Writing What I Know About — For Now
by Theresa Reichman
Let me give it to you straight. Sometimes I feel like I shortchange you. Let me explain my writing process…
I’m rarely one of those people who suddenly have a brilliant idea for a column that’s witty, poignant and timely. I usually sit down at my laptop to peruse Google for any sort of news that inspires me to write something that IS witty, poignant and timely. Then — cue the chaos.
Any parent knows, when you’re determined to be productive, it’s like a bell rings and suddenly your children turn into Pavlov’s dogs, salivating for your time and energy until you’re completely sapped. Typically, when I sit down to write a column, my words are studded with interludes of milk refills, diaper changes, toy retrievals, sibling refereeing, time out enforcing and snack-producing wonders.
Often times, it’s in those interludes that I begin to realize that I have a mommy-brain made of mush. My knowledge on politics and current events is probably comparable to that of a seventh grader whose classes are studded with interludes of texting, lip-gloss reapplying, hair twirling, eyeing-the-boy-to-her-two-o-clock wonders. About as productive as my attempt to find a compelling next topic.
So, I usually wind up writing about what I know. And at this juncture in my life, my area of expertise happens to be motherhood. (And yesterday, my expertise was how to scrape dirty kitty litter off your kitchen floors after your 2-year-old gets into it and runs amuck. Just in case you were wondering.)
So here I am, whipping out photo after photo of my tikes in all of their adorably mischievous glory for you, my readers, to smile and nod and somewhat convincingly reassure me that they ARE indeed the cutest little girls you ever did see. And I appreciate that. (Because of course they ARE the cutest little girls you ever did see, even if you don’t realize it now.)
My point is (which may not be so obvious since I’ve already encountered eight “interludes” since the start of this column – yes, I kept a tally), this time is fleeting. As I type, I’m on the prowl for full-time work; a step away from life as I’ve known it for nearly four years now. As I type, I’m enrolled for the fall semester at the local community college. A step I’ve been longing for, but put on hold because – I’ll say it again – this time is fleeting.
Pretty soon my columns will be clouded with rants about college professors and their conservative biases, the woes and victories of being part of the working class, returning to academia after five-plus years out of the education system, and yes, what it’s like to tearfully watch a bus drive my baby away from me for the first time. There are a lot of foreign topics on my columnist horizons.
But for now — while they’re still mine to have — humor me. Because it’s going to be a sad day when I sit down to write a column and Pavlov’s bell doesn’t ring.