The Grandpa has been encouraging me to read Adrienne Rich's essay "When We Dead Awaken." I finished it a while back, and I'm not ready to talk about the essay at length, yet - I'd like to read it again, but something struck me and I've been thinking about it ever since.
Writing about her life as a mother and a writer, Ms. Rich says this, “I was writing very little, partly from fatigue, that female fatigue of suppressed anger and loss of contact with my own being…” [emphasis added]. This “loss” was a particularly powerful image for me. As a mother, I find that I neglect parts of myself that, 10 or 15 years ago, I would have considered big parts of who I am: my creativity, my silly side, the part of me that sought out romance and fairy tales. I still do those things, but rarely, and since I define myself now as a mother, I do them in the context of mothering and not nearly as often as I should. For example, I created the Frog and Fox stories to keep Pete busy on long car trips, but I haven’t written them down and don’t always tell Pete yes when she asks for a Frog and Fox story. I read fairy tales and nursery rhymes to the girls and take Pete to the ballet, but I don’t write fairy tales or nursery rhymes (April doesn’t count) and you’ll rarely see me doing more than the pee-pee-in-the-potty dance after a successful visit with Lulu.
Fifteen years ago I wrote this poem for a friend. A couple of weeks ago she sent it back to me (not because she didn’t want it, I don’t think), and I’m glad she did because I had forgotten that I even wrote it, and reading it again reminded me that I used to have my head in a much different place all the time. Admittedly, the company I kept then was way more creative and laid back than the adult I spend most of my time with now, but that’s something to address later. I just miss that place where my head was, where my heart was. Now my head is in bedtimes and join-the-PTA! and TP-at-Target and my heart is in piano recitals and bubble baths (not the soothing kind) and braids.
I love being a mom. I wouldn’t give up my girls for anything. In fact, my biggest joys and fears are all about them. But that’s just it: it’s all about them. I said above that I define myself as a mother. That is my primary role in life. It’s my job, 24-7, for which I receive goodnight kisses and sticky-fingered hand-holding and other similarly magical things (and room and board). It’s the best job I’ve ever had and the most rewarding pay I’ve ever received. And, when I don’t think about it, it’s enough. It’s my whole life and it’s okay. Because I’m not thinking about it.
But when I think about it? It makes me lonely. Honestly.
I know, you’re thinking, “Doesn’t she have any girlfriends?” and the answer is, “Not really. Not like that.” I have women in my life whom I adore and admire and respect, Meme, S’s mom, Moomie, J in VT, PSP, A in ME, but most of them are Super Far Away from me. And the ones who are close by are, well, my mom, who’s totally fun to hang out with but who works full time and isn’t right next door or anything, or sort of on the new-friend side (so there is potential there…). And I’ve never been really good at making new friends. Not really. And Husbandguy doesn’t have any friends for me to glom onto their wives, really. Not close by… Or at all…
Remember when you used to hang out in somebody’s bedroom or den or yard and just talk or listen to or play music or do nothing? And sometimes things would get silly and a little out-of-control and sometimes you’d regress and pull out the crayons or something, and it was Super Fun when that happened? And maybe someone would stop and buy Doritos or Twizzlers on their way there or you’d be at the cool house that had Little Debbies in the pantry and you’d just eat them and not care? But what about now? My friends like that are 4-20 hours away. And I’d never let my kids spend the afternoon eating chips and candy now so I can’t exactly do it myself.
But why not? I say NO too much.