Nostalgia: “A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past.” Or, if you’re me today, for television shows that ended. (The West Wing.) For graduate school. (Course work, coffee, days buried in novels, dinners with smart, smart friends.) For career paths not taken, but imagined and then cast aside. Nostalgia to the point of panic.
Does this ever happen to you? Is it my Achilles heel, this oversentimentalization?
How do you know you’re making the right choices?
Sometimes I think I should have been a speech writer for Bartlet. Or, you know. Obama. That I’m smart enough. That if I had just known early enough. Sometimes the shine I see on my (truly gorgeous) life falls away and I think: I’m wasting it.
Because who finishes a PhD and then jumps ship to change diapers all day and try to pry open frozen 2001 van doors in -10 degree weather?
And because yesterday, Bram told me he was mad at me for not making milkies. He wanted to nurse and J wasn’t here.
And because my house is cold and my activism is so local it rarely makes it out my front door.
Most days I think: this is activism. Nurturing, deep nurturing. In this world: that is activism. But today I wonder how it would feel to draft language for the State of the Union. To feel important to someone with the language skills and the comprehension needed to express that importance. It is absurd, but there it is.
I have a couple of options for the next year or two, but I don’t have time for both. You tell me what to do.
Option 1. I’ve been encouraged to run for the position of communication’s officer in my union. It has a stipend that might, just barely, cover the few hours of childcare I would need to pull it off. It would give me the chance to spend three solo hours working at a coffee shop a week (when school’s in session). It would be one way back in to a form of activism (organizing) that I believe in. And it would allow me to connect with people in the community who might have suggestions to offer when, one day, I find myself ready for a full-time career again.
But Option 2. A few months back, I started a novel. And I haven’t gotten very far yet because: No childcare. Short naps. Teaching. The short hours between their bedtime and when I stop functioning are already too full, and I don’t multitask well. At all. What I have, though, is an instinct that it’s worth writing. That it’s a story worth telling. And that I’m the person to tell it. In a perfect world, J would find the right new job, and I would sit a couple of semesters out from teaching, and I would try. Try to write it. Get it out there. See what comes. Which may, of course, be nothing. But which may be a whole new path. Which could – even if only in the most remote of possible future worlds – lead to me being a writer. Of novels. A mama and a writer. A person who didn’t forsake her career to raise babies, but who faithfully put that career on hold and found – lo! – that all along the thing she was supposed to do was just waiting patiently for her to arrive.
But there’s no tiny stipend to that. No money for a sitter. And it won’t help me network. And it will only be of service if anyone ever reads it, and there is every likelihood that no one ever will.
And I don’t multitask well, so I know that I need to choose.
What would you do? I mean, if the job of Toby Ziegler was already taken. What would you do if you were me?