written by Melissa Connolly
I had been having a long conversation with my friend and partner-in-crime of this site, Kelly McMasters, about the guilt I felt about going away on the writing retreat I allowed myself. To be honest, I hadn’t felt guilt until I talked to others about the retreat, to which people said things like, don’t you feel bad, leaving your kids at home? And I thought, they’re teenagers, they’re celebrating that I’m not home.
But still that feeling of inadequacy lingered, that “bad mom” label.
And a day or two after our conversation, Kelly sent me a link to a great story in New York magazine, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mom.” http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/04/portrait-motherhood-creativity-c-v-r.html – definitely worth a read for anyone balancing parenting and writing, or probably any artistic endeavor. The central truth behind the piece was that the space one needs to create, the silence, the thoughtfulness, that unknowable thing that creatives require – is it introversion? selfishness? solitude? – is almost impossible to reconcile with the neediness, the constant hum that is the parenting of young children. That the emotional and physical lives of small people and the separation required to be a writer are totally incompatible.
And I smugly thought, well, those days are behind me.
I had a day or two more of edits to get through, which I thought I could finish in my room as my children did their own thing over a long holiday weekend. And a funny thing happened. The children who ignore me as I read downstairs, or clean, or ask them questions, were suddenly at the closed door every five minutes as I was writing. “Whatcha doing Mom?” I heard over and over again, an accompanying light insistent knock.
It was like they knew that behind that closed door I was with their one true rival.
And I was reminded of that great first line in Wallace Stevens’ “Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction” – “And for what, except for you, do I feel love?”
In the middle of a writing day, it’s a question that I struggle with.