If you are wondering where I’ve been, I really legitimately love you for giving a shit, and you can stop reading now–if you like. From here I become decidedly less likable. So. There’s that.
I stopped writing this blog because I moved. It was a lot. I lost some hair. There were migraines. For a 4 or 5 month period every single second I had to “spare” was used to answer urgent & stressful emails, handle photos, marketing, schedule showing, sale and/or purchase of the house that we left, and the house that we moved into in January. I did all of these things while raising a (pretty fucking awesome) toddler. Those luscious nap-hours that we stay-at-home mamas crave and cling to–the oasis in the chaos–were lost to NEEDS in excess of laundry and tidying. They were lost to VOICES and PHONE CALLS instead of silence and FOOD preparation, which was once a beloved solo passion at once turned perfunctory and pedestrian. For a third of last year I was no longer able to bask whatsoever in The Nap. Now, let me be absolutely clear about one thing: MY LIFE COULD BE WAY WORSE. I get that I’m not exactly breaking ground in the Epic Fucking Motherhood department. I am aware of my privilege. There are, I believe, at last tally, a JABILLION moms out there who have shit to deal with that my shit just PALES in comparison to, and I am GRATEFUL.
I am also complaining.
Straight Up? I was losing it. My body started to mutiny. Why? Because I wasn’t doing fuck-all to take care of it. I fed my son and forgot to feed me. I should have gone to bed and I stayed up handling paperwork. I didn’t stretch, I didn’t call my friends to talk about it, and I didn’t write. At all.
While we’re at it, let me be clear about a second thing: I am a quitter. I am an honest-to-god, total bullshit, zero-follow-through, half-ass super quitter. I am terrified of my greatest ability and it makes me kind of hate myself. Wow, you might say. Don’t you think your greatest ability is your ability to nurture? To teach? Aren’t you living up to your greatest potential as a mother? Good question.
I’m hiding behind my skills in order to avoid my destiny.
I am crafting a life of successfully completed to-do lists in order to thwart my higher calling.
Maybe no one would give a shit at the end of the day, what I write, what’s committed to the interwebs, the printed page, the letter received, the post written. Maybe. But time has told me, friends and mentors confirmed, that writing is my “thing.” It’s what I “should be doing.”
Some pressure. Just a bit.
So I quit. For roughly the millionth time I took the excuse of [insert anything] and walked away from my truth. My power. How stupid is that? Guh, I gross myself out just thinking about it. What would I have said to a friend? If this were a friend I would have beaten the horse to death with affirmations: “YOU MUST PAINT/DANCE/PLAY” “IT IS IN YOUR DNA” “DO NOT DENY YOUR TRUTH” “YOU ARE AN ARTIST. YOU MUST BE CREATIVE.” “DO NOT SHORTCHANGE YOUR ECSTASY” “THIS IS A CRIME.” But for myself? I. Fucking. Quit.
As we get older, “wiser,” we (mostly) divert less (accountability), pivot less (perseverance) and take responsibility for more, (Dad, if you’re reading this, I owe you five hundred bucks). We lose not only the arrogance of youth, but also the benefit of that arrogance. The belief “I could have/do/be whatever I want” moves out of the ether and forms into a more concrete daily narrative as we take jobs, solidify relationships, and begin to stutter our way towards “career,” “adulthood,” or “whatever.” We fill the dreamspace with the story that is easiest to tell, or that we fall into, or that seems safe.
How I admire the brave ones, the ones who never lose their sense of purpose, the ones who push past the first rejection; the tough motherfuckers who exist in that inspired place of belonging; those who compound their efforts in the face of rejection and stab forward, hungry and certain. The ones without mom issues, maybe? Fucking GOOD FOR THEM.
Part of the problem is that I am doing the job that I always wanted. Being a stay-at-home mom is my fucking JAM. I’ve been training for this my whole life. Literally EVERY job I’ve ever had. My degree. My birthright, almost. And it’s hard (though not impossible) to look at my situation and think anything but, “Girl, you have ARRIVED.” Being a mother is the only job I ever openly admitted to wanting. I used to wonder what people would think when they asked what I wanted to be, and my honest answer was “somebody’s mom.” But it’s the dream, less a few bucks and a couple of cute outfits. For 20 some years I never deviated. Oldest child, babysitter, nanny, behavioral therapist, teacher. I knew my strengths, I fervently pursued this path; truly–and I am humble as well as blessed– I haven’t ever worked a job I hated. And I haven’t licked any toilet bowls clean, as my father insisted that one might do, if one was really desperate for a job. *So. Dramatic.*
And I have launched myself hard at my job. Being the best at being a mom is my kryptonite, my THING. I do the research. I have the apps. I do the work. I show up huge for my kid. 6 am? 5am? 4 am? I’m there with a smile on my face. The boss made it to two years old without an ER visit. I am more than pretty deece at my job.
So then, when I reflect on this chosen profession, on this “job well done,” why do I feel, as the saying goes: a day late and a dollar short?
Because I am a writer and I am not writing. Because I could be out there. Because I’m going to the library and finding the children’s book I wrote-but-did-not-publish in 2013 on the shelves in so many other, plucked-from-the-collective-unconscious versions. Because I slept on it. Because I didn’t find an agent. Because I didn’t send to a publisher. Because I didn’t. Because I dropped out. Because I quit.
I’m not trying to be an asshole to myself, I’m just trying to treat myself with a little more iron. I’m trying to grow a backbone. Because after years of confining myself to graded papers and journals, I realize that there are bold and delicious things I could say, in the ways only I can say them. And that is my magic. And if I combine it with my love for children, and maybe a marvelous rhyme scheme, a light would go off in the cosmos and a space time envelope or whatever it is would open up. And the math would happen. The stars would align. If I just go to work. If I just show up.
How hard is it to just show up?
So hard. But again, not hard. I do it every morning at 6am (or earlier) with a smile on my face for my baby. Tired, but authentic. As much as I wish I would have landed in this quicksand of awareness in my 20s, it’s being a mom that’s taught me not to squander my natural abilities. I look at my child, a natural athlete (not my genes) and a lefty (neither of our genes) and I am dedicated without question to crafting an environment for those gifts, those proclivities. In the simplest ways, by handing him a crayon, a block, a bead, I guide him towards his highest self. By engendering his abilities, the path upon which his destiny lies should become apparent, right? A creative leader, a left-handed pitcher, the best damn BBQ pit-boss in the country, whatever. I aim to let him excel in any direction he can.
And my job is to just be present. Be consistent. Be who I am.
Well, not entirely. Yes, to be myself and no, to be better than I might have been without him, and beyond that, so much more. I have to foster infinity. It’s my role to offer the world, and then, when the nations of his strengths become dominant, it’s my role to engender the best of those. Without becoming a voice of oppression, it’s my job as his parent to foster his potential. And my best chance, I think, is to teach by example, since they learn so much more from what we do than what we say. It’s my role to be the model, to wear my skin proudly, to walk in the way of my spirit, and act according to the truth of my heart, and to speak my truth, with grace. To do otherwise would be a counterfeit life, really.
We are, so many of us, unable, unwilling, or unaware of the debt we charge the collective good when we don’t offer our full potential. If I know I can be more, it’s my prerogative to do more. Maybe, to say more. Most certainly, to give more.
I can give more to my art. I know it.
So I’ll find the time, or make it. There are hours, though they be late or early, stolen, or short. I think I lose more sleep denying the words that want out. After all, whether I tether it to a page or loose it from a pen, the day is in me–surrounding me, oppressing or surprising or delighting me–whether I like it or not. Whether I unburden it or not, my mind is fettered by a day’s labors of remembered sentences, catalogued dialogues, effervescent turns of phrase, all these bronzed, atrophied or dismembered by the daily-ness of life. The words are sweating in the wings, ready to run for it. So why would I hold them back? Honestly. Why?
Perhaps I’ve run out of excuses. Perhaps I owe it to my child. Perhaps.
Perhaps I’m already here. Up too late, but for a better reason than emailing one of the three real-estate Brians; alive with the purpose of purpose. And if you join me for a ramble, you do so with my gratitude. I hope I take you somewhere beautiful.
I hope it lasts.