Time to Invoke the Pause Clause

November 21, 2012 at 3:55 am (Uncategorized)

I hardly need explain, I’m sure, but I shall because you’re all so very dear to me: it’s been so long between posts that it’s finally come to my reluctant attention (no doubt it’s been obvious to all you sweeties for a while now) that this blog is no longer quite…well, viable.

It’s not just the blog. I find myself in a phase of life where I’m writing so little – and far more tragically reading so little – that I must take direct and concerted action now to turn it all around. And that’s precisely what I intend to do, because I am so sick of wasting what little time I do have (being the hours between 8-11pm daily) lying prone on the bed, watching 30 Rock reruns or movies I’ve already seen on Llew’s laptop.

You just start excusing your own slovenly behaviour because you’re too tired to tell yourself the hard truth. And that is: you can waste your life this way. Easily, it turns out.

Those hours could and should be reliably mine, to do with as I will once the Talking Toddler is sleeping, but if Llew – who is more content generally with screen-based entertainment than I – is watching something, then I’ve tended to just flake beside him (easily enough done when I’m so bloody knackered), believing for a time that being mindless together was preferable to retreating into evenings spent intellectually apart. I now think I have to respectfully detach myself from Llew’s means of unwinding, because fundamentally they’re not mine and (unsurprisingly) they’re doing me no favours at all.

I launched my good ship Recovery last night, reading the American journal Creative Nonfiction while Llew watched Shrek II beside me. I felt immeasurably improved, though still unsettled by the separateness of it all. At least if we’re both watching 30 Rock we think the same thing is funny at the same time – last night’s bursts of mirth were unsynchronised and private. But I don’t know what else to do – I’m starting to get really angry with myself about the squandered time. I am accountable to myself for it.

I also need to carve out some time aside from those three hours each night, starting today, so this morning I am en route to see the Sydney Darklings for the first time since before the Grand Tour. I badly need a Darkling dose, and I’m composing this post on the ferry – to be uploaded ASAP – resisting the guilt and pressure (self-imposed as well as external) by venturing out alone. If I don’t mark it out – and keep on marking it out – with an invisible measuring tape of time and space, I won’t get it, I just won’t, and Llew is so much better at doing this for himself that I must follow his lead.

What’s astonishing to me is that it is all so ongoing; it’s not as though we’ve developed any effective shorthand or any unstated agreement or any mutual understanding that means anyone ever says to me, unsolicited, “You go. No, no, off you go. Of course it’s your turn. It’s been weeks since you’ve had a moment to yourself.” If I don’t insist, if I don’t take it, take it, TAKE IT AND RUN, it never happens. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I badly underestimated the amount of negotiation motherhood demands. I never stop negotiating, most especially for the time and space to be alone, doing something, anything, for myself.

As for DoctorDi, perhaps this blog has run its course. It’s been a long project, and through it I’ve made marvellous blogging friends who have enriched my life in ways I never imagined possible when I nervously wrote the inaugural post all those years ago. I shall be better able to keep up with all your writing now I’ve resigned myself to the temporary suspension of my own, at least in the blogosphere. DoctorDi came about really to encourage the discipline of production, but it’s become far more than that to me, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for showing interest in my writing and by extension in me. There have been countless occasions on which your thoughtful words and friendship have saved me from despair.

I don’t know where or when I’m going to record the life I’m living now, a world in which the Talking Toddler amazes me each day with his bursting vocabulary, mischievous grin and lively eyes.

“Have. A. Book?” he says, scanning the shelves. “Read. A. Book?”

His little hands will close around a spine and he’ll deftly heave it and several other titles off the shelf and onto the floor. He’ll offer it up as he crosses the room to climb up on the couch, holding it aloft like a birthday cake.

“Choose. A. Book. Sit down?”

He floors us with these new tricks of actually initiating conversations and stating preferences – it’s no longer simply mimicry at work. Finishing one book the other night, he sat up and clearly said, “Ping the Duck?”

Llew and I are enchanted by these accomplishments – to us they are monumental. The ability to verbalise is a singular event in our son’s life, but it’s also just talk, that everyday speech which is so utterly commonplace and banal. Nonetheless his thrills me, and his vocabulary is multiplying at such a rate I know I’m already forgetting all sorts of firsts. But I don’t want to forget anything. I don’t want to forget one single thing. And I’d love to think I could keep writing it down here and sharing it with those of you who don’t gag reading it, but I suspect it’s a false hope, so I’m going to resist the urge to cling to it.

The future remains uncertain – we don’t know what we’re doing, but we’ll have to rent out our home, that much is clear. I’m not where I’d hoped to be at 40; moving in with my in-laws wasn’t part of the plan! But now it’s happening, well, that’s life, isn’t it? Full of surprises.

The Talking Toddler continues to delight, adding a dimension to my existence it’s not possible to explain, but his perpetual motion means I am needed elsewhere for the time being. And when I do stop, I feel I need to replenish myself with the words of others much more urgently than I need to unburden myself with my own. I think I write best when I am reading voraciously; ergo, at present I don’t feel I ought to be writing at all. I don’t feel I have the right – or perhaps it’s a lot less dramatic than that, and I just don’t feel I have anything worthwhile to say.

I know my fingers will reliably twitch with energy when I have my reading life back on track. It turns out my compulsion still requires care, and I know the motivation to pen this post is inextricably linked to my evening spent reading Creative Nonfiction. The symbiosis has never been clearer to me, so I know what I must do first. Return to reading. Hopefully the rest will follow. Someday.


  1. charlotteotter said,

    Oh nooooooo. I will miss you so much. But I will try to be gracious about it. Promise that you will be back when you are ready.

  2. litlove said,

    I do understand – been there, done that. And hang on, it DOES get better. The acquisition of language is a wonderful gift, so much becomes easier because of it. Before you know it, there will come pre-school and school, and you will have more time again. In the meantime, we will really miss you!! Please please do keep in touch if you can. xx

  3. Pete said,

    I can definitely understand where you’re coming from. My blog is pretty much over but I’m stubbornly keeping it on, even if it’s just one post a month. I’ll miss your writing and the updates on the TT and your writing projects etc. Sounds like it’s really frustrating not to be in your own home at the moment. But I love the thought of the TT being such a voracious reader. Here’s hoping that your reading appetite picks up as well.

    • jenniferscoullar said,

      I echo Charlotteotter … Nooooooo. My brother has started to read your blog, and is so impressed by your writing. Take a break Di, but don’t disappear xx

  4. Lilian Nattel said,

    I’m so glad to have got your update and I hope you’ll continue to update at your blog or send me an email so I know how you are all doing!

  5. Lilian Nattel said,

    Oh, and yes, and I understand the need for time. So good to hear you’re starting to take it.

  6. Grad said,

    Please come back.

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