Motherhood is not an academic subject to be learned through books. And yet, that’s how I’ve approached it.
I’m writing about something I didn’t want to write about: My trouble adapting to motherhood or rather, my trouble adapting to a life that is family—rather than career—oriented. I’ve decided to write about it because, let’s face it, I can’t focus on anything else these days.
Maybe I could write more often if I weren’t so worried about producing stellar writing, if I hadn’t been “tainted” by the successes of a career, a master’s degree or published writing. A friend recently talked about how sometimes a bit of “fame”, such as being freshly published (which success I’ve also had), can hamper a writer’s voice. I wonder how much this has happened to me.
Sam and I in one of the most common sights at my house lately.
Ever since I became intent on publishing my memoir (which is maddeningly dormant right now), compounded with a growing blog following (especially after I was freshly published), my writing process has slowed down. I want my posts to be witty, clever, well thought-out and worth reading. When I began blogging, I told myself I didn’t just want to move my diary online. I tried not to spill my unfettered guts on the blog without first framing them in some (hopefully) amusing or enlightening way, or at least trying to make a larger application for my readers.
Blogging is tough these days because all I can seem to write about are those very mundane things comprising new motherhood: Feeding troubles, sleeping woes, baby blues. And by the time I get a free moment to write, I don’t have energy to be clever about them. Do I feel these topics are too pedestrian to write about? Do I feel they are beneath me? Um, a little.
Before this stage of my life, I prided myself on having more to talk about than just my family. Than just kids.
I smirked (inwardly) at women who had nothing to boast of but children. Prided myself on my multiple degrees and teaching career.
But you know what? Not having kids, not having those “pedestrian” goings-on in my life, made it hard to talk to people. And graduate school made it even harder to swim in casual conversation with non-graduate students. I found myself biting my tongue—I didn’t want to sound too nerdy. I fear I’ve often failed.
Now, my tendency to over-intellectualise has crossed over into motherhood. Whenever I discuss baby Sam with my sisters-in-law, one of my three mothers or my girlfriends, I find myself saying things like, “Well, I read that babies should start to smile in the second month,” or, “According to my parenting books . . . ” or “In my reading I discovered that . . . ”
When I hear myself saying such things, I am appalled. Motherhood is not an academic subject to be learned through books. And yet, that’s how I’ve approached it.
Yes, I confess: Despite successes in a career, in graduate school, in writing, I find myself hopelessly fumbling with motherhood. I wish someone would give me a manual to study with clear-cut answers. But there is no such manual to be found. As I’ve been telling everyone who asks how it’s going, “This is the toughest job I’ve ever had.”
To those ladies I judged for having nothing to boast of but children, I apologise. I was wrong to judge you. Of course, it’s not the physical “having” of children that makes you awesome; it’s the adept raising of them. So far, I’m not adept. As for my strengths, those seem pretty weak right now, too.
Here is one of the ways I’m trying to regain productivity in my life. So far, it’s not working.
Just now, in fact, I’m fighting the urge to apologise for this incoherent and badly-organised article . . . but it occurs to me that maybe an incoherent and badly-organised article is another way, in addition to motherhood, that I can relate to my audience. Everyone goes through periods of uncomfortable growth and change—and this is one of mine.
Maybe I could write more often if I let go of some of my impossible standards. Maybe I would find that readers even appreciate my unfettered thoughts. Maybe I will start to write regular posts on my blog again (albeit bad and incoherent ones), and let you share this uncomfortable journey with me. Maybe we can all learn something new in the process. At the very least, we can laugh together . . . once I figure out how not to take myself so seriously.
This article first appeared on Lindsey's blog. Used with permission.
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