The other day a friend of mine told me that I am pretty good at getting books into print, but not so great at promoting them, once they arrive in the world. She pointed out that I talk about interviewing others but not my own interviews like this one. Nor do I tell people to come to my readings or buy my books. It's true. I don't like the whole self-promotion business. I'd rather be writing or daydreaming about the next book. Forget the present--I'm all about the future.
But somehow, as she was talking, I was reminding of how once-- this same woman told me that after her husband proposed, she was so excited because she expected to have a wedding, not a marriage. She got really into the wedding planning--the dress, the band, the maids of honor, the food, the flowers, the lodging, the guest lists . . . It was a dream come true. And so much fun, she said, until she woke up the morning after. And the morning after that and the morning after that. And she realized suddenly she was expected not only to have sex at night but also to do dinner. Yes, every night, dinner. She wanted to ask but never did--Can we just do sex without dinner please?
What is it about men and dinner? she asked. I told her about my friend, Beth, who said the best part of getting a divorce was not having to make dinners anymore. She said she would never cook dinner again. Once I asked my Uncle John how my grandmother changed after granddaddy died, and he said that she stopped eating dinner. I have noticed that even my most feminist friends become dinner chefs after marriage.
I thought about how, when I visit my daughter, now a new mom, the one thing I can help with is dinner, even if I never really mastered the art of cooking dinner. Yes, it's a fact. I am not exactly the ideal dinner-making-woman as friends will attest.
But then I started thinking about being a new mom, and I remember how, when I was planning for childbirth, I think I thought I was going to have a labor, not a child. I was so ready for labor! My husband and I trained for weeks in Lamaze classes, mastering the art of breathing just so and then panting, as if I were already having contractions. I was good at panting. I learned how to position myself this way and that, and even how to bear down and push a baby out . . . It was as if I were training for a marathon, which I was. Twenty-plus hours of labor is a marathon. What I didn't realize was that the real marathon began once my daughter came out. No way was I prepared for that.