Chopped onions, mushrooms and garlic simmer in the pan with a little olive oil. I add a handful of spinach and push everything around with a wooden spoon.
“Here we are in the kitchen of the famous writer,” says my girl.
Wearing her soft white pajamas with gold snowflakes, she points a camera at me and talks in a tumble of quick words, her sweet voice trying to mimic the cadence of the reporters she hears on NPR.
“You may know her from her famous blog, but she is also writing two novels which are sure to be New York sellers.”
She walks closer and I turn, aware of my dirty apron and unwashed hair. The camera is on my face now.
“Can I ask you a few questions?”
“When you’re famous, will you allow your books to be made into movies?”
“I know you doubt your acting skills, but if given the chance, would you star in the movie?”
“No. I’d leave it to the professionals.”
“You could, you know.”
“Thanks, but it isn’t something I even want.”
I stare at her through the camera, my tone serious. Teachable moment.
“You do know I may never finish my book, and it may never be published. You know that, right?”
She sighs and smiles.
“You will mom, and you are already famous,” she says. “Because you’re awesome.”
She turns the camera on herself.
“Well, there you have it, folks. A short interview with the famous writer as she cooks dinner. Tune in tomorrow when we interview a leprechaun about the true secrets of the rainbow.”
She walks into the next room and I hear her playing the video back to herself. I wonder what she is thinking as she watches it.
Does she see the bags under my eyes or the way I cringed when she called me “famous writer”?
Does she know how much I fear I’ll never finish writing anything?
Can she possibly understand the enormous feelings her little interview exploded inside me as I cooked a frittata on a Monday night?
Thank goodness the answer is no. She is 10 years old, all she knows is she loves her mother and she believes I can do anything. I’m still a hero to her, someone to look up to, someone to admire.
Like all aspects of motherhood, it’s crushing, suffocating, messy, confusing and fucking wonderful all at once.
I don’t want to let her down.
I’ve always told her she could do whatever she wants in life.
“You are only limited by your own fears.”
I worry I will fail, and she will watch it, and all her hopes and dreams will crash along with mine. She won’t believe me anymore and I will have broken her.
I worry she will watch the video years down the road, when I am gone, sad her mother never finished those books she always talked about.
She is watching me.
She sees me trying, hears me reading sentences out loud to myself, watches me rush to scribble something on a piece of paper, listens as I tell her something new I figured out about one of my characters and hears me cry when I think I’m alone and everything feels too big.
She is watching me.
Fear and self-doubt, like Oden’s ravens, sit on my shoulders. They mock me, tell me how foolish, stupid and boring I am. Famous writer. Blah.
Yet I keep going.
I’m crafting stories and characters and worlds. It’s hours of tedious work, reworking the same sentences over and over until they read exactly as I want them to, mixed with a tiny moment where the magic sends a shiver through my entire body and I feel life pure and whole and without edit.
I don’t know how this story ends, but she is watching me.