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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 Acadia is starting kindergarten soon. What are you going to do with yourself? Are you going back to work?” It was said, I truly believe, with no intent towards malice and I received it as graciously as a bone-crushing piano falling from a clear sky. Grabbing her daughter’s backpack and ushering the play-date to an end, I was able to close the door and make it upstairs before the panic grabbed hold.

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.

11 Responses to well what now?

  • Kristen says:

    I cannot thank you enough for writing this. I am crying which I am sure you are not surprised by. I wish I could put into words how much I needed to read your amazing work today. For now, I just want to say thanks! Miss ya and love ya!

  • PapaB says:

    Keep on raising our wonderful kids and writing great stuff and I will do my best to supply the bacon. A happy Mamabird is key to a happy nest.

  • Robin says:

    I love your writing, but even more, I love how incredibly honest and open you are about the hardships of motherhood. Your "work" is raising two wonderful, bright, intense, determined children; and then blowing us all away with your reflective writing. What are you feeling insecure about? You've got the whole package!

  • mom says:

    I love the comments as much as I love seeing you anew through your work. I have come to depend on it, and I miss it when you are in between writings.

  • Danielle says:

    I think you are perfectly suited to the work you do now. Your writing is something that should never have waited so long to come out into the public space. And not only should you feel validated, but it adds to all of our lives just being able to read it!

  • Dsladepi says:

    I look forward to each new piece, I feel like I get to know you more and more. In the words of Bart Simpson, "work is for chumps", and you're no chump. Keep writing, you're doing awesome.

  • Mountain spirit bunn says:

    Hmmm…I think I might have been the catalyst for this essay. For the record, I respect every choice you've made as a working professional, a mother and a woman. Had the stars not aligned for me, I would have made identical choices. I apologize for not seeing the panic rise in you as we discussed our kindergarnteners-to be!

  • G-PMikey says:

    enjoy watching your writing mature and come together. I keep telling the CEO that I do a lot of work too – just its what I want to do. Keep iit up and keep it coming

  • Susan says:

    Clean, clear, concise, insightful and – as always – FUNNY. Zoe & I enjoyed reading this one together. Your writing is just getting better and better.

  • Lanie Taylor says:

    You are a fantastic mother and writer. If all else fails (and it won't) you could always become a shimmy specialist.

  • Grace Gentile! says:

    I’d stay home forever if I could! I don’t miss any of it and I love what All my hard work is making now!

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kelcey kintner