In Which I Strive for Humor and Come Up With Angst, Sorrow, and Confusion


“You Are My Got No Clue”

I am your parent; you are my child.
I am your here and there; you are my “filed.”

I am your “Trying to be happy”; you are my “I’m blue.”
I am your “I’m so smart”; you are my “got no clue.”

I am your fingers typing; you are my blank screen.
I am your notebooks filled full; you are my slate wiped clean.

I am your author; you are my undoing;
I am patching you together; you are

after Maryann Cusimano’s wonderful children’s book (my current favorite for before-nap story sessions with Evan) You Are My I Love You, with apologies to the author for dragging her lovely, lovely story through the mud of my conflict over dissertating


So the Hump Day Hmm prompt was to write about something that’s been weighing on me, and to do it with humor. I’m not sure I accomplished humor here so much as parody, although what I parodied (Cusimano’s book) wasn’t even what was bugging me.

Honestly, I just don’t have it in me to write the post that should accompany this little parody. I don’t have the distance from this situation that I need to think hard about it, to be critical of myself, to interrogate my feelings about the process. All I know is I am uninterested and completely lacking ideas. I feel like I have written the one chapter I knew how to write and now I don’t know where to go.

I also know that of course I can finish if I want to, it’s the wanting that’s, well, wanting.

But I’m not ready to explore that.

I’m still holding out hope that just working and working on it will get me through. Except that at this point in my life, working and working doesn’t mean spending hours each day. It barely means hours each week. The work I do each day (ha! each day! that’s a complete lie!) is pure reflex. I have been reading and taking notes for so much of my academic career that I don’t even need to think about it. And my academic career has, arguably, spanned a full 6/7 of my entire life to date. Reading and taking notes is easy work. Thinking, theorizing, that’s the stuff that I used to love but which now has me wanting to change the cat litter, clean out the fridge.

It seems so unimportant.

So distant from me and where I am.

And yet there’s something in me that’s not ready to give it up. I have so much time invested in it. So many years. So many hours. So many things behind me that I’ve quit (but that’s another post for another day).

Do I really want to have to tell Evan that I was working on my Ph.D. until I had him? That seems sad on a level I don’t even know how to grasp. I have no metaphors for how sad that seems to me right now. No way of understanding what that would feel like to say to him when he is older.


Oh dear. See? I can’t write this post. No perspective. No insight. No way of understanding how I feel about all of this.

So do me a favor: go to the top of the page, reread the poem, and then leave me a comment about that. I don’t want you to waste your comment-thoughts on stuff I can’t even wrap my own head around. OK?


9 Responses to “In Which I Strive for Humor and Come Up With Angst, Sorrow, and Confusion”

  1. 1 Julie Pippert

    Your title is funny. :)

    That’s why my post is written in the third person. If I tried for first, you’d all have proof positive how demon possessed I am because I can’t even begin to be articulate about the ridiculousness that has been the last week…and that’s ignoring the real problems (which got shunted due to the ridiculous ones).

    What you’ve written here is the post that could be called “Motherhood” because yep…that’s it. How to prioritize. What’s important. Weighting values.

    There you go. Dissertate that and publish it. Instant best-seller.

    Kidding aside, it is tough. Hang in there.

    I can recall the moment in time when my world opened back up.

    Using My Words

  2. 2 Gwen

    I never have exactly understood that Cusimano book (who’s who? I ask myself when I’m reading it). Your parody of it actually helped!

  3. 3 a. pinkroom

    Sometimes I need to do something completely different to get myself back into the rhythm of writing.

    Right now the blank screen and I are battling as well. Stupid screen. (Did Virginia Woolf yell at her paper? Say, “Stupid paper!” when she was struggling.)

  4. 4 Julie

    Julie, this line

    (I can recall the moment in time when my world opened back up)

    gives me great hope. Thanks for always posting such thoughtful comments. And thanks for the reassurance in this particular case.

  5. 5 Julie

    jenny, thanks for your comment today. it’s funny because for months and months, i’ve been doing something completely different — mothering, you know — and feel guilty about not getting anything done. but i think you (and brian) are right that if it’s not coming right now, it’s not coming and that’s ok. i have to trust that it will.

  6. 6 Christina

    It’ll come. Give it time.

    I gave up my master’s program when I became pregnant with Cordy. I still talk with my old department, and they’ve told me more than once that I can finish it whenever I’m ready.

    But now I’m heading in an entirely new direction (switching careers and going to nursing school), and I’m not sure I’ll ever get back to it. And somehow, that’s OK.

    If you still feel a connection to your Ph.D. (and it sounds like you do), then you’ll be able to keep going, and the words will come back to you and onto that screen. And if the new experiences of motherhood leave you wanting a new direction, you’ll find what works best for you.

    Sorry, that rambled a bit. I sometimes still have trouble wrapping my head around everything I’m doing now.

  7. 7 Mere

    For me, your poem really captured the range of emotions I feel every day as a relatively new mom. What is important to me now? Besides Cate and Lizzie, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s much of what used to be important to me, though. Will you finish your dissertation? If you want to. What will Evan think if you do or don’t? He’ll be proud of your choices.

  8. 8 Toni

    I agree with Julie. Motherhood has a way of forcing one to re-prioritize even if you’re not sure you want to. Whether you end up like Christina whose life has taken a new direction or whether you continue on your current path, you will have made the “right” choice if you follow your own heart instead of being influenced by social expectations. (That includes the standards of SAHM’s who say you should give it all up for your children as well as the standards of career minded women who say you should let nothing stand in your way.) I’ve made a lot of good decisions over the years and a lot of poor ones too but the only ones I regret are those things I did because someone else thought I should.

  9. 9 Julie

    Thanks so much for this comment. I think this is the best advice I’ve
    gotten yet, along with my grandmother’s advice: say yes (to your kids) whenever you can so that they know you mean it when you say no. I haven’t had to implement that one yet, but yours will come in handy frequently, I bet. I mean, people always talk about deciding based on one’s own heart and or gut, or about deciding based on regret or anticipated regret, but I like that you focus here on the decision being not just head or heart but heart or society. Good point.

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