There are a thousand opportunities every day to consider how having children has changed my life. From the mundane–I now know all the words to the grating Wow Wow Wubbzy theme song (but I’ve also gotten to re-learn hopscotch and Patty-Cake); to the significant–I am now terrified of flying, as far as I can tell because I deeply understand the value of life.
But the greatest notable aspect of having children is that Henry and Clara have forced me to grow up. And by grow up, I mean be the best version of myself I can be. Self-awareness is a hard thing to do—to question, reflect, choose. Those two little angels are over my shoulder every moment, watching me. Sometimes the responsibility is overwhelming; sometimes it is a joy. I’ve learned to (*mostly) put aside emotional indulgences like resentment and I’ve begun to master the art of talking quietly when I want to yell.
Most importantly, the growing up Henry and Clara have forced upon me has meant that I’ve followed my dream of writing a book. I had a dream, I knew it, felt it, poked around its edges. It was always with me. Yet, before children, I never held it. My dream sat alone in an area of my mind for years, waiting for me to grow up and take it.
Henry and Clara, with their pudgy fingers and insistent wails, their questioning eyes and rosebud lips, their innocence and unfettered happiness, awakened me. I want everything for those two: I want them to know their dreams, to live with them, to hold their dreams tight and take them seriously.
If I want that for them, I want it for myself, too. Not only for my own happiness, but because they need someone to show them how. Just as I want them to know how to control anger and tie their shoes, I want them to know how to live their dreams.
The past two years of Finally Writing A Novel have been full of milestones. I now know why people use the word “journey” ad nauseum. The accomplishment of typing the final page felt like satisfaction enough. The encouragement from family, friends, and early readers urged me on in editing and taking steps toward publishing. And there is more that awaits me.
I think often of the moment I first get to see the cover design; the moment I hold the pages in my hands; the moment I read the first positive review (and, yes, the first negative one; I will love that reviewer too, at least a little).
But what I look forward to most, is the moment I open the cover to see the very first words:
For Henry & Clara