The Motherhood of Writing — by Laura Houston
I spent four years of my life trying to get pregnant, doing things like injecting myself in the ass with long, thick, angry needles full of progesterone, or drinking Chinese herbal remedies that caused me to throw up half the time because they smelled and tasted so bad. It was such a traumatic, emotionally draining, incredibly sad time in our lives that neither me nor my husband David can talk about it. So when we found out we were pregnant with twins, and we knew it would not be fun during parts of the journey, we swore wouldn’t complain about parenthood. We had worked to hard to achieve it.
I recall after my first failed IVF I went to a baby shower where several of the moms were complaining about their lost lives, their ambivalence over their sense of self, and the way pregnancy changed their lives. One of them waved her hand at me and said, “Just adopt. You can keep your figure and save yourself some sleep.”
People don’t mean to be insensitive, but they often are. At that point in my life, I would have gladly gained weight, lost sleep, and endured a soul-searching journey just to have a child. And lo and behold here I am with two. And I try very hard not to complain. I work at enjoying every moment, and thanks to one key trick I know, I pretty much do enjoy every moment. That trick is writing.
More than anything else in this world I believe that writing actualizes the self. If you write about how much you love your kids, you tend to love them even more. If you write about how much your kids drive you crazy, very often you can let those feelings go and you don’t feel so crazy any more. Writing creates a framework for your life and for your feelings. It gives you control. What you put down on paper is in your control.
The Internet is fat with blogs on motherhood. Why? Because we are trying to rediscover our sense of self through our experiences and then writing about them. And blogging is more powerful than a diary because we are hanging ourselves out there for all to see – failures and all. Sometimes what we write is trivial to others. Sometimes it’s just downright complaining. But many times it’s reflecting upon this incredible seed of love growing inside us, and sometimes it’s growing so fast it hurts. Or it makes us drastically uncomfortable. Or it fills our lungs with oxygen, and we are so high we don’t know if we can ever come down.
I have loved blogging about my experiences as a mother. Even more so, I have loved the myriad of responses I have received via email, Facebook, and on the blog itself. There are regular readers who reach out to me to tell me my words affected them, and when they turn around share their story with me, I am affected. It has been a tremendously rich, emotional, and fulfilling exchange.
But now is the time for me to make another change. I’m going to take some time off and do some writing of a different kind. Something more creative. Something more challenging. Something I don’t know if I can actually do, but it’s time I stepped outside my comfort zone and do what I always dreamed of.
My husband and I rented a house Upstate for a few weeks this summer. We’re going up to relax, enjoy the beauty of New York, and hang out with the family. I’ll do some writing. He’ll do some cycling. We’ll swim with the boys and maybe show them how to skip rocks in one of those perfect Adirondack Rivers. There will be no Internet or cable or satellite TV. No electronics. Just the family and my old, warped composition book. And a good old-fashioned ink pen.
So I say good-bye for the summer. And I have to thank both the readers who agreed with me and those who disagreed with me because you all taught me something. And most of all I want to say if you are feeling lost, confused, happy, excited, and you want to experience it at its fullest: write. Put pen to paper and write. It’ll change your life.