Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mother Time

My neighbor across the street planted a tree three years ago on his front yard. I thought at the time how small and puny that tree was and how it's going to take decades for the tree to resemble anything close to a "real" tree that some of us have in our yards. But today as I was driving my son to school I noticed the tree with it's broad stump and it's full green branches reaching for all directions and demanding attention.

I guess it didn't take decades after all. Just three years. In these three short years, it became alive. It blossomed beyond my imagination. I think about what else has happened in three short years. Tens of thousands have died in military conflicts around the world. Brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers all gone. Just perished one day. Sad things. What else? Children have born, they have grown, they are talking, walking, creating, sharing their imagination and ideas. Good things. Beautiful things.

Time scares me. How fast it goes. How if you're not careful and deliberate, it can pass without you making a mark for yourself in the world. Every minutes, every hour, every day that goes by I feel the need to be present and accountable for my life and my output.

I've been thinking about why I want to write a memoir. Here are some honest answers:

1. I am turning 39 in three weeks and it rattles me a little. I want to do something challenging and real by the time I'm 40 (beyond my first love: being a good mother & wife). I want to accomplish something that no one, including myself, thinks is possible. Something that is going to push me way beyond my comfort zone. Something that once I accomplish it I can look back and beam with proud at having conquered.

2. I want to make my family proud. I don't think this need will ever go away. I still have it like I did when I was a little girl.

3. I want to connect to other people. Especially women. The idea of connecting on such an intimate level to tens, hundreds or maybe thousands of people is intoxicating. I love reading so much, especially memoirs. It helps me enter another persons life and feel less alone because I have them with me.

4. I would like to make money. Not a lot but some money so that I can contribute to my family. If I am able to make money from this endeavor, it will mean that there is possibility that I can be free to do this for a lifetime. I can be rewarded on some level other than just the satisfaction of doing it itself. That others see value in my story and how I have expressed it.

5. My boys will have something that gives them a glance of their mother that they probably would never have if not written down. And their children and their children's children would know where they came from. That your history matters and is part of you.

Those are some of the reasons why I want to do it. But actually doing it is a whole other story. I'm struggling with knowing where to start my story. How to capture the reader from the first sentence. How to reveal myself on that first page so they'll want to turn it.

This project is not a fait accompli by a long shot. Each day I convince myself to stick to it one more day and see how it goes. I guess a lot of challenges in life are like that.


  1. Since Arwen's birth I've thought even more about these same things. I like your honesty about making money, feeling like you're contributing. But, never forget that you are not only the money you bring home. You contribute so much to your family, to your children, by being with them, pouring your love into them and to your home. There is value in you that is more than monetary.

    And who doesn't want to make those they love proud? I think you're right, it's a goal that will always be present.

  2. What great advice Mel. Thanks! It means a lot to get feedback.

  3. My daughter brought home a 3" (yes, inch not foot) tree in nursery school which I planted mostly as a goof knowing it would die. A decade later it tops 20 feet. I routinely stand in front of that Redbud with the most real feeling that it somehow symbolizes all that is good in the world.

  4. You have so many reasons to do this - but a list of the top few is a great way to keep things in perspective. Here at the beginnning, you are mainly talking about what you are "going to do." But once you're months in - in the thick of it, it will be good to come back to this and remember why you started. To get that big picture perspective. It's so easy to get lost in the details.