Sunday, October 11, 2009

Writing Through The Block: Avoidance, Fatigue, Parenting, & Yoga

Below are my random thoughts on this week, a week of sick children and husband, a week of exhaustion, a week of low creativity.


I’m avoiding the homework. Not homework for school but for the adult writing class I teach every week at the East Bay Chamber of Commerce in Warren, RI. So, I'm sitting here until something comes up–even if it's garbage or rambling. So bear with me.

Because I have to keep my blogging commitment and because I am OCD about my writing commitments, I am using this for my blog. This both motivates and blocks me.  Other people will read this, and, therefore, some holding back and censoring will happen.  Not in the first draft, but in the draft you all are reading now.

I am tired. My oldest daughter was sick all week,  my baby is teething and the suckers won’t pop through.  For four days she has been swollen, unable to suck her pacey or drink her bottle. She clings to me, her sister, her daddy, and her nanny like a baby koala.  Her grip is desperate. She laughs when we distract her, but it’s like she’s trying really hard to keep it together and then by about 3 pm, she can’t.

You go to another place when your children are ill. Pleading, desperate, scared, anxious, and then kind of numb, autopilot.  Today, though, Viv (the baby) napped, my husband now has a sinus infection so we put him down for a nap too. My oldest, Chels, is all better, so she and I hung out on the porch and enjoyed the silence, well the no-crying silence.  The wind blew the leaves and also the pages of the magazine we shared.  But it was a moment to let my shoulders down.  It was peaceful.  It gave me a moment to be grateful that although I am tired, although I haven’t had ANY moment alone this week, the kids and hubby are all okay, nothing serious.

Exhaustion and Letting Her Help
But dealing with your children is a kind of exhausting that is indescribable. You become angry, irritable, resentful but then in an instant, you look at their faces, or, in my case, watch your daughters take a bath together (because everything else has failed to soothe the baby). Chels washes her sister, lovingly and gently, crooning, “It’s okay, Vivi, I’ll make it better.”  Then she turns to me and says, "Mama, her skin is so soft.  I never touched her belly like this.  It's so soft!" The baby turns and notices her sister has joined her,  and her beautiful cheeks and lips smile and dimple and then she claps. It's her way of saying, "Yay!  Good idea, big sis!" The bubbles spray, and this makes her giggle harder, and then it makes my oldest giggle, and so they are giggling and spraying bubbles.  I watch how my older daughter steps in at those moments that I really can’t do one more thing.  “Mom, I’ll play with Viv, it’s okay.” And off she will go, holding her baby sister’s hand, into the living room, to stack blocks or read a book together. Chelsea has made getting through these last three days, possible.  As soon as she felt better, she stepped in and said, “Mom, let me help.”  As guilty as I felt for possibly putting this burden on her, I let it happen. 

My Daughter's Gift
Saturday morning because of Viv being so uncomfortable, I couldn’t go to yoga as I usually do.  The Saturday routine is I go to yoga, Mike drops Chels off at her yoga class, and I meet her when I am done and wait in the nearby cafĂ© and write. I live for this every week. This week I really needed it, but as it happened, I couldn’t get there that morning. So I take  Chels to yoga and fifteen minutes before her class ends, an adult class begins. Having long since missed my own regular class, I desparately wanted to join and jokingly told the teacher that just before she went inside to teach. She said, "Come on in!"  I told her she made my day.  I went in, not really prepared with a towel or my yogi toees or a mat or water, but the spontinity and the love of my teacher inviting me in was healing. It gave to the parts of me that did all the giving this week and the parts that cried out that they needed to be nurtured.

Feel The Guilt But Do It Anyway
Amazingly as the fifteen minutes ended, I turned and saw Chels, who had just finished her class, looking through the window at me, she smiled and waved. I hurriedly got out of my pose and went to her but she said, "Mommy go back,  it’s okay. I’ll be fine” and her teacher chimed in to say she could stay with her while I finished. The class was just an hour total and had another 35 minutes or so left. 

I wish I could say that I went back in and had this blissful experience, but I didn’t I was clogged with guilt and though I was and even confessed to the teacher I felt that, I stayed until almost the very end, and I was really glad I did.

Here's What I Don't Want To Write About

I don’t really want to write about the struggle of motherhood. The guilt of motherhood. The feeling like I’m complaining, bitching, or nagging. I have so much to be grateful for, and when I write about this struggle, it feels wrong. Who am I to complain? Maybe it’s not complaining about the struggle that I want to do. It’s something else. To capture the indescribable.

This week I felt moments of intense emotional pressure and squeezing, and I felt this sharp and clear inability to meet my own expectation of good mothering. I snapped at my older daughter when I shouldn’t have, I begged and cursed at the baby during the 100th hour of crying. I snapped, bitched, and nagged at my husband when I shouldn’t have. I am infallibly human and unable to be the calm, serene, do-it-all mom I want to be.

And yet...

I resent...myself?  Society?  The media? For my wanting to be this do-it-all serene mother. 

I don’t want to write about that so…

I don’t want to write about this, and, yet, I must blog. I don’t want to write about my writing or work for school this week. I don’t want to write about the stuck feeling I have– not a block, not a huge wall in front of me.  Just kind of inability to move my feet quickly, to push through the fatigue.  Yep. I am tired, and I long to take a break in the routine of writng, working, mothering…I long to go for a long walk with a girlfriend and talk about anything, even about the writing, working, and mothering. But I want to take a break from the treadmill of it.  I’m tired of doing, of not being able to slow down.  Of being sooo in the very moment. Of just trying to survive it all this week.

Ready To Do Homework
So now, having written what I didn't want to, having written about the tough parts of the week, my creative block is moved. Now I'm ready to get to that homework assignment. If you'd like to read what it was, click on the link below.


Joanne Carnevale said...

I read your blog and your jump-off homework. Here's what I don't accept. I don't accept that this was a low-creativity week. Yikes!

Regarding your and Chelsea's yoga teachers, I get a warm feeling whenever anyone does something nice like that. They probably thought it a small thing to invite you to "audit" the class, or to offer to watch Chelsea so you could complete the class. In both cases they were going to be there anyway and didn't hesitate to offer. To them it was small stuff, next to nothing, but it made all the difference for your Saturday, and probably your week.

I get choked up when that sort of thing happens to me. I also hope I've had situations where I've been able to pay it forward and give others a momentary difference in their days.

The failure is on the part of the book editors if they can't see gems when already holding them in their hands. You offered them two award winning books, after all.

Of course, I'm all over it and can see it so clearly when it's happening to someone else, while practically slitting my wrists over every little rejection I ever got when I didn't have anywhere near the amount of investment that you have in those books. Go figure. :)

I Am the Ocean said...

Thank you for writing a blissfully -- yes --blissfully, honest blog about what you don't want to write about and yet what happens to be the momentary truth. We are often trying to live up to an ideal, ours, others or imagined that violently perpetuates an untruth which serves no one and blames all.

Jenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

Thanks for this Hannah. You and I seem to have had a similiar week. And yet, it still was a creatively, good week. I do so enjoy reading your blog not just because I love your style but for some strange reason we seem to be going through the same types of struggles. When you write about these things so openly that helps make it ok for me to do the same - thank you!