Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Does anybody answer when you call into space?

I read. I mother. (Did I put that in the wrong order?). I obsess. Therefore..... I will blog.

So my sister-in-law Sarah (lovely woman. Lovely) has this friend. Who studied creative writing and went to writing retreats and actually submitted stories and had them published and now has a book coming out in February. I found this out while reading Sarah's Facebook profile, and then had to pause briefly for a small interval of self-loathing, insecurity and nausea-inducing envy. And then a little session of "why the hell didn't I just study creative writing? I had to stick to something that I could conceivably make a career out of some day (which I didn't) and convince myself that I would write fiction on my own time (also didn't). I tried to convince myself that since she a) is Jewish, b) grew up in Brooklyn and c) has fantastic hair, clearly she had a natural edge I was never going to overcome anyway. It didn't really work, but at least it got me away from the table and out of my pajamas. I went on with my life, such as it is.

A few days later I looked up a couple of reviews of the book, which are favourable, and managed to sort of feel happy for her, while not quite punching through my cheek with my teeth. Then I decided to look at her blog. It was well-written, and she came across as pleasant and funny. Then she started talking about having two young children while working in a demanding profession as well as writing, and how this sometimes made her feel guilty. But then... wait for it... then, she says that she thinks mothers SHOULD work, and that she finds full-time child-care "mind-numbingly boring".

And instantly I am incandescent with rage. Breathless, dizzy, murderously angry. Never mind that I have little tolerance for people who assume that everybody has to do things exactly the way they do them. Here is this smug, published, superbly coiffed person basically saying I am a brainless, ambitionless, worthless waste of skin and breath if I choose to stay home with my children. What does she therefore think of the people who care for HER children? I was spitting, rolling, levitating with rancour.... 

for about four minutes. 

Then it occurred to me that I was being -- what's the word -- an idiot. Why be pissed at her? She was just doing what everyone does -- trying to justify her choices and not feel like a lousy mother. And why was I feeling like her implied criticism was directly squarely at me (who she's met once and wouldn't recognize if I sat on her fabulously curly head)? Clearly I was feeling like I did, in fact need to be doing something besides looking after my kids, volunteering in the classrooms and working part-time in the school library. So I'm looking back on my life thinking of all the times people told me I was a really good writer, and thinking that writing two or three short stories in a ten-year span, sending a bunch of witty emails and sitting on my ass watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn't, perhaps, the best way to nurture that.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I'm starting a blog, even though I have really low self-esteem, can't withstand any sort of criticism, know nothing about computers, and this makes me really nervous even though nobody's going to be reading it except my sister-in-law.

I'm exhausted. I'm going to read a book.

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