I started out my “31 Days” with vim and vigor. I had all my “scenes” laid out in a nice, tidy story arc, and I felt strongly about both the format and the content. “What could go wrong?”, I thought. It was my life thus far as a mom, and I felt more than ready to dissect it, moment by moment.
As I started to write, I found it to be therapeutic to re-imagine some of those key moments, and it was easy to follow my story from pregnancy through Madi’s infancy. It felt simple and direct, but as soon as I threw another kid into the mix, I got stuck. Life with two kids…then three…is much less linear. Progress moves less in a straight line and more like I was swirling through large, looping circles. There were plenty of moments to work through, but it seemed disjointed. In fact, it felt exactly like my real life…right now…and I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready to tackle it.
To that point, I had started reading a memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen, and at the beginning of the first section, she quotes Kierkegaard. The quote reads, “Life must be lived forward but understood backward.” “Yes”, I thought, “Retroactive sense-making! I love that!” (I’m a communication theory nerd.) But I also started to see that by still being in the thick of sleepless nights, constant clean-up, and chronic fatigue, I was in danger of not being far enough removed from my experiences to be able to “understand them backwards”. The moments were more fresh, more “now”, and I felt like I couldn’t get a good view of what was happening in the middle of drowning in them.
So I stopped writing for a few days. Actually, I kept trying to start the next post, but I just ended up with a bunch of unfinished drafts. I contemplated leaving it unfinished, but that is part of my problem. I leave too much unfinished. Baby scrapbooks, writing projects, clothes sorting…all started, but not complete. I jump into the next project, willy-nilly, and never come back to finish the things that I started days…weeks…months ago. It’s one of my big flaws, and you mix that up with the troubling sensation of being too “up close and personal” with my experiences, and it feels insurmountable.
It seems silly, because this is just a little writing assignment that I GAVE MYSELF, but I knew that I needed to finish it somehow. To write the second act. To embrace the non-linear mess that is my path through motherhood. To look through the binoculars backwards so that I could force myself to put some distance between now and yesterday. To celebrate the moments of motherhood, whether they are inspiring or challenging.
Here’s to the second act. Let the curtains open on a woman who is a little older, a little wiser, and a little more wrinkly.
She still has something to say – I just have to let her speak.