Frivolity, or necessary self-expression?

This morning I woke up wanting to write. POETRY, of all things.

This morning I woke up NEEDING to homeschool and parent four children, three of whom have colds (as do I).

The contrast between those two things felt enormous, even insurmountable.

A few days ago I received a birthday gift in the mail: a poem I wrote in March, printed on glass and framed, with a note from my best friend that reads: “Happy birthday, Kristin!!! I wanted you to have a visual reminder of how gifted you are with words.” Best part: she ordered it BEFORE I published that whole Am I a writer? post. Talk about being thoughtful!

The Gift

So, when I woke up feeling ridiculous for wanting to write poetry in the face of all of my daily responsibilities, I remembered this gift. More than reminding me that I am gifted with words (which I’m not yet convinced of), it reminded me that I have people who believe in me, who support me in this new writing endeavor – that the endeavor itself is worthy. I’ve been trying to be more expressive, so I tried to explain to her what the gift means to me, and referred to writing poetry as impractical. What I actually said was: “poetry, of all the random impractical things.”

Of all the random, impractical things.

She shut that down right away, with these beautiful words:

“Poetry is not impractical. Self expression is freeing and comforting and good.”

It’s a total paradigm shift. What I saw as frivolous, she framed as freeing, comforting, and good. Which, really, means it’s necessary. Now, I’m not saying poetry itself is necessary – but just like all forms of art, it is a vehicle for self-expression and that is necessary. Often supremely uncomfortable, but necessary. It reminded me of the few times I’ve done art therapy – the process of putting my feelings into the art allowed me to explore and understand those feelings in a tangible way, and was definitely more important than the finished product. Could I look at poetry the same way? Some Twitter friends had similar things to say – embrace the desire to write, write without worrying about whether it’s good or not, give myself the space. I’ve just never before sought to understand and express myself through writing poems. Just like with a paintbrush, I feel awkward, uncomfortable, like an amateur. But sometimes amateurs are quite good actually, and even if what I write now is garbage I’ll undoubtedly get better the more I do it. I’ll get more comfortable with the process, and inevitable be happier with the product.

So is writing poems the newest addition to my self-care repertoire? Is it frivolous to write poetry while my husband plays Risk with the kids downstairs, or is it a necessary form of self-exploration and self-expression that will enable me to be more in tune with myself and therefore a healthier, happier person, wife, and mother? I think it might be the latter, though the idea might take some getting used to.

Revisiting that poetic genius…

My coauthor tells me I shared an incorrect version of our poem, so I’m here to set the record straight. The shining example of my poetic genius was actually written as follows:

Bub the Baby

If you ever meet a baby

who cries really loud

then, just maybe,

you’ll be allowed

to pick him up high,

right up to the sky,

then drop him in the tub

and name him Bub.

I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the accolades I am about to receive.

PS – I am adding this because it came up with a reader: I wrote this poem when I was ten or eleven, NOT in any way postpartum. I am not exploring taboo subjects, and no actual babies were dropped. Eek.