We all live our lives in overlapping circles, like animated Venn diagrams. I’ve seen this best summed up in a few words by a couple of British writers: P. D. James, in Innocent Blood, describing one of her male characters as “like a hexagon; people only need to touch one side to feel an illusion of closeness”; Dorothy Sayers, in Gaudy Night, remarking that Harriet Vane “admired the strange nexus of interests that unites the male half of mankind into a close honeycomb of cells, each touching the other on one side only, and yet constituting a tough and closely adhering fabric.”

Both, you’ll notice, referring to men. But women, particularly women who are married, and have children, and have jobs, surely feel this as strongly…if not more so. Or so I assume. After all, when I’m dealing with my publisher/distributor in New York, I am one person; when I’m speaking to home educators, one person; when I’m with my kids, one person; when I am in my husband’s circle, one person; when I’m speaking to academics, one person. Not “a different person,” you’ll note. I have no sense of being divided…only that, possibly, the people I meet in one circle might not, quite, comprehend exactly who I am when I’m in another.

Or maybe they do. Two nights a week, I haul a kid to an evening meeting and wait in town until they’re done. Generally I go eat something at one of my favorite local restaurants and work on whatever I’m currently writing until pickup time arrives.

I’ve always imagined that, when I’m doing this, I’m in the world where I’m the Somewhat Important Professional Writer Considering the Perfect Word For That Sentence Over an Apertif. Apparently not. You see, my second son has recently started working at one of those favorite local restaurants–the very one where I had my Professional Writer Dinner tonight. (And he only works days, so he wasn’t there as I was Professionally Writing.)

The result seems to be that my Mom Circle and my Professional Writer Having Dinner Circle have collided. As witness my check.

Yep, that’s right. I’m Ben’s Mom. Hi, there. Nice to meet you.

Showing 7 comments
  • Joana Johnson

    Love this post. Recently, I’ve been thinking about women and Creativity (note the capital “c”). Women tend to be creative in everyday kinds-of-ways, but high Creativity, that requires dealing with the grandest questions of mankind, still remains the realm of mostly men. You write about being “one person” in various life situations, but still whole–or yourself. I think women, married, with children, do this well…but could the many varied roles be limiting Creativity? I’m stabbing in the dark, here. Your varied roles have not limited your Creativity…right?

  • Sarah

    I have been quietly reading your blog for awhile as I enjoy your books. Today I had to comment because I went to William and Mary and am jealous that you go to the Trellis so regularly. What a great spot to write.

  • Madiantin

    I love it. =)

    Firstly, the Ben’s Mom thing is fabulous – I’d love to be known as my son’s Mom in a place where I’m normally not. Not sure that sentence made sense.

    And secondly, the idea of “woman as venn diagram” is soo true.

  • Cath in Ottawa

    I love that – I spent my entire childhood and early adulthood known primarily as Tom’s daughter — the first time it actually reversed itself was a source of deep and everlasting satisfaction!!

  • Jon

    A celebratory perspective on the observation you’ve made:

    “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, ‘Here comes one who will augment our loves.'”

  • cathmom

    Susan, great post! I was wondering though, do you really want the name and address of the place Ben works and his general working hours out in the blogosphere?

  • anastasia

    Just wondering how you see the jewish exodus corolates with egyptian history? Who was pharoh and did jewish monotheism effect the religion of Aknahaton and the Aton?
    Totally off subject from your blog but I am interested in your opinion. I am fascinated by this and we just started first grade.
    We enjoy your course materials and books. I just wish I was a little more like you and wrote more (I should really say, at all).
    I appologise for the terrible spelling and grammer. I am trying to get my sick kids to nap while I type with my thumbs on my droid. So impersonal and unprofessional.

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