Motherhood and Morning Pages

I’ve long been a proponent of the old Julia Cameron chestnut The Artist’s Way and its attendant morning pages practice. I’ll find excuses to avoid doing them for days or even weeks at a time but I always eventually circle back around to giving myself the space to sit down in the morning with a cup of coffee, a notebook, and a pen. It got easier once G started playing with toys, though we’re still at the stage where “playing” means “flail around on floor, grab toy, place in mouth.” I imagine that once mobility comes into play I’m going to have a harder time writing three pages in one sitting. I tell myself that, like most things with being a mom, it counts if you get there eventually.

When I look back on my pre-pregnancy pages, or even the ones I wrote while pregnant (though those were harder to come by with the self-imposed caffeine restriction), it amazes me just how much my concerns have shuffled. I still stream-of-consciousness worry myself to death over creating, but it’s gone from grandiose ideas of writing the next great song or novel or painting a modern masterpiece to much simpler questions: do I have anything to say that doesn’t have to do with my kid? does it count if I write a short story instead? will I ever make something as enduring as Goodnight Moon? does it count if I write a sonnet?

The sonnet idea came when I was reading Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin. (Speaking of creativity and, in this case, impending motherhood…) Janet’s entire overthinking English major temperament reawakened a part of me that had been dormant since I graduated college. Modern poetry be damned – there exists some structure!

Of course, this morning’s pages produced a sonnet about my feelings about my baby growing up. I really should just accept motherhood as part of my identity now. I’m currently typing this one-handed while holding my son in my lap, after all.

The sweetest boy, with laughter in his eyes
Of blue. A blue so clear and pure it seems
To mirror all the Carolina skies.
And in his sight I am the sun’s own beam.

It makes me ache to know that he must grow,
For even mothers cannot stop the time.
The weeks are quick, as much as days are slow.
His laughs ring out as if a clock’s own chime.

I find myself so troubled, even now,
Too scared to even let him sleep alone.
The day will come that he may not allow
Affections, believing he’s too grown.

But even then, I will not call it done.
A mother never will outgrow her son.

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