To my seven readers:
This is mostly a letter to myself. Please be patient.
I realize that my blog is on the cusp of being defunct. And that is not what I want. This blog started, in earnest, with Benjamin’s birth. When I had Benjamin, it was like someone smashed me in the back of the neck with some bricks. Ben, I am sorry, but that is what it was like. I love you so much I can feel it in my skin; the feeling is something physical that I carry with me. But you were an exhausting, relentlessly screaming infant. And I struggled to find a way to be a mother in my own way, never having really had one myself, and not identifying with those mothers I saw around me, and that was hard. And I wasn’t writing anymore—I was barely combing my hair—so I started this blog as an outlet. Yes, it serves the purpose of updating people and posting photos, but mostly, it is an outlet. When my little Elliott was born, Benjamin was in the midst of many developmental delays, and we were worried. And then as Ben started getting better, Elliott started getting worse, until, finally, he was diagnosed with autism. I have been through many experiences in my life, but that time navigating Ben’s remaining delays and learning to accept Elliott’s emerging ones…that time was a thick fog. It was hard. I gained weight, I got depressed, I viewed things very narrowly. I felt lonely and venomous and uncertain of myself during that time. Some of that is reflected here on this blog. The worst moments were not articulated.
Things are still hard sometimes, and I still worry, but I have come to terms with a lot of things, especially in regard to Elliott. He is starting a general education kindergarten in the fall, which I am nervous about, but, for once, I also see the possibility of him doing okay—which I can’t exactly define—of him having friends (he already has his first one) and being happy. Benjamin is his own little man, the top reader in his class, learning to play piano, a Cub Scout. He has his quirks, and his anxieties. He is unusual, like his mommy and his daddy, but that is to be expected. I feel so fortunate to have these boys who surprise me daily. I know that things can be worse, always, and I am finally beginning to exhale. My friend Michelle says that giving birth splits our bodies open, literally and figuratively, changing us fundamentally. I am beginning to look back at myself and see what I am left with. One thing I am realizing is that I care deeply about writing, and I miss it. This has been thrumming in the background for a while now, and I have been ignoring it.
I have decided to begin writing regularly again, and to start small. I will write at least one entry per week here. It might be about parenting, or it might be about something entirely different. Music, politics, books. Maybe I will post something more creative, something I am working out. In addition to this, a friend has given me some weekly time to write at the PermaDirty artists’ co-op in Claremont. It’s only two hours a week, and this is the third week I’ve been working here. Each week, I walk in exhausted, distracted, resistant. There’s a very small Swedish guy who is always there at the same time I am, mixing music on his laptop. He seems more “artisty” than I will ever be, but I sit down anyway and I type. Two hours later, I exit elated, even last week when most of my writing felt forced and clunky. No internet, no phone. Just writing. I’m working on old projects and new ones, picking my way through the words, slowly.
I was cutting Benjamin’s fingernails yesterday, which I have been doing at least weekly since the day he was born, so it has been seven years. (!) So much of life seems to be upkeep—laundry folding, gas pumping, tooth brushing—and that can be incredibly depressing. But it can also be incredibly reassuring, reaffirming even. Everything is happening outside, but here I am, sitting on the kitchen linoleum, cutting this kid’s fingernails while he chats about Mario and Yoshi and picks the cracker out of his braces with his free hand, the same thing that has happened again and again and again and again. His straw blonde hair is sticking straight up on his head and when I am done, he kisses me with his constantly wet lips and he tells me he loves me. He sits on my legs and relaxes into my body. His head smells like sweat. We begin again next week.
My new blog will be at http://angelacbartlett.wordpress.com