This morning at breakfast I read an article in the New Yorker by Deborah Copaken Kogan which moved me to tears. The piece is a brave account of her struggle to accommodate her ten year old son’s desire to become a child actor, a desire unusual in that he appears to have accomplished it with ease. But what is more remarkable is perhaps that Ms. Kogan had a previous life as a combat photographer, and after publishing a book about her experiences she now has a novel forthcoming.
It is hard to combine motherhood with any sort of career. To combine motherhood with writing can be particularly excruciating, because at their worst both jobs generate the most extreme form of negative feedback there is: rejection. Most of the time, of course, both jobs generate no kind of feedback whatsoever, and that, in conjunction with their conflicting demands on time and concentration, can be cumulatively almost as bad.
I am particularly encouraged to see such a piece appear in the New Yorker. If we mothers are ever to achieve recognition (and ideally some form of enfranchisement) for our role, then it is respected journals like the New Yorker who will validate us. I also want to congratulate Ms. Kogan on the insights of her piece, and, as the mother of a nine year old Level 5 Competitive gymnast, I would add my personal congratulations to her on the job she has clearly done to date bringing up Jacob, her son.
On the same subject, I find myself approaching a novel experience this week. My Doctors have discouraged me from attempting a long haul flight at this time, and so on Friday morning my husband will fly to England for eight days, accompanied by both our daughters. Obviously since I began at Bennington we have become accustomed to this length of separation. However, for me to go to Vermont and immerse myself in workshops, lectures and readings for ten days is a very different set up from being left here in the family home. It may well be my first and only opportunity to experience the writing life as a single person, relatively unencumbered by parenthood.
I say relatively, because of course I have various commitments which exist because of my children and continue in their absence. I have to spend the best part of Saturday selling pins and bears at a Gymnastics meet, and then I am working at the school book fair on Monday and Tuesday. Also on Tuesday I have the children’s parent-teacher conferences.
But, this coming Sunday, March 11th, I shall drive to Keyport for a featured reading untrammeled by the need for a babysitter. (3 pm at Espresso Joe’s. Do come if you’re in the area.) On Wednesday I shall drop the dog in kennels and make a flying visit to a friend, and on Friday evening my good friend Rachel has plans to take me to visit the Philly Gayborhood!
I won’t have known such liberty since 1997.