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Friday, August 26, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: By Any Other Name

I'm bringing you another wonderful writer this week. Her words flow with such grace on her blog, making you feel like you are right there in the middle of her stories.

Meet Julie from By Any Other Name:
Before we get this party started, I want to thank Shell for inviting me here. Things I Can't Say is among the first blogs I discovered on these interwebs and Pour Your Heart Out is one of only two link-ups I’ve attempted. I admire Shell’s work-ethic and the platform of expression she affords. So can you tell I’m a big fan? How wonderful. Now, where were we?

Ah, yes. The party!

I’d planned to write a HOORAY-MY-KIDS-ARE-BACK-IN-SCHOOL post; An Ode to Freedom and Bliss.

I know many of you sent little ones off to pre-school or kindergarten for the first time and hoped to assure you there’d one day be an end to the sobbing and the snot. (Yours, of course. They’re fine.)

So here’s what’s killing me:  

I’m snotting-it-up here in Gardnerville and my children are in 7th and 8th grade. 

Which means, of course, I’m also completely insane.

In June, I counted the days (77) until Karly and Jack could return to their middle school campus and I could return to writing. I gazed wistfully at the computer imagining a summer of missed opportunities to spew brilliance onto blank screens.

I calculated the number of pages I couldn’t write while carting teenagers, boogie boards and sunblock beach-ward. I felt my words slip from me, my (no-doubt) best-selling novel fading into oblivion as I fixed sandwiches for the ravenous masses.

I shifted tactics, convinced myself I deserved a mental break. Writing isn’t an activity one dives into whilst distracted. Art requires the proper mindset, does it not? Creativity is a dish best served in chunks of quiet-time during which one might free her brain and let the paragraphs flow.

Right? Well.

As it turns out, this may have been crap.

Because after taking my kids to school this morning, I returned to the very peace I sought. The empty rooms of my household rang with silence. The last outlet for my well-established procrastination had fled and I’m mortified to admit (especially to those who yearn for such rich opportunity) I was in tears.

So I ask you now. What the hell is wrong with me?

…Do I dread working? No, I'm not that lazy. I love writing and I desperately want to publish a book or three. And also to blog and tweet and oh yeah make some money.

…Do I question my ability to achieve the writing dream I’ve envisioned since childhood? Yes, my dear Watson, you may have something here. And yet I've met with some success in these endeavors, so why why why quit now?

…Do I lament my own waning youth as I watch my children grow taller, wiser, more lovely? No, I'm not a self-absorbed witch=queen of Disney film-ology. And besides. There's always Botox.

…Do I hear the siren’s call of a controlling mother who doesn’t want to let her babies go?
Cue the crickets. And the answer:  Maybe.

While my offspring remain young(ish), I have purpose, a concrete goal to reach, a list of responsibilities that’s at once both finite and endless. I may struggle with the challenges of parenthood but being a mother is an achievement no one can take from me.

Who cares if my blog languishes or my tweets go unanswered? So what if friends ignore my Facebook posts or my manuscript is “not right for the market” again and again (and again)?

My children are still here, waiting with backpacks and smiles, with tales of pain and joy.  I help with homework, quiz them on upcoming tests; I fix snacks and lunches, wash PE clothes.

I will not fail the loves of my life. Of this I am (almost) sure.  

So after working outside the home for sixteen years, I took a leave of absence to write and ended up embracing a different occupation entirely. Now (despite glib protests to the contrary), it seems my word-seeking day-job has taken a backseat to this career called mothering.

Which reminds me.

It’s almost time to pick the kids up from school.




Please leave Julie some comment love here and then go follow her fabulous blog, By Any Other Name


Labels: ,

46 Comments:

Blogger Oka said...

My career as a mother has been far more rewarding than any other career I tried to have.

August 26, 2011 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I love, love, love Julie and this post is one more reason why. There is nothing better than being a mom and as crazy as my house is now I would not trade it for the quiet of grown children.

August 26, 2011 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love getting to read how a mom of older children is handling the start of school.

August 26, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

Julie- You already know that I love you, but I am glad that we suffer from the same crap-itis sometimes when it comes to coming up with brilliant excuses for writing. Thanks for calling my BS on the back to school ambivalence too. Although I should be happy dancing, I am a snotty mess too.
Go figure.
The first time I have 2 hours a day to myself in 10 years and I spend it crying and watching re-runs of Grey's while eating potato chips out of the bag.
On second thought . . . that doesn't sound too bad, does it? :)
Smooches!

August 26, 2011 at 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

I found Julie's blog not that long ago and I love it!

As much as I wish for quiet or more adult talk many times throughout the day, I would not want to give up my SAHM label. I love being here for them.

With an occasional GNO for sanity ;)

August 26, 2011 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Desperate Housemommy said...

Yep. I hear you. I am pretty much at this stage myself. You summed it up so well...congrats on your feature.

August 26, 2011 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger RoryBore said...

what a great and wonderful surprise it is to discover that all other fullfillments are easiest and best enjoyed, after that one most dear to our hearts: motherhood, is done. All this time I thought I wanted balance, and as Julie has so well captured - fullfillment is better!

August 26, 2011 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Evonne said...

Being a mother is definitely an achievement and it is one I am proud of. Great feature!

August 26, 2011 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Shell,

I can't tell you how grateful I am for the opportunity to share this here today.

And to everyone else ~ Thank you for making me feel so welcome.

XO

August 26, 2011 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger John said...

Oh, Julie - how we all love thee.

I've no doubt that you have your novel in you. I know I have mine in me, somewhere.

I also know that we all can't wait to read it.

Though, I think, in the meantime, we love getting to share these special moments with you & your thought process just a little bit more.

August 26, 2011 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Motherhood is some confusing stuff isn't it?

Here is my secret: I'm in a constant state of uncertainty about what to do with my time. I'm home for my children and I wonder if I'm failing them because I need to be doing something else for me?

If I work, I'm certain I'm not leading the fulfilling life I could have with focusing on my family.

The only thing I have figured out- it's a huge gift to currently have the option to choose. That is one thing that I am thankful for each day, and who knows how long it will last.

I suppose I should just let go of the worry and simply live in the moment. Gah! So hard to do.

August 26, 2011 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Emmy said...

Yes, when I really sit and focus on what matters the rest of it doesn't matter, just my family... now if I could just remember this during the day to day mundane stuff.

August 26, 2011 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger CDG said...

Love me some Julie C. Gardener!

The novel will be there when you get out of the parenting trenches. Now dry your tears and go fetch those gorgeous kids.

They have first of the year quizzes to ace.

August 26, 2011 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

I think Emmy said it best. (A couple comments up).

I know some days I can't wait for my daughter's preschool day and when it comes and she's not around, I miss her!

August 26, 2011 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have the same thing going on around here....except that MY babies are in HIGH SCHOOL....and MY creativity is a dish best served with 4 Reeses's Peanut Butter Cups.

but who's counting?

And oh how well I know the siren's call of the controlling mother. Fortunately, my boys have embraced (resigned themselves to) the fact that I want them slathered in sunscreen, well fed, & well supervised (not ALONE with teenage girls) at all times!!! :-)

The double-edged sword is that once you are truly "out of the trenches" of raising small children (diapers, car seats, time-outs, art projects, play dates, and the occasional restaurant melt-down) and can finally enjoy the fruits of your parenting labor...they are one-foot-out-the-door. So today I call you Insightful! You read my mind with this post. Makes me want to go hug my boys.

but since they don't start school until next week...they won't be up until noon :-)

love love love!! ~~NannyK

August 26, 2011 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Nance -

Can't believe I didn't know it was you until the end of this comment...

I was thinking "This person should meet my sister!"

Your boys are beyond lucky to have you.

And so, my dear, am I.
XO

August 26, 2011 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

This was beautiful...and very touching.
Thanks for another great feature, Shell. :)

August 26, 2011 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger The Mommy Therapy said...

Julie, I have been desperately yearning for some of that silence in which to focus on writing and developing me. I have dreams of doing things other than packing lunches and wiping bottoms and that feels very selfish sometimes, other times very necessary.

I'll only have one home with me all the time this year and I am excited for some time, but thanks for the reminder that this job is one that will always be the most successful...assuming I don't give away my four year old that won't stop peeing his pants for the love of God!

(Shoot, I was really feeling that love my role as a mother moment. Rereading your blog now.)

Thanks for sharing!

August 26, 2011 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Foursons said...

First off- may I compliment you on your fabulous name? Why yes, my name is Julie too. Awesome isn't it?

Secondly, oh how I feel you on this. No matter how old my kids get, how much they fight, and how crazy they make me, I love having them home. That empty nest syndrome is gonna hurt.

August 26, 2011 at 12:59 PM  
Anonymous tracy@sellabitmum said...

Oh I love Julie. By the way dear friend - when am I flying out so we can get the two-fer botox/tattoo special?

August 26, 2011 at 1:50 PM  
Anonymous The Flying Chalupa said...

When the house is quiet is when I can't get work done. Weird, huh? And how weird - and unfair - that we miss the noise and bustle of summer that we resented so much! I'm with you. I guess we aren't cold and unfeeling after all. :)

Lovely post.

August 26, 2011 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Kir said...

HI, I'm so glad that Shell introduced you to me. I loved this post, I am not a SAHM, but I have "writing" dreams and I know that when the house is quiet and I should take advantage of that, I tend to want to think of my children or watch Law & Order reruns. :)

I am going to run over to your blog now. So nice to meet you. :)

August 26, 2011 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Lizbeth said...

Such a lovely post and I so know what you're talking about. I'm still adjusting to a quieter house.

August 26, 2011 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger Hopes@Staying Afloat! said...

Julie,

It's so nice to meet you through Shell's BFF! Your writing is amazing!! Off to check out your blog now!

August 26, 2011 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Kristin @ What She Said said...

In this bloggy world in which so many women talk about struggling to achieve balance, it sounds like you've got it just right, Julie.

And I have to agree - my four months of maternity leave were the best "job" I've ever had. And I'd quit my day job and go back to it in a heartbeat if it actually helped pay the bills.

August 26, 2011 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Ostriches Look Funny said...

I know this. I was so excited to make time to write three paragraphs, and I too collapsed into tears, and I took my preschooler BACK (a decision that has led to many messes and less quiet). Of course, MINE is only in preschool, but i wonder if I'll ever be alright with his absence. There's something about the messy wonderful of peanut butter sandwich making...
okay, no...maybe it's the sight of them, taller than they were yesterday, you know, when they were born. I also like the smell of them...and the way they look when they're sleeping....and...

Your book? It's happy you're living life. It'll be richer for it. I know I want to read it.

August 26, 2011 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Galit Breen said...

I LOVE Julie! And her words. And her mothering. And her funny. And her heart.

Great choice Shell!

XO

August 26, 2011 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

Well said! Great choice for this week.

August 26, 2011 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Nancy C said...

Ah, Julie. You always read my heart.

I can't let go of my two little pieces of my soul, who grow more independent each day.

I know you get it. And I know you inspire me with each word.

August 26, 2011 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Charlene said...

I snot cried too this week as(gasp) my babies entered high school and middle school. (How exactly did this happen so quickly.)

Or maybe I cried because I had to go back to work. No it was definitely the high school and middle school part - I'm almost sure of it!

Great blog (as always Julie)! You're words are flowing just beautifully my new friend!

August 26, 2011 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Alison@Mama Wants This said...

Julie, you're lovely. Any endeavor you do, be it mothering, writing or making cake pops (do you? I'm only guessing), you do it with grace, humor and throw in your heart and soul. I say this because I know. I know from reading your blog, your love for your children evident in the words you love.

August 26, 2011 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Rach (DonutsMama) said...

Wow, great post! I love your style. So nice to meet another talented blogger!

August 26, 2011 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger Working Mommy said...

It is so true...just when you get a moment of silence, you miss the chaos and noise of children running about. Oh the irony!

WM

August 26, 2011 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

I read this on my iPod this morning and couldn't comment...but I am SO where you are Julie. You know I am.

Love this.

August 27, 2011 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger Lourie said...

This year I actually mourned when they went to school. My oldest started high school, my middle started...well middle school, and my baby is a big first grader and gone all day. My house is empty all day. It's quiet and weird. I am heading over to visit her. The name of her blog alone has me hooked!

August 27, 2011 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

It's interesting how much priorities can change. I'm still in the "I can't wait until they are all in school" phase. But, I'm not so sure I'll feel that way when it actually happens.

August 27, 2011 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Janie Fox said...

I hear ya. Mine are now all grown and married and I have moved on to the grand kids. It never ends this momma thing that we adore. I am blessed by the experience. Quiet is over-rated :)

August 27, 2011 at 5:53 AM  
OpenID ninabadzin.com said...

Such an honest post, Julie. I imagine the answer is something like "a little bit of all of the above."

August 27, 2011 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Julie, you are a good mom and that is why you were in tears when the kids went back to school. It's okay.

August 27, 2011 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger I'm Jennifer. said...

Nice to "meet" you Julie. Wonderful post. Glad you're loving the motherhood career. You wrote about not wanting to fail your kids and that hit home with me. I worked FT out of the house for the majority of my kids' lives and just quit to stay home a year ago. I rarely saw them when I was working (and commuting a long distance). I feel like I failed them then, but I'm now happily doing a "take 2" on mommyhood :)

August 27, 2011 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Love this post! So completely captures the ambivalence we moms feel about letting them go and hanging on to them. Glad to meet you! Heading to your blog now.

August 27, 2011 at 10:56 PM  
OpenID tsonodablog said...

Fabulous post! LOVE this side of you Julie!
Your humor is magic, but your honesty and passion bring another level to you in this sometimes one-dimensional internet blogging world. Loved this!
Terri

August 27, 2011 at 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Julie is fabulous. And not just because she comes up with a descriptive word with every post. (If I had set up such a requirement I would have lazily abandoned it around post 3. But then again, that would be expected, as I'm lazier than the average bear.)

August 29, 2011 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger The Empress said...

I'll tell you, this woman. Writes so well and is the MVP of commenters.

Truly.

Anyone she follows, is lucky.

August 30, 2011 at 1:00 AM  
Blogger Lady Jennie said...

I couldn't leave a comment last time I was here (Internet problems) so I'm back. I agree with Emp - the MVP of commenters. And Julie is a brilliant writer.

August 30, 2011 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

I'm a huge Julie fan! So glad to see her here. I can imagine that, most days, taking care of the young ones is so much more fun than working (even if it's writing). There are days when I long to be home with my baby instead of at work, although I do adore my job. Totally sweet post.

August 30, 2011 at 1:10 PM  

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