Who is Caring for You?

A week and a half ago, I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina for the Type-A Parent Conference.  I could sit here and write about why I need to attend blogger conferences for professional reasons, to get some face time with clients, to appear as a speaker or mentor, to meet new bloggers for the Global Influence Network.  Most of the time that is the case.  However, this time around I needed to be there for me, not for Resourceful Mommy Media, not for Global Influence, but for me. While I always spend time with old friends and meet amazing new people when I travel for work, there is something about Type-A that draws in my favorite people.  For three years now we have made the crazy trek that is required to get to Asheville, tucked into the worn down Blue Ridge Mountains, partly to support our friend and conference organizer Kelby and partly to just sit in each other’s physical presence, no longer satisfied with phone calls, emails and tweets.  Now that it’s over, we’re all left wanting more.  More hugs, more ridiculous conversations, more late nights on the patio in a cloud of smoke and white wine wondering how it is that we’re all so similar and yet different at the same time, some of us high school drop outs, others Ivy League graduates, all of us trying to find the best life for ourselves and our families.

This year my biggest conference take away was a message that I’ve written about many times before, but that is always worth revisiting.  While we’re caring for our children, who is caring for us? I have so many times made progress in caring for myself only to fall back again.  Time to play the piano slips away as I agree to take on just one more client project, those few moments to myself suddenly going to someone else.  This blog that I began as a way to once again foster my love for writing so quickly becoming work, then a job, now a career.  I joined a book club only to become so busy that I’m never able to attend, never get around to reading the books.  For the last month I’ve been paying closer attention to what I eat and making time to work out almost daily.  And yet the entire time I’m waiting for it to slip away, for old habits to return making my body once again weak and tired.

My favorite session at this year’s Type-A was with author and speaker Patti Digh, and while it was meant to be about Blogger’s Block, to me it was much more about losing ourselves than it was about losing our words.  Walking around the conference room, following her creative writing exercises, and even taking time to complete small writing tasks within the session reminded me of days spent in creative writing classes in college and at summer camps. I remembered the two weeks I spent in Charlottesville at UVA at the Young Writers Workshop surrounded by some of the most creative people I have ever met, writing and performing songs, reading poetry late into the night, eating far too much Ben and Jerry’s White Russian.  The Young Writers Workshop and White Russian ice cream no longer exist.  I worry sometimes that that girl has become so buried that she’s also been retired, put on a shelf with good ideas whose time has passed.  Just yesterday I searched for my favorite creative writing professor, Arnost Lustig, only to learn that he passed away earlier this year on my daughter’s seventh birthday.  Was this a sign that a chapter in my life was really over?

So I have a plan.  Not only will I keep working on myself, but I’m going to be a better mom at the same time, a better wife, a better service provider to my clients who have put their faith in me.  I’m also going to take creative writer Amy back off the shelf – psst! Ben and Jerry. Can we have White Russian back as well? – and finally write not only the book proposal my potential publisher has requested, but also the one that I’ve wanted to write for years.  I’m going to honor the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met not by missing them, but by doing the things I know would make them proud.  And I’m not going to wait for a weekend in North Carolina to see my friends.  I’m going to invite them to my home now.

I’m committing again to take care of myself. Now – who is taking care of you?

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  • I love this Amy!! You are so precious, and I am so glad I got to spend time with you at Type A!

    • Amy

      Sarah, making time for friends like you is one way that I take care of myself! Love you!

  • Love this! It is so important for us to take care of ourselves–and I am the same way about being good at it for a while and then falling off the wagon. Your motivation in the last few months has been inspiring–and I was so glad to have gotten a chance to hang out in Asheville! Looking forward to seeing you in San Diego and who knows, maybe even locally one of these days! 🙂

    • Amy

      Elena, you are welcome to cross the river and spend time in my home any day 🙂

  • Amy Talbott

    This article brought tears to my eyes. I am the mother of 3, three years and under, with one on the way. I work part time and am really blessed to be a wife and mommy. When I got married I didn’t think I could have children. Now our only difficulty is not getting pregnant! 😉 But I have only been married 4 1/2 years. So needless to say a lot has changed since 2007.
    I have made very specific decisions and choices to be here, but it is so easy to be lost in the caring for others. I took some time for journaling today, and was stunned by the quiet. It is a rare luxury, and to have moments to reflect are even more precious. It is so easy to become isolated in the midst of our busy schedules. In that place I seem to get lost and just move to the next thing, and the next thing, not even knowing what I think about my current circumstances. Just numb. Quiet moments are a true blessing, and it is so important to step away from our duties occasionally to just play with our girlfriends. It is sad how distant those girlfriend escapes seem to be anymore.

    • Amy

      Amy, it was around the time that my youngest was two, my oldest 4.5 that I realized how desperately I needed things in my life that were 100% for me. That’s when I began blogging and as my kids grew older and more independent, they started being okay with me taking more time for myself to do things like play the piano without them pounding on the keys. That grew into what we call “dance party” where they dance in the same room while I play, and now at 5 and 7 they’re learning to play. I’ve enjoyed watching how my taking time for my passions is turning into their passions. Steal those quiet moments when you can and know that as they grow, not only will you have more time, but they’ll need you to be a whole person!

  • Jennifer

    Everyone of us need love right?my parents never give love to me always took care and even my siblings i am so lucky that they are my family.
    I am married for 3 years and i have one daughter who i love very much.i and i felt bless that i found a guy who support me with all my decisions in life he always at my side in hard time come.thanks!

    • Amy

      Yes, my husband has always been supportive of me taking time for myself, even buying me a laptop when I began blogging. It makes all the difference.

  • This is always something I struggle with as well. Ironically, not getting to go to Type A is one of the ways I fall into the not-taking-care-of-myself tendancy. And I am sad that I never even knew that Ben and Jerry’s White Russian existed. Now I’m sad on both accounts.

    • Amy

      Oh Sherry, you missed White Russian? When my friends and I used to eat it in high school I was sure it was better than sex. Clearly I hadn’t yet met my husband. LOL

  • Love it. I love this idea and I love what you are pulling into place. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. Give me a lot to think about.

    • Amy

      Tricia, hearing from you on Twitter has been such a motivation to ME! Thank you!

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  • Amy, well said. It was awesome to get to spend a lot of time with you at Type-A. I love you, even the vulnerable parts :-)I can’t wait to see you again SOON! If you ever need me, just call, or tweet, or FB, or skype…you know how to reach me.

    • Amy

      Cindy, you are the best. I am so blessed to have friends like you in my life to share the good with me and care for me during the bad.

  • This is my favorite post Type-A post. I love the idea of all of us reclaiming ourselves as women in all our varied roles.

    We ended up in the same circle a time or two at the conference and just didn’t get a chance to introduce ourselves. Next time for sure.