Because I Couldn't Have Both
In 2016, I naively thought when Mr. K and I married and I became a stepmom that my writing life would obviously continue to be part of that new season. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on perspective, that woman had NO IDEA how the next six years of her life were going to go. Turns out if you can break and train wild mustangs as a teenager and read all the books and take all the classes on how to be a good stepmom that's still not going to allow you to "master" this part of your new life. The tears, the triumphs, the frustrations, the new family being forged in a fire that burned and scarred as much as it refined and transformed-and that novelist Nancy wasn't going to survive it.
Here's a hard truth to share. If I'd known that I wasn't going to be able to do it all and be the writer AND the wife and step-mom I needed to be, I might have missed being a wife and step-mom because that's not a tradeoff I would have ever consented to. Not even a little bit. You ever loyal tribe of readers watched it happen. Lived the false-starts with me. I tried SO hard to have it all. Find that balance. But I never could.
"If the song of my heart ceases to play, can I survive in the silence?" - Shonda Rimes
It was touch and go for a long time. The creativity dried up and became the dark room with the sheets over the furniture. That home and sanctuary of writing and creating that was second nature to me now felt nothing like it used to. It was not only hard, but it was at times impossible. I was losing my identity and having to find a way to figure out who I was now, all over again. In 2009 when my life was upended and I was dropkicked into the darkest season of my life, writing had been what God used to help rescue me. To bring me closer to Jesus and stronger and wiser on the other side. So what now? Why isn't this working? Was it really a choice between being a stepmom and wife again (which was the same and also totally different) and being an author? Like, seriously? Being given one dream and promise meant sacrificing my other one?
Sacrifice is an interesting word. Because in addition to the biblical usage or the lay your life down way that noun can be used, there are also sacrificial moves in baseball and in chess. Another way to understand it, my financial accountant brain goes to the term "opportunity cost." There is both the cost of what you acquired with this sum of money, but there is an unknown and sometimes unquantifiable cost to what you could have done with it instead. The six years our boys were at home and more was being required of me than I ever could have imagined and I literally couldn't write even when I tried everything to be able to, that wasn't a failure. The gift of hind site reveals it was a tactical sacrifice to survive and then slowly thrive through stepmom life. Mr. K and our boys were worth it in every way. I want to be very clear about that.
***There are many of my author friends who balance parenthood and author life and I have mad respect for you. I could not.
But now our sons have moved into independence. They need us less. They would say not at all, but if you know, you know. It's time to switch hats. We've moved into the city which alone gives me 10-14 more HOURS in a week with no commute. We're stepping into this new season with excitement and uncertainty and a lot of faith that it is time to come back to the dark room with the sheets over the furniture and write again. Somehow, I expected to find it the way I left it. It's not the same and I am not the same and the writing is in much rougher shape than I thought. Neglect does that. I know the Lord is with me. To scrape the rust off, to beat the dirt and dust from the chair, to scrub the tags and graffiti from the walls and begin to restore and repurpose in this new season. Sometimes God spells it out for me and today, He did so, because at our new church in our new life group on the first day we attended, God did a thing. We ended up invited to lunch where I was introduced to an aspiring author for a front-row seat to the "God-thing" that will one day be part of her story. Of this I have no doubt. Similar to that God-moment a decade ago when a mutual friend introduced me to the writer you all now know as Lisa Godfrees by saying "This is Nancy. She's a writer."
I am Nancy. I am a writer. And yes, I'm working on the book you've all never given up on... Charging the Darkness. Because Jonathan's story is not finished. And neither is mine.