Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beginning a new chapter

Finishing Mojo Mom has been a strange experience for me. I've been working on it for so long that I deeply feel both an ending and a beginning as I wait for the new book to come out.

Last week, when I finally had a free day I wanted to rebel and sit around and watch Jon Stewart (it was the Jim Cramer smackdown, after all). Then I looked at my house and thought I really don't want to clean it--that's not the reward for finishing I had in mind! Then I started to think about ideas for my next book and that made me feel better. (That impulse surprised me because it's kind of like asking a woman who just had a baby whether she wants more kids.)

What's strange is that even when I published a previous edition, I did not feel that sense of completion the way I do right now. I wrote the first edition largely in solitude, because the cultural conversation about motherhood had not exploded yet. A lot has happened since 2005, and I wrote the new edition in community, involving and responding to other writers, bloggers, and readers. That's been such a wonderful experience, and now that I have updated the book, it finally feels like the work I always wanted it to be.

I spent nine months working intensively to revise, expand, and update the book. I had to stay on an adrenaline roller coaster to get it done, meeting fast and furious deadlines, so it's no wonder I feel a little disoriented now that I have the week of down-time I have been craving for so long. The trick is to go into down-time without just mindlessly wasting it.

It's also strange that I feel like I've transitioned into "stay-at-home Mom" mode for a short time, just before I go into intensive "working Mom" mode. Just shows you that those labels are too narrow--and perhaps the wrong framework altogether--to describe real life. Today I'm cooking chili, following our shedding dog around with a vacuum cleaner, and driving carpool. In two weeks my husband will step into primary caregiver mode while I focus on the book launch throughout April and May. I like living a life that is full of variety, and defies simple characterization.

So I am about to step onto a new roller coaster--the book release--and see where that takes me. I also know that I need a true break when it's all over. I have a Mom-daughter adventure in the works for this summer, and I will also have a week of solitude (what's that???) when my daughter goes to camp and I park myself on the opposite shore of the same quiet lake. I have not had a week away from hands-on parenting in ten years, or a week alone like this since 1993, before I met my husband. I wish he could be there during the camp week but he's scheduled for a business trip, so I will make the most of the chance to spend time relaxing on my own.

Since I already feel the pushes and pulls of transition, I am also really looking forward to reading Mary Pipher's new book, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World. She tells her story of what it was like to become famous after her book Reviving Ophelia took off and became a huge success. She eventually experienced a personal crisis and had to craft a quieter life.

Based on what I am feeling right now, I know that the ideas and practices of Buddhism would really benefit me. And wouldn't you know, once again the Quote-of-the-Day widget is telling me a message I really need to hear (again....and again):

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