This Is Embarrassing.

IMG_000016

When I first found out I was pregnant, I swore that motherhood would not change me. I swore to myself that I would still wear combat boots and punk rock t-shirts, still listen to techno and still slouch around at happy hour every now and then. I swore that I would still be hardnosed and unemotional, and that above all, most importantly, I would never, not in a million years, become one of those writers who has a child and henceforth becomes so consumed by motherhood and the identity of being mother that she ends up spending the rest of her writing life producing schlock feel good stories about parenting. I mean, seriously, what could be more depressing than that? If having a child meant that suddenly your whole identity, all the way down to your creative practice, would become about nothing more than that child, then I didn’t want any part in it.

So now, a year into this whole motherhood thing, I would like to report that I do still wear my combat boots and my punk rock t-shirts. I am still hardnosed, but even now that the hormones have worn off I am definitely more emotional. I haven’t been to a happy hour in about 20 months, and I can only listen to techno when the baby is not with me and I am not at work (which is to say, never). And I’m writing a blog about being a mother. And what’s worse, I’m writing a blog about being a mother INSTEAD OF working on real literary endeavors, like my great and epic novel in progress.

On a superficial level, I am mortified by what I have become: a failed artist turned paper pusher who will never publish a real book and who now seeks satisfaction from the basest of all forms of written expression – a blog (note the sneer with which I write that word). Just about the only thing that could be worse would be to upload entries directly from my diary. Right?

Well, maybe not. My desire to start this blog and the experience of putting up my first few posts have really gotten me thinking about the place of writing in my life and what drives me to write. Before I had my daughter, I used to complain constantly – constantly – about how difficult it was to find enough time to write, let alone time to try getting published. I considered giving up writing altogether because I simply couldn’t see the point of wasting so much time and energy and emotion when it was next to impossible to see a project through to completion, and anything I did complete simply got moved to my “final draft” folder. There were a lucky few from my MFA program that found homes for their books, but the rest of us just trudged along, trying to do something new, trying to find meaning in our work, trying to justify all of the sacrifices, all of which just begged the question: What is the point of it all?

When I think back to my first serious attempts at writing, I wasn’t sitting down and writing a poem because I thought that I would get published; I was doing it because of that abstract, inexplicable urge to create, and the urge to find self-expression in this act of creation. Writing was the outlet that I would return to again and again to explain my life to myself, to take the maelstrom of ideas and emotions and create something ordered and tangible. Fast forward ten years to the unique competition of writing MFA programs (particularly those housed in art colleges): We all want to get published to prove that we are better than everyone else, but getting published is not enough; we must also prove our worth as artists by making work that is truly groundbreaking (or at least that is going to impress my classmates and maybe even catch the interest of the hipper visual artists working in the next classroom over). Satisfaction from the creative process? Peace of mind attained through productive self-expression? Oh no no no, that was not the point of it at all. Instead it was about ego, aesthetics, and identity.

So what happens when I find I enjoy reading a good story that actually makes sense, that my ego no longer needs a boost, and that my identity is no longer handcuffed to the art scene? Shouldn’t then my need to write go the way of my wide-legged raver pants?

The experience of becoming a mother while continuing to harbor career ambitions and creative inclinations has taught me a lot about prioritizing. Out of 168 hours in a week, I spend 60 hours a week working and commuting to and from work, 40 hours sleeping, 10 hours cleaning, 10 hours packing and unpacking baby supplies, cooking baby food, and putting away baby toys, 7 hours showering, dressing and undressing, 7 hours eating, 7 hours feeding the baby, 7 hours rocking the baby, 3 hours changing diapers and bathing the baby, 3 hours doing laundry, and 3 hours checking email and paying bills on my phone. In a good week, this leaves about 10 hours for everything else, and leaves me to carefully weigh every last activity to determine whether it’s worth keeping in my life. That ex-best friend that hates babies? Out. Long weekend run to clear my head (and inch closer to my pre-baby body)? In. Law and Order reruns? Definitely out. Writing for no reason other than to synthesize my thoughts? I thought this one was borderline, but it turns out that I was wrong.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’m actually kind of relieved to have rid myself of the art school cool quotient. I have a stable career, a tiny little house in a quiet little neighborhood, a beautiful and amazing little girl, and enough graying hair to not care quite so much about how others might be judging me. I also understand that with only a few hours a week to commit, it is almost certainly impossible that I will write a book length work (or even a polished short story) anytime soon. And it actually feels really, really good to just write a sentence without worrying about whether or not it will win me respect and a book contract.

So here I am. Mother, wife, middle manager, and blogger extraordinaire.

How long will I survive this sense of contentment before once again my ambition takes over? That’s anyone’s guess. But in the meantime I’ll do my best to enjoy it. After the baby goes to sleep I’ll take out my laptop, plug in my headphones, rock some old school Detroit techno, and make the most of this newfound appreciation of this old forgotten simple pleasure.

About these ads

141 comments

  1. Pingback: When I think ba… « equipoised

  2. karenspath

    I love your rediscovery of writing for expression and not ego. I started blogging from the urge to write and my limited time as a mother. Who knows, maybe some day it will turn into more for both of us! =) Congrats of being FP!

  3. Preaching to the choir, sister. For me it was all about getting published. Then it was about finding the time to write. Then it was about creating something. Then it was about finding the time to write hate mail to myself because I couldn’t find the time to write.

    I finally decided that I do have something inside of me that needs to come out (not in an Aliens kind of way but more of an epic story that must be told), and if it is published then good for me. If not, getting it on paper is going to have to be good enough. For now.

    In the meantime, I use my blog to keep the momentum, as it were, between the furious bouts of me attempting to produce the next part of my epic story. Inertia will hopefully be both of our saviors. In the meantime, keep on with your punk self, blast some of that Black Flag, and drive on.

  4. I was wondering if you had one while reading about your very busy life (basically because it hardly left any room for him): a partner or husband. There is no time for him in that list? But you have time to blog? I know how long it takes to vet one’s words carefully in a post this size. You didn’t want to spend it with him or do something else in order to make time free for him when he is around? Women often forget that once the child has left home, the husband is there to carry on life with (theoretically speaking). He also needs to be #1 at times. ;~)

    • That’s an excellent point, I’ll be sure to mention it to my husband if he ever takes a break from his own projects :). This is what happens when two writers collide, I guess!
      In all honesty, though, it was a mistake to leave out the time dedicated to maintaining a healthy marriage in my weekly schedule run-down, because it does certainly take time and energy to keep our partnership strong, and keeping our partnership strong is what gives me the ability to balance all those other tasks that I did choose to list.
      However – I think my mistake may have been a willful omission, because I’m not quite ready yet to air the details of my marriage in such a public forum. I think a girl’s got to have the right to keep some things to herself, even in the blog age!

  5. Pingback: Love this blog post – This Is Embarrassing « eBook Lovers Co-Op

  6. Pingback: Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves | kissbyebye

  7. I enjoyed your entry very much, and even identified with it. I´m not a mother, I just care for two adorable cats (Gaveta and Melisa). I think what I like most about writing a blog is that I find it pretty. I like looking at it, as if it was a great achievement. That´s enough fun for me, if you can believe it!

    • What a lovely perspective! It’s funny, I was just telling my husband tonight how touching and inspiring it has been for me to discover the world of WordPress – so many people just writing their hearts out, it’s really beautiful to me the more I get to know it. I never thought to see my own posts with the same affection. Hopefully I’ll get there someday!

  8. :) I enjoyed reading that. I’m somewhat in the same boat- I have 2 kids but that’s not what’s keeping me from writing. I still haven’t plucked up the courage to write – so publicly. When I’m itching to write, I write brief ‘notes’ on facebook to which only my friends have access because I tend to write very openly and can’t seem to do it any other way :). So, after 7 years of debating whether to blog or not to…I decided to give it a try a few months back. I wrote thrice last yr..and then today I made all the entries ‘private’ So, God help me. But at least this way, I’ll keep writing and one day who knows.. I might stop being such a chicken. Am happy and proud to be a mom but I do miss the freedom and independance I used to enjoy before the kids came along, working as a doctor in a different country. Back then,I loved my job, earned well, was 3 sizes smaller, drove a car and had the time of my life..and NOW, I am a stay- at- home mom, without a source of income of my own, housebound with no car/ driving license, .and the highlight of my days?- baking a cake without getting it burnt, potty training and the like. But I am determined and confident that things will change for the better…and I’ll soon have a lot of the things I miss. Reading your blog today was inspiring. :)

  9. Wonderful post. I definitely relate to your words. Long ago, before I was married with children, I had an opportunity to pursue writing more seriously. Unfortunately my self confidence as a writer was far too low. Years later, I looked at my life – married with two kids, pushing paper at a 9 to 5 job – well, I loved my family and everything that I had, but I regretted not pursuing writing further.

    Now, I blog purely because it gives me a pleasure. My blog is like my own little space that is just for me.

  10. I enjoyed this, and can relate on so many different levels…I still have my Doc Martens in my closet…..I have found now that my youngest has turned three, I am rediscovering myself and my identity as a person in my thirties…..I look forward to reading more

    • I think you should definitely start rocking your Doc Martins again! I know so many women who have really come into their own in their thirties (both mothers and non-mothers), I guess it must be something about the self-understanding that comes with a little bit of age. While I miss the carefree abandon (um, and dress size) of my twenties, I find that just being more comfortable in my own skin makes life so much more fulfilling these days. Enjoy it!

    • Being a mom doesn’t mean that you’re dead – on the contrary, I now feel more driven now than ever before to be tough and dynamic so my daughter can grow up with a strong role model. Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Bull & the Babe

unfiltered commentary of a modern mom

The Waiting

Turns out, it's not the hardest part.

Good Food Everyday

From the heart of the Mediterranean ....

Jographies

mobilities, places, bodies and cultures

Dimitris Melicertes

I don't write, I touch without touching.

yusmalifeblog

Un Blog Personal

Mindful Mothering

Experiencing the divine in my children one moment at a time

Solo Mama

Single lesbian mom by choice

one cool site

WordPress blogging tips tools & tutorials

White Shadows

Antithesis

Kelly Barnhill

Assorted Oddities

The Belle Jar

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." - Sylvia Plath

tressiemc

some of us are brave

Butterfly Mind

Creative Nonfiction by Andrea Badgley

Travel Chick Diaries

to inspire and be inspired ©TravelChickDiaries.com

The Lonely Encyclopedist

One of the few, the proud, the several centuries out of date

rarasaur

frightfully wondrous things happen here.

Clairechic

inspiring, creating, loving style

jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Accidental Pen

random things seen, drawn and written

A Rich, Full Life In Spite of It

I repeat my grandma's words to myself at least once a day.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

“we are the women our parents warned us against, and we are proud” ― Gloria Steinem

In Flow

Creativity is within us all

The Adventures of Fanny P.

...because life is just one big adventure...

The Hippy Geek

One woman's experience of balancing nature and nerd.

"Normal" is the New Boring

Atypical Parenting, Drastic Over-Analyzations, and Pounding Wine Like It's My Job.

Sweet Home Pasadena

Musings of our favorite town and a journey back to our sweet home, Pasadena. And food. Lots of food.

primarolia NYC

All my banned posts are here!

The Museful Mom

Everyday thoughts from a not-so-everyday mom

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,915 other followers

%d bloggers like this: