Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Things I have not been silent about

I’ve been blogging for a year now, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why.

At first it was to try to capture some of those toddler moments that I knew I would otherwise forget; a photo album of stories. These days, there’s no time, let alone energy – even when I briefly recognize a leaf floating on the rushing torrent of parenthood that I want to memorialize.

I’ve come to realize that it’s not my son I’m painting a picture of – it’s what he’s made of me. A mom, just trying to get by, occasionally typing into the void, answering a vague call to acknowledge it all. The ups, yes, the glorious, baffling, hilarious trials of childrearing. But mostly the downs.

I’ve asked myself, over and over, why is it that I feel compelled to log all the heartache and the stress and the down-in-the-dumps daily muck of being a modern mom? It’s not that I’m looking for sympathy, knowing in my bones just how insanely lucky I am to have my life and all those in it.

Azar Nafisi, in her introduction to her memoir, Things I’ve Been Silent About, nailed it for me.

She says, speaking of her childhood in revolutionary Iran (incomparable to my own privileged, minuscule woes): “My interest is not in general recitation of historical times but rather in those fragile intersections – the places where moments in an individual’s private life and personality resonate with and reflect a larger, more universal story.” She speaks of the shame of complicity, of silence.

This, this is why. This is why I write. Because we do not speak of depression, we do not speak of the hardship of loving too much, leaving too little room for ourselves. We do not speak of the acute reality of raising children in this “rat-race twirl of our computer-guided world” (thank you Spirit Of The West) – what we do speak of, we speak of laughingly, admiringly. We refuse to acknowledge the despair, afraid to seem unfit.

My experience of the world, 21st-century-North-American-educated-fractured-family-suburbia, has lost the art of absorbing wisdom via osmosis. We no longer have neighbourhoods, families, habits. We have playdates, commutes, schedules. The whole is now less than the sum of our parts. Bonhomme is the first grandchild of no less than six grandparents, all living within a fifteen minute drive of him. But they are all too busy with their retirements or second careers, their diaspora that their divorces have gifted them. Daycare is his family, Bonhomme mixing up my name with the daycare provider’s a dozen times a day.

So, not only do we no longer share the experience of childrearing in a daily, witnessing way, removing the telling of the stories as well as the listening – but it is actually harder. We’ve all recognized that it takes a village to raise a child, just in time to recognize that the village no longer exists.

And so, I write. I write to not be silent. It is likely more often not what I write, but that I write, that is important – that is needed.

Let us no longer not speak – let the universal story of motherhood not be something we are silent about.

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Renewal Redefined

Renew:
To do again something that has not yet been done;
To freshen;
To scrape away the accumulation of time;
To refinish, resurface, reconnect, repair, restore, regain, resume, revive, recover, replenish;
To not become, but come to be.

Taking Care

This is, and will ever be my downfall:
I suffer from too much caring.

It is also though, my strength.

I am not faint (nor feint) of heart;
though I fear it.
Becoming so, losing my audacity
of caring, of having care, of taking care –
I would be a desert.

Instead, I am a cacaphonous jungle,
all a-tangle.

Self-portrait

These days, my true colours are muted,
dark and damp. Smudged.
But still, the outlines are boldly drawn –
Made by a steady hand long ago.
My frame no longer fits my canvas –
it is too confining, and too tawdry.
Even in black and white, I glow.
I’m done waiting for the page to catch up,
for the easel to be just so.
Art movements are only ever named after
they’ve already made their mark.
What my eye doesn’t see,
my paintbrush already knows.