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Jewish World Review Sept. 18, 2002 / 12 Tishrei, 5763

Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy
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Consumer Reports

I am Mom, hear me roar! | The old, childhood question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" has only been supplanted in my adulthood with the question, "What do you do?"

And I had just as much trouble answering when I was a child as I do now.

I wanted to be everything when I grew up. Test pilot, doctor, lawyer, president of the United States and rock star were just several on my long list. Writer was somewhere in there occasionally, as was teacher. I don't think mother ever made the list.

Test pilot was out. They required people who could actually see, and I have coke bottles for lenses over my eyes.

Doctor? Physics and calculus were required courses.

Lawyer? Well, I still consider that one occasionally, as I do rock star, but I really can't sing, and I know only three chords on the guitar (although I play a mean "Sloop John B.").

President? Still think I'd be a good one, but I don't have nearly the stomach it takes to be in politics. A year working in the U.S. Senate cured me of that one for good.

It appears I am reasonably able to string words together in a somewhat readable way, and I always have had a knack for spelling. So, writer it is.

I kind of fell into motherhood the same way.

I was very young when I married and the same age when I became pregnant. I'll avoid boring you with the gory details, but, in essence, I wanted a "real" life, not that fake one I was getting in college. Getting married and having kids was what I wanted more than anything in the world.

It appears I am reasonably able to bear children fairly quickly, and once I had one I only wanted more. So here I am, four kids down the road, and, well, a mom.

There are many times during a week or a month or a year when, after breaking up a fight, repeating myself for the nth time, driving to yet another violin lesson, dance class, soccer/football/baseball/basketball game, or making yet another dinner, that I remember fondly my oldest will be 20 when I am 40.

It calms me to do the math in my head as I make yet another trip to the store at 8 p.m. because someone "just has to have four brand-new bottles of glue for class tomorrow, and I'm sorry, but I forgot to tell you yesterday (when it was a Saturday and I was already at the store)."

Now, it's 8 o'clock on Sunday night, and the only store open specializes in dispensing gasoline, and they are charging $3 a bottle for the smallest size of only name-brand glue.

"OK, OK," I say to myself. "When Matthew is 20, Lydia will be 19. Both in college. That's good. That means Alex will be 16, and Liam will be 14. Oh G-d, one driving; and who knows what happens at 14? OK. So when Liam is 18, I'll be 44. Fourty-four? That's not so terrible."

And I go on to dream of all of the things I will do when I can be "me" again. I will travel to Ireland, Italy, Finland, China. I will read whole chapters, heck, whole books at a time. I will.... I will.... what? I don't know. Who cares? I'll be able to!

In the store, looking for glue or construction paper or poster board or yet more toilet paper, I bump into a woman I've seen at the kids' school. We chat a bit about teachers and who's in what class. And then the inevitable... "What do you do?"

And I respond that I am a writer. That is, after all, the socially acceptable answer. The profession that makes the bulk of my income. It adds weight to my presence. It gives me something to cling to. An identity. Something to be. And sometimes it's the easier answer. When people point to me at soccer games, they can say, "that mom's a writer."

And I do write. I write columns and essays and articles and, now, even books.

But in reality, I'm a mom, whether you choose to say "just a mom" or "I am Mom, hear me roar!" That is what I am. Everything I do, I do because I am a mom. I write because of my children, and I also clean, drive and get up in the morning because of my children. I fall asleep soundly because of them as well.

What would I have become if I hadn't had them? Maybe a lawyer or president or even, heck, a writer. But I wouldn't have been as good withoutthe mom part.

I'm a mom. Just a mom. Hear me roar, watch me drive.

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JWR contributor Michelle Kennedy, who reads and responds to all of her mail, is a reporter and columnist for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. Comment by clicking here.


08/29/02: The dream of winter, a promise of summer
07/26/02: My Martha Stewart fantasy
06/25/02: Deliver us from Walt
06/06/02: This game fits parents to a tee
05/09/02: "Shut up!" "Stop shoving!" it's Mother's Day
04/18/02: Yes, They're All Mine!
03/25/02: Thrust into a Barbie dreamland
02/01/02: Shooting the 'surplus population'
12/20/01: Zen and the Art of Clutter
12/14/01: Confessions of a serial library fine payer
12/06/01: Too good at my job, I quit

© 2001, Michelle Kennedy