On Being Heard
With writing, and everything else, some days are harder than others.
Some days the boundaries that I have willingly set about what I can and cannot write about here feel less like a generic challenge and more like a soul-leeching burden. On days like today, I try to remember how the sonneteers elevated their form by working within the strict constraints of their genre, pushing it well beyond what it would have been able to accomplish with a looser set of rules with which to work. I draw on all my experience to find the kinds of pretentious literary platitudes that will allow me to write something authentic about my experience, even if it is only in a tangential way, and even if I only barely scratch the surface of whatever it is I feel like I need to say. Sometimes this leads to my best work.
Other times, not so much.
The truth is that sometimes I feel stifled, tired, and resentful. It might be my condition. Or It might be hormonal, or the amount of sugar I eat. I’m not sure. I just know that when it hits, all I really want to think about is curling up in bed with a book and forgetting about the world for a few hours. On days like these, in the wake of the morning drama and chaos involved in getting everyone off to school and work, I just want to rest, and that want can easily overtake me if I let it. And even in the midst of feeling that need to rest, I feel ashamed of myself for it, shocked by my own laziness and lack of perspective. I feel guilty for not appreciating what I have and making the most of every second. Sometimes I will exercise to get my mind off it, hoping that the endorphins will kick in and leave me with something like inspiration. These are the days that it is so hard to be funny or even amusing. These are the days that I imagine most people see the title of my post in their readers and just decide not to click through, for fear of boredom or tedious analysis of social mores, or another list that falls flat. I hate that I cannot win them over on those days. The guilt over not having tried harder eats at me, and I feel like a failure again.
One thing about writing is that you need to keep doing it, even when you feel this way. If I were alone, single, unconcerned with my friendships and relationships in real life, I might not ever feel limited by why I could write. I might be writing with my whole heart at all times — consequences be damned — and what you would be reading might be a different blog entirely. You might be different readers entirely. But the truth is that when I was alone, single, and unconcerned, I didn’t write: something always got in the way. And now that I do, what I say here impacts more than just my own life, and maybe that is the thing that allows me to do it.
Mini has started this thing where he needs to be heard. So we’ll be driving in the car, and he’ll keep telling me about something that is bothering him, and I’ll try to fix it. Or I’ll say that I cannot fix it, because I’m driving. But he’ll keep saying it, over and over again, something like, “Mommy, I have an ouchy boo-boo! I have an ouchy boo-boo!” and I’ll keep saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, buddy, I’ll fix it when we pull over,” but he just keeps saying, “I have an ouchy boo-boo!” It used to really frustrate me, the constant noise, and then one day I said, out of frustration, kind of flippantly, “Mini, do you have an ouchy boo-boo?” with mock-surprise. And what Mini did was to relax, and say, “Yeah,” and then he sighed with relief, like that was all he wanted, to know that I had heard him. Ever since then, I’ve realized that this is the key to getting him to calm down in these moments: he does not always need for me to fix something. Sometimes he just needs to know that I’ve heard him.
I can learn a lot from a two-year-old.