I don’t remember when I stopped writing about ordinary life as a mom. I actually think that it was a long time ago, longer than you would think. I may have only written that way for a few years, maybe less. What I mean is, I think that it was actually a very short period of time that I was actually ‘mom blogging,’ or ‘blogging’ at all. The rest of the time, I wasn’t really blogging. I was opining, or pontificating. Crafting essays. Making arguments. Expressing thoughts.
Writing the stories about the trials and tribulations of daily life is something different. It’s not that that that kind of writing doesn’t include opinion, or isn’t thoughtful (I’d argue that it’s actually extremely thoughtful, in the sense of being contemplative.) It’s more that it’s a kind of writing that is driven more by the pleasure of storytelling than by the desire to make a point (thank you, Nish, for giving me language for this.) It’s a kind of writing that I really only did for a short time, during my kids’ babyhoods and toddlerhoods.
It was a happy time.
I think that it was also my most radical time as a writer. (And here I begin opining, pontificating. I can’t help myself.)
I think that it was my most radical time as a writer for the reasons that Alice Bradley said (a billion years ago) that ‘mommy blogging is a radical act.’ Telling public stories about the private lives of women is radical because for most of human history, it was never done. It’s radical because it dignifies and ennobles those lives. Because it says that art and craft and work of joy of those lives is worth sharing. The stories I wrote about struggling with breastfeeding or fighting postpartum depression; the diary-like posts about silly things my small, amazing offspring said or did; the random accounts of diaper mishaps in restaurant restrooms or that one time (or many times) I put unmatched shoes on because I’d been up all night with Jasper and couldn’t see straight. Those stories.
Those stories were radical, too, because I wasn’t writing them to be radical. I was writing them for survival. I can’t even say that I was writing them for happiness, because that isn’t quite right. I needed to write them. I wrote instead of watching TV or taking long hot baths or doing whatever it is that was or is supposed to count as quote-unquote ‘me time.’ And I read other radical stories — stories that were radical simply because they were true and unvarnished. Stories about boob pain and sleeplessness and the relentless onslaught of the Dora the Explorer theme song. Stories that weren’t, as the kids now say, ‘takes.’ Stories that didn’t have a point, not really, other than to just be stories. Stories that acquired dignity simply by being told.
Anyway. It may or may not matter whether it was, in fact, radical (it was.) It served me. It gave me something that I still can’t quite put my finger on. Community, purpose, validation, yes, yes, sure – all those things. But there was something else that I can’t quite describe. Meaning? Maybe it was that.
It probably doesn’t matter.
(Here is where I work very hard to stop this from becoming a ‘take.’)
It doesn’t matter. What matters is, I need it again.
Here is some of my life right now:
- I am the co-founder of a start-up and am occupied with that approximately 10 days a week;
- I have a book coming out this November but still don’t quite believe that’s happening, despite having wrote the book (with an amazing co-author) in non-existent spare hours over just a few months;
- I don’t get enough sleep / don’t eat well enough / don’t get enough exercise (see the first two bullets);
- I have this whole pitch for a girl-centered TV show that gender-flips some folklore, that will otherwise become YA series one day, you totally want to read it;
- I am the primary breadwinner in my family, but don’t take a salary, so that’s awkward;
- Oh, I’m also (still) a mom;
- Life with a tween girl is some HARD SHIT;
- But is it really harder than anything else? (Debatable.)
- I have cats but I’m allergic to them, which basically sums up my approach to life;
- Did I say that I don’t get enough sleep?
- Partly because I lay awake at night, worrying about…
- My business
- Parenting a tween girl
- Making ends meet
- The state of the country
- The state of my psyche
- Whether I’m fulfilled. (Am I fulfilled? I’m living my dreams, right?)
- (What does it mean to be fulfilled?)
- (Is it a #privilegedpersonproblem to worry about being fulfilled?) (Yes, it is.)
- Am I a good role model to my daughter?
- Tween girls are hard, did I say that?
- Pre-pubescent boys are less challenging, but is that sexist?
- Am I sexist?!?!
- I can’t be sexist, because I co-founded a DIGITAL PLATFORM FOR GIRLS and wrote a book about the power of WOMEN AND GIRLS and know a fuck of a lot about WOMEN AND GIRLS, so how can I be sexist?
- (I am probably sexist, because The Patriarchy is everywhere, possibly even in my soul.)
- Is Roblox bad? Is Logan Paul bad? (Yes.) Am I turning into my own mother? (Yes.)
- Sharp Objects (the TV show, not the household hazard)
- Whether writing lists is a writing cop-out
- Whether this post is good or bad (anticipating tonight’s sleep.)
- Whether I will come back to this list tomorrow and add to it (I will.)
I could go on. I am vast and I contain multitudes and I am experiencing accelerating aging because of tweens and entrepreneurship. Would I feel better if I wrote more, diary-style? Probably. I once thought of it as my therapy. Hell, it feels like therapy right now.
But I think I’m going to have to train myself a little. Train myself to opine less, reflect more. Do more inner monologuing and less outward monologuing. Live more in first draft (as Laura Mayes put it to me, eons ago) and less in third or fourth draft. Or galleys. Less presentation, more storytelling, more lived storytelling.
That’s a thing. I need to prove it to myself again.