Guest post Friday could not come soon enough this week. Apart from being overjoyed that it is a long weekend, we are over the moon to share the voice of Joann Mannix of Laundry Hurts My Feelings today. Joann describes herself this way: “A stay-at-home mom who really likes being at home but hates everything about staying at home. I hate to cook, clean, scrapbook, be the homeroom mom (which I always am), wash windows, and of course I especially hate the laundry.” And she is here to tell us a story…the story that started with her always having love for the written word. When she was a child her parents bought her a yellow notebook to write her thoughts in and she has been writing ever since.
18 years, how they flew by.
It seemed like just yesterday I was laboring endlessly to bring her into the world and then I was here, reaching for the Funfetti to make her 18th birthday cake. I suddenly had this flashback of her at three with curlicue pigtails, and I burst into tears right there in the baking aisle.
My life has been filled with the cotton candy sweetness of little girls. There were birthday parties and tooth fairy visits, bedtime stories and three girls flitting about in ballerina tutus.
But the odd thing about my collage of memories—I don’t remember much of me in them.
I know I was there, positively bone-tired at times, always giving my girls the best of me.
But I don’t remember me.
I’m not being whiny. I wouldn’t take back a minute of those days. But I do have one regret. I wish I’d been more self-centered.
When I became a mother, a fierce, instinctive, selfless love washed over me.
That love never left and, for me, it never changed.
But my girls did.
They took first steps, lost first teeth, said first words. They went to school. They learned to drive. They let go of my hand. And it all happened in seconds. And whoosh…the next thing I know, I’m clutching the Pillsbury Dough Boy and crying my eyes out.
And it was then, I realized, it was time to remember me—that girl who had once lived and breathed words. That girl I had tucked away the minute those squalling, beautiful creatures were put into my arms.
A voice, from long ago, relentlessly pounded through me like my own heartbeat with the words, “I am a writer.”
I know, cheesy. But I love cheese, especially a good Brie drizzled in fig jam.
I decided it was time to write that novel.
It was an arduous, frustrating struggle to commit to a writing schedule. The biggest part of my struggle was the sacrifices we all had to make.
I was no longer super volunteer at school. My house grew dustier. My kids had to learn self-reliance. And my husband grabbed a huge chunk of the slack and shifted it to his shoulders.
I grappled with those sacrifices almost every day.
There were many days when, in the grips of a writing frenzy, I would barely look up from my computer when my girls trudged in from school. A hot dinner on the table became a rare event. Laundry piled up.
In short, June Cleaver had left the building.
And then there was that awful moment when, in the middle of a teenage tantrum over something now long forgotten, my middle girl said, “Why can’t you be a normal mom like you used to be?”
That one slashed my mother’s heart into ribbons.
As mothers, we’re never sure if we’re giving enough of ourselves in this mighty big job of motherhood. Precious lives in the palms of your hands can make even the most confident of women an insecure mess.
And I was exactly that.
But still I wrote, keeping those famous Nike words tacked to my desk.
Just Do It.
And finally, under the weight of a family’s sacrifice, a novel was born.
Even if it comes to nothing, I am proud and hopeful as I journey down a new road called Trying To Get A Book Published.
But none of it compared to the day my daughter—that same girl who had blanketed me in guilt—was sitting around the kitchen table with her friends while I had a rare moment as Martha Stewart. That is, if Martha Stewart ever cracks open a tube of cinnamon rolls and sticks them in the oven.
One of the girls mentioned I was one of her favorite moms. I was beyond flattered since teenage admiration is as rare as a Bigfoot sighting.
And then that daughter of mine looked at me with her sweet blue eyes and said, “She’s a writer, too. A great writer and a great mom.”
Her words were brief and basic, but my heart soared.
And I soar as a mother and, now, something even more.
No matter where this endeavor takes me I have learned, through this potholed journey, to hold fast to certain truths: I am a woman of worth. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a writer. And I am, indeed, enough.
I for one cannot wait till Joann’s book is picked up by a smart publisher!