Mothering and writing

Writing when you have a five month old baby is hard.

You don’t have the hands. Or the time. Or the quiet. Or the necessary mental energy.  I’m here now though, typing this with my right hand while I cradle my napping son in the left.  Since he was born, I’ve wanted to write but found myself, with every slim, time-sensitive window of opportunity, choosing to do different things instead. I’ll put the washing on. I’ll go on Facebook.  I’ll clean the sink. I’ll rush around completing half of about seventeen chores. And with every three minute window in which I prioritise something else, the frustration of not writing collects. It doesn’t get swept away like it usually does. It’s settling like sediment, it’s compressing, it’s warm to the touch.

I don’t know how much time I have before he wakes and requires my attention (and my right hand), so I will press on.

I barely wrote in 2017 for various reasons and excuses. Pregnancy and then having a baby are two of them. 2016 wasn’t much better. In 2014-2015 I’d pretty much lost all confidence in myself that I’d accrued up until that point. I’ve not felt like a writer for years, have been startled and embarrassed when old friends and acquaintances ask me ‘how my writing is going’. I’ve not felt very alive.

But motherhood is changing things. It’s the main reason why I currently can’t write (easily, without trying really hard to find the time, the mental wherewithal and the free hand), yet it’s brought me back to this neglected blog.  I am rusty with words and my re-wired brain (yes really) feels blunt and muddled, and my thought streams are shallow, but I want to – need to – write.

Surely, surely new mothers can write. New mothers do write. I owe it to myself. I owe it to him.

(He’s awake.)

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On not writing

Through the cottage window, you can see the trees, and the leaves from those trees coat the ground, and a long rowing boat lies face down on those leaves. That is all that is seen.

The winter sun breaks through from about 8am onwards. By half 2, it retreats.

Walking through the woods at lunchtime, afternoon, dawn. The dogs come, they live on this island; no leads. At the water’s edge Max, the Jack Russell, flits like a wren between the tree roots reaching out over the shoreline. He bolts across the path, disappearing for stretches of time only to be discovered in the distance, a bright brown and white guardian between distant trees, checking that his visitors don’t get lost.

Venturing deeper. The cottage cannot be seen from here, and wouldn’t be able to be picked out from the weak winter sky anyway. Panic trickles into the chest; branches on the ground that should be firm give way under the boot; the ground becomes soft.

A tree that could be named three years ago stands where it has always stood, impassive, indifferent. What could possibly be a Jay screaming up in the thin treetops could be something else and so passes without the visitor knowing what it is. Panic gives way to sorrow: this walk is not restorative. Much has been abandoned.

Tree roots are stumbled over. A boot becomes lodged in the bog and the foot escapes from it. Falling, the eye level plummets to the carpet of leaves.

Leaves that presumably were once green and attached to branches during Spring and Summer, before turning brown and falling to the ground.

Yes, much has been abandoned before this point.

The dogs know the way. Eventually, we begin to follow them.

Checkout

At the checkout

I suspend us and run back, past

More aisles than I remembered

there were, an elastic

between us,

stretching,

Hooke’s Law,

F = -kX, and

just before the snap
I pick it up

recoil

Checkout after checkout

Homogeneity released from heterogeneity

In the kitchen, it is already feeding,

Burping, multiplying –

I spread the cling film over

The bowl, a starter for a bubble

That will rise, a dough that will exhale

Like a city

Halangy village, St Mary’s

1.

Two sea kayakers turn

their heads to the land they left

earlier, seeing a jumble

of grey and green.

2.

Each stone has a story, a home.

All of us are

displaced,

wait to be moved.

3.

I’m the top bird, this is

my ground. I tug life

out of here for as long as I

can see, before light dims.

I can never be sure it will return

when it goes.

I have mouths to feed,

instincts to attend to.

4.

At Halangy village,

we need maps to understand

what we’re walking on.

5.

Carpets of grass

the eternity of stone

scoops of space

with meaning;

6.

The eye tries to restore roofs,

soon gives up and ascribes

names and shapes to clouds.

7.

Before, humans with tools and brushes

gently scraped time away

8.

In an office, at a desk,

a piece of paper rests:

a plan for where to place the maps,

where best to share

what isn’t known.

9.

Now, no smells.

but once, pungent smoke

the cooking of fish skin

the whiff of animal shit.

10.

The peace is alarming

being where my race

failed to survive,

a place left behind.

11.

I’m Alex! The dog! I’m off! Exploring!

No lead on! Off!

My favourite place is here!

12.

This is my village

But we cannot continue.

I’m the leader, it dies,

in my hands.

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/bants-carn-burial-chamber-and-halangy-down-ancient-village/

-2012