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Balancing Motherhood and Writing: Finding Your Creative Spark Again

It's been a while. But that's not interesting. Why might be. Or a well-timed "WTF." But a while isn't good enough. It's been more than a while, it's been...vacant.

The last story I told was Aug 11, 2023, two weeks before we welcomed our son (yes, Mom of two now, and yes, also adopted). I guess this is my return to the world after a period of intense ironic-hibernation in which I rarely leave the house but also, rarely sleep. But I thought of you, often, daily, and I knew one day, I'd write again. Will you still want me? I’ve asked myself that question many times.

Writing about motherhood, writing in general, is one of those adult past-times that, after kids, gets lumped in with "that-which-must-not-be-named" – a phrase, once mentioned, summons content children playing quietly with old halloween costumes and sleeping infants who can withstand blenders and vacuums (but not the utterance of that hyphenated profanity) – "free-time."

So it falls away, as Dr. Seuss might say, that it we once did, that makes us feel us-y, replaced by a kid. Launching parents, new and returning, into an orbit of desire, too far to touch, too close to forget, by a force capable of bending both space and time and yet we cannot, do not, or dare not connect. So, we wait. And we feed. And we play. And we clean. And we wash. And we Feed. And we repeat. Until, that proverbial "one day" when it seems unfathomable to remain apart. Intolerable to remain remiss. And words, in their desperate way, reach across asteroids and satellites, through constellations and clouds, past guilt and should-do’s, risking responsibility and routine for a moment with “it.” For a chance to say – 

There it is. 

There we are. 

There I am.

My daughter is four now, and among her many fourisms is the desire to sigh, in complete exasperation, as if she were 16 and I just advised her tube-tops aren’t for everyone. (Insert body-shaming cancel-culture here but truth be told, I wish someone would have mentioned to me there were other options that didn’t require a strapless bra and better suited my swimmers shoulders.) This sigh, always expertly executed, often coincides with a request of mine she disapproves of, something like, “Ugghhh, you never let me play outside" (we played outside yesterday), "You never let me do what I want," (pretty sure I'm not the one desperate to reprise the role of Aunt May to your Peter Parker at 7am every morning.)

But Yesterday, ahh, yesterday. In the light of the sun filtered through dogwoods and pine, and in an afternoon lethargy that included chips, hose water, and a beach bucket repurposed to warm “soup” made of pine cones and bark, she laid her head on my lap, curled her knees to her chest, and closed her eyes with a smile like a cat in a window. 

There it is. 

There we are. 

There I am.

Adoption is a puzzle done in reverse. The image is clear, then - it shatters. The months fasten, the weeks extend, then time itself – whatever time is; wrinkles, wisdom, the force of gravity on our bones – falls into complete dissolution. 7pm becomes 5am, becomes 7am, becomes 2pm, becomes a birthfather, a birthmother, a nurse, a doctor, another nurse, an Anesthesiologist, the doctor again, "give it an hour" he says, but 20 minutes later, there you are, a ginger-haired pebble on the fabric of the universe, and my world bends.

Next comes the scores, ugh the scores. "He's not eating. He's yellow. He's sneezing. He's not eating. He's shaking. He's not crying. He's not eating. He's so sleepy. He's got tremors. He's not eating. He's having withdrawals."

But when I'm with you, you eat. So I'm with you. When I'm with you, you eat. So I'm with you.

"He's yellow. He's scoring. He's not eating. He's yellow. He's modeled. He's not eating. He’s lethargic. He’s got tremors. He’s not eating. He's yellow. You can leave. He's not eating. You must stay. He's yellow, but you can go home."

We're in the car. We're on the plane. We're up the stairs. We're home.

It's true, you're sleepy. But the tremors have stopped. Your skin is turning beautifully pink. You're eating. We're home.

You're not sneezing. You're eating. The tremors have stopped. You're opening your eyes. You're eating. We're home.

"Are you bringing the baby? I want to see the baby. How's the baby?"

He's eating. The tremors have stopped. His skin is beautifully pink. We're home. He's eating. He's growing. I'm not writing.

We're moving. He's eating. We're packing. He's growing. We're leaving. We're here. I’m not writing.

A new town, a new state, a new home. We're unpacking. He's eating. I’m not writing.

We dress up. We eat Turkey. We hang lights. The power’s out. It’s a storm. I’m not writing. 

Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday. I’m not writing.

I’m 4. I’m 8-months. The Sun’s shining. I’m not writing.

The light through the dogwoods. 

The chip in your hand. 

The soup, and the bark, and the cat, and… I’m writing.

There it is. 

There we are. 

There I am, and…

I’m writing.

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