Tuesday, November 11, 2014

First-Time Mom, Long-time Writer

It's been nearly five years since I had my little girl.  She was my first and will be my only.  It's been three-and-a-half years since I finished my MFA.  My thesis manuscript remains unfinished, and I've been working on the same short story for the better part of a year.  I'd like to say that I've just been too wrapped in the joys of motherhood to have time alone, just me and my MacBook.  But that would be a lie.  Kiddo goes to preschool four mornings a week, and next year will be kindergarten. I can only barely remember the person I was five years ago.  Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Having a child teaches you patience and priorities (and a relaxing of boundaries, a good lesson for me), and I love my little girl with my whole being.

But there is still a loss there. Nobody tells you about that.  There is so much focus on warning new parents about the time they'll lose, the sleep, the ability to remember why you walked upstairs.  Nobody tells you that in all the fulfillment of having a child there can be an emptiness as well.  Your identity changes, and you mourn that old self that disappeared the first time you had to step away from the computer to feed the baby or watch an insipid cartoon rather than the cerebral indie film.  Sure, that sounds selfish and shallow, but if a parent tells you they've never felt that way? They're lying.

My brain doesn't function the way it did before I had a child, the way it did when I started my MFA.  It doesn't even function the way it did when I first had a baby.  Raising a verbally precocious toddler is exhausting in a way I could never have imagined.  In theory, it would seem that I would run to the computer to write every time she slept or went to preschool, but the truth is that by then I often have nothing left.  Even on days when my sweet husband takes her school and I have four straight hours to work, I often find myself procrastinating.  Of course, writers are famous procrastinators, but I have taken the trait to new heights in the past few years.

There is more to this story.  I'm chronically ill, and the past two years have been a roller coaster ride (pardon the terrible cliche, told you I was out of practice) of new drugs, new diagnoses, and new symptoms.  Some days it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed and care for my child.

I've said all of this though not to complain or elicit sympathy.  I just want to give context to what I plan to write here.  It's been quite a few years since I last had a blog, and I decided that rather than try to revive my previous blog that was no longer a good fit for who I am, I would create a new one.  This is not a "mommy blog."  No offense to you mommy (or daddy) bloggers out there.  You're doing good work, and there are plenty of you whose writing I enjoy on a daily basis.  But I'm not that woman.  I'm not the mommy type.  I'm not a super-mom.  I never pureed my own baby food.  We don't do crafts unless they are incredibly simple and come with minutely detailed instructions.  But this is the mom that I am:

I love to read.
I love to read out loud to Kiddo.
I love bookstores and libraries and quiet restaurants and funky little holes in the wall places.
Most children's television programming and movies make we want to pound myself in the head with the remote.
I don't allow toys to "live" in the living room.
I can't whistle, and I've never been stung by a bee.
I avoid tight spaces, large groups, and reality television at all costs.
I'm a bit of a snob about what I read.
I'm a bit of a snob in general, though a mostly good-natured one.
Sometimes my poor health makes it difficult to enjoy parenting, and this is one of my greatest heartbreaks.
I love my Kiddo and sweet husband even more than books.  Really.

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