It’s true that I lead a double life. And it’s time I confessed.
I find myself now a multi-published author of 28 novels. I’ve had some Border’s bestsellers and I’ve won several awards. Today I think of myself as a writer first, but I have another identity (don’t we all?)
For the past 25 years I’ve taught childbirth and baby care classes at a local hospital. I work two nights a week, but it’s not just teaching that keeps me busy. It’s staying abreast of current issues and reading everything I can about new trends in childbirth and parenting. It’s keeping my affiliation up with the American Heart Association to retain my Pediatric CPR instructor status. Last night, as I found myself on Web M.D., looking up second trimester baby growth (for a book I’m writing, this time) and immunizations for my students in class, it dawned on me for the umpteenth time that I do have two very separate and unique jobs. Both take a great deal of time and dedication.
Most of my pregnant students have no clue what I REALLY do for a living. If you have children, then you know that when you’re expecting your first baby, you’re in a different zone. You think, sleep and eat, baby thoughts! That’s what I’ve found for the most part. And when I teach these classes, I’m solely involved in their efforts, not trying to promote my own.
I’m with these students for six weeks. I commiserate with them, try to help them with their fears and encourage them in every way I can. When the class ends, I set up a Cyber Class Reunion. Back in the day, I used to have everyone come to my house with their babies for a reunion, but it’s hard to do in today’s busy world. Now, we keep in touch with email and I get pictures of their babies right after they are born. Most times, the whole class participates and the other day I bumped into a graduate of my class with his baby, who told me none of their friends from different classes had kept in touch with their classmates/babies, and they were all jealous about our Cyber Class Reunions. I can’t go anywhere locally, without seeing a student of mine. If there’s a stroller in sight, I may very well know who’s pushing it!
It’s a rewarding thing that I do and I can’t seem to stop. I don’t want to give it up until they toss me out on my rear and/or my daughter has a baby and comes to my classes! (whichever comes first) But at the same time, it makes my life nuts!
I’m either wearing my author hat or my childbirth instructor hat. When I sold my first book, I couldn’t believe how many people asked me why I’m still teaching class when I was now a successful author. (Authors out there… are you smiling yet?)
The time I put into both professions is unreasonable. I know. My life could be so much simpler if I just wrote full time. But you see, writing is a lonely job. It’s just me facing my computer screen everyday. What a luxury it is to be able to do something equally rewarding with real, live, vital, people – couples who are expecting their first child. And I get to see the result of their labor (pardon the pun) many times firsthand. Teaching allows me to get my butt off the computer chair twice a week and teach a class that affects so many lives in a positive way. I meet the most interesting people from all walks of life from police officers to film producers to contractors to schoolteachers and my own life is enriched by knowing them.
I found that nothing stays constant in our lives. I’ve morphed from a childbirth instructor who happened to write, to a published author who happens to teach. Of the two, writing consumes most of my time, but I fully enjoy doing both.
So, I guess I’ll be leading my double life for a little longer. I would describe myself this way:
Teaching is what I do.
Writing is who I am.
That sums it up nicely.
So how about you? I know many of you wear different hats. Are you torn about giving up one thing for the other or can you manage both? What kind of double lives do you lead? I’ll be giving away a book of your choice to one commenter today, so be sure to share your thoughts.
And any of you living in the L.A area, I’ll be teaching a writing workshop on Sunday, March 15th at the Los Angeles Chapter of RWA. Contact me for details. I’d love to see you there. The first meeting is free! charlenesands@hotmail.