Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Not much

For the past week (what is that you say, it's only Wednesday? Surely you jest...) I have been reading what I like to call “mom-help” books...a lovely subset of self-help that aims to help mothers get back in touch with their inner pre-mommy selves. It's a lovely idea. Really, it is.

So why have I been sniping at Ariel Gore, “Oh, sure, easy for YOU to are obviously naturally creative and also younger and more energetic...” and Vicki Iovine, “Your YOUNGEST kid is six? You are in the gravy, lady”?

Because while I agree with the books that I CAN be a mama and a writer, lover, thinker, and I CAN roar, at the's taking all of my energy just to be a mother. Every day is a fulcrum, and I feel so perilously perched at the top, trying to throw my weight to balance. I can always feel when things are sliding into anarchy. I just can't seem to do anything about it when it happens.

I realized I just want to be told, “Hey, it's OK to put those ambitions aside for a little while and zone out. It's OK to not be able to do everything, even to not WANT to.”

This brings me back, as all things do, to my writing. Lately, dragging myself to the keyboard at the end of another exhausting day (seriously, toddlers are exhausting in a whole different way from newborns...I didn't know that!) is just...well, it's not happening. And I have been feeling so guilty about that, skulking around, redoubling my efforts to read or work on my character sketches or...something, anything.

Yesterday, as I rocked Madam to sleep in the dark, singing the 90th verse of my version of Old MacDonald, I started to cry with the weight and the guilt of it all. Of wanting to want to write, and knowing that I just did not. Knowing that so many other mothers have done it so well. Knowing that I have said that I couldn't, and then I could, but knowing that finally, no, really, I just can't. And a sentence flashed across my mind.

I can't bring myself to force myself to do one more thing.

All day, I drag myself through cooking and cleaning and Madam-care and more cooking, more cleaning, more laundry. Keeping Madam quiet while TEG works, and talks to clients on the phone. Grocery shopping. Madam's activities. And then, at the very end of my day, I don't want there to be still more to do. Especially something which is not fulfilling or rewarding me much lately.

I am tired of arguing with reality. This is my life, right now. TEG is frenetically busy. Madam needs lots of care. And, well, someone needs to clean the bathrooms and do everything else, and that someone, by default at the moment, is me.

So, I'm taking a break. Not from this blog, or from my journal. Just from any effort to write anything fictional until I can get my head back together and start to enjoy it again, even a little.

It feels like the right decision, it does.

Even if it makes me want to cry again, a little, when I think about it.

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Anonymous Fern said...

It's OK! You need your time to get yourself together. You are so talented and I know you will find your way back to it when it's right. Take care of your precious babe and yourself (PLEASE!)...and the rest will come.
When you're ready to write again, you will have an eager audience.

11:32 PM, January 16, 2008  
Blogger Frida said...

I can't express in this one tiny little box how right that sounds to me. You have soooooo much to do in a day that if writing at night feels like a chore then I'm so happy you feel ready to drop it. Is there something else you could do in the evenings that would actually truely feel like a treat for you? For me that thing changes - there have been times when going out the door for a long walk/slow jog was a treat and times when it was a chore. There have been times when getting on my yoga mat was the ulimate treat and times when it was a chore. I (in my far away and childless wisdom) vote that you find something that feels like a treat. Reading? Watching a movie on TV? Talking on the phone to a friend? Taking a long shower? I'm guessing mid-winter in your part of the world doesn't lend itself to the late evening walks I'm enjoying down under but I think I've made my point. I'll shut up now.
I like you so very, very much that I get a bit carried away sometimes. :-)

12:31 AM, January 17, 2008  
Blogger Leah said...

(((Hugs))) of course it's o.k. to rest, to take it easy, to zone or whatever you need to do. being a mom is an incredibly time and energy consuming job.

perhaps teeny baby steps each day like writing a haiku, writing a post here, making a doodle, reading for pleasure will help you continue to feel whole while not overwhelming your system and making you feel bad about yourself. try taking it tiny and see if it helps. xoxox

4:10 PM, January 17, 2008  
Blogger Amber said...

" “Hey, it's OK to put those ambitions aside for a little while and zone out. It's OK to not be able to do everything, even to not WANT to.”---

THERE. I said it. And I mean it. Because you know what? I need to hear that, too. It just is what it is.

I wish you could just let go of the ambitions, like you said, and just write if it comes. I think it is The Ambitions that bring on the guilt, not The Writing, for us.

I was just talking to my aunt about this, about the writing and the grad-school...and the trying to just be a good mom. About how I feel so guilty about "not yet doing". But she said she wishes so much she could just go back, and be less busy with her own kids when they were small. She is a very sucessful person, but she thinks she should have done it more like me.

And so lighten up on yourself. You are a good mom, and you are a talent, and you have time to do what you are meant to do. You are GOOD ENOUGH... and in my book, better than good enough, because you are a great mom who is thinking of her child before all her own wishes. I wish I had a mom like that. ;)

Here with you.


5:47 PM, January 17, 2008  
Blogger Jessie said...

Yay! I agree with Frida--it's treat time! :)

thanks for the good conversation today.

9:41 PM, January 17, 2008  
Blogger Jessie said...

oh, um...i didn't mean to sound insensitive to your situation. buy you know what i mean, right? ;)

love you.

9:42 PM, January 17, 2008  
Blogger Becca said...

I can't tell you enough how OK it is to take this will never be sorry you did. It is exhausting being "on" for a toddler all the time - and it sucks up lots of creative energy!

Take it easy on yourself, and do what feels right :) The words will be waiting, perhaps ripening inside all the while.

9:44 PM, January 17, 2008  
Blogger Deirdre said...

The desire to write will come back - when you have more energy, more time. Sometimes self-care feels like one more damn thing to do. And it is. So find the smallest little element of that which makes your soul sing and keep it lit. You are still writing; maybe not fiction, but still words that dance and delight. The stories will wait for days when Madam is less labor intensive. They will always be waiting, ready when you are.

10:47 AM, January 18, 2008  
Blogger kate said...

My dear, definitely take a break. I can't write at night--ever. I'm totally drained from the day and I have nothing left (except the ability to drink wine--not these months, of course--and watch a movie.) Remember, as well, that many mother writers can write because they have at least part-time child care. A couple of hours of child care a week can go a very long way in terms of writing. Keep this thought in the back of your mind.

10:54 AM, January 18, 2008  
Blogger Melba said...

I feel the rollar coaster.
I try not to compare myself to other mothers because some people have a bigger support system logistically than others and that really does make a difference. In a pinch I can call my in-laws. they live near us now, but they didn't when I first had Ethan and it really does make a difference.
I wish some of that weight could lift for you, because I have been there and I know how heavy it can be.

2:05 PM, January 18, 2008  
Blogger Jessie said...

hey m! i gave you an award. come and see! :)

8:39 PM, January 18, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

You have so much on your hands! Give yourself a break. I can't write at night (not more than a few words) after working all day long, and I don't have children at home anymore either. I know it is frustrating, but you have to do what you need to do for yourself. The time will come. Please don't beat yourself up over this!

2:12 AM, January 19, 2008  
OpenID rubygirl76 said...

hey m, i hope that you are able to find what's right for you...if that's taking a break from writing right now, then so be it -- i hope you're able to replenish yourself soon...wish we could have gotten together when i was in minneapolis -- perhaps i'll end up there for internship (fingers crossed!)

9:29 PM, January 19, 2008  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

M, I can't even imagine the pressure -- writing is hard enough for me without a toddler! I know when that time comes for me I will just want to read and nap in what little spare time I will have. And the stories will stay in your head, and eventually they will be ready to be written. Jot down new ideas in a no-pressure way, for the time when you find you have the energy and the desire again to write. Be well!

11:53 AM, January 20, 2008  
Blogger Amber said...

Hey you. I gave you something. See my post.


11:24 AM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Annie Coe said...

Big hug. I am not a mom, but I work a full time job and I am writing a book and I am a painter and a runner and I have 4 pets, so I can only imagine how busy you are with a toddler! I often feel just like you do and you know what? No one does it all, all the time, no one! Be kind to yourself and

5:33 PM, January 21, 2008  
Blogger Mardougrrl said...

Thanks, everyone...I am keeping all of your words handy whenever I start to feel that PRESSURE to produce words again, and Laini, I am absolutely just taking notes, no (well, very little) pressure.

You are all so WONDERFUL. Thank you, thank you for sharing your wisdom. I appreciate it more than I can say.

10:52 PM, January 23, 2008  

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