I’ve been trying to “break-in” this little website of mine for weeks. Slowly but surely crossing tasks off my list of things to do before launching it out into the world: “build it” (if you can even call rearranging a wordpress template building), write an About Me, upload my poetry from Instagram, write A Very Quick Review for all of the books I have read so far this year, and write one long form essay.
I just can’t seem to do the writing.
Here I am crafting a website from thin air, a website to house my writing, a place for it to live apart from the fickle heart of Instagram and I can’t do it, I can’t write. I have been working on an essay about my crying baby learning words, making meaning and connecting with me through language, and I can’t finish it. That essay sits at the top of my GoogleDoc folder, mostly untouched. This website continues to sit “unlaunched.”
My New Year’s Resolution: take my writing seriously. This is my first step, and I can’t write.
I’ve been writing consistently since my English teacher made me keep a journal in eighth grade. Still, years and years later, almost every morning I pull out a black and white composition notebook, college rule only, and jot down thoughts and prayers, process feelings, record what is happening and what’s on my mind.
I’ve been writing on Instagram off and on since 2017, when I posted some reflections about God’s faithfulness in my marriage and in my time living in a little college town. My husband and I were on the brink of moving back home and I processed those feelings by writing and posting.
Pregnancy and motherhood gave way to more reflections and my journals were no longer cutting it. I had walked into motherhood first of my closest friends and two months after the birth of my daughter we moved from where I had the support of family to a new city. That first year of motherhood, surrounded by friends who weren’t yet mothers but were (are) amazing friends, was still lonely and isolating. I had no clue if what I was feeling was normal.
There’s this joke amongst mothers about how babies don’t come home from the hospital with an instruction manual, and the idea is that you either figure it out yourself using your natural instincts or you ask for help.
I googled many things in that first year: why won’t my baby sleep through the night, how to know if my baby has colic, is my baby too cold or too warm, when to introduce solids, how to introduce solids, how to do infant cpr. I called home and asked for my own mom’s advice, for her own experience. I talked to my daughter’s pediatrician, asking her anything and everything. But there are just some things google, your mom, and your doctor can’t answer.
Is it normal to ache for your old life like a lost limb? Is it normal to hear the baby crying and stay in bed a couple more minutes? Is it normal to have your heart so full of love and fear, wonder and terror at the same time? Is it normal to be wishing for things to stay the same while also wishing things were different? Is it normal to revere your baby making, baby growing, baby delivering body while also hating it deeply? Is it normal to feel like your life is over? Is it normal to feel the pressure of a thousand pound anvil on your chest when you look at your sleeping baby? Is it normal to resent your spouse and the way his life has remained relatively the same while yours has changed more than you ever thought possible? Is it normal to love this much? Is it normal to be so angry you punch yourself in the leg because you can’t punch a baby and somebody has to get punched for this?
Some of these things I bounced off my friends but I was scared of scaring them away from me and from motherhood with her many ups and downs. So instead I wrote. And I posted. And I felt less alone than ever each time I did. The resounding answer to every “is it normal” question I poetically posed from my Instagram captions was–yes. So I kept writing and I kept noticing how I was feeling, and what I was seeing, and what was changing within me and the answer kept being–yes. This is normal, you are normal. Thank you for putting it into words.
A couple of months ago I went to a comedy show. (I think this might make me sound cool, but this is not my normal behavior so don’t think too much of me.) The show was held in a family member’s backyard and the comedian had me entertained, on the edge of my seat the whole time. I’m not joking, the whole time. He was, of course, hilarious but he was also incredibly vulnerable and with each story told I knew this was what he was meant to do with his life. He had a gift, a gift for spinning human tales into jest without losing the humanity behind them. It can’t be easy being a comedian, I know that he lives in a van and that can’t be easy either. I’m sure he has faced rejection after rejection after rejection. He also has had to live the jokes he tells–hard ones about his dad dying and his wife cheating.
Driving home I couldn’t help but comment on how brave I felt he was to be honoring the gift he had been given. How facing rejection, facing vulnerability, facing someone saying this means nothing to the world, he still drove his van to the next stop on his living room/backyard tour and told jokes and told stories and connected people through shared humanity and laughter.
And although he would probably tell me I’m taking this all too seriously, watching him that night changed how I see myself and my writing.
I get the same humming buzz in my head of fate and destiny and God given gift colliding when I listen to my friend’s band play–harmony and humanity and grit pouring from them in a winery, a retirement home, a backyard under a rainy sky; when I watch another friend create dresses and tops out of thin air; when I feel my fingers flying across my laptop, feelings and thoughts untangled before me.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have this writer’s mind, the one that can’t. stop. noticing, the one that can’t stop making meaning out “nothing,” the one often plagued by sentences and phrases until they are given a proper place to rest outside of my writer’s mind. Sometimes I wish I could bebop through motherhood, through life without asking all the “is it normal” questions. Sometimes I wish I could sit in a comedy show and not have my life changed, but here we are, this is me.
So yeah, this is not the essay I planned on writing, but I think it’s the one I needed to write. To rip the bandaid, so to speak, off this little baby website of mine. To remind myself of why I even wanted to do this. To remind myself that honoring the gifts I have been given–my writer’s mind, my flying fingers– is not always easy, it’s not always harmonious, its not always as funny as a joke told in someone’s backyard, or as flattering as a dress tailored perfectly. In fact, it’s often terrifying.
But if it brings connection, if it makes even just one person sigh in relief at knowing they are not alone in punching their own leg in the middle of the night when the baby literally hasn’t slept a wink, if it brings a speck of beauty to a world begging for it it’s worth it. Worth the fear of rejection, the fear of displaying my vulnerability, the fear of being too much or not enough.
And because I am only trying to honor my God given gifts, you will find word pictures here and a very simple layout. I know my strengths and web design and photography are not among them.
Thank you for being here.