It’s Sunday morning, three days before I begin an online creative nonfiction workshop for mothers. Normally I write fiction, which includes kernels of real-life, but it’s veiled in make-believe, and it takes on a life of its own. It’s not my life. But this will be different. I am nervous. I’m not sure what I’ll write about. For inspiration, I plan to relax with a cup of tea and read essays on motherhood. But of course my real world interrupts.
I need to help my 6th grade daughter with a project where she has to record a "commercial" of herself recommending a book she read. She is terrified of public speaking, even a pre-recorded version. My husband and I are up for the task, me a copywriter by trade and him a creative director who’s produced actual commercials. But her fear is real, and our professional experience notwithstanding, frustration mounts and we reach an impasse, then go our separate ways while she re-works her script.
I tell my son to practice drums for his high school musical pit orchestra tryouts tomorrow. I’ve barely heard him play lately and he says it’s because he’s been practicing the rhythms, but not actually hitting the drums to make sound. I remind myself that things often come easily to him, and so I hold back the sounds I want to make—heavy sighs, words about preparedness.
My husband builds a shelf in the garage while I clean out the refrigerator because I’m no longer in a mindset to relax, or read, or certainly not to write. It’s been a while since we’ve cleaned out the fridge, and when I find a jar of maraschino cherries dated 2016, I question what else I will find. I dig deeper, behind jars of pickles, relish, apple butter, and think again about writing creative nonfiction on motherhood. What will I find when I start dipping into that rich well? Why is it scarier to think about writing what I know versus what I invent? Am I afraid of what I’ll find? What others will see?
The sound of my son tap-tapping away on the drums seeps up from the basement. I shut the refrigerator door and admire my daughter’s owl picture pinned there that won Best of Show in 5th grade. She sits at the table writing her script, humming.
I suddenly have an idea for an essay, so I grab the grocery list that’s stuck to the fridge with a magnet. Right under lettuce, I jot notes so I won’t forget. Despite my trepidation about the class, I’m also…excited. I’m anxious to write about these people that I cannot imagine my life without. Of course there’s also fear mixed with the excitement. But I have experience dealing with conflicting emotions, I remind myself. After all, I’m a mother.