"Can we play a little, when we get home? Before homework?” The words tumble out of her mouth. They are coated with an imploring tone and dust from Pirate Booty. She pauses to nibble another crunchy (but organic!) cheese pod. She swings her legs. They dangle like two muted wind chimes from the bus stop-kiosk-shelter bench. “I know you are going to say no. You always say no.”
Her barbed statement rockets to my ears. I feel its sting, however, everywhere. In prison terms, she shanked me. With a shiv carved out of manipulation and mommy guilt.
For a moment, picture when you vacuum around your couch. You move it out from the wall about a foot and suck up bits back there, then you return it to its position, and get the area right under the front where the vacuum head thingamajig kind of fits. But there is swath of floor -- maybe four inches wide along the whole the length of the couch -- that doesn’t get touched. I’ve dubbed this land Dustbunny Canyon.
New York Family used this for the "Last Word" section in the October 2013 issue. They had to edit it a bit for print and to make room for the very snazzy illustration, so I've posted the wee-bit longer version here. Head honcho Eric Messinger gave me one of the best comments yet about my writing, calling it maybe "the most deceptively profound personal essay we've ever run about being a parent."
We all do it. We keep relatively innocuous foibles hidden. We are less than honest about rather innocent bits of ourselves. Why? We feel embarrassed? Perhaps. Fear of judgment? Of course. Afraid of ridicule? Definitely. Especially us parents, moms and dads who are juggling jobs and family and relationships, why do we spend so much energy — energy we don’t have — hiding certain things about ourselves?
I entered a contest. A writing contest. Haven’t done that in, well, I can’t remember the last time I did that, so it’s been that long. It was run by the folks at LiteraryMama, a pretty awesome online literary magazine that focuses on moms who are writers…especially those that write about mothering. I didn’t win...but I got an honorable mention. Thing is, it wasn’t about winning.
When you talk about French fries, you will want to eat French fries. Not tomorrow, not eventually, but right then, or at least on your way home from wherever you are. No other food, I feel, has that effect.