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Two parts optimism, one part mother guilt

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:56am

This is a post about Sarah Palin.  It just takes a really long time to get there.

So we’ve recently returned from our trip to the woods, which is where I do all my best thinking.  And while we were gone, I was turning all sorts of things over in my mind–but mostly, I was thinking about the ranch.  About why we went, and why we left.

There is a long answer, of course.  About me trying to seam together the two halves of my life–the before kids, which was when we were on the ranch in Miles City, and I spent most of my time outdoors, and I rode horses and new the names for all the grasses and I was sunburnt and my hair was always in a ponytail and I never used Pond’s moisturizing cream and it didn’t matter, because the cows certainly didn’t care, or the coyotes, or the horses or antelope or mule deer or snakes, certainly not the snakes!

Then there was the after, which was the time I wrote about in my book.  Motherhood in all its detail, one then three children, a good life, to be sure, but one that was very different from my life before.

I think I was hoping that by taking my motherhood life to a ranch, I might have the best of both worlds.

Too, there was mother guilt.  Books don’t write themselves, and while I was working on mine, I felt stretched thin, always with words in my head, living in the past, thinking about paragraphs or sentence construction, or even, simply, commas.  A part of me was always gone, even when I was right there.

So when the opportunity to move to the new ranch arose, I thought, Aha!  This is my chance!   My chance to make it up to the boys, for all the times I said, “Just a minute, Mommy’s working,” but then that minute turned into 5, or 10, or 20.  I’d hoped to flip my life–less work, more play.  Less writing, more living.  Less me, more them.

Well, it didn’t really turn out that way. 

And so we’re home, back at the lake, and I’m still contemplating just what it is that I mean to do with my life: how I can be the best person (wife, mother, writer) I can be.  And what that means, exactly, and how to make it take shape in the dailiness of our lives–the wiped noses and the “A is for Apple” and the crystal experiment sitting on the kitchen counter.

Now we get to Sarah Palin: I’ve read that people are questioning her decision to run for VP because she’s a mother of 5, her youngest, a baby with Down syndrome.  I don’t think that’s a fair, or vaild reason not to vote for her.  I can’t say how her family works, or what her tradeoffs are, or who matches the socks and folds the laundry and puts it all away.  I don’t know how she manages her days, or the days of her children. 

But truly, it’s not my business.  It’s hers.  And if she says she’s ready, and she wants to do this work for her country, then it’s her decision.  Hers to figure out in her own way, with her family, her husband and children.  Just as I’m trying to make sense of my time, my days–and no one can do it for me but me.

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