Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Clawing my way up Mount Mojo

Yesterday my Mojo was so thoroughly depleted that I was sure I would never get it back. I was exhausted, and over the past few days, so many family obligations piled up that I couldn’t even imagine sitting down to write. We had just returned from a week-long family trek to Disney World, when I received a call that my Dad was in the hospital for emergency surgery. He would be okay, but it was a very scary incident. My four-year-old daughter was suffering from a chronic cough that resisted treatment. My Mom had caught a bad cold on our trip to Florida. We returned to a house that needed serious cleaning and restocking. And the day after we came home, my husband boarded a plane to London for a five-day work trip. There was so much to do, and to worry about. After speed TiVo-ing through the Academy Awards on Sunday night, I kept imagining Frodo’s journey to the top of Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings—and I felt like I was trying to claw my way up my very own Mount Mojo, a surely unattainable goal.

Monday morning, I was clinging to the end of my rope, looking forward to the school day as a chance to regroup and tackle all the things I needed to do, and maybe even find time to write a little bit. Then at noon the teacher called, saying that my daughter wasn’t feeling well, and needed to come home. Another day shot. I was relieved to see that my little one was okay, although too tired due to medication side-effects to stay at school. For the rest of the afternoon, we waged The Battle of the Nap (which I utterly lost) and The Battle of No TV (which I willingly conceded after three hours, so that I could lie down).

My Mount Mojo was constructed out of all of these pieces: house in enough order that the sanitation department won’t shut us down, family healthy and well-fed, dog walked, bills paid and taxes filed. Mount Mojo felt a lot like the introductory psychology staple, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a pyramid with basic biological needs on the bottom level, topped with the needs for safety, love, self-worth, knowledge, order and beauty, topped off with spiritual needs and “cosmic identification.” The idea is that the more basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy must be fulfilled before you can move on to more creative, esoteric pursuits. Moms have so many responsibilities for other people’s basic needs that it can be especially hard for us to get to the next level. This is the point of Mojo Mom—creating awareness that a Mom’s needs for her own creative and intellectual passions are as important to her survival as sleep and food, and respecting those needs as a genuine priority.

No one is ever going to give a Mom an Oscar in recognition of her own heroic journey through her child’s lifetime. While I had piles of laundry, sickness, and family worry to contend with instead of Orcs, giant spiders, and Gollum, sometimes it does feel like an epic battle to just make it to the end of the day. Fortunately, as Frodo had his eternally loyal friend Samwise Gamgee at his side, I was grateful to be able to call on my friend Cortney. She scrapped her evening plans and came over, rescuing us by providing dinner, a sympathetic ear, and child entertainment. She even brought homemade scones and lemonade to share. Sometimes the only way to climb that mountain is together, with a girlfriend pulling you up and cheering you on.

Today is much better. Everyone is happier and healthier, and I even got some writing done.