It's 2012. Sounds so space age, doesn't it?
As a child in the '80s, I used "2012" in my short stories as that far-off, fictional year when humans would be colonizing Jupiter and driving hoverboards like Marty McFly.
Instead, here we are, only slightly altered since last year, but another year closer to death nonetheless. And we're still asking ourselves: What do I truly want?
And don't say, "I want to be happy." That's a given. That's like saying, "I like puppies." Of course you like puppies! Who doesn't? Well, Jeffrey Dahmer... but, who else?
The real question is, what do you want to do before you croak, before you expire like sour cream in the back of the fridge? I'm not talking about a bucket list of bullet-point experiences. I'm certainly not talking about things you want to buy. I'm talking about your passion, your work, your "thang" -- the pursuit that will probably dictate the theme of your eulogy.
For some, the answer is as easy as pie: "I want to bake pies!" Sweet action. Bake your buns off, bee-otch. Give Martha Stewart a run for her honey-pecan pumpkin pie.
Maybe you just want to fish more. Become one with the great outdoors. Catch a rainbow trout so colossal, Cuisinart will invent a bigger frying pan and name it after you. (That one's for you, honey.)
Perhaps you want to be a CEO with a corner office and a parking space that says, "Park Here If You're Awesome." Go for it, smarty pants. The world is your oyster -- shuck the shit out of it.
Or maybe you just want to be a really, really good parent. Awesomesauce. Spit 'em out, keep 'em happy (and alive); there is no higher vocation.
Myself, I want to be an author. Stop laughing.
I want Angelina Jolie to play me in the movie based on my book, The Adventures of Turbo Ginger. I mean come on Angie, we look exactly the same.
I want Tina Fey to stumble upon my broken twat and ask me to co-write the screenplay for Reflections of a Broken Vagina. Ticket sales will be through the pelvic floor, and then the roof.
With my earnings, I'll live (and write) worry-free for the rest of my days and pay Max's way through The School for Freaking Awesome Children. (Screw the gifted.)
In the meantime, I'm having a blast making advertising. I plan to be the first person to create a billboard made entirely of human hair.
People ask me, "Where do you find the time to do it all?" Sometimes it's because they're impressed, more often it's because they're secretly scorning me: You should be nurturing your mini, not your manuscript. Bad mommy. Bad, bad mommy.
Here's how I find the time:
I don't clean. It's not an episode of Hoarders up in here. But to my mother's disappointment, mommyhood and Hollywood come before cleanli...hood...ness.
I write like you shit. It comes naturally to me and doesn't take as long as you think. It helps that I rarely use words beyond seven letters long. #mesostoopid
And I occasionally neglect my family. Luckily, I married a patient man who's a really good dad and thinks dust bunnies are kinda cute. If he snaps one day and leaves me, I'll hire Vincent Schiavelli to play him in the movie.
Clearly, in addition to all this mommy blogging I have to actually be a mother. I mean, where else am I going to get my material?
I'm a good mom. But I am more than that and I'm not going to feel bad about it because the Society of Breastfeeding Nazis thinks I should. (And before you go crazy cakes, I suckled my boy for 10 months and have the empty water balloons to prove it.)
Why not have aspirations beyond the diaper pail? By doing what we love -- whatever that may be (as long as it's legal) -- we're setting an example for our children. We're saying, Do what you love, baby! We don't even need to say it; we just need to do it. Live it. Our children watch and learn.
Every parent is unique, but we all share a common goal before we go tits-up: To die with no regrets. (Other than the regret of accidentally swallowing that rat poison that's now killing us.) And that pursuit -- or avoidance, rather -- is a complicated thing.
Think about it. If I ignored Max tonight to work on the next great Canadian novel (just go with it) and I died suddenly tomorrow, I'd probably regret not having spent those last moments with him. You know, if I was still alive to feel that sting of regret.
But if I die next week without having at least half-heartedly pursued my childhood dreams, passing it up in order to be the best damn mother the world has ever seen, I'd probably regret that too. You know, if I wasn't already decomposing.
Remember Randy Pausch? The theme of his famous Last Lecture was "achieving your childhood dreams." "The inspiration and the permission to dream is huge," he said. Among other things, he wanted to be an Imagineer with Disney and he made it happen, all while being a great husband and dad to three young children. Randy succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2008 at the age of 47.
Balance is everything. The challenge is to find the time and the energy to pursue your dreams -- however grand or humble -- while taking care of your greatest dream-come-true, your family. It isn't easy. Time is scarce. So is money. And unlike mine, not all dreams can be pursued with little more than a computer and spellcheck. But isn't it sad to hear parents say things like, "Oh, I've got no time for that now, with the kids and all." Dude, don't let your children be the reason your dreams dried up and died. Let them be the reason you kept them alive!
Contrary to corny philosophy, I don't think you should "live like there's no tomorrow." If I did that, I'd be cuddled up in bed with my three favourite people (well, two people, one furkid) and never leave the house except to buy poutine, chocolate, ice cream sandwiches and candy. What? It's Armageddon! Screw Canada's Food Guide! I also don't subscribe to the whole "you'll never hear a dying person say they wish they had worked more" concept. Maybe that's not always true. I bet it's not true for the dying guy who had the cure for cancer but was so busy with the kids he never found the time to formulate it. Especially if he's dying of cancer.
Randy Pausch's inspirational Last Lecture was about achieving your childhood dreams -- and enabling the dreams of others. Whose dreams did he most enable during his mere 47 years of life? Surely it's those of his children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe. He enabled their dreams -- not just by being a good dad, but by being a dreamer himself.
So, would I be a better mom if I didn't have all these time-sucking pipe dreams? Maybe.
I'd like to think I'm a better mom because I have them.