I’m Not Hovering, I’m Writing

December 20, 2017 § 11 Comments

xx Family 2017By Jan McGuire

I have two teenage daughters who tell me I hover over them. If I peek my head into their bedroom door and ask if they are hungry, finished their homework or have clean underwear, I’m hovering.  So, I am back in school getting my master’s degree in English. Why not. Life slows down as you get older, and, as an educator, I have summers off. I have lots of time to get through graduate school.

I decide on my topic for my Monday night CNF class and start writing on Tuesday. I remember, in the nick of time, to run my youngest teenager to year-round soccer practice. I forget my class book and writer’s notebook as I ran out the door, but I did grab my daughter’s cleats. Good thing I’ve stopped hovering over them. I walk around the soccer complex so the muscles in my legs don’t deteriorate and turn to goo while I sit in front of the computer, writing. After a two-hour practice, my superstar complains that she is starving. Just this once has turned into more times than I can count, and I drive through a fast food joint because I haven’t been grocery shopping. Good thing I don’t hover over their eating habits.

Around 9 p.m. I begin writing. The keys feel so natural and the tapping comforts my fears about being too busy to be getting my master’s. I am satisfied with my rough draft as a once white screen is now filled with words. At 11:00 p.m. exhaustion hits. The alarm will go off much too soon.

On Wednesday my butt seems to have already molded to my writing chair, so I do butt crunches and munch on almonds and cran-raisins. I don’t want to snack on the carrot cake my aging neighbor gave me for shoveling her walk all winter. My neighbor would love me to hover since her husband died unexpectedly just before Thanksgiving.

The next few days I scramble to find time to write. I run my oldest teenager home from school after volleyball, but need to have her back to school for Driver’s Education in a few hours, then pick her up again at 8:30. I tell her to move closer to the middle of the road, as my rear-view mirror nearly slaps a parked car on the way home. She thinks I learned to drive on a horse and buggy and rolls her eyes at me hovering from the passenger seat.

At 9 p.m. I’m tired and wonder if it’s Friday yet. I get absorbed, then obsessed with writing, but make myself stop at midnight. The girls are making their own lunch now. I keep money on their school lunch accounts, but I don’t hover over their selections.

I momentarily took a break from coaching. After coaching several different sports and few undefeated seasons my daughters don’t like me to offer tips on their chosen sport. I rarely miss a soccer or softball game, show choir performance or volleyball match. I’m cheering them on from the bleachers, but I’m not hovering.

I decided the weekend will allow me to write, but one daughter wants to go to the mall to find a prom dress and the other wants me to walk with her to sell crap for a school fundraiser. If she sells the most crap she gets a limo ride with the other winners. Saturday night rolls around and I write and write until after midnight.

Sunday, I cut my right index finger opening a soup can and threaten my children with consequences if they don’t vacuum and do dishes. The slice on my finger increases the typos and interrupts my flow of creativity. I finish my assignment, but know I could have done better. I offer to help the girls with their homework, but they would rather fail than allow me, a teacher, to hover.

The girls shout from outside, they have found a black Labrador puppy and want to know if they can keep it. We walk the neighborhood looking for the owner. I’m not hovering.

Monday in class I realize I didn’t print off part of my assignment. I close my eyes in silent disgust as the rest of the class turns in their organized papers.

I try as best I can to raise my daughters to be independent, but the teenage years are difficult for all of us. I watch them sideways. I’m not hovering, I’m writing.

After a career in law enforcement, Jan McGuire now teaches English at an alternative high school in the Omaha area. She is working toward her Master’s in English at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She was a finalist for the John J. McKenna Graduate Fellowship Award in Creative Nonfiction and has been published in Lesbian Connection. She made time for writing again when her teenage daughters felt she needed a hobby.


§ 11 Responses to I’m Not Hovering, I’m Writing

  • Oh how refreshing your writing is! Hover on, mama, soon they’re gone (all my three boys are) – and kudos to you for writing on! It gets easier to find time to write (then it may become a question of making yourself write instead of, say, eating the carrot cake from the neighbor and shoveling her driveway again, just because), even if missing the kiddos is hard.

  • I’m also a mother of two teen daughters. They keep life full, but writing keeps life meaningful. Good luck!

  • corazon181 says:

    I love your article. it was fun to read for I remember when I had my four children at home as teen, for they were very close in age. The last two acted like twins being only a year and a week apart. Do you have your own blog?

  • bethfinke says:

    Oh, you’ve left me so curious. What was the writing assignment you forgot to assign?!


  • floatinggold says:

    It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with other things in life that you just don’t have the time (or the stamina) to write. It’s great motivation for all of us to see that you just keep going; even if you get injured.

  • Great clean and direct observations captured here, thank you. I can relate on many levels, the driving to soccer and volleyball, the hovering or not, but mostly grabbed onto the “absorbed and then obsessed” after finding these pockets of time…

  • erwumbo50023304 says:

    I get where you’re coming from, but as a 24 year old, let me offer some insight. Even if they’re not doing anything of consequence, even if they’re looking at their phone in their room, and you pop your head in, without knocking, that to them is an invasion of their privacy. When you ask if they have clean underwear, they aren’t thinking “oh hey, thanks for the reminder,” they’re thinking “ugh I can’t believe my parent thinks I can’t do this very simple thing to take care of myself,” and they get offended by that thought. Teenagers are just learning HOW to be independent, and they can feel lost in the woods doing it. Obviously they need to have clean underwear, and eat, and do their homework. But think about it this way. At high school, you’re treated like a child all day long. Just keep that fact in mind.

    I hope this helped even a little bit. I enjoy seeing people go back to school later in life, it’s really inspiring to me!

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