For some time I’ve been thinking of turning a corner with my blog. This year is challenging in a million different ways, and for me one of these challenges is the need to redefine my identity as a writer, or perhaps my relationship to writing, my expectations for it. I started blogging when posts were supposed to start a conversation, but I find that’s not why I write.
I write here because I write always, but here I can finish a thing, wrap it up, and give it away without anyone else’s say-so.
I haven’t left conversation mode because I don’t want to hear from readers. I love hearing from readers. I just want to take the pressure off of us. Joseph Gordon Leavitt says artists are in danger today, perhaps more than ever (hello, the social dilemma), of craving attention so much that they begin to create for that purpose instead of for the better and happier motivation—to pay attention.
Life is beautiful. I write to see it. This is one place I will do so. My readers can drop in when they feel like it, ignore me when they have other things to do, stop by, skim, dive deep, mildly react, move on, take with them whatever good or relatable thing they find here, and leave the rest. It’s been the plan for a minute, but I was still working it out when John came home for his birthday supper tonight and asked, “Have you written the Anniversary of your Motherhood post yet?”
And so I returned to blogging before I knew exactly what to say. This is motherhood—adulthood, for that matter. This is life. Never quite being ready for the thing it’s time to do.
“2020 is hard,” I said to my mom and sisters, “Getting through it—and getting through it well—will be the greatest achievement of my life.”
I think many people would find it validating, my sister said, that a cancer survivor finds 2020 the most challenging year of her life.
It was a good point. The thing is, the years I survived cancer, everyone else was on the other side of the challenge…sending cards, making soup, watching my kids, lighting candles, holding things together so when I returned to normal life it would still be there. A pandemic is something else. It’s a thing we’re all inside of alone together. We all wake up with our own wide-eyed, varying feelings about whether it’s a pandemic kind of day we can handle or not so much. We all have our own additional things that would have seemed hard even without a pandemic and now we have to navigate them both.
This is the year we understand each other if we can’t seem to wear real pants. Certainly, we won’t judge the ones who choose to just get through. I’ve noticed something, though. If getting through is possible, what else might be?
We’re twenty-one today—you on earth and me in a more spiritual sense. I’m twenty-one years a mother, a thing I love to write about the most but need to write about the least because I never forget, never unsee how beautiful it is.
I would have given you an easier year if I could have, but that would mean another year of not knowing what’s possible when things seem bleak, when there’s no cure and nobody agrees, when classrooms aren’t in person anymore, and the grind seems even harder than before. It might have set you back instead of forward, the year I would have given you. You might not have realized how far a steady heart and deep down grit will take you, and how worth it they are, despite what it takes to make them strong.
What I’m saying is, every day, every week, every month, every year could be amazing because of all the gifts it brings, one after another, a hundred smiles on your face. Or it could be awesome because of what you overcome, what you discover you are capable of, and what you give.
Either way, something wonderful happens. The second way, something wonderful comes from you.
Photo by Grace Allison Photo