by Christie Mellor
For any of you keeping track out there, you might’ve noticed that my columns have become rather, er, sparse in the past several months. There’s been a certain amount of life going on. And I guess I just don’t have the Blogger’s Heart. I admire people who can keep a daily or weekly log of their thoughts and activities, especially the ones who can write with humor and intelligence. I just haven’t especially had much of a “Mommy Blogger” Head these past several months. Ironically, since I was chosen (along with a group of other talented “Mommy Tracked” writers) as one of
Babble’s “50 Best Mommy Bloggers” for 2009 . And I know I’m not anywhere near as prolific as most of those other women. Is it because my kids are growing up? And maybe I just don’t have that much more to say on the subject?
In all my books I guess I’ve tried to get across one simple point above all others: Don’t make your children the center of your universe, make them a part of your life. Have a Life. Introduce your children to it; give them the tools—as best you can—to navigate their own lives. Help them to be independent. Encourage them to have independent lives, and share your life with them -- your interesting, creative, joyous life. Doesn’t that sound pretty simple? And, well, kind of more interesting than obsessing over getting them into “the best” middle school or fretting over every activity they do in their spare time? (Spare time! As if.)
But, well. I can say this same thing a hundred different ways. And after a while it sort of feels like that bed that you keep having to make, or that toilet that needs cleaning, even though you could swear you’ve cleaned it at least once a week for twenty years. Why won’t it just stay clean? Why are there dust bunnies under the bed, dammit? Didn’t I just sweep in here, like, two weeks ago?
There’s no shortage of good writers who are happy to discuss the ins and outs of being a mother or parent on a daily basis. And thank goodness, because right now, that interesting life of mine is becoming a tiny part of another big picture. And I’m finding the big picture slightly daunting. My elderly father is losing large chunks of his memory at an alarming rate. My husband was laid off his job last March and freelance work has been sporadic. I’m waiting for my next book to be published and in the meantime I’m looking for—and trying to create—work. Without an inordinate amount of panic. It’s been, ahem, rough going. Obviously, as a writer, I’ve shared my share of personal details with total strangers. But there’s that thing that I inherited from my parents, that stiff-upper-lip thing handed down from one generation of private, no-nonsense people to the next—which restrains me from wanting to share intimate details of my life, especially in times of trouble and stress. I know, hard times should be fodder for a writer, but instead I just want to batten down the hatches.
This interesting life of mine is going through some changes. The kids are getting older (college essays, hello!) and strangely enough so am I (Greetings, hot flashes!) at the very same time, along with my husband (howdy, heart attack!), and my father (hiya, insanely loud television volume!). This stiff-upper lip thing I’ve inherited is now coupled with a menopausal lack of patience with the blogosphere. It could just be that I’m cranky, but those “Is this my life?” moments are catching me at odd times. Those, “Oh, come ON. This really isn’t it, is it? Seriously. You are kidding, right?” moments. You know those moments? Yes, well, pretty much the last thing I want to do is put pen to paper or fingers on keyboard and share every tiny, juicy, delightful detail of the stress, disappointments and little failures that make my life complete.
Not to say that it’s all doom and gloom. We still have a twelve year-old at home, an unsmiling ball of hormones, who is prone to sweeping his hair to one side with such a violent head-toss that I fear for his spinal safety and am certain that there will be some serious chiropractic adjustments in his future. He’s the teenager we never had, as the first child apparently never received the memo, the one that says, “Be as annoying as possible to your parents. Stay up late and refuse to go to bed. This will drive them nuts. Toss your head violently a hundred and forty thousand times a day, because your hair looks really good for a few minutes after you do that. Grunt dismissively when asked a question. Hog the sofa. Glue eyeballs to computer. Help LESS, please.” So there are plenty of bright spots in my life.
And life does go on. Just having a little bump in the road while I figure out what the hell I want to write about. I guess Mr. Pre-Teen Hair guy will still need some tending before he gets to be totally independent, and of course he’ll need some training when his older brother goes off to college and we have no one to take out the garbage and be nice to us anymore. So I guess I’m not totally out of the woods. Hey, Happy New Year, everyone! I have high hopes for 2010, it sounds so much like the future already. Thanks for letting me vent. And a special thank you to the long-suffering Amy Keroes who would really prefer me to write more often. I’ll try. In the meantime, all the best to everyone in this bright shiny New Year.