Different than man-ing, bucking or shutting up, at 48-years-old, I managed to Mother Up. What's it mean? Bet, if there were a sub-URBAN dictionary, it would read something like this:
(v) To eat the roll, baguette or what have you and blame the waiter who brought the basket. To don an underwire bra. To dress in yoga pants all day long but never make it to the gym. To drink wine at 5:00 p.m. in order to take the edge off. To manufacture an edge (be it a bad hair day, your period coming, going or gone, a temper tantrum by a kid (others or your own) so you can drink at 5:00 p.m.
(v) To take motherhood to another level -- UP, so that your kids can watch you butcher your own inner chicken (figurative!) and realize your own dream. To pursue your dream, no matter how long and bumpy the ride. To turn right, even after you cowardly turned left too many times to count or admit to.
(n) A half-hour animated TV show 10 years in the making created by this very motherblogger and her writing partner, Katie Torpey, starring and executive produced by Eva Longoria.
Yep. A TV show!
But, CLEARLY, I wasn't going in the latter direction above (up) any time soon by myself. And, it became pretty clear to me by the time my first spawn was 8, that I was not all that happy being just a mom when the following irked the hell out of me: 1) filling out the "occupation" question on forms where it felt like my only choice was to put "n/a" or "my mother" and, 2) when my friends-with-lives asked me "what's new?" and it felt like a personal attack.
It was at that point that I called in the big guns: my baby sister, Lauren Zander. A be-dimpled, snickering, deeply wise life coach who made me (and I mean that) put together a list of what I wanted to be when I (38) grew up.
Yes, I said baby sister.
Truth is (if you're into that sort of thing), I didn't really want to go back to work. I never really liked working. In fact, I had always picked my jobs by what I got to wear (black), if I could curse, smoke cigarettes, see concerts and possibly sleep with Michael Stipe.
Shut up. I know I'm old and he's 80 percent gay.
So, as I sat down in front of a very blank computer screen with my reluctance and my coaching assignment -- to write out my career dream and list some possible options -- I wondered what the heck I wanted to be or do NOW, given I wasn't leaving my 8-year son or my turkey baster-inseminated 4-year old daughter (obviously, another story).
The truth is, it didn't take me that long to cop to my dream.
I think it's the case for many (if not all), if you're willing to dig a bit below the surface, honestly answer the question of what makes you happy, what you're good at, dream of, and not, more comfortably, just answer what you can't and won't do, you can uncover your dream.
Wildly (or not so), if you had asked my best friend when I was ten, Debbie Landau, what I should be when I grew up, she'd have told you a writer. Back then, she watched me write a few plays, musicals (!) even. But somewhere, at some point, I cowardly turned left instead of right, and something else, besides my dream, informed my career (or lack there of). I sold out on what truly made me happy (writing) and opted for something way safer (reading other people's writing ) and proceeded to study Russian Literature at UCLA.
Wonder why I got off on 19th Century Russian Lit? Oh, I don't know, something about purification through suffering turned me on.
Nevertheless, after a few wise snarks from my sis, I got (or was willing to admit) to what would make me happy. I wish I could credit solely my sister and/or The New Yorker or something less embarrassing than to what I also have to credit -- Sex and the City. Uh huh. As I watched SATC way back then, I was envious of Carrie's fictional columnist gig where she was paid to tell the truth about being single in Manhattan. As far as I was concerned, no one telling the full truth about motherhood or speaking for me -- a slightly (ha) self-centered, over-educated mother in the burbs mutating into her own mother, cutting grapes in half, making like a tree in Gymboree class and searching, but finding seemingly very few fellow moms who were rolling their eyes at the joke of our new old lives.
Eventually, between Weeds, Nurse Jackie, The Big C and Modern Family, television moms started changing... but truly, it still seemed, in order to get away with not being the perfect mom on TV, you needed a drug cartel, an addiction, or cancer to be forgiven.
So, I told the truth. I bravely dreamed my dream on paper and I outed the fact that I wanted to write my own column. I wanted to tell my funny and honest truth about motherhood and my experience, in the hopes of making a difference for others, lightening the loathe and, sure, being able to right "writer" in that effing "occupation" space.
Ten years later, with my sister and my co-creator and writing partner, Katie Torpey -- Catholic counterpart to my Jew, Hallmark to my Spencer's and sister-like best friend's help -- my original dream of being Carrie Bradshaw has evolved. Bigger than I ever could have imagined I'd let myself dream, let alone have. I went from having a column called, "the Poop," in the Westport News and Weston Forum to a column in the Jupiter Courier called "The Subourbon," to a TV show called many things.
Katie and I, with the help of an incredibly dogged few, created and sold a 13-episode (unheard of today) animated sitcom entitled "MOTHER UP!" starring Eva Longoria as the voice of me (ish.)
And, that's not it! Katie and I have another, twisted, animated TV show we're in love with in the works.
It's ever so obvious to me now that if my sister hadn't gotten me to sit down and write my dream, overcome my fear and believe it was possible to make it happen by putting real actions (whining, feeling guilty and b-tching don't actually count) in place, I would have spent my life feeling like I was missing something and not knowing (or more so, not admitting) what it was. If one of the PTO mothers that don't really speak to me would have spoken to me 12 years ago and asked what I do or wanted to do besides singing "wheels on the bus" badly and begrudgingly, and you would have told me then that I'd say I co-created one of the first prime-time female-oriented animated TV series starring Eva Longoria, I would have thought I had one too many "juice" boxes.
So, now when asked "occupation," I proudly got this:
Mother, writer, dreamer and Handel Group® life coach who speaks chicken, martyr and b-tch fluently, and who mothered up, finally.
P.S.- Are you a writer/artist/designer who needs a (loving) shove with your career? Join the Design Your Life Bootcamp for Creatives starting February 18th.