I am not sure why, when I was dealing with infertility for 13 years, so many mothers either stayed silent or looked at with me pity and said I was missing out on the Greatest Thing Ever. They rarely shared with me motherhood hardships. I had to figure out the upside of being childless, and embrace a life without a child.

And now that I am nearly 7 months pregnant, I am not sure why so many mothers congratulate me and then share all these AWFUL things (sleepless nights, subjugation of personal dreams, no time to write, no time to groom, your vajayjay will no longer be the same, etc.,) about motherhood.

Couldn’t they have switched the juxtaposition? Why not tell me how hard motherhood is, when I couldn’t be a mother? And tell me about motherhood’s joys when I’m pregnant?

And either way, I’m going to have to deal with my life. I’m going to have to figure it out. Why not at least be kind?

I am going hysterical with panic about writing and motherhood.

I went to the NYPL last night, where I heard Cheryl Strayed talk about WILD, The Dear Sugar column, and mostly about her writing life.

A large chunk of her talk focused on “writing like a motherfucker, during which Cheryl discussed “motherfuckertude.”

And whodathunkit: in reviewing her words last night, they are the VERY things I need to hear with regard to this whole panic about motherhood and writing.

Here are a handful of quotes from Cheryl Strayed last night:

“Being a motherfucker is a way of life, really. Having strength instead of fragility. And leaning hard into work rather than anxiety.”

“I actually think true motherfuckerhood has to do with humility, doing the work. Resilience and faith, being a warrior.”

“Being a motherfucker is about digging really deep. About going beneath the surface to find the truest thing.”

And there you have it. I’ve gotta be a motherfucker about my writing. I feel better now. Juxtaposition wins–I thank my good friend Nova for inviting me to the talk last night. Her kindness and generosity juxtaposed with my panic. Cheryl Strayed’s kindness and wisdom juxtaposed with my panic. It can overcome so much.

I’ve been a motherfucker before. I can be a motherfucker again.


Filed under Life, Pregnancy, The Personal

7 responses to “juxtaposition

  1. True, but I wonder if it would be more infuriating to have people try to convince you that motherhood is hard when it’s so important to you? “Oh, you can’t have a baby? Don’t worry about it. Little Johnny totally kept me up all night long last night…see? You’re not missing out!” 🙂

    Jealous that you got to see Cheryl Strayed….

    • It’s not about convincing–but just keeping it real. Saying it’s wonderful but also shitty. And shitty but also wonderful. Because I imagine it’s a complex mix of everything at once. The kindest of friends present motherhood to me like that. I so appreciate it.

      Cheryl is amazing.

  2. Love this post. It’s so odd what people think they can tell you when you’re pregnant, or when you’re carrying your little baby around. I used to get stopped by people who wanted to tell me my baby should be wearing socks, or that she should be bigger than she was–as if I didn’t notice she wasn’t gaining weight, as if we didn’t have four or five specialists all working to figure that out, and as if I were purposefully avoiding socks (babies are great at kicking those little suckers off). There’s this communal property mentality when it comes to talking about babies and especially when addressing moms-to-be.

    On the other hand, I’ve had some of my best conversations, support from well-meaning strangers and “just what I needed to hear” moments in the aisle of the grocery store, or wherever, surrounding pregnancy or one of my babies. I wish you many of those in this journey! Congratulations. (And I totally want to go hear Cheryl now…)

  3. Nate

    It’s tough to complain about the lack of sleep or lack of time when someone else’s pain reminds you of just how lucky you are. I will admit that my absolute worst nightmare is that I will wake up and Nate, Jr. will be dead or gone –and it’s been that way since I saw the “+” on the stick.

    Mrs. Nate struggled with the transition from her “old self” to mother. Not so much that it was bad, just tough to shift the center of things (the kagillion ppm of hormones and lack of sleep surely didn’t help!) It’s not the end-all-be-all, but it certainly is a massive priority shift, which we’ve talked about on the blog before.

    As far as the literary life goes, I though early fatherhood was a great time to catch up on reading. I would just lean back in the rocker with baby on the chest and read while Junior crashed. Awesome. With your “motherfuckitude” if you can work in short bursts (during naps) you should be good to go. If not (I can’t) a babysitter is a must to get much done, but really all bets are off for the first 6 weeks. During those days we (yes, two healthy adults working together) were so busy we forgot to do things like eat! Besides, you’ll need to focus on recuperating and enjoying time with family and well-wishers –unless you have one of those magic sleeping babies, in which case don’t complain to me about anything ever again ! 😉

  4. You are entering a new world! Writing may go on the back burner for a while but it won’t matter. My first son was very demanding a s a baby, and I could not have anticipated either the challenge or the love I felt. Motherhood should be challenging, it isn’t all wonderful by any means, but how you deal with it changes you as a person, and mainly that change has positive in it. Accept all the genuine offers of help. Even if you think you don’t need them. My greatest friends were forged by sharing our time as mothers. Remember to eat. I know it sounds crazy, but it really isn’t. Cook up things you can portion off and freeze. My husband made masses of delicious veggy burgers which I could grab at lunch time, healthy and delicious and a life saver. I was only ever interested in tending to the minor, so I would never have survived without him looking out for me! Don’t be frightened of not being good enough. None of us are!! My sons are 19 and 17 now and totally strappingly gorgeous, I really wish I had had a crystal ball to see that they were going to be fine. Enjoy!!!! Share the bad times with someone, anyone. Don’t bottle up any negative feelings, they are like bacteria in a petri dish.

  5. Pingback: There is a season | kikugirl

  6. And wait until your child is 7 or 8! Awesome age. My son makes his own breakfast and lunch and puts himself to bed at night. It’s so cool. Sometimes I ask him to get me a beer. I miss all the hugs, though. I have to sneak up on him to get a hug these days. Sometimes we moms forget that the baby/toddler years are just one part of childhood.

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