In My Poorly Lit Room by Thoughtful Pop

Topic: Guilt

In my poorly lit room, I sit in it. The day flows through me and I wash in all of my successes and failures. The successes rinse quickly but the failures leave me dirty. I am a writer so I must write. I must catalog the moments and divine the meaning and digest the lessons. But the moments that stick with me are the moments that leave me soiled. Bathing in the successes feels cheap and convenient. So I am left staring into the sanitized glow of the monitor, conjuring images of my disappointments, looking for the positive path down which my failures can lead me. And often feeling guilty.

In my poorly lit room, I sit in it. I know from sheer repetition who I am and what I am capable of. I also know what I am not. I have clearly defined roles that I have etched into my tiny square  of this world and I have clearly defined expectations that I have stitched into these romanticized hats that I wear. I am a father and a husband, a friend and a son, a brother and a writer. Adjectives fly and adverbs follow and I build mountains. Carving my path upward, I invariably fall back as we all do, but I keep climbing. As we all do. I expect to divorce myself from my expectations, but I don’t live up to that expectation either. And I often feel guilty.

In my poorly lit room, I sit in it. Not long ago a thoughtful pop emerged to bear witness to my journey through love and fatherhood and complexity. Together, he and I are flourishing. I write, he speaks and people tell me how lucky and how wonderful and how proud. I write to write and to grow and to learn and, if we’re going to be honest, to connect and grow and “brand” (whatever that means for someone who doesn’t have a job). But, the funny thing is I’m writing about trying to be the best that I can for them – My Girls – and I am burning fuel to write that I could be burning trying to be the best that I can for them. My Girls. Not now, Lemon, Daddy’s got to write about what a great father I am. And I wonder why I often feel guilty.

I wake up every morning and drink coffee. I love that first sip of coffee. Hot and bitter. So black it reflects that perfectly flawed me that can’t wait to taste how harsh it just may be. In it I may taste how imperfect I am, I may taste the guilt born of my crags and inner divisions. Or I may taste the rich beauty of that harshness. I may taste the beginning of another day full of possibility; completion and collapse. I may see reflected in it my face as it is or my face as I have imagined it should be.

Guilt is my own creation. I am a human being. I live and I succeed and I fail. The people I love know that I love them. The words I write know that I mean them. But I will always be getting to know my own humanity and learning how to accept each flame and flower. Late at night, this is what I am left with. The journey is long and winding. The journey, too, is my own creation.

And in my poorly lit room, I sit in it and don’t need to feel so guilty.

8 Responses to “In My Poorly Lit Room by Thoughtful Pop”
  1. Jared Karol says:

    Mitch, I absolutely love this post (and this version :)). I think any of us who are writing about being a parent, and who are trying to take both the writing and the parenting thing seriously, are going to resonate with this post. How do you find time to write about being a parent without sacrificing being the best parent you can be? Not sure it can be done. Thanks for the incredibly insightful and introspective post. Write On!

    • Thanks, my friend. Funny the paradox that is this parent blogger thing, eh? As much as finding the proper balance for the use of my energy can be difficult at times, the benefits to my parenting that have resulted from this experience far outweigh the negatives. I appreciate, as always, your thoughts (and your help 🙂 ).

  2. Kevin says:

    Mitchell & Jared,

    I find myself trying to find time to write about being a parent without sacrificing time with my kids. I do feel guilty as hell when I take some time in the day to write or to comment on other blogs.

    The bottom line is, we (“we” as in the two of you and me) are good parents. We do find ample amount of time to spend with our kids. And we’re not just going through the motions so we can get back to the laptop to write/tweet about what a great a time we just had playing tag with the kids. We are actually connecting with them and it shows in our writing. It shows to the five people that read our blogs. (what? You have more than five people?)

    If I go several days without posting on my blog or tweeting, it’s because I’m busy. Busy with doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and most importantly spending time with my kids and not tweeting about it in that moment.

    Still, after all is said and done, when I do steal those few moments to myself while the kids are playing in their room, I feel guilty that I’m not right there with them, but we parents have to take time for ourselves, we have to.

    As always, Mitchell, wonderful post and writing. I’m glad you took the time to write it.

    • Thank you, Kevin, for taking the time to read and for sharing your thoughts here.

      I feel like I have kept it all pretty balanced – when the kids are awake, they get my time (for the most part), when they are asleep I try to get ‘work’ done. This has meant that I sacrifice a LOT of sleep to stay committed to writing and participate in what I truly feel is an amazing community of which we are a part. That guilty feeling I think is inevitable, though, when you try to incorporate something into your life that is somewhat selfish – like my writing – that steals, in some form, energy from another part of your life that you are so committed to and passionate about – like parenting. I like what Jared The Fridge said in a response to a comment somewhere about the guilt being good for us, it keeps us on our toes. As long as we are diligent and intentional about what we are doing as well as aware of our own humanity, I think it will all work out.

      Thanks again for your time and kind words.

  3. Mitchell I love reading your posts… so thoughtful and poetic. I can tell you all this, as a Dad with children in and approaching the teen years (still find that hard to believe sometimes), you do need to find that balance between spending time with your kids as well as carving out some time for yourselves. I know the feelings of guilt that can arise when you are selfish with your own personal time, but I also know the hellish feelings that can consume you when you haven’t spent any time doing things for your own sanity. Its a difficult balance. I do believe that children who are raised in a caring, loving, nurturing environment (as yours clearly are) will remember the positive moments, the memories of family activities, etc. and not the moments when you said “no I can’t read to you right now, I have work to do.” And believe me there will be plenty of those NO moments, its just reality. I also believe that a kid that sees his father (or mother) focused on some activity that they enjoy is a kid who will be proud to say someday, hey my Dad is a writer, or a singer or an artist, or a coach, or whatever… and how cool is that? Seriously… yes our lives are consumed with us being proud of our kids, as it should be, but think how valuable a tool it is to have your kid being proud of YOU! Its different and it becomes even more meaningful as they get older and as their own activities and friends start to consume vast amounts of their time, and us parents become like taxi drivers getting them from here to there all day. For now, I do believe my kids think my wife and I are still pretty cool, creative, educated, fun parents and there is nothing more important that a parent can do then lead by example. So keep nurturing them but also keep nurturing your own personal growth and someday, when all the planets align, you’ll find that it’s all worked out okay! 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Steve. As my kids get older (they are 4 and almost 3), I am finding it more necessary to find my own time, maybe just because I have been doing this sahd thing for a few years now and my balance meter is now way off, maybe because they are so much more interactive, who knows. Even though it usually comes late at night, I am more consistently making that time for me, too. I imagine that as they become more independent that I will be afforded some more time, maybe even when the sun is up – dare I dream? That said, I love what you said about our kids seeing us focused on and enjoying something. At this stage in our lives that is a little abstract for the kids to really grasp, but the foundation is being laid and there have to be some significant benefits to our kids growing up surrounded by passion, both for our family and for ourselves.
      I appreciate you taking the time to share, Steve. And thank you very sincerely for writing with us – I hope this becomes a habit.

  4. Ted says:

    Finding the time to devote to your kidws and also do stuff that helps to feed your passion is a struggle I think all of us have. This spring, I need to really focus on helping my daughter choose a college to go to, and yet I also chose to direct a play, which is an extremely time-consuming undertaking. I think it is possible, however, to do both, and not sacrifice anything…but even so, there are too, too many of those poorly-lit room guilt trips…

    • I think you are right, Ted – it is possible to do both without having to sacrifice. As I am still very new to this parenthood journey I am finding the growth curve to be steep, but with intention and patience I really feel like I am learning quickly about that balance you alluded to. I guess the guilt will come, but it, like everything, can be used as a learning tool.

      On another note, it is great to have you writing with us.

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