It’s been a while.
I used to write here frequently. After I put the kids to bed, my nights were long and lonely. I poured my nervous energy onto the page in a puddle of words and then tried to arrange them in a way that made sense, a narrative that illuminated the meaning in the minute corner of the world that was mine.
Some things have changed.
My husband is home in the evenings now and it is easier to justify an entire evening in front of the TV (and an entire bag of Doritos) when you have a partner in crime. But he recently took his United States citizenship test, so we used our usual TV/Doritos time to study flashcards and issue spelling tests. It was a good reminder that time is precious and useful, and it feels great to work towards a goal and accomplish it.
Also, I had another baby, so I scaled back what I could. Then I scaled back some more. Having a baby takes a lot out of you (literally), but she’s one now and I feel less like a cow on two legs.
I gained more responsibility at work and when I came home I found myself doling out what little mental energy remained to my loved ones judiciously, deliberately, and – I hate to say it, but sometimes – resentfully. But as I’ve gotten the hang of my new role, I’ve found myself with more energy for them, and for things that I enjoy, like writing.
And with all these changes, some things remain the same… like the Need For Approval.
The Need For Approval is a heavy burden. Things like alcohol transform it into a big old bubble that smells like Champagne and arrogance. It’s easy to let go and watch it float off into the night. For someone like me, whose middle name might as well be “Self-Conscious,” this is very seductive. The problem is, the bubble eventually sinks back to you, and it’s heavier.
The Need For Approval makes writing hard, because if I have something to say, there will surely be those who don’t like it. There will be those that don’t like the way I say it. There will be eye rollers. There will be head shakers. And, actually, that is fine.
Maybe I will write something and someone will disagree. That is OK. Maybe someone will criticize it. That is OK. Maybe the only one who reads all of it will be my mom. That is OK. Maybe no one will think my jokes are funny. That is OK, too, because I think my jokes are funny.
So rather than turning the Need For Approval into a bubble, I’m trying to strip it away, layer by layer, until it is something smaller – manageable and helpful. Something that is tact and wise caution, rather than something that keeps me from taking a step forward. Something that says it’s OK if you don’t laugh at my jokes, but I still seek not to offend or cause harm with my words. The tongue is powerful, after all. Or in this case, the keyboard.
So hopefully I’ll still be here, pouring out the words, trying to arrange them in a meaningful way, without regard to the eye rollers or the head shakers. Pouring into my own cup in hopes of bolstering my energy to give to others. Working towards an unknown goal that has something to do with writing. Peeling back the Need For Approval, soberly. I hope you’ll read along, and thanks, Mom, for always reading to the end.