Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Changing Channels

Before my son was born I didn't think I was going to blog much about motherhood--I felt sure that I would continue to whittle out writerly insights, post the interviews and results of my writing life. This was when I still clung to the notion that my life would be relatively unchanged--as if my child would be a little doll sitting in a chair obediently, easily tended to between my work hours. Ha! Even though I suspected that motherhood would entail a lot of work, until he was here, "a lot of work" was all theoretical. I didn't have a true context for what that would look like. However, I also had no idea that writing--which has been my sole focus, my passion and even, at times, my obsession for most of my life--would come to feel almost insignificant in the face of being a mother. That even though I hunger for time alone, sometimes when I get that very time, I have to remind myself that it is okay to go and write again. I can't tell you how many times I have sat watching my son sleep rather than do something for myself.

I admit that I undervalued the work that mothers (and all parents) do. I let my own lack of experience bias me. Though I know many, many talented, intelligent women who are also mothers, I still viewed motherhood as a kind of bland mini-mall which, upon entering, you sacrificed brain, beauty, individuality and sense of self for a time. Now here, there is definitely the mark of the mundane on aspects of motherhood--but that's true of any tasks you do repeatedly day after day. What I did not expect was the profundity of it, the powerful emotional toll of being physically and mentally connected to a being who relies on you for everything. Sometimes I already get maudlin thinking of the inevitable days to come when my son will need me less and less, and the worst case scenario--where he could want nothing to do with me at all. Hopefully it won't come to that, because hopefully I will be good enough at the self-sacrifice on his behalf.

So while I do continue to write and it remains the third most important thing after my child and spouse, I'm surprised at how okay it is for it to fall to the wayside for this initial, important time with my son.


At 6:20 AM, Blogger Marcus Grimm said...

What we see is always entirely dependent on where we stand. You're simply standing in a different place now. :)

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Todd said...

Your insight into the change motherhood has brought in to your writer's life, is an insight into the writing life itself. I don't think any writer quite knows what significant changes can bring: two years ago I left, largely out of frustration, a full time writing gig at a daily newspaper to go into two jobs only somewhat related to writing, have recently married, acquiring stepdaughters in the process, and never really thought my writing life would change. And yet it has. I still desire to write professionally as well as creatively, but at the same time, have found it difficult to adjust to all the change. One thing that is helping with this change is slowly working through your and Rebecca Lawton's Write Free. Just the first few exercises have been extraordinarily revealing.

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

Motherhood, learning who that little person is and what he needs to thrive, took most of my creative energy when I was at your stage. But all the while, the well was filling....Glad to hear you're enjoying your son


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