Last week I made two decisions. The first of which is that I will start writing my novel now. Not next year, not when my daughter is potty-trained or when I’m done getting my teaching credential. Right now. The second decision I made is that I will not be having any more children. One will be enough.
Most people might not see these decisions as linked, but to me the second is the inevitable result of the first. Since my daughter was born 14 months ago, I feel as if I have been in a constant state of battle to find the time to write. I try to find this time not because I simply enjoy writing or it is a peaceful way to fill my free time. I do not consider it a hobby or pastime. Writing is my lifeline; as soon as I let go of my already tenuous grip on it, I am lost, rapidly free-falling away from my sense of self.
That brings me back to my first decision. I am going to take the plunge and finally write the story that has been brewing in my brain for years. I am going to get up early, stay up late, forgo folded laundry and vacuumed floors, and accept long-standing babysitting offers because this is what it is going to take to chase my dream of writing and publishing a novel and being a loving, present and thoughtful parent at the same time. It is going to take every bit of dedication, drive and stamina to pull this off — and it isn’t going to be quick either.
I’m in this for the long haul. And that’s with just one kid! And honestly, I couldn’t do it with two. Moreover, I wouldn’t want to do this with two kids. When my husband and I casually talk about the possibility of another child I feel none of the yearning I felt for my first pregnancy. I feel only the yearning for the writing success I still haven’t received; success that would be further delayed if not sacrificed completely with the birth of a second child.
All of this is not to say that women can’t have multiple children and successful careers. I’ve seen it happen enough in my own family to know that children and professional success aren’t mutually exclusive. But when I take a hard look at my life I have to admit that I have a finite amount of time and energy and everything is a tradeoff. I am acutely aware that I traded a large chunk of my personal time to have a child. And I’ve never regretted that decision for a second. But I would regret a second child. Even if I did publish a novel with two children I would forever wonder what higher levels of success I could have reached had I decided to stop at one and focus on writing instead.
While there have been no permanent surgeries or public decrees (save for this one, I suppose) to cement my decision, I feel at peace with its finality. I think of my daughter and imagine her young life filled with international travel and uninterrupted time with her doting parents and grandparents. I think of my husband and how he was right all along, that we were meant to be the parents of just one incredible kid.
Then I think of myself and all of the big dreams I’ve been trying like mad to fit into a simple life. I know that this is it. This is how I’ll move mountains.