Thursday, March 12, 2009

How My Kids See Me

To them, I am a laundress, a perpetual dishwasher and cook, a nag--"Put away your dish! Close your drawers!"--a chauffeur in a minivan, and an ever-ready editor (even though I can barely see straight, let alone THINK, at 11 p.m., when their first drafts are finally ready for my editing). I am the one who volunteers them for community services "without asking," but also the one they later thank for getting them involved. I am easier to convince than Dad, and quicker to forgive and forget--clearly the one to ask for money or special privileges (does that make me The Pushover?). I am unconditionally loving, even when I'm stressed, and they know it, because one of us always fails to conceal a smile when I still insist on a kiss goodnight, even after an argument.

Because of them, I have a lot of half-finished manuscripts, a lot of double-bookings, and a need to clone myself. Their busy lives make me frantic when I can't find my pocket calendar or my keys, because I struggle to know where I need to be and when, and to do so on time, so that I'm not constantly yelling, "Come on! I'm leaving without you!" Because of them, I'm a liar, because I almost never leave without them, and so I deserve the angst of having late kids, don't I?

They tell me that they hope I won't sell "their" house, that I'll stay in our neighborhood so they can always come "home," that I'll dedicate a book to them, that I'll babysit their kids and always stay healthy, that I'll live to 110 and stay "cool." And I will try to fulfill their hopes as I now fulfill their needs, so they can still see me as cook, a pushover, a guaranteed kiss, and an editor (even if not a chauffeur or laundress anymore)--even when I've finished the half-done manuscripts and am busy squeezing in visits with them between book tours.

That's how I see my kids seeing me.

[This post was written in response to a writing prompt I gave my teenage writing students, a poem titled "How My Father Sees Us," by Kirsten Smith, in her poetry novel The Geography of Girlhood. You can read more about the prompt and how the kids responded on my other blog:

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