Then and Now: Poetry and Mothering
We sit at the table, mother and daughter, markers spread out in no particular order. The paper is set out side by side, waiting for the colorful scribbles of lines and right angles and the occasional smiley-face drawn so precisely from a two-year-old mind. Looking at her, marker poised carefully with such concentration over the paper, I wonder how we, as artist and mother, merge the two separate selves so that they co-exist within ourselves?
No doubt, raising a young child is challenging. Everything, at one point or another, gets pushed aside for varying lengths of time. For me, it was my writing-all forms of it in the beginning-that got pushed aside to tend to the more pressing and urgent matters: changing that poopy diaper for the third time that day, feeding, bathing, reading the bedtime story, making sure nothing ended up in her mouth that shouldn’t have.
When my daughter was three months old, I wrote this:
Poetry and Mothering
I have been writing poetry since my early teens and journaling before that. It has saved my life, literally, in numerous ways, may times. It sounds clichéd (you know everybody says that), but so very true in my life. In struggling through and recovering from depression, writing was, and still is a way to regain my strength.
These days, I am lucky if I get the daily journal entry in. Being a new mom of a three-month-old daughter, I try specifically to make the time for this. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
I truly miss writing poetry. I have not written anything poetic since a little before I found out I was pregnant in November 2003. I feel rather naked without it. There is comfort in words. I don’t think it is so much rage or anger I feel as much as the pure frustration at not having the time, or more importantly, the energy to write now. I do know, though, that there will be a time again for poetry-to really write again.
I try not to let the frustration take hold. I know this is temporary. Yet, in the moment, it is painfully raw. But then, I look at my beautiful daughter with her smiles and babbles and think how absolutely wonderful she is; what an amazing creation she is; that I created her.
In having a child, I do not want my writing to be forgotten or put aside for so long that I begin to regret not pursuing it as I should have. Or-worst of all-aim my resentment against myself or my daughter.
It is vital to me that the two selves-mother/writers- co-exist, grow, merge, to form a more complete being. I’m not quite sure how to go about this yet. But, that is one of life’s many challenges, is it not?
Originally printed in Mama Says Newsletter
It has been nearly two years since I last wrote those words. Much has changed, as life inevitably does so. The differences between a three month old baby and a toddler are immense. Now there is negotiation involved about going to the park and a muffin afterward. At three months, that wasn’t even a flicker of thought in my mind.
Indeed, it has been challenging for the two selves to co-exist. Not to mention the challenge alone of rearing a two year old, tantrums and all, as a single parent. There have also been many rewards. For the most part, the challenge has been met with open arms and a willing mind. Words have become unlocked from my near-stagnant mind and flow freely to the page. Almost as freely as my daughter’s need to scavenge for Cheerio’s.
I think this convergence comes mainly from the actual acceptance of motherhood into my life with all its twists and turns, joyous melodies and dark tunnels. I remember when writing had no time limits. Now it is naptimes and bedtimes, writing voraciously into the night. I am content with that-for now.
April 15, 2006