“All right already! I’ll do it!”
I think the Universe had been trying to tell me something for quite a while. But I can be sort of slow on the uptake sometimes.
Case in point:
I have been intractably reluctant to publish one of my earliest pieces. It’s old — almost 15 years of mouldering at the back of my file cabinet — and not up to my current standards of writing quality. It’s also embarrassingly biased and preachy, not to mention morbid, darker, and more graphic than my usual fare.
Good for little more than kindling.
So I had decided to throw dirt on the ashes of its hope for publication and move on.
But the embers, lightly billowing a pungent smoke like a veil, refused to die. They kept flickering and burning in my spirit with scenes so evocative, so creatively interwoven with comparison, that the images kept flaring up in my memory.
And the point, though admittedly biased and sermonizing, was still a valid one to be taken into serious consideration in the “working-mother versus stay-at-home mom” debate. Highly-personal emotion and my staunch opinion on the subject was an obvious undercurrent to the piece burning right alongside a passion that would not be extinguished.
As if that wasn’t enough, everywhere I turned something stirred the embers and the fire grew a little hotter:
• I ran across a post by Adventures of a Busy Mom entitled “How a Lunchbox Changed My Day”. The awesome relationship she has with her kids glowed through it, and the creative ways she’s making time for them hit me like a blast from a bonfire.
• Through Sinai Sand posted “Repentance”, a poignant short story portraying a small boy bravely confronting despair and the unwitting neglect of his parents. The burning embers stung so bad my eyes teared up!
• My blogging friend Heidi at Through Sinai Sand also offered me some much-appreciated advice to not shy away, but to follow my instincts and post it, polishing and honing as needed. Sizzle, snap, pop!
• Then came the final poker-stir to the now-roaring blaze. A conversation with the serviceman working on our house that somehow took an unexpected turn. He told us his story about over-committing to his business almost two decades ago and losing his wife and kids to divorce because if it. Now, after getting a second chance with a new wife, he has trimmed down the size of his house, cut back on the expense of his vehicles, and reduced the number of hours he commits to his business… and his marriage is thriving. He even got his kids back!
What had been a struggling campfire had grown into a full-fledged conflagration.
The message got through… finally… and I cried out, “Enough already! I get it!”
(I get quite frustrated with myself when it takes so many gentle nudges before I finally stop and listen.)
Now I just hope my comparison-essay/article/short story/mini-sermon is taken in the spirit it’s intended.
It’s not meant to be judgmental. It’s just a presentation of one side, one major consideration, in the issue.
My biggest concern.
For the season of life I was in.
But everybody is different. Everybody’s situations are different. Everybody is at different points in their lives. So everybody needs to make decisions for themselves. My stance has softened somewhat over the years (although I still believe it to be the best choice when at all feasible), but it’s obvious from my story which way I was leaning at the time.
Also keep in mind that although I drew from actual events and research, it is a completely fictionalized account and not meant to be scientifically exact or historically accurate.
And please forgive the sermonizing. I’m trying to tone it down some, but I don’t want to rework it so much that I water down the emotion and passion I felt for the topic at the time of writing. When I wrote this story my children were young and I had a decision to make as to whether I would pursue a glamorous professional career with its attendant 70 to 80 hour (or more) workweeks, or take a blue-collar laborer’s job where I could get by on 45 to 50 hours a week and have more time for my family. I feel we made the right choice.
At least for us.
At least at the time.
And one we made with as much wisdom and balance and forethought as we could muster at that point in our young lives.
I have every confidence you do the same and make the best choices you can for you and your family
Leave a comment and let the world know your opinion or the story of your experience. I won’t mind at all being the catalyst that starts a debate on such an important and controversial topic — I hope it draws comments on both sides of the issue.
Neither will I mind if people say they hate it. I can totally understand. Although I hope there are at least a few that love it.
My prayer is that the discussion will help people in their decision-making processes, and help them to trust themselves in the decisions they make (or have made). Not just “to work or not to work”, or whether or not to post an old piece of writing, but in all areas of life.
The final upshot is this: when God speaks to our hearts, to our spirits, offering us gentle nudges, trying to help us make the best decisions we can, it would behoove us to make every attempt to take a moment, pause, and really listen. Even my atheist friend at work has had to admit that sometimes unprovoked thoughts and random coincidences are too frequent, too rapid-fire, and too amazingly relevant to current situations in our lives, to be truly coincidence and that there has to be some kind of divine influence at work, something more than Chance. Or Fate. Or The Universe. Something – or Someone – is trying to speak to us, and we really should take heed.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a week or so to go dig the charred pages out of the firepit, brush away the ashes and dust, clear up the smudges, trim off the age-yellowed areas, and see what the world thinks about it.
Thanks for listening!
P.S. For a well-balanced treatise of the stay-at-home-moms versus working-moms controversy, I reblogged a post from Adventures of a Busy Mom called “Stay at Home Moms vs Working Moms (why we need to stop the mommy wars)“. Be sure to check out her post. My story is a little too heavy on the bias I felt in my younger parenting years instead of presenting the better balance I grew into in later years. Lacy picks up my slack.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, I invite you to check out what I think of as my best work on “My BYOB List (My Personal Favorites)”.