Friday, October 27, 2006

Spanking My Inner Five Year Old

Bad news first, reflection second.

I will be unable to publish BOUND until January, which means that it will probably not be available until February/March.

I'm sorry--I know that there are a couple of people who will be crushed, but we just can't afford it and the fact is, we're doing birthdays for two children and Christmas for four children between now and January--we should be broke, or we are not spoiling our children near enough to perfection.

Didn't I sound all grown up just then? The truth is, I am disproportionately devastated.

I had not realized until Mate told me that we just couldn't do it, how much of my time and energy and sense of self-worth I had poured into an endeavor that, truly, does nothing to contribute to my family. The idea of having to put off any sort of reward for that work hurt me in unanticipated ways.

I cried all night. I felt awful for this--Mate felt bad, and it wasn't his fault. He didn't spend too much money on yarn or books this year--I did, and I have no one to blame but my own scatterbrained fiscal management, of this I am sure.

But...but work has been horrible--I haven't been able to leave even my most well behaved class to do their work for more than three minutes without having to make them stop throwing spit wads or talking or stealing (yes stealing) something small and stupid from my classroom. I feel powerless, impotent, unqualified for a job I usually adore and wherein I usually feel accomplished and useful.

But...but the house is a pit. We have larvae crawling on the celing from an as of yet unidentified source--and although I've tracked down as many cracks and crevices in the kitchen as possible, I am sure that somehow, somewhere, I am to blame for this crawly manifestation of my own domestic inadequacy. There is not one room I can walk in, not one, where I am not tripping on a toddler's toy, an adolecent's back-pack, or my own damned shoe. I can't remember the last time I vacuumed, and my bathroom would overgrow a petrie dish like those maniacal little twelve pronged amoeba in the movie Evolution. The last place I need to be spending time is at work, in the half an hour of peace I give myself before I go home that sometimes turns into an hour, slaving over what amounts to hope and a pipe-dream, when I should be holding my children or cleaning the crumbling mortgage that houses them.

And yet, I can't make my five year old, the screaming toddler inside of me, stop bawling. I can't. It's more spoiled than the cave-troll, and twice as stubborn, and it wants it's voice to be heard and it wants BOUND on the market where people will praise me for it, because it is starving for praise in ways I cannot fathom.

When I get feedback from my books, I don't feel powerless or impotent or inadequate. My students (a select few) read the books and love them and admire me for them, and my inability to get them to actually open a book and do 6th grade level work doesn't seem to matter any more. Most of my praise comes electronically--no one can look at me and see that I've been a failure at my diet for many years now and unless I give them pictures, no one really gets a clear idea how awful my crappy house really is, and it certainly doesn't matter that I'm pushing forty and that I have yet to learned how to be a grown-up.

When people praise my books I feel giddy with my own potential, and intoxicated on my own value. It's more addicting than any drug and a more potent, sensual, throaty and tantalizing siren aria than any nasal nattering towards fiscal responsibilty--in fact it's singing now. It's begging me to find a way to work the books, when I know that I can't, it's howling my name, insisting that BOUND is good, and real, and more complex than anything I've done before, and shutting it out is like stuffing beeswax in my ears and trying to make myself work on mundane tasks while I know the music of heartbreak is vibrating through my soles even as I walk.

My inner-five old is screaming to hear the pretty music, and I've got to find a way to make that brat shut up, because my real children need me more.


Rae said...

Yeah, your inner five-year-old needs *love* and *attention* just like your external, real five-year old does.

I don't know about you, but sometimes when DD (2 yo) has a meltdown, I kneel down very calmly, look at her, and get very quiet myself. I look her in the eye and wait til there's a quiet moment. I then talk quietly to her and love her and hug her and get her to tell me what's wrong.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the best I can do is to let her cry puddles on the floor and walk away. Especially those times I feel manipulated and cajoled. Other times I'm bitchy and irritated myself and feel like laying down with her - crying *because* of her.

But always, even in those pissy moments, I know I have to tend to her.

Sorry dear, but *your* inner 5 year old is NO DIFFERENT. It's tantrum needs some kind of attention, positive attention.

I wouldn't feel guilty one whit for wallowing in my sorrow over work I felt deserved attention. A cake? A sock I made? A friggin plant I put in a pot, but lovely and perfectly? A book .... a BOOK! Now who in their right mind can quibble about the deservedness of a completed BOOK for attention and praise???

No one. No one in their right mind.

And yet life is just life. It just is. Not unfair. Not fair. Just is. So, it can't be published right now. And it's no one's fault - not yours. Not Mate's. Not mother nature's.

But your inner 5 year old can cry anyway. A good hard continuous cry. For days. For weeks. Because unfair is unfair, even if life is indifferent.

So blog about it all you want. No spankings. Just let it out, as much as it wants and needs!

Dee near Berkeley said...

Oh, my. Where to begin. Well, I linked over here to comment on your comment on today's YH post. Just a suggestion to think about on the financial planning for higher education realm. Our daughter, now 21, IS at one of those ivy covered universities - UPenn to be specific. SHE's paying for it, or going into debt for it, to be precise. She wanted to enough to do that. I worked my way through a Seven Sisters college myself, and found it to be empowering in the extreme. So, if your daughter's smart enough and stubborn enough (I think they're the same sometimes), let her do it. We had to send our daughter to a private HS or she'd have been bored to tears and wouldn't have worked to her capacity. We told her that we couldn't afford both private HS and private college. Hell, we're *still* paying of her HS education and she's a senior. But it paid off. In addition to being willing to go into debt, she got a scholarship a year ago that pays tuition and fees for junior and senior years and has her starting graduate work during those years. And she's loving it. So, I say go for it. Just saying.

Now, where have I been? I see your posts on the YH blog, but I never linked before. We must be twins separated at birth. You ought to see MY house! And we're both in No. Cal. Where are you, btw? I've taught, myself, but at Chico State, which might be considered post-graduate highschool. I'm terminally not-neat, to the point of ... well, let's not go there. I felt like you were channelling *me*. But I don't have any books out, or even thought of, so that's different. I'd love to get together for a cup of tea and talk, but you'd have to do that in your copious spare time (ducking).

Be kind to that little 5-yr old. If you are kind but firm, she may eventually grow up.

Rae said...

Sheesh. I didn't mean to make a comment as long as your post. ~grin~ Hang in there. Really.

The Lady in Red said...

Life happens. January is not so far away. A postponement is much different than a cancellation. Your inner 5 year old will eventually get her way. Your book will get published, and it will get reviewed (glowingly so, if it is ANYTHING at all like its predecessors.) Sometimes being a grown up sucks. Every 5 year old has to learn that at some point. It's sad, but it has to happen. So, let her cry. Let her pout. Let her rant and rave and tear her hair out for as long as she needs. If she's like any other 5 year old I know, she'll eventually exhaust herself, take a nice long nap from the exhertion, and wake up sad, but willing to wait. The rest of us can wait too. Your real babies are WAY more important than any ego stroke or audience that needs a fix. :*

Starfish said...

Everyone needs a good tantrum. Some people find a relaxing vacation the best way to recharge their batteries...I find a good cry fest complete with screaming and slamming, and ending with a bowl (okay PINT) of ice cream is the thing that works best for me. It's okay to be mad and bratty and downright bitchy. You didn't get your way and that sucks. The only thing I can offer is, sometimes God's timing works out better than ours in the end (Can you tell I"m adopting?)

NeedleTart said...

Hang in there. As Lady in Red said, it's a postponement, not a cancellation. Patience is hard for that 5-year-old but have you considered making a paper chain and taking off one loop for each day you survive? Nah, it never worked for my 5-year-old either. Just remember (vis-a-vis the state of the house) children won't remember how clean you kept the house, they remember the time you spent with them,

Roxie said...

I am weeping right along with your inner five-year-old. If I had your snail-mail address, I would send her a cookie. (Screw the diet crap!!) Any kindly advice I can offer would be re-iteraion of the wisdom that has already been shared with you.

Oh, Sigh. Well, My birthday is in March. Maybe I can look forward to Bound coming out then.

Hugs, Dear Heart. There are women in Baghdad who would trade places with you in a minute.