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Mommy wonders what magic her future life as a mother of two will bring. Photo by Colin A. Danville

The Future Of ‘Wednesday’s Bloom’

When the munchkin was 8 weeks old I started out on a path called Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy. Every week on Wednesday, for 73 consecutive weeks, nearly a year and a half, I wrote about whatever lesson, question, confusion, humor, sadness, truth, or epiphany had surfaced in my mothering work that week. Last Wednesday the munchkin turned 81 weeks and, for the first time since I began this journey, I did not post to the series. I knew I needed to write something though, for myself and for the people who tune into my work, about what had shifted for me, and how this transformation had impacted the process I had come to know as Wednesday’s Bloom.

At the beginning of Wednesday’s Bloom, I did not have a destination in mind. I just started walking through my words and a ritual was born. This weekly practice became a space to clear my head and unravel the intricate parts of this labor I felt had extended far beyond the minutes of my son’s actual birth. I realized that the weekly writing goal was also a way for me to experiment with different narrative forms and storytelling techniques. Each week I challenged myself to be authentic about what was really going on in my life. On most occasions I was able to be thoroughly raw in my words. But there were times when I could not, would not be so revealing. Always I was thinking about my family, and the complicated and delicate line of being so public and also so private.

I posted each Wednesday’s Bloom on my blog, an intentionally public space, so that others could participate in this walk that was going nowhere in particular. Wednesday’s Bloom has since attracted followers from all over the globe. I always wonder about the eyes on the other side of the screen reading these words, some of them very intimate and exploring very vulnerable realities of what it is to be me. Many people who read my stories have never told me they do. I have no idea what they think, what interpretations or assumptions they make about me or my life. I imagine that my writing sparks an opportunity for personal reflection for the reader, whoever they are. And that maybe this reflection leads to a critical conversation with a loved one, a partner, a child, a parent, a friend, a stranger. I just always hope for the best in my words. I pray their reach is longer and wider than I’ll ever be able to know.

There are a handful of folks who regularly comment, or send personal messages, or share my posts on their own pages. I am infinitely grateful for this visible community of support. There have been many times when writing was a struggle, and it took all I had just to get that Wednesday’s Bloom entry published before the midnight hour (my personal deadline for the ritual). Then when I would see someone’s response to what I wrote—something that almost didn’t even make it out of my head and into the world—it would confirm my feelings that my words really did have value beyond just healing myself. I felt more and more that I had a responsibility, a calling to be honest about the nuances of being a mother who is very deliberate in her practice. The deeper I grew into the ritual, the greater my awareness became of the imperative to tell my story, and to also help others tell theirs.

Wednesday’s Bloom gave birth to many things. I developed the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop to create more space for moms and women in my community active in their mothering work who wanted to explore their writing practice and the creative process as a whole. I kept getting asked, “how are you making time to write?” and I didn’t have a simple answer. So I did what I always do when I’m not quite sure myself. I invented an environment to ask that very fundamental question in a way where others could join me in the investigation of what it means to be writers, to be creators in relation to our mothering selves. What emerged was an understanding that in order to “make time” for writing, we had to first demystify the very notion of what the writing process was. And this led to broader ponderings about the nature of creativity, and the lack of open dialogue about the many ways that mothering work intersects with our impetus to create. The Workshop became a way to make that inquiry visible outside of my own thoughts, to put the journey of wonder into everyone’s lap and say, “do you really know where these forces come together in your life?”

With each progression of the Workshop, I began to identify specific language around what I was doing, who I wanted to serve with the Workshop, and why I felt it was so vital to engage in this work. I often used Wednesday’s Bloom to untangle the knots along the way and to process the inevitable stumbles that occur when venturing into new territory as an artist. Right now it feels as if the Workshop is evolving and standing still at the same time. At the start of the year I took a leap of faith and branched out in a new direction with the Workshop. My intention was to create a more deliberate process for the participants, and to engage in the early stages of what will eventually become a full curriculum and course. Some of this has been successful. Other aspects of this have been disappointing and ineffective. Still, the learning has been hard and well worth its growing pains. At times when I have felt stuck or overwhelmed with the work of holding space for others and their creative practices, I remember how it all began. I remember the definite, urgent pull to produce that inaugural Wednesday’s Bloom post, and all the ripples of good that have come from being such a good listener to the persistent voice in my head. The one that speaks of being courageous, even when I am not finished with believing in my fears.

The written word takes up space in a way that other art forms do not. The writing has its own pulse, and can live on long after the moment of its creation. This is why Wednesday’s Bloom, and my writing practice overall, is rooted in the application of words being a source of sustainable visibility for all the unseen spaces of mothering work in our world. Generations of mothers, of women have been silent about what it is we do, and about the consequences of being denied the right to do what we do. Writing then gives us a way to reclaim lost ground, to put forth new narratives about who we are, to author our own stories and become the conduits of our own healing, peace, and liberation. Writing also allows us to practice trusting our feelings, and in turn to practice how we will articulate those feelings when it’s time to say them aloud. Writing grants us the room to uncover the meanings of choices we have made, and the space to explore what it will really take to act on our dreams.

I believe that it is the weight of all we are afraid to say that impedes our ability to experience genuine happiness and fulfillment in our lives. If by one word, one sentence, one blog post we might alleviate some of that burden, and in turn remind another human being that they have the power to do the same, then we have made an invaluable contribution to humanity. I always tell people that writing doesn’t mean that it has to be seen by others (even though I do feel that it is in sharing our writing with others that we access the most opportunities for positive transformation for ourselves and the planet). Blogging, for instance, is not the path for everybody. But at the very least, for our own wellness, we should be able to write in a journal or somewhere only for our eyes, and be totally honest about who we are and what it is we are doing with this life. If ever we find this difficult, we should look deeply into our hearts and ask what is so intimidating or scary about acknowledging our truths within the written word. What can the mirror show me that I don’t already know?

So, what happened to Wednesday’s Bloom? Last week when it was Wednesday I was actually working on another article, a very long essay about my experiences breastfeeding the munchkin while being pregnant with my second child. I worked on it for five days straight, several hours a day, and when it got to Wednesday I was in the final stages of making revisions and proofreading. Still this took me the bulk of the day to complete, and when finally I sent it to the editors of the newsletter to review before publication, I realized that I had maxed out my “writing time” for the day. The munchkin’s diaper was awfully full, the dinner we were to eat was terribly unmade, and me and my big belly could not bear to sit at the computer another second.

For a fleeting moment I thought, “Oh no, I still have to do Wednesday’s Bloom.” And then just as quickly another message came and said, “No you don’t. You’ve done your writing ritual for the day.” I almost didn’t pay that second voice any mind. I mean, come on. I have people out there waiting on Wednesday’s Bloom! What will the world think has happened to mommy and the munchkin? But even those worries seemed so superficial. There was a stronger current flowing within me that I had never felt before. And then another thought appeared that was oddly exhilarating and uncomfortable: “But why am I writing Wednesday’s Bloom?”

Until that moment, I had never felt a need to question the purpose of my ritual. In the beginning I was very grounded in the reasons behind my writing practice. I needed Wednesday’s Bloom to keep me anchored to my creative self. In those early days of postpartum, I felt sure I was going to get lost in the ceaseless work of caring for a newborn. I was desperate for something to produce on a regular basis, something that would make me feel like I was an artist and a mommy. Writing was the most accessible medium, and I knew, if nothing else, that on Wednesdays for a few hours—and sometimes even less than an hour—I would write a story, click “publish,” and share it with the world.

Some weeks Wednesday’s Bloom was as deep as I got into my creative practice. I grew to depend on it. I realized I had no end goal; I was just going to at least keep writing on Wednesdays. I figured I would always be a “new mommy” no matter how old my baby was. Everyday I would always be learning something new in the work of being a mother.

Slowly, the seeds I was planting with Wednesday’s Bloom started to grow and I was naturally having to go into my writing and creativity spaces more. Generating materials and personalized content for members of the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop, organizing Birth Stories (a special program of the Workshop) and creating essays and participant activity guides, contributing articles for the breastfeeding newsletter I began working on, experimenting with new dance vocabulary and storytelling techniques for Booty Folklore, developing new poetry for an upcoming performance, writing essays and designing programming for the Creative Wellness Lab, and most recently, capturing the intensity of a host of characters all talking over each other in my head and eager to have their stories shaped into a play. Oh, and being a supermommy for the munchkin and the new baby growing inside of me! When I paused to assess the fullness of my writing and creativity practice, I had to admit that it had grown. That indeed I had watered my garden well and was no longer a frantic and sleep-deprived infant-mommy who was worried that her artistry would fade away. The ritual of Wednesday’s Bloom, it seemed, had worked after all.

But now what?

That was the looming question last week when I thought it was time to put something together for “Wednesdays Bloom at 81 weeks: _______________.” I didn’t know what to say. Aside from being worn out physically from keeping up with the munchkin in all my third trimester glory, and drained emotionally from the intensity of writing the article, one of the most intimate stories I’ve ever told about my journey as a mother, I really felt there was nothing I needed to bring to the altar that had become Wednesday’s Bloom for the past 73 weeks. This was startling; this was unnerving. I panicked for a moment. What if the absence of a weekly ritual meant a regression in my writing practice? And then there was that knowing voice again, “There’s nothing gonna take you out of your process.”

The munchkin slammed my laptop with his giddy fingers one more time and then the meditation of who I would become without that week’s Wednesday’s Bloom posting was over. It was decided, perhaps intuitively, perhaps logistically, that mommy wasn’t going to be writing any more for the day. More importantly, I was not freaking out about failing myself or letting my audience down. I felt really calm and deeply satisfied with all I had accomplished. The more I thought about it, the happier I got. This was not an ending. It was more so a graduation. I had outgrown the initial parameters of why Wednesday’s Bloom existed. Now I needed to take some breathing room from the ritual. I needed to make space for the next transitions to bloom—the birth of the new baby for one!— and then I would come to discover what the next phase of my ritual would be.

Right now I am going to group this first iteration—Wednesday’s Bloom at 8 weeks through Wednesday’s Bloom at 80 weeks— as Volume 1. The entity of Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy will evolve with every volume, each one documenting a different season of my mothering practice and how it interacts with my other major experiments, especially those of being woman and being artist. I am leaving flexibility for the rhythm and frequency of production for whatever these future Wednesday’s Bloom volumes will look like. Some volumes may be weekly, some monthly, some daily, some quarterly. It will of course depend on all the other work I’m doing and honoring what truly feels authentic in that moment. Also, I don’t know if each volume will always be in essay form. I sense that some volumes might be a podcast series, or a documentary film series, or a radio show series. I’m going to be open and listen for what’s resonating and what will serve my community. The most important thing to me is that I continue to nurture this transparent storytelling process and share what it means for me to be a mother, a woman, and an artist with humanity.

I think Volume 2 will begin sometime after 4th trimester is over and I’ve gotten the next session of the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop on its feet. By then I will have had a little time to feel what it’s like to be a mommy of two and an artist. I will have uncovered what more the ritual will need from me to feed my creative self. The knots I’m exploring in the meantime are about how I practice being more open in my storytelling. For instance, there are whole parts of my journey I have omitted from this blog space because I wrestled with feeling like it’s “too much,” like what will my family think if I open that up. But deep down I know that even those stories must get told too. In my mind I’ve been saving them for “the book,” the book I’ve been writing in my head for years now. When I got absorbed in the process of writing that article for the newsletter last week, it dawned on me that that was the way I really wanted to be working now. I wanted to be spending long stretches of time, hours, days, weeks even, on one piece. Writing, revising, culling for the truth. Digging through the abundant and fertile rubble of memory and emotion for words wide enough to carry the whole load of all I needed to say. I realized that this was the feeling I had been reaching for way back when the munchkin was a newborn and I birthed Wednesday’s Bloom. That deliciously satiating buzz that comes from pouring your all into a creative work. Part exhaustion, part excitement, but mostly freedom.

In that moment I understood that in the five days I devoted to crafting that article, I truly had stepped into a new dimension of myself as artist and mommy. I didn’t need to post an arbitrary Wednesday’s Bloom to prove that I was really committed to my practice. On many weeks before then I had needed it though, and it fed me very well. I am grateful that I stayed with the ritual long enough to realize that it was so much more abundant than just the few words I was able to string together every Wednesday.

The future is still ripe with unknowns. Of course all of this might change once I give birth, or some other vision might illuminate itself to me about what Wednesday’s Bloom should be. Whatever it is, I know this much: I am rooted to the life of my words. I will keep writing. The stories. Always the stories. Oh how they insist on being told.

~~~

Learn more about the Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy multi-media documentary project. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.

Birth Stories 2.0 is coming up soon! Learn more about this creative storytelling intensive for mothers and mothers-to-be!

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