So how did such an aberration occur? After all, my kids know that my writing nook (fine – the far east corner of my bedroom) is off limits. But that’s the funny thing about boundaries. We are pre-programmed to test them. How else would we ever evolve? And it took less than five minutes for my two minions to chair-jack my beloved, turquoise throne.
While I was putting their laundry away, the five-year-old convinced the two-year-old to climb onto the chair. Then, he spun his little brother around…and around…and around some more. By the time I walked in, the youngest was sliding off the chair, stumbling to regain his balance.
I hugged my son, tears streaming down his face, his chin tucked into his chest. Since he did not require a change of clothes, I asked him and his brother to go and play quietly in their rooms and to make sure they closed the door behind them.
Then, I attended to my sullied, soiled chair. First in the line up? Baby wipes. Next? A Tide Pen. Last? Spot Shot. St-rike three - game over. While I was able to remove most of the stain, a trace outline remains, visible to the discerning eye – my hazel ones in particular. I walked to my bedroom door, turned the lock, and then threw myself on the bed in an all-out tantrum rivaling any my own kids have pitched. And I mourned…my loss…my once perfect chair.
There are not many things in my house that have survived my children or their chunks. I’m still in awe each time I pick up a home decorating magazine and see an interior designer/fashion stylist mom with her two and four year-olds sitting in an all-white living room with nary a toy in sight, pops of yellow and green flowers arranged in a Tiffany vase, teetering on a stack of books with spines reading Bauhaus and Eames, not Seuss or Silverstein.
So how do I toddle back from the brink? One way, I suppose, is to see this as a sign - that writing right now is not for me. Raising kids is the most exhausting and demanding job I have ever taken on. The responsibilities. The expectations. They’re endless.
Pursuing anything else at this stage is impractical, if not just plain silly. Of course, just as my children like to test boundaries, so too do I. But when it comes to writing on the job, I am only met with constant interruptions and mounting frustrations. The start and stop: “Mommy, may I have some juice?” The push and pull: “Mommy said I could have it first and then it’s your turn.” The back and forth: “OWWWWWWW! Mom-meee!!!!”
Or, do I chuck it up to...that’s life. Really good stories are not the ones with perfect characters and uncomplicated plots, at least not the ones I’m interested in reading or writing. And really good writers are rarely those whose first draft is also their last. We’re all human beings (although living in the parent realm for the last five years, I’m convinced I’m half zombie). We’re flawed. We’re messy. And that’s what makes us interesting.
Whether you invoke Anne Lamott’s term for first drafts, which I won’t mention here, but check out Bird by Bird if you’re curious, or your fourth grade language arts’ teacher’s sloppy copy, there’s always room for revision. And that pretty much describes me and my fledgling writing life – a work in progress.