“Getting older has given me more comfort in not knowing the answers. I throw up my hands more often now; I shake my head in wonder at how inscrutable life is. I have finally figured out that “Figure it out” is not a great slogan. My new slogan is “Who knows?”— which leads quite easily to “Who cares? But isn’t it something?” The God of the Old Testament says, “Be still, and know that I am God,” i.e., “Put a sock in it—you are in charge of very little. You could help the dogs at mealtime, as they have no opposable thumbs. But you’re going to have to trust me with the big things.”
I don’t have a plan.
On the up side: God isn’t laughing at me.*
On the down side: I’m feeling a little…lost.
It’s June. Last June, I started “maternity leave,” a self-imposed break from writing during which I received almost-zero dollars.
I kept one writing client and managed to — sometimes tearfully — churn out two articles a week. Would I recommend working in the first month after giving birth? In the eloquent words of Bobby Brown, “Hell to the no!” But we made it work. And eventually I started to really value my weekly grownup time at a nearby coffee shop. But still. Brand-new mamas, just say no to
drugs work. (Say yes to whatever drugs your midwife/doctor allows.)
I don’t want to sound ungrateful. The pros of freelancing far outweigh any cons, even the con of no job security or cash flow when a babe shows up.
I assumed I’d be back writing for another client after a few months. A few months passed, and I revised that to mean “in a few more months.” And then…it became June again. And I still don’t have a plan.
I have a baby who is still breastfeeding. Who is showing signs of separation anxiety. Who doesn’t have a bedroom door. (More on that later.)
I have no nanny or day care lined up. Our apartment is tiny. I am tired. Caffeine (and life) is getting expensive.
On days like today, my mind is swimming. There are things I want to do. Things I probably should do. Things I don’t want to do but don’t know how to avoid doing.
Anyone wanna pay me to just be me?...asks everyone everwhere. I know, I know.
I’m typing this in a coffee shop. Today I’m here to simply brainstorm. To dream a little. But not to figure it out.**
I'm giving myself permission to fly blind a little this year. But not to stay in one place.
Forward motion. That is the only plan.
*I don't actually think God laughs at our plans. But he might shake his head a little at how small our dreams are, or at how determined we are to "go alone," as if we'll get more life points for attempting the hard stuff without
our euchre partner him.
**Lamott, at a recent UofT lecture — Thanks for the invite, Beth! — dismissed this notion of "figuring it out," but also emphasized the importance of putting things on the calendar. Doing something > thinking about doing something.