I’ve been finding myself stuck in a pretty intense rut. At first I thought it was just writing but then I realized, once again, that while I notice it here first, that doesn’t mean it fails to extend to all areas of my life. I want so much to say something meaningful about this place where I find myself, this trap, this maze, but the declarations don’t come. Nothing comes. I can’t pull my thoughts around it, can’t tame it into words. It just is – hard and tight, constrictive. I would writhe and thrash against it but where would that leave me? A sweaty mess of exhaustion and frustration. And once the energy had seeped away I would be cold. Shivering.
I struggle to reach out. I fumble delving in. I knock up against things, trip, stumble, on the proper response, the what-should-I-say, on etiquette and courtesies and the desire to be genuine, the fear of sounding fake. The terror that I might genuinely be fake, faux, false. An imposter.
I’m aware there are words for the times when I don’t understand, when I can’t relate. My mind knows, logically, that there are things one can say, cookie cutter comments one can publish on the page when a friend, a blogger (one in the same) discusses a concern that isn’t shared. Lacking common ground makes me shaky, slow on my feet, (or my fingers), slow to find the words. An adequate response – it elude me, hides in the muck of my mind. Did I mention my mind is murky?
What do you say to someone when you can’t find the words? When their experience is so unrecognizable? You walked different paths, chose (or were forced to choose) distinct avenues and now find yourselves farther and father away, unsure of what to say. I know motherhood is a journey we share, or is it a common destination? I can’t figure out where it goes in the metaphor – motherhood, mothering – am unsure of the part it plays. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I just need to know, what do I say when the choices made (or forced upon us) are so wildly dissimilar? Don’t mirror my own? When I don’t understand their struggles, not only because I specifically avoided them, but because in the sidestepping I relinquished the qualifications to commiserate.
Is this the time for trifles, pleasantries, Hallmark half truths? Is this the time for silence? I strive to mark the space of misunderstanding. And I fail, again and again. I fail to articulate what exists between disingenuous sympathy and insincere concession. I’m unable to offer solace when I am so void of understanding and appreciation, when the only advice I might offer is so obviously unwelcome.
I hope to be there for people. I want to send my support. But more and more these days I don’t know what to say.
Lately I’ve been pulling away from motherland. Not my own, deeply personal participation in it, not my own mother-trappings, not who I am with my daughter, but the Motherhood that’s put up on display, the Motherhood that’s welded together and touted as truth. That Motherhood, that thing manufactured, the cardboard cutout plastered with the infinite results of any search string with those three simple key strokes – M – O – M – that is what I’m pulling away from. It’s too much, it overwhelms me. When I’m with my daughter I am honored to be a mother. I’m so immensely grateful for who I am, who she makes me. But I want, I need, I long desperately, for something more. I need to flesh out the other parts of myself. And when all I see, all I read, has that word in it, revolves around the product of those three key strokes, I am stifled, pushed down, sputtered out. I am made less than.
I’ve created this world, fashioned it for myself by the choices I’ve made, choices by the thousands, conscious and subconscious, deliberate and ambivalent. Constant, continual choices, surrounding myself with that harsh plastic flashing thing, that Motherhood, manufactured of guilt and blame, isolation and desperation, jealousy and judgement, status and shame, newly acquired economic power and traditional domestic servitude, cultural expectations and perpetuated stereotypes, that Motherhood marked by cavernous divides, fertile and infertile, biology and adoption, loss and a lack of loss, breast milk and formula, stay-at-home and work-outside it, right and wrong, that is what I deafens me, renders me mute.
And that Motherhood, it’s everywhere.
I wonder if I got lost in the metaphor – motherhood as the journey or the destination – because we forget it’s a journey, an organic, deeply personal pilgrimage, when we’re presented with the hard and fast destination – the Motherhood of professional opinions and top ten mommy blogs and Facebook Groups and Twitter links.
That’s where I find myself, so lost in the destination as to entirely lose sight of the journey.
I just want to forge my own path but it’s so easy to lose one’s way in this bright, flashing fabrication that we call Motherhood.