I have a recurrent dream in which I am sitting an exam for which I haven’t revised. It’s not an uncommon dream, I know, but mine has the added fun of featuring an exam on engineering. Not only have I never revised engineering, I have never studied it. In fact, I am so far removed from every being likely to pass an exam in engineering, despite being married to someone who has done just that lots of times, that, dear reader, I once tried to pre-heat a metal baking tray in the microwave. Try that on a rainy day to liven up the children.
Why am I telling you about my dreams, my marital status and my culinary disasters? Well, mainly, because every time I have come to write here recently, I have had a strong sense of being in the wrong place. I have felt, frankly, like a bit of a fraud.
It’s almost six months since I went back to work, and it has changed me. Not in the sense of having less time to blog, or less interest, but more in a sense that I have lost my voice. Once upon a time I was anonymous here and on Twitter, with no responsibilities beyond my family. Over time, I have “come out”, so that (to my never knowingly underthought mind), it is now a doodle for anyone so inclined to link the professional me with the person whinging on here. My preoccupations of the last few months have continued to revolve around the conundrum of reconciling family and work lives, but with the complication that whatever I write feels like it will be taken as a personal reflection, a comment on my own situation or colleagues or employer, even when it isn’t.
There is more, though. I still want to write about motherhood, but it becomes harder as my children become older. There is a universality in the shits ‘n’ giggles of the baby and toddler stages that doesn’t apply as they grow up. I can’t disengage my own feelings and experiences of the problems and joys of developing friendships, school journeys and puberty from the knowledge that these are secondary to the fact that my children are actually living them, and – again because Real Life people read this – it seems an invasion of their privacy to write in any detail about the challenges involved all round.
And finally, there is just a feeling of it all having been said. There is so much excellent writing around, that adding to it with half-baked pontifications of my own feels like a waste of everyone’s time. I never felt as though I was writing for anyone else other than myself; even I am bored of it now and would rather spend my time reading what might actually do me good.
I had an amazing experience in November, courtesy of Mumsnet Bloggers Network; sitting on a stage with real, proper writers. I think that gave and continues to give me an acute case of Imposter Syndrome, if I’m honest; inhibiting me from wittering on here in the acute consciousness of inferiority. I waxed lyrical there about the importance of making time to write, or indulge whatever form of creativity took ones fancy, especially as a mother, and then came home and did precisely nothing about it. Underneath it all, though, is a realisation that it’s not the writing itself I’ve had enough of, but just perhaps, this blog. And that it’s fine.
I saw a headline yesterday that made me smile, although the subject was anything but funny. It talked about a flood-affected bridge being closed “for the unforeseeable future”. I think that’s probably the best line to finish on. For now.