It’s December. If you need to know which December, it’s 2019. Like all of my winter holiday seasons, it’s busy, loud and distracting. As I slip some pies into the oven, a river of new ideas for my novel appear. But just as I’m about to turn around, grab my phone and make some voice notes, my grandson attaches himself to my hip.
‘Gran, Gran!’ he says loud enough to be heard in China, ‘Did you see the epic light show the neighbors put on?’
I open my mouth to answer and before I can get a word out, he grabs my hand. ‘Come on! Come see!’
Of course, I want to go with him. His joy is my joy. He’s found something he thinks is truly magical and I won’t spoil it for him because I’ve seen it every year for the last 11 years in a row. We run outside and watch as colored lights circle the yard in time to the rhythm of Christmas carols.
I make all the suitable grandma noises. ‘Ah, it’s that beautiful? Wow!”
Then in flash, we’re back inside and he’s pestering his mom for a cookie.
Our little sojourn outside took less than five minutes but my flow of ideas has evaporated. My holiday joy turns bitter. Why am I letting this bother me so much?
Is my book more important than my grandson? Absolutely not. He lives in New Zealand doesn’t get here very often. How can I balance my creativity with my love for my family?
What could I have done to prevent this bitter feeling? It’s giving me a stomach ache right before dinner. There are a number of possibilities. The first one that comes to mind is to focus on my genuine priorities and let my book ideas sit on the back burner. But then another idea comes to me. I could have asked him to wait a minute while I made a few quick voice notes. I envision him dancing around saying, ‘Come on! Let’s go!’ And I also envision him learning to give. Although he’s a little guy and is eager to share his discovery, by giving me just a minute, he is recognizing someone else’s needs and desires. This is the first step in learning empathy.
May the blessings of the season be with all!
Barbara (Mother) Wilson is a writing coach for aspiring authors. She'll keep you and your book moving toward publication. Don't ever quit!