Reciprocity of Writing & Motherhood
Many women enjoy reading and writing about their experiences as a mother. I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry, research essays, and especially journaling. I always found comfort in writing my thoughts and feelings on paper. It was almost as though I was solving my own questions, putting pieces of puzzles together with each written word. Since becoming a mother I found that being a part of a community that shares in the experience of motherhood is not only therapeutic, but informative. It’s allowed mothers all over the world to know that they are not alone in their challenges, feelings, and moments of amazement. There is a beautiful give and take in writing about one’s role as a mother- a reciprocity I’d never realized until I found myself immersed in the writing experience.
The story that brings any mother to begin writing is certainly different for everyone, but I’m sure much of it has to do with an urge to reach out to the world and find some sort of guidance. It was for me. As an English major in college, I always enjoyed journaling when I wasn’t working on a thesis essay. Once I completed school and joined the workforce, I continued to journal until I moved in with my husband. Between my job, wedding and pregnancy, I no longer had time to write. During the duration of my pregnancy, only twice did I pick up my pen for the purpose of writing something significant. The first time was to write my wedding vows to my new husband; the second was to write a eulogy for my father’s service when he unexpectedly passed during my fifth month of pregnancy.
For the two years I didn’t write or feel any urge to journal. My entire focus was absorbed by the many faceted duties of motherhood; however, over the course of those two years I felt myself becoming undone emotionally. I was plagued with anxiety, and depression. I had mood swings that made me feel as though I were going insane. I couldn’t find escape in the laundry, cooking, vacuuming, and diaper changing. I needed to put a voice to what was happening within. Though life was hectic, the call to write was eventually heard through the dull rumblings of the constant traffic. One day, exhausted and hurting, I turned on the laptop that had been sitting dormant in my bedroom closet, and began to write. Once again I began to find a solace I’d nearly forgotten about.
The words on the screen spoke of a woman who buried her grief over losing her father in order to maintain a healthy, safe pregnancy and an outwardly positive environment for her young child. I wrote about how my unhealthy mindset was keeping me from being the parent I wanted to be. I admitted to being plagued by terrifying thoughts, and images of pending harm which caused onsets of panic whenever I ventured out in public with my child. I unburdened myself of all the fearfulness bottled up in my attempts to maintain an air of poise, and motherly perfection. With the terrifying click of a button, I submitted my essay titled ‘Parenting Through Anxiety Fueled by Grief’ to a website called The Mighty, and just a few short days later watched as a piece of myself was revealed to the world.
From that moment on I’d not only found passion, and support in writing again, but I found confidence in being a mother that had previously escaped me. I realized I was not alone, and that my writing also aided others who were unable to share their own experience. Writing has proved extremely therapeutic in my role as a parent. In very much the way I wrote through prior emotional turmoil, I’m writing my way through the motherhood journey. I’ve ranted about the times that seem most arduous in hopes of discovering answers. I’ve reveled in so many magical moments one is only able to experience as a mother, painting pictures of memories I never wish to forget: describing my daughter in her doll like sleep, and remembering the evening she asked why she couldn’t catch the moon between her small fingers.
It’s also given me a new sense of purpose. Though I know my job as a mother is important, it’s wonderful being able to have a few minutes set aside to write, stretch my brain, and not let everything be about diapers and housework. Though I’m discussing motherhood in most of what I write, it’s still a time for me; a time for myself, entirely uninterrupted.
While motherhood has fueled my zest for writing, it has also fueled my desire to be the best mother possible through honesty and self-exploration. I’ve written about my fear of negatively influencing the young mind I’m raising, and found relief hashing through the confusions. In each sentence I’m finding deeper meaning and clarity in my role as a parent. Somehow seeing my thoughts and feelings on paper allows me to be more critical and honest about the part I’m playing as a mother. One cannot escape or confuse the knowledge imparted onto paper. Those paragraphs stare back at me and tell me, “This is what you are feeling. This is what you are doing. Now how are you going to address it?” Of course I can delete, erase the thoughts I’ve chosen to convey, but I truly believe that to be a good mother, and a good writer, one must be nothing short of authentic.
I’d never expected to find so much wealth in writing, and it’s now difficult to imagine my life without this creative outlet. Writing meaningful accounts about my role as a parent has given me a sense of purpose that goes beyond the day to day activities of child rearing. It’s allowed me to cross boundaries, revealing many things I used to keep hidden. Reading other mother writer’s stories has helped me understand the kind of mother I am, and realize that I don’t need to hold myself to impossible standards. Everyone has their own struggles, hurdles, expectations, and none of us is perfect. Mostly, it’s allowed me to appreciate and cultivate my current station in life through honestly, exploration and creative expression. Though I know I have a long way to go in terms of perfecting my voice, nearly every day I’m working, thinking, questioning, and creating. Writing has made me a better mother, while motherhood has made me a more thoughtful individual, and developed writer. Those feeling lost, or that have a unique story to tell should not be afraid to pick up that pen and put it out there. I promise there is a wealth of support, self-discovery, and love waiting just beyond.