I got beat up by a girl today. She may or may not have looked like this:Natalie's knickers were in a knot, and she was not telling why. Lots of whining and yelling, clawing and hair-pulling. But no explanation.
When all else failed, I let her tantrum it out on her bedroom floor while I put myself into a time-out. I hid in an alcove off the kitchen and pressed my face against the cool wall. And there, I stood, while Natalie whined and muttered and threw her toy horses, all 17 of them.
I wondered how I got here. Not just here, in an alcove off the kitchen. But here. Two children. A stay-at-home mom with no prior experience, at all.
I used to work in Washington, D.C. Dress in business attire. Teeter around in heels. Edit magazine articles. Write the humor page at the back of the magazine. Report news stories. Take part in art meetings. Win writing awards. Bring home a paycheck.
I used to live in a top-floor one-bedroom condo with soaring ceilings. I took walks on hilly, wooded Virginia paths in the evenings. I sat on the porch until bedtime, a book in one hand, a cup of hot tea on a side table, and Trouser and Jim at my side.
And now, here I am, still a writer by nature, but now of a blog. And a mom, also by—or because of—nature and a few chocolate martinis and a willing husband.
The writing I do nowadays is done on my own time and my own dime, when the little ones are napping or in bed for the night and the Mr. is out of town.
The blog—thinking about it, writing it, editing it, selecting photos, looking back to see if posts are well-received—takes up a lot of my down time. If I subtract all of that from my days, I could focus more on other parts of my life: Exercising. Organizing. Reading. Spending more of Natalie and Connor's naptimes and bedtimes doing other, more productive, helpful-to-the-household kinds of things.
I've thought a lot over the past few weeks about suspending the blog. Just stopping. I turn each year's worth of blog posts into a book anyway, so why not just skip the middle man—the blog—and go straight to the book?
Makes good sense to me.
Back in October, a friend from college nominated bug and the sweet banana for Babble.com's list of Top 50 Mom Blogs. I hadn't ever heard of Babble or its list, but was flattered and tooted my horn and learned about Babble and watched a TED Talks podcast that featured the founders of Babble and set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page for the blog and watched my readership grow and saw my little blog climb to the top of Babble's list.
It wasn't long ago—a month and a half, maybe—that the editors at Babble featured bug and the sweet banana over on their new Facebook page, Wisdom From Mom Bloggers. They shared a post that I wrote about why I blog.
That I was featured on a page called "Wisdom From Mom Bloggers" made me feel as if I had stepped into someone else's britches that were quite a bit too large for me. Sure, I'm a mom and I blog, but wise? I don't consider myself so.
I'm just fumbling along, doing what feels right, and, although, I sometimes get it right, a lot of the time—a whole lot of the time—I get it wrong. So very wrong.
Imparting wisdom? Not so much. A mom of one of Connor's classmates who, like me, has a five-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter, stopped me recently in the school parking lot to ask if I had any tips for making playtime between brother and sister a little more playful and a lot less "That's MINE!"
I hemmed. I hawed. I opened my mouth, hoping that something intelligible would tumble out. But nothing. I sidestepped closer and closer to my vehicle. I told her that I would get back to her if anything came to mind. Nothing has.
Last Friday, a post on Wisdom From Mom Bloggers caught my eye:
This, I knew. It wasn't the time that I spent alone, writing. Or how writing flexed my brain. It is this that I love most about blogging:
And so, I write. And my mom reads every post. And so does my sister and my husband. Friends from various stages of my life read. And extended family. And now, a slew of newcomers, people I have never met, whose names I don't even know.
I write it for them. So they remember. So I remember.
And so, I'll continue writing the blog, for my sister and my mom and Jim and for anyone else who enjoys reading it. And I'll turn what I write into books.
I have three volumes in hand, so far, and soon I will start creating the book for posts that I wrote during 2010. It will take up more of my free time. But I'll get a fire in my eye when I get a page just. so. And I'll fall asleep more easily at night, knowing that my stories will be preserved, in ink, on paper, because, at the end of the day, I'm still an old-fashioned kind of girl.
Natalie has calmed down and snuggled down and is napping blissfully now.
I, meanwhile, earned my stripes today, and lost them, too. Natalie's meltdown was not a shining moment for Mama: I pleaded with her, "Tell me what is wrong. Tell me what you need. Tell me how to make it better, because I don't understand." And I got frustrated. And I stormed out. And I hid in an alcove off the kitchen, waiting for some moment of clarity.
And I got it. It wasn't the moment of clarity that I sought, but it was one that I needed.