A Mother’s Writing Timeline
by Linda Wisniewski
Stan is packing for a business trip – Indianapolis this time. He doesn’t travel a lot but this time he’ll be away five days. If I want to get any writing done, I’d best do it soon. When he’s gone, my evenings get so much busier. Pickup Jason after school, take him to piano lessons, supervise homework, make dinner, clean up, read or watch TV, supervise bedtime. Too tired to write most of the time, I manage to get an article published. It’s almost time to leave for Jason’s basketball game. The township “boys 9 and under” team plays on Saturday afternoons, and we promised to pick up his friend Ari on the way. Uh oh. Stan just poked his head into the kitchen.
“Are you ready to go? I think it will be fun to watch him play.”
“You’re going too? I thought you were packing.”
“I can do that later. Let’s go!”
Had I known this would happen, I could have squeezed in an hour on my new essay, the one for which I just got an idea for how to handle the ending. Go without me. Please. I need this time to write. But I don’t say it. What kind of mother skips her kid’s basketball game? I grab my jacket and head out the door.
Stan has the day off. He waits with Jason at the end of the driveway for the school bus, and tells me to stay inside. It’s raining, and I decide to get some writing done. The phone rings. Who could be calling at this time of day? I’d better answer. It’s Stan.
“Why are you calling,” I ask, exasperated.
“I wanted to see if my cell phone got service at the end of the driveway. Sorry. I won’t bother you again. Love you!”
Somehow, I send out more work and get published online.
The worst day of my life, without a shred of doubt. My teenaged son from my first marriage has always had emotional problems. We tried many things to help him. More discipline, less structure. Therapy, separate sessions for him and for me. Personal time, one on one. Rewards. Timeouts. Progress charts on the refrigerator door. Nothing worked for long. Today he’s had a crisis. I don’t know it yet, but he will be okay. I will write about this many times but only for myself. He still won’t talk about it, and I have to respect his privacy.
Stan’s department is closing, and he is offered early retirement. He’s only fifty-five, but he can’t wait. He spends the next year at home watching TV and going for long walks, reading and visiting the art museum. He cooks and takes over all the grocery shopping. What am I supposed to do? He’s taken over my chores. I have a part-time job, and I want to learn to write well. Better. More. But I don’t know when he’ll pop in the door to my spare bedroom/office/writing studio. I put a Knock Before Entering sign on the door, because I’m too nice to write one that says Do Not Disturb. He knocks to ask me what time I want dinner. I resent his ease of living but I can’t complain. His salary is the reason I have time to write. And he’s making dinner.
I work on a lesson plan for a memoir class I will teach.
My nest is empty. Both kids are grown, the youngest in college. I take a walk through our neighborhood in the early morning, and a big yellow school bus makes me cry. I go home and write about it, send my essay to an online magazine contest about endings and win.
Nobody’s home but me. It’s three in the afternoon, and I’ve read my favorite online newspapers and blogs, about gun control, the Middle East, how to write and market a book, and what my Facebook friends are up to. I’ve made some tea. What shall I write about today? What were all those ideas I had years ago, when I was constantly being interrupted? Where have they flown? Today, I have the time, the peace and quiet. Where do I begin?
Linda C. Wisniewski is a freelance writer in Bucks County, PA, where she teaches memoir workshops at retirement centers and writers’ conferences. Her credits include The Christian Science Monitor,The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Rose & Thorn, Mindprints, and other literary magazines as well as several anthologies. Linda’s memoir,Off Kilter, was published in 2008 by Pearlsong Press and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her website is www.lindawis.com and she blogs at www.lindawisniewski.blogspot.com.