Sunday Scribblings: Phenomenon

Inspired by the Sunday Scribblings topic this week, Phenomenon, I will attempt to articulate my thoughts on two phenomena — two transitions — that are dovetailing in my life: motherhood and blogging.

As my pregnancy has progressed, I’ve had time to begin the process of learning just how much my life will change. I know I won’t comprehend this completely until I’m in it. But as Karen Maezen Miller writes in Momma Zen:

Many of us consciously schedule motherhood for a time when we think we are done changing. We have arrived. We are stable. We’ve figured it all out. No more uncertainties or ambiguities for us. These are the years when we are likely to affix to a career, a partner, a home, and a hairstyle. With enough willpower and self-discipline, we can seem to forestall change for years on end — maintaining our chosen looks and pastimes, our precious privacy, our patterns and preferences, our way.

On the surface I don’t fit all the parameters Karen describes. My hair is a barometer of my moods and changes often. I’ve had a patchwork quilt of a career, having only begun the one I really wanted in 2000 at age 37 only to abandon it in the move to California in 2004. I’ve moved every few years since fledging my parents’ nest at 20. I didn’t want to be single parent, and it wasn’t until age 36 that I met my husband. (In fact, I avidly did not want children in my 20s; I sensed they would blow my life wide open.) I was gung-ho to have kids by age 38, but by then I was no longer the only one controlling the schedule; Husband needed to feel ready as well.

Anyone who knows me well knows my beliefs about life and my self-concept weren’t obvious to me until my late 30s — except the period where I immersed myself in a fundamentalist religion where I was told what and how to think. I depended upon others (often to my detriment) to define and validate me. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I could identify the values I hold most dearly, the words that describe the passion running like a gold thread through my life: education, community, creativity, expression. It wasn’t until I met my husband that my life became stable enough to pay attention to things other than survival. I began creating art in 2002. I relaxed into myself. Poor to nonexistent self-confidence was my major obstacle, and while it remains, it’s much diminished.

Despite all those differences, I am well-acquainted with driving my own life. While my goal in life was not to “arrive” — I didn’t postpone children until I’d reached some ideal state or lofty goal — and while change has been at the core of my life, I often chose the change. There were many things I could not control in my life, but I controlled how I responded to them. With crappy living situations, I went out for walks. I hated my job, so I took classes toward a long-term goal. My finances were tight, so I ate less. I had no money for a social life, so I saw few friends and devoted myself to a pen pal. I wanted better opportunities, so I moved 1800 miles to an unknown city and started over. And now that life is comparatively easy, I still have a sense of control: if I don’t feel like cooking, I don’t, and we eat out or fend for ourselves at home. I can shower when I like. I read for pleasure. I sleep when I want. I come and go as I please. I have plenty of time for my hobbies.

And then, in 2002 I discovered the ideal hobby for me, a writer who doesn’t seriously care about being paid and published: blogging. In my teens I journaled, but this waned in my 20s until I began my pen pal/journal relationship. When I have an audience in mind, writing has more appeal. Blogging provides the instant satisfaction of expression where many eyes will see it and in a format that looks appealing and official. It provides a sense of community with other disembodied “voices” and ego gratification from comments.

It is also a giant black hole for time, and it is my addiction. I spend more hours than I care to admit or are healthy on the Internet. At first blogging felt meaningful, and I developed friends. Periodically I feel compelled to adjust the balance of living online and living in real life (toward less online). But I do much less living than ever. Since finding stability and love, I seek out my cozy home life more; I don’t feel a need to get away (I used to walk for hours, go places, meet people, attend events). This reclusiveness has been compounded since the Internet/blogging phenomenon; I’ve lived increasingly in my mind in abstraction. Inertia roots me. I’m not alone; many people complain they do this too. I justify the time spent by saying, “I’m a writer.” Bullshit. When you’re reading Perez Hilton or TMZ or frittering time at 43 Things, you’re not writing. And increasingly I’m aware that the sense of relationship with others whom I regularly read is harder to maintain. Without occasional shared real life experiences, these relationships are just words on a screen with maybe a photo to give the mind’s eye a visual context.

Soon my life will change dramatically. Karen also writes:

The mother of a teenager once said to me, “I remember when they’re about eight months old and their ego begins to develop. It’s not pretty.” Neither is your own ego, and you don’t have to wait eight months for it to appear! I can see now how much of motherhood, from the very first hour, carries the early warning signs of ego warfare. I want to sleep. She wants to eat. I need to do this. She needs to do that. Not again. Again. It can feel as though someone were eating you alive. And what is being eaten is your ego.

It seems ridiculous to talk about infant care as combat. Your baby’s needs are pure and uncontrived. They are not manipulations. They are not strategic assaults. They are just assaults, relentless and evolving, against the way you want things to be. You love your child, yes, and yet you flail and roar, you cry and whine and tremble with the terror of life beyond your control.

This is what awaits me! Yep, I’m a bit frightened by it. Yet I’m also curious and engaged. I want to give myself to this experience. Will I want to write about it? Perhaps. Then again, maybe I would rather just live it. The blog is not a child, and the world does not need me, simply another voice on a screen. If I gave up blogging, my dedicated readers would miss me, but not much and not for long, because they, too, have real lives.

I always find it amusing when bloggers feel a need to explain an upcoming absence, or to apologize for not writing, or to apologize for “inconveniencing” readers by not writing. But I’ve done this too.

I wish I didn’t have a blog, that I’d never been bit by that bug. I wish I didn’t feel the need for the ego gratification of the pretty blog format and instant ability to share and show off (Look at me! Look at me!). I wish I wasn’t such an information hound, easily beguiled by trivia, hungry for more ideas. Let me be honest: increasingly I read less and comment less often on other blogs. I don’t really care about the other writer as much. Blogging has become, for me, mostly an avenue of expression and is no longer very reciprocal. But oh, it is so very easy to piss away hours of my life; self-employment was difficult for me because it takes a kind of self-discipline to structure one’s life, and I lack that trait. When I had a job, I squandered less time. The external schedule gave my life a spine.

Well I’ll soon have a job, but one without regular hours, and one that will demand more hours than any job I’ve ever had. I don’t know if I have enough energy or interest to give to this hobby any longer. Recently other bloggers I’ve read have also called it quits, because they felt the time spent blogging could be put to better use achieving their dreams. So maybe I’ll write, or maybe I won’t. It will be interesting to see what impact the phenomenon of motherhood has on the phenomenon of blogging in my life.

Explore posts in the same categories: Humanities, Journal, Motherhood, Pregnancy, Quotes, Recreation, Social Science

8 Comments on “Sunday Scribblings: Phenomenon”

  1. Leah Says:

    well, i know i’d miss your “voice” if you stopped blogging. but i understand when others feel the need to step away. i may feel the same someday. for now it is satisfying and has led to many wonderful connections. i wish you the best whatever you choose.

    motherhood will be such an adventure. i’ve wondered if i’d have time to squeeze in blogging as a new mom. i don’t know. i can’t picture it. but everyone has their priorities and you’ll figure out where yours lie.
    *sending love your way*

  2. Gill Says:

    You’ve put into words what I have often thought. I like to think that I blog because I need to and enjoy writing, but sometimes I wonder if that is true. There is definitely an element of “look at me, look at me” in it, thought I hate to admit that. I also am aware that I do fritter away too much time on this phenomenon called blogging. Do I give it up or don’t I? Maybe oneday..

  3. paisley Says:

    i am one of those people that really don’t do anything else… i know that must sound shallow,,, but before i was blogging,, i was spending all that time surfing,, and reading blogs..

    for me it is a god send…..

    i really enjoyed this very personal discussion… sometimes it really helps to just write about it in order to gain a clearer perspective… and the comments don’t hurt either!!!!

  4. Paul Says:

    Some interesting thoughts for reflection here.

  5. donna Says:

    You will discover the world of the mommy bloggers!

    Check out “moms rising” for some fun.

    http://www.momsrising.org/

  6. Shirl Says:

    Umm. Hmmm. Interesting ideas. I’m a little surprised at some of them, though. Hmmmm.

  7. gautami Says:

    Blogging is good but motherhood is better!

  8. Karen Says:

    You see how your mother nature is rising up? You’ve become increasingly aware of the center, the point, the issue right in front of you. You realize you have no choice but to attend to what truly needs to be done. There is no choice to be made; it makes itself. True, babies are babies, but not for long. They never stop changing. You never stop changing. Your life keeps going, and you need give nothing up that you can’t return to when the time is right. (I’m very proud of you.)