Life is complicated right now. I don’t mean that as a euphemism for bad. Not like Facebook’s “It’s Complicated” relationship status (though yes, David and I often discuss changing our relationship status to “It’s Complicated” on a random day, and sitting back to enjoy the made-for-Facebook drama that would ensue). I actually mean life is complicated, in that there a lot of things going on, and a lot of different levels at which I’m supposed to be operating. New parenthood is a bit of a trip, and I really do mean that in the best way. (Two people used to live in this house, and now three do. One of them was made by the first two people. WHAT IS THAT?) It’s straight up complicated.
I had this blissfully ignorant idea that when I got back from maternity leave, I’d just hit the ground running, same as I ever was. This seemed reasonable to me because, let’s be honest, while I technically took four months off for maternity leave (that’s one month for extended labor and three months for the baby, for those of you keeping track at home), in reality, I took one month off (December. The month after I gave birth.) and a couple of other months without full responsibility, but sometimes lots of work. So really, how different was it going to be to be back at work?
Quick answer: Lots different.
Long answer: Oh My God.
Here is the thing: I did, in fact, hit the ground running. There were something like four major projects vying for my attention when I got back. Some sucked (legal). Some were awesome (Pantene Beautiful Lengths, other secret projects that are yet to be revealed). Some were in the middle (accounting, piles of paperwork). So I worked, and did. And also, I didn’t sleep much. Perhaps you have not heard of four-month sleep regression? But yes, it’s a thing, and yes, it’s timed to hit right about when lots of (American) women go back to work and start getting settled in. High five, system! So, with all that, it turned out that one big project didn’t happen: loads and loads of writing. And of course that one thing that didn’t happen, became the thing that consumed my brain.
Which brings us to The Good. For me, these days, the good has been all about seeing presence, and not absence. It’s so easy, in my often sleep-deprived, newly complicated life, to focus on what’s not there instead of what is. By dwelling on what’s missing, I miss the moments. If there is one thing that early childrearing brings home, it’s that you never get moments back. In January I wrote about rocking my baby to sleep and holding him just a little bit longer, knowing he’d never be this small again. Now he’s sort of too big to rock like that, and he doesn’t need it anyway. Now he’s a little guy that likes to be held in the sitting position so he can look around. And next week, that may be gone too. So my job is to be In It. To catch the good as it flies by. Because there is always good if you look hard enough. Even if it’s just in a moment.
Yeah, sure, I don’t have much sleep. But I do have a hilarious baby who points his toes when he grins at us. Yup. I’m not writing much, and I feel its absence. But I am getting to run a kick-ass business with ladies who I love, and I get to encourage other people’s writing. Yeah, I’m not with my kid all day. But I do get to do other adult-y things during the day, and be with my kid at night. (And who are we kidding. The “having it all” construct was nonsense from the beginning.)
Things are good around here. Hard, sure, but good. We’re learning to garden. We don’t own our house, but who cares. We’re planting baby trees and hoping our kid will get to eat their fruit. I’m not writing. And am writing sometimes, like now. We’re sleeping, if only for two hours, before the baby wakes up, and hey sometimes there are good nights. We’re not going out very much right now, but we are having friends over to hang out (in our awesome garden). There is so much good, if I can let go of the absence of things, the ghost whispers of what could be, but isn’t.
The internet is one of my places, and damn if it isn’t full of my people. But the internet is really good at magnifying, and we do a lot of magnifying the bad. It can be scary to put good things out there, because there is nothing more predictable than sharing a bit of good news, and having The Internet bear down on you screaming BUT IT’S NOT THAT WAY FOR EVERYONE HOW DARE YOU. The good seems scary (and braggy), the good seems not complex enough, the good seems not newsworthy. So we hold back, and we share the vent-y stuff instead. And the internet magnifies, and that leads to an echo chamber of badBadBAD!
How many times do we read a post we love, but zero in on the fact that they made a word choice we hate? How many times do we stop realizing how amazing it is that the internet makes all these creative projects and relationships possible, and just bitch that the stuff being made doesn’t fit our precise standards (even if we’re not bothering to anything ourselves)? How many times do we look up some symptom, and become convinced WE ARE DYING, because the only people with that symptom that take to the internet are the ones dealing with something gone really wrong?
A lot, right?
So this month, APW is going to try to be an echo chamber of the good. We’re going to try to notice what’s present and wonderful, what’s worthy of notice. We’re hoping that when you shout goodness into the abyss, you’ll hear back goodGoodGOOD!
May it be like the chiming of bells.
(Who just wrote something)
PS If you’ve been wanting to submit a piece of writing for The Good, but have been scared to sound too… happy? Braggy? Put on your brave pants and jump!
Photo: Meg & Maddie taken by the Magnolia Photo Booth Co. at Mad for Love