When I arrived in Halifax two weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I’d survive. How was I supposed to focus on writing my book and earning my degree when my kids were 800 miles away? I’d miss them too much. Cry for them. I’d crumble when they cried for me. Was I a good mom for leaving, or was I bad?
I settled in because there was nothing else I could do, and then something happened: I got to work. I found my purpose. Hit my stride. I’m in an environment at the King’s College MFA program in which everyone around me is amazing and supportive. We spend all day writing, reading, and talking about what we’ve written and read. We discuss the most personal details of our lives – our own and one another’s. We understand each other on the deepest level and are encouraging of one another’s work. It’s not competitive or catty – we all genuinely want each other to succeed. For two weeks, we’ve been encapsulated in this bubble and it’s been wonderful.
That’s not to say I don’t miss home. I speak to my boys on FaceTime more than once a day. They have even learned to send text messages. I’m amazed that they can read and write now, too. They cry for me, and want me to come home, and there’s nothing I can do but tell them how much I love and miss them, too. We’ve counted down the nights until there are almost none left. As excited as I am to see them, I know that I’ve got to make the most of my time here.
And there isn’t much left now. My little dorm room has been a productive place. I’ve been free of the distractions that compete for my attention at home: laundry, cooking, grocery shopping. For this brief window of time, I feel as though there are more than 24 hours in a day. I’ve made good use of my days and my nights. I’m so close to finishing my book, or the first draft at least. There is still a lot of work to do and a long way to go, but I’m proud of myself nonetheless.
More than anything, in pursuing my degree and writing a book, I wanted to show my kids that I have goals, too. That I matter. That my work matters. So much of a mother’s life is spent caring for others, and that’s certainly true of me. But in Halifax, I’ve been feeding my creative soul, caring for my needs, and helping my classmates do the same. And I’ve let go of the guilt this often entails.
I suppose it was a fitting choice that my friend and I snuck out to see the movie Bad Moms one night. We could really relate. We spend so much time giving, punishing ourselves for taking any time for ourselves, when really, we should cut each other, and ourselves, some slack.
During these last few hours in Halifax, I raise my coffee to the good moms for sometimes being bad.