Oh, but I am feeling low.
I could blame the chocolates my mom bought my husband--my delightfully Jewish husband who is all, “I do not understand you Christians and your strange Christ-birthday; who is this ‘Christ’?” and then insists that my family only give him presents that he can consume. So we get these damn chocolate confections that are incredibly delicious; one of them makes you feel that you require twelve more, and then the second one provides you with the sensation of needing to tear your skin from your face and set your pants on fire. I ate three.
Also, Henry is sick. We put him in preschool and he fought off every virus that came his way, but one weekend with my family was all it took to bring him down. The night before last he had the CROUP, and we immediately rushed him into the steamy bathroom and sat there until the ceiling melted. He continued to whuuup and hurrk far long than he ever had before, but then as we discussed our imminent trip to the ER, he decided hospitals were not his thing, and the episode passed. But now he’s all drippy and crusty and feverish, and when I’m not worried about him I’m worried about how I’m going to keep from killing him.
He is moany and whiny and needy and I can understand why, but he’s not needy in a way I understand. Lying on the couch requesting blankets and tea—this I can understand. Running around and throwing toys while wearing nothing but socks and screaming at me to take off his socks—this is his version of being sick, and it makes no sense to me. No he does NOT want soup, take that blanket OFF him, he LIKES shivering, and don’t THINK about giving him Motrin, on second thought the Motrin tastes like candy so give him EXTRA, what do you MEAN extra is bad for him? THE NAKED BOY WANTS EXTRA MOTRIN.
When he isn’t demanding that I overdose him, he wants me to play, except what he really wants is not for me to play—he wants me to sit next to him and watch him as he plays. This way lies madness, as we know, but I am not given much of a choice in the matter. If I try to pick up an action figure and join him in playtime, I am berated. If I attempt to rise and get a glass of water, or maybe use the bathroom, there is much screaming and pleading for my company. If I sit right next to him and read a book, the book is torn from my hands. My attention is demanded constantly, but it’s only to acknowledge whatever it is he is doing. “Look, Mommy!” he announces, holding up Batman. “I am holding Batman!” Pause. “Look! Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!” and so on, until I respond, “Yes, that’s Batman, all right.”
Repeat this with every one of his two hundred figures.
I am bored out of my mind. Literally, I have no mind.
So maybe this is not the best day to take stock of my life. But whoops, too late.
Waaaay back, I got an MFA in creative writing and I told myself I would have a novel published before I had a child. Ha, ha! No really, I did! I know! Then when I was pregnant I downscaled my ambitions to, “Hmm, I should really get a short story published before I give birth.” I didn’t make that goal either, but I did eventually get two stories published. And a poem. Which, okay, more than zero! Not so bad! But really if I consider myself a writer, I should have more than two stories published in my lifetime. Two stories (and a poem) would make a crappy collection.
So now I’m working on a book. Which is nice, to have an idea, to be working on something. To finally, after years of struggling with rock-bottom expectations and crippling self-doubt and blar de blar twelve years of therapy blar, be doing what I’ve always want ed to do. Except! I have no time! Ever! Because there’s this child! Whom I think a great deal of, who’s really a great kid, but who demands every second of my time! And I may be just a wee bit resentful about that!
I’ve been getting up at six in the morning to write. I am not a morning person. But Henry isn’t either, and as he gets up at 8 at the earliest, it seemed the perfect time to get some things done. But by the time I get a cup of tea, turn on the lights, find my robe, use the bathroom, stare at my freaky morning hair in the mirror, turn on the computer, and try not to throw up as I see what I wrote the day before—by the time I’m ready to write it’s 6:30. So the most I can do is an hour and a half of writing. And it’s not enough. I need that much time just to remember why I’m sitting there, what brought me to that place and what it was I wanted to say, again.
Today I made the mistake of reading an interview between Paul Auster and Jonathan Lethem, and they were talking about the five or six hours each day they devote to their writing, how satisfying it was to have SO MUCH time to write! Devoting those hours to their Art infuses the rest of the day with a “kind of grace,” they agreed. And I thought, if I see you fuckers on the street—and there’s a good chance I will; they’re both around here somewhere, I’ve seen them before—I am going to kick you in the shins. Six hours! Hey, Jonathan: once we were at the same party and you were dancing and you danced like a moron and I laughed. And then you went home and wrote a masterpiece. Wait, that didn't make me feel better. Asshole.
I don’t know how anyone who is a mother is also a writer. I suppose you have to achieve a certain level of success so that you can hire a nanny without killing yourself from the financial burden or from the guilt or choosing your nonexistent career over your child. But if I don’t have the time, then I can’t write the book, so I can’t get the money, which I need to, um, have the time. I go around and around like this, and then I want to throw up. Or maybe that's the chocolates.
I am sorry to end the year like this, so I will say Happy New Year, and then I will go to bed, and maybe tomorrow, the last day of 2005, will suck a tiny bit less.