Her Bad Mother

Monday, October 9, 2006

Listening to silence

I haven’t been able to blog in days.

It’s not because there’s been too much else to do on a holiday weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving.) There’s always too much else to do: blogging is usually my break from that ‘too much else.’ And it’s not because I haven’t anything to say: there are a zillion things racing through my mind, all of which are screaming to be worked out in writing.

I just feel stuck, and uninspired, and blah, and maybe just a little bit low. I haven’t been able to shake the rougher edges of this cold or flu or whatever viral thing it is that I’ve been labouring under for going on three weeks now. And I’ve been having too many moments of quiet bluesy lowness, not quite sad, not quite not-sad. Just, low. The low of rainy days and slow melodies on trombone and falling leaves and gray sky and the earthy, musty smell of summer in decay. The low of fall, when the dark and the chill come too fast, when even the brightness of the crispest and brightest of days has a sort of stark, mournful edge. I've been feeling low, in that way. Morose.

And stuck. Every time that I sit down at the keyboard, head crowded with ideas, my fingers freeze. The words won’t come. I type a sentence, and then almost immediately backspace and delete. It doesn’t sound right, doesn’t flow, doesn’t cohere. The ideas are there, the thoughts are there, but they just won’t work themselves out into words.

So I stop. I close the screen and flip the laptop closed and walk away. This was the deal that I made with myself some time ago – I would never force myself to write. I would only write for the joy of it, or for the release, or for solace. I would only write when it suited me.

I don’t why, exactly, it hasn’t been suiting me these past few days. I have ideas – about feeling low, about the blues, about the existential glum that autumn can impose after the brisk optimism of September has passed. About coming up on a year of motherhood, about my child leaving the first blush of her babyhood behind. About the torrent of ideas that constantly swirls in my brain, soaking it to a heaviness that sometimes feels beyond my capacity to bear. About feeling, sometimes, that my reach exceeds my grasp.

About feeling, maybe, just a little bit tired. It’s been a busy year. Lots of heavy lifting. A lot of joy and wonder and excitement, too, of course, but joy can also exact a toll. Life can sometimes just take it out of you, and no amount of exercise and vitamins can put it back.

So I had to take a short break from blogging, a few days of laying low. And I might be slow in getting back up to speed in the coming days – I’ll likely be doing more reading than commenting, and it might be a few days between posts – but I’ll just be doing what I can to coax the muse out of hiding and to orient myself to a new season of motherhood and writerhood and life.

And if the words won't come, there will still be pictures...

'Cause if nothing else, fall is a season for hats.

And hats are a special kind of joy.


50 Comments:

Blogger bubandpie said...

You know how beautiful this post is, right?

I think it's a good thing you're doing, stepping back a little when you need to.

And that last photo? I was thinking the other day about how Wonderbaby seems to represent essence-of-baby to me - her eyes are bigger, her cheeks are rounder, her head is (was) balder - in every baby way, your daughter is just baby-er. In the more recent photos, she's getting to look more like her own person, individualized. But those clapping hands, that joyous face? I see a glimpse there of essence-of-childhood. What a wonderful thing.

2:28 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Hats. More hats.

I hope you feel uplifted soon. I bet the hats will help!

2:51 PM  
Blogger Mocha said...

This is what I was trying to say the other day. This, in all its eloquence and beauty, said exactly what mine said. Except you said it better than my "Oh, blah... I'm all crazy... blah.... icky.... what's wrong with me?!"

Sooo much better. And with cute babes in hats. How could I have forgotten to add a baby in a hat???

WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME?

Miss you, Catherine. A lot.

2:58 PM  
Blogger jen said...

hats are for every season...

and i think a lot of people are feeling a bit blue..it's colder, it's darker, and the holidays bring up weirdness for a lot of us.

That said, you always have something to say, even when you don't think you do - I walk away touched every single time...whether it's from the learning, the knowing, or just simply being true in this moment, to yourself.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

This is a tough time of year in our family - lots going on, everything feels overwhelming, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. But I hear more people saying the same things, and I'm thinking, maybe there's something universal to this problem.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I've been feeling a similar sort of melancholy. I've been chalking it up to the mind-numbing fatigue of pregnancy, but I think it goes beyond that.

Lately it feels like things are moving so fast, and I can't keep up. I want some time to slowly digest everything going on around me, but the pace of life isn't giving me a chance.

I hope you feel better soon.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Oh yes, there must be hats. Cute hats. Colorful hats. Hats of many hues.

Hang in there. This too shall pass. (says the woman who wrote like susie sunshine just to keep reminding herself that autumn wasn't so bad.)

3:50 PM  
Blogger David said...

sorry you're in a funk. the tone reminds me of William Carlos William's poem "These." When I feel like that I read this (well, either this or Eliot's "Love Song of J Alfred Proofrock") and start to come back up

These

are the desolate, dark weeks
when nature in its barrenness
equals the stupidity of man.

The year plunges into night
and the heart plunges
lower than night

to an empty, windswept place
without sun, stars or moon
but a peculiar light as of thought

that spins a dark fire --
whirling upon itself until,
in the cold, it kindles

to make a man aware of nothing
that he knows, not loneliness
itself -- Not a ghost but

would be embraced -- emptiness
despair -- (They whine and whistle) among

the flashes and booms of war;
houses of whose rooms
the cold is greater than can be thought,

the people gone that we loved,
the beds lying empty, the couches
damp, the chairs unused --

Hide it away somewhere
out of mind, let it get to roots
and grow, unrelated to jealous

ears and eyes -- for itself.
In this mine they come to dig -- all.
Is this the counterfoil to sweetest

music? The source of poetry that
seeing the clock stopped, says,
The clock has stopped

that ticked yesterday so well?
and hears the sound of lakewater
splashing -- that is now stone.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

It's funny, but even when you have nothing to write about, it is still more eloquent and well said than anything I ever post. It's okay to take a break. We all understand. But I am glad you told us why, because I was beginning to wonder about you.

And yes, hats are a special kind of joy, especially on adorable babies.

4:02 PM  
Blogger braiding mommy said...

still a great post... love the hats.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Recovering Wino said...

I think the blogger who truly shares her soul is the best kind of blogger..

I hope you are feeling better soon...

4:13 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

Well, then, thank goodness for pictures! But, HBM, your words are so beautiful. Even when they're words about how the words won't come. This was a beautiful post that captured moroseness with perfection! I thought I was the only one that felt moroseness in that exact way....I thought it was just me. It's comforting to know that it's not.

Whenever I have a block, I just remind myself to "enjoy." An art history professor once told me that. I came to him freaking about an upcoming essay, and he said, "Haley, don't worry so much. Just enjoy." It's my cure for writer's block. You got tons of ideas swirling in your mind...forget about it. Let them go (well, write them down for later, for when you have energy to pursue them), and write something light and enjoyable for you. Look at me, giving out advice. I hope you don't mind. It just works for me....So, thought I'd share....

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Mir said...

Dammit, I don't have a baby to dress in hats to life me out of MY funk.

No fair!

;)

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Me too. Blog apathy has struck me hard.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Papa Bradstein said...

It does seem to be that season. However, this too shall pass. Hats are a special joy. For a fun read on days like these, look up Billy Collins' "Death of the Hat."

5:15 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

You should see your doc about the bug. I finally went friday and did have a viral infection. I got some antibiotics and am finally feeling better.

Hope things get better soon.

5:36 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

The first year is a killer, the combined effect of cold/flu, sleep deprivation, hormones and seasonal change can really impact.

Hope you feel better.

5:43 PM  
Blogger radioactive girl said...

Your baby is adorable! I think I would read every day just to see photos. Your words are always great too, so when you are ready, go for it. Until then, pictures are good!

7:37 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Seems lots of us are feeling this way lately. Of course, not all of us have that oh-my-god-I-could-just-die-it's-so-cute picture of WonderBaby to flash instead of words! You can just hear the stream of shrieky, gurgly baby laughter coming out of that little mouth and the near-silent clap of tiny baby hands. Love it.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Jozet said...

Oh yes, this too shall pass.

You write beautifully about not being able to write. You just can't get away from ebing eloquent, not matter how hard the gray days of autumn are trying to block you.

And that baby...that hat...reason enough for autumn, yes? She's beautiful. You make so many beautiful things. :-)

8:34 PM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

take care, take time, take echinacea, take whatever you need.
we'll be here when you're feeling better.

9:16 PM  
Blogger cinnamon gurl said...

What a BEAUTIFUL photo of WonderBaby!!!

And I think I will take Haley-O's advice... it sounds like good stuff.

9:16 PM  
Blogger cinnamon gurl said...

I just tried to go to david's blog to say thank you for sharing that great poem but it seems his profile is not public. So if he comes back here... thanks!

9:18 PM  
Blogger cinnamon gurl said...

I just tried to go to david's blog to say thank you for sharing that great poem but it seems his profile is not public. So if he comes back here... thanks!

9:18 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Hey- we all go through this from time to time. At least you are able to write about it! I'm still in bloggers pergatory and trying to dig my way out, in other words- too depressed and occupied to blog... for now. It happens.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Waya said...

Oh, I hope you'll feel better very soon. It sounds like you need some of "me" time, or a nice getaway for two!

9:28 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

Oh. My. God.

I'll be honest. I don't generally swoon over other people's kids. But...just try and stop me. That picture! Crazy to the cute!

Also, reaching for the flower. Just. Precious. PLEASE tell me one or both of these is framed in your house. You better!

10:56 PM  
Blogger petite gourmand said...

I was feeling the same way last week.
not really down, but not really up either.
Of course, you put it much more eloquently than that.
But after a few really long walks shuffling through the fall leaves, I felt much better.
well that and stuffing myself with pumpkin pie...
I hope you are feeling better soon.
oh and wonderbaby could brighten anyone's day,
especially while sporting that hat.
too cute.

11:31 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

Your posts are so eloquent and brilliant that I'm not surprised you need a break. You can't produce greatness constantly...can you?

I'm not sucking up. I just like your writing AND I think you are gorgeous and talented and smart AND I think WonderBaby is cute...I can't help it.

11:47 PM  
Blogger vasilisa said...

I think it's something in the air. Something in this Toronto air these past few days (with exception of yesterday's pretty decent weather) has been sick and depressing.

I hope we all come out of it soon.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous VentMan said...

It's a wonderful title: "Listening to Silence."

People don't listen enough. Funny, I just vented about parents who don't listen to their kids and therefore suck at parenting. (I'm always reminded about a book that stood out on my parents' bookself: "How to talk so kids will listen. How to listen so kids will talk." Anyway, it's a striking title. I nearly didn't read the article (but I did) just because it satisfied me so after my vent: http://blog.ventbox.com/2006/10/10/bad-parents-piss-me-off/

1:30 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

It isn't just the Toronto air; it's making the rounds.

Malaise? I don't know. It isn't boredom or burnout, at least not for me. I love my silly little blog and my visitors.

Lately my thoughts have been so sad that I haven't felt like saying much.

1:49 AM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

I know the feeling. Sometimes I feel like I have so much to say I don't even know where to begin, and I can't...let alone find a few quiet alone minutes. And I'm not even talking 'deep thoughts' on my end...just a few things that have occurred to me, or tortured the household in recent days. Sigh.

Your pictures say a lot in their own right, though, and these two are brilliant. Fall IS a season for hats. This one is great; and I love the look of utter joy on Wonderbaby's face!

3:13 AM  
Blogger reddragonsangel said...

I have to say that if fall and hat bring that much joy to wonderbaby- then it can't be all bad can it? that last pic is simply amazing- thank you!

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

What a beautiful baby! And a beautiful hat!

I'm fortunate in that this time of year is perfection for me, I'm alway at my happiest and most energetic in the fall. Come January, I'll be feeling the same way many of you are describing feeling now.

I hope you feel better soon!

8:54 AM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

So, go with the flow, whatever that flow is or isn't. The cosmos will help figure it out. And, hey, there's nothing better than cute baby pics! That helps cheer us all up!

10:43 AM  
Blogger Gabriella said...

like all your wonderful readers have said above, we all have days like this, in my case it's been about two weeks lol.
but the pictures always tell a story that words can't.
Things will look up soon!!!

1:45 PM  
Blogger something blue said...

Your words of no words are perfectly stunning. There must be something in the air or the moon because this heaviness is upon me too.

Thank goodness for sweet pictures of WonderBaby!

2:15 PM  
Blogger Rock the Cradle said...

I know what you mean about that torrent of ideas. Seems like only sleep and time will unravel them enough to actually turn them into something other than a pipe dream. You're a good writer. This will sort itself out eventually. Do what my dad tells me to do and just "fugeddaboudit".

Bring on the pictures. Especially ones with hats!

2:55 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I love you all, really, with your always-knowing-exactly-the-right-thing-to-say.

And David, Mr. Poem Man? Beautiful. Thank you.

Because you are all, obviously, such lovers of poetry, I'll note that the title of this post was taken from a Thomas Hood poem (Ode: Autumn):

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like silence, listening
To silence.

3:29 PM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

I. So. Hear. You.

Really.

But even in your funk you write with beauty.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Hats *are* a special kind of joy, especially on Wonder Baby. The model makes the garment.

I am sorry you are feeling badly. I've been struggling with writing lately too -- don't know what that's all about -- but I wrote a post on it tonight, to be published tomorrow.

((hugs)) and happy thoughts for you.
Now please go find yourself a nice, happy hat to wear. ;-)

8:58 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

That last photo is so incredible. It captures JOY. You can't not smile just glancing at it.

That ray of sunshine will lift you out of your fall funk. (And candy corn helps too.)

10:11 PM  
Blogger Bridgermama said...

I hear ya cluckin' big chicken. Been feeling blue, blue, blue lately. Hence the lack of sparkling, stupendous posts. I oh-so-gingerly re-entered the blogging world today and it actually felt very therapeutic. I'll keep on plugging away if you will... ;)

1:06 AM  
Anonymous Momish said...

Well, I'll miss you while you regroup, but will have comforting thought of you taking care of yourself. That first year is rough and I think one of the biggest reasons is because we forget we are human and need rest and solitude. Besides, these photos are just lovely! The hat is rocking to say the least. And that face!!!!!!!!

9:37 AM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

What a cutieface!! And look how happy the hat makes her!

9:51 AM  
Blogger tania (urban_mommy) said...

Not to make light of what you are feeling, but while reading this post, all I could think of was Charile Brown, that specific melancoly the music and images of Charlie Brown embodies.

Its a Charlie Brown mood. An autumn mood. There are only a few short months until we close this year, we're coming up on a finish - the fatigue of that can set in. Add to that, you are coming up on the close to a different kind of year with Wonderbaby's birthday. Maybe the bitter sweet reflection has begun.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

That last picture just makes me happy. Thanks for sharing.

8:03 PM  
Blogger creative-Type Dad (Tony) said...

Sheez! Those pictures are just too cute

12:24 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Charlie Brown is EXACTLY it. This is my Charlie Brown post. Exactly.

11:20 PM  

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