The Thing Which Scares Me the Most

4 Sep

Now that I’ve survived the trauma of Boo heading off to kindergarten, my daily focus has changed a wee bit. Now, rather than answering questions and playing Candyland, I can spend my time doing what I have wanted, all my life, to do.

I can write.

I have this amazing thing: TIME.

I can taste it. I can touch it. Like a gift-wrapped, tangible presence: TIME.

And, of course, I face the huge question of how best to spend it.

This means I can choose to drive into town, and, if I do, I can stop frequently along the 20-minute drive to take photographs, I can stop for minutes on end to capture the Blue Herons that fish along the shallow lakes and no one will fuss that they’re hungry, tired, or bored.

This also means that I can sit around in my pajamas all day and no one will ever know. Except perhaps the UPS man, but he usually comes to our house in the late afternoon so I should be safe as I’ll have to get dressed by then to uphold the ruse that I’ve been productive all day.

It means I can brew a pot of coffee and carry it out to the deck where I can read in the sunshine without being interrupted and interrupted and interrupted, forced to read the same sentence three times in as many minutes.

I means I can go grocery shopping without a helper. Or get my haircut without having to buy the bottle of shampoo that accidentally got knocked off the shelf and burst open. Or go to the gynecologist without lining up a sitter because there are some things that a five year old just doesn’t need to know about yet.

It means I can sit at my desk and write, write, write, write, write, write, write. I can edit and revise and think. I can stand on my head, if I like, trying to think of the perfect way to kill off a character, and no one will look at me funny, or demand that I explain myself or ask me sweetly to help her stand on her head, too.

No one will ask me this because no one will be around.

For seven hours a day, it will be quiet.

Completely silent.

I feel old.

I feel a little bit lonely.

I feel finicky, like a cat that can’t make up its mind what it really wants out of life.

I am overwhelmed by the largeness of the silence.

And I am amazed.

Amazed that, after almost 13 years of having children at home, they’re finally all in school.

Amazed that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had 7 hours to myself, at home, uninterrupted, and now suddenly I have years and years of this ahead.

I feel grateful for this.

I feel empty because of this.

I feel afraid due to this.

Yes, afraid. Afraid that, now that I have time, I’ll finish up my manuscript and no one will want to buy it. Afraid that all these years I’ve looked forward to this moment, this chance to perfect this book, I’ll botch it. I’ll just be one of those people who tried to get a book published.

And failed.

Yes, I am afraid. Because this is what I have wanted all my life and what if I can’t do it?

I find things to keep me busy: church stuff, volunteering around town, washing the dishes. Things that keep me too busy to write. Too busy to face the ultimate question of whether or not I can achieve this elusive goal.

These things become excuses.

Perhaps even this blog becomes a time-filler to keep me away from what I need to do…
…but I am frightened of.

They say that fear of failure is one of the top fears of everyone in the world.

They also say that failure to try is failure in itself.

I am not afraid to die, I am not afraid to speak in public – two of the other major fears people face. But yes…I am afraid of failing in this dream.

The thing is, so much of it depends not just on me, but on others.

And maybe they won’t think I’m a genius.


But yes, I will try. I will proceed. I will finish.

Because to not to would be to have failed for certain for sure.

(Yes, I meant that sentence to be badly written. It’s reflective of my state of mind.)

Who knew that sending Boo off to kindergarten would provoke such a reaction in her mama?!

I did not cry when they drove away to school, everyone waving, Boo giggling with joy.

The tears came later. Now I’m left with a book-sized lump in my throat that is causing me cardiac distress.

I’ll let you know if it ever goes away.


27 Responses to “The Thing Which Scares Me the Most”

  1. Minnesota Prairie Roots September 4, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Every stage of mothering brings change. You can be so proud that you’ve reached this moment of all the children off to school. It’s a sad and happy time all rolled into one. And, yes, more time for yourself. I have no doubt that you will finish revisions on your book and that it will be published. So, onward, Gretchen, because I’m here waiting to read your book.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      🙂 Yes, change can be good. I just need to discipline myself to fully appreciate/utilize it!

  2. Alice September 4, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Oh, yes the fear. May it give you wings!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      It’s good to know that others understand! Yes…wings would be good…

  3. ceciliag September 4, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    My favourite phrase is ‘fear is your only enemy’.. you are doing fine, already you are writing. Now go and write a sentence of your book, maybe a sentence will do for today.. c

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

      There certainly are days that a sentence is all I have time for! FOCUS! FOCUS!

  4. Valerie Fletcher Adolph September 4, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Oh! The memories. You speak for a lot of people today. Don’t worry about the fears – train them to go away and play somewhere else. You ARE a writer.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      🙂 Thanks, Valerie. Yes…I’m not alone. I just need to keep plugging away!

  5. gardenfreshtomatoes September 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Hang in there. There will always be reasons to keep putting it off if you look hard enough for them. If you run out, I will share my supply – I have 15 years’ worth.
    You know what? Even if you don’t find a publisher for THIS book, at THIS time, it doesn’t make you a failure. You have other stories to tell, too…

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      I have actually thought that recently, too. YES…there are so many ideas! Proscrastination is easy, isn’t it? Working at it is…work! But it’s worth it.

  6. Tami Scott September 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    You will do great with this next, EXCITING phase of your life! I believe in you…and I would read your book.

  7. Carol Owens September 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Put your butt in the chair and write. Just do it.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      Yes…no more whining. I promise! Thanks for your encouragement!

  8. treadlemusic September 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Ah yes, “change”….neither a positive nor a negative. It merely waits. Waits to see what value we assign it and how much ‘power’ we give over to it. It is a decision we all must make daily when each day is greeted. You can do it and succeed mightily! And, last of all, I restate Carol Owens comment: Put your butt in the chair and write. Just do it! And we will travel this road together………blessings and hugs, Doreen

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      Thanks, Doreen! I like what you said very much. Today I chose to work…so that was good!!! Thanks for your fellow-traveling and encouragement!

      • treadlemusic September 5, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

        Sometimes the very thing that was needed by another is the thing I myself need to hear!!!!! We so need each other. Thanks for your bloggy friendship, Dearheart

  9. hotlyspiced September 4, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    It will get better. It’s just an adjustment. But seven hours is a long time. My days without Alfie are shorter because I walk him to school and then walk home and then have to be at the gate again before the home-time bell rings so I really only have five hours. I find it goes by so fast. And the good thing for you is, it sounds like little Boo couldn’t be happier! xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      Wow, only five hours. But it’s good to get that walk in there, I bet. Yes, she is doing well and I just need to adjust!!

  10. Rita Vander Kooi September 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    This subject is rarely discussed among stay-at-home moms, but totally something that looms (if you will) over our heads. Really enjoyed reading your perspective.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks, Rita. Probably too honest, here. Ha. Perhaps a MOPS topic…the fear of reality when the kids leave for school?!!

  11. whatimeant2say September 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    That is a very interesting perspective! I can see how this time can be exciting and daunting at the same time. You are a great writer, and you should definitely pursue this!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      Thanks so much! Yes…it’s harder work than I had any idea of – and I knew it would be hard! Gotta get in gear. Face the fear! Hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it.

  12. rutheh September 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    What a poignant and eloquent post Gretchen. You will do whatever you decide with persistence and stick-to-itiveness. I know it. A pj day here and there is a beautiful thing. A string of them not as pretty.
    Thank you for sharing your words. Your heart.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell September 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      Thanks, Ruth, for your wise words. I promise: not too many PJ days! 🙂 I can do this!

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