Friday, May 16, 2008

Canary

I thought that I might stop writing this week, and it has been a colder fear than anything I have felt in a long time. On top of my regular job, my baby and husband, and my household, deadlines from two other freelance jobs that I hold have filled every free moment. Even more terrifying than the feeling of my creative energy seeping into the cracks is the gradually gathering feeling, born of exhaustion, that I don't really want to be creative anyway, so screw it. “I’m afraid I might stop my blog,” I said to my husband this morning, hoping for some encouragement, and hoping that the words, spoken aloud, would lose their power. “Oh, yeah,” he said absently, “People stop blogs all the time.” Horrified, I scurried away to work, where, during my free periods, I have been hiding in Ms. N's Latin classroom, ignoring all of my responsibilities and writing furiously.

The birth of a child (perhaps particularly a first child) offers women a pause, a window of time during which they are forced to stop and dramatically change what they are doing. For some women, the pause may be a short one, and they may rather quickly pick up approximately (though never exactly) where they left off, returning to the same work and pursuing the same goals, whether implicitly or explicitly. However, some women, I think, find in this pause something else, a volta, a time to entirely reevaluate the condition of their lives.

My life, since I graduated from college, has been very, very full; my job as a public school teacher is exceedingly demanding of my time and energy, and I have consistently held one or two additional freelance positions on top of it, partly for the extra money and partly for the feeling of blind, bustling productivity. I have (on purpose?) left myself very little space or time to evaluate what I am doing, whether I am happy doing it, or what else I might do instead. But the slowdown of late pregnancy, the full stop of childbirth, and the long, dreamy baby days that followed have forced that space and time upon me, and I have lifted my head from its place in the sand to take long, slow, careful breaths.

For me, this blog feels like the canary in a mineshaft, or maybe the bellwether, of my new life. It is my desire to “make something” (as my friend H says), to make some sort of lasting meaning of my days, and to open my experience to the world. This, along with other decisions that I have begun to make, still feels tentative, and I am deeply afraid not so much that I will change my mind, but that I will simply forget and go back to the things I am used to doing and the ways I am used to being. It seemed for a moment that this week might be the end, the time when I get re-swallowed by the world, never to see myself again until, perhaps, the next child. But the week is over now, and looking around, I notice that I am still here, and that I have - miracle of miracles - actually written something. And here it is.

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