...or removing pubic hairs from the base of the toilet, not a single member of the family needs you. But the moment you open the laptop and reach for the secret stash of chocolate, the kids, followed by the husband, come sauntering in, sensing the disruption in the force-field of attention. My fault truly—a bad habit from the days when the children were first crawling and the imminent threat of babies disappearing off decks or out of windows existed—so of course they’re all used to living in the waves of umbilical hyper-vigilance exuding from every pore of my body. And of course they’re curious...to see what’s so worthy of dropping the radar. A little white noise does the trick—turning on the dryer, or carrying the sock basket on my hip and plunking it down next to the laptop. Or browning the celery and onions for the chicken soup, so that little distinct click of laptop opening can’t be heard. When I consulted my writer-who-also-happens-to-be-a-mom friend and my sculptor-who-also-happens-to-be-a-mom friend, they confirmed I was not alone: they too had experienced this phenomenon.
Last Saturday, I got away with reading The Sun while the bacon fried, just long enough to get through page one of “Blind Love,” by Rosa Montero (translated by Claudia Routon in Hunger Mountain’s Spring 2008 issue) and arrive at this line: “The perverse reality is pretty girls, however stupid, are imbued with rich inner selves, always. Meanwhile no one bothers to imagine a lovely soul in a grey-haired, large-headed, wall-eyed woman. A constant companion to my ugliness, this truth festers like an open wound: it’s not that they don’t see me, they don’t imagine me.” You have to read the rest of this Cyrano variation yourself (totally worth it), but I have to say this paragraph made me think about the thoughts we hold about others, and the thoughts others hold about us. How beautiful to imagine beyond assumption, beyond the he-said/she-said of friends in marital strife, imagining instead a more vibrant under-core, their happy potential. Like the photo of my mother-in-law’s husband on his memorial leaflet—tan, barrel-chested, thriving, in his thirties. He’s off, for one last swim in the sea, and I, to my cabin to write, leaving the phone in the house, kissing the kids goodbye for the day (how dare I—folder of laundry, maker of killer organic meals, braider extraordinaire, one-stop healer—tempting them to imagine I might be all that and more).