I adore Brene Brown. Her studies and subsequent Ted Talks and Netflix special on vulnerability have given me many moments of introspection over the years. In a moment of difficulty to sleep, I decided to turn on one of her podcasts. I must admit, I am a terrible podcast listener. I am not consistent. Not even a little. And most of the time, I only turn one on to subdue the voice in my head keeping me from precious sleep. Precisely what brought me to said podcast.
In typical fashion, I fell asleep shortly after pressing play. The exercise operating as hoped. Before sleep overtook me, I heard her say that she had been told to “research and write what you need to hear”. That’s what this blogging endeavor started as. A place to lay down the difficulties of parenting in plain sight. No need to place caveats of how much I love my son. Just admitting to struggling and bumbling through this endeavor of raising a tiny human. This shit is heavy. And confusing. Alienating, at times.
When Moose was born, I needed to see that this was difficult for other people. The ease at which my mother held him allowed my own fears of inferiority to creep in. The midnight screaming of a reflux baby in pain made me question if I was equipped at all to carry the awesome task of rearing this child. I craved permission to admit that I felt lost. Ill-equipped. Scared. Frustrated. In moments of utter desperation, I ached for a safe place to admit that I thought God made a mistake when he bestowed the gift of parenthood onto me. That he had given me this amazing opportunity and I was failing.
In the absence of locating such a place, I determined to create it. To lay my fears and failures at the feet of a public forum and hope that it gave another parent the safe haven they were yearning for. One that wasn’t wrapped in jokes about mommy needing a glass of wine. One that didn’t rely on jokes about their husband being another child in their home. Just reality. The ugly scars and the hope hiding within.
As I continued the project, perfectionism crept it’s way in. Like it does. I put pressure on myself to ensure that I met a minimum word count while also elevating some incredible prose with a hopeful message. Basically, I tried to wrap roses around my thorns. And if I failed, I scrapped the draft. Or got stuck. Berated myself for no longer having the talent or subject matter for this undertaking.
Talent- well that is a tricky subject. Do I have the talent? I really have no clue.
Imposter syndrome is a real bitch.
I do enjoy it. Which if I were using this as a teaching moment with my minion, I would tell him that is all that matters. I rarely talk to myself as compassionately as I speak to him. Surprise.
Subject matter- that one is easier. Am I suddenly not a mother? Did he evaporate as if in a science fiction novel or Marvel universe? Nope. Is this child of mine a perfect specimen that never has an emotional outburst and is incapable of pressing my buttons? That’s a hell no. Furthermore, am I perfect? Good God no. I step in a pile of shit pretty regularly. I raise my voice. I react from exhaustion instead of responding in empathy. I minimize his experience. I have to apologize. Reframe my words in kindness. I must correct my perspective from time to time. So, this all leads to the same conclusion; I have most definitely not run out of material.
The truth of the matter is- the past year has been exhausting. I haven’t been making time for writing. I don’t have the spoons for it most days. The pandemic has had an impact on my business, my child, and my schedule. I have more responsibility. Which leads into the second factor that holds me back. Where is the appropriate line of respect that I keep my feelings close to my chest due to situations begun by my ex-husband? What is my story to tell and what isn’t? That’s a lie. More accurately, that is an honest question that allows me to hide. Hide from my fear. Fear of rocking the boat. Fear of retribution.
Being a single mother leaves me beholden. Bound to the other parent through child support, visitation. The fear lies in any of those things being threatened. If I write something and it circles around- will I have retaliation to account for?
I must disclose that I never thought of my ex as that kind of man. The concern is not based in experience. However, the man I deal with bi-weekly is not a man I recognize. His face and voice are familiar markers of a life past. But the core of him- the decisions he makes; the priorities he displays- no longer reflect the person I once thought I knew. That uncertainty breeds fear. That fear- as one of my favorite artists has put it- is the cockblocker of dreams. Or, in my case, writing.
This all feels like the beginning of a juicy tell-all. Of which, I do not have. I have frustrations with lack of communication. No seat at the table when decisions regarding our child are made. Concerns over what is best for the little man as he ages and becomes more and more aware. Irritation and indignation at repeated demonstrations of a lack of respect. None of which translates to provocative theater. Thank heavens for that.
Navigating the landscape of divorce and co-parenting hasn’t necessarily gotten easier, but it has become familiar. Which has some bearing on peace. Taking the onus on myself, I must admit that if I stopped holding back due to fear of rocking the boat, I would probably experience less frustration. That is a change in behavior that only I can make. Which sucks, because it isn’t effortless. Alas, as I tell the kiddo, we can do hard things.