“Are you ready to be turned into a Fairy Princess”

Buttercup opened her newly painted eyes and fluttered her twinkling lashes before nodding at the woman with feathers in her hair and a paint brush in her hand before raising her own.

“I promise to play with my toys…

Sing songs…

Be Happy…

I promise to eat my vegetables…

Help clean up…

and go to bed early.”

Buttercup solemnly repeated every word. Then she looked at me, waiting for me to acknowledge her role. Not only had her daddy already bought her a new pet dragon and a magic wand from the many artisans at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, now she was painted as proper magical royalty should be.

“And that, my dear,” said the artist, “makes you a proper Fairy Princess.”

Buttercup blinked with wonder. No more pretending. No more need for the powers of imagination. In the land of pirates, princesses, kings, queens, and new glow in the dark pet dragons, she wasn’t just play-acting. She just was.

 

@aspiringmama: Comedy of Errors. I can’t even send a tweet…

*My head jerks up from the phone I am trying to tweet on when Buttercup lets out a shriek of pain

*Princess o Mine has not grasped the concept of looking where she is going

*Ever

*So she smacked her forehead on the back of the dining table chair

*Just as Nana and one of The Aunt’s had connected with The Husband on Facetime for an iPod chat

*Which was supposed to happen while I tried to unpack from a little trip, write a blog post, make dinner, and unload and reload the dishwasher

*Instead I was cuddling my screaming child and icing her forehead because she has the observation skills of a blind monkey and listening to the pathetic wails of the puppy who is trying his damnedest to tell his human sister that he’s all about solidarity.

“No, no, it’s ok,” I hear The Husband say into the iPod as he walks away from the sad symphony of crazy, “Little One just smacked her face when she wasn’t paying attention. She gets that from Pauline.”

Liar! I have a killer attention spa…

*The dish washer buzzes, interrupting my thoughts, instantly making me forget why I was just pissed off at The Husband. I blink, soothe the child, and deposit her on the couch with one of the new Tokens of Spoyalty purchased for her on our little trip, and quickly address the dishes

Mama!

Dammit! Ok…

*Kiss, kiss, hug, hug

*Get dinner going

*Stress out while stressing out thinking of the rest of the to-do list

*Like the taxes

*My mom’s taxes

*Buttercup and her month of barely any school thanks to conferences and half-days

*and

*My slowly loosening grip on reality

Baby, come upstairs with Mama so I can get the clothes put away.

*And I grab the now empty bags from the trip to deposit in the closet, hand Buttercup off to The Husband, who is still talking to his mom and sister, and run back downstairs to check on dinner.

*Shit

*The dish washer needs to be unloaded again

*And it’s been 30 minutes since the last time Buttercup tried to go potty

Sweeter! Get her on the toilet!

*I don’t wait for a response to my shrieked demand up the stairs

*Instead I walk back into the kitchen, feed the dogs, and plate the food, pour the milk, and scream up the stairs again to let Buttercup and The Husband know it’s time to eat.

*As they make their way downstairs, I glance at the liquor cabinet and sigh wistfully.

Mama! It’s time to eat! Yay!

*Which means more dishes. Yay! And I still need to send that tweet.

I reach for my phone to finish my thought. From 49 minutes ago.

…without losing my mind.

 

I asked for writing prompts on twitter.

Now I have to fess up about facing my greatest fear.

Not an easy assignment.

Let me start with the happiest moment in my life. And  I don’t mean the kind of happy that comes with holding your child for the first time. Or the kind that follows being pronounced Mr. and Mrs. and dancing the first night of the rest of your life away with family and friends. Those kinds of happy come because of what has been given…life, new beginnings, promises for the future.

The Happy I am referring to is the kind that just is. There’s no reason, no cause. The kind that has you smiling at your neighbors and helping kind old ladies cross the street just because you are in that good of a mood. Forget tomorrow…the sun is shining today and it’s downright blinding in its glory in this very moment. You are happy to be alive, to be who you are. You are happy to just fucking be.

I had one of those moments when I was 21. I was sitting on my mother’s front porch, trying to make sense of a strange sensation. It’s hard to describe that moment, even for me. I just remember sitting there, enjoying the soft breeze, as I sat and pondered what exactly it was that was going on inside of me.

I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t obsessing over calories or the last food binge and how many times I would have to throw up to make up for what I had stuffed down. I was past that. And?

I was just happy. Simply, inexplicably, and beautifully happy with me and my life.

It wasn’t a normal thing for me to feel. After waking many a morning as a small child in tears and no way of expressing the overwhelming sadness that was covering me, after 6 years of fighting bulimia and finally also being diagnosed as clinically depressed and anxious, after 2 years of adjusting Prozac levels and taking my pill like a good little trooper, I was finally able to feel what I had never been able to feel spontaneously.

Happiness.

I’m remembering that moment because I haven’t felt that way since. Or maybe I have. Maybe I will. Yesterday, Last week. Tomorrow. It’s easy to forget the happy from five minutes ago when depression comes in and steals your thunder.

Sure, I’ve had many reasons to be happy. My loving Husband. My beautiful daughter. Friends who get me. Puppies. Sunsets. New shoes. Good hair days. Leftovers that taste better the next day. Hugs. Date nights. Sleeping in. Posting a new blog that I know will make people laugh. Kisses from Buttercup. I love you’s from The Husband.

But very bit of happiness has come as a result of what preceded it. Not because I am. Which really? Makes for a sad irony as it generates more sadness for understanding that I’m missing out on The Happy that should be there, be here, inside my head.

I stopped taking Prozac years ago. I was in a good place. I thought I had it all together. I figured if I had overcome the eating disorder I was golden on the depression front, too. And with encouragement from well meaning family members who believed I didn’t need a pill to create happy because happy was already present, I weaned myself off and never looked back. Not out loud, anyway.

My therapist from my teens told me I was the most highly functioning depressed person she had ever counseled. As long as I am busy, as long as I don’t have time to think about the missing bits in my head, I can pull off a pretty good Happiness Front. You see smiles. You hear laughter. You read snark. And sometimes I can believe it myself.

But like all things left to fester, it builds into something that begins to blemish the very image you created. I’ve hit my breaking point and it’s time to admit what I have been trying to avoid.

My greatest fear? That I am not enough for myself. That I am not enough for my daughter or husband. That I am not whole without happiness manufactured through a pill.

How did I face that fear?

I made a call.

I asked for help.

 

I’ve been trying to decide for a while now how I will celebrate the day my (currently non-existent) agent calls me with the incredibly fantastical awesome news that I have a book deal. It’s much like the fantasy normal people have about how they will spend their fortunes the day they hit it big with the lottery, except the ticket is a publishing house contract with my name on it.

I could buy an(other) expensive purse. As in, not in the clearance section at Target. (Not gonna happen.)

I could go celebrate in Vegas…if I brought my mom along with me so we can take turns leaving the hotel room sans pre-schooler. (Boring.)

Or I could just treat myself and my little family to a nice dinner out? (Typical.)

If this ever happens, I want to mark the event with something memorable. So last night I told The Husband I was going to buy a Finger Monkey when The Day arrives.

The conversation went something like this:

The Husband: “Are you insane?”

Me: “That wasn’t the topic of the conversation. The Finger Monkey is.”

The Husband: “You are insane. Why do you want a Finger Monkey?”

Me: Blink, blink. “Really? Just look at that little face!”

The Husband: (Sighing) How much do those things run?

Me: That’s is also not up for discussion at this point. But if I get my dream agent and they get me my dream book deal, then I’m pretty sure the Finger Monkey won’t really be an issue.”

The Husband: “You’re dreaming.”

Me: “You’re forgetful. We had this conversation when we got engaged. Getting my own monkey is all part of the Master Plan.”

The Husband: “What Master Plan?”

Me: “The one where I first get you to say I can get a Finger Monkey after I get a book deal and then I turn it around and convince you that you told me I could get one now and name it Platform.”

The Husband: “Platform?”

Me: “Exactly. That way when another agent writes to say the book sounds interesting but thinks I need to build a bigger platform, I kindly email back with a photo of Platform: The Secret Agent Monkey, wrapped around my pointer and explain that I already have a very cute and manageable platform already. Then I ask them where I sign.”

 

But I am relatable. (Shut up, spell check. It’s a word, dammit.)

I’m overworked. Stretched in more ways than I ever dreamed imaginable.

I? Come last on my to-do list because Motherhood comes first. And that, my friends, includes the dishes and the laundry and the dusting and the mopping and the schlepping around of the Mother of All Diaper Bags because I must at all costs be prepared for The Unknown. Even if we are just going to Walgreens for vitamins and OJ.

It means cooking dinner while packing The Husband’s cooler for work while chasing the damned puppy out of the kitchen while saying “uhuh” and “okay, baby” in response to questions and stories you aren’t really paying attention to while promising to make it up to her later with some one on one time. Her turf. Her rules. This means I go by Mama Prince and have to wake my sleeping Princess with True Love’s First Kiss. Then we giggle and color and I love that she doesn’t give a flying shit about staying in the lines.

It means I showered today at 4 p.m. and put a brand new pair of pajamas on (read: yoga pants and an old T-shirt) and never bothered with a bra because who really gives a damn when I knew I wasn’t leaving the house?

Nick Jr. is king in my house. If she is awake and in the room, nothing with commercials, sex, violence, swearing (shut up, I save it for the blog) is allowed. Which means that The Husband and I can recite entire episodes of The Backyardigans and know when The Fresh Beat Band has come out with a new song before we know that that something exciting has happened in the Wonderful World of Adults.

What doesn’t it mean for me?

Motherood (and my reality) doesn’t include nannies or television interviews because of what I do or who I am married to. It doesn’t mean record deals or millions of fans across the globe who give a shit about who I am or what Target brand I wore while teaching Buttercup to ride her new new wheeler on training wheels. There are no tabloid covers, no paparazzi hiding out in my garbage cans. No plastic surgeons, no drivers, no live in help of any kind.

Which brings me back to the (slowly shrinking) muffin top I’m still sporting because My Un-Famous Reality  doesn’t always allow me the time to attend to, well, me. Not all the time, anyway.

I know. I know…Other Moms do it. I get that. But I’m still trying to figure it all out. My daughter will be four in June and I’m still trying to figure myself out, for crying out loud.

And?

That’s my story. That’s who I am.

Look in a mirror. If you see a variation of my reflection, you are my target audience. You are who I want to connect with.You are the reason I wrote my book.

I’ve been querying, trying to get an agent. Not long enough to start crying, but definitely long enough to have received feedback that’s making me wonder why I didn’t just lie about my reality and call it fiction, because apparently that’s where it’s at (and yes, I am over-simplifying here) if you aren’t already famous. It’s called a platform, and they are required for getting a non-fiction book on the book shelves.

That’s the part that brings me back to the Me Not Being Famous Thing but still having written a book that seems to require me to be famous for you to ever see it. Agents are telling me they like the project but momoirs are tough to sell. That Moms just won’t buy a book buy a Nobody from Nowhere when they can buy a book by Celebrity Mom from Hollywood.

I get it. Publishing is a business. It’s about the bottom line. But I don’t get how an experience as universal and unifying as motherhood is limited to the Rich and Famous. I want to relate when I read.

I want to see myself and my struggle in those pages.

What about you?

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