I am typing up a journal I kept when I was 26. My intention is to send the typed version to my daughter since she was the topic of so many entries.
It is slow going because my writing back then was small and upright, very tightly configured. But that is okay because the typing of the words I wrote seems almost like having a conversation with a 26-year-old stranger.
The then Jan is struggling with being a parent and being a woman in 1974 who thinks she should do important things, but she doesn’t know what those things are.
What I remembered from that time were the sharp sticks. I’d forgotten the tiny pieces of bliss.
Dick and I really had to pull on our reserves to endure those first weeks – she, of course, when she wasn’t screaming – was incredibly beautiful. I loved to nurse her, lying down, she seemed like a little shrimp curled down from my breast. The middle of the night feedings were fine – sitting in the dark – looking out that little window – dark nights with stars and snow…very peaceful.
I am reminded that I simply could not relax into being a mother because it seemed to be not enough. I felt motherhood as an interruption from some bigger, very blurry and indistinct, destiny. I was supposed to want to be somebody.
It was a hard time to be a feminist. No one had a playbook. To be a feminist was to be perplexed and torn and always, always, falling short.
But I say that almost in the interest of letting myself off the hook. The story in my journal isn’t a difficult or scary story, people cared about each other very much. Still, it didn’t end well. So, it’s sad transcribing what I wrote in my tiny vertical handwriting nearly fifty years ago. It’s not just an historical exercise, a documentation of how things were. It’s more like how the sky was blue and the weather lovely until a tornado came and leveled the village. But that’s what happened. And, apparently, I wrote about it until the wind took the pen from my hand.