Twenty-nine days from today I will turn 32 years old.
Right now I simultaneously want to play with my cooing infant (who is currently kicking about in her bouncy chair at my feet), take a nap, and write this piece. Mostly I want to play with the baby. Her squishy, glowing adorableness calls to me, her sweetness and joy making me feel so happy to just be. But I can’t pretend that I don’t sometimes fantasize about having a private room to disappear into and just write in solitude for hours. Writing is an act that requires complete isolation– the baby-loving extrovert must transform into a hermit. Actually, my real fantasy is having a very old, crumbly palazzo in Italy on the edge of Lake Como where I sip a bowl-sized cup of cappuccino and smoke a hand-rolled organic tobacco cigarette while sitting on a tiny balcony at a little wooden table, all alone, writing to my heart’s content.
I love the month of September. Such a transitionary time of year, when everything slows a bit before the hectic buzz of the holidays arrives. And too, I love having a birthday on the last day of the month. It makes me feel like I have plenty of time to prepare for it, to properly honor the event to come. Those four or so weeks a year when I feel not quite so self-centered in the act of thinking about myself.
I just read a post by Stevie Mackenzie-Smith from the blog Discotheque Confusion. Hers is one of those very rare blogs that is entirely and purely genuine, whilst also being well-written, interesting, entertaining, and relatable. It is everything I look for in another woman’s writing, and I find a great deal of comfort reading her simple yet thoughtful posts. This particular piece she wrote about fashion, and about how she was kind of tired of not letting herself have fun with it anymore (at least that was my takeaway, because that’s what I wanted to glean from it, most likely). God I feel like that too. I feel like that with a lot of things, and I’m not sure when it started or how I haven’t noticed it in so long. Though I have noticed it. I feel like that with my writing, with my apparel choices, with my art, with everything. Like I’ve deliberately removed the fun and spontaneity from all of it for the benefit of getting stuff done more quickly and efficiently. But efficiency can lead to a lacking in the area of one’s creative expressions. What I’ve been yearning for is to just say what I think, dress how I feel, cut my hair short (on some days), make a new bag, write with full transparency to my thoughts, share more of my art, make more art, talk about the people, objects, creations that move me. Why is that so hard? Any of it, all of it? It all takes time, sometimes effort, sometimes patience, sometimes space. As a mother of two very tiny ones, this is where the ultimate challenge comes. It’s something utterly impossible to grasp until becoming a mother— that fight for the self. Time for the self, ability to express the self.
Those things I enjoyed and things I wanted for myself before having children are the same, except now I want such things for my daughters too. By that I mean, my self-desires have essentially now multiplied, and I want the same things for my darling ones as I do for myself– For them to have lovely and well-made items, the very finest food, thrilling experiences, time to themselves, diverse and unique opportunities to grow beautifully.
So many things I desire. To be great at something. Not just swell, but GREAT. I want to learn more, know more, remember more, speak more eloquently, spend more time with dear friends, sew, draw, paint, take up kick-boxing again, organize my office, get rid of the clothes I don’t like but keep because I can’t afford a closet full of Celine, The Row, and Stella McCartney, start my own fashion line because I can’t afford said desired fashion labels, travel the world with my family, take a break, take a nice, long, b i g b r e a t h where I don’t check emails/answer phone/look at internet/think/talk/worry… I want these things.
But I think I can be patient for my time to come around again.
Something I learned from my first child, who is now 3 years old, is that you will regain yourself. There is no need to rush it. There is a chunk of time that you and her or him are inseparable. That first month after birth is extremely challenging (even though it’s overflowing with love)— emotions, body pain, fears, worries, giving of oneself entirely to the baby because you must. Then 3 months pass and it’s so much easier, so much more enjoyable. A bit of the self returns, a bit of separation begins. But nursing keeps you close, physically and emotionally (in the best way). Then at 6 months they begin to eat solids, and the separation takes a new leap forward. You also begin to feel much more like your old self again, body getting closer to being back to pre-baby. After a year, you have reached a massive turning point. Something clicks, the baby is now a toddler, beginning to have independence. She probably no longer breast-feeds or is nearly weaned. The self returns with a fervor that is remarkable. It’s worth the wait.
September is here. My littlest one just turned 3 months old. My time will come around again. For now I will enjoy her tinyness, her precious and delicate, quickly-passing infancy. In a blink I will have no more excuses for myself to get to work on that long list of desires. And oh how I will then miss the exquisite, messy beauty of my life–our life– as it is right this moment.
Xx, Tara T.
PS. I had this thought when I finished writing this. I thought, “this is stupid, utterly self-centered, and pointless, and will probably make me look more self-absorbed than I actually am. I hope no one in my family reads this. I need to scrap it. Start over. I need to focus more on my children, I need to keep editing……” I know I will never be able to please everyone with my writing. Perhaps I’ll please no one but myself. But that has to be enough.
My motto of the month will be this: WRITE FOR YOURSELF, and dude, just chill.
🎵 Listening to right now: “The Awakening of a Woman” by The Cinematic Orchestra
Photo at top: Taken by my husband– Me and my oldest daughter in Bulgaria, when she was just a wee thing.