I am not taking myself as seriously anymore.
I mean, I am. Let’s face it, I’m a Capricorn. But I’m trying not to. If everything is a constant bid to better myself, it is a contest in which I am always the loser and the prize always sits on the horizon, barely distinguishable in the haze. I’m not even sure what it is, that prize. So fuck that noise. I’m tired.
I have two children now. The last time I sat down here to write, I only had one rambunctious one-year-old. Now I have a two-and-a-half-year-old and a seven-month-old (surprise!). I fell asleep one night and suddenly it’s been years since I’ve written. Time does that when you have children. When you’re a working parent. When you let your art take a backseat. When. When. When.
After my first child turned one last year, I ramped up my work on my career. Ten hour days became fifteen hour days; I went back to school for a certificate that would enable me to teach reading to adults; I got pregnant; I spent most of the school year sick, between the pregnancy and my son’s daycare germs that arrived mechanically at our doorstep every two weeks. Job interviews came or they didn’t.
I teach writing, but I’m not sure I know how to write anymore. It feels uncomfortable: the words caught in my throat, like chunks of half-chewed carrot stuck back there. It’s okay, though. I tell my students that writing is a practice. You don’t have to be good at it. You just do it over and over and over, an unending series of sessions that never take you to the destination, because there is no destination. There’s just a McDonald’s on the side of the highway, two screaming children in the backseat because the toy in the Happy Meal is the wrong one, and—
…wait. Where was I?
I have two children now. One is four-and-a-half and one is two-and-a-half. One is learning to read and write, and the other is speaking in complete sentences, like a complete person. It’s been years since I’ve written. Time does that to you when you have children. When there’s a pandemic and you downsize your career to care for said children. When your art disappears like pixie dust you can’t quite see dusting your fingertips.
I put off my work for days at a time to care for my children. Oh, the guilt over their hours spent sitting in front of Disney Plus while I shoot off harried emails to students, scan grading sheets, remind students of upcoming assignments. I blow off a day of grading to take the boys to the park, so they can climb some trees. Childhood is short in metaphors I would have laughed at five years ago, before they became the truths by which I navigate all my choices now.
The essays sit, ungraded.
I am not taking myself as seriously anymore. I am tired.
Fuck that noise.