Dear Readers

by cbcabeen on October 16, 2010

This post marks the beginning of the public life of this journal.  It’s not my first blog–I got a diaryland diary in 2001 and a livejournal a couple years later–but neither of them is a good fit for the essays about motherhood that I’m writing now.  The banner needs fixed and I bet there are bugs, but that can get worked out later.

Rebecca turns one tomorrow.  I want to post something every month until she turns two.  I suspect time with a toddler disappears the same way that time spent taking care of a baby does, where the hours dribble out leaving only a trail of stickiness.  I’m hungry to have something more substantial and less sticky I can point to as accomplished.

Ted is in charge of Rebecca for three or so hours every Saturday morning, and that’s when I write.  It’s not enough time to say everything I’d like to, but it’s a good amount of time to write something.  The things I make time to finish usually fall into a pattern like this:  I turn to writing after an experience I’ve had trouble talking about or that I want to keep thinking about, and that means I write about facets of motherhood that other writers haven’t already digested to my satisfaction.  Now, the blogs and forums I read gripe a lot, so writing what I haven’t seen skews toward a combination of feminist criticism and uplifting spirituality.  The place where those two things connect for me is in paying attention to the tales I tell myself about mothering and then shifting toward more nourishing stories when that’s appropriate.

For example, when I wrote “They’re Made of Meat”, I hadn’t read anything positive about nights with a baby, so I wanted to call out those invisible hours I spend with my daughter and make them into something that really exists.  Most people seem to label nights in early parenthood by an absence of what they think should be there (i.e. sleep) rather than in terms of what’s actually there: feeding, rocking, managing the covers, thinking, remembering, and trying to get back to sleep.  “Interrupted sleep” is a real complaint, but it’s also a red herring and a safe kind of stand-in for all the tangled things long nights allow.  And conversely, if a large segment of your life on the job is denoted as a lack, does that mean that you and your colleagues don’t approach it as worthwhile work?  Does it make crying- it-out more appealing?

I see parenting as a spiritual endeavor.  When it’s not going well, I think about social, material, and psychological structures feeding the problem, but I also assume that the struggle is good, that the awareness of ourselves and our society that Ted and I come to in the process is good.  I believe that whatever challenges Rebecca brings with her are things we need for our own growth, and that shows up in my writing.  This approach reflects some privilege–I don’t end up in many situations where all the options are just irredeemably bad–but hopefully not in a way that’s overly sappy or pat.

The other important bit of context is, I’m a lurker.  I avoid commenting on other people’s journals because the posts that I most want to reply to are about deeply personal struggles and transformations.  Who am I to cruise in and opine?  So I watch people online for years at a time and read posts that I still think of years later, without commenting.  If I write about my personal struggles, I’m wondering if I can pay forward some of what I’ve gained from reading about others’.  If my writing gets you to tell your own story in the comments here or on your own blog, then I figure I’ve won.

Christina

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

LadyMora October 20, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I love reading your blog posts, and they provide food for thought for me, too, so I think, if anything I’ve written has stuck with you, the exchange is mutually beneficial. :) And I’ll just stick the RSS to this on LJ and nothing will change for me.

With my motherhood so impending, I like the fresh perspective you bring, and I like seeing your internal processing of things I glimpse externally when our paths cross. Your insights about embodying parts of your mother really resonated with me, as did the idea of a mother being a place rather than a person.

I hope that I, too, can continue to see the challenging parts of life, and of parenthood as a growth experience, and bring those things to consciousness, and rewrite my perspectives on things when I realize I’m looking at it wrong.

It’s always so pleasing when you post something. Makes me think… :)

cbcabeen October 22, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Thanks for your encouraging comment–that feels like getting my blog started right!

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