The Right to Write

Sometimes it takes utter desperation to write.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It is easy to disparage the mommy bloggers. It is easy to roll one’s eyes. Then one day you happen to be a person who longs to write who also happens to be a mother. And your days revolve around home and baby and domestic life. You see how the mommy blogger trap is made. And you become more sympathetic. And finally you are empathetic. You arrive at a place where you realize the most important things in life are domestic, the most basic needs of our existence are met at heart and home and from mother.

Before you reach that point of no turning back, that place of drive and need, you are up against exhaustion. You are up all night with the baby. Then the baby grows, and she finally sleeps. But you discover that she more than makes up for the hours of tranquility she allows you at night during the long, non-stop days. She walks, she understand, she is alert and observant and demands. You are ecstatic at these developments, but no longer can you sneak in work. She knows! Are you doing something that pertains to a world and a life apart from her? She knows, and she will call you on it.

You ask yourself—why do anything else? There is work. Work you enjoy and that helps put food on the table and pay the mortgage each month. There are dishes in the sink and toys to be put away and goodness, shouldn’t you be printing out another set of her photos and recording what she is up to each day of each month for posterity’s sake? And within you, there is a need to communicate, a desire to connect, and a longing for story. Her story. Your story. Your husband’s. The stories of countless families both past and present. You think of the mothers rocking their babes to sleep over the decades, over the centuries, and you realize you are all connected, and you long to express that somehow—that amazing epiphany that arrived when you were bleary eyed in the hours of deepest darkness as your rocked, rocked, rocked the beloved child for whom you prayed so long and so hard.

rocker

You contemplate the negatives. Privacy. Discretion. Modesty. All are reasonable. Yet you weight them against the positives, the needs. You set it aside. Your mother wouldn’t like it. Don’t put anything down on paper, she says. Why does the world need to know your thoughts? She is right. She always is. You sigh and walk away. The baby needs you to read again, and you never say no to a book.

Then one day, she will not nap. Refuses. Is adamant that she must stay awake all day long and that you must spend every second of that day entertaining her. No, she will not be like the other babies and play quietly and independently. Such a silly idea! No, you must be her constant companion, she must constantly hear your voice, you must constantly perform. I remember longing for a baby, and I know I would never complain about these demands, that I would never turn away from her. However. . . she is exhausted. She is hysterical. She is sad. This child needs a nap in the worst way.

You exert yourself, you apply all advice ever given, you rock and bounce and drive up and down the block and worry about her teeth and administer Tylenol and do everything humanly possible to provide this poor darling with the relief she so needs but refuses to allow herself.

typewriter

Finally your best and oldest friend, sensing your distress, sends you a message. Put her down. Give her a few minutes. She will sleep. You will both get what you need. It kills you as you do it. But there are these wonderful blogs. . .mommy blogs, some might call them. . .and they talk about faith and family and life in its deepest and most true realities. As you read them, you are not alone. I am not alone. We have all been here, longing for rest, for ourselves, for our babies.

And so the utter desperation sets in. Pen to paper. Fingers to keyboard. Capturing this moment, both exhausting and beloved, the fleeting joy and frustration of having a baby, memories you never want to lose. The clasping at strength and patience in the midst of your worst selfishness. How can we not be there with each other, how can we not connect in every way given to us? The very vulnerability that makes it a risk is the reason why we must. Fingers to keyboard now.

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