A recent hike in the mountains with a fellow writer got me thinking…
I have almost been many things in my life. Early on before and after college graduation I thought I was going to be a professional actress. It was a heart felt belief that this would be true. My sensibilities told me to hang in there, do the work, stay hungry and that my time would come. You need to have blind faith and tunnel vision and I lived in the tunnel for years. There were enough jobs that kept the dream alive and the closest I ever got to real success was being cast on a day time soap in New York to play a character and her evil twin sister for ABC. Just before contracts were signed, the character got killed off. Needless to say, I never made it to New York and my ambition got a bit killed as well.
I then became a writer. Movie scripts, TV drama series, I was writing with great partners creating shows that the world needed in their box at home. I was being mentored by the industry’s greatest and actually chose which agent I wanted. But over the years, my conflicting commitments between feeding the babies and feeding my creations on paper made it near impossible to be sitting at any round table that wasn’t set for family dinner.
I wrote a novel with a best mate that produced the most wonderfully complimentary letters all unfortunately carrying the transitional paragraph beginning with ‘However…’. Another incarnation unrealized. I trained as a birthing doula which brought together my love for newborns, empathy for the vulnerability of an expecting woman and my underlying ease I feel in a hospital (I seriously could have been a surgeon) and still try and figure out how to lend those services to expecting moms without being on call!
It’s not depressing; it’s my life. And what I wanted more than anything for as long as I can remember is for that life to be different somehow. Different from the way I grew up, however gorgeous and wonderful. Different from any prediction, any rules. Different from the norm. So, with hindsight I can see the need for the two countries; the complications and unpredictability of it all. Steve Jobs is quoted so eloquently in his speech to Stanford Grads saying that you can only connect the dots looking behind you, never being able to connect ahead of yourself. And each experience connects to the next. Which is so true. The relevance of all of my rejections brought me to London, and then London brought me back to LA again and again. And brought me to motherhood in such a significant way.
I never realized I wanted such a big family and yet needed a tribe of boys to feel complete. As we navigate through our two cultures, two homes, I find myself subconsciously trying to give each of my boys the same; a life less ordinary, a life full of differences.
On my hike this morning my friend and I discussed the impending high school applications for our boys and the fear and anxiety it conjures up in the family as you prepare for success and failure for your kid. How to protect our boys? How to maintain their confidence in the storm of potential rejections? Rejections. It’s hitting a nerve in me again. In London we went through this two years ago and it was nerve wracking and quite horrible. The competition for London day schools is fierce and I desperately wanted options for him. He was successful with schools that didn’t seem to fit and it was unsettling.
I can only hope that whatever may be for my son, whichever dot gets stamped on his life, it connects him to the next with a sense of purpose and belonging. As I write this I remind myself to apply to the American School in London; it only feels appropriate.