On the Perils and Pitfalls of Single Parenting
I have very recently been informed that what I am doing is vitally important, and should count as, if not a career, then a respectable detour. I’m still unconvinced I genuinely believe this (I certainly don’t grok it, but I’ve had confidence and perception issues for decades), but whether I do or not, this isn’t truly the issue.
What’s going on right now is that I’ve spent two days fighting with my children instead of writing. I JUST NOW spent nearly an hour building Lego instead of writing this post. Because the noise and wails when only one had a motorcycle.
I’m slowly coming to the realization that anything I want undamaged, anything from which I don’t want pieces missing must be cryosealed and buried, to be opened only after the last one has been unceremoniously ejected from all the Spaces That Are Mine.
“Dave,” I hear you saying, “wait, what? The writing thing?” Yeah, hold on: I’m getting there. Let me uncork a little more. Two days of constant struggle isn’t much, I hear you say, and you’re right. Those of you who deal with this on a daily basis for years have my utmost respect. Especially if your offspring are still alive. As are mine, just in case anybody was wondering.
Aside: I don’t know how this was done in the days before video chat. I know it was, but I can’t wrap my mind around how.
Anyway. I’m not just struggling with them; I’m also fighting with the black dog. What about, you ask? Thank you, I see that hand. What do I always flagellate myself over? Two things: parenting (see above) and writing. I owe a short. I’m about 24 hours overdue, and I’ve been staring at about a thousand words for about two weeks. All the usual stuff. Not good enough, everybody else can manage this, somebody else has it worse and still writes, etc. All those scourges with which we beat ourselves to justify not writing.
Now, I’m really not talking about genuine obstacles. I spend half an hour trying to convince my daughter I have to write this post, and that’s another half hour delay. So far as I can tell, I cannot avoid that. I’m specifically talking about the demons of thought we allow into our heads that prevent us from creating.
Stop it. Or I’ll bury you alive in a box.
The Apostle Paul says he “takes every thought captive,” and that’s what I’d like to propose to you. I suggest you get yourself in a good headspace. Run a hot bath, add something smelly, grab a glass (or bottle) of wine. Or blast some metal while you lift, and wash down your protein shake with a glass of whiskey. However you do it, get some endorphins going to give yourself a buffer.
Then, make a list of the thoughts that really get you down. I can’t do this. I’m not good enough. Nobody likes my writing. Nobody reads my work (especially if that’s true *fistbump*). Who am I kidding with this? I’m a poseur who only repackages other people’s ideas and can’t do anything original. (Like that last is a bad thing? Throw some heart into it. Rip yours out, smear it on the work, and release it into the wild. Not literally, obviously…) Write them all down somewhere, so you can recognize your enemy when he rears his ugly head.
Then, and this is the hard part, learn to realize what’s going on when you have those thoughts, and (crucial, this next) TAKE THEM CAPTIVE. Every time one of them floats through your head on the way to your heart to drop its payload of soul poison, you reject it. Out loud, if necessary.
Get out of the habit of beating yourself up. “Don’t should on yourself,” as the Irreverend tells me. (Frequently) Instill in yourself more positive habits of thought. Ask your friends what they think of you, and conform your thought patterns to that. (Assuming, always, that you have friends and not “friends,” in which case find better friends.)
Finally, if you read this and none of it applies, I’m envious, and will track you down and whip you with a wet noodle later. I’m mostly talking to myself, but I know I’m not *only* talking to myself. We can be better to ourselves, guys.