On Monday, November 24, 2008, I wrote a blog post, commemorating the fact that it was my last night as a mother pregnant with one daughter with one on the cusp of turning four years old.
I didn’t write again for over two and a half years. And it was one of the gravest mistakes of my life.
I can give you what I thought were reasons, but really were just excuses: I was tired. I had two kids. I was suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. My father had a horrible fall that resulted in a several months hospital and subsequent rehabilitation stay.
To quote my favorite editor, “BULLSHIT”.
You see, what really was going on was more than just me letting go of my writing, which is one of the greatest passions in my life. I write, because I quite simply cannot stop. Writing is essential to my soul, as essential to me as the air that I breathe, the water I drink, the food I eat, and my children who I carried within me for nine months and love with every fiber of my being. What really happened in those 30 months of no-writing or so, was simple: I forgot who I was at my core, and let go of it.
“You have a gift; do not waste it. Write every day even if its only the words, ‘I have nothing to write,'” Those parting words, the greatest advice I’ve ever been given, were said to me on the last day of ninth grade English class. And I followed that advice faithfully until the birth of my second daughter.
I think that the real reason I quit writing was shame. You see, I was ashamed of the fact that I fell so easily into the trap that so many women do when they become mothers, whether for the first time, the second, or the fifth. While motherhood will always and forever be the very most important job I’ll ever hold, and its a job title I take very seriously and am grateful for, I forgot a very simple fact: I existed before motherhood.
Before motherhood, I wore snakeskin pants and biker boots. I could drink everyone under the table and still walk a strait line. I went out dancing with friends. I’d stay up all night, writing poetry, some good, some bad, some phenomenal. I’d have all-night, fall-off-the-bed sex. I laughed loudly and often. I didn’t just sing along with the radio, I screamed the lyrics as loudly as I could. I almost finished writing a novel about my search for my biological mother. I had my nose, tongue and naval pierced. I had six tattoos (those, I am very happy to report, are still with me). I’d watch dawn break through the clouds at Denny’s. I worked my ass off at jobs, not because they paid well, but because I was blessed with a boss that was wonderful. I’d meet random strangers at bars, and we’d close the bar down, telling one another our stories, and then find an all night coffee bar to continue on with the intellectual intercourse. I’d go car surfing.
But when motherhood came, in all its miraculous glory, I traded who I was for the identity of “Mommy”. Loving your children passionately, loving your children more than yourself, loving your children enough to lay your life down for them: That’s the job description. But forgetting that you are still you is not. It’s a betrayal of yourself.
For those 30 months I did not write, I put everyone ahead of myself, sometimes at the risk of my own health, both physically and spiritually. I did all the laundry, I did all the dishes, I made sure dinner was on the the table every evening. I stopped seeing friends, stopped writing, stopped seeing myself as anything other than “Mommy”. Everything I did revolved around my life as a mother.
I lost myself.
A little over a year ago, I began talking with authors on Twitter. And a shift happened. I began writing again. And then I began talking with even more authors on Twitter. When I timidly mentioned I had an idea for a book, I received the same response: “Quit talking, start writing.” And so I did. Occasionally, I’d work on my book, but mainly, I began writing more frequently in my blog, and asking other authors to look at what I had written and give me their opinion.
In October 2011, I asked my friend Barry Crowther if he would mind looking at some of my poetry to give me his opinion. His opinion? Send him more of my poetry, and let him help me get off my ass and publish it. He also gave me the chance to guest post on his blog, not once, but twice.
In early January of this year, Barry Crowther emailed me and told me I was ready to go. I spent several hours, my hand hover my mouse over the publish button before I finally gained the courage.
And people bought the book.
Which led me to write to an author and tell him how very much his book had helped me through a particularly rough spot in my personal life, simply by being a much needed distraction. And the courage I gained from people buying my book, reading it, and reviewing it positively led me to ask this writer for his opinion on my work. Which he gave honestly. He’s now one of my closest friends, editors, and one of the biggest boots in my ass when I’m spouting off excuses instead of writing.
I’ve published four books since “Color of Dawn” came out in January, and a total of four erotica singles. I’ve started a podcast that is the highlight of my week, every single week I do it, and I love every moment of it (except the “Days of the Week”… Someone PLEASE, I’m begging you, say that you hate them!) I’ve met new friends, and been given opportunities to be interviewed on other podcasts, guest blog, and collaborate on projects.
And I have found myself again. At age thirty-five, I’ve found myself, and most importantly, I have found my voice.
I am Amber Jerome~Norrgard. While I may no longer drink people under the table, I go out with friends occasionally and have a few drinks. I’m the person you see in the car next to you dancing and singing along to the radio. My laugh has inspired a drinking game with the listeners of my podcast. I write furiously, daily, like an addict. I love my children passionately, and spend time with them, but I also take time that is solely for me, that has nothing to do with me as a mother. I have a group of friends who own pieces of my heart, and while they are spread out all over the world, I wouldn’t change the fact that they are in my life as fully as they are. I write erotica, and it makes me uncomfortable, and I publish it still, because I believe that its necessary to my art to push myself as far as I can. I stay up all night writing or editing my work, or assembling my work into books to be published.
I am a mother, wife, lover, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, sister in law, the “queen of the obscene”, a poet, an author.
I am all those things. But most importantly, I am me, and I am finally home.
Amber, I love reading your stuff and thanks for paying it forward… To me! 🙂 I would have never started my blog with out your input and boot to my ass! Thanks and I’m so happy to have met you and to know you!!
See comment below for the person who kicks my ass on a regular basis, not only to cut out my stupid bullshit, but to be a better writer. But I am very touched that you consider me to be someone who has paid it forward to you John. Very much looking forward to where you’re going to end up, my friend!
Thank you indeed for paying it forward. You’ve inspired Mr Yeger (above), and that’s what it’s all about. Whomever he inspires will be so moved due in no small part to you.
I learned from someone who does an excellent job of paying it forward and helping when he can…. Thank you for being such an excellent (much needed, I might add!) boot to the ass and mentor, my friend!
I stopped writing when I fell pregnant with my first child. It wasn’t planned, but I had such an horrific pregnancy, and I was at the stage of getting feedback from my crit group on my novel. I never had depression, but I was at risk, and my mood was pretty ugly anyway – the idea of wading through feedback and seeing my novel torn to shreds was too much.
When my daughter was born, I didn’t have time. I found the first 2 months at home hectic, and the second of those I worked 20 hours a week from home. Then I went back to work and hubby stayed home for 5 months. I’d get home, make sure I spent some time with my daughter before she went to bed, and then it was dinner and household chores. What time I had left I felt too exhausted to write.
I also had no time for my horse. I realised I had to make a decision – riding or writing – and whichever I chose to give a go, I had to give a real go. So I sold my horse and bought a netbook (really small laptop) so I could write on the train. That gives me about 2 hours writing time a day. And it’s amazing the difference it’s made to my life. I arrive at work smiling. I joined facebook, and Twitter, and G+, and now I have two blogs. Writing really is a part of me.
But we’re not the only ones to forget who we are when we have children. Women, especially mothers, I think, are pre-programmed (culturally? genetically?) to put everyone else first. And it’s hard to remember who you are with a critical time shortage.
Ciara, thank you so much for sharing! It’s nice knowing I’m not the only one who does what it takes, whether writing on the train or locking the bedroom door and using ear plugs, to get much needed writing in!
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