Today I ran into a childless friend I hadn’t seen in ages. Our reunion went like this:
Me: “Tell me what you’ve been up to!”
Them: “Not much. Joined the company kickball team. I’ve started to dabble in stocks. Not with a bunch of money, just a bit as kind of a fun way to stretch myself intellectually, you know? I’m super into triathlons right now too. I took a cheese making course so I’m experimenting with Stilton-type cheeses which is really fun because… wait, have I told you this? No? Well, I bought 4 acres on the edge of town and grow organic kale for local restaurants. So I’m keeping busy. What are you up to these days?”
For the rest of the day I wandered around thinking, “Damn. I need to look more interesting.”
Kids suck up a bunch of time and money. But if it were *really* important to me I probably could find a way to join a team, learn more about the stock market, train for a triathlon, make cheese, or micro-farm. But there’s no way I could make that all happen simultaneously and still parent the way I want to parent.
Not that I’m complaining. I’m happy with my life and the choices I’ve made. But they mean I don’t look very interesting. Which isn’t at all the same as not being interesting. But I wonder if it’s a problem anyway.
I don’t really care if I can dazzle long lost friends or people I meet at cocktail parties with gripping tales of my exploits. But I do care about letting my kid down.
Right now despite not being able to read she enjoys “writing and Kurt Vonnegut.” If I put on a pair of spanx she doubles up on underpants. When she grows up she’s going to “have a little girl called M, do Mama’s job, and live in our Seattle.”
I want her to know that everything in life from Accounting to Zip lining is up for grabs. I want her to be brave, thoughtful, and compassionate. And I can tell her that all I want but, especially right now, telling doesn’t hold a candle to doing.
Only a lot of what I do she can’t see. It’s all cerebral or done after bed time. When she’s playing I see her boss around her platoon of stuffed animals or pretend her Playskool car is a vacuum cleaner because she’s being “just like Mama.” I wish I could see her confidently stop Elmo from discriminating against the Duplos or pretend to perform surgery on the cat because obviously those possibilities are achievable too since that’s what she sees her mother do.
But I just don’t look that interesting and I wonder what that means for her. Perhaps going out and living a few visibly dazzling cocktail party anecdotes wouldn’t hurt.