For all of my oft-mentioned efforts to keep everything in my life in perfect order all of the time, punctuality has never been my strong suit. But as much as I would like to blame my inability to ever be on time, this post is a day late and a dollar short not because of this eternal Achilles heel, but because I just wasn’t sure what to write. As much as I love the holidays (in a way that is completely uncharacteristic for me), I was conflicted about doing a holiday post – all of those workshop wolves in grad school put me on high alert for anything even remotely reeking of cliché, and if anything spells cliché it’s the holidays.
But here’s the thing: this blog began as a cliché, and a holiday cliché at that. All anyone needs to do is look way back to my first post on January 3, 2013 to understand that this was really just another one of those New Year’s Resolution blogs, just one small part of my setting out to run more, to write more, to work harder and to mother better.
At this time last year, I was feeling isolated as a mother and insecure about my parenting choices. I was feeling stifled creatively, and on the fence about pursuing a career that I was on the fence about at the expense of the version of mothering I thought I was supposed to be buying into. I had never read a mommy blog, had little knowledge of social media, and generally lived as a sort of internet luddite (aside from my Amazon Prime subscription, of course). All I knew was that I needed to do something different from what I was doing then and what I had done before. I had a vague idea of hoping to reach a six-month or twelve-month goal, just to reestablish my writing practice, maybe find a few hundred followers (once I figured out what exactly they were), then go back to stuffing my weird natural writing style into the kind of short story/novel in progress/memoir corsets that might give me some chance of getting something published in some little known regional press. Because that, I told myself, was real writing.
I’ve written more than once about the problematic dichotomy of real writing versus blog writing, but in the spirit of appreciation that is at the core of this (already clichéd) holiday post, I think it bears repeating. Outside of my two years in grad school, when it was required that I spend nearly all of my time writing, I now have a stronger, more consistent writing practice than I have ever had. And more importantly, from the very simple, self-imposed rule of posting a one thousand word essay once a week, my writing practice is now not only more consistent, but also more productive. I still write fewer hours each week than I did when I was single and childless, but because my time is so short there is never that pause of procrastination, no time for sitting and second guessing. As a result my writing is getting cleaner the first time around, my word and grammar skills are regaining the flexibility they had lost, my sentence structures are learning to try new things. There is no time to think, only to write; it’s the difference between a runner thinking about the next run or actually putting on shoes and running it. I have learned that I need to trust myself, and that when I trust myself, it always works out. This is something I never got the hang of in grad school, and that I never would have figured out writing alone in a vacuum.
This growing ability to trust myself is what this blog has given to me, both as a writer and as a human being. And the ongoing nature of the writing, the act of constructing a story about my life as it is occurring, forces me into an almost involuntary state of reflection that then allows me to step back into my life with new understanding.
In this way, this blog has helped me find my feet as a mother. It has helped me start shaping my new identity as a parent who also works and who also is still trying to maintain a creative practice and a sustainable life. And through the wonderfully thoughtful comments and wonderful people who read this blog, it has also given me a sense of community – of not feeling so alone when I am by myself with the baby on a Saturday night.
It goes without saying that all of these newly reflective tendencies extend also to the holiday season, but I don’t know even where to begin sorting through all of the new ideas and inspirations bubbling up for this little blog that wasn’t even supposed to make it past that big countdown to midnight a couple of days ago.
For now this one moment of gratitude is all I really have for you. Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing your own stories, and thank you for making me a better mom and a better person through the community we create here. And of course, happy New Year!