My family says I’ve changed since I’ve become an author. Not in the sense of becoming overly confident or proud. They say I no longer clean my house.
Ashley, my youngest, said to me over the Christmas Holidays. “Mom, Jennifer is very worried about you. There’s dust on the cabinet in the upstairs hallway. And cobwebs!”
Me: “There’s cobwebs upstairs? I hadn’t noticed.”
Ashley: “That’s the point. You’ve never had cobwebs. You’ve never had dust. Maybe you should get a cleaning lady to clean your house.”
I look around at my home. It’s not that bad. Maybe a bit of dust here and there, but it’s presentable. Isn’t it? I’m retired. How do I justify a cleaning lady? When I worked as a Controller for a corporation in St Louis, I didn’t have a cleaning lady. My husband would think I’d lost it if I suggested I needed help to clean my house now that I’m home every day.
Me: “I don’t think that’s necessary. I’ll assign a day to cleaning.” That should take care of it.
Ashley: “You need to cook dinners for Dad once in a while.” She couched her words carefully. Maybe my husband was wondering if I was ever going to leave the computer.
My face fell. My husband comes home from work every evening and cooks dinner. I always offer to help just as soon as I finish the scene I’m writing. By the time I type the last word, dinner is on the table.
Me: “You’re absolutely right. I’ll cook every Thursday. It’s your dad’s late night.” I beam at her as if the one night solves the issue.
Ashley sighed and went on. “Maybe you can help him with the laundry.” My poor daughter was obviously uncomfortable, but had taken on the job of opening my eyes to my overzealous dedication to my new career.
Me: “Your dad likes to do the laundry. He’s always done the laundry.” By now, shame is written on my face. I hate to do laundry. Maybe there’s another trade-off. “I’ll do the grocery shopping.” I’m satisfied; it’s a good compromise.
Ashley: “Dad likes to do the shopping. He likes to buy things for the kids on his Sunday morning adventure to Wally-World.”
Me: I sigh. “He does, but he also likes to do the laundry.”
Ashley: “Maybe you can mow the lawn once in a while.”
Me: “I can’t use the zero-turn. I’ll mow down his trees.”
Ashley: “Mom, he bought you a riding lawnmower. It’s sitting in the barn.”
I have no answer for this. There is a miniature riding lawnmower sitting in the barn. The grandkids drive it around when they visit.
Ashley: Adding a positive note to my write-aholic intervention. “Well, he is happier now that he doesn’t have to take care of the horses every day. At least you did that for him.”
Me: “Yes, he is. I’m glad I gave in and sold them and sent Juno to the trainer.”
Ashley finally stops talking. I know she’s beside herself having to be the one to give me the talk, but who else will do it. She’s the closest. She doesn’t intentionally want to make me feel like a horrible person, but I am a horrible person. At least when it comes to neglecting my family and squirreling myself away to write. And I’m married to a Saint. For years, I thought I was the Saint, but who was I fooling. No one, but myself.
I promise to do better. That evening, my husband comes home, and I tell him I’m going to be a better person. I’ll cook and clean and mow the lawn.
Husband: “When are you going to write?”
Me: “I’ll fit it in.”
Husband: “Don’t be silly. You love to write.”
Without my husband, I wouldn’t be able to write as I do. I’m able to spend hours at the computer typing away, spinning dreams, creating heroes, but the biggest hero in my life walks through the door every evening and cooks me dinner.