It’s not that motherhood has ended or anything. It’s nothing like that. I still have plenty to say on the matter. But there are a couple of things you should probably know about me.
Exhibit A: I never expect anyone to remember me. When I began psychoanalysis, every time I’d show up for a session, I would feel as if I needed to re-introduce myself to my therapist. He would open the door and I would expect to find a blankness in his face, a total lack of recognition, a "Do I know you?" grimace, a plain unknowing and then, distaste. This feeling faded after, oh, I’d say a good three years, but it’s outlines are still there, like a body under a blanket. To this day, if someone says, "I was thinking about you," I am struck a little dumb. I don’t really understand how that could be.
Exhibit B: Because I never expect to be remembered, I have become someone who easily forgets. There is a fundamental instability to my interests. I am curious and easily distracted by bright things. I become consumed with something, then, somehow, my connection to the consuming thing vanishes. My relationship to it ceases to exist. I move on. I am looking at the new, next bright thing. I tilt my head at its silvery shine. It’s reflection illuminates me. I see my outlines.
I am always looking for myself in a new mirror.
For a while, The End of Motherhood? was where I found my reflection. Then this new interest appeared, captured my fickle attention. That is where I have been lately.
But here is the flaw in my system. Mercury reflects, but it is not a mirror. The only mirror is the eyes of another.
I know this, but I don’t know it. Or maybe I just forget. Or maybe it is that I am stuck at that stage where babies cannot hold onto more than one thing at a time. They hold a block in one hand, but when offered another, and despite the fact that they have a free hand, they drop the first block. They cannot hold two things at once. It is too much for the system.
When I move on, the thing I left becomes a ghost. It feels like a wind
blows through the empty space of the person, the place, the activity.
So, to me, after a little absence, The End of Motherhood? became like
ghost town in a Western. The only thing I could imagine here in this
space were tumbleweeds.
It’s not that I don’t want to come back. It’s that I don’t think anything is there to come back to. And then there is always the question, who is the person who would come back? She has gone too, somehow.
So the other day, I was struck stupid by the following email:
Have you forgotten your readers? Please post and let us know all is well.
I swear to you it was like hearing a voice from a grave.
I hope you understand. I didn’t forget my readers. I never knew you existed. Not really.
Of course, there were comments. Insightful. Empathic. Smart. Funny. Fully alive. And yet, I wish I could describe to you how odd it is to know readers exist and then, to not know. It is hard, maybe impossible, to explain.
I was moved by the email. Truly. So surprised. Someone saying, "I was thinking about you." And then today, or maybe yesterday, this comment:
Noticed its been quiet, hope everything’s ok.
I used to say to my therapist: "You are nothing but a figment of my imagination."
This may sound like narcissism of the highest order but it is nothing like that. It is a defense, a preemptive act. This way, I never look to see myself in another and find nothing there.
So hear this: Right now, I know that you are not a figment of my imagination.
And I am very grateful.