There is only one thing you really can do to ensure you hang on to your sanity while mindlessly handing your daughter Tinkerbell stickers for over an hour. We have one of those workbooks with reusable stickers, and every placement is done with precision. She’s a precise kid. No slapdash fairy sticking for her, no. Each fairy must be placed exactly onto the colored outline, so that no color escapes the sticker’s boundary. This takes for freaking-ever. You have time to sip a little too much Pinot Grigio and ponder how you fit into the world. Maybe my sanity has slipped a little then, because who really ponders that too often? Besides philosophy majors, I mean?Also, I watched our kitten hunt down a fly. He likes to hunt them down AND EAT THEM. How handy is that?
When I was little, I was one of those quiet kids who breezed through school. I was sick a lot, a lot, a lot. Sometimes I really was sick, with asthma, or more commonly a cold that turned at the drop of a hat into bronchitis. Other times, my mom kept me home because it was raining. Or because there was a really good sale at Macy’s. I did a lot of schoolwork at home, and it was easy, because I read a lot. When you are reading The Woman Warrior for fun at home when you are twelve, everything else is really no big deal. When you are dodging drinking glasses being hurled at you, the moving target, who cares if you go to PE or not? You have bigger things to worry about.
So, I think I expected more. I spent so much time hiding my brain in notebooks that nobody would ever see, trapping words in my mouth before they could escape into the world, that I never stopped, and while others are reaping the benefits of their education, I’m kind of just sitting here. When others were rebelling against their parents and holding a grudge against the system, and had something to prove, I was trying to be unnoticed. Well, I succeeded. Kind of depressing, sure. But there’s a freedom in invisibility which I enjoy. I like the feeling of being under the radar. I like the feeling of being misrepresented. It gives me a little thrill, I admit it. After all, you don’t keep doing something if you don’t get some sort of reward from it.
So, as my daughter watches Futurama and asks me why we don’t think with our feet (as she examines her stinky little toes) and I ticky-tacky away with my missive here, I have to admit that I have reached a state of diminishing returns. I am underutilized. I am not producing as I should. Don’t get me wrong, I have long since realized that I am not built for speed. On a good day, I am a cute but chuggy Vespa. On a bad or perhaps more honest day, I am a slow but hardworking tractor. I should have done more by now, in every arena. I should have a career, but I don’t have one. I should have had more kids, but I just have (albeit absolutely fabulous) one.
I feel as though I keep stumbling over my own two feet, that everybody else has their stuff together but me. I know it can’t really be true, but in a world where everybody’s complaining about being old (while managing to be younger than me) and jobless (but with more potential than me) it’s all rather daunting. I would love to be a stay at home mom, but with only one kid it seems more like an excuse for my own turpitude (twerpitude!) than anything else.
How frustrating. How lazy. How full of excuses.
So, here it is. The next job that I can land myself– I’m on it. That genre novel? I’m finishing that sucker. Who would have ever thought that my indulgent genre novel would be my lifeline?