I feel such a sense of loss when I think of the great, unwritten poems that took a backseat to polished floors – Brigid Schulte
There’s an essay doing the rounds, it’s called A Woman’s Greatest Enemy? A Lack Of Time For Herself and it’s by Brigid Schulte. It took me days to find the time to read the whole thing properly, obviously. Yes. It’s easy to find the joke, the laugh-at-me, look-at-me woman who’s writing about being too busy to find time to write. Only it’s not funny. Not at all.
I had even prepared some vaguely amusing stuff – a breakdown of the where my precious time is going including:
- Failing to sleep due to hot flush
- Failing to sleep due to chills
- Failing to find mouse
- Googling exact age Frances Milton Trollope began writing to support her family (53)
- List writing
- Failing to cross items off list
- New list writing
- Searching Messenger, Email, Whatsapp and text to find the conversation you could swear you were having with your friend
- List highlighting and underlining with various coloured pens
- Searching house for lost item
- Searching house for source of smell
- Searching house for inspiration
- Having that same conversation again
- Failing to find inspiration
- Researching the purchase and modification of shipping containers to create Room Of One’s Own
- Going back upstairs for that thing
- Working full time (on average 10% longer than contracted hours)
- Researching imposter syndrome
But then I did find the time. I sat down to read the article – the whole thing – and it made me cry.
There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you – Maya Angelou
She was right in so many things. Stuck stories hurt. I can feel mine congealing and clogging with the standard-issue women’s guilt and frustration. You know… the stuff that says you’re not worthy if you don’t look a certain way, don’t love properly, don’t parent a certain way (or, even, parent at all).
Dear Lord, all this fuss and wailing for what? For creating something that might not even be any good. Yeah, probably, almost certainly, average, derivative, not worth it and, frankly, a bit rubbish. Blood, sweat, tears and unwashed floors to deprive my family of home-cooked, wholesome attention. Yes, and, meanwhile, I know there’s much to be grateful for, #firstworldproblem, there are starving children elsewhere. HOW CAN I BE SO SELFISH?
I wonder if we also feel we don’t deserve to tell our untold stories, that they may not be as worth listening to – Brigid Schulte
But, listen, this is me – my one life (that’s passing at a frankly terrifying speed) – my one not-a-rehearsal shot. When it comes down to it, stories might be all I’ve got. They may be the best thing – the only thing – I can offer this marvelously imperfect world. My contribution.
When I die, will anyone care that I didn’t finish that report on time; that the house was dirty; that I was dutiful; that I conserved my energy; that I tried really hard not to upset anyone; that I made a beautiful list but failed to cross anything off? That I was doing my best but it wasn’t enough? Will any of it matter even a jot? No, it won’t.
I’m not planning to go anywhere near my own coffin for a very long time, but I know that (even if I wasn’t already annoyed about being dead) I’d be really really upset if I had a casketful of untold stories to keep me company in the afterlife. They’re no bloody good there.