Friday, September 23, 2016

So Glad They Told Me -- My essay's in it!

I'm really excited to have a piece included in a new collection of essays published by the HerStories Project Press. It's called "So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real about Motherhood."

The book, which you can order here, contains 60 essays by writers who are also mothers and who have all written about a very useful piece of advice another mother shared -- often at a moment of crisis. At a moment where motherhood seemed overwhelming or, in my case, where impending motherhood was such an unknowable landscape that I was tempted to make all kinds of decisions I would have later regretted.

In my case the "they" is my sister, Trish, who wisely counseled that I may not want to make any decisions about working while raising my son until my son actually arrived. I think she must have intuited something I learned later: I like working. The work that I do is so intrinsically part of my personality and contributes so decisively to my well-being that it's not a negotiable. It's a necessity.

My thanks to the editors of the HerStories Project Press for publishing my essay. Here's a quick excerpt:

I was humbled and amazed by the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. I was also overwhelmed by the demands of being a first-time mom.

My maternity leave days, in the full heat of an Atlanta summer, were often just a series of failed, desperate attempts to coax a nap out of my infant son, Leo. I’d embark on long walks in the stroller in the hopes of inducing sleep. Or I’d walk him around his room for what felt like forever.

I even consulted a sleep specialist. I knew establishing solid sleep routines would be key for his development. But I also needed time alone to think, to be me, to use my brain in different ways. I quickly found most days I longed for any kind of a break. When my partner came home from work some nights, I would go swim laps in our neighborhood pool, and then drive around the park, practically in a trance, as I blasted a Bruce Springsteen song about desperate love.

In other words, I was beginning to realize I could bear being away from my child.

When I returned to my job months later, I remembered I liked work, and I liked interviewing people, and considering proposal ideas, and synthesizing large amounts of information into digestible stories for my audience. I liked having a specialty. I liked living in the world of ideas.

In short, after three months of doing no work, of barely looking at my work email, and avoiding news updates about anything I might have covered, I realized I’m not someone who could stay at home. I’m not someone who can be fulfilled without working for pay. And a big part of being me consists of writing, ruminating, and reflecting—on something other than diaper rash.

It was as if my personality was suddenly, instantly crystallized—for me. One of those moments where all you can do is slap yourself on the forehead, and go, “Duh.”

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