(hopefully)

August 15, 2012

I guzzle my first (and never last) cup of coffee. I don’t mean to, it’s just that it’s one of my last vices. I want to be a person who sips a fantastic cup of coffee, just one, and then goes on with a day drenched in 8 glasses of water and only whole foods.

I drink a lot of water and I work hard to eat well, but I also love sugar as much as I love coffee. We addicts are far too aware of our compulsive behavior, at least in sobriety, so I bend and tip forward, pulling my eyes to my navel to dissect this behavior. Then I remember, I’m a human being. Flawed and a work in progress and imperfect and all that.

One day I will sit and sip tea, decaf of course, maybe by the ocean and I’ll be wearing something white and flowy and the breeze will smell like sugar but I will not try to eat it.

But if this picture of a better me does not actually come to be and instead I travel with my husband and children and I get too little sleep and stand in front of the hotel coffee maker disheveled and grumpy, begging it to hurry up, well then, it is what it is.

Lately, I also feel addicted to the healthy act of writing. I am being pulled by words and I can’t stop them. As a woman, a mother, in recovery, it feels a little scary while it’s also terribly exciting and maybe even exhilarating. Words are everywhere and I can’t read a book without throwing it to the side to make my own words line up in rows. I’ve been in the most random places, digging through my bag for a pen thinking where is it where is it, I need it now.

I used to dig like that for a lighter, for cigarettes. I used to rush home like that in the late afternoon with my boys in tow, thinking of nothing but the red wine on the counter.

I’ve been waiting for this creative pull toward story. I’ve maybe even believed it would never come. I don’t know what it is or where it’s going or where it’s been, I’m just simply riding it. I don’t care, really, what the end is. I just want to keep feeling this way.

Writing is addiction.

So I walk this tight rope, back to a place where I shush my children while I dig in my bag for a pen.

I’m not talking about the act of writing a blog, even though any blogger who has become a part of this community, engaging in something beyond a quiet weblog of one’s own, knows that the stages of blogging addiction are varied and sometimes all-consuming. At first we are terribly defined by comments and retweets and then sooner or later, we (hopefully) learn to let go and move on, a little more detached and (hopefully) enjoying this way of sharing words as an aside to life, not a life of its own.

Although I’m terribly familiar with all of that, what I’m talking about is more of a creative shift in the writing soul, the kind that authors and journalists and all types of writers talk about. I’ve experienced it as a blogger, suddenly knowing just what I want to say about this or that and needing to sit down and say it, right then, gulp gulp gulp. But this is a writing sort of thing that isn’t ending with a neatly packaged post. It doesn’t have a beginning, then middle, then end, with a few (hopefully) good points in few words.

This time, it just keeps going and going and therefore, so do I.

I started to tip over, bending toward my navel as I’m prone to do. I started to question if I need to somehow squelch this because I’m in a season of parenting in which, truth be told, I cannot do both. Maybe you can, but I’m terribly scattered and gulp-ish and I have enough trouble managing a day without constantly digging around for a pen and paper and never engaging in the world around me because I’m too busy wishing I were behind a locked door. I’m unable to shut off the creative flow pull and that leaves me easily anxious about the grind and too impatient with my kids. That is, if I don’t just let go.

Letting go is far too wide open of a way to explain. It is best defined by a beautiful piece I read about motherhood and writing in a new parenting lit magazine called Stealing Time that I picked up at BlogHer. It’s written by Sarah Gilbert, the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine:

I think of my life as a mother as filled with spiritual yoga, that which teachers speak of when they tell you, “open your heart;” when they tell you, “get your strength from the earth beneath you.” In this practice, as I translate the tensions of my life into the physical world, the limits and anxieties are not barriers but resistance against which to pull the muscles of my intellect and emotions.

I read and hear other mothers, other luminous women-writers advocating the ideas of careful schedules and rooms of one’s own, but my practice is outside of this. I have no room of my own; my house is in constant state of possibility–a fixer-upper, always a-fixing–and I have few doors, let alone doors that shut out my children’s boisterous slapstick love and tumble. When I find time to write I do not parcel neatly, I rip, I yank, I steal. It comes in the dark of the night or in the mid-day, like a thief, like a guilty lover.”

Gilbert goes on to say that she is filled to over-flowing with this season of motherhood, peaceful that she’s in it, really in it, and doesn’t want to deny its groping demands in exchange for her own words. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that what I heard in her writing was that she wants to be both a writer and a mother and just accept that it’s going to be quite messy, all of it. About motherhood, she writes:

“Love them so much that it pours you out and fills you back up. Do it again.”

Those words pulled me to a standing position and had me looking out at them, my family. I know I do this, what Sarah said. I know I pour myself out for them and with them and they fill me back up and then we do it again. I used to resist this in ways. I used to more consistently stomp and sigh. Martyr. But there is so much peace in the moment by moment letting go of me.

It hit me, this is the same as anything else. We get up and we say, “I’m going to do the next right thing” and that doesn’t cover our whole day or even the  next five minutes. It covers just that very second. If that means that it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and no one is up and the words are tapping me on the shoulder, then I will write. And if that means that Miles is standing next to me, whispering that he’s up, I will roll over and stand up, frumpy and grumpy and trudge to the coffee maker and answering his many many questions. I will take a deep breath and look at him, really look and listen. Because that is what I want to do and it always fills me up, even when I have no idea it’s going to because I’m gulping.

Yesterday I sat outside in the morning with words. Asher came to stand next to me and I took a deep breath so I wouldn’t get frustrated that the words were cutting off mid-sentence, my train of though crashing. He asked me to color in a face he had drawn on a piece of paper and I did. He looked like I’d just told him I was about to stand up, put on my shoes and buy him a new Lego set. His grin was the magic that he is and I don’t care if those words I was writing ever come back. If they are exchanged for that face, they were (hopefully) not meant to be in the first place.

I will not do this right all the time. But I have to bite off moments and try not to develop a big overall plan that I cannot possibly abide by in my flighty and anxious ways. Many days will come to a close and I’ll never have gone from a moment to another to find myself with time for words. The next right thing will be scripted before me with the needs of my small children. I’ll get tired and stomp and sigh and then I’ll start to bend and (hopefully) stop. I’ll just start over, and over and over.

I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I gulp.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Lyz August 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

I love this so much and this is how I feel. Except less lovely more messy.
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Ann August 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

I gulp your posts. And you.
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Shaina August 15, 2012 at 9:06 am

I am you. My shortness, the frustration of being interrupted overflows all too often. That said, I am really here to tell you that with all the studies that show the health benefits of caffeine and coffee (often coffee is better than tea, but both are beneficial), I’m not sure that is an addiction you should give up. Just embrace that you get to drink it and enjoy it.

Truth be told, I am usually that ideal person with the single morning cup who gulps water and whole foods the rest of the day; however, it’s more because I get lost in work, and as a workaholic, I cannot afford myself the interruption to go make a second cup.

I love your heart.
Shaina recently posted..Baked Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini for Sunday Night Dinners

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dearabbyleigh August 15, 2012 at 9:10 am

whatever is pulling you to be written, i hope you write it. xoxo
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Cynthia August 15, 2012 at 9:21 am

I needed this reminder today. I have a day off and have been thinking of all the things *I* want to do with my time- the projects that define me. I want to “gulp” on the things that have been in the back of my mind to accomplish but have NOT been accomplished. Instead, I will spend most of my time with my kids, doing the things THEY want to with me. What a wake up call! Thanks!
Cynthia recently posted..ALONE Time

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Lisa Rae @ smacksy August 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

Super beauty.
xo
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Sarah @Toddler Summer August 15, 2012 at 9:32 am

This is beautiful and raw and true and so so poignant to all the clashing and chaos of my motherhood brain over the course of this summer when I simultaneously dove into the waters of stay at home motherhood and writer hood and sat in small cramped spaces of my under-construction house. I will take many of these words with me, let them echo and guide me. Thanks so much for knowing how to say all of this so well.
Sarah @Toddler Summer recently posted..8 years – Retropost

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Sherry Carr-Smith August 15, 2012 at 9:48 am

Every time I put off my kids for my own thing (whether it’s writing, reading or something else), I think, “Stop. You’ll regret this when they are grown.” I don’t get it right every time either. But I try, damn it.

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ellie August 15, 2012 at 9:51 am

Like I said to you on the phone yesterday, you are so eloquent tbat i feel like anything i say to respond to these words that move me so mUch for sounds like “DER” and “BLERG”.

But that’s the Comparer in me coming out and I.am going to tell her to shut up and wallow in the beauty and trutb here. It helps me. Thank you.

-xo
ellie recently posted..What Can I Say

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ellie August 15, 2012 at 9:53 am

Sorry about typos. Stupid tiny keys on my phone….

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nicole August 15, 2012 at 10:14 am

This doing the right thing now idea–I cling to it. I fail so many times that coming up with a big plan would just disappoint me. But I can keep trying to do the thing this time. And not worry about the next time.
nicole recently posted..A New Stage

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Melissa August 15, 2012 at 10:28 am

This is so so beautiful. Yes and amen!
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Robin August 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm

This is such a beautiful, eloquent post. I love the honesty in your writing. The pull between our pursuits and mothering is a tension most of us can relate to (although my children are now adults). My house was often a mess, as I tried to squeeze in both. I liked to think of it as organized chaos. We all spend time gazing at our navels and need a reminder to pull our heads up and look around. Children are a great way of making us look outside ourselves. The time they live at home is fleeting and I always tried to remind myself of that, and then I lived it out the best I could; an imperfect mother on my best days.
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Jess August 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I think you have described here so well the complexity and confusion and anxiety I feel so much, always . .. It is such a messy, relentless struggle. I question myself constantly and consider it all up . . . But yes, it is this thing of living which is bubbling up and spilling out, the only way I find to pour it is by writing . . . I do not know what the balance is and maybe the only answer is that there isn’t one, that it life is full and wild and good- tell about it. Love this post!
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Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting August 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Yes. And yes.
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Gianna August 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm

How can you scattered random thoughts match mine so well? It’s scary!

One moment at a time. And hopefully each of those moments grows in my child more and more whether it be discipline or happiness or character or memories or joy or sensitivity! I hope that I grow and I hope they grow and together we do it together!
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Bridget August 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I stumbled into this same place this summer. I feel like I breathe better now.
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Elaine August 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I had so many words welling up in me when I got home from BlogHer. When all were in bed that night I just sat at my computer and typed and typed until they all came out. (well, most of them anyway). We find the time to let it flow when we can.

Amazing post.

xo
Elaine recently posted..Having a Daughter

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Laura August 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Love the post… and I know it is beside the point, but get over the guilt about coffee. Coffee drinkers live longer and have much lower risks of bladder cancer! My 102 Swedish aunt loves her coffee!

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Amber Cadenas August 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I’m not a mother yet, but I will tuck these words away, so that I can be reminded if/when that day comes, to live in the tension of being a mother and a writer – choosing moments with the little ones over moments with words. This doesn’t sound easy at all… but nothing worth doing really is, huh? I’m so thankful for your honesty and eloquency, as most have pointed out here, in documenting some of your journey. I love your heart.
Amber Cadenas recently posted..Just Write: River of concrete

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Michelle August 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm

This is probably one of the most beautiful pieces I have read on motherhood yet.

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Alexandra August 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I am like a moth to a flame with your words.

Do you know how much I miss not having you in my real life?

This here? stunning.

Thank you, through grateful silent tears, thank you.
Alexandra recently posted..Hero Stories

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Shelly Miller August 16, 2012 at 5:54 am

Really love what you say here, in a way that I feel but couldn’t express. Thank you.
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Varda (SquashedMom) August 16, 2012 at 6:30 am

What Ann said. And Alezandra. And… Well, everyone. Just. Beautiful. Writing.

And you my friend, are beautiful, too. So glad we got to meet at BlogHer. I wish we were still in the same room so we could sip a cup of tea together. I want to sit on a sofa together someday, with our children cavorting around us and talk and laugh, but I will have to make do, today, with just your words instead. They are enough. They are more than enough. {hugs from one motherwriter to another}
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sarah piazza August 16, 2012 at 8:29 am

I love Sarah, and I love you, and have I told you how glad I am that we met?

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tracy@sellabitmum August 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

Gulp indeed. Stop making me love you more. xoxo
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the grumbles August 16, 2012 at 8:35 am

Gulping motherhood I understand, but you’re a better woman than I am when it comes to writing. People always like to argue with me that I’m a writer, and in a physical sense I probably qualify, but I’m missing that essential element of gulp. Something inside there isn’t sitting right, not yet.

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Johanna @ These Prices August 16, 2012 at 8:53 am

You are such a gift. I love your heart!

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robin August 16, 2012 at 9:20 am

Ah, amen sister. This post is a gift. Thank you for once again writing out what my heart feels.
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Alex@LateEnough August 16, 2012 at 9:39 am

I gave up poetry because I could not make the space it desires and parent 2 children. With one, I could find space and breath but not with 2. I started my blog precisely because I could not write poetry anymore yet I had to write. I don’t regret a moment of that decision. I believe poetry, which still calls me daily or at least monthly, will be there when my children are older and my time is not as necessary as my attention. The next right thing is not knowing where it leads but trusting that it will work out if I just start now.
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Kori August 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I was feeling this same thing this morning when I was trying to write and Josie was crying for me; messy, yes, but they both fill me up.
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Sherri August 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

This is so beautiful…I think you touched a lot of souls with your words today.
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anymommy August 18, 2012 at 11:17 am

The balance between passion and necessity, it’s a sensitive scale. I think in some ways, it’s better this way because if I had that quiet, that locked door, I’d probably shut down and play on twitter all day. I hope your words keep flowing, I can’t wait to read them.
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Amber August 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm

This, here: “His grin was the magic that he is and I don’t care if those words I was writing ever come back. If they are exchanged for that face, they were (hopefully) not meant to be in the first place.”
Yes! I am putting this on my fridge to remind me of this. I could have written this post, I can so relate. These words are a fantastic reminder. Thank you for blessing me!

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MaryLauren@My3LittleBirds August 20, 2012 at 7:25 am

You’ve captured exactly where I am with words and kids and priorities and time. Beautiful. Thank you.
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Dawn St Amand Paoletta August 21, 2012 at 1:35 am

Glad to have found you at Beholding Glory. Linking for first time. Reading you, and feeling the rhythm of your words. I like your honest feel. The looking from within, without. Observer and observed. I am peeking at your “other blog” as well. All over this place! Nice to connect here.
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Galit Breen August 22, 2012 at 7:50 am

I gulp, too.

{I so get this.}

Balance isn’t my easy or my best, either.

{Fabulous post, girl. Fabulous.}
Galit Breen recently posted..Watching, and Seeing

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Kim September 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I found your post on “The Best of Everything Mom” digital publication…and I am so glad I did! This article speaks to me like no other.

I too struggle with finding that perfect balance between being the best Mother I know how to be, and giving myself time to write. It is an extremely delicate balance, and one I fall off of constantly. What I find helps me is to just jot down words that will (hopefully) trigger my brain when I have the time to actually sit down and write it out in full. However this tact isn’t without faults either. For as my brain has been fried with the demands and chaos of the day that only young children can bring, sometimes the trigger words don’t even help. It is then I tell myself: if I can’t remember what I wanted to write then the post was obviously not as important as I originally thought anyway!

Thank you for such a thought provoking, true-to-my-heart article!
Keep writing my friend!
Kim recently posted..The Things I Missed

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