Posted by: christinelaennec | July 15, 2011

Priorities

Taking time to knit the roses (Laughing Hens kit tea cosy)

It’s been another week between posts – a rarity, as I usually am rushing to post about something or other every two or three days.  I’ve had this week off work, and it’s given me time to catch up with myself in a few ways.  I’ve managed to do things in the house that I’ve been wanting to do for ages, and in the process of sifting old letters and giving the kitchen dresser a coat of linseed oil, I’ve also had some time to reflect.

When I began this blog in May 2010, I never thought I would be posting on it every few days.  I had no idea that people all over the world would take an interest in little old Aberdeen; I also had no idea of how interested I myself am in Aberdeen!  I was unaware that I really love to take photographs, and never foresaw that I’d soon carry the camera with me everywhere I went.  I hadn’t imagined how many interesting, creative and fun people I would “meet” in the blogosphere.  I thought that as the Dafter was beginning high school I would have more time to write, and that this blog, “Writing from Scotland,” would have the occasional post about the category I called my “Writing Life”.

How differently things have turned out!  The Dafter has had a very difficult year, although I now feel that she is finally beginning to heal from a dreadful experience both with bullying and with a secondary school unable to cope with the blasted Curriculum for Excellence.  Between one thing and another there’s been very little opportunity to turn my attention inward during my official writing time, much less to work on something extended.  The year hasn’t been entirely bereft of Writing Life – I was thrilled when a poem of mine was selected for National Poetry Day in October; I also hosted Leila Aboulela In Conversation at the Word Festival last month, and I have two short stories coming out later this year.  However, all of this turns to ashes when the safety and happiness of your child is in the balance.

This past year has reminded me that the most precious thing in the entire world is my family.  I enjoy writing, and I hope to have a chance to do more in the future.  But I’ve needed to turn my deepest attention to my darling Dafter.  Every step of the way, I’ve been aware that one day soon she won’t be needing me so much, and we won’t be having chats on the way to the bus every morning.  It’s been an interesting balancing act of trying to be available to help when she needs me, and at the same time having confidence that she will be fine without me.  There have been many days that I have literally prayed my way through!  I’ve tried to remember Gandhi’s saying:  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  This blog, and the many insightful, kind and supportive comments that have come in, has been the biggest help to me!  It’s given me a sense of perspective, it’s helped me to look more closely for beauty and joy, and it’s made me feel so comforted to realise how many people are out there who share my values and interests.  Thank you, everyone, for that!

So this past week, I’ve enjoyed putting some order into the family archives, doing some redecorating, and also doing some knitting.  The tea cosy kit was a Christmas present from a friend and I love how quirky and funny it is.  All these things might seem dull and domestic, but I know that when I do get a chance to focus more on my writing, the things I’ve learned in our family life will be threaded intrinsically into whatever comes through.  The Dafter, meanwhile, has been highly creative and will be sharing some of her art here towards the end of her holidays.

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Responses

  1. I think many writers find blogging a real treat, but there is always that niggling awareness that writing the next post can become an impediment to what you describe as ‘something extended’. I enjoy your posts, immensely, no matter how long a gap between. It’s just a question of balance and perspectives, I guess.

    Looking forward to seeing the Dafter’s artwork in due course.

    • Dear Martin,
      Thank you for such a lovely compliment – I’m glad you enjoy my posts, as I do yours. One of the things I especially enjoy about your own blog is how much you write about your family, from the youngest generation to those who have gone before. Yes, as you say the balance between blog-writing and writing-other-things can be a bit tricky. I was really worried about it to begin with, but I’ve found that in fact they’re quite different. I can do a blog post with the family around me, while doing other things – but to write a poem or a story, I really need to completely switch off from everything else and retreat.

  2. As I keep saying to my daughter, “If you want to be a writer you have to write!” and clearly you are managing to do so through the blog as well as otherwise, or else you wouldn’t be publishing two short stories. Stealth writing! I reckon our lives are all about phases – and right now you are having a “mothering” phase. We just have to immerse ourselves in the here and now sometimes and not think too much about the future.
    Love the teacosy! 😀

    • Dear Roobeedoo,
      It is absolutely a case of stealth writing!!! (My favourite definition of a writer is: someone who can’t not write.) And as you say, we do go through phases, and that calls for focusing on the here and now. As I’ve said before on your own blog, you are very inspirational in that respect. Glad you like the cosy!

  3. Christine, a lovely post. As a recent admirer of yours, I must say I enjoy everything about your blog: your photos, your insights, your writing style. For myself, I don’t post on my blog enough, or at least as much as I’d like. I’m always thinking of post topics, but can’t seem to find the time — lately — to write everything. And I consider my blog more than just a hobby; it where’ I practice my craft, regardless of the fact that my craft often gets subsumed by my family life! As you say, my family is my top priority. It’s difficult to find a balance.

    • Dear Ellen,
      Well I blushed to read your high praise! Thank you and I’m glad you like the blog. I love how “free-ranging” your blog is – from the “F-word for Christians” to what you’re reading, to recipes. As you say, there isn’t time for everything. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one trying to juggle family and my own interests.

  4. Hello Christine what a very warm and caring post and how true it is.Family is the most precious thing a person can have.I hope the Dafter will enjoy her school more and more .Your the best Mum she can wish for……
    Hugs and more hugs
    Erna

    • Oh Erna you are so nice. Thank you. The Dafter is really looking forward to going back to school at the end of August, in fact. It’s good to see her feeling happier about life, most of the time. Re. being the best Mum – her joke is “You’re my favourite mother”. (Because only her adopted brother can actually have a basis for comparison.) I try to be a *good enough* mother.

  5. Hi Christine,

    Your thoughts echoed within me as I too have experienced some of what you describe. There was a point that I realised being a full time mother was more important than anything else I could do outside there in the world. Bullying certainly gives one a perspective on the world our children are growing up in. This time of reflection has done you a world of good, you can forge forth now with camera and thoughts definitely in place. I do enjoy your posts, they are always interesting and usually give me something to ponder on. Love to the Dafter.
    Vickixx

    • Dear Vicki,
      Thank you so much, and I have given your best to the Dafter who says thanks. I can see from your blog that your family means so much to you – but you’re also so interested in the world around. I love “taking trips” around Australia via your blog. You seem like the kind of mother who is a passport to the wider world for her children – something I admire! Without wanting to sound too worthy, I do think being a parent is one of the most important jobs anyone can have. That’s why it’s so scary sometimes!

  6. Christine, i had been missing your blog this past week but it sounds like you were doing what you needed to do. it’s true that our blogging can quench that creative urge in us to get something down on paper but as you say, our families are very high on the priority list. thank you for a sincere and thoughtful post on keeping things straight in our lives. it is lovely to read your blog and the kind comments of others. 🙂

    • Dear ajb,
      Thank you very much! It’s probably not good for the old ego to read all these lovely comments, but it’s been great to hear that other people ponder these same things. Not that the parenting/writing dilemma is a real problem in the larger perspective. I have a huge amount to be thankful for. I like Maya Angelou’s story about how she went to see someone for help with her inner turmoil, and that person handed her a yellow legal pad and told her to write down her blessings. She said that whenever she writes, she always uses a yellow legal pad, to remind her to be thankful.

  7. Such a lovely post and so heartfelt, I think that everyone needs time to put things in perspective once in a while and you seem to have done that beautifully. Being there for your daughter is the highest calling for a Mother, and one I have no doubt she will always remember and will shape her perspective on the world at large in this difficult time. Looking forward to seeing her art work! Love your tea cozy, and congratulations on being selected for National Poetry Day and all of your accomplishments so far! xx

    • Dear Karen,
      Thank you so much. I think writing accomplishments, although satisfying, are probably less of a true accomplishment than raising children (although I don’t know how much credit we as parents can actually take either). I love reading in your blog about your grown children coming home, and the happy times you have with them. I hope I can experience the same. The Dafter is at this moment preparing for her end-of-summer blog exhibition!

  8. Beautiful post Christine. I agree with everything you say, it resonates so closely to stuff I’ve got in my family life too and I’ve noticed how you find sometimes the littlest glimmers of beauty to share on your blog that also brightens up all your readers’ day. Love the cosy!!

    • Aww, thank you Mrs. Scruffybadger! Your blog is a perpetual ray of sunshine and creativity. It’s interesting to hear that you have similar pushes and pulls with family life. I guess everyone does, to judge from the other comments. I’m glad you like the cosy!

  9. Dearest Christine,
    I feel connected to you through our blogs and I understand and totally agree with everything you say. Anna-Maria has just done work experience at Transport for London. She has crissed-crossed London all on her own, worked on the Olympic security set-up (guided) and has been on the red-carpet at the Harry Potter premiere as a Transport for London representative…all so grown up! I find it very hard to see her slowly flying the nest but hope we have a strong enough bond for her to feel she always wants to come home.
    Hugs from Wales xx

    • Dear Heike,
      I feel very certain that Anna-Maria will always want to come home, and in fact always want to share her life with you regardless of where her or your home happens to be. It is very hard to let go, but although it’s a cliche it’s true that only by letting go can we hang on to the people we love most dearly. You must be very proud of the independent young woman that she is becoming.

  10. Congratulations on having your poem selected! How exciting!
    I totally understand how you feel about blogging and writing. It has amazed me how many wonderfully special, inspiring and talented people I have connected with through my blog.
    I love taking the time to sit and write but like you my family is number one.
    It comes first every time.
    I’m so sorry to hear about your daughters troubles with high school.
    My 13 year old suffered from bullying too, I know how devestatingly powerless you can feel watching your child in pain.
    I hope that things only continue to improve for her.
    xx


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