Two parts optimism, one part mother guilt

This is a post about Sarah Palin.  It just takes a really long time to get there.

So we’ve recently returned from our trip to the woods, which is where I do all my best thinking.  And while we were gone, I was turning all sorts of things over in my mind–but mostly, I was thinking about the ranch.  About why we went, and why we left.

There is a long answer, of course.  About me trying to seam together the two halves of my life–the before kids, which was when we were on the ranch in Miles City, and I spent most of my time outdoors, and I rode horses and new the names for all the grasses and I was sunburnt and my hair was always in a ponytail and I never used Pond’s moisturizing cream and it didn’t matter, because the cows certainly didn’t care, or the coyotes, or the horses or antelope or mule deer or snakes, certainly not the snakes!

Then there was the after, which was the time I wrote about in my book.  Motherhood in all its detail, one then three children, a good life, to be sure, but one that was very different from my life before.

I think I was hoping that by taking my motherhood life to a ranch, I might have the best of both worlds.

Too, there was mother guilt.  Books don’t write themselves, and while I was working on mine, I felt stretched thin, always with words in my head, living in the past, thinking about paragraphs or sentence construction, or even, simply, commas.  A part of me was always gone, even when I was right there.

So when the opportunity to move to the new ranch arose, I thought, Aha!  This is my chance!  My chance to make it up to the boys, for all the times I said, “Just a minute, Mommy’s working,” but then that minute turned into 5, or 10, or 20.  I’d hoped to flip my life–less work, more play.  Less writing, more living.  Less me, more them.

Well, it didn’t really turn out that way. 

And so we’re home, back at the lake, and I’m still contemplating just what it is that I mean to do with my life: how I can be the best person (wife, mother, writer) I can be.  And what that means, exactly, and how to make it take shape in the dailiness of our lives–the wiped noses and the “A is for Apple” and the crystal experiment sitting on the kitchen counter.

Now we get to Sarah Palin: I’ve read that people are questioning her decision to run for VP because she’s a mother of 5, her youngest, a baby with Down syndrome.  I don’t think that’s a fair, or vaild reason not to vote for her.  I can’t say how her family works, or what her tradeoffs are, or who matches the socks and folds the laundry and puts it all away.  I don’t know how she manages her days, or the days of her children. 

But truly, it’s not my business.  It’s hers.  And if she says she’s ready, and she wants to do this work for her country, then it’s her decision.  Hers to figure out in her own way, with her family, her husband and children.  Just as I’m trying to make sense of my time, my days–and no one can do it for me but me.


11 thoughts on “Two parts optimism, one part mother guilt

  1. Love this, Jennifer. Wish people talked about *this* more. While I don’t agree with her politics, I fully support her right to self-realization, whatever form that takes (but please god, don’t let it be as our VP. hee hee.).

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’m delighted with Sarah Palin. Nobody seems to question a man about raising “his” children. It’s none of our business. What works for some doesn’t always work for someone else. I say, it’s up to them.

    Are you still in Montana? I loved the way you used to describe that old house. You made it almost feel alive.

  3. Of course Sarah Plain is none of my business. I’m a South African and who runs for VP in America is as far removed from me as the continents of African and North America are removed from each other.

    But my interest goes from 0-100% when kids with special needs are mentioned. I could feel myself nodding as I read what you’ve written Jennifer.

    We all just do our best to make things work.

  4. Ahhh, all that about being stretched too thin and those “just a minute” calls that go on and on and on? I feel all that. Big time. And I’m sorry that the ranch didn’t make it all work for you, but I do believe that you’ll figure it out, little by little. Maybe that’s it – that there isn’t a single magic switch we can flip to make it all work for us as mothers, but we can chip away at our lives until they are shaped into something that feels a little more right. (And then our children and their needs change and there we are, still chipping away at it…)

    These years ain’t easy.

    I feel the same way about Sarah Palin. I have just about nothing positive to say about her candidacy, but I wrote the same thing. How she chooses to run her family and care for her children are of no interest to me. I wish them all the best and hope that they are, and will continue to be, okay, and that’s that. I was very curious to hear what you would say about her and her new baby, so thanks for weighing in. Your opinion really matters to me!

  5. I’m happy to find your posts today!!!. Jennifer, you are already on your way, you are going to be OK!!!. Regarding Sarah Palin, I agree with you 100%. 😀

  6. Hi Jennifer,

    Ah, yes. Guilt. I know it well.
    I just wanted to send you a quick note of encouragement. Your willingness to examine your life, make changes, and then make them again…it shows how much you care about all the people in your life, including the ones who only know you from your writing! Thanks for including us on your journey.
    Love and hugs,

  7. I am selfishly glad you are back from your ranch, where the internet connections were spotty at best, but I understand that need to find balance. To want to be more present for your family, but in a way that allows you to be true to yourself and your work. You’ll find your way, Jennifer, I have faith in that.

  8. It is not our business how she balances her family or whether or not we think she is ready. It is not our place to decide what kind of mother she is or will be if she is elected.

    It is our business to decide if she is qualified to run this country if need be. Her saying she is ready doesn’t necessarily mean she is. Of course, same holds true for her male counterparts. Honestly, I wish we would hear less about Sarah Palin’s role as mother and hear more about her views on the issues that truly effect the American people.

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