I haven’t posted in a month. I have a hundred excuses why. Some are more valid than others, but none of them are the full truth.
Excuse 1: I had family come in for a visit. They drove from Ontario to visit with us and, as the designated stay-at-home-for-right-now mom, I was more than happy to escort them about the city, showing off the place I love.
Excuse 2: Holidays. Between thanksgiving and Halloween, a lot has been going on. G had her first movie experience, we have carved multiple pumpkins. We have baked and eaten that baking. I have gained back all of the weight that I had lost… you know what they say: Thanksgiving is the beginning of the end for every weak-willed dieter.
Excuse 3: I am a bridesmaid in a wedding and the bachelorette party was in Canmore last weekend. A LOT of my focus had to go into that.
Excuse 4: L is in a BAD sleep regression. G had them when she was a baby, but not like this. I am getting absolutely no more than 90 minutes of sleep at night and only a few small breaks during the day. I love him to little bits but I may leave him in a box on the side of the road with a “Free Baby” sign pretty soon.
Ok so not 100 excuses, but four. Again, all of them real reasons why I have been lax in my blog posting duties, but none of them cover all of it. The real reason was one that I hadn’t been able to recognize until I was at my book club last Thursday. My book club, which has only had two meetings so far, is made up of women that I’ve never met, all of whom are small business owners or entrepreneurs. They are incredible. Beautiful inside and out, these women work their tails off to live their dream and to make their visions reality. I was overwhelmed, surrounded by them, by how strong and utterly RELENTLESS they are. Our book for October was “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington and while we all agreed that it was sort of “meh” overall, it had a few interesting points that became deep conversations for us. One of the key points was hit on the head by one of the other women: we are constantly told to question our own abilities and value. We have these deep desires and wants in our lives… oftentimes involving dreams we want to pursue. But we stop ourselves. We stop because we think of finances. We think of responsibilities. We think, most of all, “who am I to do this?”
And that line is what struck me. “Who am I to do this?” She was speaking of her own experiences, and yet it was like she was giving voice to the fear that hides in the back of my head: Who am I to think that I am worth hearing? Who am I to think I can speak to this or that? Who am I to think anyone wants to hear what I have to say?
For all of the many concrete reasons I had given myself for putting off posting, this was the one that they hid: my deep insecurity that no one should care what I have to say; that it is arrogant for me to think that what I have to say is worth being heard at all.
I recently read a piece by Joan Didion that talks about self-respect and the struggle to find it. She likened it to a “well-lit back alley” where all of our self-knowledge waits to essentially mug us with the truths behind our masks and self-image and reputation: here lurk the truths you can hide from everyone but yourself. I think I LIVE in that back alley. I am never unaware of my failings, big and small. I still think about the time I called a kid a bad name in grade 4 and that one time I didn’t stand up for my mom when I should have. I’m aware of the frustration I feel when I’m with my daughter – the short-tempered cruelties that shame me deeply. I can’t pretend with myself to be any kind of parenting sage because I know too well the truth of myself, and to write any kind of piece that says otherwise is to be inauthentic.
It’s a funny duality that I have found in motherhood: I jealously remember the times in my life when I was truly seen, now that I am permanently relegated to the background of my children’s lives. I once was the sun, with everything orbiting around my life, but now I am just one of those planets, orbiting G and L while they shine. I guard the precious memories of my life BEFORE when I was Danielle and not just mom. When I had interests and independence. But the irony is that I think my greatest fear is to be truly seen now. To be seen in my inglorious moments, my frustrated ones, my shameful ones. It’s one thing to embrace the messiness of parenthood – there is a deeply funny side to the trivial failings of our day-to-day lives: the spilled milk, the spit up accidents, the blow-outs. There is a black humour to the first time your kid repeats the word “fuck” or accidentally does something inappropriate with total, pure innocence. But it’s a different beast to look at our real failings as parents and as people. Those are moments we do not want to be seen… and they are moments that I feel I have had more of since I became a mom.
And yet, I believe there is value in it. I think that there are those moments where seeing someone else be vulnerable allows us a greater connection to both ourselves and one another. I believe that we are closer when we see each other as human. Especially in a time where social media makes it difficult to separate someone’s PROFILE from her LIFE.
So I’m back. I have to believe that there is a value to what I want to say. Perhaps it will be uncomfortable – for me, for people who read it – but perhaps there is value in that. If I want to raise a daughter who sees value in her own thoughts and voice, I have to find that value in my own.