My husband told me if I wanted to become a writer, I needed to set aside time every day to write and develop my voice. At least that’s what his favorite sports blogger had suggested.
I don’t do that. And I don’t particularly want to do it tonight. Instead, I want to go back upstairs, lounge on my couch, watch TV and knit a hat that I will finish just in time for next winter.
I don’t want to find my voice. I want to rest my voice, to go the next hour without saying a single word to anyone. I don’t want to say,
“Pull up your pants.”
“No, you can’t pee on the floor.”
“Just try the spinach.”
“Should we count them? 1, 2, 3, 4…”
“Once upon a time…”
I just want a bit of silence. Or rather, the mind-numbing noise that comes out of a cable network dramedy that can drown out any of the voices bouncing around my head for an hour.
Those are the voices I want to ignore. The ones saying things like,
“You really should have done more today.”
“Why aren’t you folding the laundry?”
“Should you really be eating that ice cream? Don’t you know sugar is bad for you?”
“Why did you let the kids have so much sugar today?”
“And watch so much TV?”
“Why aren’t you writing? You can’t just say, ‘I want to become a writer’ without actually writing.”
You become a mother the moment you hear your child’s voice. Truthfully, probably before that – the moment you hear a heart beating and see it flashing on a screen, or the moment you think to yourself, “This is real.” But that first loud complaint, their protest against the light, and the cold, and the freedom is what transforms us.
The subsequent ones are not as darling. The ones that wake you in the middle of the night, the ones that come after hours of trying to figure out anything that could possibly be causing them discomfort, the ones that demand a different meal for dinner – those have lost their charm. They leave you bedraggled, thinking please just five minutes peace.
In the years since my children were born, I have watched them find their voices to both my delight and dismay. Their demands for food and comfort are much louder and specific than a newborn’s cry, but less heartbreakingly urgent. They tell me I am the worstest mama in the world. They tell me I am the bestest mama in the world. They ask me unanswerable questions, or at least questions that would require a PhD in astrophysics to answer. They mispronounce words and I don’t dare to correct them, because how long will they say,
“Mama, I’m tiwed and want to go to fweep.”
And in those years, I have had to find my own voice as well. I’ve had to break out of my shell and introduce myself to mothers at playgrounds. I’ve had to speak up when a doctor dismisses my concerns. I’ve had to advocate, cheer, console, and correct every day for the past four years.
I write so I don’t forget what these years are like. I write in case maybe, possibly someone out there feels the same way I do. I write to exist in a world where stay-at-home mothers often fade into the background. I write because I have changed so much since becoming a mother that sometimes I feel like I no longer know who I am.
And so I write to find my voice.