Monday, October 24, 2011

Maybe You Will Write

< insert Twilight Zone music >

I am in my public library, kids crawling all over me, my kids—one on the hip, two at the train table, and one on the floor with puzzles, dinosaurs, and various hand puppets of storybook fame. I have been at home with these four since my oldest was born, committing my time to play groups and parties and picnics with ducks. You should know that I am not the at-home mom sort. I am impatient and selfish and bossy at best, but these are MY children, darn it, and I’ll be damned if anyone else is going to raise them.

My husband and I have struck a deal. He brings home the green, and I see to the care and feeding of these little minds and souls. The deal has worked well to this point, but I am feeling lately that itch to get back into the heels-and-hair world of work. I am feeling the need to stretch. I am feeling the need for more. But more what? Having never really established myself in a career pre-plastic pants and burp cloths, I am at somewhat of a loss as to where to fling myself. I am a compass without its needle, a one-way sign without the arrow. I am Dora without her map.

In true Tammie fashion, I grab a couple of Sharpies and a giant white board and chart my life. What have I done with my time? Work, volunteer, hobby. Did I like it or did I not? Why? Why not? What exactly was it specifically that I liked about it, the people, the position, the product?

As I chart, I begin to see a theme. What I like:

Substitute teacher--the varied schedule, the flexibility, the thinking-on-my-feet-ness, the being in charge

La Leche League leader—the creativity, the learning, the thinking on my feet-ness, the being in charge

Sunday school teacher—the flexibility, the learning, the creativity, the thinking on my feet-ness, the being in charge

Girl Scout leader—the varied schedule, the flexibility, the learning, the creativity, the thinking on my feet-ness, the being in charge

Mary Kay consultant—the flexibility, the varied schedule, the creativity, the being in charge

I have always put myself in front of a group of people in a teaching or counseling role. I have most enjoyed in my life being in the leadership position, being in charge, helping others to get to a more positive place, whatever that positive place may be. Ok, so fine. I like a group. And I like being in charge of that group. I like moving people, in an inspirational, educational kind of way. So what now?

Maybe I will teach.

This is why I have come to the library, to get some quiet brain time so that I can ponder the possibility of putting myself once again in front of a class. Only I have run into an old acquaintance and we are chatting instead. I explain to her my dilemma, wanting to go back to work and not knowing for what. She suggests that maybe I will write. Maybe I will write? How does that even fit into this conversation? I have in no way even clued her into the idea that I do, in fact, put words to paper and that I deem a career doing such to be right up there with every little boy’s dream of becoming a professional baseball player, a beautiful idea, but not at all likely. Still, I entertain her notion as I am enjoying the verbal exchange.

At some point our children begin to show signs of needing food and sleep and a toilet. I gather the pile of titles my four have collected and head upstairs to the checkout, putting together a mental resume for that teaching position I am certain I will have. In line, the older gentleman behind me engages me in small talk. He is short and hunched at the shoulders and full of white hair. The hair has a mind of its own and sprouts in totally inappropriate places. The man is unassuming and bookish with glasses that slip down his nose. If I had to guess, I would venture to say that he is a retired professor, probably of English literature or philosophy or something like that. I am generally a good guesser. He comments on the pile of children’s books and asks where mine might be. I tell him how I am back in school now and have plenty to read and that I am working on my masters degree but not sure what exactly I want to do with it. “Maybe you will write,” he says without any context as to my subject of study or previous profession or childhood dreams or any such useful information as that. “Maybe you will write.”

The clerk needs my attention. I stack the books on the counter for her and turn back quickly to interrogate Mr. Mystery Professor. He is not there. He was in line, with books, behind me. Now he is nowhere. I look. I look, but he is not there. Was he ever?

I know that I will teach, yes. I am certain of this. But, maybe, maybe I will write.


  1. I should listen more closely to friends and strangers.

  2. Just those who say the same things as the others.