I ran across this little article some time in the last week that took a brief ride through a mom’s mind as she tried to sleep one night from one of my favorite blogs, Scary Mommy. While it was completely relatable if you’re a mom, if you are a mom AND a writer, that trek turns into a journey of epic proportions.
I did my best to find a meme that captures this whole concept, but I kept getting swept into the torrent of memes. It’s a madhouse out there. If anyone finds it, holler at me. It’s the one that shows an unlocked door with the caption: What a normal person sees….gee, I left the door unlocked. What I see…oh my god, did a serial killer sneak in while I was parking the car?
I’m not sure how many other parents who double as writers go through this, but my imagination can be a twisted, unhelpful demon of panic if I’m not careful. Let’s take an example from a few months ago.
Prankster Duo #1 ends up staying after school to complete whatever project/paper/assignment he has missed due to teenage brain fart, over-scheduled activity interference, or whatever that week’s excuse was.
Okay, not a problem, however since the parental units have command performances at other, distant locations with individuals who supply the funds necessary for keeping the bill collectors at bay, Prankster Duo #1’s ride options are limited to a specific timeframe.
What is a teenage boy to do with the free two hours this gives him when he has no access to a motorized vehicle? That’s the beauty of having a public library attached to the high school. Go forth to the hallowed book-lined halls and do that pesky thing called homework or (gasp) read something.
So I take my bow and exit day-job stage left, and begin my journey to gather up Prankster Duo #1. In preparation, I send a text. “I’m heading your way, should be there in 45 minutes. Love you, mom.”
I’m cruising (okay, doing the stop-n-go that’s the norm for any freeway around here) my way down to my son. My phone stays strangely silent. Not even a “K” comes back. The paranoid writer-mama mind begins to perk up. I beat it back while playing frogger on the freeway.
As I pull into the school parking lot, the familiar messy mop of hair complete with headphones is no where to be found. Panic knocks on the door.
Now, I know that a white panel van doesn’t cruise around the block near the high school. As a matter of fact, I’m fairly certain our neighborhood is fairly safe, which is why we moved there. But even though the logical half of my brain reminds me of all the reasons why we choose this area, there is another part that dwells in the wicked world of what-ifs and it isn’t playing nice.
As a matter of fact, as the minutes tick by and pile on to one another and my texts go unanswered, it’s getting down right mean. Scenarios of all the things that could happen to my precious teenager start to play in my mind, totally ignoring my attempts to shut it down. In the meantime, I’ve reached out to his younger brother to make sure he didn’t end up going home. Nope, Prankster Duo #2 is home doing homework, his only company the Fur Minxes. I check with my Knight in case of possible updates. Nada.
Locking down my trusty motorized steed, I began to hike into the library, and as I step up to the doors, the familiar tangle of curls and headphones appear, and the tauntingly cruel grip of “what-ifs” disappears. The explanation: the cell battery is dead, sorry! Once my heart resumes normal speed, we’re back to our regular programming sans commercial interuptions. Yet, that nasty bugger Panic sticks around, making sure to leave an impression before completely abandoning the scene.
This is what it’s like for me. Maybe because I have the dual whammy of being a parent who writes in darker genres, but man alive, sometimes it’s a real stress inducer having an over-active imagination.
Still, I figure if I can survive the teenage years, the remaining won’t be quite so bad.