I Have A Daughter, Too!

Sydney and I had a ball getting her ready for the father-daughter dinner dance this year!

I write so often about Bailey and his issues and antics, that I have woefully neglected my daughter, Sydney, who is just as interesting as her brother, but in a wholly different way.  Since Bailey is away at camp for much of the month, I have had the singular experience of one-on-one time with Sydney.  What I’ve discovered is that she is a really neat kid in her own right.

Sydney is a bundle of contradictions.  In one moment she’s a princess, and in the next moment, she’s scoring a goal on the soccer field.  She likes to cook and bake, but she loves riding her bike just as much.  Some days she wants to sit in my lap and be my baby, and some days she wants to be left to her own independent devices. Sydney is nine years old, and these types of activities are supposed to happen concurrently; she is supposed to be exploring what she likes and what she’s good at.

Recently, I have noticed that she has a particular skill in processing information.  She takes in what I (or anyone for that matter) tells her, thinks about it and then is able to regurgitate what was said with her own brand of understanding.  She can articulate feelings and ideas easily, and she is always aware of the emotions of the people around her.

Of course she can drive me crazy in twenty seconds or less with her constant chatter and utter insistence on being in control of every situation (I wonder where she gets that from…) but that’s the mother-daughter relationship talking.  In the past two weeks, we’ve taken a road-trip, eaten dinner with various

Sydney and her very favorite activity: EATING!

friends, spent time in many places where there were only adults and no one for her to play with, and done many other things that required extreme flexibility.  She has handled all of it with grace and charm.

I’m sure as time goes on, I will be able to tell some more specific stories that illustrate her personality and the particular daughter-based issues that she and I have, but for now, I’ve just been enjoying her and want to share that with you.

Writing Derailed

As I struggle to get my ducks in a row vis a vis my life and my time, I realize that there are things that I’m not going to be able to stop, and not going to be able to ignore.  Chief among these is my commitment to my children.  My son Bailey is ten and my daughter Sydney is seven, and they are great kids.  (Will someone please remind me that I’ve said this when Sydney leaves the light on in the bathroom or Bailey forgets to bring his homework to school?)  On most days they’re easygoing and as they’re getting older, they’re less and less demanding.  Somehow when they were ages three and seven, I managed to write a dissertation, so writing now ought to be a piece of cake in comparison.

Yet somehow, it’s not.

When they were littler, I would put them to bed at 7 or 7:30pm and they would miraculously stay there all night, leaving me a few hours of writing time.  I had a doctoral committee breathing down my neck and strict deadlines to meet.  I slept between midnight and 7:00am and it was plenty.

Now that they’re getting older, they stay up later and need help with book reports, problem sheets and the like.  They need to be driven to activities, I have to concentrate when I eat meals with them, and there are endless social events surrounding their friends and their friends’ families.  Their school commands my time (in a loving and interested way) and I’ve been a room mother for two years now.

But the worst and most distracting part of parenting now happens in my brain.  I worry about Sydney’s ability to rattle off her times tables.  I worry about Bailey getting along with some of the kids in his class.  I think about the summer and the long break with our family back in the United States – it’s mostly just the kids and me for ten long weeks – my husband will join us for two and a half of it, but not much.  Thinking it through and planning for that time has taken a lot of my brain power lately.  These are serious issues that take up my time and my energy.  But more than my time, they take up my brain-space.

Today, there was just no room for writing or thinking.  None.

It doesn’t happen often, really.  It’s an occasional bout with life when life wins and knocks me for a loop.  Generally I can compartmentalize the issues so that they fade into the background when I’m writing – whether it’s fiction, non-fiction or academic.  But not every day.

Today I gave myself permission to take a long, hot bath with bath salts, followed by some reading.  This was after a one-hour talk with my mother and another one-hour talk with my best friend.  I was able to relax and clear my mind enough to get to some tasks that needed to get done for my charity work.  I got my son’s glasses repaired.  I wrote this blog posting.  Perhaps tonight when the kids go to bed (not ‘til around 9-ish) I will be able to do some editing on my novel.

The great thing about bad days is that they end.  I will go to bed tonight by 11pm and the day will come to a close.  Tomorrow is a fresh start.  Tomorrow, I will be able to shut off the telephone and concentrate on my writing.  Such is the life of a writer who’s a mother.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.