Mathematics is black and white and many writers will agree that we work best in the grays. Our understanding of the world is shaded and colored in with metaphors and similes. We best recognize one idea transposed into another when it is beautifully disguised in subtext.
Seeking and understanding the nuance of an idea creates a wonderfully expansive lens in which to view the world. After all, life’s experiences and the emotions involved are complicated, and therefore it is necessary to use a multifaceted scope to understand these feelings. Using anything else for the evaluation of life is too simplistic and leaves us with “x” not standing for more than one perceived notion of what is possible.
My child’s first day of Kindergarten is what helped me to realize that a simple equation wouldn’t be sufficient to help me both analyze and cope with a very significant transition in my life.
This year, my youngest (my baby)—that for sake of this argument I will call “X”—started full day Kindergarten.
Teary-eyed, I watched proudly as he climbed the seemingly insurmountable black bus steps with his oversized backpack and shiny new sneakers. Smiling, I waved vigorously at him as the bus drove away before climbing back into my car.
Tentatively, I walked back into my empty house. I felt like a stranger stealthy climbing into someone else’s life. There were no yells, no squeals, no shouted requests for milk or snacks. There was no noise. I walked farther into the house, waiting perhaps, for it all to change back, but it didn’t.
I sat down at my computer. I looked at the clock. I had a whole day ahead of me to write. The days of babies and toddlers, naps and tantrums, time taken wiping noses, butts, and spills had ended. I opened the word document for my book. The book I have been trying to finish in between the squabbles, giggles, needs, and demands.
I didn’t need to jump up multiple times. I didn’t need to squeeze a sentence in between lunch and board games. I didn’t need to cover my ears to concentrate. It was quiet. It was just I, alone, with my novel. I was finally free to write.
So, Kindergarten, or more specifically my child (“X) going to Kindergarten = my freedom to write.
It’s a simple equation.
It is NOT, however, a simple representation of the reality of the situation.
If Kindergarten “X” = freedom (to write) then why couldn’t I write?
Not a sentence, not a word. Instead, I thought about my boys and I cried. I napped to pass the hours. I read to avoid the missing. I cried a bit more then I drove to the bus stop.
Having my children in full time school was supposed to mean uninterrupted hours to write. This was my time—the time to write fluidly until each sentence flowed into another and my book was finished. Instead I wrote nothing.
This is the gray in which both mothers and writers live. It is also the gray in which those of us who refuse to narrowly define ourselves live.
So, what now?
I make a new equation. I embrace that “x” can and does equal a variety of possibilities. It is up to me to choose the procedure and set the formula.
It means that as a mother I have to learn how to navigate and accept this transition. I must get used to the quiet, the missing, and the new milestone.
It means as a writer I have to accept that there is no perfect environment, situation, or place in time to write. The “freedom” to write isn’t contingent on time away from day jobs, breaks from little ones, or boundless time.
The freedom to write is equal to your passion, drive, and willingness to do so under any circumstances regardless of other commitments and the emotions that accompany them.
Mathematicians may clearly understand equations, but for us writers we understand that as new butterflies we may miss the comfort and familiarity of the cocoon. However, we can also appreciate the beautiful transformation the metamorphosis has created.
Write on, friends!
Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.