Wednesday, May 27, 2009


A few years ago, I discovered mommy blogs. I was working at a small, inconsequential publishing house, and I didn't have much work to do, and I was very bored all day. I was transfixed as soon as I found them. I'd scooch closer to the computer screen, kicking my pinchy flats back under my chair and resting on my elbows, reading about 5am feedings, bleeding nipples, fresh baby smell and postpartum depression. Dooce. Finslippy. Breed 'Em and Weep. These absurd website names.

The thing is, I never wanted children when I was little. Some girls play with dolls, and play house and pretend to be mommies? I scoured the woods for perfectly smooth sticks to use as swords, and tried to convince my nephews that the tire swing was a time machine that could shoot them back to the age of the dinosaurs.... If a girl coerced me into playing house, I chose the dad, or the 'cool brother.' I didn't give a shit about babies.

When I started reading mommy blogs, I thought that maybe I was turning some subtle corner. That a secret part of me was unfurling, opening like a small flower towards a hidden maternal light. Because seriously, I loved these blogs; loved hearing about what it was like to give birth and take care of a tiny helpless human, to be so suddenly alone in the world, home with this unknowable squalling being, the old life gone and with it the old friends, just the new mother with her sore breasts, stranger's body.

I've thought a lot about having kids, and as I've gotten up in years - I'm 28, as of a few days ago - I thought, well maybe. Maybe. But something happened: I spent a night with a child. Not a child brought to light by its mother's words, on paper, but a real one, a two-year-old girl, daughter of my boyfriend's cousin. She didn't speak much English, this girl, mostly Korean, and she sat placidly at the table with us one night a couple weeks ago, occassionally slurping on a noodle, twisting around to take her shoe off, putting her shoe on her head. The usual. And as I sat there and watched her, I wanted to feel something for this girl, this little one. I wanted to feel, I don't know, SOMETHING. And I did. You know what I felt?


Hanging out with the child was boring. We had to pay constant attention to her, to make sure she didn't fall or grab something dangerous or put something dirty in her motuh. We cajolled her into accepting two spoonfuls of yogurt; I absently petted her hair and accepted a handful of napkins when she solemly gave them to me. These small moments were sweet enough, I guess, but mostly they were kind of tedious. I wanted to drift off into my own thoughts, but something about being in her proximity prohibited that - something inside of me prohibited that. I had to be on guard, on alert, for the tiniest trivial nothings. With little kids, the little nothings have to mean everything.

I felt wistful walking down the street afterwards, eyeing all the young pretty girls smoking their cigarettes, balancing on one foot as they adjusted their heel straps. They gathered in small packs, soft dresses and pinned-up hair, laughing on the sidewalks of New York. I thought what it would be like to be So-Jun, pushing her daughter in the stroller, pausing periodically to pick up the stuffed fish she kept jettisoning over the edge. It didn't seem romantic, like the way I'd pictured it all these years. It seemed sad.

When I read the blogs, even at their darkest moments, the lives of the mothers seemed intensely immediate. Worth it. They'd discovered a secret world the rest of us childless ones can only wonder at and, depending on our worldview, dismiss or pine for. But there I was, suddenly thrust in the midst of the real deal, and basically, I wanted to get away.

I think that motherhood might be just be another world I've conjured up for myself. Another imagination game I've been playing. When I was little, finishing a good book sometimes felt profoundly heartbreaking - I'd mope around afterwards, casting about for some replacement of that lost world. I don't feel entirely like that now, but I wonder. It's not entirely dissimilar.

I'm 28, and suddenly I feel so far from ready, so far from ever feeling ready. I'd like to wait another 10 years or so before considering it. Maybe 20. In my next life. The one after this one.

I don't want to give up the possibility, to let go of the dream of a family, because sometimes I still think I'd be good at it - that it'd be good for me. My own little world, my own little people. But they wouldn't me mine, would they? And then I think about my life, and my life not being my life anymore, and I just...

I don't know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I’m soggy. I wish someone could pick me up, wring me out, give me a good shake and hang me up on a clothesline to dry. I need the bleaching power of the sun.

My birthday was last week, and James was in town, and it’s seemed like every night was a reason to celebrate. I also just love birthdays, love the absurdity of it, all that attention. I was trotting around all night on Friday telling people it was my wedding night. I am now so full of sake, champagne and beer that I am likely still drunk.


Edit – I’m now back from several meetings and feeling less thick-headed. I don’t have much to say here, but I’m feeling bad about neglecting ‘my writing’ since the program ended and am determined to get back in shape. Consider this me wheezing on the Stairmaster.

I’ve been trying to be productive. An easy way to do that is to pay my bills, which I’ve now almost completely done. Electric, Gas, Vet, done! Sailing out the door. I love the crispness of it, the thick bold lines of a check mark. Done.

Next week I leave for LA. Will I be productive, sitting side by side with James on our laptops as the bright California sun streams in through the windows? Will we pick oranges and wear sunglasses and take photos next to palm trees? Will we drive around in his VW and play all our old favorite songs? I’m already imagining the trip in retrospect, as a series of photographs I’ll upload to my flickr and stare at wistfully years from now. That’s one of my problems, I think. I’m always anticipating things in past tense.