Our Internet connection has been down almost a full week. I know a lot of bloggers have written about the blessed relief of not blogging, of the exhaustion that writing or trying to write can lead to. That taking an electronic break is a sanity saver so they can (maybe) return, refreshed, rejuvenated. Read books again. Think complete thoughts uninterrupted by checking Twitter for the 20th time that day.
My friends, I am not that blogger. Every day, and many minutes of the day of this enforced “break” I ached to write. I tried to type posts in Word, I tried to tweet and comment on blogs on my ridiculous iPhone tiny screen with its insistent and incorrect auto-correct. (If you got an incomprehensible comment from me this week, now you know why.) None of this worked.
Instead of finishing “Remembrance of Things Past”, I passed hours when the kids napped or slept watching the dumbest TV you can imagine. I watched every single episode of “The Haunted” on Animal Planet. Which is about, er, the paranormal disturbing household pets. I mean, really. Does it GET more bottom of the barrel than that?
Not blogging was a stark reminder of how truly isolated I am. I am housebound as a result of life choices (being a SAHM). My only social interactions were with the other mothers of pre-schoolers twice a day. You (allegedly, maybe) park far, far away from the classroom, and endure the long walk, past cliques of moms either ignoring you or politely nodding. You know some are chilly because you don’t volunteer for the three email opportunities you receive daily (Help us Make Bread! Help us Make Napkins!), because you don’t have the time, because unlike almost all the other dads, your husband works 100 hours a week. That you don’t pay to have classrooms or fences named after your family because you don’t have the money, that unlike most of the Range Rover drivers, you can barely afford the pre-school at all. That you’re also not chatty enough, not adept enough at small talk.
Not blogging made me inhabit fully the life of a SAHM of two challenging, precocious children and their unceasing demands. Being present 24/7 was really, really difficult, something I know those going through infertility aren’t going to want to hear. I can hear you saying, shut up you ingrate! Which is certainly what I would have thought myself. But when your main interactions are either unceasing demands or confrontations, your brain starts to stultify. (Because being a good parent means saying “No”. A lot.) Only by watching stories about pets battling ghosts and poltergeists and demonic possessions could I escape, chomping on way too much leftover Halloween candy.
My whole life I feel I craved this life of a suburban home with two kids and a husband. I certainly busted my ass to be here. So why is it so hard sometimes to BE here?
Lately, as if they happened to another person, I have remembered the travels and adventures I used to experience, the delight I felt in discovering new music or buying an outfit or meeting a friend for dinner at a trendy restaurant, barely able to afford it but feeling so grown-up for ordering goat-cheese ravioli. The nightclub queues my friend and I used to get to brazenly cut because the doorman knew us. The girl who men would stare at when she crossed the street. The girl who would confidently stride into meetings and present powerpoints to important clients, win them over with her arguments.
That Girl would be horrified by the frumpy, “Haunted Animal” watching, Halloween candy-eating, frankly tragic woman I have become, bothered by having to walk down a hallway like some cowed junior high kid.
Virginia Woolf wrote, “Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword.” Basically we can either choose a life of “correctness” of motherhood and wifehood (of course, assuming that we are lucky enough to have children) or we can choose to go to the other side of the sword, where “all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course.”
Life on the picket fence side of the sword seems really harsh and difficult. I feel that mothers are being crushed by expectations, whether they are our own, perpetrated by Dr. Sears, other mothers, or life, that terrible trash compactor which eventually grinds us down through tragedies.
I wish I didn’t have to write or think so much about resilience, or trying to seek joy, or being the bamboo bending in the wind. Why can’t I be That Girl again? Is that possible after IF, after parenting after infertility?
Is this a bunch of BS whining? Am I a total bitch for even writing any of this? Is it possible to live a life of adventure and fun once you have chosen the white picket side of the fence? Or should I consign myself to the fate of Frumpster Grumpster?