Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Other Baby

Several years ago, a psychic told me that my first born would inspire me to write. She didn't actually specify writing, but paper. I didn't fill in the blanks for her because I was too giddy that my writing was showing up in the reading. Back then, it was a very private art that I kept close to my heart. For a while, I worried that my first born might have something seriously wrong or different about them, ala Jennie McCarthy and her autistic child, which would force me to write. And then once my baby was born years later, I found myself stunned at my lack of freedom to write at all. But after a time, the psychic reading has proven to be true, including her prediction that my first born would be a son.

My son inspires me in every interaction we share. By that, I don't mean I am touched or elevated by every shared experience. Our times together frustrate me more often than they fulfill me; they make my cry as much as they make me laugh. In the act of mothering a fiercely independent little toddler, I am pushed, humbled, and made to feel uncomfortable. In the aftermath of a struggle, I am forced to rethink my certainties, to explore his perspective, to put myself in the (orthopedic) shoes of a two-year-old.

In the act of juggling mothering with a career, I find myself conflicted, wracked with guilt, and questioning each decision I make. There are days when I leave him at daycare crying as I race to get to a meeting and wonder what I am doing. Every action I make as a "working mother" is a choice and a sacrifice to one or another piece of my life. Despite the common adage that women can, I have discovered that I certainly cannot - do it all or have it all.

And then there are the moments when my boy and I connect. Swinging together at the playground, sharing a milk at Starbucks, playing in the bath together - suddenly we are in tune. Suddenly, we are one again, and our shared joy is palpable. Whatever struggles I've had internally or with him are gone. The connection we share is ours and ours alone. In those moments, I am truly grateful.

Indeed, motherhood offers much raw material. But life so often does. What makes things different for me now is that I am actually writing. Before, writing was often forced or something I always wished I was doing more of. Now that I have even less time, am pulled in every more directions, I find myself stealing time away from sleep and relationships for my writing. Like an addiction, I am called to it, and will sacrifice much to find the space in my life for it.

Becoming a mother has unleashed this unquenchable desire to write. I write to understand... my evolving self, my evolving mothering, our evolving relationship together. I write to become... a better person, a better mother, myself, all these things. I write to exist... my words on a page bear witness to our struggles, give my revelations permanence. I write because I have to... I must capture our interactions, explore the niggling feelings inside, make it all make sense to me. Most recently, I write to share... slowly, I gain the desire and the guts to share my work, in the hopes I may impact another.

Last week, I had a tarot card reading, my first reading since that amazing one years ago. It told me that I am on a path to success and healing in terms of my art, which brought me great and unexpected sense of relief. I hadn't realized how much fear I had over my desire to dedicate myself to my writing. Fear of taking away from my family, potentially risking our finances, or being too selfish, paralyzed me from attempting to publish, from allowing myself to take too many steps down that path. Near the end of the row of cards was one that depicted a pregnant woman, which I interpreted to mean my second child. However, the psychic explained that the card was not about being pregnant, but about giving birth to your inner being. I realized it was referring to the writer inside.

So long I've shielded her, the writer inside. I've hidden her for fear of rejection or judgment, from the feelings of inadequacy and inappropriateness. I've ignored her and busied myself with everything else I'm supposed to have done - education, career, family, and everyone else I'm supposed to be caring for. But I'm letting her out now. We're taking baby steps on our path, but with each step, we walk a little faster. We're too excited, we've been held back for so long, we can't wait to move forward.

So it is that in giving birth to my son, I have in fact, birthed my other baby - the writer inside me.


Anonymous said...

I feel this struggle so much--thanks for giving voice to it.

I am registering for Kate Hopper's mother words online class, even though it requires over-riding all that self doubt you talk about. I'm hoping that the company of other mamas will help me settle into my writing, in the same way that other mamas helped me figure out how to be a mama.

FYI, Kate's at:

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