Dear Internets: my name is Catherine Connors and I am a writer. I am also a mother.
Maybe it’s the other way around: mother, writer. This weekend, I’m not sure. This weekend, I am trying to be both, and more: mother, writer, friend, acquaintance, business woman, community advocate, self-promoter, thinker, drinker, writer-mother, mother-writer, woman, self. I am trying to be all things, and I am struggling.
I’ve struggled before. I struggle everyday. Everyday I wake up and immediately put tit to the mouth of a tiny human being whose survival, whose well-being, whose flourishing depends entirely upon me, and I throw my arms around a slightly larger human being whose heart is my own, and as I nurse and hug and love I gaze at my laptop and wonder when the moment will come that I will open it and record this love, this work, this love and craft it into words. And my heart strains in those moments because I know that I cannot have both immediately at once, my motherhood and my writerhood, just as I know in those moments when I share love with my husband or sisterhood with my friends or writerly solidarity with my peers (who are also, so many of them, my friends) that I am doing so as my self but not practicing my whole self – I am not being a mother in those moments, or a writer, or what-have-you – and that’s fine, that’s totally fine and that’s good because that’s life, even if it sometimes feels hard because you so often want to be or feel you need to be all your selves at once. You can’t be everything at once.
But ordinarily, the moments that I struggle with wanting to be all or some my selves at once are private ones. This weekend, they are public – they are public because they are exposed, because I am exposed, because I am wearing my heart on my sleeve, because I am carrying my heart around in a red-and-white polka dot sling and sometimes he cries and sometimes he shits and always I want, I need, to protect him, and that want, that need, that him makes me vulnerable because it puts my fears, my love, my anxiety, my hope all on full display and demands that I deal with those here, now, NOW, while I am surrounded by people, my people, my peers and role models and friends and sisters, while I am trying to be so many parts of myself all at once, and that. leaves. me. raw. It leaves me feeling exposed, it leaves me feeling vulnerable to every flutter of emotion that moves through the room – the triumphs of others, the hurts of others, the vulnerabilities of others, the love of others – because I am carrying all those things of my own, in my arms, and I am doing so in a three-day long moment that demands many other things of me – things that I want to give, want to share – and so I am tired, vulnerable.
And so the other night, I sat down by Guy Kawasaki’s swimming pool, heart in my arms, and I wept, and as the crowd – my peers, my idols, my friends – buzzed around me I tried to close in on myself and shield myself – my mother self, my weepy self, my stressed-and-scared self – from exposure so that I could keep these selves detached, keep these selves from muddying the water of my other selves – my writer-self, my friend-self, my woman-selves, the selves with hopes and ambitions that have nothing or very little to do with the little heart cradled in my arms, head damp with my tears. Those selves, my public selves, the selves through I distill and present my messier selves in my craft as a writer/blogger, those selves fell away and I was left with all the messiness – no words, no screen to hide behind – and I cried. As my heart squirmed in my arms and my soul ached in my gut, I cried.
I have cried, again, many times since then, in moments of inspiration and love (so many of these, here) and anxiety (can I cope, here? should I even be here? am I brave to be here, or am I stupid?) and fear (oh the fear). I will cry many times more. I will be the girl – the woman, the writer, the mother – in the corner, crying, yearning to be seen, and yearning to be invisible. Yearning to feel comfortable in my wholeness, in my love and hope and ambition and fear and tears and baby-shits and all.