I must confess: I have been using my maternity leave as a way to change my life. As a chance to bolt my way out of working in a job I hate (in corporate speak: "it's not the right fit") and into the life of a full time writer.
Without ever being close to another real life writer, it seems like the kind of professional life I'd would enjoy, maybe even love.
I've never had a job I loved or liked. I was an elementary school teacher for two years in Camden NJ. I was miserable everyday. Then I went to grad school to study education. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, even though I didn't like trying to "fix" an educational system that had just beaten almost everything good out of me.
Then I joined the corporate world. Just for the money. And everyday I died. For two and a half years, I thought the dying was just because I was in the wrong job. Perhaps I needed a different job. I went back to education reform. I took a job with a well known mover and shaker in the education reform world. While my husband warned me and a friend of mine reminded me that I had recently told her I was out of the education game and just wanted to stay home and have babies, I still took the job and fell flat on my face. Failed miserably. So bad I had to come back to the corporate world to meet a modicum of sanity and humanity. Hint: When corporate saves you, then you know there's a problem. A big problem.
For most of my pregnancy I was back at my old corporate job, doing the same thing with just about the same people. Safe. Boring. Mind numbing. Soul rotting.
Every day I looked forward to maternity leave. Yes, for opportunity to be with my new baby. BUT ALSO for a chance to write my way out of this mess.
Yes, I am guilty of using my precious five and a half months of maternity leave for something other than cuddling my baby. I am a criminal. A cheater. I steal time from my baby.
This has created many frustrating days for both me and my baby. I think she doesn't like computers because so much time I'm holding her while I'm trying to write something. Like now. She is ready to be done with tummy time. I know it. But I just want to finish this post with two free hands! Urghh!
We're frustrated. But I know that if I don't write, then I'll be miserable.
As the end of my maternity leave closes (much too soon), I am less naive about the magical powers of my time "off." (It's really just been my time away; no time off.) I know that I am not a famous writer or any where near. I've tried to push and stretch myself in writing. I've entered contests. Started a blog (which I'm trying to get other writer-mamas to read, but it's a tough thing to do I've learned). I've hammered through about 40 more pages of my second draft to a manuscript that I let sit on a dusty shelf for months. I've pitched my work to magazines (and still haven't heard back). I've let writer friends read my stuff. I've read several books.
I've woken up from the dead. I know I want to write. And I want to try to write for a living. That has been as much as I've managed to know while learning to care for a little human being.
I've been moonlighting during my maternity leave and it's been tough. Tough as nails. Especially between learning to be a mother (mostly all by myself), and being a stay at home wife, which I now know I am not too fond of.
Even still, despite the daily frustrations, I still feel like it's my only chance. It's my chance to see if I can do what I really want to do in life. So I write. Everyday, in between the time that is not mine alone.