Why Jammies ARE a Commitment…

Although I’m single, I empathize with my married mommy friends. Often, they’ll get invited somewhere and have to turn down the invitation because of a parent-teacher meeting, a soccer game, a play date or simply because their child is sick.

All valid reasons, all completely acceptable to me.

They feel bad about it, they sometimes say they wish they had the freedom to do what they wanted, but they take comfort in knowing they are good parents and their children will one day appreciate what they do for them. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

Children, and family, are a good excuse. So are weddings, funerals, class field trips, church bake sales, and having to bake a thousand cupcakes for the church bake sale.

As a single person, I’m rarely that lucky.

What I mean is, my previous commitments rarely sound like a good reason to pass up on something, anything, that a friend asks me to do.

For some reason, saying “I can’t because I’m going grocery shopping,” or, even worse, “Sorry, I’m working on my novel outline,” usually comes across as a cop-out.

I’m getting ready to write a novel-in- a-month in just a couple of weeks, participating in National Novel Writing Month. I did it last year (yes! I wrote a book that is languishing in a pile in my closet) after deciding at the last minute to do it; I wrote on the fly, picking a topic on November 1st and just writing whatever came into my mind every day until I finished.

This year, I’m planning ahead: picking a plot, writing an outline, fleshing out the characters and scenes ahead of time.

Unfortunately, the only time I have to do this is at night and on the weekends. And even I know that telling a friend, “I can’t because I’m working on my novel,” is less than convincing.

The fact is, I usually feel the need to schedule “me” time. I put aside time to write, to grocery-shop, to work out, to wear my pajamas. On Friday nights I get excited about spending a day doing house chores, trying out some recipes I’ve been tearing out of magazines, then watching “Saturday Night Live.”  Yes, that’s right. I plan ahead for “Jammie Sundays,” when I stay unshowered and undressed from sun-up to sun-down.

So when I plan to spend an entire Saturday writing my novel outline, and a friend calls to get together, I feel guilty saying no. I think that telling them, “I can’t; I have another commitment—I’m writing,” sounds weak and fake.

What is a good enough reason to say no?

I realize that some of you are (sarcastically) thinking, “Oh, poor single person, not enough ‘me’ time,” but there are a couple of things to remember here.

First, I have no back-up. I live alone, so anything that has to be done to maintain this house has to be done by me—there is no one to ask to help or to cover for me.

More importantly, I’ve made the decision to be single and to not have children. I did this because I wanted to have time for writing and other creative and social pursuits. The difference is, making sacrifices to do something for family or children is considered noble, while making time for personal interests when single is considered selfish.

I respect and admire the women I know who are keeping households and raising children and often working full-time. I bow down to them because I couldn’t do what they’re doing.

But I want everyone to understand that saying no to stay home and write a book is a valid excuse.

And yes, Jammie Sunday is a real commitment to myself that can’t be broken.

This entry was posted in Excuses, NaNoWriMo, Single Life, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why Jammies ARE a Commitment…

  1. Geri says:

    FINALLY!! Somebody that can put down in writing what crosses THIS single gal’s mind too! Thank you.

  2. Catana says:

    As long as writing your novel is “less than convincing” or a “copout,” in your own mind, then it will be in your friends’ minds also. You’re doing something that you have no faith in or consider of very little value. Either your writing is important to you, or it isn’t. If it’s important, then make that clear to everyone else and let them deal with it in whatever way suits them. You don’t owe anyone excuses, either for your writing or your lifestyle choice. Society isn’t changed by those who meekly go along with its demands, but by those who forge their own path.

    • And that’s exactly the point of my post–you put it so succinctly. It takes awhile for any of us to realize that our passions should be a priority and that we can put them before other aspects of our lives. Since I’ve started this blog, writing daily has become a goal for me, and I will rearrange my schedule to make sure it happens (although at the moment my workout schedules are suffering because of if!). As for my NaNo novel, I have blocked out this entire weekend to finish the outline and character synopses, and have told friends that when asked about getting together. These are the kinds of things we often have to evolve to as we get older and our lives change.

  3. Catana says:

    Good for you! Hold on to your determination to keep at it. My own feeling is that friends and family need to respect something that’s important to me. If they can’t respect it, they can at least learn to live with it.

  4. Fadra says:

    Ah yes. Time to do nothing. My husband actually doesn’t even get this one. When he comes home from work, he wants to spend time together talking. Who can blame him? As for me? I need my quiet time. A little personal space. But I’m also one of those that doesn’t answer the phone if I don’t feel like talking.

    I *do* sometimes have a hard time saying no to different events because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. It’s a blessing and a curse to be such a softie, I guess.

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