“I have 309 Twitter followers,” I said, happy that I’d broken 299 where I’d hovered for oh so long.
“329?” My daughter asked.
“No, 309.” I responded.
“That stinks. Celebrities have millions. And, there is a dog on Instagram that has 2,000,” my daughter informed me as she walked away to shower. That is one child who will be tucking herself into bed tonight, thank you very much.
Who told her it was advisable to be so forthright?
Oh right, me.
Now that I have the strong willed daughter I prayed for while pregnant, there are days I’m not quite sure what to do with her. I hate it when I get what I wished for and it comes back to bite me. But enough about the metaphorical ass biting I’m taking in this life… what if the little bitch is right?
What if I never gain another follower on Twitter or move into the rarefied air of a blog with a double-digit subscription list? Worse yet, what if my children find out I’m winging this parenting thing? That no matter how many lectures I attend or books I read that I am still, more often than I’d care to admit, baffled by the spirited tykes who live with me – and the one who has ostensibly launched?
What if my life is as insignificant as a fly on the cosmic windshield of life?
A wave of adolescent, Satre-like angst is suddenly washes over me and neither herbal tea nor Chardonnay appeal.
What is wrong with me? Wait, please, don’t answer that. The question is rhetorical.
At some point in everyone’s post-adolescent life, even for those of us who eschew depth, we find ourselves navel-gazing for meaning — but not without a fight.
First, I’ll go the literal route thanks to Dictionary.com.
Well so far… not so good. I don’t feel any better especially as news about historic agreements and presidential legacies play out in the media.
Sure, if one is fortunate enough, you can donate money, enough to have things named in your honor which at least does some good in the world but I don’t judge my significance by what my family and I do with our money… especially as we can’t afford to donate a building.
Twitter tells me constantly that the way to social media success is to buy followers. And Facebook wants me to advertise too. My concern about how I’m virtually judged puts me in league with adolescent girls according to NBC Nightly News. As for buying followers, it seems like cheating – if what I have to say is really worth a read then I will be found someday – hopefully before I’m rocking back and forth in a dark room or dead.
But as I stare at my naval I think of other dreams….
I remember an appointment with my pediatrician when I was a wee one. The doctor asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Both my mother and the doctor laughed when I said I wanted to be a doctor and a ballerina. When I was getting my MA in Education I dreamt of working in children’s television. The one PBS, child-oriented pilot I worked – while in school – didn’t get picked up. After my first documentary won an Emmy and was nominated for an Oscar I dreamt of re-jiggering journalism and film. And now, as I type these words I dream of amortizing my pain, to save others’ children because I couldn’t save my own from his demons. To use the memory of the tears I’ve cried to help a friend grant herself permission to do what has to be done on behalf of her stricken husband, to give voice to others’ fears, because if you can name it you can cope with it.
But in the mean time, my real significance in this life is with my family – nuclear, friends and community – and how I influence them. I’ve started a therapy fund for my kids and make sure our liquor cabinet is always well-stocked lest my influence drive those 21 and over who are close to me too crazy.