4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
I was driving to school to pick up the kids in my minivan. Like I do every day. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
I pulled up behind this truck. WOOD PELLETS HOT TUBS FIRE WOOD, it read.
And I couldn’t help but wonder, how did this come to be? I mean, I guess I get how wood pellets and firewood could be related? But hot tubs? Are they heated with wood? Are they made out of wood? And if so, why not just say WOOD?
And what exactly are WOOD PELLETS? The only pellets I know can be shot out of a firearm, come out of a rabbit’s butt or fill a beanbag chair. Now that would be a truck worth reading. FIREARMS BUNNY BUTTS BEAN BAG CHAIRS. So what are wood pellets already?
In 7th grade did this person picture himself driving a truck that said these things? I almost wanted to follow him into the gas station to see.
Because in 7th grade I remember doing a report on possible career paths. I made a film strip. Like, I actually drew on the film and then put it through a film projector so everyone could see the teeny tiny drawings I’d done blown up to the size of the screen that hung in front of our world map with the huge USSR on the upper right.
I made my feature full-length film strip on being a comic strip artist by the way, which is more apropos than ironic, I’d say.
I also did a report on where I envisioned myself in 20 years. I vaguely remember writing about being a novelist who lived in a cabin by the ocean. I’d forgotten about all that though until I saw that truck and began wondering about the driver.
So today in the parking lot I asked every mother who passed what she thought she’d grow up to be when she was in seventh grade. One said an architect, the other said she never did picture what she’d grow up to be, the third said a National Geographic scuba diver. Such dreams. I asked my Pilates Mamas and one said a television meteorologist, the other said likely a doctor. There’s probably little surprise then when I tell you that the beautiful lives they’ve all carved out marked by sixteen children among the five of them and such loves, adventures, small accomplishments and large, that only the architect grew to fruition (and she’s at home with her four kids these days.)
Yesterday when I sent out a cry for help, asking for someone to pick up my four-year-old daughter from school for me, one of my very best friends texted immediately, “Sure! She can join our merry band!” Because she was already picking up someone else’s five-year-old twins, plus her five-year-old, and she dropped them all at the one who was an architect’s house and then went and literally filled her minivan with seven-year-olds and dropped them all wherever they needed to go before retrieving her three kids.
Just now I texted her to ask what she thought she’d grow up to be, but she hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Too busy.
Too busy schlepping kids and working her part-time job helping people in desperate circumstances get the healthcare they need, plus playing on a tennis team and volunteering at the empty bowl super, selling ads for the ad book, being on the PTA, keeping the house clean, lovingly raising her three kids, making nutritious meals.
Plus running the volunteer composting efforts for her whole entire town.
She made that happen. Volunteer composting offered to every household for a whole entire town, organized by a volunteer. Can you imagine the amount of good this woman inspires every day? Because I’m here to tell you, I drive through town and I see those green composting bins lined up on the curbs, street after street after street. I can more than imagine it.
I doubt she thought she’d grow up with all that printed on the back of her metaphorical truck.
Considering these lives well-lived has helped me quiet that niggling, annoying voice in my head that tells me, “You coulda been a contender,” whenever I tell someone I’m a stay-at-home Mom, or a blogger, or an artist, or sometimes a teacher, occasionally a volunteer. These are not quite the things I thought I’d put on the back of my truck, you know?
But maybe it’s not what we do so much as who we are that really matters. I know this is obvious, so Zen, so post-post-Yoda-feminist. It’s just hard to find sometimes from where we each stand, by the sink, or at the door of our minivan, in the carpool lot or at the PTA meeting, at the watercooler or in front of the class, by the side of our kids’ bathtub or on the sideline of the soccer fields.
I hope that if someone had asked my friend Heather who she wanted to be (rather than what she wanted to be) she would have said, “Someone who gives, someone who takes only what she needs, who nurtures and nourishes and strives for good each day.”
Because that’s who she is each and every day.
We’re all more than WOOD PELLETS HOT TUBS FIRE WOOD.
And if you want to give a little bit of applause to someone who has lived a life of giving, please check out this link. Because after years of quietly doing good, Heather Pillis was nominated for an award by MassRecycles. Take a moment, click the link, scroll to the recycling clam, and with one more click, silently say, “Thank you for doing those glamourless things that matter. You deserve a tiara.” (You can vote once a day every day until March 15, 2015. Even if you live in Canada. Just saying.)