***This post may make no sense to anyone but me. And yes, my kid knows I wrote it. He’s letting me post it because, and I quote, “No one reads your blog anyway.” Fair enough.
In real life, I’m the mom to a kid who has one more quarter of high school left, holy frak, what the hell.
On the page (in my WIP), I’m a teenage girl in the last quarter of her junior year. For the last two books, I’ve been a senior boy and a junior boy.
Some days, the brain power it takes to switch between roles is almost impossible. I have no idea if I’m the only writer who feels weird about it, but I’ve considered chucking my career because the dichotomy feels so extreme. Part of that extremity has to do with fun. I LOVE BEING A TEENAGER ON THE PAGE, even when it’s hard stuff to write about. Mostly, it’s pure joy.
But then I have to face how goddamn impossible it feels to be a parent in real life.
My kid’s middle and high school career has been, in some moments, the most heartbreaking experience on the planet–exactly the opposite of what I was hoping for him. Lots of reasons for the heartbreak and darkness, and we’re mostly out of it now, but WOW. Tough. Really fucking tough, and it’s hard enough being a regular teenage dude without the intense and scary crap he was handed (or created). Every day I ask the Universe to make the rest of his life easier than the last six years, and I mention I will give all of my limbs (or anything else) to make that happen. But I love my child with the fierceness of a blast furnace, and it’s a complete honor to be his mom. He’s my favorite person in the universe. Darkness? OK. We’re going together.
I had always hoped the scary stuff would stay in the book(s). The kids in my books are sometimes involved in sad, violent, risky, or just plain shitty behavior. Stuff you don’t want your own kid to do. But then your kid does the book stuff in real life. And you have to be the grown-up, because this isn’t a book. And you can’t quit it. You have to help your kid, teach them, love them, care for them, and then they reject you, and your heart busts, but you go at it, every day, 24/7/365. And you are so tired you cannot believe it, while being hurt and sad and scared at the same time. But you do whatever it takes.
You can put the book down. You can’t do that with life.
There were times I couldn’t write. I couldn’t be a joyous teenager on the page when my teenager IRL was in so much pain. I couldn’t be a helpless mom IRL and a helpful, useful mom in a book. I’m hoping those times are over, but if not, we understand darkness now, and we’re going in and coming out together. All will be well.
We just got a fantastically cool children’s museum in my town, one my kid would have ADORED if he were tiny enough to use it, so we purchased a brick to support them since he’s not. His curiosity may be the thing I love most about him (though we are *not* going to North Korea, thanks), and I’m so proud of his resilience and strength. I’m proud he’s almost finished with stupid freaking high school. I’m proud I get to call him my kid.
I don’t know how I’m going to feel about writing YA when my YAer is at college. It may take a while to get back in the groove. I started writing YA before he was a teen (he was 5! holy crap!), so my guess is I’ll be OK without his teen self. But I don’t know.
Way too soon, this kid-on-the-page, mom-in-real-life split won’t exist, and I will mourn for the days it did. How lucky am I that it even got to happen? Too lucky to say.