I write a lot about you on the Internet, or to be more specific; my experience with having you. I hope this doesn’t fuck with your popularity or self esteem later in life, but for my job I’m constantly swaying between protecting you and being myself. There are things I want to hide from my kids, thoughts I’ve had that may hurt you- but then there is also my passion. This is what I do for a living son; I’m the raconteuse who is known for her heavy honesty. I’m fucking harsh.
I never mean to be cruel but I tell the truth and the truth sometimes hurts. My husband doesn’t let me post pictures of you on Facebook. He thinks that you should be the one to decide what personal content you share on the web. I’m a bit less generous. I think I made you, you are my cells and flesh, you radically altered my life and it’s my right to talk about it. I also secretly think the “web” might not exist in the way we know it in 10 years so…none of this shit will really matter and we’ll all have chips implanted anyway…but I digress.
If you find yourself creeping on mama’s art when you are old enough to read some of the stuff I have written about you in the past might make you think I was not very grateful for you or that you made life more difficult for me. I don’t want to get too “mother love” about the whole thing but the truth is that my relationship to my art has gotten better since you’ve been here. I pick and choose my contracts with discernment. I set clear boundaries about what I can and cannot do and when I have an idea I run with it. I see a spark. I light it. I burn that shit out of it. I turn the embers into something and then I get to go home.
And that’s where I love to be; home with you. But if I’m going to be honest here, it’s kinda because I’ve been away for the day.
I’ve tried it, staying at home full time for a while and things went sideways quickly. I just couldn’t seem to enjoy you. I was looking for things to do, dishes, and laundry; try to burn through a few emails while you slept. Everything was parceled into compartments of time that I had to get through. We had some fun, we did our best and you were a very happy little boy, comfortable with yourself and sturdy. You’d fall off a chair, smash your head and keep going. You’d run laps around the room, take a break at the kiddy piano to bust out some improvised jazz, toddle over to me and smash me in the face with a heavy object, scream a bit because it felt good and then return to the laps. You are also very funny and you know it. But I was not very “inspired” by it all.
In fact, I went on pills to cope. But then, when we’d make it to the end of the day and you’d fall asleep with your back tucked into my belly and I’d feel your ribs breathing into my breasts I’d think, if someone misses this, this exact moment in life, if you don’t get to have this feeling, you are living with a hole my friend. Cause this tiny shit, this golden ball, cuddled all into me and loving me like this. This is incredible.
And then I’d remember I’d have to do it all again tomorrow…and the weight would start crushing me.
So I started to think that I might love my work more.
I mean, not really; like if work and my son were hanging from a burning building- for sure I’d save my kid- but I do love my boy better and easier when I get to love my work too.
I’ve thought I must be a workaholic (probably am a bit) who’s gotta get it under control or an action addict who is damaging the most precious years of his development or maybe just a woman with her ego out of control because from what I was seeing around me, I should want to be at home with my kid more.
But I don’t, so I hire a babysitter and pay them more than I make to care for you so that I can go make art. And I get some good shit done, I’m useful, I’m ashamed, I make interesting things happen in the world, I don’t, I stay sane, I’m guilty; and then I come home after a long day and I see you at the top of the stairs behind the metal grate that protects you from falling, and we play the lion game- with me in the cage roaring to get out and you put your arms up and we hug tight.
I want you to find your thing my son; the thing that makes you want to do it almost more than you want to do anything else. And then stick to that thing almost at all costs. Do your thing and teach your children to find their thing too. You are lucky; very privileged in fact, to get to do your thing so don’t disrespect it; it’s not selfish and it’s not a luxury. It might mean you are busy more than you’d like to be and it will fucking hurt when your kid cries for you not to leave and you go anyway. But when you get home and you’re actually happy to be there- you’ll realize it’s your duty.
You are in the crib beside me right now. I can hear your breathing. I’m writing about you again and it’s going to pay me about $50 and I feel good. Afterwards I’m going to sneak outside for a secret cigarette (don’t tell your brother when he’s born because he might blame me for his asthma) and then I’m going to bed.
I love you; and when you are old enough to get all this bullshit I’ll know I did my job right if you are too busy to read any of it, and it’ll break my heart a bit but I’ll get it, because you’ll be out doing your thing.