Thornton Thursday– It is hard, Mother.

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend on Instagram about our boys getting so old. My son is eight and he loves math. He has started doing math in every day situations. Such as, “In ten years, I’ll be eighteen, Mom!” That’s enough to freeze any mother’s heart. Then he did this: “And you’ll be forty-three! I know because you are thirty-three now and when I add ten, that’s the answer!” 

Thinking of my son as an adult, makes me feel old. Thinking of him being an adult while I am only forty-three makes me feel too young. I got married at nineteen! I didn’t have children for several years, but I could have. What if I’m a grandmother by then?!! Lord, help me!

A few days after the Instagram conversation and the math problems, someone in a Facebook group I follow about the 2004 production of North and South commented about how she feels for Mrs. Thornton wanting to protect her son. 

Oh, how I can agree there. You come near my son, and you’re going to have bruises. My Mama Bear claws are sharp and at the ready. My son has autism and it’s been a journey to get the diagnosis, keep him feeling safe during all of our moves, to advocate for him with every new school, etc. I’m very proficient at pouncing and defending now. I can almost feel sorry for the girls he will one day bring home. Almost. Really though, he’s an amazing boy and will grow to be an awesome man and whoever his future wife is should certainly thank me. 

There are other things in life, though, that Mama Bear can help with even less once he’s grown. Things like work failures. 

I don’t talk about this a lot. Just after my son was born, my husband and I had to declare bankruptcy. We lost our house and our car. We had to move in with family and hitch rides for a few weeks before we could even buy a junky vehicle. It felt as all security we had evaporated into thin air and all with an infant.

It was a confluence of things but my husband being let go from a job really was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My husband’s self-esteem was entirely obliterated. I wish I could say that I was super supportive during all that. I wasn’t. I tried to be, but he talked so seldom about what he was feeling and I had my own baggage from the situation. For a year, my husband was underemployed. I had to go to work part-time and even though I made more per hour than him, I worked fewer hours. It was a catch-22 for his ego. If I could find a full-time position with similar pay,  I would earn more than him. 

We desperately needed the money, so my husband would have swallowed the bitter pill. On the other hand, there was a very human part of him, that had felt he should provide for us. Not because of gender roles but because that was our plan. Our plan that was destroyed by things mostly out of our control and we were clinging to any ability to control things. Additionally, while we had no idea at the time that our son had special needs…he wasn’t exactly average. He hardly ever slept. I was exhausted. Our son truly needed me. He wouldn’t connect well with other people. He didn’t handle daycare well at all. He would hardly let my husband or mother touch him. He got overstimulated if we were out of the house for more than a half an hour including driving time. It was in many ways, a living nightmare and it did reside far more on my shoulders than anyone else’s. Having me work full-time would have probably torn my family apart and the idea that my son would have just adjusted, we have since learned, probably never would have happened. My husband was aware of all that and it weighed on him even more.

As it happened, I couldn’t find full-time work and it soon became clear that after babysitting costs, I only added about $20 a month to our income. We decided to try and cut back in a few areas. Just as we decided that, an opportunity presented itself in which I could babysit a child from home while caring for my own (this also allowed my JAFF obsession to begin). A few months later, my husband was blessed with a position in the industry he had spent the previous eight years of his life working and amassing skills. It included a significant pay raise and benefits.

Just the other night, we were talking about this dark time and my husband was open to explaining his feelings in a way that he wasn’t when it was occurring. It reminded me all too much of John Thornton and his attempt to be honorable and keep a positive attitude while the world crumbled around him and all his hard work was falling. The greatest turmoil to my husband’s peace of mind was not because it hurt his pride to make less money or let our possessions go. It hurt his mind because he wanted to take care of the people he loved and because he felt he had failed in a responsibility to people.

I think it is this attitude more than anything else, that makes me love John Thornton so much. And when I think about if my son should ever have to go through such a time, well, I feel very Mrs. Thornton about it. To have him anything other than his proper position of loved and respected by all would break my heart. 

Here is an excerpt from the scene in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South:

‘Mother! why are not you in bed?’

‘Son John,’ said she, ‘do you think I can sleep with an easy mind, while you keep awake full of care? You have not told me what your trouble is; but sore trouble you have had these many days past.’

‘Trade is bad.’

‘And you dread—’

‘I dread nothing,’ replied he, drawing up his head, and holding it erect. ‘I know now that no man will suffer by me. That was my anxiety.’

‘But how do you stand? Shall you—will it be a failure?’ her steady voice trembling in an unwonted manner.

‘Not a failure. I must give up business, but I pay all men. I might redeem myself—I am sorely tempted—’

‘How? Oh, John! keep up your name—try all risks for that. How redeem it?’

‘By a speculation offered to me, full of risk; but, if successful, placing me high above water mark, so that no one need ever know the strait I am in. Still, if it fails—’

‘And if it fails,’ said she, advancing, and laying her hand on his arm, her eyes full of eager light. She held her breath to hear the end of his speech.

‘Honest men are ruined by a rogue,’ said he gloomily. ‘As I stand now, my creditors, money is safe—every farthing of it; but I don’t know where to find my own—it may be all gone, and I penniless at this moment. Therefore, it is my creditors’ money that I should risk.’

‘But if it succeeded, they need never know. Is it so desperate a speculation? I am sure it is not, or you would never have thought of it. If it succeeded—’

‘I should be a rich man, and my peace of conscience would be gone!’

‘Why! You would have injured no one.’

‘No; but I should have run the risk of ruining many for my own paltry aggrandisement. Mother, I have decided! You won’t much grieve over our leaving this house, shall you, dear mother?’

‘No! but to have you other than what you are will break my heart. What can you do?’

‘Be always the same John Thornton in whatever circumstances; endeavouring to do right, and making great blunders; and then trying to be brave in setting to afresh. But it is hard, mother. I have so worked and planned. I have discovered new powers in my situation too late—and now all is over. I am too old to begin again with the same heart. It is hard, mother.’

He turned away from her, and covered his face with his hands.

Motivational Monday– Slow Progress

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A lot of writers spend November manically trying to write 50,000 words in a month for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo). It’s really not so unattainable for the average full-time writer. It averages out to 1667 words a day, which I can do in about an hour. As long as I know what I’m writing… And the hardest part is always the consistency–doing it every day. If you miss a day, then you’re playing catch up and trying to add to it. Miss more than one and it’s even harder etc.

November is a hard month for me. The first time I tried NaNo was in 2014. I had two published stories (well, one was on pre-order). I had completed several other stories before but had never tried to do an entire novel in one month. I got sooo close! If memory serves, I got to 45,000 words and had one day left. I could have made it. However, I was moving literally the next day and my kids–only 4 and 1 at the time–needed a return to normalcy. My son has Autism Spectrum Disorder the fall wreaks havoc on his routine. He shifts from waking up at 6 am to waking up at 5 am. He just turned 8 and by now, I have accepted this. In 2014, I was far less prepared to accept the reality of more 5 am (or earlier) wakeups.

I’m mentioning my history with NaNo because the other day I saw a Facebook status which upset me. It was a memory of one of my status from 2014. I was working on a story in which Darcy was to inherit Longbourn and Lady Catherine’s rector. Essentially, he was Mr. Collins. How would Elizabeth react? About 20,000 words into it, I realized this should just be an original story. I had already started writing the story before November began, so I realized that within a few days of the month. I spent the remainder of the month working on that story and changed all the names and tried to make it not like Pride and Prejudice. Then November ended and I froze. The almost completed manuscript is still on my hard drive.

I didn’t stop there though. I did turn my attention to other things but for the last four years, I have dusted off that manuscript every few months. I’ve sent it to beta readers and asked if it should really be an original. I’ve even thought that I could do both–make an original and keep the premise of Darcy in Collins’ place and write two different stories. In 2016, I came up with a series theme focusing on one real-life event from the Regency era per book. I had a few other non-JAFF stories that would work perfectly in the series. However, I had the most words on this story and it would have been the last one in the series. So I started on what was supposed to be Book One. Last year, I realized that book is really a prequel and they don’t do well until the rest of the series is out. I abandoned that story. Earlier this year, I realized that I should just round out the books and make it the full Regency. I started on the new Book One of the series and gave everything new titles. The Baronet’s Heart is now Tempting Scandal. I began posting but then got caught up with other things.

Can you see why I’m disappointed in myself? So much start and stop. So little progress. But is it really? I have learned a lot about myself, writing, my goals and so much more during each of these stops.

Oh, there’s more that I could be disappointed about. Things never go according to plan. I’m working on 2019 goals right now and know I won’t reach half of them. Sigh. However, this pic has reminded me that forward is forward and looking back at my supposed “failings” doesn’t help a thing!

When is a time you had to focus on just moving forward and not worrying about the timing? Or is there something in your life right now that this could apply to? Oh, and in case you were curious, my goal this November is to write at least 500 words every day! I did miss one, but instead of despairing I just said, “The whole point is to learn to do better and be more consistent. I will make mistakes at the beginning, but hopefully, by the end of the month I will be doing better.” That’s MAJOR progress for me, a perfectionist in recovery!

Music Monday–War Paint

Beautiful black and white rose with note on the petals

A few weeks ago, I had the song Neon Love on my Music Monday post. I enjoyed the artist so much I had to see what else she had available on YouTube. That’s when I found War Paint. Oh my gosh. This song speaks to me so much. It’s turned into the anthem for Mr. Darcy’s Compassion.

Do you have anyone in your life that can fearlessly wear your scars like war paint? Or have you done it for a loved one?

 

[Verse 1]
It’s okay to not be okay
When even the air you breathe
Is just too much for your lungs to take
And all the words that you don’t say
I hear your SOS on the radio
As you’re driving away
C’mon pick up your phone
Don’t have to face it alone
Gonna fight with you and for you
Yeah I want you to know

[Chorus]
I will stand your ground
I’ll kiss your battle scars
And leave my XO mark till you can feel it
Can you feel it?
You can call my name
I’ll hold your hand grenade
Keep all your secrets safe ’til you can see me
Can you see me coming?
Running for you dead of night
Can you hear me, hola, you’re alright
I’ll take your fears and wipe your eyes and wear it all like war paint
Wear it all like war paint, wear it all like war paint

[Verse 2]
I see gold, when you’re black and blue
I love the colours burning beautiful that you wanna use
When all you want is to get out alive
You don’t have to cry for me to hear your battle cry
C’mon turn on your light
I’ve been waiting all night
To fight with you and for you
When all your flags are white

[Chorus]
I will stand your ground
I’ll kiss your battle scars
And leave my XO mark till you can feel it
Can you feel it?
You can call my name
I’ll hold your hand grenade
Keep all your secrets safe ’til you can see me
Can you see me coming?
Running for you dead of night
Can you hear me, hola, you’re alright
I’ll take your fears and wipe your eyes and wear it all like war paint
Wear it all like war paint, wear it all like war paint

Wear it all like war paint, wear it all like war paint

I will stand your ground
I’ll kiss your battle scars
And leave my XO mark till you can feel it
Can you feel it?
You can call my name
I’ll hold your hand grenade
Keep all your secrets safe ’til you can see me
Can you see me coming?
Running for you dead of night
Can you hear me, hola, you’re alright
I’ll take your fears and wipe your eyes and wear it all like war paint
Wear it all like war paint, wear it all like war paint

Wear it all like war paint, wear it all like war paint

Writer(s): ERIC OLSON, MADELINE MERLO, APRIL GEESBREGHT Performed by Madeline Merlo