The Incredibly Overwhelmed WAHM in Me Honors the Incredibly Overwhelmed WAHM in You


I was flipping through the Fall 2008 issue of Brain, Child when I read the following words:

“All of my life I’d believed that writing was my calling, my passion, my reason for being, my greatest contribution to the betterment of the world, but that theory of my life unraveled completely when I became a mother. I had a new passion now. A new reason for being.”

I felt a jolt of recognition as I read these words, mixed with regret, guilt, and bewilderment.

But I also felt hope.

After all, I was reading a piece by Cheryl Strayed.

And since writing those words, Strayed had gone on to write and publish the best-selling Wild and, my personal favorite, Tiny Beautiful Things.

Just a little over three months ago, I was hugely pregnant and dreading maternity leave.

I was dreading maternity leave because, at that point, my self-identity was pretty much set in stone. I was a writer. An editor. A yoga teacher.

Taking time off from these things was terrifying to me. I was worried that my career would lose its momentum. I was worried that certain projects would fall apart without me. I was worried that, in only two months’ time, everyone would forget I had ever existed. By then, my clients would obviously have hired brand new, shinier, and far more superior freelance writers or freelance editors or yoga teachers. And I would be left with nothing, forced to rebuild my entire career from the ground up.

Then Emily Lorraine came along, and I stopped caring about anything but her.

(Though I did continue doing work for my main client because, let’s be real. This is me we’re talking about.)

Those two months during which I did not teach yoga and did not take on any new projects turned out to be crucial. I was learning how to be a new mom. I was gaining confidence in my abilities to keep another human being alive. I was changing my mind every damn day regarding feeding plans and sleep schedules. I was recovering and regaining my energy.

As those two months neared their end, I actually began to wish things could stay that way forever.

rainforest1Today, Emily Lorraine is 3 months old.

And the past month has been rough.

I’ve had to plan and produce my main client’s latest newsletter (which has involved moderating conference calls, conducting phone interviews, writing articles, and going through several rounds of edits all with Emily on my boob). I’ve had to stick to my blogging schedule for Ploughshares. I’ve had to start practicing yoga again, coming to terms with the limitations of my out-of-practice, post-pregnancy body, and I’ve had to ease my way back in to teaching two classes a week.

And I’ve had to do all of this while taking care of a newborn.

At first I did it all by myself. And then, I had to finally admit to myself that I needed help. That needing help did not mean I was a failure.

I had to accept that help.

Now that I’m getting into a rhythm, I’m feeling an ache for that final part of myself. The part of me that loved to write. The part of me that wanted to someday publish a book. The part of me that, lord almighty, actually had an agent.

But I’m having trouble reconnecting with that part of myself. As always–and even moreso now–the writing I do for myself is the very last item on my to-do list (the part of the list I never get to). And even when I do find small scraps of time in which I can possibly write, I can barely string three coherent words together.

As I told my writing partner last week, I feel as if I’ll never be anything more than a low-level sex writer. And that I should resign myself to that. I feel as if I should just embrace the new responsibilities of motherhood, get done what needs to get done (the mommy work; the housework; the client work), and just let the rest of it go.

But that last, stubborn part of me won’t let the rest of it go.

Which is why I’m starting this blog.

Here on Mamaste (a play on namaste, which roughly translates to “the light within me honors the light within you”), I hope to get back into the practice of writing, in a way that’s more low-pressure than creating carefully crafted essays and submitting them to magazines. I hope to use this space as a way to connect to every part of me: The mother. The writer. The editor. The yogi.

No need to look beyond that, for now.

For now, let’s just do this.

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