To be fair, I haven’t exactly had writer’s block.
What I have had is a complete lack of concern for my writing.
This isn’t to say that I’m not still constantly jotting down ideas at random when a reflection comes to me, or making notes with my iPhone as I’m stopped in the preschool pick-up line, or even mentally clustering together my upcoming writing projects—but I have been residing almost permanently in Mommyland.
Because I might be a writer in my soul, but I only have one shot at this mom thing. One. One chance to raise my children.
I have one chance to react when lunch spills all over the floor. I have one chance to hold her hand at six months old, and then at two, and then at four.
I have one chance to be a mom.
But being a writer makes me a better mom; being a writer encourages me to sit down with myself and to explore—both things that serve motherhood well.
So I might focus on exercise and staying physically healthy to carry around and dote on my kids, but I can’t ignore that I’m a writer, and I don’t want to.
That said, we, as writers, do get out of our grooves.
Sometimes it’s a shift in priorities, like I’m experiencing right now, and others it’s an actual shortage of words for the balmy breeze of life that blows through us; as we experience living and then try to place it into corresponding syllables and punctuation.
Last night, I was out walking in our new yard with the baby. (We’re in the middle of a move—I sit surrounded by boxes as I type this.) My husband and oldest child were inside getting evening baths while I spontaneously put the baby in her carrier and strolled around our expansive new property.
I stepped somewhat cautiously around the perimeter and inspected the way a cluster of wild purple flowers played underneath the orange and yellow setting sun.
I admired how the yellow of our new house matched almost perfectly the sky through tree branches.
I noticed that the leaves of these purple flowers had red around them.
My baby held my hands tightly as she also looked outward and ahead, although she was strapped to my chest instead of feeling the grass tickle at her feet.
Her tiny fingers curled around my normally small, now large ones and she giggled in a way that let me know we’d be holding hands like this when she was toddling alongside of me, still looking at how the yellow sky meets the grass-covered hill.
And I gave myself permission to show her these things.
Because when a child comes second, there’s an overwhelming concern to make sure the eldest feels loved and cared for as well. This isn’t entirely selfish for the first born either. No, if we want our children to grow into friends as they age, then there should be a shortage of insecurity and jealousy and an abundance of love and a nurturing of bonds.
But last night as I walked the purple flowers and spring-green grass, I gave myself permission to want to share with her all of the wonders of this world, like I have done with my first baby.
The three of us—my two little girls and I—walk the yard regularly since we began this transition into our new living space a few days ago. My four and a half year old walks joyfully and sometimes slowly.
She stops and takes in a car driving by, noting it’s color and from which direction it came, before predicting the next one’s color and direction and moving on to study something else.
She looks at the way the yellow dandelions move when a wind comes through—she really looks.
And as I walked through the yard last night with my thoughts and the baby, I wondered, when did I stop really looking?
When did they just become yellow flowers all over and not something to behold with exquisite curiosity?
Because when life becomes overwhelming, it’s human nature to glare so far inward that we lose our innate sense of direction; we lose our place on the road, with all of the other cars driving alongside, if we focus too much on our own ten o’clock and two o’clock. It’s only when we are able to come back into taking in the scenery around us that we can again remember who we actually are and what we might be here to do and share with life’s other passengers.
And we cannot write if we are too wholly immersed in ourselves.
Writers create from an intense wonderment of the world; of people; of life. So when writing stalls, whether temporarily for a day or, like mine, for an indefinite period, it’s imperative that we continue to nurture what makes us writers in the first place.
We are not writers because we have the gift of words—we are writers because we have the gift of observation.
And as the baby giggled in her carrier, watching a bird fly overhead, and I wanted so desperately to take these thoughts and make them into black and white letters, I knew that, even though I might not live a writer’s life right now, that this new house and these two new souls growing alongside of the yellow dandelions, would provide me with all of the inspiration—and words—that I would ever need.
Photo: Author’s own.