I think it was either Hemingway or Mark Twain or some other heavy literary name who said we should ‘write what we know.’ This is why I so often write about my extensive failures as an adult. As the mother of two young children, my knowledge of defeat is vast. These disastrous results present themselves on a daily basis, and I guess regardless of craft or skill, the very act of putting them into cyberspace is cathartic.
You know what does not feel like a release? The moment at a dinner party when someone turns to me and asks ‘What do you do?’
This used to be one of my favorite questions because it had nothing to do with my most hated question of ‘Where are you from?’ Anyone who has lived in multiple places understands that this question can be anxiety-inducing to answer. You go with the last place you lived and you are a liar, even though you moved ‘from’ there to ‘here.’ You go with the place you were born and you are immediately nervous because they might be familiar with ‘said’ city and will pump you full of questions that you cannot answer because you didn’t actually ‘grow up’ there and the reality is NO ONE ACTUALLY CARES.
I Used To Be Glamorous…Sort Of.
Maybe the question ‘What do you do?’ isn’t so much out of interest as it is just a deep rooted habit. For me, the old answer was easy. It sounded intriguing…especially if I was talking to an accountant. I was a television producer. In Los Angeles, I interviewed celebrities. I moved to London and worked in documentaries. I never really planned on this, it just all happened. (Sort of like when I got kicked out of high school, but that’s another story). The last series I worked on meant I had to cross back over to North America and live in Las Vegas for nearly six weeks while pregnant. I don’t know if you’ve spent more than 48 hours in Las Vegas but no one should. Ever. Especially when you don’t have a visible waistline or a calf tattoo and are the only person in the Hard Rock Hotel whose vomiting has nothing to do with alcohol consumption.
When Are You Going Back? Good. Question.
The question that all my girlfriends in London asked soon after I gave birth was ‘When are you going back?!’ I couldn’t seem to get enough sleep to answer that and it felt like the next thing I knew, we’d moved to Luxembourg. I’m now a mom of two. The conversation ends with that answer. We all came from moms. The concept doesn’t need explaining. It makes me sound like an ungrateful jerk but the answer is boring and this ego is really heavy to carry around. Now that I have taken over City Savvy, I’ve just barely grasped the most basic technical aspects of WordPress but really- what is this Luddite meant to do with the offsprings? One isn’t old enough to wipe himself and both are total crap at editing which presents a problem while trying to work from home. Insert breakdown on the kitchen floor yelling ‘How am I supposed to be a writer when I’ve been begging someone for the past hour to eat a f-cking fish cake?! I am not able to process this situation!’
Don’t be a Dream Crusher!
Fishcakes aside, my kids are endlessly interesting people and their lives are brimming with uniquely compelling experiences- I just sometimes wish they’d feel compelled to experience their lives somewhere else; but just for like twenty minutes while I finish this paragraph. My confidence in raising them has waned since coming home from the hospital but my curiosity has not. Sometimes I feel like they have sucked the life out of me but then the Meatball waddles across the room while I’m attempting to post an article, and just as I’m about to shout ‘DON’T BE A DREAM CRUSHER, MEATBALL!’ I find myself, laughing at my situation while simultaneously hoping he never loses that waddle.
Eventually, My Kids Will Leave.
Every expert that I seek career advice from says if all goes well, my kids will abandon me to pursue their own dreams and I should focus on ‘me’ now because eventually I won’t be needed and well, I will have nothing. But here’s the thing- while I want my kid to waddle forever, I would also like them to waddle into the kitchen and get their own damn breakfast. Let’s face it- even putting his own socks on would be a huge achievement for the Meatball.
In My Fantasies, I Am Needed Less.
There are actual online services for women to support each other through the realization that their children need them LESS? Huh? I have easily called my mom every day for the past 20 years. Would she say that my burden is lighter? By no means! I need her to a greater degree- especially since I started procreating. I can only imagine she breathed a sigh of relief when I told her that moving overseas until she realised that figuring out the time difference is not my strong suit. It definitely means she’s much less on her toes when it comes to screening her youngest daughter’s calls- since they often come when she is horizontal in the wee hours of the night.
So Where Does That Leave Me?
With the sad reality that if my kids are anything like their mother, they will never truly sever the umbilical cord even if a large body of water is between us. I am aware of my own limited ability to calculate time zone differences so I can’t teach them that but perhaps, they will one day be able to dress themselves appropriately. Although, to be honest, I catch myself in the mirror and let’s face it: I make rather poor sartorial decisions so what hope do they really have? I guess this also means that I must practice saying ‘I’m a writer,’ and will just have to continue documenting my blunders and inflict them on you, dear readers. And skim through them you must! Because if you don’t: it will mean my kids will grow up and I will have nothing….other than the time to write better paragraphs.