As a single mom who worked alone and took college courses from home, much of my social life was online, either through posting on Facebook or writing a short journal entry that I could publish. It’s where I shared most of myself. It was often my one chance to talk about my day. I never expected responses, or even that many readers. Writers are a special sort of breed that need to share their stories by writing them down for others to see. Even when I kept journals as a child, locking them up before hiding them so no one would find them, I hoped someone would. As a kid, I wanted to be like Anne Frank, with my diaries found and published years after my death so I wouldn’t have to experience the horror of people reading my thoughts. I think, even as a kid, I knew that part of it’d be hard.
I started this blog years ago, before mommy blogs were popular, as a way to pick out pieces of my often lonely days with Mia that I wanted to remember. I needed to do that in order to stay sane, but also to be a present parent for her. If I spent even ten minutes remembering, and writing, later that night when she screamed and fought me over eating or going to bed, I could go back to that place where I meditated on the way her hands looked as she carefully picked up a crab with a yellow plastic shovel.
I called it, this website, “Still Life with Mia” then. Most of those past entries have been set to private, because many of the events from that time ended up in MAID. Plus, I wanted to tell the stories in a different way, in an older writing voice. I want people to read about our life, but not in the near-desperation of how I wrote about it then.
Because it’s still just me, sitting alone, at a computer, staring at a wall of photos and grabbing a mug to take a drink of coffee that is long-since gone. I have to remind myself to get up, to eat, to stop staring, and walk around a bit. Those parts of my process will never change, whether I’m working on a book, email, or article.
When I used to have regular panic attacks, ones that’d come for no reason, ones that would cripple me into feeling like I was suffocating, ones that curled me up into a ball in a jacuzzi bathtub of a house I’d been cleaning, I found a mantra:
“I love you, I’m here for you.”
The further I got into this journey as a single parent, and found myself further and further estranged from my family, it became my mantra for life. I’d learned I couldn’t depend on anyone else, and fell back into myself as my only source of support.
Maybe that’s where I got my strength from. Reaching out became an action of weakness. Writing blog posts about my hardest moments were showing humility, admitting faults, in an action that is going against the grain of only displaying perfection. It feels necessary to me now.
Where we are raw is where we are alive.