I am thrilled to finally be able to let the cat out of the bag and tell you all that Women's Work has won a 2014 IndieReader Discovery Award! The winners were announced at the Book Expo of America (BEA) in NYC on May 31, 2014. To be eligible, a book must have received a 4 or 5-start rating through IndieReader, a website/curator/app that strives to put great books onto the radar of readers looking beyond the mainstream of traditional big publishing companies. Those high-raking books are then read by judges from the book industry and winners are chosen from the applicants.
I debated going to the BEA to be there when the winners were actually announced, but couldn't justify the expense of flying all the way to New York from Seattle for a weekend. Plus I thought, what would my family do without me? Certainly, my three darling young children and wonderful husband would just die and the earth would stop rotating if I were not there to wipe every nose, tie every shoe, and attend to every need. Right? So, I decided not to go.
Now here it is the weekend of the BEA and I am in Seattle. With those three children who have been less than darling this week and a husband who is currently snoring in the bed next to me. I could be in New York right now. What was I thinking?!
Well, I guess I will have to finally be honest with myself. Yes, I love my family. Yes, I usually even like them. But they were not the reason I didn't go to New York this weekend. I was scared. To be frank, I haven't done anything alone in almost 8 years. There is always a large group of children, pets, relatives, friends around me and, though I do love this level of craziness, camaraderie and closeness, I guess I have become a little timid about exploring solo. Solo. Just me. Alone.
Ah, if you knew me back in the day... I left home at 17 and never looked back. I put myself through college and grad school, traveled the world alone and then drove around the U.S. with nothing but an old pick-up truck, a suitcase and a black dog for company. I've climbed volcanoes, hiked the Grand Canyon, and camped in Canyonlands. I was 25 and fearless. I could take anything the world could offer and simply soaked up culture and excitement and life.
Or so I thought.
Here I was, thinking I was soaking up all this life around me, when in reality I was more of a sieve than a sponge. The excitement and terror and joy and pain that I saw and experienced just flowed through me back then. I was fearless because nothing could hurt me. Nothing could hurt me because there was nothing that really mattered to me. I would have jumped on a plane to New York for the weekend because why the hell not? Nothing was holding me down.
Now here I sit in my big comfy bed surrounded by a house full of so much damned stuff. Good lord, where did all these things come from? Everything I owned used to fit in an old pick-up truck. Now, I have garage sales to try to simply give stuff away. I spent 10 years of my life trying to acquire possessions, and now I might spend the next 20 trying to get rid of them.
And the people! I have acquired a great many people. They depend on me and look to me for answers. They enjoy my company and appreciate my service to them. I have children who think I am the center of the universe. I have friends that I could call at a moments notice and they would rush to my house to help me with anything. I am surrounded by people who love me. Nothing flows through me anymore. Every sadness, every laugh, every trouble soaks into my skin like water into a sponge.
If I jumped on that plane for a wild weekend in New York, I would miss them all so much. And god forbid anything bad happened to me. It would be devastating. I can no longer take foolish risks or be flighty because too many people depend upon me. There is too much to lose.
At times, this feels like a burden.
At other times, it feels like liberation.
I suppose, like many parents, I have swung the pendulum of responsibility so far to the opposite side that I don't even remember how to be alone anymore. I don't have a clue what one does with oneself when alone. Laundry? Plan meals? Fix something? Write award-winning novels? What does a stay-at-home mom finally freed of her gaggle of children DO?
Perhaps my goal for the next 10 years (besides garage sales) should be to find that happy medium; Find out what it is that I do for fun; Find out who I am besides just a wife and mother. I need to find out what I would do during a wild weekend alone in the city while still managing to hold onto the ties that bind me to my happy life and the amazing family I have helped to create.
To be untethered in this world is undoubtedly very exciting. But maybe the better way to live is to have a strong central support that still allows you a nice long leash.