I'm at Least as Strong & Stubborn as They Are
I used to sit down in front of my blog and write, write, write. Words flowed out of me as fast as my kids could mess up the kitchen, and I could barely keep up with the stories and ideas pouring out of my mind. Now, I rarely think of something I want to write about, or I censor it before it travels from my brain to my fingertips. Even as I try to get the writing habit back, it feels foreign, clunky, awkward. Yucky.
Two main things have contributed to the demise of my writing: Teenagers and Social Media.
First, I've had teenagers for something like seven years and will have them for another 8. Writing a blog about parenting and family life is much harder with teenagers around. They aren't exactly thrilled with me using them as blog fodder. I used to write funny anecdotes about my kids all the time. Now, things are different. Either teenagers just aren't that funny or cute, or they're waaaaaay more sensitive than younger kids about parents telling stories about them. Now, I gotta be all considerate of their autonomy and stuff. They still do things that would make some seriously great stories (comedy, horror, tragedy...really all the genres), but now I can't just share their business with abandon. Some might say I shouldn't have done it when they were younger either. Some might be right. But it's definitely less OK to do it with teenagers.
Second, I totally blame Facebook. Once the Almighty Network sucked me in, the language in my head started sounding like status updates instead of stories. BFB, I would sit down at my laptop when the kids had finally gone to bed and write about the day. I would make sense of life's craziness by thinking about how to tell a story and why it mattered to me. AFB, I stopped responding to my life by writing about it. AFB, I'm too busy catching up on everyone else's posts and scrolling myself into a stupor to write, and I can't really make fun of my teenagers publicly anyway, so what's the point? Embarrassingly, I also discovered that even an introvert and a cynic like me responds to that little red notification circle like it's a warm hug of validation, albeit fleeting. The time I used to spend writing, I started wasting on FB, Instagram and Twitter, scrolling and scrolling, and reading endless, usually pointless comments on posts and tweets, and waiting for something to grab me, for the notification/dopamine hit to give me that sick little rush of adrenaline (they don't call them push notifications for nothin').
I recently cut my social media use way back, for lots of reasons. I found that asking myself, mid-mindless scroll, "how is this enriching my life in any way" was a great motivator for shutting down the window on my laptop or the ap on my phone. Removing the aps from my phone altogether is also incredibly helpful (and hard to stick to). I miss out on a lot of stuff, including super important news like the latest insults our colossally stupid president has tweeted, but it's better for my mental health to limit my exposure. Both to our president and to social media in general.
Anyway, neither the teenagers nor Facebook seem to be going away anytime soon, and I miss writing. So I need to figure out how to claim that habit back for myself. When I first started this blog, I wrote about wanting to write as a way to make sense of the contradictions inherent in raising a family: the love and anger, the joy and despair, the exasperation and exhilaration. As the mother of teenagers and young adults, I need this more than ever. As a citizen of the world, I need it desperately too, as I contemplate the madness facing us at every turn.
And so, here I go. I will try to shake the cobwebs off my fingertips and my story spinners. I will write shitty first drafts (thank you Anne Lamott) and be happy that they exist. I will make something from nothing, I will make sense from the senseless, I will create as a way to respond and stay hopeful.
Or at least, that's the idea. Teenagers are even harder to neglect than younger children, so I know it will tough to find the time. But I'm at least as strong and stubborn as they are, so I think I've got a fighting chance.
Wish me luck!