This is the main reaction I received to the news that I was going away for a month to write a book (about motherhood, as it happens).
Of course there were some people who got it (I think), who didn't react with a quickly-suppressed cough of scandal in their throats. These people said, “Go for it, just make it worthwhile, get that book written already! How brilliant that you've got a room of your own!”
Perhaps the only thing I am clear on is that I simply don't feel the guilt I know I am supposed to. Nor do I feel I "deserve" to have this month. I'm afraid I just want to work, I just want to be by myself, thinking and mulling, and putting stuff down on paper, feeling rubbish when it goes wrong, throwing stuff away, having inspirations and being overwhelmed. Like a writer.
My husband, meanwhile, is being congratulated as a hero, the best husband imaginable (and that’s true, except that he leaves his pants on the floor and snores (not at the same time)), for "giving his wife this opportunity". Actually, it was a negotiated settlement.
|Just some of my many Motherload books. |
I threw away the What to Expect lot.
Look at those titles: Working Mother, A Good Childhood, Shattered, Torn in Two, Mommy Wars, The Bitch in the House, Tiger Mother, I Don't Know Why She Bothers…
These are the titles that glare disapprovingly down at me as I try to write at home. A row of upright, big sisterly spines, that all proclaim they know better than I do how to be a mother, how to work, how hard to work, how to work hard, how hard it is to be a mother, how a mother shouldn't be trying so hard — enough!
I think that quite a few of those books were written by women who had got through their children's early childhood, and were damned if anyone was going to get away without learning a thing or two about how tough life as a mother really is.
Well, I'm not going to add to the pile. I'm going to write a book about pleasure. About happiness. About joy. About experimentation. About looking closely at one's lived experience, and testing the theoretical frameworks we are told to live by. About deliberately failing the contrived expectations of contemporary Western society — not by going to live in the woods and daubing myself in woad, but by living up to my own expectations. Which, as it happens, are pretty high. I invite you all to be subversive mothers.