June 15, 2007
Today, I opened up MS Word to work on my latest column –which hasn’t actually been singing for me. But I felt funny and happy today so I thought that was a good mindset for crafting together a piece that talked all about how I quit my job and started a blog and how I discovered that small things are still the most important measures of our lives.
But when I opened up the document, I found this letter, written by my column to me.
“Dear Mother, Writer, and Keeper of the Fingerpaints,
For six-and-a-half years now, I have been your faithful companion. I’ve been your virtual scrapbook, your therapist, your diary and your way to process the events going on in the world. I have kept track of your adorable children and their milestones, the fierce love you have for them and your remarkable marriage. You’ve come to me in joy and in the depths of despair. You’ve made friends through me –you would sit and re-read me twenty times if you got a lot of response from your readers. I felt so loved. So appreciated. So necessary.
You have to admit, Barb, I have been nothing but faithful. During the times when you left me for months on end — did I complain? I knew you’d be back. I knew you would never go away for long because I was your main writing outlet and your first love. It didn’t bother me when you took your job as Editor of Austin Family and would spend weeks and weeks without thinking about me. When you did come back to me, we created some of our finest work together. Synergy, that’s what we had. Synergy.
And now that you’ve resigned from your job to “spend more time with the family,” I knew that meant that we’d have long, stolen moments when you forced the kids to go to summer day-camp. I knew that you signed them up to go, not to torture them (regardless of what they’ve been telling people) but so that you’d have time for me. Time to write long, sensitive missives about home life and parenting and the funny things that your kids say.
I just knew it. Barb, I just knew it.
But then you took up with that trampy BLOG of yours. Did you think I wouldn’t notice? Did you think I wasn’t hurt that you even called it by my very own NAME? So, The Thing Is Blog –what kind of word is BLOG anyway? It’s, it’s, it’s SLANG, Barb! And it’s TECHY slang at that!
Did you think I didn’t see you taking time to post to it EVERY SINGLE DAY and sometimes more than once a day? Did you think I didn’t hear you laughing out loud while you were writing?
Still, I didn’t believe it. I thought, “Well, once her foot heals, she’ll come back to me. This is a momentary fling. This blog thing is new and fresh and exciting and I realize that it takes a lot of time to craft a COLUMN. Time and thought and effort and rewrites and work –who wouldn’t want some sort of venue that’s young and nubile and allows her to post PICTURES instead of having to describe everything? Maybe we’re having the seven-year-itch or something.” I honestly thought that, Barb. I honestly thought that in your heart you were still true to me.
But I have to admit, I was starting to worry.
Then it started to be embarrassing. You started that whole column that you called “Transitions and Dreams” and you would open it up and read it through and sigh that big sigh –Barb, did you think I didn’t notice that disappointed sigh? You’d sigh that sigh and then you’d close me back up and call up that tramp. And post about how you were done with Big and Meaningful Things. About how what was really important was the small things that define a life. Small moments.
It got worse. When Ana wouldn’t let you kiss her goodbye in public, you came home and sat sniffing and writing all about it –on that BLOG. That’s when I knew, Barb. That’s when I knew I had to say something.
And still I hesitated. But yesterday, you did something that I never thought you’d ever do. You stepped over the line, Barb. You took something that you’d written on your blog and CUT AND PASTED IT INTO that “Transitions and Dreams” column.
Barb, Barb, Barb! I can’t let that stand. I don’t want to get ugly here, Barb, but I will. I’m warning you that if you don’t start sending out regular columns again—if you can’t at least go through the motions with me –I’m going to start sending out some of your first drafts. I mean it, you faithless WRITER, you. Do you really WANT the whole world to know that you can’t type? Do you want your readers to know that your grasp of punctuation is tenuous and that you have to use Google to find quotations? Note that I haven’t even touched on your spelling—for a humor writer who writes mostly about parenting and family, do you really WANT the world knowing that you can’t spell the word 'commitment?'
I’ve got the automatic back-ups and I am not afraid to use them.
It feels very weird to be writing TO you instead of WRITING YOU but let’s let the therapists sort that out okay?
It’s true that I love my little blog. It is great fun to write something and post it every day and know that I’m not wearing out my welcome. I really worry about talking too much when I send out several of you at a time. I get a lot of e-mail. I know that sometimes, even newsletters that I’ve subscribed to are a bit of a nuisance.
Having said that, I assumed that you were secure enough to know that you are my very first love. I published a collection of YOU, didn’t I? It’s not like people do that with Blogs—blogs are small, insignificant things. Just little glimpses into the day-to-day. I think a lot of people will feel like my mother does about blogs. When I told her I had posted some pictures of my dog’s haircut, she said, “Well, great, now if anyone actually CARES what Sydney’s new haircut looks like, they can read all about it.” She doesn’t care. But I Do. I love the small things like that. I love the one-off comments from the girls and the fact that I can talk about sitting outside and watching roly-polies. I liked chronicling the Great Foot Reconstruction –even if it’s not COLUMN material.
Now can we get ON with things? I will always write a column. But don’t threaten me because with a click of a mouse, I can delete you back into the grey matter in my brain. (Remember, Jane has done this on accident. I can do it on purpose.) Can we just move past this?
PS: I do SO know how to spell “commitment.” See?
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(c) Barbara Cooper 2007
Barb Cooper is the mother of Ana (9) and Jane (6). She lives in Austin, Texas and she would like to very quietly mention that you can subscribe to the blog --if you just happen to be on that site anyway (by clicking on the word blog) --and it's a lot more automated a process than the one she LABORS OVER SO INTENSIVELY for this COLUMN.