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December 28, 2010

Taking my interests seriously*

Yesterday I mentioned my friend Jen’s recent blog post, “Mommies Dream Too,” but I didn’t say much more about why it has been on my mind.  So I thought I would point to one particularly thought-provoking section:

One of my favorite books, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, makes the point that so-called “well-behaved” women are the ones who are forgotten easily, mainly because they don’t take themselves or their interests seriously. The author writes, “Most well-behaved women are too busy living their lives to think about recording what they do and too modest about their own achievements to think anybody else will care.” So what does the author argue makes “misbehaved women”? Those naughty women who dare to take their interests and passions seriously, regardless of the interest.

I can see how people in all different situations, women/men, parents/non-parents, could fall into the trap of not taking their interests seriously.  Often our society tells us that X isn’t practical enough to devote much time to.  Or you can’t make money doing Y and you need to make money to survive.  Or Z is not as valid a hobby as any number of other things (which is only true if Z is playing computer games, Neal).  I’ve been told something to that effect plenty of times by plenty of people about plenty of my life choices (although not really my parents; thankfully, they taught me the priceless notion that I could and should do anything that I love).

But despite those well-meaning cautions, this idea of taking my interests seriously has never been a struggle for me.  I’m sure a big part of that is that I was from a young age, maybe even in utero, endowed with a healthy sense of self-assurance/confidence/esteem, surety of my own opinions, thoughts, feelings, and choices (now, that is not always a handy trait, but it is true about me and I have spent a lot of time trying to understand where that came from and how that has and has not served me well in life).  So when I decided to exit a thriving career in non-profit management to . . . wait for it . . . work on my conceptual art and read more, I was unmoved by many pleas to rethink such a hair-brained scheme.

And when I decided that blogging was going to be an important part of my life, even at the expense of other things, I had my reasons and I never questioned that decision.  But because some other people have, wondering how I can devote the time I do when I have a thesis to write, laundry to put away, a baby to care for, etc. (I’m sure you can tell that Neal is one of these people since who else knows about my laundry, although paradoxically he  is also obsessed with checking my blog to see how many people have commented on each post, informing me when a post has fallen too flat to get comments, and requesting specific topics for future blog posts), I decided I would record my most important reasons for blogging:

  • It’s therapeutic for me.
  • It’s for keeping in touch with people, and letting them see our girl grow up no matter where they live.
  • It’s for Addison’s baby book — perfect since you can actually buy a book that prints out your blog.
  • It’s for our family history.
  • It’s for Addison’s adult self.

Perhaps the last one bears a bit more elaboration because it has become the most predominant for me.  I’ve obviously recorded a lot about my journey into parenthood from pregnancy and miscarriage, to labor/delivery and postpartum depression.  I also write a fair amount off the blog, weighing my decision about whether to stay at home full-time or give in to Neal’s lobbying to be the stay-at-home parent (writings, which I may eventually post on here, but are about such an emotionally-charged subject for me and others that it must be addressed carefully).  And all along the way I’ve had consistent impressions that these work-in-progress musings will be valuable to my little girl.  Whether her personality and temperament are like mine or not, there’s no doubt she will one day face many of the experiences and questions I am facing.  I have often thought, during my process of coming to terms with how I was raised (which everyone will do in their own way regardless of how fantastic or not their parents are), that I desperately wish I had some journal entries/records/scrap pieces of paper . . . just about anything that my mom wrote to help me better understand how she made the decision to have kids and when, when to stay home and when to work, and how she felt about those decisions as she was making them.  I’m grateful that I can talk to her about these issues now, but it’s never the same as the thoughts and feelings that are expressed in the moment, without the reevaluation that time inevitably brings.  So I write largely to leave that legacy for my daughter.  And it feels like a noble attempt regardless of how many loads of laundry need to be put away (and it’s about three right now, for the record, and it’s been three for about a week).

* Maybe too seriously, as Neal would say.

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6 Comments »

  1. I really like your thoughts here. My (private) blog really only exists as therapy for me, but this made me think about how any biological children we ever have will want to know the back story. And thesis shesis. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to be ABT!

    Comment by kei02003 — December 28, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  2. I blog for me. Period. If there is value in what I have to say/write for others, that’s a bonus. Having said that, my blog is not very personal. But, that is who I am. The real me is buried deep inside. There are snippets here and there, but the deep stuff, stays deep. I never wonder why you blog, I think it is obvious. I often wonder about other blogs, but never yours. I suppose I should start commenting more though so Neal will lay off. 🙂 I mean, I do read every post. I just don’t always write what they evoke in my mind.

    Comment by Linsey — December 28, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

  3. Like you, I have never struggled to take my interests seriously. Overall, I think this is a huge blessing, although it does get me into trouble sometimes! 🙂

    I love your reasons for blogging, especially the last one. I should do the same for Katie.

    I blog for me too. I wish I had more emotional energy for it right now. The process of writing and editing a post is really, really helpful to me in so many ways. But it takes some inertia to get there (and inspiration for an idea worth devoting so much energy to). I’m amazed at how frequently and consistently you can whip out quality posts. I think you have a stronger writing voice than I do, and I think that comes from you being less concerned about impressing people than I am and from you writing from your feeling heart and thinking mind at the same time. I struggle to connect those two worlds in my writing. When I emote in my writing, it is not pretty. And when I write well, it often feels so watered down and distant.

    Comment by Vickie Blanchard — December 29, 2010 @ 12:52 am

  4. Oh that’s interesting. I have admittedly not read the book, but that excerpt makes me want to be a well-behaved woman even more so. 🙂

    Comment by Elizabeth — December 29, 2010 @ 7:08 am

  5. i TOTALLY get this… i feel like a lot of people around here don’t really even HAVE hobbies. i don’t get it. it makes it really hard to have a conversation with someone who has practically NOTHING going on but doing the day to day.

    Comment by Lindsay Heinzen — January 2, 2011 @ 5:34 am

  6. “endowed with a healthy sense of self-assurance/confidence/esteem, surety of my own opinions, thoughts, feelings, and choices”

    I’m jealous. I’ve realized over the last couple months that this is my one of my biggest challenges. It’s so bad that I wonder if it’s a divinely-appointed struggle. It has heavily influenced my appreciation of agency though, and that’s a special subject to me now.

    Comment by Nikki — January 13, 2011 @ 3:47 pm


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