Let The Record Play

I felt as though choosing motherhood meant I had no right to desire let alone attempt to achieve other wants. I thought that deciding to be a mother, twice, meant there wouldn’t be enough time or money to study something I’m passionate about or pursue a career. When my husband started his Masters, I was breastfeeding a newborn, our second, and it looked and felt to me like we had each chosen our path; he would work and study, not only to provide for his family but also to follow his passion both in his career and education, while I wasn’t ready to pass up the opportunity to be a mum again. The tapes in my head told me that I had no right to want to take more from our family, that wanting to go to university would be a drain on what little time we had available to us, not to mention on our single income. I thought that trying to get back into exercise outside the hours of my husbands work day would be selfish, expecting my husband to use whatever little alone time he might get, to stay home with the kids, the kids I chose as my path, while I enjoyed the benefits of social interaction and exercise. I felt like I didn’t deserve anything other than being a mum and that I wasn’t even fulfilling my full potential at that.

I carried these feelings with me daily – waves of resentment trying to drown me, selfishness and pity trying to consume me. Before I could open myself up to vulnerability, to talking to my husband about these challenges I wanted to add to our life, the tapes piped up on repeat, reminding me that I could disappoint. They sang old songs about an inconsistent and undeserving woman that given the chance will most likely fail and fall on excuses.

In my experience, these nasty, self-empowered, zealous tapes usually start playing when I’m on the verge of finally making a decision or possibly even succeeding. For example, if I decide to go for a run and I tell myself I want to run five kilometers, it is at the four kilometer mark that the self doubt kicks in; You can’t do it. Five k’s is too far. You’ve over reached. You’re too tired. Today’s not your day. You’re not fit enough. Just stop. Stop. STOP! The mind has an unfair advantage; it’s been training to disempower me since as far back as I can remember, and I assisted it like a slave, perhaps I even welcomed anxiety and depression, like tools to help carry the weight.

When I finally decided I wanted to enrol in University this year, only eight weeks after having my second child, the tapes told me it was too soon, that I wouldn’t be able to handle the workload, that my husband and children would suffer, I would fail and in the end have wasted time and money.

One day, I was reminded that time would inevitably continue to roll on despite what I did with it and so I could either repeat the time gone or spend it differently. That simple reminder was so profound, and with it came the confidence to admit that I wanted more in my life and I wanted it now. Over wine I confessed to my husband my hungers: I wanted to enrol in University and start running again. I listed all my concerns with both of those goals, the tapes taking over the conversation and pulling from the cons list but my husband, my saviour, a professional verbal tennis player returned every con with a pro and served up bursts of logic. To him there was no reason why I shouldn’t, only reasons why I should. I wish I could borrow his tapes, I wonder what person I might be, what else I might be able to achieve.

So it was done; I ran five k’s and I enrolled in my first university degree and it felt so good. I’ve no doubt that the tapes will continue to try and slow me down and inevitably there will be days where I can’t run or where I need to nurse my baby girl or tend to my little boy instead of study but my path did not end when I chose motherhood, it extended; adding to the journey of building me.

T

Quarter Moon

She blamed it on the moon cycle: Its feverish beam uniting melancholy with high voltage twitching, a confusing combination.

She wanted to howl at the moon: a loud organic moan from the deep pit of her despair, bare chested atop a mountain peak but all while hiding under a heavy blanket eating comfort food.

Staring severely into the sky, beyond the stars and past her better judgment, she blamed it on the moon cycle.

Mother

What is my name, when no one is around?

What is my name, when my babes are sleeping sound?

What is my name, when the washing is done?

What is my name, when I’m no longer your sun?

What is my name, when you call out in your sleep?

What is my name, when you’re in too deep?

What is my name, when you find another?

Will you ever stop calling me, Mother?

Slow Jog

She felt as if she needed to pace.

Pace around the large square patch of shaded grass that she called her front yard.

She needed to walk heel to toe barefoot and feel the sea breeze wafting onto her skin.

She wanted it to blow away the old tapes in her head: fill them with salt until they could no longer wind but instead rust and fall.

She wanted the pacing to steady her heartbeat but not as much as she wanted it to fix something.

That something was too big and perhaps the problem was that she’d been pacing far too long.

She needed to run.

She needed to run so fast that the fear in her shadow would be lost in her tracks, kicked up in the dust.

She needed to run so fast that the goal couldn’t escape her or be at the edge of her fingertips.

It needed to be in her hand.

She needed to hold its tangible proof of her worthy existence.

She stopped pacing.

Looking out toward an ocean that made the world seem far too big for someone so small.

Yet it whispered on white wash, that in fact the world was too small for someone who wants to be so big.

Grit

There have been moments in my life where writing has been as simple as breathing. An inhalation of a spontaneous idea has exhaled through my pencil and onto paper in the form of words. It is those moments, while often far and few between, which propel me forward. When the darkness befalls, dressed in fear, taunting me that skill, talent or even perseverance are all just make believe and that I’ve no right to move or be moved by the power of the written word; I breathe. I breathe in the memories of a poem I wrote that hangs on my mothers’ wall or a simple sample of words that captured a friends feelings and I remember that perhaps there is no skill or talent, but there is absolutely perseverance.

Some days, the act of breathing alone is conjured purely by perseverance.

Hang ups

She walked through halls of paintings leaning against walls. The casualty of their placement gave her permission to run her fingers along the canvas, feel the lumps of paint, the strokes of another person’s vision. Pausing to circle images with her fingertips and stare into the eyes of the muse, she relaxed her shoulders and thought perhaps she too should try leaning against the wall, rather than hanging herself.