Oh, hello!

Wow. Has it been a while. I’m feeling rusty even navigating the website. I haven’t been writing. Just working and mom-ing. But I’m getting anxious. Maybe not to write per-say, but create. And I don’t know what to create and that’s making me even more anxious. I see other moms around me who are selling art and photographing and making clothes and it’s hard not to compare. The existential “is this all there is?” to being a parent, but still being a person.
I had a reading a few months ago. It was so great. I was asked to submit to a lit mag here in Phoenix (which in itself is like a huge accomplishment that they would even think of me) and the project was about this really amazing diner downtown. They were compiling a chapbook of poems about this sense of place and community. I took an old, unfinished poem and turned it for the chapbook, but it made the poem, gave it a purpose. Here it is:

Welcome, diner

A stranger sighs warm parchment on my neck. I inhale her story; learn what her huff is about. The “Loud Luggage” bumps Metallica in the corner, 5 PM and cups of coffee I know I shouldn’t have because of the baby.
In the mornings, my belly is tight and pulsing the way blood rushes to a part of your body that’s healing. I swear my heart is beating there instead of my chest. I am creating. My heart is beating there.
I watch a little girl who has never been to a city before, our smallest high-rises filling her eyes, a destitute man sleeping in our shadow. “He’s just tired,” her father lies as a three-legged dog hops by. “Hello!” she waves to them both. “Let’s buy them coffee.”
Children promise and I want to promise my son everything: roofs for the poor, legs for the legless, good meals, good souls, fried chicken and a clothesline to air his loves when they break his heart. All of us need to come home. There’s music I’ll play. It will always be the same song.
The little girl walks up to a diner, tugs at her father who gives her a wade of dollars. She presses them in her palm. Through the window, her freckles reflect constellations.
The stools can hardly contain their gallant blue. The grease skips on the grill.

Jack came to the reading. I even took him up there with me to calm my nerves. It was way past his bedtime. He kept trying to grab the book. I loved it. I had had a beer or two, calmed the nerves, but it’s amazing how much strength your kids give you – standing up for yourself and for them, finally getting the courage to go talk to the neighbor about their dog shitting on your lawn, calling the insurance company again and again and again. Things don’t seem nearly as hard anymore in that regard … or mostly they seem less important. Jack puts a lot of things in perspective about which fights to pick and what to let go of.

———–

He’s almost 14 months old. How the hell did that happen?! We are done nursing, he did that all by himself. He’s starting to walk, he’s doing that all by himself. He’s sticking his face in cups to hear the distortion of his own voice, he’s doing that all by himself. I’m just his railing.

He is the sweetest boy – loves hugs and being close to us. He even nuzzles his head onto mine. He looks to us for approval if he’s not being gentle enough with Tula and will then rest his head on her belly.

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Photo by Jill McNamara

Photo by Jill McNamara

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Anyway, I have all this internal energy, but not enough energy. And also, motherhood has made me really vulnerable, so much so that if I feel too much I might split apart and so I’m trying to do things that don’t really matter very much – play video games and buy too many clothes for Jack and decorate our new house. This whole writing thing requires a lot of feeling and I’m scared of it right now. I think before, when I was the only thing occupying my heart, I could poke at it. But now, I have so much to lose and even tiptoeing around my inner-self is like walking on glass.
I need to commit again. Every time I’m here it feels like an old friend – we haven’t talked in a long time, but it’s so easy.
I hope you are all well. I will check in with you. I hope to be back more. Before Jack was born, I never wanted to be one of those people who only wrote/talked about their kids. But literally, what else is there?

This entry was posted in Jack, When the sun shines inside, Writing Life. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Oh, hello!

  1. Ms. Moon says:

    Here you are. Writing. And writing as gorgeously and richly and fully as you ever have.
    What else is there? Children.
    I know, I know. Oh, how I know as I swamped with tender new baby love again with a grandson, about to be immersed fully in a new granddaughter, up to the top of my head in love with my older grands.
    And still- my own children claim me and I would have it no other way but my god, this is not how I thought it would be.
    We don’t know anything until we have children, do we? Not really.
    Take comfort- there will be room in your life again for that other sort of creating. Right now it takes all you have, helping in the creation of this beautiful life you have created.
    And really, as you asked- what else is there?

    • rachelvb says:

      Thank you, Mary. Sorry for the delayed response! We’ve all been sick and you know how that goes.
      All your boys! I love it. And congrats on your soon-to-be granddaughter. I have no doubt she’ll grow up to be very strong – given the amount of boy cousins and of course an fierce grandma Mary Moon.
      It’s a very odd door from one life to the next. And such a sudden entry. I think the most stark is how split open my heart is. How powerful and vulnerable all at the same time. Who knew so much love could literally break you on the inside – and not in a bad way, but it’s scary. I read somewhere mothers always live in fear. Not that it’s in the forefront or changes daily life, but there’s always a twinge of fear.

  2. Martha says:

    Rachel,
    Again, you bring me to tears and make my heart near to bursting. Don’t look at the ‘other mothers’. I did that for awhile, and it wore me out. Like you, I spent my moments on the floor, on lingering messy lunches, in play, and in love, love, love.
    There will be a time when you grow you again. Right now, you are nurturing, and gently shaping that new soul (but I think he’s an old soul). I love you.

    • rachelvb says:

      Oh, I try not to in a lot of respects. And usually I don’t. But there’s something about the mom who is still able to do all the crafty things she loves to do… Ultimately, it’s another excuse for me to be lazy haha. If I really wanted to, I would make the time. I’m just unsure what I want to create these days and that might be the trouble.

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