Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Weight of the Day

by Nicole Seitz

In our master blog calendar, my name was slated to post on September 11th. It's quite daunting. I'd like to write something underlined with the importance of this day, and yet, I feel I'll fall short. Nothing I could write could come close to the true weight of the day, what happened 10 years ago. So, I'll lighten up on myself and simply...write from the heart. Here goes.

I wasted time today. In light of Septemember 11th, this feels like a grievous sin. And it was so ridiculous how it all happened. Long story short, I didn't get gas when I should have and because I didn't take two minutes to turn right and go one block out of the way to get gas, I literally didn't get anything done that I wanted to. Ever had one of those days? I didn't get to the lighting place before it closed. I didn't get my parents' computer network working properly. I didn't get home in time before the kids and husband had already left the house.

By the time I arrived back at home with nothing in hand and really nothing accomplished, I felt nearly in tears when I didn't see my husband's truck in the driveway. I felt I had wasted all this time, but I knew I could redeem it...IF ONLY I saw my family.

When you're a parent or spouse and you've done nothing at all in your day, if you spend time with your family, you've done something with eternal importance. I understand that now. I have days when I simply don't get anything done, and yet, if I spend a little time with my family, investing in them, I have done something with true and lasting value. What a gift of redemption.

Last night I watched Dateline about the September 11th attacks. I wept as I heard the stories of survivors and stories of those who didn't survive. As I watched the images again of apocalyptic New York, gray and covered in ash, twisted metal, I re-lived much of what I was feeling that day 10 years ago. What I took out of it most of all is that family is truly everything, and yet, it's the thing we take most for granted. No one who lost a loved one that day knew the importance of the day or what it would hold.

Right now, my husband is downstairs watching a football game, and I can hear my children's laughter. But you see, I'm here, writing this blog post. And although I am grateful for the opportunity to be here in such amazing company of authors and have the opportunity to share my heart with you, I remain painfully aware that I have the opportunity to go down and spend time with my family, a privilege so many lost on that Sept. 11 of 2001. I'll be honest. There have been many days like today when a wrong turn leads me to missing out on the most important things in life--my family. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn.

Now for the tie-in with this month's suggested blog post: your biggest writing blunder. Here's mine. There have been days when my writing came first.

I began writing my first novel when I was pregnant with my second child. Soon after, I published, wrote again, published, wrote again, and on and on and on, all the time meeting with book lovers, authors, doing events, etc, etc, etc. The writing seemed to come easier to me than breathing. I spent so many hours at my desk on the third floor that my husband finally had a "come to Jesus" with me and let me know I was pretty much absent in my own house.

I hadn't realized I could be there--but not be there. It was a turning point for me.

Once I understood that I seemed to be putting my writing ahead of spending time with my family, something changed in me. My books were still very important to me and my readers, and meeting my obligations and contracts, but soon, on the scale of equity, family begin to weigh more and more until they rightly found their priority in my life as number 1 (just under God). Everything else was cake. How had I blurred the lines so much? How did I slide on that slippery slope? For you writers out there, I imagine you understand. The pull of the characters, the story, the novel, can be sirens to Odysseus. Especially when you're under contract.

I thank God for my husband who helped me see that time was passing and the words would always be there but the children would not. Now that I'm beginning to write my seventh novel, I can assure you the words are NOT always there--but that's okay. Truly it is. Right now, my family is so adorable, I could scoop them up and put them in a bubble. My daughter just lost another tooth. My son drew me a picture of a farmer with an apple tree. Life is so good, SOOO good, and I realize it. Now. I don't want to have to look back on things years later to realize how good I have it now. I want to appreciate it all and savor it NOW.

There are countless families out there who lost loved ones on 9/11 who would give anything just to have another moment with them. So, if you don't mind, even though my day seems wasted and I didn't get anything done that I wanted to (except for this post and mailing a package), I will not waste this day. If you'll excuse me, there are people downstairs who are worth more to me than my writing, more than this post, most than just about anything in the world, and God has given me another day with them. Can you feel the weight of that?

I cherish this day. I think I'll go waste a little time with some children and a handsome man. I might watch some football or play a board game. We might just sit there and do nothing at all, and that would be just fine with me. In fact, I guarantee it'll be the most important thing I've done all day long.

Nicole Seitz is the author of five novels, her next book coming in January 2012, BEYOND MOLASSES CREEK. She has two kids, a husband, a debonair cat, and a crotchety old dog with cataracts. She wouldn't trade any of them for the world.


JLC said...

It was like looking in a mirror, in a way, to read this post. I never got up the courage to make a serious try for publication until my children were grown and my husband on the brink of retirement. Without analyzing why this was, I never sat down to the computer (the second necessity for me) until all household chores were done, meal planned or started, etc. You have expressed the reason.

Nicole Seitz said...

Yes, as mothers, wives, and writers we share that deepest place and the need to guard what's sacred. Thank you for writing.

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Susan Cushman said...

I didn't read this until today, Nicole, and I'm glad, actually. I as overwhelmed with other stuff during the weekend, and now I can sit with your words and let them touch me in places I need to be touched. Thanks so much for sharing such heartfelt wisdom with us all.

ZIane said...

Wow... beautiful words. I remember I was still in elementary school 10 years ago, it's amazing how time flies away

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