Pin It You can always tell a TRUE Anne freak. A true devotee has read not only Anne of Green Gables and Anne of the Island; she’s read all eight of the Anne books – even Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside.
Rainbow Valley is about Anne and Gilbert’s children, and also about the children of the widowed minister who lives nearby. (The book has its charms, but it’s always irritates me a bit, because once Anne and Gilbert become parents, they become almost non-entities in the Anne series.) The minister’s children are neglected, not because they are not loved, but because their father is lost in his books, in his thoughts, in his sermons, and in his head. He spends 80% of his time locked away in his study while his children run free.
His wife was the person who grounded him, who made him put down his books and connect with his children. Now that she's gone, he's dreaming his way through life. He’s a nominal presence who sees to some of their basic needs, but who isn’t present in any meaningful way.
I feel like that minister. I find it so hard to stay present. I spend my life daydreaming. I'm physically here - I take care of all of my kids needs, take them to their activities, try to spend time interacting with them and playing with them, give them tons of affection - but there are so many times when I resent their intrusion into my head space. In the car, with the music on, I want to drift off into my thoughts, not play twenty questions.
Between the time I wander around blankly (thinking about imaginary things), the time I spend writing for work, the time I spend writing not for work (yes, o.k., I’ll admit it, I’d like to write a book - well, books), and the time I spend blogging – I’m spending too much time in my own head. I do most of my writing at night, but I think about it all day long. I justify my distraction in all sorts of ways, but that’s the reality. I’m too much absorbed in my inner life. I don't want to daydream their childhood away.
And I guess I'm wondering - how much of your attention is enough? How much of your brain space do you need to give over to your children before you’re a good mom? How much can you keep without being selfish or negligent?
I don’t know.