Saturday, November 15, 2008

mother, writer, good person...

Not too long ago, I heard somewhere that, when asked what best defined her, Michelle Obama answered that first and foremost she saw herself as a mother.

With camera lights glaring in your face, would you, without thought or hesitation, have said the same (assuming you are a mom)? Would I?

I panicked for a second. Do I have something in me that would push itself forward, in competition with motherhood? When I was significantly younger, I thought, at different ages, that I would make the following a priority: a career in journalism, then academic math, then academic economics, then academic sociology. Eventually law. But not without hesitation: confused and infused with wanting to be a cook, a photographer, a horticulturalist, a cartographer, a downhill racer, and through it all, a writer. When career choices weren’t pounding at me, I thought about wanting to be a “good person” rather than “an angry and selfish person.” I assumed I would also be a wife and mother, but I gave those categories no great thought. Dolls were a small part of my childhood play. I had them, but I didn’t quite know what to do with them. Not once I started going to school.

Still, it was hugely reassuring to realize that now and indeed from the first day after the birth of my first daughter, I think that the most important things that have come from me have been those done in my role as mom.

Perhaps nearly every mother would answer in the same vein. After all, we spend so much time on this project – it would be a shame to say that parenting is a mere secondary talent.

So, insofar as so many of us think the same way, why are we so lackadaisical in our preparation for it? I never held a baby until my own was born (at least this is my recollection) and I did more to sharpen my cooking skills than I did to figure out the mommy deal. Learn it as you go along.

I thought about this as I drove past my writer’s shed in the making. There it is -- to the left of the silo and the old barn:

002 copy

I came home to the dusty draft of my writing project. I put it aside and called daughter. Not available. So I went back to the writing project.