This blog is, obviously, a sort of personal diary. But it’s a considered sort of personal diary, contrived in the sense of being planned, structured, deliberated upon. It’s not a spontaneous, stream-of-conciousness account of my feelings – it’s a structured personal record of my thoughts and ideas and anecdotes and snapshots of life as a mother. It’s the story of my family’s life, of my life, and its telling is approached as craft. And it’s told to, written for, an audience. An audience of friends and peers, of fellow parents, fellow writers, fellows – but an audience nonetheless. An audience whose opinion I respect and crave and, sometimes, just a little bit, fear. An audience whose approval matters.
I embrace this, I love this, this strange and lovely and sometimes disconcerting relationship with readers-cum-critics-cum-friends. It makes demands upon me, wonderful demands; it makes me want to be, strive to be, a better writer, a better reader, a better friend. But it also, sometimes, constrains me. That I know my audience, that I in some respects love my audience, makes me, sometimes, cautious about what or how much I share. Not because I wish to conceal myself, but because I wish – perhaps neurotically – to control the self-portrait that I share with you. I want it to be honest, as honest as it can be, but I also want it to be attractive. I want to show my best sides, because I want you to like me.
So it is that I have found it difficult to write over the past two weeks (the absence of a reliable wireless connection exascerbated this problem, but that’s another story). If you follow this blog at all, you know that I, and my family, have had something of a tough time of it of late. You also know that I’ve had an embarrassment – a wonderful, extraordinary embarrassment – of support and love from this amazing community. You saw me hurting and struggling – you saw my brush faltering on this oh-so artful portrait – and you responded with love, and so I felt vindicated in my decision to share the hurt and the struggle. But I have – we have – continued to struggle a bit in recent days, and I’ve felt, well, that it had all gotten to be too much to share. I have felt as though I was turning into that friend, that acquaintance, that person that we all know who is always suffering some misfortune, always responding to cheerful how-are-yous? with gloomy proclamations of misery and doom. Yes, well, after all the coping with sickness and death and disaster we were met with pestilence and family upset and have I mentioned about my back pain?
I don’t want to be that person, not to you. Not to anybody. I’m not that person. Hence my silence in recent days. I couldn’t write about my frustrations, my worries, but neither could I not write about them: I couldn’t write cheery posts about WonderBaby’s first encounters with snow while my head and heart were lurching about in darker corners; I couldn’t recount the joys of our recent visit with family while wringing my hands over worries about family. So I just didn’t write at all.
But I can’t not write anymore, so I am writing this, this elliptical reflection (not the first) on not-writing, this allusive confession, this no-doubt confusing testament to my confusion.
And I am writing to say that I will continue writing, and that I will revel in the happy and the illuminating and the thought-provoking and I will let those bright and varied colours do the work of balancing the shadows in my portrait.
I’m back. You will see me.
We don’t know how to quit you.
Pestilence Update: WonderBaby is well on the road to recovery. The pox are receding, and we are all greatly relieved. Thanks for all your good thoughts.