Mind The Gap

Six months ago I listened to a speaker who, during a visit to London, noticed signs in the subway warning people to "mind the gap"–the potentially dangerous space between the platform and the train. She asked us to consider and "mind" the gaps in our own lives: the gap between who we want to become and who we are; the gap between the way we know we should behave and the way we actually live our lives; this sort of thing. 
I ran across a printed version of her talk last month and it got me to thinking about the gaps in my own life. 
(Like the difference between what I know as a mother about the significance of having sit-down family dinners together and yet as an exhausted woman, it's a lot easier to direct the teenaged children to the pot of food on the stove and eat my own on the couch.) 
So, conscience fully twinged, I decided to whip things into shape around here. For the last two weeks I have been mother extraordinaire, babysitter supreme, teacher prepared, cook and plumber on call. 
I have smiled when I wanted to cry, prayed when I wanted to strangle, listened when I wanted to think–and my children have responded almost immediately. Huge differences in their attitudes and in how they treat one another. 
Here's the thing, though. As I have bridged those gaps, there are others opening up in their place, no matter how I position myself. Not entirely surprising–our days being stubbornly resistant to stretching out past the 24 hours they are contained in–but puzzling nonetheless. 
Mostly because the two most noticeable gaps are ones I profess to hold quite dear: my health, and my writing.
Exercising–I can see why I neglect that. Pure laziness or boredom, right?
But writing? How did that get shaken way down to the bottom of the pile? This thing that I have defined myself by since I was six years old and hammering out strange, convoluted tales on my father's typewriter? How does something so fundamentally me get lost in the shuffle?
I know I cannot exist outside of the written word; you don't want to know me when I am not writing–I don't want to know myself.
So last night I set my alarm for 3 a.m. I was determined to get up and get a good hour or two in before the day really began. I was going to write–anything, something. I would write. No matter what. Yawning and bleary eyes aside, I would write. And then I would go to bed early. 
I had this deluded idea that if I did it just once, I'd start a new cycle of early to bed, early to rise and I'd  have bridged the gap, once and for all. With sheer willpower. 
But I didn't get up. I kept pushing the alarm button until forty-five minutes later than I ever start my day and still didn't want to get up when there was no longer any choice in the matter. 
I am weak. Well rested, but weak. 
Why, if writing is really that important to me, do I put it last? 

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7 responses to “Mind The Gap

  • Freedom Smith

    It is the age old problem called "The Tyranny of the Urgent." I hear you…you are putting first things first…meeting needs….being the mom you know you want to be. Perhaps there has to be a compromise on several fronts: perhaps you eat dinner together a certain number of nights a week, you only take on babysitting on a few days, and you write on your calendar and in your appointment book when you will write, just as if it were an appointment or a child that needed tending to. The "Tyranny of the Urgent" refers to the idea that we, as mothers, tend to put out fires all day long, tend to the squeaky wheel, so to speak, and in doing all of those things, the truly important things are left behind.

  • Alicia

    I know exactly what you mean. I feel the same way about writing. And often it becomes last on my list. Why? I have no idea, I guess I feel like the story will always be there in my head to be placed when I have the time. What I found that helps is to set a hour of the day to write, (I need to start that again.) Tell your spouse and kids that it your hour and have them deal with their own problems for that time. That way, you have your "me" time.

  • Flamingo Dancer

    The thing that you love most always gets put last because you are a woman, a wife and a mother. We always put ourselves last. Gaps and silences…sigh.

  • Kimber

    Exactly! And how did so many things become so urgent? Actually, I'm probably so busy because I hate it when things get to the urgent stage and so I'm always trying to preplan, preprepare, have everything taken care of before it becomes urgent. Maybe I should let a few fires get kindled and see if anyone else cares enough to run around putting them out…

  • Kimber

    For me, I think I see writing as something I have to have at least two hours of quality, uninterrupted time, first thing in the morning or I feel like I shouldn't even bother trying. And when you have to be at work at 6 am, that's not a very realistic view, is it?

  • Kimber

    I'm glad to hear you say that–because maybe what I really fear is that writing isn't as important to me as I think it is, that maybe on some level my intentions of writing something really lasting and important some day are more delusion than dream, you know? There's this voice of doubt that whispers, if it were really important to you, if you were really cut out for it, you wouldn't put it off…

  • Freedom Smith

    LOL…my experience, due to my illness is, that when I dropped the ball….it takes a very long time for anyone else to pick it up. For instance, my girls will wait until they are TOTALLY out of clothes before they do their laundry. Sometimes I hear my 14 year old asking my 11 year old if she can borrow underwear. It makes me laugh (the thought of her trying to wear the small undies instead of doing wash). Just goes to show….things keep humming along even when not perfect. Much to my regret, we have eaten more than our share of Stouffers. I doubt my kids will ever want to buy Stouffers lasagna when they are grown. But we make it, even without me doing my jobs (I am sad that I cannot do my jobs….but I am telling you this to illustrate what happened when I dropped the ball).

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