Unlike many writers, I did not write an essay timed for Mother's Day, though I read many. Some were achingly beautiful, others funny, or sad, or interesting in novel ways. I'm glad to have read them, but surprisingly not upset that I didn't have one among them.
I thought I understood the reason for this; that I was busy doing other things, things I was happy to be doing. (Isn't this just the flip side to my belief that If you are going to write, you are going to NOT do something else?)
Lately, my calendar awareness has shifted to teaching markers. When is the class proposal due? When must the syllabus be turned in? When is the first day of class? Spring break? End of the semester? Which is fine. The work energizes me at the same time it leaves me scrambling for the mental energy for personal writing projects keyed to the calendar. It was understandable that I hardly noticed the closing window to write and submit a Mother's Day essay. I simply needed to get more accustomed to balancing teaching (and editing and coaching) with writing.
Yet many writers with much heavier teaching loads than mine still managed to write that Mother's Day essay, and come to think of it, I did write other essays that were time-sensitive in the not-so-distant past, as well as many other pieces too. So the teaching calendar can't be to blame.
Finally, on Mother's Day, as I was posting a photo on Facebook, of my mother and I on my wedding day, I discovered the real reason I didn't write a Mother's Day essay.
Mother's Day, I noticed, was only a week before what would be the third anniversary of my mother's death. I had skipped writing a Mother's Day essay for…three years.
What makes us write? What makes us not write? The answers are complex and complicated, even, or maybe especially, when we think they are simple.