Half Breaking. Half Trying to Pick up the Pieces.

It's been one of those weeks where everything seems a little bit broken and I find myself staring into space, a voyeur, searching for clues in my own life. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...

You know that feeling? Like you want to throw up and you don't know where the sick feeling is coming from. Except I think I know. I think I'm beginning to figure it out.

My greatest fear (beside technology) is routine. I cannot stand the thought of having one. At the same time though, I realize that there's a part of me that takes great comfort in the mundane, the predictability of it all. At my core there is a great need for unpredictability and chaos, hence the internal war I feel like I am fighting. Losing, most likely but fighting nontheless: the hypothetical screaming match, two faces with sharp tongues smacking each other senseless. Every day there is fighting. Fighting the wake-up calls and bedtimes and work schedules. Fighting the pay-by dates and the Wednesday night programming and the lunch-hour. Fighting the suburbs and it's SUV club and khaki pants and bad taste. Fighting the fears of adulthood. And then fighting back.

I've posted before about feeling overwhelmed, trying to do it all and feeling that nothing is ever getting done and that's a painful feeling too. Another part of me feels that "trying to do it all" isn't the issue, that as my priorities are shifting, a part of me is rebelling against responsibility.

There are days when I get in my car to go to the gym and for a split second think about turning right, instead of left. Taking the 101 to San Francisco to join the street performers (I could play the tambourine!) and dissapear.

I would never leave my child, of course. He's my life. But see? There it is again. He's my life. Pretty scary sometimes. Because there is much routine in life as a parent. Plenty of (organized) chaos as well but mostly routine and a lot of time lost between trying to catch up with life and outrun it at the same time. Faster, so it all blurs. Faster and I can be spontaneous again. I can be free. Selfish. I can wander aimlessly. Get beautifully lost.

I have a tendency to feel according to metaphor. I have broken up with boyfriends based on signs, dreams and moments that seemed too poetic to ignore. A collapsing ceiling for instance. A broken glass. So when my computer breaks I think it's representative of my work, my career. I think maybe I'm wasting my time writing, working on manuscripts, keeping dreams alive, exhaling through fingertips that are calloused and tired. Waiting...

The I button of my keyboard is broken. A quirk. It keeps flying off when I press it. It snaps into place but only for a moment until I hit it with my middle finger and then POP! The I is up in the air. I am up in the air.

I once lost the escape key to an old computer. It made sense. I felt trapped and couldn't escape. And now? The "I" button. A defect. And suddenly I feel as if it, too, makes sense. Am I defective? Am I afraid of acting like a grown-up? Am I afraid that routine has replaced passion? Do I feel inspired enough to write anything decent? Because for once in my life I have writer's block. For the first time in my life I sit down at my computer to work on my manuscript and I stare at blank pages as my blind hero wanders aimlessly, back and forth between chapter two and chapter three wondering what to do next and I don't know what to tell him. I don't know where I want him to go.

And so I write an outline. For the first time in my life I write an outline. I do what I'm supposed to do. I follow directions. The rules. Like the book says. A book I used to throw out the window and into the faces of the English teachers I walked out on every day at school. I was a complete brat, a real know-it-all but at least I knew what I wanted. Now I'm not so sure.

"I'll do it my way. Goodbye," I used to say.

But I cannot do it my way anymore. It's not about me anymore and a part of me is rebelling against that. Frustrated and lost in transition, whispering profanities when no one is listening. Pop! The I key is in the air.

I want to be taken care of and at the same time I want so badly to be able to take care of myself. And I can't. I want to help everyone including myself... and I can't. I want to show Archer that life is not cookie-cutter, that the world is wild and unorthodox and there is beauty in the dark and disgusting, that rolling around in the dirt is wonderful and here, let's eat sand all day and fingerpaint with ice-cream..! And yet, all the while I hold in my hands a box of wet wipes. Antibacterial.

You can never be too careful.

Yes you can! No, you cannot.

Everyday I find myself caught in these moments. Trying to discipline. Becoming the authority figure when all my life I have been unable to respect authority. (Three years ago I ended up with a gun to my head and my face in the concrete for resisting arrest. Long story. I was innocent. I swear.) When all my life I have broken the rules in order to feel emancipated. Broken the speed limit and the law. Broken hearts and bones and felt good about it... (okay, maybe not good but alive!) Like I was doing what I wanted to do! Selfish and cruel and often dangerous and I collected these feelings and experienced and was inspired. Depressed, yes, but working! There was no routine. Not even a 9-5 job. No need for benefits and budgets and annual exams. No dress-codes or access-codes. No by-the-book living. I was alone. It didn't matter. I didn't care.

Now I do. I care a lot. I care about jobs providing benefits. I care about money and lifestyle and keeping a clean house, an orderly life. And it's consuming me. COMSUMING.

Sometimes I miss the yesterdays. The guts.

I suppose the guts are still there. Maybe. I can turn myself inside out and check but a part of me is afraid that when I do, I will find a clean interior, wires tied neatly in a bow with a cherry on top. Neat and tidy. White picket-fenced in. Responsible. Shoot me, then. In the foot. Watch me bleed. And no, I don't want a bandaid.

Growing up, my Mom was every much together. Is together. She never cussed. She never flipped anyone off. She never broke the law. Snuck out for a cigarette. Drank. I had a cookie-cutter childhood and feel blessed to have had that. Everyone loved one another. My parents never fought (and if they did, we never knew about it.) We were the perfect family. On the outside. On the inside. How lucky.

But I am not my mother. I am myself. And while I want what's best for my child I also want what's best for me and I think, instead of beating myself up, trying to pacify the wars that consume me, it's time I came to terms with the truth.

And the truth is: I'm not a grown-up. I like to pretend that I am. I like to appear mature for my age and so together and ... I'm not. Not even close.

Because although bearing a child causes one to grow up practically overnight, there are major growing pains. And it's okay for me to feel torn in two. I think it might be normal even.



The truth is that only Humpty-Dumpty could put himself back together again. (It's says so in the invisible print of the epilogue.) And it took him years to do so, maybe his entire life.

And maybe Humpty Dumpty was never the same. Maybe he climbed back on the wall without an arm or a foot or an ear and looked upon a new view, from a different side of the wall, and maybe he was happy there. Maybe he realized that just because he was a work in progress didn't mean he had to hide his weaknesses, fill the missing pieces haphazardly. Maybe he was whole in a new way.

GGC

38 comments:

blair | 2:29 PM

I got a tattoo, in a public location on my person. I got it so I could look at it every day and see my roots and my branches. :-) It helped.

Lena | 2:31 PM

This is the best writer's block I've ever read, so that's saying something.

As a former wild single girl I too struggle with finding a woman I can identify with amongst all the responsibility and sacrifice as a parent. Scary. Sad. Not exciting. But it feels like the right thing to do.

And each day we choose for that to be enough.

Mel | 2:57 PM

As a teen mom, I would have read this and nodded nodded nodded. In fact, as a thirty-mumble mom I am reading this and nodding nodding nodding.
I had my first kid when I was 19. I had my second kid when I was 24. And I don't think I am even now a grown-up; and I rebel against that staid, matronly, respectable and predictable image all the damn time.
I wonder if anybody ever really grows up?
And how sad if they do.
I love your fire and your passion and your lack of love for the rules; I'd be sad to see it go. And growing up doesn't have to mean caving in to the Establishment.

Mother | 3:39 PM

Ha. I'm sort of writing about this tomorrow.

Flaws are good. Shit makes the garden grow.

Cliche'? Yes. But true.

Archer doesn't need your mom - he needs you.

I try to tell myself that when I feel like a fuck up with Q.

Anonymous | 4:31 PM

Maybe the “I” came off to remind you are still you. When you become responsible for another human being sometimes the I/you gets soooo diminished because all the choices become so much more about others and so much less about you that it at times feels absolutely suffocating and overwhelming. (not that you’d do it any other way) But after awhile you think you might forget you and others might forget you. Remember You? Just You? Not Archers Mom, or Hal’s wife or someone’s employee, client, customer ,cardholder, etc. YOU!!
Don’t forget you are someone’s child too so you don’t ever have to become a full fledged grown up as long as you are a responsible child. (Being a grown up is over-rated, unimaginative, and otherwise boring)
Just my thoughts,
Lynn

Keri | 8:11 PM

The commenter above about the tattoo reminded me of a friend who has the word "YOLO" tattoed on the inside of her wrist. You Only Live Once. Enjoy the ride because you ARE going places.

Chag | 8:26 PM

This was an AMAZING post. I can honestly say I didn't want it to end.

You are a Mom, but you're still YOU first. Don't fall off the wall. Find your balance.

Kristen | 8:42 PM

This "adulthood" switch that is supposed to flip when a child is born - I think that's a crock. I've said it before and I'll say it again: everybody's a child. Archer is lucky to have you to be a child with, and you will be whole in your time, yes as a mom, but also as you, the one who's always been there...Archer will be the better for that.

screaming girl | 9:02 PM

Me too! Me too! I always wonder what in the hell I am doing and where I am going - I wrote about it once, and then revisited it later, and it is almost time to do so again! Yet, I know I am madly in love with my 2-year old and will take the path to him every time.

lildb | 9:13 PM

I still feel this way, this irascible urge to flee, this growing-pain-ish dilemma after having birthed another growing-pain-experiencer, and you know what? I'm 34.

so. I would hazard a guess that it's not necessarily b/c you're young that you're going through this bumpy, blood-churning metamorphasis; I'd suggest it's because you're *you*.

ain't nothin' wrong with that.

Shannon | 9:42 PM

I do think this is something that many women face as mothers. I was pretty wild during my 20's and did some things I will only share in person, rather than with your entire commenting audience. Not that I miss those things, but more the lack of responsibilty they represented.

I think being in corporate America for a few years before becoming a mom tamed me a bit, so I probably wasn't as shocked into a routine as you have been. I do however, yearn to go to a club and get totally shitfaced and dance until 4 am with friends. BUT then I remember that I can't just call in sick to work. I woud have to be up at 7 am. I would have to take care of a toddler while hungover. The yearning subsides pretty quickly. So a few margaritas in the yard with another mom and an 11 pm bedtime is all I get for now.

I keep reminding myself that they are only this young and dependant for a very short period of time. I am hoping that by the time I have some time to be ME again, I haven't completely forgotten who I am.

scarlett | 9:42 PM

i love you bec.

Eleanor Velasco | 2:24 AM

Sometimes that wall is more of a tightrope isn't it?

I agree with 'mother' - you are YOU & not your mom & that's okay!!

It's okay to feel like you're drowning in a suburban routine, or if it's not okay, know that many of us are right there with you, not waving, but not (quite) drowning either.

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Wendy | 4:46 AM

Words fail. If this is you with writers block, you are a force to be reckoned with Bec. I think this is one of your best posts ever. You managed to convey what so many of us feel - and you know what, I don't know that age makes it any better...

me | 5:29 AM

it amazes me...from reading your blog, i am assuming we are as different as 2 people can be. but i feel the same way...every day.

kittenpie | 6:40 AM

I sometimes have that too, that desire to hop on a bus that has pulled up beside me just as I'm walking past the stop, jsut to go somewhere new, try something different, instead of going to work. the timing seems right somehow, beckons that little corner of me.

So right now I'm trying to wangle some kind of little trip for myself.

toyfoto | 6:46 AM

This is an amazing post. I want to be serious and tell you that all of this is life we think we have is all just an illusion, but then I can't stop thinking about you poking your computer in the I with your middle finger. No wonder it's rebelling. (Either that or it's not intelligent enough to appreciate you).

Andrea | 8:51 AM

I want your brand of writer's block.

"And while I want what's best for my child I also want what's best for me..." This is the motherhood connundrum, isn't it? But my question is this: who says what's best for your child and what's best for you have to be different? Is it possible that what's best for Archer IS what's best for you? Is it possible that you can be gutsy and rebellious and still be an excellent role model and provider, and a good mother? I can tell you one thing: that child is going to grow up knowing the world is at his fingertips, that he can do ANYTHING, because his mother PROVED it, by living her life HER way. He will not be a boxed up and neatly packaged kidbot. He will be ARCHER, and people will know he's coming.

I think the "I" on the keyboard flipping off means something else. It means I (you) don't have to be stuck forever between the "U" and the "O". You can break out from the neat lines of letters. You can be the I that pops when the j, k, and l are just not doing it for you anymore. Yes, the I has a job to do to make many words have meaning, but the I can stand tall (of jump up) and say, "I am not always part of a word or sentence or keyboard ALL the time. I know that's important, but I can just be by myself, too. I can be 'I'." And that is okay.

merseydotes | 8:52 AM

Well, I think the struggle means that you're a good person and that you're really trying hard to be a good mom to Archer. Because if you were all, "@#$& it - I'm a free spirit, child or not!" then it would mean you weren't really giving Archer a place of importance in your life. But you care about him and you want what's best for him (the same way that you care about yourself and want what's best for yourself) so you struggle.

Not to be all BS zen about it, but maybe the struggle is where you should be. If things tip too far in either direction, then it means you're valuing either yourself or Archer less. And the truth is that both of you are incredibly important and each of you will win the battle sometimes. So don't push for resolution too quickly...

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:39 AM

After I wrote this post I had a few long talks with the men in my life, the huz and my father and they admitted they feel the same. I realized "what this is" is life and has nothing to do with having creative ambitions, nothing to do with being a mother, or being twenty-five. It has to do with being torn between the romantic ideals and real life and for me, who lives in her head most of the time, the romantic ideal has always been my place of refuge. Right now it seems the real-life side is bleeding into my "hiding place" and throwing it all out of wack. Thank you for all of your insightful comments. You're all right, the battle is just trying to find the balance. Thank you.

Woman on the Verge | 10:54 AM

This post does something to my heart.
I have been feeling this way for so long now and you so beautifully put these feelings into words.
An amazing post.

Julie Pippert | 11:00 AM

Yes.

Uh, did I say...yes?

Yes.

My possibilities versus my realities.

I still haven't quite let go of that super spy ambition, and DH hasn't let go of that adrenaline junky ambition, so we wiggle HD-style in our seats of routine and responsibility sometimes.

It's like we spent all of our young adulthood (20s and early 30s) being really big kids with paychecks. And then somehow we were parents of two, in the burbs, with a mortgage. And only one paycheck.

Who I think I am and want to be versus who I am and need to be.

So well-articulated. Thanks!

Hippie Mama | 11:32 AM

WHEW! So I'm not the only one? Thank God.

So feel you on the writer's block thing...I actually started a blog because mine was so bad! Heh. I used to be able to just sit down and write write write write write whenever the mood struck me, and I got inspired with just a tiny bit of an idea, and I wrote and it grew and grew. Now, I have to plan it out, do outlines...it's just so different than it used to be. It's almost enough to make me want to quit, too. But ALMOST. I'm not quitting yet. And please don't quit either, because you are so awesome.

What you said about discipline and authority made me wonder how I'm going to do the discipline thing-I have a feeling that if the baby disobeys me, a part of me will be proud of him for not respecting authority.

Mom101 | 11:33 AM

This is writer's block? You're putting us all to shame.

Moments of transition are hard. But it doesn't mean that you're broken; just evolving. When you look back on it, it will all be so clear. It's just impossible from where you sit right now - which, is not beneath a brick wall surrounded by egg shell.

By the way, my shift key is missing. Do you think this means I'm stuck in first gear?

Her Bad Mother | 12:06 PM

This made my heart clench. Because I know this feeling too, too well. But I don't know how I *feel* about it. Confused. Disoriented. Not myself. But what does that even mean, when you're no longer certain of who your 'self' is (mother, writer, woman, girl, wife, human?)

Agh. I could say a trillion things here. Just know that I FEEL this, too.

(And know too that Mom-101 is right - it'll all be clear/er. One day. Right?)

Big. fierce. hug.

ECR | 12:53 PM

I bet Archer will grow up thinking you are every bit as together as you still believe your mother is. But maybe part of growing up is realizing that your parents aren't perfect and that you don't have to be, either.

As for the writer's block, I hear ya. What I don't get is how this can be the FIRST time you've ever been afflicted with it! As someone who's been nursing the same case of writer's block for going on fifteen years, I have a LOT to learn from you. I can't wait for you to get that writer's blog started! :)

Binkytown | 1:02 PM

You've just said what I've been trying to articulate for a long time. I have no answers, only thanks.

pointerb | 2:24 PM

well said.

Mother Bumper | 5:37 PM

wow. I didn't want this post to end because it is amazing and it resounded with me. You are an amazing writer. I can't tell you how many times I realize that I've left a part of me somewhere, I can't get back to that place back there but I must keep going forward because the path can't be changed now. But I like where I'm headed. I love reading your posts.

Kell | 4:30 AM

Wonderful post! So true to me. I feel like an imposter sometimes. A child with 4 children. How can I be a mother when I am so secretly selfish?
I had my 1st baby at 20 and I felt more grown up then than I do now. I cant imagine how I will be in my 30s with older kids.
I look forward to being a bit more free but I cant remember what I was like before I was a mum.

(ps, I am planning a new tattoo. A very visable one. I rock, Im such a cool mum!)

in2deep | 8:03 AM

this was the first time ever that i visited your blog and what a great post was waiting for me.
you're a great writer and im sure you're a great mother and you will continue to be so.
God bless you.

Jaelithe | 9:31 AM

I relate to so many things you said here. I need to tell you this more than anything, though:

You, of all people, are not wasting your time writing. You are one of the best writers I have ever read. I envy your skill. I wish I could write like you.

When I read your blog, I usually feel the urge to repeatedly kick myself for all the excuses I always seem to find daily not to write. I think, "How can I say I don't have time in my day for good writing? How can I say, hey, I'm young; I had a surprise pregnancy; my life has been turned upside-down over and over again in the past few years and I am still adjusting to being a responsible wife and mother instead of a carefree recent college grad; I am still learning how to navigate this new life as a serious adult and that is why I have not yet written all the things I thought I would have written by now-- how can I say that when here there is someone my own age living a life that is eerily parallel to mine, and she writes circles around me. She posts to her blog three times as often as I do and her posts are always so thoughtful and polished, so much better than mine. She is writing a book and I've heard it's amazing. She has so much drive and natural talent-- she is SO going to be a world famous author any day now. What on earth am I doing with my life? Why can't I be more like her? What have I done with my dreams and ambition? Why do I always feel the urge to rebel against my own best interests? Why does attending to the very things I love most always seem like a chore?"

It's fascinating to me to read this and discover you feel the same way I do about so many things so much of the time . . .

MetroDad | 11:04 AM

There seems to be something in the air these days. Maybe it's something in the water (or perhaps the spinach?) or maybe it's the change of seasons. Seems like a lot of people (myself included) have been getting their asses kicked by LIFE these days. I think part of it is trying to achieve balance in one's life. The other part is probably that, as time goes by, we become further removed from the carefree days of our younger days.

Chin up, Rebecca! Tomorrow's a better day, right? Or at least I hope so...

braiding mommy | 12:11 PM

Wonderful, wonderful post.

frank | 5:28 PM

do we ever really "grow-up"? or just time just pass, numbers keep adding on to age? i guess thats part of the mystery of life. I say..LETS GO TO SAN FRANSISCO!

Karen Rani | 6:55 PM

For someone who has writer's block, this was a captivating post, and I stayed with you until the very end. I feel this way, many days, and others I feel on top of absolutely everything. Ebb and flow.

A huge hug to you.

Anonymous | 1:43 PM

This really helped to read today. You are my favorite blogger.