I have been writing for most of my life. It began with a small leather-bound diary with a lock and key at the age of five. In it I’d try my hardest to sound out words and piece together sentences on subjects that most concern a kindergartener — the annoyance of a younger sibling or my love for the family pet. Once I finished crafting my masterpiece, I’d find a place to hide my secrets from prying eyes, under my mattress or in a shoe box shoved to the back of my closet.
This practice continued until college, though crayons gave way to gel pens in vibrant colors, and I traded the lock-and-key diary for a spiral bound notebook that I tucked away in a place my teenaged mind believed to be much more covert. (Years later, this was disproven by my mother who admitted to reading my words from time to time throughout my adolescence.)
The act of writing has been a constant in my life, but the form it took changed dramatically when I gave birth to my son. I tread lightly here as I always do when the point I am trying to make about motherhood seems at risk of conveying the message that it has defined me. Being a mom does not define me, but it does amplify and in some cases curtail characteristics of my antepartum personality. In almost every instance this is an improvement.
The change I am referring to is my motive for writing. I no longer composed my words with the intent to hide them under lock and key and mattress. I wanted to share my experiences and absorb those of other mothers. I wanted the release of filling an empty page with my happiness or my desperation, my failures and successes. On many days I survived on nothing more than a commenter’s affirmation that they have felt that same way, had those same thoughts, that they survived them, or found strength in my story.
To me, there is no better time to be a mother than right now, in this age where the stories of so many are mere keystrokes and mouse-clicks away. No matter your experience, there is someone out there with whom you can identify, share a laugh, or find solace.
Unfortunately, there are also those who choose to use this podium we’ve all been given to tear others down. I stumble across these writings daily. Sometimes they are in my own comment section (though you are an overwhelmingly positive group on average and for that I’m grateful) and on occasion I run across entire sites dedicated to this practice. When I find myself in one of these places I try to navigate away immediately, but I’ll admit that sometimes I allow myself to be sucked in. I sit with mouth agape behind my computer screen wondering why someone would choose to use their voice to abuse those who are in the trenches with them.
Then I shake my head, I disengage from the vitriol, and I write. I remind myself that my voice is as loud as theirs and I do my part to steer the practice of telling the stories of motherhood back to a place of support.
I hope you always find that here.
Photo credit: Stock.xchng