Monday Musings: Remember Why You Started This

Monday, June 1, 2009
From the time I was twelve until the time I was twenty-six I kept a journal every day of my life. Every single day. Sometimes, in fits of masochism, I go back and read some of these volumes. There are embarrassing odes to denim jumpers my mom wouldn't let me buy, self-righteous soliloquies on the perennial journal subject that "nobody understands me," and please oh please don't get me started on the bad poetry (For about six months, I wrote various renditions of "Leda and the Swans"...I can still hear WBY groaning in his grave...)

I'm not sure exactly why my "journaling" (I wonder how many words owe their existence to Oprah) ended. And it didn't exactly end. But, regardless of my efforts to the contrary, I have not kept up a daily journal since I was twenty-six. Which doesn't mean I don't try. In fact, for the last months I have been attempting to do some consistent writing again. And the other day, turning the page of my journal du jour, I came upon the following phrase, greeting me on what I thought would be a blank page:

"Remember why you started this."

Remember why you started this?

At first, I was creeped out. It was as if my journal was auditioning for a bit part in a horror movie. But the thing is, although I felt immediately affronted by my very own journal...the quote was in my handwriting. I had written it. It was me talking to me.

Since I was a kid, whenever I got a new journal, I would flip to random pages and write short notes to myself. I'm not sure why I started doing this but, as the years went on, the little blurbs became time-capsules of sorts. Reminders of the moment in which I began a particular journal. In one of my early journals, these snippets included such choice aphorisms as "Stay real" and "Be you." Gag much? They got a tad bit better with swiped phrases such as: "It's never too late to be the person you want to be." And in later journals, they became a little less yearbook-y: "Do you still like the phrase about the blue canary in the lighthouse." (Confused? Google "They Might be Giants.")

But this one? "Remember why you started this?" I couldn't remember when I wrote it, or what it meant.

Like I said, I hadn't kept a daily journal in a while--did I mean remember why I started writing again?

I got this beautiful, leather, handmade journal (thank you E.) right after I got married--did I mean remember why I married my husband?

I hadn't written in the beautiful, leather, handmade journal since I had had D.--did I mean remember why we decided to have kids?

Truth be told: I don't know. But the somewhat amorphous fortune-cookie advice couldn't have come at a better time. I was having one of those weeks when one part of my head was perpetually devoted to waxing nostalgic about my life pre-kids. We went to a party with all three kids and, in the course of 2 hours, I didn't manage to have a full conversation with even one person. We spent an entire Sunday in what we call "survival mode"--the world in which once breakfast for the kids is over, and the kitchen is clean, it is time to prepare lunch...and once lunch is over, and the kitchen is clean, it's time to prepare dinner...and, oh yes, there are myriad bouts of crying and whining and negotiating with 3 year olds in between.

I know you know what I mean yes?

Of course you do. And those days/weeks/months are horrible. And anybody who claims not to feel like that sometimes post-kid? I don't understand them. But...Remember Why You Started This....

Because those long days and those parties where you leave more exhausted than fanciful? Those days when you are solely taking care of little people's needs, those countless hours of cleaning (organic) Goldfish crackers out of various crooks of your home (Is that just me?)? Those evenings without concerts, those afternoons without cocktails, those days of derrieres and those fortnights of absolute fatigue? They're hard. But they are the the short term. They're the price to pay. They are the admission ticket for holidays of boisterous dinner tables, reliving beauty through the eyes of our kids, being able to give unconditional love, and learning how to receive it in our adult-lives...On and on...

There are so many moments of motherhood that are pure beauty. On good days it is all "Madonna with Child(ren)", with perfect lighting, a great soundtrack, the wind whipping through our hair, propelling the little sailboats of our maternal lives on their charted courses. But sometimes? Sometimes when it's a little tougher and the waters get a little choppier? Remembering why we are doing this--remembering why we started this--it can get us through the day. It can give us solace. It can propel us to safe shores during those moments when the wind just isn't there.
17 comments:
Anonymous said...

This is so beautifully put! I have moments like this all the time.

Preeti said...

This is why I read this blog. Thank you.

A said...

I have learned to never go back and read my diaries I coompletely know what you mean. I think I will need to burn my diaries so that my kids never read them!

Sweta said...

We alllllllllll have weeks like that! Hang in there!! :):)

Anonymous said...

Haha, I still tell myself to "stay real" and am looking forward to seeing it in my kids yearbooks! Hahaha. Thanks for writing this, it is very well put.

F.L. said...

Those parties or events where you are just taking care of kids are what kill me. I always leave so tired and wondering what the point of going even was. BUt yes it is the short term thing and I look forward to when my young kids can be on their own and play without my always looking after thm and taking care of them, I know it will happen and then i bet I will miss this age but I cannot wait!

Anonymous said...

That's such a great idea to write notes to yourself in your journal! I am going to steal it!

India Arts said...

Please write Monday Musings everyday, thank you for this!! You have such a great mix of candor and humor, I love reading your writing (and I bet your journals aren't that bad after the denim overall chapters!)

Anonymous said...

Heh. Denim overalls are apparently "back", LOL!

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Even though sometimes it IS really hard to remember to see long term.

Anonymous said...

Deepa

Thanks again - great read especially on a Monday morning. Our younger one recently turned 3, and I can relate with the sense of overwhelm we had initially especially after the 2nd one.

It is quite inspiring to see you have such a clear perspective even after a 3rd one, you should be very proud, of yourself as well as your family/friends that support you and who give you the sense of help/strength/support that is so needed when things get tough.

Many a times even with best intentions we tend to forget the big picture, especially when the going gets tough.

Keep writing, and you might just inspire me to get off my good intentions and actually start writing a journal to let steam off!

Thanks

Anonymous said...

We are very familiar with "survival mode" having 3 kids under the age of 5. Those days (years actually) are really tough but you are so right that perspective on it helps and believe me, it gets better. 3 under 3 is sort of insane, my hat is off to you, and it's a relief to know it isn't a cakewalk. I know that is mean but there is strenght in going through the hard parts together too don't you think???

Hema said...

A perfect way to start the week on this foggy dreary day. I too wish I saw the big picture more frequently and let the choices I made propel me to do the same but it is easier said than done. I get so frantic and so tired sometimes I can't even SAY "big picture." How do you seem so grounded? I know it's a blog but your writing seems grounded and I know you have 3 kids so it can't be easy. Would love some practical advise.

By the way thank you for the juice cleanse information! I am on day 4 and I was very very doubtful but like you said I feel SO GOOD. A little hungrier than usual but my jeans will probably thank you for that! Do you plan to do these frequently? You should let us know I bet readers would want to do it together with you!

Anonymous said...

You kill me, I just got to work after yet another hair raising morning of getting the kid out the door, getting the husband to work, making sure my house isn't a complete disaster and I am sitting here in my little cubicle RELIEVED to be away from all of that and I read this and I remember how much I wanted children. How hard it was for us, actually. How I made deals with God to let me know what I wanted. Thank you for the wake up call. Of course it's hard now. I bet it will be hard forever. But we made these choices right? And you are right there are moments of beauty I never could have expected.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. I need as many reminders as I can get to not flip out at my toddler and try to enjoy my newborn. It's f&*king hard but worth it of course and I just hope I learn to realize that in the present instead of, like, in 20 years.

Anonymous said...

hey deepa,
how come you never talk about your second-born? You always talk about D. and the newborn girl, but never the boy in the middle!
Not "neglecting the middle child" are you? Just Joking...

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