I've always taken issue with this much quoted statement, attributed to Rabbi Harold Kushner: "No one ever said on their deathbed, 'I wish I'd spent more time at the office.'"
This might be true of people with dull, dreary, soul-draining jobs. But I don't think it's true of people who love their work deeply and fiercely, as many writers love writing. I disavow the implication that family always comes first, always, always, always. On my deathbed I'm not planning to regret the time I spent writing my books. I may well wish I had written even more, that I had allowed myself to luxuriate even more fully in the work that gave so much joy and meaning to my life.
Actually, on my deathbed, I'm hoping I won't waste my last moments on regret at all. I hope I'll say, "I'm glad I wrote all those books. I'm glad I spent all that time with my family. I'm glad I spent time reading books I still cherish. I'm glad I spent time walking in the mountains. I'm glad I spent time laughing with friends."
Today, however, is a day where family definitely comes first. Today my second grandchild, Madilyne Jane, is going to be born, via cesarean section, at 12:30. I'll be watching my first grandchild, Kataleya Lee, while her parents are busy with the birth of her little sister, and then Kat and I will go down to the hospital to welcome a new little person into the world. That's a pretty swell way to spend a day.
But dear Rabbi Kushner, I'm also happy I wrote my most recent middle-grade book, The Trouble with Babies, and that I dedicated it to Kataleya, "my favorite baby in the whole world." Now I need to write one to dedicate to Madilyne. I won't start on it today, or even this week, as I'll be too busy savoring every minute of this new addition to my family. But I'll start writing again next week. After all, on my deathbed, I don't want to say, "I wish I had written a book for Madi, too."