Now that my initial compulsion is satisfied, I’ve rethunk my idea of recording my days. I want the practice of journaling, of working with nouns and verbs in the hopes of mining something useful someday, but even more, I think what I needed at the moment was to contain my life all in one place for a moment, to look at all I do.
Looking at that one day, I also see all I failed to do: get the damn recycling to the center, catch up on Nick’s diabetes records, catch up on bills and the rest of the mail, sit down and give any of my kids my full attention, surf, walk the dog, re-organize my “office” area at the house, write to any old friends, work enough. Oh yeah, and do something for anyone outside of my immediate family and employers.
It can all be a bit depressing at times.
But back to the lookover of my life. This isn’t really just about my life; most of my close women friends put in similarly long days, energy spread across a field of obligations and desires. I think this is why we have sought each other out – that has to be some basic human need, right? To surround yourself with others who get your life?
My kids love me, but they take all I do for them for granted, which is fine – they’re kids and how do you even understand the sacrifice from that side of the experience? My husband is too busy working and coping himself to be much impressed by me. The radio people don’t see the rest of my world. I don’t spend much time in the Eye office; my life probably looks like cake from that angle.
Here it is again, that shame that arrives the moment I start what sounds like a complaint. I swear, I don’t mean to come across woe-is-me. Not at all. I want to do big fabulous things and help people in the ways I seem to be able to. I want to figure out how these women that do it all, do it. Women who didn’t choose between babies and novels. Women who have kids and jobs and still make time to sew quilts for the homeless and write screenplays, that sort of thing. People always say thing to me like, “How do you do so much?” but I never feel like I do enough. I know I’m not alone, but that’s not always an excuse either.
What a ramble.
My friend has been reading Virginia Wolf and saddened by how, 50 years later, the pressures on women artists have changed little.
“The world needs women’s voices,” my friend says, “harried, over-worked, overwhelmed, over-loving. Perhaps the idea that writing should be perfected, with footnotes, and addressing great ‘epic’ ideas is just another part of… well, the male power paradigm, damn it. I’m going to publish a book of poems someday called Ten Minute Poems: Irrelevant Works by an Overwhelmed Mother. I would love to see that book on the shelf, even if it wasn’t written by me.”
Made me smile. Now, I need to get back to deadline/breakfast/coffee/taking care of my aching back. At least today, I’m guaranteed to write something.