For the past month I've been experiencing what feels like a never-ending bout of PMS.
I swing from being sad to grumpy to agitated and then back to sad. Yes, I've spent much of my time feeling sad.
But it's been the effort of masking my feelings - appearing happy and chatty while feeling like crap - that has been really draining.
A month ago, the kids were on school holiday for about a week. During that time we went to Goudini for a few days, they went to the beach with their grandmother and aunt (leaving me with a grumpy Aisha (2), we visited my mum so that they could play with their cousins and they also spent one day playing right here at home with Mo's nieces. That left 2 days of them staying home with nothing to do, poor things.
During that time I often chatted to someone who kept asking me when I'd be taking the kids out to have some fun. Had I taken them to the movies yet? Or to Macdonalds? Or to roam about in Canal Walk? But why? Shame, the poor things had been nowhere fun. But I had a car at home - why was I not using it to provide the kids with entertainment?
I explained that the kids had been occupied almost every day of the holiday. Having fun did not necessarily mean going out and spending money - they actually really enjoyed the time they'd spent playing with their cousins right here at home.
In fact, the holiday had been so busy that I just needed to take an hour or two for myself. I needed them to keep Aisha occupied for just a while so that I could do a blog post.
And then came his sneering question, which devastated me.
''But why? For what?''
I know that the reason for my sadness may not be apparent to most of you, so let me put it in context. Apart from being a wife and mommy, this blog has pretty much given me purpose during the past year. It is what provides me with a sense of accomplishment. Completing a post of which I am proud, leaves me feeling as if I've achieved something.
Now please don't judge me. I know that being a wife and mommy are my primary roles, but you must admit, that both are often thankless. There are no rewards or words of acknowledgment for keeping my family healthy with wholesome meals, or for ensuring that the kids get good results at school. As a mother, I am the behind-the-scenes player - providing the kids with a sound basis to tackle the outside world.
Blogging has changed my outlook on everything. It am constantly looking for beauty and inspiration to share on my blog. And when I do a post with which I am pleased, I go to bed feeling contented. Instead of feeling like I'm having the life sucked out of me by the mindnumbing repetitiveness of my days, blogging has made me feel purposeful. And yes, the feedback I get (on Facebook, by email and occasionally on the blog), from kind readers telling me how much they enjoy reading the blog makes me feel useful for bringing even the tiniest iota of pleasure to others.
I don't have an amazing career - I forfeited that path by choice and have no regrets about my decision to be a stay-at-home mum. Although I do hope to change this in the near future, being a wife, mommy and yes, a blogger are pretty much what defines me at this moment.
So this person's words ''For what?'', although not intended to be hurtful, really hurt me to the core. The fact that something, which had become so important to me and to who I am, was so insignificant and worthless to others, really hurt.
In response I mumbled an embarrassed explanation that I needed to do a post for the Spar supermarket competition in which I had been invited to participate. I had to make my blogging sound purposeful to this person, i.e. as if it would provide some monetary gain (as opposed to just being an means of expression, which at that moment seemed like such a lame and futile way to spend one's time).
This person nodded slowly, saying ''Ohhh,'' as if relieved that the reason for my seemingly worthless pursuit had finally become apparent. I felt embarrassed and stupid and, as the days passed, more and more worthless. If my blog was purposeless, then what contribution did I really have to make to anyone (other than being a wife and mommy).
Mo reminded me that this particular person was very worldly and had very different values to ours. But, alas, even understanding this has not made me feel any better. I started to read the blogs of other women, all of whose opinions and contributions suddenly seemed to have value and substance compared to my silly ramblings.
I started to write many posts, but then froze - unable to complete them. I racked my brain, trying to think of something USEFUL to write; something with purpose, but more importantly, something that will make my contribution valuable. But in the end, it all sounded like worthless rubbish to me.
Then I read this post by talented blogger, Kathryn over at Becoming you. It reminded me of the reason I'd started to blog. The purpose of my ramblings had never been to entertain/obtain the approval of others (despite how lovely it is to hear that people enjoy them). My blog had been started as a way to express myself, providing me with my own little space to formulate thoughts, express feelings and capture lovely (often seemingly insignificant) memories, which would otherwise be lost with the passage of time.
It turned out to be so much more than I'd initially imagined it would - I'd sit down at my computer feeling frustrated/sad and then, through the process of putting my thoughts and feelings in writing, I would often, by the end of a post, feel a million times better. Very often I made sense of my emotions as I was writing the post, which made blogging the therepeutic activity I'd needed.
So I didn't end up writing the deep profound piece I'd been planning for my first Blogversary on 20 October. And I've been struggling to write much of anything since the September holidays. This is the first post that I've written since then, during which I hadn't had to delete or backspace a million times - second-guessing everything I typed. Once again, the process of writing has helped me to understand and make sense of my emotions / insanity.
So, no, blogging does not bring in money. Nor am I providing life-saving valuable information to the world. But it has an important purpose in my life. It makes me happy (and less grumpy), which in turn allows me to be a better wife and mother. That, in itself, makes it extremely valuable, doesn't it?