Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Three Steps Forward and Two Steps Back.

Hi all,

As the Amtrak train rounded the bend toward my town, I reached into my purse to pull out my keys.  No keys!  I double checked and then remembered - they were on my sister's kitchen table.  Oh well.  I knew Junior, my dog sitter, had a house key and I have a spare car key at home.  Disaster averted as Junior answered his cell phone; he was on his way to my house.

I'm always happy to get home after a weekend away.  My house and garden looked great and it was lovely to be in my comfy bed with a good book last night - mine!  The hard copy of my manuscript arrived while I was gone.  I'd already made the changes my editor suggested (they were awesome changes) last week on Track Changes and now, I held 365 pages of my novel.  How wonderful is that?

This week, I begin fleshing out the friendships in my novel and working on Point of View (POV) which I've found to be quite difficult!  My editor has recommended taking out the two male character's POV which I totally agree with.  My target audience - women.  I get that and it makes sense to me.  So, on we go :)

I had a nice time with my children and my sister this past weekend, celebrating our friend Carmen's 80th birthday.  Carmen's three children, their families and nearly all her grandchildren were in attendance to include two new great-grandchildren.  Carmen looked beautiful and her family did a wonderful job putting her party together.  I was happy for her and happy that my children joined me in celebrating the special day.

As I looked around the Clubhouse dining room, I was reminded that all of my mother's friends have lost their husbands - all widows.  I wondered if that still holds true, that women outlive men.  None of these women were smokers nor heavy drinkers.  My grandmother outlived my grandfather.  They were the heads and hearts of their families.  My grandmother was certainly the head of our family - the Matriarch.

What am I as the eldest daughter of my family?  Am I the matriarch?  Does that still exist in this day and age?  Maybe it does.  I suppose I felt like the matriarch when I was still married and financially able to help my children and my family after my mother and grandmother died.  When someone had a problem or issue, I was ready and able to assist, but now as a divorcee living on a budget and two hours from my children - not so much.  I guess I did feel like a matriarch in those days and was always happy to help; just didn't give it much thought until yesterday.

My children have graduated from college and are on their own.  My sister and her children are doing well and my half-sister's children are pretty much on their own, as well. My kids know that I would sell my car and house if they were in dire straits and, thank God, they are doing more than well at this time.

My kids used to listen to my advice, suggestions and gentle words when they were in high school, in college and for a few years afterward.  These days?  Not so much!  They roll their eyes, disagree with me and poke fun at me.  My "words of wisdom" (judging by their reactions and facial expressions) must seem old-fashioned, out-of-touch and cooky to them :)  I've kind of given up the generational or self-imposed title of matriarch.  As they moved forward in their lives, so did I but it felt strange, at times.

I guess I thought I was the matriarch by default because my mother and grandmother has passed on.  Unlike my mother, grandmother, Carmen and her girlfriends whose husbands passed on, I was divorced and didn't fare as well as I probably would have if I were a widow.  Just sayin' and I wish him well :)

None of these women entered the dating world at 50 after divorce and none of them worked past 50 because they didn't have to.  For the most part, women of my mother and grandmother's generations just settled into living alone as widows and living for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Many of these women volunteered their time to favorite charities and their churches; they still do as I learned yesterday.

Do today's matriarchs date, live lives as single women and still take single's cruises?!  Do our children see us as matriarchs?  Do mine?  Is that word and title passe or non-existent?  I think my children would love for me to be a matriarch.  It's complicated...they don't like hearing about my dating life (non-existent at this time) and they'd love to see me married. I think my children secretly wish I would stay home and bake cookies like the old days when my world revolved around them.  By the same token, they wish I would get a life so that they can live theirs without my interference and two cents :)  It's a different generation.

My kids might not realize that I wish I could go back in time...but, it's NOT my reality at this time in my life.  It's not their fault - they were raised in a traditional, father works outside the home, mother stays home family.

So, I'm a 55 year old, single woman who still has dreams, goals and aspirations.  I have adult kids and I'm trying to figure out how I stay loyal to myself and parent adult kids IF we in fact, parent adult kids under 30!  I don't think we do.  I think my kids tolerate me and would pat my head like a good ol', loyal dog if they could :)

My youngest sister isn't the matriarch as she lives her life in MD and gets together with us on holidays and special occasions.  Is Carmen the matriarch of her family or is she just the oldest?  Why in the heck did I bother thinking that I was the matriarch, the family cheer leader, the wise old lady?  Delusional, right?  Am I more traditional than I thought?  Why did I think that being the head of a family was so damn important and why have I fought tooth and nail to keep my small family tight and close-knit?  No one else seems to be bothered by it.  We just get together when we can and go our separate ways afterward.  I've learned an important lesson this weekend.  And it's all good.

Well, it's no wonder I write fiction, for goodness sake!  I can be the matriarch in my novel, the heroine and the sage wise woman. As they say, I believe my debut novel is more of an auto-biographical than I thought.  I thought this blog would be about writing and my novel...and I guess it is.  These are the thoughts that come to mind as I edit.  Am I supposed to only write about writing?  Teach creative writing, give tips, and play the expert or is writing about life and what we've learned along the way WHILE we write?  I'm not really sure.

I just hate letting people down, but time and life lately have shown me that I'm not letting anyone down.  I was standing in my own way and didn't realize it.  I was hanging onto a role that no one wants me to play...HUGE light bulb moment here.  I'm okay with that now, but God help them if they want me to revert back.  You can't have your cake and eat it, too :)

Peace and love,
Ellie
















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