Three simple key strokes

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.

11 responses

    • I don’t know. Sometimes I can’t say what I feel but I supposed I can always say what I imagine I would want to hear if I were them. The problem is sometimes I have such a hard time imagining what that might be, when our situations are so dissimilar.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  1. Wow. Speaking as someone who’s been peeking in here occasionally but never had much to say–because I don’t share that destination/journey–let me just say I don’t think you have to walk the same path to experience similar feelings about your own journey. Like the way I alternately succumb to or challenge how I let infertility define who I am. The only thing I can say is, it sounds like you’re having a hard time. I may not fully understand it, but I’m here for you. I want to be here for you.

  2. Beautifully written Esperanza — as always.

    I wish I had an answer — I like how you frame it here — this deeply personal pilgrimage — I feel the same myself — I find myself thinking — but perhaps not writing enough (?) about this intellectually — the concept of motherhood — motherhood as its defined in 2012 — in the world of the mother-as-blogger — I struggle often with my own definition of selfhood — so subsumed am I in that word — and how the other categories of definition that I’d clung to for so long — it’s as if they disappeared — I’m no longer an educator, an academic, an aspiring writer — even personal things I loved to do — no longer a yoga class attendee or casual runner…I am now just a tender of things (and humans)…and again this journey is processed completely differently by everyone — but it resonated with me when you said that being surrounded by, consuming the media all attached to that one definition — felt diminishing…I get that. I often feel that as a person who know stays at home that I don’t have anything to add to the discussion of so many things — and I am not good at what I do, but I also know I’d have zero capacity to do both, maybe that’s it — I mean I’m good at being Z’s mom — but I’m a terrible organizer, a terrible planner — I do not keep things running like a swiss watch… I find myself at a loss to respond to motherhood reflections for the most part — I may read a blog and marvel at the way they organize their world (at least as its presented) — and I love the blogs that make me laugh with the self-deprecating tone — but so often I feel adrift and lonely — without the tribe I felt I had in those years trying to conceive. Thanks for your words and wonderful, thoughtful writing. My best friend from college lives in SF and part of me often wishes I’d moved with her all those years ago — it’s a place I dream of where a more interesting me lives 😉

    • I wish you were here too! Though I doubt you would be more interesting though, and if you were here, I wouldn’t have anyone with an idyllic cabin in the quiet snowy woods to visit some day. And that would be a great shame. 😉 If you ever want to come visit your friend I’d love for you to visit us too!

      Thank you for your beautiful comment. I appreciate it more than words can say. I was nervous to put this out there. I don’t want to complain or sound trite. But it is how I feel. I struggle with it always, but now it’s becoming a constant thing. I’m just not sure how to navigate it. I’m sure I’ll figure it out over time. 🙂

  3. It feels like I never have the right words, so I just try to be as honest as possible. Let them know I appreciated what I read, I absorbed what they are going through, I was there.
    This was beautiful.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I think you’re right, being as honest as possible is the best path. I just need to be careful about what I’m honest about. 😉

  4. Beautiful piece. I understand these sentiments as well. And my gut response is: “Run! Pull away! I’m coming with you!”. But in looking a bit closer I think that probably makes me a something of a hypocrite. The truth is that all of this talk, detailing of techniques, vying for airspace, the tired old tensions, can really drain me. And yet, this is my world. I don’t choose to be defined by it but I’m rather at a loss to provide many substitute definitions. And, although, I’m not even particularly good at this motherhood thing, I am actually rather thoroughly engaged and even somewhat satisfied on a deeply personal level to be here. And so I feel best when I block out all of that static and focus inward. I believe that, perhaps ironically, it is then that I am also able to achieve the most meaningful connections.

  5. Really great post. I’m still figuring out what I want to say in response. I think it’s great that blogging has been able to provide a medium to reveal the beautiful & the ugly, the mundane & the extraordinary about Motherhood. However, so many times I do feel like it is a popularity contest or one big cool club everyone is trying to get into. There are certain types of blogs I really connect with because of their writing and their thought process. As a mom, I feel like a fraud. Maybe it’s the IF, maybe it’s not having carried my son (I was at a baby shower yesterday and could contribute NOTHING to the talk about itchy stomachs, stretch marks and birth techniques. Awkward). I’m trying to find my tribe & like WordGirl said, I feel adrift and lonely too.

  6. I think this is part of why I don’t write about my children as often as your standard mommy-blogger would. Because I see myself as more than just a mom. Unfortunately, that diffusion gives me less of an audience. So I’m not a food blogger, I’m not a mommy-blogger, I’m not a yoga-blogger, I’m not an IF blogger … what the hell am I? And can I be more than what is offered to me?

    I know that you can be more than is offered to you, not getting caught up in Being Mom, but in loving being mom as you love the other moments that make you who who are, rather than a sillouhette of yourself.

  7. I struggle with the same thing- knowing what to say, how to reach out. Like you said, all of us are on our own unique paths of motherhood, and we have unique experiences. I find myself reading all these IF blogs and pulling away, because I don’t know what to say. And right now, I am totally overwhelmed by the “mommy” world and all the cattiness, competition, and things I am realizing more and more every day taht just aren’t important. (and I know you say you don’t know what to say to some of my posts, but I will say again, your comments are SO appreciated, even if you say the same thing every time)

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