On Writing and Living

I’ve dreamed of being a writer. OK, truth be told, I’ve dreamed about a lot of things. But writing, it’s always been one of those things. It’s the cool thing that some people do. It’s the eloquent way in which some people express themselves (both in writing and in speaking). It’s the one job where you know that you are indeed supposed to sit in front of your computer screen all day trying to crank out words on the page while staring wistfully out the window because you have writer’s block. Maybe I’m making that up. How would I know? I’m not actually a writer. Despite my long-held desire to be one. (Of course there was that one time for English class in high school. My best friend and I wrote a children’s book. Complete with illustrations. Neither of us could draw then. We had a good laugh over that. Does she still have the book, or do I…? Hmmm…. Regardless, that book does not count toward my authorship.) 

I thought that when I became an academic researcher, that I would be much more prolific at writing. I was not. I started several articles. But was afraid to finish and submit them for peer review publication. (See my last blog post on that topic, Publish or Perish). And so, I started this blog five years ago. I managed to put out two pieces (aside from the about me page). And then my world changed. Not in a bad way. I simply became more focused about the baby that was growing inside me while trying to get my research work at my job done before going on maternity leave. In November 2014, my partner and I became first-time parents. And then my focus shifted completely to the baby: Caring for her. Loving her. Being in awe of her and everything she did. It didn’t work out with my last full-time employment gig after baby was born. (Probably a mismatch from the start, but,) I was told that under no circumstances could I work from home after maternity leave, nor under reduced hours, and that I, clearly had some thinking to do about working versus motherhood. Obviously, I chose motherhood. Still, the experience left a very sour taste. And perhaps I became a statistic in more ways than one. Not only the statistic where women exit the job force after becoming mothers, but also the statistic where women suffer from maternal mental health issues. Maybe I chalked it up to my standard self-diagnosed borderline, yet high-functioning depressive tendencies. The self-doubt, the self-criticism, the fear of failure. It doesn’t much matter what we call it, does it?

Anyway, it’s been five years. (FIVE YEARS?! Holy hell…firstborn baby is about to turn 5!) I’ve tried to find myself many times over the last five years. I’ve wanted to write. To journal. To do something with all of these thoughts floating around in my head with nowhere to go. But mostly I haven’t. I do follow the academic mamas facebook group. Sometimes lamenting that I am not more invested in my occupational field. But at the same time, never regretting spending time with the little people in my life. From the FB group, I heard about a writing challenge in which you put money on your ability to write 400 words at least 5 days out of the week (the Any Good Thing Writing Challenge run by Rebecca Barrett-Fox). I first joined the challenge in March 2017. That month, I managed to write 4 days, a total of 2,255 words. I lost the challenge on my first try. But then I tried again in September. By my records, I wrote exactly 1 day that month, a total of 451 words. A spectacular failure the second time around. *Sigh* As much as I wanted to write, I just couldn’t do it. And then, not long after that attempt, baby #2 became a thing. Baby #2 arrived earthside in August 2018. And a lot of shit happened in these last two years. My maternal mental health has only declined despite my attempts to make it not so. I’ve sought out therapists, while also attempting to create community support through kid co-ops, mamas circles, a Free Forest School chapter, a meditating on motherhood group, and most recently, a self-directed education community center. I’m still not feeling a whole lot of support in my life (my partner excepted. But he is also paying dearly for the lack of community support and trying to do everything he can to support a depressed partner while working a full-time job).

Does this blog post have a point? It does. It has several, actually, For me, this is my segue back into writing on my blog. I re-entered the AGT Writing Challenge this month (August 2019). It is week 2 of the challenge. I wrote the required 5 of 7 days last week, for a total of 4178 words. Not too shabby. My hope is that I will post most (if not all) of these writings here. Because they’ve got to go somewhere and in between the million other things I’m trying to do (did I mention that I opened my own home ballet fitness studio last year, right before baby #2 arrived?!), I don’t have the time or energy to find a better alternative to getting these thoughts out into the ethers. So, this is it. I’m back into the blog. And with this entry, I hope that my absence for the past five years will make sense. Not that anyone is actually reading this, I’m sure (ha, ha). But here I am. Week 2 in the writing challenge and hitting my 4th day of writing. That makes 2859 words this week. And many more words and posts to come. (Fingers crossed.) Thanks for reading.