Freshly Pressed, and Thoughts on Being Super Mom

In the past year or so since I’ve let my blog go dormant, I’ve gotten a few notifications from WordPress. Sometimes they included legitimate comments from readers, but the more occasional ones were all spam, and I thought the email I received from the site a little over a week ago would be no different.

But it was. So. Different.

Krista, an editor at WordPress, somehow found an essay I wrote over two years ago. She liked it so much she wanted to feature it on Freshly Pressed. This digital age is a funny one, and for a minute after I read her email, I thought, “Oh, ‘Krista’ is probably just a computer, trolling sites for key words.” But then I read her email again, and she actually sounded like a human being, who had actually been moved by my writing.

When it hit Freshly Pressed later that week, I started getting comments, and “likes” and reblogs, and followers that trumped my previous numbers several times over.

All this attention for something I wrote such a long time ago has made me feel like I’ve woken up in a room filled with bright lights and party hats. As soon as I sit up, everyone shouts, “Surprise!”

I didn’t know how much I needed that kind of attention, but I did! It’s set my brain on fire.

All around me, the world is loud. My children are loud. My husband is loud. My tea kettle is loud. My new phone, because its speaker is not yet clogged with apple sauce, is loud. My dog has acquired a barking problem, and I’ll be damned if she is not loud. My own thoughts are loud, too.

But for the last year or so, I have been quiet – not writing, barely investing in reading – because if there is anything I want right now, it’s quiet. I want my brain to be quiet, my life, especially when I am alone, to be quiet. Pictures instead of words, if you please.

One could say from all this talk that I am depressed, or not coping very well with the chaos that is life with three young children, but the reality is that most of the time, I love my life. I am deeply grateful for everything in it, painfully aware that in just a few years, I am really going to miss the noise and the mess that trails after my children at every turn. I breathe in the sweet smell of my two year old every night, and I revel in how simple it all is right now. No one is begging for an iPhone; no one’s rolling their eyes; no one is sneaking out, or getting bullied, or having their hearts broken. It’s pretty great, really, in the grand scheme of things.

But my thought life, and therefore, my writing life, does suffer. Until this week, I’d been willing to let that go as an inevitable consequence of the season. It had kind of fallen into the mini-van category: a necessary evil that makes life for a mother of three exponentially more convenient.

The convenience of not writing, though, the luxury of all this quiet, has its consequences. And while I am not exactly sure what all of them are, the sum of their parts equals Not Good.

I read an article in the New York Times the other day about modern day Mommy Culture – how our life as mothers has somehow become so defining that it’s supplanted our core identities. Until my third child arrived, I felt I was able to hold most things in balance. Since then, I have (mostly unknowingly) been asking myself the following questions: “Do I want to be: A Mom Who Writes? A Mom Who Exercises? A Mom Who Volunteers?” Etc. etc. — As opposed to being a person who does all of those things and also happens to have a family.

The article in the Times came down pretty hard on our culture, and perhaps rightfully so, but I would also argue that all the Super Moms out there are knowing parties in the madness they’re perpetuating. These high achievers want to be the best, and it doesn’t matter if all we’re talking about are cake pops and class party logistics. They’re women who have had their dreams deferred (and sometimes derailed) by the process of parenting, and like everyone else, they’re desperately fighting the demons of insecurity.

I don’t have it together enough to be a Super Mom. I’m kind of a mess, really. But I feel for them, because I kind of know what they’re going through, and I wish for them that they could just take a deep breath and stop. Their kids don’t actually want them to be crazy.

My kids don’t want me to be crazy, either. Occasionally, I have been – and I am not using the term ‘crazy’ as a colloquialism when I write that. But as I have quietly been making my way through the past year or so, I’ve started to mix a little bit of my old self back in with the new. I started exercising after an embarrassingly long hiatus; I’m taking turns editing this awesome new lit mag; I felt the freedom to sit on a porch swing at the beach house to finish the last few chapters of The Goldfinch, while the dads manned the fort. Maybe writing again, more often, is next. We’ll see.

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10 thoughts on “Freshly Pressed, and Thoughts on Being Super Mom

  1. TK! You’re back & better than ever! whoop! whoop!!
    I have a little something to add, here, if I may. I realize I’m a little tender & bruised from junk I’m not ready to publicly name but just wanted to remind myself & you that mommies aren’t the only ones whose lives get derailed, paused or just turned up side down. I’m now 6 months from turning 35 & I’m realizing more and more no one’s life turns out as they planned it. But, we just keep on keeping on 🙂

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  2. I’m glad you’re back. I actually followed your blog a few days ago before I realized it had been a while since your last post! I was a little bummed because I really enjoyed your writing here, and I am looking for more blogs about writing. So congrats on being Freshly Pressed, and welcome back to the blog world!! Proximity looks beautiful, by the way.

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  3. My place is loud, too. It’s so loud that I had to get my step-dad to install a door knocker because I never hear people at the door otherwise, over the constant dance party, running, jumping, and endless nonsensical storytelling of four young girls and a toddler boy. You can see why my blog is called “Just East of Crazy Land: Adventures in Parenting.”
    But I really encourage you to write more again. For me, writing regularly helps me to focus more on nourishing my interior life, trying to be quiet and aware of my thoughts even when I’m busy doing dishes or folding laundry. My blog gives me a place to capture these inspirations that flit by like butterflies, and helps me to feel like a creative, intelligent grown up, and not just a multitasking waitress/climbing pole for my kiddies…
    Being a mother is a beautiful, challenging vocation, but it helps to have something we also do just for us, something that makes us more the person we are, unique and unrepeatable. Also, taking time for our art is a good example for our kids, of being happy and true to their talents while parenting.
    Anyway, sorry to ramble…my kids are finally all in bed being able to write without interruption is such a luxury! All the best to you!
    Anna

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  4. Towles — I’d noticed that Krista (my coworker) had not only chosen your post for Freshly Pressed, but also Maggie’s on the blog Bending Genre as well. It was a nice surprise to see both your names, and reminded me of our time at Goucher.

    Been meaning to send a note to some fellow classmates, like you and Maggie, and Sheri and Richard, and others — I’ll be in touch.

    Cheers,
    Cheri

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