15 July 2009

Identity Crisis

Today is one of those days for which I'd like a do-over. I won't enumerate the various frustrations and annoyances, the behaviors I wish I'd changed, the actions I regret taking, the moments I lacked patience, but they are there. Ugh.

Unrelated to my desire for a do-over is some blogging-related angst. I've had this blog for almost four years now, and over the past few months, it's been a struggle for me to find things to say. Once I moved out of my condo, leaving the space in which I'd started blogging, things stopped clicking. Plenty of blog-worthy stuff was going on; I've never, for example, written much about what it was like to share a home with another single parent, and there's been no dearth of bloggable kid stuff going on, not to mention the details of my move. But leaving my Boston condo and making the decision to start shedding my old cancer-infested life seems to have taken the bloom off the blogging rose for me.

What's funny is that I sorely miss having blogging be a regular habit. I miss the creative outlet. I miss framing events in my life as blog posts as they unfold. The framework in which I fit my life, though, has changed, and I'm struggling to define the new perspective enough to support my posts.

When I started blogging, I was a mother-to-be and a widow-to-be, and those two lenses colored everything I did, said, wrote. Then I became a mother, and then a widow, and those have been the roles that have defined me over these past few years. Clearly, I am still a mother, and I'm finding that as Maddie and Riley get older, it's a role in which I feel more comfort and enjoyment than I did during the emotional tumult that was their infancy. But while I do often write about parenting and kid antics, I've never thought of myself as a mommy blogger. For me, the mommy blogging has been mostly incidental, a way to document Maddie and Riley's life, but not the real reason I blog.

It's the grief that's been the soul of blogging for me, first the anticipatory grief of living with a terminally ill spouse, then the real grief of John's death and the related mourning of the life we didn't get to have together. Clearly, I'm still a widow. And losing a spouse, losing a child, losing a parent, losing anyone close to you, it's something that you never forget or get over. I'm finding, though, that my grief no longer defines me the way it once did. The years of John's illness and the time between his death and when I decided to sell are home are starting to feel like scenes out of a movie. I'm more grounded in the present and less focused on the past.

I'm neither happier, nor more sad, and I'm still grieving. But I'm also working at a fantastic, challenging new job, living in a gorgeous home, and back in a city to which I've always wanted to return. In general, I'm more relaxed and patient than I've been in a long, long time (my need for a do-over today notwithstanding). The time I had with John and living through his illness and death have fundamentally changed me, and I feel like I'm just now at the point where I can start to figure out exactly how.

I have no plans to stop blogging, and I sure hope that this self-indulgent navel-gazing helps to get me back in the saddle. So much has happened that I haven't told here. Help me. Where should I begin?

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

What things did you learn about yourself in the aftermath of John's death? And how are you different now (good /bad) because of the experience? I have been trying to put my finger on how I have changed since a traumatic incident almost two years ago. And have discovered some quite beautiful things about myself, sounds strange to write that!

ottersden said...

I understand your feeling. Everytime something major happens in my life, blogging falls by the wayside. Don't worry, it will come back!

Anonymous said...

i really enjoy your blog and i hope you continue to write

Melissa Haworth said...

I am curious about how it worked when you lived with the other single parent. I can't quite imagine that but it seemed to work for you. Glad you are loving Portland and the new job! I do hope you keep blogging regardless what you decide to write about.

cat said...

Oh no ! Don't stop. I have been reading you for years and seldom comment because you get so many. But your life now is an example of how our lives evolve and change, and get better. My dad passed away when I just turned 7 and your blog to an extend has been an insight into my moms feelings and thoughts at the time. I know I had so much time with my dad compared to your two, but regardless. Love and light to you girl.

BiancaW said...

Hi Snick, I got directed to your blog from Tertia, only once John had passed away, so I never "went through" your battle with you, but since then I have read almost AlL of your arachives and I LOVE your writing. Basically, whatever you write, I think is read-worthy. :-)

Tell us about the move. Tell us about living with another single mome. Tell us more about Maddie and Riley - even if it is not a mommy blog. And maybe, just maybe, in time to come, there will be another love story to tell. ;-)

I think of you often.
Bianca

Caustic Cupcake said...

I start a new blog every couple of years, and try to leave the old one up so I can link back to it. It feels like opening a new chapter in my life when the old one no longer applies.

Mommy, Esq. said...

One option to consider is just "skipping over" the time that you missed. I do that when I have non-blogging periods. Sometimes I refer back to the time I missed, maybe tell a relevant anecdote in a new blog post but overall I just sort of ignore what I didn't get to. That helps me find my voice again without having to "catch" everyone up on my life. I've missed your blogs though so please do keep writing.

Anonymous said...

Just start where you are, and don't let blogging be a chore. You can't imagine how people have benefited from your writing, or how much we'd miss you if you left, but you don't have to blog if and when it doesn't feel right. I think it's a great sign that you don't feel an urgency to blog right now. I hope you continue, because you're like family to so many of us, but if you need a break, then trust yourself and do what feels right. I think this is good news.

Maren said...

I have noticed that people seem to get a rush out of just starting an entirely new blog or even changing the way theirs is decorated. Maybe you could change the way you blog or change something visually. Good luck getting back to writing!

Poppy said...

Add me to the group who hopes you don't stop blogging. I myself am struggling to stay current. Some days life just sweeps me away and other times I just can't find the words to begin a post.

I'm going to also join the group that suggests a blog makeover. I am in the process of hunting down a new template and possibly thinking of a new name. I've been blogging over 3 yrs and my life have turned upside down in that time. A new look and a new name might help me over the hump so to speak.

Anyway, I'm glad you're feeling more grounded in life and happy with your surroundings. What you've done is a very brave thing and I applaud you for taking that leap of faith and "starting over."

Sheila said...

I agree with Mommy, Esq. As much as we'd love to hear about life with roommates and the cross-country move, maybe you're feeling the weight of all the things you haven't told us. If it were me, I would feel overwhelmed with the backlog of info and stories, but since it was not what was currently occupying space in my head, I wouldn't feel like writing about it. But I would feel weird about just skipping over it and writing about my current reality. So if that's the case, just fast-forward to the present and don't worry about us.

Maybe once you get back in the habit of writing you'll feel like revisiting previous events, but I think most of us would love to read whatever you wrote.

LauraC said...

I agree with other commenters. Just start from the now! I've found that over time, when I write about what I am thinking right then, my blog provides the free therapy I need.

Susan said...

I'm not sure on advice but I hope you continue blogging. Some of us cyper readers almost feel like "friends" by reading your blog and commenting. I would like to hear more about Portland and where your living and of course your beautiful children. Here's hoping you continue and small changes to the blog like some have mentioned might do the trick!

Gillian said...

Whenever I get in a rut, I assign myself some kind of creative writing project - either a series or just a single post that usually has nothing to do with recounting my day. For example, recently I read a post about The Five Environments over on Family Hack, where you look at the places you've lived and what kind of environment they are (sea? forest? plains? city?) and how you felt when you lived there. And include gorgeous pictures of said places. Having myself do a series of those on my own blog (one former home per day for a week) kind of kick started my writing again.

Just a suggestion!

Catherine from Chicago said...

Snick,

Please don't stop blogging! Woe to all of us who will actually have to work instead of reading your entertaining posts.

I would love to hear your thoughts about living with another single parent. Also, any updates about Ri and Maddie would be wonderful!

Watercolor said...

So look ahead to the future some and blog a bit about your dreams and goals for yourself and your life.

Lauren said...

Well I am glad to hear you aren't going to stop blogging!!
Write down the top 10 or 20 things you would write about, put them in a hat. Pick one a day or every other day. As more things come up, add them to the hat. You will know when something comes up that you just can't leave to the chance of the hat. It will get you back in the swing and you'll be caught up in no time..
We miss you when you aren't around. Happy to hear things are working out for you...

Jill said...

I suscribe to an obscene amount of blogs, and if everyone blogged everyday I would have to cut that number by at least half. So I hope you are able to blog for you, not for us. I would hope you would like to share about your new life- the new house, the nanny, the restaurants, living near your parents, all of it.

Lil Sis said...

You're doing great Snick! I look forward to hearing more about your new city, daily life there, the regular stuff that you so eloquently detail that makes life interesting.

I'm glad things are settling for you in the new place.

Anonymous said...

Have you read the book/seen the movie, 'Everything is Illuminated'?
"Everything is Illuminated by the light of the past. It is always along side of us, on the inside looking out."
Amazing soundtrack to listen to as you're driving too. :)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As a parent, you grow with your children. You change, learn, and grow right along side them. In the process of doing that you were going through and growing from your loss as well. It's so good to see that you have come out as strong and positive as you have, and what a great Mother you've grown up to be too!! If you need, give your blog a face-lift. Maybe change the title. There's nothing wrong with being a "Mommy Blogger" but just remember there is so much more to you than that, and it's also OK to go open up the greiving days when they hit you, but you know they will be less because that is how life goes on.
I love how flashback to your peace corps days and then right back to the future. It shows what you've been through and how your are you are today. Maybe you could do the same thing with memories of John, when the twins were little, living in Boston, the mommy merge,etc.
So happy for you that things have worked out and you made it through everything with seeing a rainbow through all the rain.

Career Annie said...

Write whatever you want to write about. Don't worry about a theme emerging or about writing from a particular vantage-point. If this is your creative outlet, you should be free to write from whatever point of view you wish.

Jacinda said...

I love reading your blog. I am so happy you are home... As for writing - it doesn't have to be topic specific or related to anything...it should be whatever pops into your head.....

Sharon said...

Start at the beginning. From the move to a another home to your move to Oregon.

I hope you do continue to blog as you are number one on my bookmarks. I started reading you several weeks after my husband died, which was 5 days after yours did. I have gone thru the grief process with you. You hold me up on the bad days. I laugh and cry with you. I love your stories and you write what I can't seem to.

Thanks for being there.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest starting from here and now and blogging forward. Things/memories/stories from the past will pop into your head and blog from time to time... We'll get caught up on your life that way. I really enjoy reading your blog and hope you find a way to start writing for us again!

Tammy

SMx said...

As a 30 something single mother of boy-girl twins living in Portland, I look forward to reading your future posts...so hoping your blogging muse returns...but please take a break and enjoy this fabulous weather. There will be plenty of blogging to do when it gets dark at 4 pm!

tangsongshan said...

I would like to hear more about your time in the Peace Corps if it doesn't dredge up painful memories. I would also enjoy hearing about your life in Portland as you are now in my neck of the woods and I can more easily picture the adventures you have. I also went to your alma mater so tales of those times would also interest me (but probably very few others). I work in higher education as well and would like to hear any viewpoints you have about that environment.

Annagrace said...

I like the idea of starting up a new blog, or a newly designed blog as a symbol of all the change...but leaving the old one linked or somehow, even loosely, connected...

OTRgirl said...

I agree with a bunch of the other comments. If you sat down right now to start a blog, what would you want to/need to write about? Then redesign this one to reflect that change (or start a new one). You're in a new chapter and it's nice to freshen up (so to speak).

I look forward to hearing about cool things in Portland, family dynamics, challenges at the new job. I'm curious about what it's like to go back 'home' while containing a whole universe of experiences that has changed you.

It does feel like many of the people I started out reading and becoming friends with via the internet have reached a lull, or a new phase in their blogging. I don't think that's unusual. I do hope you keep writing though (cause I'm selfish like that. haha)

Katherine said...

I agree with those who say start from where you are and don't feel compelled to share everything that happened in between, except as it may come up in anecdotes. But I would LOVE to hear the story about how you found your new house.

Sadia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sadia said...

I love reading you, but if the Muse isn't there, you don't owe your readers anything. We'll be here if and when you feel like you have something to say.

Where to start? Well, it sounds like you did just start! You don't have to write about the here and now. You could do a post on the double single parent dynamic, or on the move or the job, even if they're not the most current thing in your day-to-day life.

I have to say that the word "widow-to-be" was hard to read; I can't imagine the strength it took to accept that status.

Mary Ellen said...

There are no rules about blogging, though people get into routines, and other people start to expect those routines to continue. Play around with how the blog looks and feels - maybe it needs an updated style. Maybe occasional blogs, weekly blogs, briefer blogs fit your new life. Start a secret blog to play with for a while. I'm finding myself very interested in the learning and growing going on with your job, the college, the town.

Anonymous said...

You write so well Stacey, that I'd read this blog no matter what you wrote.
So very happy that things seem to be coming together and getting easier for you.
Rebecca in Brisbane

terri c said...

I love your writing. So selfishly I want you to continue. Perhaps you could not worry what we would like and just try writing 10 minutes a day whatever comes to your mind and not worry if it comes together or progresses. Just so we get to hear from you. She said, selfishly.

CV said...

Don't forget that your blog provides a broadcast update for those of us you know in the flesh. Think of all the hours of emailing and phone calls you save by blogging.

I'm also interested in your insights about the merged household experiment. (Wink)

jemma said...

Actually I'd just like to hear about Portland. From visiting there I was astounded by its food. The fact that their stores seem to only have night-time pull-ups (is there a ban on daytime pull-ups?). The creative vibe. the friendliness (or lack thereof) of the neighbors. Is Portland a better place to live than other places in the US? It seems a little European to me, in a good way. What do you think?

I've also been checking on you as more of how a single mom juggles things. How will you get work done when the kids are sick? How do you coordinate your days? How do you find balance in your life? Those questions we all struggle with.

So I don't read you because you are a mommy blogger, or a widow, or any of those things, mainly I read to get perspective on what we do with our days and how we move towards what we want out of our lives. :)

Hope you continue to write.

amanda in ATL said...

maybe it's time to redefine yourself. If you wake up everyday with the label of widowhood it might be holding you back from living your new life.Sure it's who you are and has completely changed your life, but you could add new descriptors to your new life. I still remember as a child how different things were when my Mom decided to shed her widow garb and regain her life with my brother and I. We were 10 and 6 by then so I;m sure your kids will happily notice a shift in you too.

Keep blogging - we want to read about HOW SNICK GOT HER GROVE BACK...which I'm sure will be coming soon!

Amanda In ATL (currently in PDX and loving it!)

Flicka said...

I don't know. I feel kind of the same way about my husband's brain injury and my blogging, even though I know that's not as intense an experience as what you've had. I feel like things are "getting back to normal" and I'm trying to figure out where to go from here.

Not very helpful, I know. But you're not alone. I'm hugging you from here.

xo
Flicka

Anonymous said...

Maybe you would feel more inspired if you changed the name of your blog, to take the focus off the mourning, and even the mothering, and make it about your new life, with a title that reflects that. Seems like a simple thing, but it might go along with the big move, new job, new home etc.

Jeannie

Renovation Girl said...

I say blog when you feel compelled to...you'll know what to write and when to write it. As much as you'd love to recap the past few months, it's kind of like scrapbooking...you have sooo many pictures, it's overwhelming to start. When I've had the blogger's block, I find that just posting a quick comment now and then gives me a voice and starts those juices rolling. A quick comment on something funny Builder Boy said or a quick rant about stupid people. It seems to help. I am glad, though, that things are going so well. I can hear the peace in your writing...what a wonderful thing!

Penny said...

Ooh! Write about a new home in a new city and what it's like to be a single mom. That last part is not exactly a mommy blogger - it's blogging about yourself for the most part. The dating! The scheduling! The craziness! Also I'd be interested what it's like to raise kids in a city (assuming the city is large and very urban).

Caroline said...

As an active blog reader, I have to tell you that a couple of the blogs I read are coming to an end or taking a break. I think there does come a time when everyone needs a break and maybe you are there now. You have been through a lot and it seems like things are finally going in a great direction!!! Even though I would miss you, I can be nothing but happy....I say take a break and enjoy yourself, your new home and your family!!!

Caroline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
June said...

Snickollet - that's such a catchy title. I enjoy your writings so much - wish I had the talent. There's been so much happening in my life since Jan. 1, 2009 that I feel overwhelmed when I think about it. There's no sense in my going back in time & trying to remember all that took place. What I'm interested in now is to just get beyond today. There's been lots of grief-stricken days during the year. I feel I'm a stronger person for having lived it - and hopefully, learned some lessons from it. I've gleaned from these experiences - patience, readjusting, forgiving, remaining optimistic, trying to help those loved ones through a sad period of time. In real life that's all we can give/say... I'll keep a prayer in my heart for you & pray you continue to have the full rewarding life you so much deserve. I love the photos you put up of your precious children. As far as Riley's elbow goes - forgive yourself. When my son was quite young he complained of heel pain. After about a year, and still complaining, I finally took him to see an orthopedist. My son had grown so fast, the cartlidge in his heel (Achilles tendon) had been torn & turned to bone longer before it was time. I felt SO BAD letting him suffer so long, I found it difficult to forgive myself. Snick, we live & learn all the time. You are providing a marvelous life for those two children, & you are happy in your home/job/etc. Love them & know you are doing your best. John would be proud of you. My very best wishes to you. Please keep blogging...I look forward to reading what's going on in your life.

Angela said...

First of all, I need to write that your writing is wonderful.The journey that you have taken and allowed us readers to follow with you, has been truly inspirational.
Take your time, figure out what YOU need to do. A cross-country move, new job, new house, new daycare arrangements for the twins...whew! that's a lot to handle in such a short time frame.
From a purely selfish viewpoint, I really hope you keep on writing, but if you need to take a break, do that.
Your identity has progressed, changed and shifted so much since I first began reading your blog while the cancer battle was being waged. Please write about you, your hopes, dreams, fears and thoughts, don't be afraid to step outside the role of widow or mom to twins, and just focus on you.

winecat said...

I know exactly what you mean. Once I was through the whole cancer treatment process which is why I started my blog I floundered.

Actually I'm probably still floundering but still blogging because like you I love the creativity of the process.

Anonymous said...

I also really enjoy your blog. But, I think a blog like this is *yours* to use it as you wish. You have no obligation to write because we enjoy reading.

As some others comment, I also started reading just around the time that other bloggers linked to you, and have gone back to read a lot of your past. I admire your honesty and realness, and learned something from reading.

But, I think that part of what you're experiencing is the Anna Karenina line "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I think "happy/unhappy" are complicated words, but I think you're in a much easier place than you've been in a long time. It's OK to have less to say, no?

I keep a personal blog, that really is for myself. It's password protected, and so only a few family members read it. It has been important to me, because it chronicles the ephemeral moments of my children's lives. It's a journal, but it's semi-public status means that I don't end up being more introspective, and less biographical than I wish to be for that record. I imagine it as something my kids will read when they are older (my daughter reads occasionally now).

I hope you do find a style of blogging that keeps you wanting to write, but I think it's OK if you don't, too.

Roads said...

Aha, relocation is the mother of re-invention. And you've discovered it.

That's great! New life, new angle, new story. Bring it on!

Best wishes from London -- and spirits up.

masteroftheuniverse said...

I understand exactly where you're coming from. I started blogging 5 months before my wife died, at her insistence. She even set up the wordpress account and commanded me to write, every day. I didn't write posts about her illness, but did mention it frequently. The fact that I had a blog, and needed to put good material on it every day somehow made things easier for me. I developed quite a following of readers, and actually made real friendships in real life from that blog. I started up the blog habit, and have kept it up, and it's done much good for my soul. I will give credit to my blog for keeping my mind busy during those horrible days of grief. Now, I've found a new special person, and my blog is keeping me well grounded in a crazy world.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I really enjoy your blog for many reasons that I won't go into here. I think if you continue to write from your heart whether it's about parenthood or widowhood or living in Portland or your grocery list, your readers will still be there. We're already invested so try to remember that the blog is *yours* to utilize in whichever way you need.

Anonymous said...

So much to say, where do you ever begin? The little things. . . . how is the book writing going?

Mrs. Fire Family said...

I wanted to pass along a award to you that my friend gave me. I have linked you on my blog. Your writing is so honest and pure. Hope you are getting settled and enjoying your new job. I am a Oregon mom as well who moved to the East Coast and returned to Oregon. Wishing you the best as you start a new chapter in your life.

http://insidethewilliamsjmov.blogspot.com/2009/07/honest-scrap-award.html

Miss Tish said...

I hope you find your muse soon... Blogs start one way but as life changes and our focus changes - the blog may need to change too. I had a blog that started at a very sad time in my life. I vented my sadness, anger, and confusion. But as time goes by and I heal...I feel like I don't want to go back to that time, I want to blog about how I have grown, how I handle situations so differently than I used to and how I am becoming OK. I feel like I didn't waste those old experiences, I'm using them to grow. Just random thoughts....

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