I look at his sweet little nose, his still-round cheeks. He catches me staring at him, throws his hands in the air and says, “WHAT are you looking at?”
“You,” I say. “You’re so big!
He rolls his eyes. “Everyone needs to grow up sometime, Mom.”
I think- what am I doing, spending my days facing the f-ing blank page again and again, when I could just be connecting with this precious being every minute of every day? And then I think, he will grow and change, no matter how hard I stare and try to memorize his face. He will grow and he will grow and there are things that will be irretrievably lost. We will also collect treasures I can’t even anticipate yet. And while all this growing and losing and gaining is happening, I’m still going to string words together on paper every day, because that’s what I’m compelled to do.
I just interviewed a super-famous and crazy-cool actress in her sixties (it’s still a secret- I’ll let you know more in a couple of weeks!), and she told me: “Jillian, I was so guilty about the time I spent working when my kids were young. And I shouldn’t have been. I really shouldn’t have been.”
I have been clinging to that like a buoy in the mom-ocean of blame and competence and guilt and joy and judgment and acceptance and fear and love.
The working mom discussion can become so strident and politicized on both sides. The truth is that all of these grown-up decisions have consequences, don’t they? Either way. Consequences suck.
But last weekend I found myself staring out at the Catskill mountains, getting ready to talk to a bunch of people about memory and art and writing– much of the stuff I’ve been deeply engaged with since I was a little kid. I thought, there are consequences, yes. I’m most at peace when I can hold them in the same hand as I do my embarrassment of riches.
If you would like to read more of Jillian Lauren’s writing, check out her blog. She also has another book coming out called Everything You Ever Wanted.