It would be a lie to say that I’m not trying to piece myself back together after becoming a mother. I’m not sure where writing starts and motherhood ends. I’m writing this standing up with the laptop on top of the fridge. Nope, not anymore. Now I’m writing this at 11:33pm on the green velvet couch while everyone else is sleeping and resting. I delete my frustration, close the computer and start again the next day. Here I am again the next morning, trying, trying again, to be happy.
Why do I write? I write because something calls me to sit here and type at these keys and organize my thoughts into something other than grocery lists and the housing market. I write because I miss the woman I used to be, the artist who never envisioned herself as a mother, who didn’t have the patience to be a mother. I write because I’m trying to sew her back into my life, trying to find some way to meet with her everyday over coffee, because I miss her. Our relationship is so charged that I put it off and put it off, this meeting, and then when the time comes, I drink and eat nervously and wonder what she’ll think of me. What I’ve become.
I’m trying to make space in my life to be happy again. Happy beyond the happiness of marriage and parenting, where my patience is now monumental. I seem to have become a woman whose daily actions are those that my artist self resists. Ordered and restrained and forward thinking and mundane, really. Sacred mundane. Washing, cooking, rocking, singing,
playing – not so much actually. Why don’t I play anymore? I suppose I feel too jaded to play. So sad.
So I write to start playing again. I write to carve some time for myself every day. I write to get back in touch with a part of myself I have let calcify, for fear that she might ruin everything and turn the house upside down and be too dramatic and too emotional and too unstable. The child within me. I suppose I have tried to be the grown up, to do the things that grown ups do and move on from those frivolous times. How BORING.
What do I miss about you, artist?
Where do I begin. I miss the way you walk, the way you see things. I miss the way you don’t give a damn. I miss your ideas, your dreams, your favorite foods, the black coffee you drink. I miss your fun. I miss your sense of style. I miss the way you love your lover. That look in your eye and the spark in your heart as you connect with what inspires you. What inspires you? He asked last night. All I can think of is the straight open road, and motels, and bad diner coffee, and gas stations. I want to be on the road again, throwing it all to the wind. Baby in the back or not, it doesn’t matter. She wants to read again, learn again. Turn the volume of the music up, up, up.
I’ve become more mature, that’s for sure. But maybe she has grown up too, through this whole motherhood business. She’s definitely been watching and learning right alongside me, except now she’s pretty pissed. Angry that I haven’t let her have a voice. Like a sultry teenager, I’ve been driving her away with my rules and rejection. But she is my flesh and blood, she is part of my soul. I need her! So I make her a playlist to sing her back into my house. I tell her I will listen. I promise I will pay attention when she calls me away from the sink and the kitchen sponge to be with her.
Why do I resist her like I have? I passed a street tonight called Normal Street (literally) and she sensed my desire for balance and equanimity and stability and security, but before the thought became a feeling she said ‘PFFT. Normal!?’ How BORING.’ The glittering freeways crawl like rivers of metal and we keep driving. She’s the only person I care about impressing these days, so I’ve decided to listen to her more. I like her. If I can bring some of her spark to my mothering, and some of my salt and earth mothering to her life, we might just be okay. We could live together, even work together! Baby steps.
Tonight she sits on my couch and eats an artisanal donut and vibrates with the energy of someone exciting and new. She feels she is a little more welcome here. We listen to Fiona Apple and Cass McCombs and melancholy, triumphant songs. Candles in the Rain. Dark Paradise. I feel relief just to have her in my space again. This relationship I have to her is as complex as any passionate love. It’s wonderful to discover who she is again, to hear her stories and sense who she has become while she has been away. Where has she been? I am fascinated. What will she make of today? We are learning to trust each other, two women, respecting these lives we’ve created in parallel universes, bringing our hands back together again, salty and rainy and sticky and alive.
I started this post with the words of Annie Lamott in my head – “Before I became a mother I couldn’t write if there were dishes in the sink. Then I had a child. Now I can write if there’s a corpse in the sink.” Not sure what there is in my sink right now, but learning to let go of those endless ‘shoulds’ and focus on the truth of what’s important to me in my lifetime, my body, my soul. Anyone else out there feel like they’ve been ripped in half post-partum? I miss the old me, yet respect the new me. Oh, life.