By Devon Rhodes (with help from Sarah and Elizabeth)
ME: Do you want to come upstairs so I can interview you?
S: What's an interview?
Me: That's where I ask you questions, and you answer them, and I type the answers into the computer.
S: Sure! Besides, I have this (movie) on tape! So you're writing a story about me?
Me: Not exactly. It's for work.
S: (dejectedly) Okay. (Then whimpers, pretending she can't reach the ground until I hand her some ladybug markers)
Me: Okay, so how long has Mama been writing?
S: A year? (pretty close, good girl!)
Me: What do you think Mama writes?
S: Love stories? And Mommy, if I don't remember, can I say "pass" to the next question?
Me: Of course! What do you think about Mommy writing?
Me: Has Mommy ever written anything for you?
S: (disgustedly) No! You promised me you were going to write a vampire story for Halloween for me but you never did. I want my vampire story! (dramatic sigh) I guess I'll wait until next Halloween.
E: (panting and whimpering, then sitting up and begging)
Me: Do you want a Scooby snack?
E: (smiling and panting)
I hand-feed her a piece of my bagel then pat her on the head and say "Good doggy." (Don't ask.)
S: Can I have some of your bagel too? (taking the entire remaining half)
Me: (sigh) Go ahead. What kind of stories do you like?
Me: Okay, what's your favorite book so far that you've read?
S: Harry Potter 2.
Me: Is that the Chamber Of Secrets?
S: Yep. Do you want to ask my favorite ice cream?
Me: Uh, sure.
S: Cookie Dough! Can we make omelets now?
Me: No, Mommy's working, maybe in a few minutes.
S: (wrinkles nose at me) I'm hungry!
Me: Go cut yourself some orange cheese, or peel one of those little oranges. Are you done being interviewed?
S: Can I tell them about my boyfriend?
Me: You're only six; He's not really your boyfriend.
S: (stamps her foot) Yes, he is! Duh! He's been my boyfriend for three years now. And I'll be seven in a couple weeks! (Rolls her eyes like a pro and stomps off.)
E: (reappears in her pumpkin costume) Ta-da!
Me: Are you a pumpkin?
E: No! I a Merry Christmas, Sarah!
Me: I'm not Sarah, I'm Mommy!
E: (switches topics since I have her beat) I hungry!
Me: Here's a cracker.
E: NO! I want orange cheese! (must've seen her sister get some cheddar)
Me: (calling out) Sarah! Cut your sister some orange cheese. (To E) Your sissy will cut you some.
Overheard after Elizabeth returns downstairs:
S: How about a bagel?
E: No, orange cheese!
S: Here's a baaaagel!
E: NO! Orange cheese, silly!
This goes on most of the day, and can get even more convoluted and distracting when my hub's around to chime in. Which is why I do most of my writing in the late evening and nighttime when all three are in bed. I find my insomnia a blessing now, and last night (not untypically) I was up writing until after 3am.
There are a few home truths which even the three year old has learned in the past year or so:
1. Mommy is not a problem solver until she has coffee.
2. (Directed at hub) Do not steal Mommy's laptop unless you want to be subjected to heavy sighs and dramatic eye rolls accompanied by slamming objects around until she gets it back. (I'm passive-aggressive that way) And I'm buying my own damn laptop on January 2nd.
3. When the laptop is open, Mommy has left the building.
I like to think I'm a good mom, and I also have to say that since I don't work outside the home, I'm constantly around for the kids. Even when I get involved in what I'm doing, I CAN be interrupted for important reasons (like someone's hungry, hurt, or wandering around when they should be in bed). And they had my undivided attention up until last spring, so that (partially) alleviates the guilt I feel when they have to ask me something ten times before a question registers, or I come downstairs to find all the red peppers in the fridge with big bites taken out of them (the three year old is a forager).
I unwrap the string cheese that my three year old brings me without delay.
I still manage to get most of the laundry and dinner done on time.
I've only gotten Sarah to dance class late once because I was wrapped up in a story.
I can carry off the automatic observation of "That's nice!" in response to whatever is shown me (except for a boom, ie a boo-boo, although occasionally I trot it out by mistake, prompting an affronted display worthy of a Broadway show). And I catch the muttered words "in the black hole", which is how my hub refers to me being on the laptop, often enough that I think my passive-aggressiveness is wearing off on him.
My new career is not without family conflicts, and here's where I'll gloss over the details. But I like to think that I'm giving my kids my whole, "real" self now that I'm doing what I love, and hopefully someday they will understand why.
Why I do what I do.
Why I sometimes put something intangible "first".
And why, when you boil it down, every single thing I do is still for them.