Make everything seem easy: life and parenthood and marriage and freelancing for pennies, writing a novel and smiling after a rejection, keeping the faith after two, reminding yourself that four years of work counted for a lot, counted for everything. Make the bed. Make it nice. Make the people laugh when you sit down to write, and if you can’t make them laugh, make them cry. Make them want to hug you or hold you or punch you in the face. Make them want to kill you or f*ck you or be your friend. Make them change. Make them happy. Make the baby smile. Make him laugh. Make him dinner. Make him proud. Hold the phone, someone is on the other line. She says it’s important. People are dying. Children. Friends. Press muTe, because there is nothing you can say. Press off, because you’re running out of minutes. Running out of time. Soon the baby will be grown up, and you’ll regret the time you spent pushing him away for one more paragraph in the manuscript no one will ever read. Remember who you are now. Wait. Remember who you were. Wait. Remember what’s important. Make a list. Ten things—no, twenty. Twenty thousand things you want to do before you die, but what if tomorrow never comes? No one will remember. No one will know. No one will laugh or cry or make the bed. No one will have a clue which songs to sing to the baby. No one will be there for the children. No one will finish the first draft of the novel. No one will publish the one that’s been finished for months. No one will remember the thought you had last night, that great idea you forgot to write down.
It’s time I came to terms with the truth instead of beating myself up with italicized thoughts. Who am I to feel overwhelmed when Atlas is out there, floating in space with the weight of the world on his shoulders? His legs crooked and veiny like branches, his feet sinking deeper into nothing. There are pencils in my ears and ideas in my head and pacifiers in my shoes. There is throw-up in my hair where there used to be perfume. How can I be everything? It isn’t possible, I tell myself. Just let go.
I try not to cry in front of Archer, and when Hal and I fight, we try our best to whisper-yell so as not to wake him or scare him or teach him. I want to protect him from our words and the tears that occur as a result. But today I can’t help it -- I’m on the stoop of our apartment, breaking down.
And all I keep thinking is that sometimes it sucks being a mom and a wife. Sometimes the pressure is too much. Sometimes I just want to be alone. Have my old life back. Sometimes I think, How did