Tag Archive | family

No Ordinary Kind of Love

I did an interview recently for the local SCBWI blog, Kite Tales, and one of the questions was, “When did you first feel like you were a writer?” My first reaction was, I don’t feel like a writer. I don’t, for practical reasons. I’m not published or even represented. Also for emotional reasons. Who the heck am I? I can’t write. I’m playing make believe. This is all a grand exercise in delusion.

I let that weed of a knee-jerk reaction subside and really considered the question. Supposing I did have flashes of feeling like a writer, and I do, when did those begin, and sparked by what? The answer? I felt like a writer over the course of writing this blog.

What a horrible answer, but there it is. A blog. Woof, such a cliche. Amiright? I don’t write this blog for readership; I never have. If that were my intent, I promise you I know enough about marketing to know that I’d go about it differently. I don’t write this blog for attention, or to get discovered, or picked up, or anything really. I don’t write it for anything. Except, just, to write. To work out who I am as a writer. To experiment with putting words together. To wrestle with words. It’s a blog, it’s social media, but it’s intimate. Because I don’t care if you like it, or comment on it, or share it, or ever read it at all. It’s public enough that I’m accountable to how I put the words together, but private enough that I don’t feel prey to anyone’s scrutiny or validation. I love this blog, and it has made me feel like a writer.

This year I need more of that. And I need it to be next level. An agent, a sold manuscript, an award in a writing contest. Something. Something else from somewhere outside my own fingers, something from the cosmos that hears my call and responds, “Yes, okay, you are a writer.”

The older I get, the more I realize that quiet was what I was always meant to be. My ego has longed for fame, fortune, acclaim, praise—all on the highest level, and yet my actions have led me to a small, quiet life with a wonderful partner, a pair of cats, a tiny apartment by the sea, an office job, and all the accouterments of standard, out-of-the-box happiness. Nothing too extraordinary, or revolutionary, but as singular as a snowflake to me. As quiet as one too. My ego wanted one thing, but my heart took me to another. Peculiar. Does the heart just win?

Am I equivocating? Trying to console myself for being in my mid-thirties, still in debt, still unknown and working in an office? Maybe. I honestly don’t know the answer to that because if my life were a bit more exclusive, maybe I’d be happy with that too. I don’t know. The only thing I do know is that I wouldn’t take away a single thing today that makes me happy in order to obtain the extravagance about which my ego is so curious. I wouldn’t trade the great love I have, my sweet cats, my family, or the little baby growing inside me.

Oh yeah, I’m expecting. Probably nothing exemplifies the paradox of wonder as it relates to my ordinary life, better than my pregnancy. I am growing a human being. She’s the only one of her kind. I am doing something that millions of women around the world are doing, and billions of women since time immemorial. It is, arguably, the most mundane thing anyone could possibly do, from a statistical standpoint. And yet, why does it feel like I’ve won a Pulitzer? How does it feel like I’m the first woman on the moon? It’s like I’m spinning a new universe from scratch when all I’m really doing is something that most women will do at some point in their lifetimes. It is, at once, the most ordinary and extraordinary thing in the world.

That’s my life. An extraordinary, ordinary life. Even that’s a cliche. There’s nothing special. There’s nothing singular. And yet, it feels as though these cliches have something in common with walking on the moon. Growing humans. Loving someone. Writing. Making a life.

Acts of creation?

My ego wants to be the only one. The only one who gets told I’m great, I’m special, I’m beautiful, I’m known. But something else, something that’s not my ego, knows that just as much magic can exist in a small version of greatness. The outcome may look different. The compensation almost certainly will. The core is the same. All acts of creation are singular, no matter how small, or prolific among humanity.

Don’t mistake my introspection for complacency. I am ambitious. I want to be on the New York Times Bestseller list. I want to win a Newbery. I want one of my books to be made into a movie and have a chair on set that’s always saved for me. These are not quiet ambitions. I know that. I also know that achieving them will not make me any happier than I feel on a Friday night, coming home to my husband, eating spaghetti, watching Netflix and feeling my baby kick me from the inside. I know it. One day I’ll accept my Newbery Medal and I’ll say to my daughter, this award means the world to me, but you were my world first. I’ll say to my husband, this award brings me joy, but I only know joy because of you. I’ll say to my cats, you are little stinkers and neener-neener, I got a medal. I won’t talk to my cats about it. They don’t care. But they make me happy.

If I never actually get that medal, or that spot on the NY Times list, at least I know what it feels like to win. To be the luckiest woman in the world. Happiness. Its potency doesn’t increase with scale. It’s in the sun, and a grain of sand. The same amount.

And love. Singular, unique, exclusive, magical, love. A fertile soil where all creation begins, and blossoms an extraordinary garden. What’s more ordinary than a flower? They grow all over the world. But they always make you pause, don’t they? Pause, and wonder.




Marriage… House… Kids

As a mildly angst-riddled teenager I loved movies like American Beauty and Ordinary People that deconstructed the so-called American Dream and exposed it for what it really is, which I believed to be a false security blanket we hide under to escape our failures in achieving our true bohemian passions and desires. I can’t be the only teenage artiste who felt destined to transcend society’s expectations. Following the blueprint of marriage > house > kids seemed like a cop-out. Sentiments spoken like a true angst-riddled teenager.

This weird thing happens as you get older, which my mother of course told me would happen as I’d get older but I didn’t believe her. Your perspective changes. I would crow to her that I’m too different, too unique, to do something as prosaic as have children by the time I’m 33. No no no. I’m an artiste. I have dreams first. Then suddenly you turn 30 and you really do care less about being the world’s most fabulous actress, not because you doubt yourself any more or less. It just doesn’t seem to matter as much any more. Other things start to matter. Things like marriage > house > kids.

Whoa whoa whoa. What’s happening to me? I denounced that path at 16! Am I really going to deviate from my iconoclastic destiny by being… predictable? Suddenly I’m looking at listings on Zillow and taking school districts into consideration. Am I allowing myself to be sucked into the smokescreen of the “American Dream?” Or is this just, y’know, growing up? And how do I tell the difference?

I do what’s worked for me before. I stop. I breathe. I think. I deconstruct my preconceptions and try to see my situation from the outside. Maybe I should distance myself from conclusions I made about life as a teenager and allow room to grow? Just a thought.

*CUE angry teenager voice*

No! You weren’t wrong! You’re getting sucked in just like they want you to. “They.” “The man.” The daily grind. You’re better than that. You’re SPECIAL! Being responsible is code for being AVERAGE! It’s a trap! IT’S A TRAP!

Pause. Thank you self-aggrandizing teenage Becky. Noted. Now let’s get back to our present situation.

Teenage years, for better or worse, can be defined by one word: ego. It’s an important time in life. No longer children, our egos are finally sprouting legs to walk around as the person we’ll continue to become the rest of our lives. Puberty takes a grip, our hormones rage, and our egos blast off at full speed with an impenetrability and entitlement needed for things like surviving high school and leaving the nest. These broad strokes of “becoming” during our teenage years shape our goals and set our sails on a path to achieve them. Looking back I’m realizing that my teenage self was very important to me, it doesn’t mean my teenage self was right. Shifting my perspective now at age 30 doesn’t mean I’ve failed.

I’m stubborn. It’s hard for me to admit I may have been wrong, even if I’m referring to lofty ideas of self that I had at 16. A stubborn patch of coarse soil will never leave room for new flowers to grow, so let me take a look at this situation again.

Marriage > House > Kids.

I’m going to solve this problem very quickly because the light bulbs went off in my head very quickly once I stopped, breathed, and meditated a bit on the subject.

What is a marriage. Marriage is many things but the heart of it is love.


What is a house? We can easily get tangled up in the trappings and materialism of home-ownership but at its core a house is safe shelter.


What are kids? Well, I really have no idea what it’s like to actually have kids but I remember being a kid and I like kids. What are kids? Kids are family.


So what is this Marriage > House > Kids pathway? Let me translate.

Love > Shelter > Family

Is there anything more important to our survival than that? Anything more fundamental? More pure?

Love. Shelter. Family.

Teenage Becky was too embroiled in the development of her ego to do that nifty bit of translation of the American Dream. Adult Becky may be a bit wiser.

Love. Shelter. Family.

Yep. Those are definitely things that I want. Got the first one. Best decision I ever made. Got the second one except I’m spending every month paying off someone else’s mortgage so I’m understanding the allure of ownership.

Family. Well that’s a topic for another day.


This is pretty darn close to what my family currently looks like. And I love it with all of my heart. Click on the image for more illustrations of the little things that make love grand.