Top 10 reasons not to write:
1. Playing with Aidan. Nursing Aidan. Gazing into Aidan’s big brown eyes.
2. I can’t afford a nanny. (When my mom or dad babysits, I sit in a cafe looking at pictures of Aidan on my computer wishing I was gazing into his big brown eyes.)
3. Preschool visits.
4. The time I don’t spend with Aidan I spend trying to figure out how to format this blog.
5. The time I don’t spend with Aidan I spend feeling guilty about the time I don’t spend with him.
6. In the early days of life with Aidan I envisioned novels, essays and scripts springing effortlessly from me during naptime. I’m still napping when he naps.
7. I’m so out of practice and sleep deprived, my one-year-old is more articulate than I am.
8. There are so many projects I’ve been neglecting for so long, just thinking about them makes me want to take a nap—or have a margarita.
9. Writing doesn’t interest me as much as my baby does.
10. Even before I had a baby, I was a lazy-ass procrastinator with a serious discipline problem.
I wept through much of the documentary Who Does She Think She Is?—which follows five women artists trying to balance their creative impulse with motherhood—because it’s moving and enraging and real. Also because it reminds me of my life. Pamela Tanner Boll’s film is about women trying to have it all. It’s about mothers accused of selfishness for daring to dream of something more for themselves. It’s about the sacrifices women must often make if they want a life beyond the husband and children clamoring for their attention. And a society that forces us to make a choice.
How serendipitous that this movie is coming out right as I am starting a blog about my own struggle to balance motherhood with my creative life. I guess it’s a common story.
I felt inspired by the woman in this film, and also a bit ashamed that I haven’t been more insistent about making space for my work. One woman, Janis Wunderlich has five kids and she sculpts during their naptime. She’s incredibly prolific, as is my favorite, Maye Torres, a beautiful painter and sculptor from Taos with three sons whose story plays like a cautionary tale about what might happen if we dare love our work too much .
Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself (I tend to be very hard on myself). These women are seasoned mothers. They probably also spent the first year of their first kid’s life cursing themselves and their inability to work effectively with no sleep, a household to run, a baby at the breast.
It made me feel less alone and less pathetic to see these women going through what I am going through and somehow making it work. I must say one thing, though, for the record: I am not getting a divorce! No matter how much Harlan rages against the energy I’m putting into my work at the expense of him and Aidan and getting their dinner on the table (ha! Harlan’s totally the one who cooks), and I’m not giving up time with my baby, either. My boys come first. Writing comes second.
The movie is playing from April 3-9 at the Music Hall in Beverly Hills. I recommend taking a break from massaging your baby’s toes and exchanging cute poop stories with your husband for two hours and going to see this movie. You will be energized, moved and empowered by the experience. ALSO…they are doing 11 am screenings Sat & Sunday for MOTHERS with BABIES, so you can bring them along, and the filmmaker will be at the Music Hall on Fri & Saturday for the 5:30 and 7:40 pm shows for a Q&A.