I, writer. Or am I?

Sometimes I still wonder what I should be whenever I get around to growing up.

It’s hard not to question what I am doing when I kiss my husband and preschoolers good bye. I sip coffee in my perpetually sticky kitchen, bounce my baby on my knee, and debate how I should spend my morning. I should fold laundry, but first that would necessitate washing it. I have a few work assignments I should stop putting off. It would be prudent to get a jumpstart on dinner, but frankly a workout sounds more enjoyable.

Invariably the baby then fusses, and I spend the rest of the morning in my rocking chair, awkwardly twisting my wrists to type on an iPad.

Around my thirtieth birthday, I finally settled on a profession. I should be a writer. It was, after all, what I had dreamed about becoming as a child. A handful of publications had featured my work, and it gave me something to do while my husband watched Game of Thrones and other shows I didn’t have the stomach for. I even eventually began to earn an income.

But still, the words choked in my throat every time I had to answer the “So, what do you do?” question. The vast majority of my time was still spent changing diapers and cooking dinners. To call myself a writer seemed to be a deceptive description of how I spent my time, but to commit another point of fraud as well. I wouldn’t be simply naming a profession, I would be claiming a talent – an act I wasn’t sure I had the right to do.

I asked a few writer friends when they thought someone could call themselves a writer. “Oh, instantly!” they all cheered. “As soon as you put pen to paper, you are a writer!” I appreciated their encouragement, but I knew it was just that. My ten year college reunion was nearing, and I imagined standing among my accomplished peers and trying to tell them I was a writer.

“Oh, I’m just staying at home with the kids!” flows out much more easily.

Recently, I lost one of my writing gigs. The website folded, taking a good chunk of my credibility along with it. I understood. Even the internet could only hold so many “I’m get my pants on just like any other mom, half an hour after getting out of the shower while begging my kids for just five minutes’ peace.”

I know I can’t write about parenting forever. There is a perpetual wealth of articles decrying “Mommy bloggers” for sharing about their children’s lives, and while the points are not without merit, I cannot help but notice it is this female dominated genre that takes the most heat. I have tried my hand at other areas of writing – health journalism, tax policy, a few failed attempts at children’s poetry, and even a science fiction short story which will never gain an audience larger than my husband.

This is what I hate about freelancing. I am perpetually wondering. “Am I doing this right? What am I doing? Should I keep this up, or move on? It is to forever be dating, without any hope for commitment.

Perhaps I should’ve grown up by now, and decided on a profession before I had children who have begun to tell me what they want to be when they grow up. Or perhaps this is the path I’m meant to be on, one of wandering without destination. After all, what else is writing but an account of the journey.

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Every thought I had after hearing “it’s a girl!”

Months 1-3

I don’t care, as long as it’s healthy.

Months 4-9

That’s stupid. Healthy or not, I will still love it.

Week 39

I don’t care, as long as it gets the #$&@& out of me soon.

Friday

6:10am: @#$#$@!

6:12 am: If I push hard enough, I can find out.

6:13am: It’s here! And healthy!

6:13:01am: SOMEONE MOVE THE DAMN CORD OUT OF THE WAY.

6:13:02am: It’s a girl! A girl! A girl? I’ve never had one of those.

6:15am: It is a girl, right? Can someone double check? Did anyone else get a good look?

8:07: Family knows now. Everyone is excited. Too excited? Did they all really want a girl? What’s wrong with my boys?

8:08: I can’t believe I have a girl. I don’t know anything about girls. That’s absurd. I am a girl.

9:01: Guess I’m not a #boymom anymore. That’s a bit sad. Gotta admit, I kinda liked being Queen Bee of the wild ones. But I suppose it’ll be nice having some company in the testosterone zone my home has turned into lately.

9:36: Crap. I’m going to have to explain how to use a tampon one day.

9:45: I get to plan a wedding! Go prom dress shopping! There’s no way those will be emotionally fraught and stressful events because we will have a perfect bond because the media only makes mother-daughter relationships seem stressful and strained because sexism and OMG she’s going to hate me.

10:32: What will the boys think? One wanted a brother, one wanted a sister. We are in for some tears.

10:35: The big brothers are both excited, thank God. Life will be good.

10:37 They now have lost interest in her and now just want to make my hospital bed go up and down.

1:00 pm News alert on my phone. Harvey Weinstein is a terrible person. Having a daughter is terrifying.

1:36 I am still in so much pain. I wonder if she will have kids and give birth one day. Most likely. Poor little SOB. Well, DOB.

2:57: News alert on my phone. Harvey Weinstein is a terrible person. Update: Worse than previously thought.

2:58: Having sons is terrifying. Am I doing a good enough job? Which is harder, keeping a daughter safe or a son good?

3:31: Visitor time! Wow, that’s a lot of pink. And flowers. And pink. Man. Don’t they know I want her to grow up to be empowered?

3:49: Okay, she actually looks really good in pink.

3:50: Remembering I actually really like the color pink. Well, certain shades anyway.

5:16: She’s asleep. Dang, this baby is easy. Girls must be easier. Am I stereotyping already? Maybe she’s easy because she’s my third. Or because I’ve just gotten to be a really good mom. Or maybe I just deserve an easy baby for once.

6:47: Nursing again. Time start doing a little Christmas shopping on my phone. Does she need a Women of NASA lego set? Husband says she’s a bit too young. STEM-themed dresses with dinosaurs? YES, NEED. Okay, but maybe that can wait until she knows what a dinosaur is. Pippi Longstocking? Heidi? Harriet the Spy? Ramona Quimby? Anne of Green Gables? Having a girl is going to be SO MUCH FUN.

7:54: I should email clients and let them know I’m gonna be out of commission the next few weeks. How can I work AND have three kids? How can I have three kids? Maybe I should take more time off. No stop, I’m leaning out already! Quick, lean back in! Be a good role model for your daughter!

7:56: Eh, screw society’s expectations and lean out if you want to. No, lean in more! Maybe this is why moms are always rocking back and forth whenever they see someone holding a baby.

9:03: Look at her. She’s so beautiful. Is it okay to say that? My boys were beautiful too. Still are. Ah, happy tears. And she’s asleep! Easiest baby ever.

11:32: Maybe not the easiest baby ever. Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry, don’t let the weight of the world’s expectations grind you down, go to sleep pretty (and strong and empowered) baby.

Saturday

1:45: Husband, can you swaddle him? I need some sleep.

Husband: Who?

Me: You. I’ve done enough today.

Husband: Change who? You said him.

Me: Habit. The baby. Whatever I’m tired.

Me: We have a girl, huh?

2:24: This diaper thing is easier than with boy- oh wait no, apparently girls also pee during changes. Great.

6:00: The phlebotomist wants to know if I’m excited to have a girl. Everyone wants to know that. I want to know why the phlebotomist needs to do blood draws at 6am in the morning.

6:17 One day and four minutes old! I missed it. Should’ve sat an alarm. Am I excited to have a girl?

As long as she’s healthy.

Nope, that’s still stupid.

I’m just happy she’s here.