I recently finished reading the book Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury and was sorry that it had come to an end. What I really appreciated about the book was Ray’s enthusiasm for the process of writing, and him illustrating (with such poetic phrases) how so much of our childhood experiences – and all manner of life experiences – can inform and give inspiration to our writing.
Sometimes I daydream about having chosen writing as a career path way back when I was a teenager, but as I try to remind myself, if it hadn’t been for all those other things that I did along the way, like my science degrees, school teaching, getting married and becoming a mother… well, my writing probably wouldn’t have been as experienced-soaked as it is now.
I felt a real affinity with Ray because he was so enthusiastic about putting ‘gusto’ and ‘zest’ into writing. The only drawback to the book was that he invariably labelled writers as ‘he’ and rarely mentioned women writers. This is such a shame… but I guess he was of his era, and I’m not keen to analyse this too deeply.
Anyway, I thought that a lot of his useful words could be applied to mothering. I particularly like this paragraph about the people around a writer who are meant to support the writer:
Who are your friends? Do they believe in you? Or do they stunt your growth with ridicule and disbelief? If the latter, you haven’t friends. Go find some.
So much of a new mother’s life is about finding the right path for her and her baby. Mothers will look to other mothers for reassurance and support in this momentous task that is ‘mothering’. So let me rephrase that paragraph:
Who are your friends? Do they believe in you and your baby’s need for each other and your close – almost telepathic – bond? Or do they stunt your growth as a mother with ridicule and disbelief? If the latter, you haven’t friends. Go find some.
When I found myself going through challenges in the first few years of becoming a mother (mostly due to lack of sleep coupled with mothering a sensitive child who was happiest at my breast or in my arms) there were very few people supporting me in my mothering choices. So what did I do? I went along to my local LLL group and found some friends. (I wrote about this in My Sister, My Guide.)
Being a mother, and carrying out the task of mothering is joyful, yet it is also full of challenges. Having friends who support you and believe in you can make all the difference. If you haven’t any friends who fit that definition, as Ray says: you haven’t friends. Go find some.