Lately I have heard myself saying to my daughter, ‘It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that matters.” There are lots of opportunities for me to say this. Her bed. Her homework. Her dinner plate. When I notice that the bed is still not made, the conversation goes something like this:
Me: “Corbett, your bed is not made.”
Corbett: “I’m sorry Mommy.”
Me: “You said you were going to do it”
Corbett: “I forgot.”
Me: “It doesn’t mean anything if you just say that you are going to do it, it’s what you DO that matters”
And as I am saying the words, they are coming right back to my own heart. Parenthood is awesome for that. I realize again that I am in many ways, like Corbett, all talk. I say all kinds of stuff, then I don’t do it. There are countless examples. Here is one.
In my twenties, I worked as a nurse, and once I figured out how much I hated it, I would say things like “After I get married and have kids, I am going to stay home with them and write and illustrate children’s stories.” I pictured myself in the second or third floor of a big old home surrounded by trees, my desk next to a window where I would work and occasionally gaze outside for inspiration while my children happily played on the floor behind me. Fifteen years later, this has not occurred.
I did get married and I did have kids, and not once did I sit at a desk and write while my kids played. It was seriously all I could do to keep them alive for the WHOLE DAY and make dinner. Thankfully, I was able to do that successfully enough for several years. My girls are still alive and spend the day in 1st and 2nd grade.
And now my husband has come up with this crazy idea: Let’s use this time to write and illustrate children’s stories together. Wait, what?
Before I met Jon, the first thing I heard about him was that he had built his own Olympic Torch and had gone downtown to run with it 5 minutes ahead of the guy who was carrying the real torch to the Olympics. I loved him immediately. My friends and I agreed that it sounded like something I would do. We were all desperately wrong.
I would never have done it. I may have had the idea, and if I did, I would have talked about it, would have imagined the crowd’s reaction, would have told all of my friends and anyone I met in the grocery store about it. I would have said “that would be so awesome, ha!” But that would have been the end. I would not have:
- Taken newspaper with picture of Torch to Home Depot to buy parts to build my own.
- Constructed Torch in Parents’ garage.
- Chosen appropriate outfit for Torch Run (T-shirt that says ‘Mexico’ ).
- Prepared get-away vehicle for in case things go badly.
- Gone to downtown Cincinnati on the day of the run, and, finally,
- Run, while shouting “Happy Olympics” to the crowd.
This of course, is exactly what Jon did.
So here’s the thing. Maybe I should be more careful about what I profess to want to do. If I had never said I wanted to do this, I would feel fine about being reluctant to write stories now. But I think that the issue is not whether or not I want to do it. The truth is that I am just plain terrified of failing. Maybe it all comes down to what we fear.
But the stakes are much higher than they were in my nursing days. I have two little girls watching me. Girls who I want to be brave. And all of a sudden, bowing to my fears has a new cost that it never had before.
So now, our whole family has a new Torch. It’s called RocketWagon. It’s a little company where we make stories and games together (hopefully for profit). And we are going to run down the street with it together. (Warmest thanks to those of you who have already started cheering).
I am being offered an opportunity to become a person who does what she said she would do. And since these girls are following my lead, Corbett may end up being the kind of person who makes her bed. Even better.