I think there must be some sort of alignment happening in the Universe this week, syncing my on-stage debut in Providence's inaugural Listen to Your Mother Show with this blog's one year anniversary.
A year ago this week I posted my first reflection here on Multiple Realities.
And tomorrow, I'll be stepping in front of a podium in downtown Providence, in front of a 300-person audience (gulp!) to read my motherhood-themed essay. (The show is being filmed and will be posted later on YouTube... I'll let you know when the link is up.)
When I started this blog in May 2012, I didn't know what it was going to be. But there was something inside of me that compelled me to do it. It was like an itch I needed to scratch. Like a mosquito buzzing in my ear that I needed to swat, that I couldn't just ignore. I somehow knew, without knowing it, that I needed this blog to save something that only I could save inside of me.
Without my blogging, I think I might have fallen into depression, into the cavern of boredom and isolation that can result from staying at home with twin toddlers through four New England seasons, including a long, cold and dark winter. I did not want to be Betty Draper. If you ask me, Betty Draper desperately needed a blog.
Brené Brown once said, wisely: "“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame.”
Let's face it, for the many moms among us (myself included) whose passions do not include deciphering the stages of early childhood development, doing laundry with toddlers is a lot less intellectually stimulating than, say, setting up a camera in manual mode to capture doing laundry with toddlers, and then writing about it, uploading it and posting it.
The process of pondering, gathering and creating material for my blog is what got me through many of my stay-at-home momming days this past year. Somewhere, somehow, during the process, I've stopped wishing I were the kind of mother who didn't need this extra layer of "stimulating work" to enjoy being home with my children. I used to feel bad about that; now I don't.
One year later, I admit that the process of doing this blog has helped me start showing up more and more as my most authentic version of myself, both on my blog and in my real life, instead of trying to be like other bloggers/mothers/people that I admire. And in learning how to do that more and more -- to just be myself and show up -- I've started figuring out who this "most authentic version of myself" actually is. I think I've grown as a writer this past year, from someone who tried to write/post what I thought people wanted to read... to a writer/blogger who writes/posts what I think I have to show/share/say.
I'll be the first to admit that not every single post on my lil' blog has been insightful or interesting. In this first year, I think my blog has been overall good, but sometimes hit or miss. Some days, I wrote and posted something I felt really proud of, and other times I was exhausted and just needed to get something, like a single photo, up on the page.
But here's the thing: I posted at least once a week for an ENTIRE YEAR. On average, I posted 1.4 times a week! And I feel really proud of that. To me, this means I showed up for myself, even if each post wasn't all that interesting, articulate or perfect, even if thousands of people aren't devoted followers of my little corner of the internet. Even if I am not earning any money doing this. I showed up. I did it!
And I'm about to show up again in a new and scary way tomorrow, on stage with my motherhood-inspired piece to read.
When I told my mom that I was thinking about auditioning for the Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) Show, we had a serious conversation about the content of the piece I wrote. The reading I'm doing tomorrow is pretty vulnerable for me. I was trying to make sense of my need to write it and share it, and then my mom said, "I don't think you have a choice, Jenn. I've known you longer than anyone else in the world. I can tell you that for as long as you could hold a pen, there was never a time when you didn't need to write. It's always been your way of getting things out of yourself that needed to come out. I don't think it was ever up to you."
And if there's one thing I know well enough by now, it's to listen to my mother. :)
So maybe that's why, when I heard about the LTYM show and the call for auditions, I didn't want this opportunity to be part of a national conversation about "motherhood" to be hijacked by some June Cleaver version of mothering, which everyone knows is bullshit. I deeply wanted this Providence show to tell the truth. So I decided to write about mine, as bravely as I could muster, and then take it to the audition. And tomorrow, to the stage.
And here's what's so amazing: 13 other women (Yep, our entire Providence cast) had the same thought that I did! Screw motherhood myths! Let's TELL THE TRUTH!
And so tomorrow we are going to do that. Because together, on that stage in our real lives, and on this stage here on the internet, we are showing up to save the only lives any of us can really save: our own. One fantastic truth-filled bit at a time.