You have these long days of want, and then in a crack you didn’t even notice in your Day of Want #3027 a green thing is growing, lush and green and green and full of seedling sap. These are always the metaphors I pull out on days like these, when it felt like the day would never end and yet—after it did, I got to go out and get some wine and a hot dog ALL by myself. It sucks that this place has fruit flies, but I’m trying to ignore them.
I’ve stopped writing. Initially it was because I was depressed and sleep-deprived and perpetually anxious and often angry and ALWAYS with a baby crying for me. That child did not sleep. My first year as a mother has been the hardest—and worst—year of my life. I’m tempted to do that thing that people do, say something was “hard”…but that it was also “good,” like it was a deep tissue massage, or whatever. But nah. There are moments of my first year postpartum that I can’t forgive anyone for—myself, Marshall, God. And it only started being “good” for enough days in a row to call it “good” after that first year ended. Which was six months ago, and I still don’t know what to write, or how to write.
The wise among the council in my head will say, “There is no way to write, except by writing.” So, I will. Now that we finally moved into the new house, and are finally getting it clean and in order, and are able to buy a desk to sit at and a chair to sit in at the desk, —things will begin. I finally understand what people mean when they say that they have to write what they’re afraid to write.
The jerks among the council in my head constantly tell me that only pansies are bruised so easily, that my experience is common enough to be simply & completely boring, and many more helpful fucking things. But last night, I had to get out of bed and go to the living room to sit in the orange pallor of the streetlight outside and cry like an orphan, and I prayed a substantial prayer for the first time in many many months. And I didn’t feel the depths of empty space rebounding in my head, as I have so often, recently. I felt like a child who has a home to go to, though lost.
I started to go into the dark side of the present time, but then I went back and re-read the beginning of this post and remembered that I framed it in a hopeful light. Somewhat. And I can return to that. It’s become easy to return to that. The clearer, better-lit side of the present time has joys in it, and I experience them often. I usually spend the (****SOLITARY****) drive to work, after dropping the baby off, in a small time of gratitude.
My friend Megan and I were talking the other day, and she said something about the “confidence” that motherhood confers, and I realized I had it. This is another thing for which I’m grateful. Whatever else motherhood confers, and it confers so much, almost too much, it confers a certain kind of confidence. I don’t envy 19-year old girls their youthful bodies (although I do get irked when I think about how ugly I felt at 19, when I was perfectly gorgeous, as all 19-year old girls are); I don’t curl myself up self-consciously in public, wondering who is looking at me and how I can look better to them; I don’t spend much time wondering how to fix myself, or sand down my weird edges, anymore; I don’t anxiously tie myself to every tree, one after the other, in the Forest of Parenting Philosophies (or Marriage, Christian, or Friendship Philosophies, for that matter);—mostly, I just finally believe that I deserve to take up space on this planet, and that my body and spirit can take enormous storms and come away in one piece.
Which is a significant development for me, who spent a lot of time wondering, a couple years ago, if I would ever grow up. I’m not saying I have grown up. Has anyone? Truly? Every thinking person I know returns to holy mantras with the zeal of the dying, no matter how old they are, every few years.
“Make me the instrument of Your peace” has been an old favorite; current is “Enlighten my darkness.” And I know it will be.