Writing and Motherhood

Writing and Motherhood

My mom was a good mom.  A phenomenal mom.  An overprotective loon of a mom who would cut out newspaper clippings of the latest rape, murder, twenty car pile up to remind her only child that the world is not a cushiony pillow where you can rest your head and close your eyes.

My mother taught me to never close my eyes.

And I haven’t.  I don’t.  Writing is an eye opening experience in and of itself, and frankly, so is motherhood.  Combining the two is frozen yogurt, man.  A sweet swirl of vanilla and chocolate.  But sometimes the milk goes bad and everything tastes abysmally sour.

{Side Note: I told Matt the other day that we should start a frozen yogurt shop called YOLO, you know, just to be douches and what not, and on our recent road trip we found a YOLO FROYO shop.  I know.  I still have chills.}

When it’s good, it’s just like icecream with half the calories.  When it’s bad, it’s like digging your spoon into mud.

Nobody talks about the bad parts of being a mom.  Or maybe they do, but I just haven’t paid attention because, well, books.  Books take up a lot of my fabulous time which means I spend my days with eyes open, staring at paper.  But if they do talk about the bad parts about rearing forty odd pounds of blonde-headed psycho, then maybe this is what they say:

  • Words hurt.  The words your child says to  you.  The words you say to your child.  You can be sweet as pie, but the second midnight comes rolling around and you have an endless ball of emotion screaming at your face and wanting to kick you the rest of the night in your bed, the jagged edged words are vomited up, are tumbled out of you, and you become the person you try to shove day in, day out into the back closet of your mind.
  • There is no “you” anymore.  “You” is for those people that still sleep on the weekends.  “You” is for people who still sleep in general.
  • Everyone’s a critic.  If you think you’re doing “mothering” wrong, just ask the lady in front of you at the grocery store that keeps sneering at you.  She’s in charge of everything.  Ever.
  • Clothes shall be named “stain canvases” from now on.  Your child is an artist.  Let them express themselves, and if your boss doesn’t understand, key your emotions into the side of his ‘vette.
  • If you think you’re doing it wrong, you are and you aren’t.  That’s the thing about this game.  There are no rules.

She’s clothed, she’s fed, she’s beautiful.  The page is blank.  She’s cranky, she’s lost a sock, she needs a snack.  The page is filled.

It will be like this forever you know.  You’re a writer and mother which means balance confounds you.  Everything is sticky and unwashed unless it’s the day you play catch up and your novel, rooted in your gut, kicks at your intestines and causes you pain.

But the messy things in life, the painful things are most often the most beautiful ones.  So deep breath, hugs and kisses, story before bedtime, right after the bath and thank whatever deity you enjoy thanking for every day you get to open your eyes, see your child’s face, and mend letters into words.

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17 thoughts on “Writing and Motherhood”

  1. Oh yeah! Just this morning, I was dressing my 6 year old. He has to get all gussied up (do people use that word anymore) on Friday’s with a clip on tie, and he needed my help. I know that won’t last forever. I know that clip on will turn into a real tie, just like he will turn into a man. I love that face. I love how me (and his older 9 year old brother) make me human. More human, if that’s possible every morning. I relive all of life through their huge eyes. And then, I write.

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    1. That’s such an ice pick to the heart, isn’t it? The fact that they won’t always want to clip on tie or the princess dress? It makes the midnight “wake ups” a little easier to handle. And yes, more human, ain’t that the truth. I cry now. I used to never cry, but I’m more empathetic than ever since having a child. And as much as it’s a time cruncher, sometimes an overbearing headache, it’s also such an inspiration to raise a little one.

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  2. Enjoy the good with the bad because they will grow up and you will be left with just memories..As they age and you age you will love them as much but it will be different..Time always goes by fast..Enjoy them today.. Love Grandma

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  3. Preach sister! Being a mother is the worst and best job of my life and it always will be. They own our hearts and souls then walk all over both anytime they want a cookie. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it to you, God makes them beautiful and their hugs better than anything so we don’t kill them.

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    1. Worst and best job ever – agreed! I say that all the time and it’s funny when people look at me like I’m crazy. These are usually the people that have forgotten what it’s like to raise a live monkey…I mean child! 🙂 And truth about God knowing what he’s doing. Smart man, that one.

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  4. normally your fiction is what races my heart or stops my breath, but today it was the universal ache and pull we feel as women who are called “Mother”.
    Ericka you have the WORDS and I am so glad when you let them out to play and then share with us.

    So glad to be a mom during this amazing time in our history and our writing alongside you.

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  5. I am the man married to your psycho mother and her article clippings. You are right. Watching my mom with nine kids, your mom with one, and you with 9 kids wrapped up in one, I have no doubt mothering is the hardest of all jobs to do and to watch. The fascinating thing about all three of these mothers is they raised great children, but all contributed to making me a better man as well as a better son, father, and grandfather. It amazes me the incredible skill you possess as a writer. It is only surpassed by your skill as a mother and daughter!

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  6. I’m an only child, and a Mum, and a Nanna. I’ve moved through so many ‘stages’ with the adult kids that I’m having to re-learn the earliest ones that I’ve almost forgotten with my 23 month old grandson all over again. Too big for the travel cot now he slept over last night on the airbed with a toddler sized Monsters Inc sleeping bag. We read books….well sort of….I read them, he rolled around and repeated his favourite word ‘car’ about 200 times in five minutes. Our conversations are very different to the ones I had in lectures doing Honours at Uni last year. He had milk and a biscuit and I felt all nostalgic and wished that I hadn’t rushed through my own children’s childhood so fast and wondered if I should write about it. Then……6.30 am this morning, Nanna (me) made a ‘rookie’ mistake and took off his overnight nappy before the sniff test,…… whilst he was stood up, wide awake and ready for the run around. It was a shitty start to the day and in the chaos of showers, floor mopping and general messiness and Grumpy Grandpa complaints that followed I remembered why all the fabulous writing in my head didn’t always make the transition to words on page . You can’t be in the moment and writing about it simultaneously, and there might never be a time when you can stand back, take a breath and let the words out in a brief interlude however compromised that might feel. I’ve got him two days a week, not full time like my own kids, and even that seems to disrupt any routine I’m trying to establish with writing. I don’t know how other Mums do it, I don’t know how I did it. I have no idea how writing Mums manage to get the writing done. I do know that my life and everything I do write would have been poorer without being a Mum, however time poor we might feel in the middle of it all, and I’d rather be a writer with the depth that comes from dealing with all kinds of shit than a writer whose page is pristine and implausible 🙂 It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be real Ericka xx

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