes, he burst out, "But I don't even know how to write cursive!" As it turned out, having an author-mom quickly became yesterday's news, something he takes for granted just as he would if I were still working as a teacher. He did occasionally exhibit staccato bursts of pride, as in the time he boasted to his soccer coach this his mom was "semi-famous." And then, that time passed us by as well.
Enter the mean season, the teen season. You remember, the one where everything your parents do (breathing included) is mortifying? Somewhere in all this, he heard romance equated to trash and took it to heart, even though the teen movies he enjoyed had considerably more "adult" (though not in the emotional sense) content. At that point, he avoided telling people what I do, though after while, he got over it and worked out a "you do your thing, I'll do mine" peace.
About a week-and-a-half ago, I sold what will be my fifteenth and sixteenth novels and lamented that when I first started, I used to score roses and a nice dinner out. This time, I stopped by the Mc-Drive-thru to pick up a couple of sundaes. He told me I should take it as a compliment that my successes have become routine, something expected of me by the family. Publishing has become a regular gig and not a miracle. We had one of those cool, adult-like conversations where it dawns on you that your child is becoming not exactly the person you set out to raise, but this mysterious being you've been privileged to watch unfold.
And because he's going off to college in a couple of months, I know that this time, too, will pass too quickly, that I'll soon have all the time I wish to write... and it will leave me longing for a bit less.