Mothering and Theses

I remember a college professor- the one who taught my Whitman and Dickinson class, saying that when you’re writing your thesis, you vacillate between thinking your thesis is brilliant and thinking it’s total garbage.

I found this to be true- both while working on my college thesis on the scientific and spiritual elements in Dickinson’s poetry, and later on my nonfiction essays for my MFA.

And his description has returned to me in the past couple of years as I set to work on this new endeavor called mothering.  Because one day she’ll eat all of her breakfast gleefully and go down peacefully for her nap, letting me tuck her in under a soft white blanket.  She’ll shake the new maraca we made with beans and an empty plastic bottle excitedly.  We’ll cuddle during story time and she’ll kiss me goodnight- and I’ll think yes, I am made to do this.

But the next day, she chews up her french toast and spits it all out, screams for an hour before her nap and it’s a long crazy afternoon with nothing to do.  She’s hanging on my legs while I try to wash the dishes and scratching me with the nails she wouldn’t let me trim.

Unfortunately, with the grief to contend with these days, those moments and days like the former- are few.   But sometimes you just have to pull an all-nighter and write through those thoughts that you have nothing substantial to say on Dickinson’s spirituality, and hope that in the process of the writing- in the act of putting words on paper- you’ll discover something even more beautiful and real than your original idea.

In the morning, I will lift Audrey out of her crib again and take her to my bed, change her diaper and ask her how she slept.  Regardless of how I feel- brilliant or lousy- I’ll push through another day until my work is done.

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