One of the real challenges of growing up adopted is the very reality that a different life path existed. Whether it could have actually come to fruition is still up in the air, but the fact that I was born to one set of parents, and raised by another, meant a life of believing in the tangible reality of other paths.
As I stood at my bathroom counter this morning, I realized, that one of the hardest parts of parenting for me, is the ability to project myself into that other life path…the child-free life. The life where I haven’t been up since 4:30am for no good reason. The life where my dog is my baby and he goes everywhere with me, or not, depending on the mood of the day. The life where I take up and become a famous watercolor painter.
Yesterday I was making a list of the things that I love. My dilettante archetype is in full force, because one of things that I love is dabbling. Getting my feet wet. Trying things out and being an expert in none. Loose roots. I began scrolling through pinterest and saw these lovely watercolor painting techniques and thought “oh, if only I wasn’t a mom, I could see myself getting in to that. I could paint in my time off from work. I could write a novel. I could move to India.” That’s how my mind works. I see something beautiful and I want to DO. I want to be a part of the creative process.
But I have to be honest with myself. It’s not a real path. I spent 29 years childfree and never once became a famous watercolor artist. I didn’t publish a book, memoir or poetry. I didn’t even write that much. What I did I do not know, but now that my time is spent clashing transformer rescue bots together on the floor I think, “oh yes, I would have done that. I would have written that book.”
It’s a false dichotomy. That writing a book, or painting a picture, or solving some world problem, can only happen when childfree. There are plenty of busy parents doing amazing things with very little personal free time to do them in. I watch a lot of TV in the spare time I do have. My house isn’t immaculate (it would be without kids, right? NOPE!).
I’ve falsely been believing that the fantasy of what I would do is what I would actually do, and it is most likely not. I like starting things. Sustaining them isn’t quite as easy. But the idea of ‘letting go’ of my ideas about what I could have done, feels like letting go of who I am, who I could have been, and embracing this boring TV watching mom with crumbs on my floor. It feels like abandoning creativity in favor of the mundane. And then I think about enlightenment, how it’s maybe not about being cool, or dabbling, or achievement. That cliche of pre-enlightenment wood chopping and water carrying being the same as post-enlightenment wood chopping and water carrying.
Ugh, do I even want to be enlightened? It seems like I want to do everything half assed without experiencing the journey. I want to have written a book, but sitting down to write the book, not so much. You get the idea. Perhaps I’ll just embrace being normal.