Last week I learned that it was National Day on Writing. Carmela Martino, who writes on the blog Teaching Authors encouraged her readers to think about why we write. I thought this would be a good exercise for me, and here's what I came up with:
We have a rocking chair in our daughters' room. It sits in the corner next to a window. I've sat there at all hours holding one of my girls, nursing them, burping them, reading them stories, looking out the window and noticing the trees, watching cars drive down the alley.
What's interesting about this chair is that no matter what shape my daughters or I are in, we are comfortable here. I spent hours - probably days - nursing Hadley in this chair. In the middle of the night, when she awoke hungry, I'd stumble into her room in a blur, pick her up and sit down while she nursed. I rocked and watched her, asleep and eating, her hand reaching for my nose. I was tired and overwhelmed, but sitting there rocking, I was content.
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Harper, Hadley and I read stories together in this chair before she went to sleep. Despite my growing belly, somehow we were cozy together reading about hippos going berserk or the dog named Harry that was sickingly dirty.
We read stories to Harper in this chair before nap and bedtime too. Someimes, if she sees I'm getting her bottle ready, she will grab her bear and walk into her room, lay her head down on the seat of the rocker, and begin humming as she moves the chair back and forth.
I know how she feels. No matter what is going on in the day - how stressed out or frazzled I am - I sit in that chair with one of my children on my lap and begin to rock, and I am calm. I might still be overwhelmed, I might be exhausted, but I am content.
I say to my husband through sobs or fury sometimes, "There's no place in this house that is mine! I lay down in bed and there's a glue stick in it, or I sit down on the couch and have to jump back up because I've sat on a toy truck!" I think what I mean is I can't find a place to collect myself, to remember who I am; to figure out who I am. Except that now, when I think about this rocking chair, and the peace it's brought despite the sometimes storm of motherhood, I realize that this is where I collect myself. This corner, feeling the weight of my daughters on my lap and against my chest as I rock, is where I remember who I am.
This is why I write. I've thought about this chair for awhile now, but wasn't sure of it's significance in my life until I sat down to write about it. Writing helps me to understand; to figure things out. I write to tell a story. I write to make people laugh. I write to try and communicate how in love with Hadley and Harper I am. I write because a lot of times I can't say outloud what I'm feeling or thinking adequately. I think I'm much more clever and witty when I write.
Sara Lewis Holmes wrote a post on writing mantras - phrases that motivate authors to keep writing. She used a quote from Auden as one: "Clear thinking about mixed feelings." I think that sums it up best for me. When I'm confused, or sad, or happy, I write. And I think the product is even better when all those feelings come out in what I'm trying to express. Like rocking in the chair in my daughters' room, pushing my pen across the page brings me contentment, clarity, and peace. That is why I write.