Writing is easy when you’re honest and happy. I’ve never had a problem writing about gardening when all I felt was wonder and unbridled enthusiasm for the natural world, just as it was easy to write about the joys of becoming a father - or the complex emotions I felt while slowly losing my mother to Lupus. That’s all relatable; A baby boy is a pretty good reason to feel happy, and it's not unusual to feel sad when losing a loved one.
For too long I’ve avoided writing on my blog because after being blessed with a baby boy, I felt something unfamiliar that was difficult to put into words. Rather, the problem was what I didn’t feel.
When you’ve been blessed with the gift of parenthood, it feels so sinful to be anything less than constantly overjoyed. While I remembered to feed my son a bottle before he even realized he was hungry, I would go all day without remembering to pour myself a glass of water. Whenever I had to pull myself away to write, garden, draw, shop, spend some time with myself, or do anything at all that brought me joy, I felt such a twinge of guilt. I came to view them as nothing more than chores that got in the way of playing with my son. “I’m sorry… I have to draw.” I would say, without the slightest hint of irony.
Whenever I found myself getting caught up in the flow of my own imagination and truly enjoying the creative process again, I would inevitably doubt myself long enough to lose steam, before falling back into a slump and feeling guilty for any time spent at my desk while my son played in the other room.
Oddly enough, it was while working on a blog post for Tuesday Morning that I had my a-ha moment and realized what it was I was missing.
“I’m sorry,” I said to my son before heading out to a two-hour shopping spree at Tuesday Morning, “I have to go shop… it’s work.” This, too, was said without the slightest hint of irony.
But by the time I had perused every aisle about twenty times, it dawned on me that it was truly fun to simply be alone without feeling any obligation (Thanks Mrs. Rainforest Gardener!) to hurry home and entertain a two-year old. Emboldened by my newfound independence, I put back the toys that I was going to buy out of guilt for working too much. (Sorry Junior Rainforest Gardener!)
That shopping trip, or rather the second or third one, helped me realize that what I had been missing all along was my sense of self, as well as a healthy amount of selfishness. You’re not doing your family any favors by avoiding the things that make you happy. That’s what I told myself, anyways, as I added a chocolate bar to my shopping cart.
I’m slowly letting myself enjoy ‘me time’ again. Yesterday I had the opportunity to wander aimlessly around a shopping center, drink iced coffee and look at art supplies. It felt really, really good. I recently replaced my little laptop with a new computer because it came with a working keyboard and had a larger screen that didn’t require squinting, and I can say without any shame that having the right equipment for the job has made me incredibly happy. Because a functional computer allows me to work faster and more fluidly, I can spend time with my son (and maybe get coffee and art supplies) without stressing about all the work I should be doing.
I know that it’s unbecoming to confess that parenthood isn’t without challenges, but it would be dishonest to pretend that those things don’t sometimes exist. It might be ‘oversharing’, but I would much rather write without hesitation and get back to treating my blog as a creative outlet again. Not only is it difficult to write when you’re unable to say what’s on your mind, but it would be a shame to alienate that one reader who needed the encouragement and needed to hear that “Yes, working from home with a toddler is super hard sometimes.” Because if I can say that, then it means a bit more when I say that “It gets better.”
So on that genuine and heartfelt note, here’s a link to the post that I wrote on the Tuesday Morning blog. It’s about getting over your cold feet in the garden, which would be a welcome topic for the majority of my readers who thought this was a garden blog for some reason!