By Daphne Biener
Way back when my days seemed longer and my skirts were shorter, I saw life, or rather life’s segmentations, more clearly. This is how it would all go down: I would get into college; from there I’d probably get a job of some sort; then a rapid surreal blur of other stuff – marriage, babies and death. Not a whole lot of wiggle room, but then at sixteen anything after college seemed about as real as pigs in space. Other than laughing at the crazy idea that I might still exist in the far off, far out year of 2000, I didn’t waste a whole lot of time thinking about it.
Last week I had a few minutes to chat with a girlfriend as she swung by to pick up her daughter from my house. This friend has a perfect part-time position worked out with her employer, and gets her needs, maternal and executive, met on a regular basis. “Wow,” she said, glancing at the kindergarten enrollment package covering the kitchen table. “I can’t believe your baby
What the hell was I thinking? What was my plan? What was I going to do with myself? Gone from my head was the pledge I had made to make this writing thing work. Forgotten was the fact that I was happier now with my minor successes at writing than I ever was in any boardroom of my prior life. Granted, my children would probably be just as well-fed and well-adjusted if I still did 9 to 5 in a suit, but they probably wouldn’t be the same die-hard, tree-hugging, earth-saving Democrats-in-training that demand I return to the car for recycled bags. I am doing something, damn it. So why am I so defensive about it? Why will it only be real if it’s financing the food on my table? (For the record, I did recently win a gallon of chocolate milk in a writing contest held by the local dairy. And milk counts as food on the table, right?).
Catch me on a rare day, maybe one of those days when there are four moons shining in an orange sky that’s raining down m+ms, and this is what I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you that I love writing. I’ll tell you that my kids and I build the best card houses. I’ll tell you that no, I don’t bring home the bacon, but I fry the hell out of it every night and then sit down together with my family. I’ll tell you that I don’t care that my multiple degrees are rotting in a box in my basement. I might even tell you that I’m pretty damn content.
If you have been unfortunate enough to call me recently you have noticed that my children are suddenly obsessed with answering the phone. Sorry if you’ve had to maneuver your way passed my miniaturized secretaries. But recently I overheard a conversation that made it all good. I need to fire the cynic in my head and replace her with this validating voice.
Kira, on the phone, “Yes, Mom’s here. But she’s working.”
Kira, explaining to the dimwit on the phone in more detail, “No, she’s here, in the living room. Working. Writing is her work.”
You can read more of Daphne’s work here on the mama bird diaries or visit Sestina Queen.