The other day I received an email from a friend that was so en pointe it was a bit frightening. Why? Because she used the word I’ve been thinking (feeling?), but afraid to say out loud–or on paper,–irrelevant. Sure, the thought has crystalized in reference to my fiction, but as important as writing has always been to my sense of me, it is only one part. I was thinking it walking dogs, thinking it more these past weeks as I’ve been unable to walk. Thinking it as I speak with my kiddos, as there are fewer issues that I can actually help them with. (Mom, you can’t help, you never took calculus.) Thinking about it as Man Child approaches his college graduation.
Besides the obvious pride and general the world-is-waiting-for-you momstuff, I’ve also been excited about his graduation because one of my feminist heroes will be speaking, and I wondered if I might have a chance to meet her and say hello. Then I thought, what would I actually say? “Thank you for being brave and paving the way. Thank you for remaining active and relevant so young women can see the possibilities of who they can be.”
And if that imaginary conversation moment occurred, then what? “Who me? No one.” Not the representation of possibilities, but the caricature of women of a certain age, right down to the busted pelvis from a simple slip on the ice. Irrelevant.
No, hon, I never took calculus. In fact, when I graduated from high school, my father commented on his surprise, they didn’t think I’d do it. He wasn’t being snide, it was just a fact. My school experiences left me at a bit of a loss dealing with my children’s school experiences. I never wanted to make a big deal about grades, I was afraid they would interpret it to mean that was all I cared about. Now I’m afraid they think I don’t care about their efforts. I try, and tried, to stress learning, and school as a tool for a better life. I don’t think I’ve been as successful as I hoped, but no doubt my boys are in a much better position than I was at their ages. I want Art Child to continue finding success through her art. I want them to have enough, to feel they are enough. I hope none of them will feel irrelevant when they’re forty thousand years old.
No one is ever going to confuse me with Hillary Clinton or Sandra Sotomayor; Arianna Huffington or Maya Angelou. Why do I even want to meet this woman at Man Child’s graduation, when I have nothing to offer? No degrees, no pedigrees, no byline or book jacket or contract. I’m a reefer who’s never been snorkeling or scuba diving, a self-proclaimed feminist without a career. Ridiculous. Then I remembered. This isn’t new. Mrs Fringe, a peripheral life. There’s a reason I don’t blog as Ms Important. I thought about my first post, almost three years ago. My space to be me, not “just” a mom, and not “just” someone trying to get published, either. The blog has evolved, I have evolved–hell, we even got that three bedroom apartment–but I am who I am, and life is what it is.
Regardless of how much Virginia Woolf I read I don’t have a room of my own, but I now have a desk, something I didn’t think was possible a few years ago. From it I see my beautiful reef, where I watch the interactions of all the critters, and remember how important even the simplest ones are to maintain the balance of the system as a whole. I’m not writing the Great American Novel, calculating royalties, or reading fan mail when I sit at this desk, I work on the occasional story and post some silliness or a rant here on the blog. Sometimes, just when I’m devolving into thoughts about my lack of success, moaning about not knowing the best way to encourage my kids, and ready to break out a tape measure to torture myself with how much I’ve sagged; I get a note from someone out there in cyberland, telling me one of my posts resonated with them, or made them laugh. That is pretty excellent, and fucking relevant.