My friend Shelley who lives up in the beautiful remoteness called me today. She and her husband are ready to sell their home and move somewhere more urban. Sudbury. Well, it's a start. She's wanted to do something for herself- like the move- for a while, but she couldn't because she has a son and like a good mom, for fifteen years, he has been the priority. So, now that the precarious life of a child has reached teenagehood, it's going to be okay to move him. He's perfectly wonderful and healthy and smart by the way. (Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to move my family from Toronto to LA, as soon as possible, or at least before my sons are old enough to have girlfriends they can't bear to leave behind. Or hockey teams that will buckle and fold without them).
Then Shelley mentioned a mutual friend, Karen, who has two little kids. Karen is drop dead gorgeous, has a famous relative who is a movie star in LA, and was on her way to LA herself when she became pregnant. Six years later, she's almost got the youngest in school and has begun shopping for agents and working with acting coaches again. I'm so excited for her and have been encouraging her. Then Shelley drops this on me. "Did you hear Karen's pregnant again?" "No!" Is my reaction. Shelley confirms that Karen is not happy about it. "But Karen was going to start acting again,"I protest, "and get her career back." "What career?" was Shelley's less than supportive response. And then Shelley goes on about how nice it will be for Karen to have three little kids running around in the house, as if that would be every mother's proper attitude. In my silence, Shelley brings up my situation and questions the LA move because she knows it's really what I want, and an inconvenience to everyone else in the family. At which point I don't feel like talking to Shelley anymore. Now Karen, I want to talk to desperately, and soothe her over, yes, a pregnancy.
Counter-intuitive? Sad for the happy news of another baby? Less than impressed with a woman who didn't do what she's wanted to do for fifteen years because she was "being a good mom"? And not feeling wrong about living my true life, despite the fact that I am a mother and wife and step-mom. Yes. Shelley might perceive me as a bad mother because I still have career aspirations and life goals, but as Elizabeth Gilbert quotes in Eat, Pray, Love from the Bhagavad Gita- (run on sentence anyone?)- "it's better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perefection."
I really hope Karen gets a huge part in a movie soon- the part of a pregnant woman. And I really wished I had responding to Shelley's question "What career?" with "Karen's career." Who says a mom can't? Well, obviously lots of people. But the flip side is: who says a mom can? The mom. And Karen can. And I'm going to call her and remind her of that.