Monday, January 16, 2012

Unsigned

The Guilt of (this) Working Mom takes shape in many forms. In the nutella with bread Zoey gets each morning despite the fact that it's not part of a balanced breakfast no matter what the commercial says. In the way I practically make out with Ozzy the minute I walk through the door, holding him while I shuffle around the house because my lower back has seized up. In the little dance I do in front of my house each morning; Zoey watching through the picture window as I blow kisses, then hugs, then I love you in American Sign Language which always makes me feel a little like I'm listening to Metallica, the difference only in the inclusion of a thumb. Three times mommy! Do it three times today! And so I do it while cars drive past, mwah, mmmhug, a flash of fingers, mwah, mmmhug, a flash of fingers, mwah, mmmhug, a flash of fingers. As if I am going off to war and not just walking to the bus stop.

Long ago I made the mistake of drawing on the napkin that I put in Zoey's lunch box, a princess or something, I don't know. The next day she asked for a pirate, and then a spider, a bat, castle, mountains, fish, stars, rainbows. Before I knew it I could not not draw a picture on her napkin, each night thinking what should I draw for tomorrow? 10 o'clock tired and realizing shit, I forgot to draw something, pulling out a pen and sketching a skeleton in October, turkeys in November, Santa and snowflakes, my favorite: elves having a snowball fight. And then last week I found a zippered compartment in Zoey's lunch box that I didn't know was there. I opened it and found a stash of old napkins.Those are my favorites, Zoey said when I asked why they were there. I can't throw those away because you're famous, she said.
I'm not famous, I told her, but she insisted I was. Said that all her friends loved my napkins, that at the beginning of lunch they crowded around her to see what it would be that day, that I was a famous drawer and a famous mommy, and you know where this is going, right?
I am not the best artist. Not the best writer or the best person, not the smartest, most beautiful, not even the worst or the ugliest, dumbest or sluttiest. Not the estiest of anything, really. But in that moment I was super-superlative more than most and then some. Because every day while I am in a meeting maybe, or eating a tasteless sandwich dropping crumbs on my keyboard, every day while I am on the 21st floor of a building my daughter is nine miles away at noon thinking I am a famous mommy, and that right there is everything.
So yes, it seems I will be drawing on napkins every weeknight until Zoey, and then Ozzy is out of school. Bunnies and cats, maps, mice, people with very big eyes and cupcakes. I will draw on napkins until they tell me to stop, beg me, mom, you have got to stop sending napkins to my dorm, to my work, to my husband, to my wife. And I will smile the smile of someone who knows she is good at what she does. Because I am their mommy, and they made me famous.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a napkin to go draw. (I'm thinking raccoon.)

19 comments:

krista said...

crap, woman. if i tried to draw any of that it would look like someone vomited on her napkin.
however, i grew up with a mom who wrote me a note every single day on my napkin. all through elementary school (i told her to stop in 5th grade, by the way.)
i wish i would have saved them. but i actually used them.
the thing is?
i can picture them. and i remember that moment, when lunch happened and i would unfold my napkin. i kept it hidden, but it was the highlight of my day.
(especially when we had some sort of argument and it was an 'i'm sorry and i love you.' -she always let me apologize second. although on second thought, that's a bad habit i've had to break. the apologizing second.)
anyhoo. i've got to start leaving finn notes in her lunch. asap.

Jules said...

I'm with Krista. I stick with pithy phrases, because mama can't draw. I sued to think I could "kinda draw," but after seeing your napkins I realize that NOPE! can't kind draw.

Mornings with Milo said...

My husband and I loved this! He even said "awww" when I read the part where she saved your "famous" napkin sketches ha! I don't get that reaction often. What would this world be like without little girls and boys ;)

Luanne said...

Awesome. Just awesome. I miss those days.

leigh said...

so very lovely! i love your drawing too... i'm a big fan of that owl actually... kind of want it on a t-shirt ;)

my mom used to write me notes in my lunches - and used to sometimes draw on my lunch bag. i love it... it was like a hug a lunch time. she also used to send me letters in the mail, and i'd write her back. it was so fun to get real mail when you are 7 ;)

Petunia Face said...

I can't wait until Zoey can really read so I can write things on her napkin, too. And I love the idea of sending letters in the mail--so cute!

ZDub said...

Oh, I love this. Also, it reminded me of my friend's lunchbox art:

http://www.busydadblog.com/lunchbox-daily/

sherri said...

those are some serious napking drawings. I thought it was gonna be like a black and white stick person. Impressive.

Nancy Fastenau, Fastenau and Associates said...

I always knew you were famous, certainly in our family. Your children will always think you are famous. I hope it is always for your napkin drawings/writing . . .

Heidi F. said...

I think you are very much the artist with quite a gift for creating with pen as well as words.

Anonymous said...

I was a working mom and suffered daily leaving my daughters ... I missed them so much! To make up for part of the missing and guilt I would make their lunches every day and found out later that my lunches were quite sought after at school! Both of my daughters were able to use them to barter for other treats. I thought it was very sweet and it made me feel like a famous mom too!

Sharon said...

This is so beautiful that it hurt my heart. You are an awesome mom.

Anonymous said...

Very sweet...and will be a lovely memory for her.

O.T. I must know the song in your video 056 (Zoey and the Christmas tree)

Petunia Face said...

Anonymous @ 6:17--
Isn't that a beautiful song? It's by local Bay Area musician Enzo Garcia. When Zoey was little we would go and see him every Sunday morning. The track is called Bye N' Bye. Here's a link:

http://music.yahoo.com/enzo-garcia/albums/breakfast-with-enzo--205909392

Simon Templar said...

What a magnificent post!

For what it's worth, I think you are…

1. a great artist (perhaps sign and sell some napkins? limited edition, you know)
2. a fabulous writer (as evidenced in your latest post, et al.)
3. probably a really good person (sure, we don't know each other, but I’d bet $100 that I’m correct)
4. obviously smart (and clever, and funny)
5. quite beautiful (inside and out)
6. definitely famous!

In other words, you're supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to the power of infinity. Squared.

Anonymous said...

I hope you are happy.
You have a made a pregnant working mother cry at her desk.
THANKS!

Anonymous said...

LOVE. THIS. !!!
I can't draw but I do give my son a tissue with my lipstick blotted on it every day when I leave for the office. A "kiss".

Michelle M in KY said...

OH SUSANNAH...
Oh...sniff, sniff! This made me cry! Lately Faith has been asking to eat lunch @ school. When I read this it made my heart hurt a little. So, this morning when she said she wanted me to pack her lunch...I was elated! Wrote my special note of LOVE, LOVE and more LOVE and I can't wait to see what she says after school. Keep on keepin' on Mama...you're doing a great job!

kacey2004 said...

You make me want to be a better Mother.