Look how SEO-unfriendly my blog titles have become. My younger self is clicking her tongue at me.
One of my poems was published this week in the wonderful Mortar Magazine. You can read it, or listen to me read it, or both. It's a summer poem, but I'm still wrestling with a lot of the same thoughts this winter. Namely motherhood and fear and pleasure and writing, and how those things tangle together to create my life.
There are so many incredible writers I know who are mothers, and so many others who are not. When I encounter a new poet I love and find out she has children, I feel relieved. And then I wonder how she does it, even though I myself, theoretically, am doing it. The answer is usually slowly, and with a lot of missed sleep.
Here's where I point out that I don't like to suffer. I need rest and baths and enough food and emotional support and candles and wool socks and silence. I think I used up all my ambition in my fear-fuelled early 20s, and now I'm floating towards 30 with no desires at all beyond writing and walks in the woods.
Maybe the difference is now I've completed so many to-do lists that I know they're not the answer. You sleep, you wake up, you make a new list. People clap for you, or they don't.
Still, when I imagine getting up in the morning to the sound of birds chirping and not a toddler yelling mama in five o'clock darkness, I'm filled with envy. I miss the days when I could work for eight luxurious hours if I wanted, or 10, or 12. Over the past month my daughter's suffered a broken collarbone, hand foot & mouth disease, pinkeye and the common cold. My throat's been so sore for the last two weeks that I'm taking extra-strength Advil around the clock, and I haven't been able to get enough sleep yet to heal. I have written exactly two poems in this time, one good, one probably terrible. And yet.
This is the part where I tell you it's all worth it, and it is. But the peace I feel isn't based on some theoretical idea that being a mom is the most important thing, or even selfless love for my daughter. It's selfish. I wake up in the morning and wrap myself in a blanket and sit on the couch with Quinn and drink tea. I bundle us up and we go outside and make snow angels. Sometimes I write things. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I feel like I've got it all under control. Sometimes I feel like a mess through and through. But when I close my eyes and breathe and feel it, really feel it, it's right. It's my life.
I have a new workshop coming up in January, and there are a few spaces left. It's called Flock Together, and we'll be reading and discussing classic feminist literature (full book list here), writing together and apart, drinking hot cocoa and possibly bourbon, and eating homemade baked goods.