I don’t know what I was expecting when I cracked open Comfort Food, SV Moms’ Book Club selection for May. I love food memoirs (think Ruth Reichl’s books and Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun) and I suppose I thought this fell into that category.
Then I saw “A Novel” on the cover.
Hmmm…unfortunately it’s been awhile since I read any fiction. It’s been all non-fiction for a long time. Now, before you run away thinking I’m about as interesting as belly-button lint, it’s because I get sucked into fiction and nothing gets accomplished while I’m in that wonderful world.
Thankfully I’m a speedy reader and the boys have entertained themselves, because I got sucked in. I couldn’t help but get drawn into the lives of Gus, the CookingChannel star, and the friends and family that orbit around her. And what really got me is that the novel wasn’t directly about food, but about transformation. Gus had to transform her life after the death of her husband. Oliver transformed his life after realizing he had become a boring and pompous executive. Hannah transformed her life twice, after a career as a teenage tennis phenom and then after a hermetic life. They all reinvented themselves, from a “safe” life to a more fulfilling one.
What a great book for me to read right now. In three months both of my sons will be in school and the next stage of my life will begin. For the last eight years I’ve been a stay at home mom, always with at least one child here at home with me. On August 19th that will change. What will I do? I’m still working on that, but I am going to reinvent myself. Will I go back to teaching? Not bloody likely; two years teaching middle school band was plenty, thankyouverymuch. Return to private flute teaching? I considered it, especially after hearing my former student’s flute recital this weekend. I started her when she was eight; now she’s graduating high school and going to college on a music scholarship. I’m so proud of her I could burst. But lessons are usually after school, and that’s when my boys need me most.
So I’ve been spending time lately diving deep into what makes me tick and what would best suit me. I still have few answers, but I’m getting closer. It’s time to reinvent myself. I’m more than “Mom,” I’m more than “musician,” I’m more than “Wife.” I have some ideas, but I’m still trying them on to see if they fit, doing spins in front of a three-way mirror. Sitting down to make sure I don’t split any seams. Ensuring I can still breathe once everything has been snapped, zipped, buttoned and tied. It’s hard to reinvent yourself; lots of second-guessing. I’m like Hannah in that way. While Gus and Oliver just went ahead and transformed their lives, Hannah did so with a lot more trepidation. Is this right for me? Should I change? How will this affect me? How will this affect others? Will I be able to go on if I change? Will I be able to go on if I don’t?
Transformation is difficult, but what’s the alternative? Stagnation is no fun for anyone (ever taken a sip of water that’s been on the nightstand for awhile? Blerg.). I believe if you stop growing and changing you stop living, in a sense. These last several years I’ve been in a holding pattern out of sheer necessity. My boys, with all their challenges, have needed me home for them and I’ve been thrilled to be able to do that. But that chapter of my life is ending soon.
The actual details are still a mystery to me, but change is a’comin’. It’s time. I just won’t be a CookingChannel celebrity; you really don’t want to take cooking advice from me.