Recently, I have been working on a column for a major comedy website. Since I don’t want to jinx its potential publication, I won’t divulge any further information. Getting a by line on a popular website is a huge accomplishment in my writing career, such as it is. I didn’t go to school for writing, but I’d be foolish not to pursue something for which I have a natural talent.
In that way, I am most definitely my mother’s daughter. She was always reading something new, sometimes finishing a book a day. She took us to bookstores, libraries, and instilled in us an appreciation for eloquence and the written word.
Mom’s skill for writing was put to good use when my sister and I were kids. She told us bedtime stories that she had made up, created games for us using her imagination, and even wrote rhyming clues for a Halloween party scavenger hunt. However, her dream was to be published.
My love of words started early, thanks to a mom who was dedicated to making sure that her dangerously-premature twins weren’t developmentally delayed. For all the flaws my mother has, for all the resentment I may have towards her, I have to give her credit for all the energy and effort she put into making sure we were ready to start school. She read to us, taught us, played with us, and in general made sure that we wouldn’t be limited just by having been born so early. As a result, the opposite was true. I learned my alphabet at 3, and I could read by 4. When my sister and I started kindergarten at 5, we were far ahead of the other children academically. While she was proud of us for being so bright, tearing herself away from us was difficult on that first day of school.
My dad worked a lot, and when he wasn’t at work, he was drunk. Therefore, my mother did a lot of the heavy lifting of parenting alone. One child would be difficult enough, but they had twins. How she managed to do this with two children who had such differing personalities is beyond me.
She always believed in writing what you know. So, on that day she saw us off to our first day of school, August 16, 1993, she wrote a poem chronicling our early health struggles, her sleepless nights, and the heartache of being without us for the first time. Her aspiration was to get this poem published in a women’s magazine. You know the kind, the magazines that cater to “domestic goddesses,” with recipes and child-rearing advice, and writing submissions from readers that pay small amounts of money. She submitted her poem, and it was rejected for publication. To my knowledge, she has never tried again to get published. In my house growing up, before my parents were divorced, there was a copy of her poem hanging on the wall by the phone in the kitchen. (I’m really showing my age in that there was only one phone for the family. It wasn’t even cordless!)
These days, my mother still has her artistic hobbies. She makes earrings, takes photos, collects seashells, and delights in decorating her apartment with various beach-themed tchkotches. She seems happy, but I know that she always wanted more for herself. Every time we talk, she praises me for my ambition, resourcefulness, and tenacity. She was always easily discouraged, so she is proud of me for my dogged determination to create a career for myself doing what I love. She has always encouraged my talent for writing and would consider me successful even if this upcoming column is the only thing I ever publish. So, here you go, Mom, this one is for you.