I participated in this thing called NaNoWriMo this month. For those who haven't heard of it, in celebration of National Novel Writing Month, writers are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.
And I decided to do it even though I'd heard from others it was a tough feat to accomplish while being a parent, let alone being a single mum and working full time. Still, I wanted to try. After all, if I didn't "win" there was always next year.
Two weeks ago, I almost quit. My word count was far below where it should have been and I felt like I was neglecting my house and the kids. Then, as I sat typing halfheartedly, Joseph walked over and stood next to my arm. He looked at the little orange bar marking my progress and said, "What does that do?"
"It counts the words I'm typing for my story. When I get it all done, the bar will turn all green." I could see the instant recognition from my little video gamer.
"That means you'll win!"
"Yeah, but it's a lot of work and I'm not sure I'll be able to get it all done." Hearing myself, I added, "But I can always try again next year."
"You can do it, Mama," he said very seriously. "And when you finish I'll give you a treat."
"Oh? What sort of treat?"
"I'll build you a custom Lego ghost and let you play with it." He turned to his sister. "Elizabeth! What will you do if Mama wins her writing?"
"I'll give her a pony ride!"
How could I turn my back on a chance for a custom Lego ghost and a pony ride? I kept writing and pushed aside Mummy Guilt because I came to an interesting conclusion.
While I was feeling bad about not being more engaged during the weekends, they saw me working towards a goal and, best of all, accomplishing it. When my session bars turned green, they high fived me. When the project bar edged ever closer to green, they cheered me on and told me I was doing a great job. When they wake up this morning, I know they're going to be as excited as I am to have "won" NaNoWriMo.
Being a family is a team and sometimes Mummy is the team member trying to accomplish her goal. Somewhere along the line, I'd forgotten that.
I can't wait for my pony ride and ghost.