I’m struggling to write here lately. I’m not sure what to say. It all feels jumbled: unfinished ideas, stray thoughts that don’t fit, non-sequitur topics. I start posts but can’t finish them. I return to posts only to abandon them yet again. I’m not sure what my purpose here is anymore.
As life took me farther and farther from my original blogging purpose, and the community I held so dear slowly faded into the ether, I found myself writing for different reasons. I also found myself reading profoundly different blogs. Now I would say that more than half of what pops up in my reader is not from personal blogs — the vast majority of the people I once followed have stopped writing — and is instead from spaces that focus on a certain idea, promote an ideology, or espouse a way of life. I like these blogs well enough, but I am beginning to register the shift in the balance between those kinds of posts and the ones about life in general, has left me feeling like my own space lacks a… I don’t know… coherent narrative? A specific message?
I know I don’t actually need those things. That is not why I started blogging and was never my reason to continue writing. If anything I wanted to be a dissent voice in the presentation of parenting and marriage as perfect. I wanted to speak truths society mostly kept silent. I wanted to speak my truth.
But it’s harder now. My kids are getting bigger and I find much of my own path through motherhood so intricately entangled in their own journeys that I’m not sure how to tease out my thoughts in a meaningful way. My marriage is decent right now. My work woes, as a teacher, seem nontransferable to women in other professions. I’m increasingly embarrassed to publish posts that seem little more than an admittance of of my white, upper-middle class, cisgender privilege. Can I really add anything of value?
There is no life philosophy I have been able to embrace wholeheartedly. My life feels like a smorgasbord of attitudes and outlooks. More than ever I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.
The other day I was talking with some friends about the entrenched, systematic faults of San Francisco’s public school system (and the serious failings of California’s public education in general), and the problems with Prop 13 came up (as they are wont to do) and suddenly we were talking about how when you do work on your house they will reassess your property’s value, and back-date that appraisal to the day your permits are issued.
Suddenly, instead of pondering the very real failings of my child’s school system, I was thrust back into an inner-monologue I’ve endured a thousand times. That means that if we incorporate our in-law unit as a master bedroom, not only will we lose our rent, and spend insane money doing the renovation, we’ll also end up paying thousands of dollars more a year in property taxes.
This again?! You are probably wondering, annoyed and exasperated that a topic I’ve assured myself, and all of you, was no longer under consideration is rearing its ugly, obsessive head once again.
I feel you, my friends. I really do. Because I feel exactly the same way.
And as I was reconsidering (for the millionth time) whether or not incorporating our inlaw unit should be a goal, I found that my primary frustration was not the uncertainty of the situation, but my lack of a foundational philosophy on which to manage the uncertainty. If only I were committed to an overarching mindset, I would know what to do!
Except I am not committed, to anything, it seems, at least not for very long. My views are as constantly conflicting as the divergent messages I get from the blogs I subscribe to, the articles I read (and the commercials embedded in them), the personal stories people relate and the vague remnants of “how things are” lingering from my childhood.
Here is a sampling of what goes through my mind every time I consider incorporating our in-law unit:
A master bedroom! A SECOND BATHROOM! We NEED a second bathroom, even if we’re okay sleeping in the living room for the rest of our lives.
But people all over the world survive without ANY bathrooms. And families all over this city share smaller bathrooms with more people!
But everyone I know has a bigger house than I do! And two bathrooms! (Or at least once and half!) I’m not asking for too much if I want those things too!
But TINY HOUSES! People are happy in 400 square feet!
It shouldn’t matter what anyone else does or doesn’t do, this is a decision for you.
We’ll never save enough money to pay for inside stairs anyway. STOP THIS MADNESS.
But we could take out a loan against our house. Everyone does that to remodel.
But THAT IS A BAD PLAN! At least that is what all the financially savvy people say.
But you are NOT financially savvy, so you can follow the herd and go into more debt. You’ll never pay off your house anyway, you might as well enjoy it more while you’re making insane mortgage payments.
But, also, if you live in that space you can’t rent it. That’s $15K a year you’re willing to just give up?
But we only have one more year of child care, that costs more than $15K a year! The math works perfectly!
But savings! And retirement! And college funds! And traveling with the kids! And job flexibility!
OTHER PEOPLE HAVE SPACE LIKE THAT, WHY CAN’T I?!
Don’t buy into the message that you need more, just because most other people you know have more. You don’t need more. You are happy now. You don’t need that space, or the bathroom.
Well, maybe you need the bathroom. Maybe adding a half bath is the answer… I wonder how much that would cost.
OHMYGOD THIS ISN’T EVEN ON THE TABLE RIGHT NOW STOP WITH THE INCESSANT MINDFUCKERY YOU CRAZY BITCH!
(Lather + Rinse + Repeat) x Infinity = I AM GOING TO LOSE MY EVER LOVING MIND!
When I untangle my frustrations, I recognize that the final result with all these different mindsets at my disposal, is I have more choice. My exposure to different narratives informs me with different ways to approach a problem. I consider myself lucky to have access to these different perspectives. But it’s also hard when I don’t have my feet firmly planted in any one of them. Even if I did want to commit to a certain course of action, there are tons of possible scenarios and I could never know what might ultimately transpire. I know this. And yet, it seems like I’d be better able to manage that uncertainty if I knew if fell within the confines of a committed belief system. Without a guiding principal to direct me, I feel completely and utterly lost.
And, obviously (I hope!), it’s not really about the in-law unit. I feel like I’m missing that guiding principal in so many areas of my life. Sometimes I wish, more than anything, that I prescribed to a certain worldview so strongly that it easily influenced every big decision I make. It would be so much easier to navigate through life, if I knew, not necessarily where I’m going, but which belief system to follow so that I might get there.