Sometimes I think, what a raw deal my daughters have, with a writer for a mother. The writers I know don’t check out and take days off. Writers are likely to be trying to read your to-do list you’re holding while waiting in the grocery check-out line.
But then there’s this: Ann Patchett in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage tells how, when she dragged herself back to her mother’s house after the collapse of her marriage, her mother insisted that, yes, indeed, Ann was yet the heroine in her life’s story. Although I never use the heroine word with my daughters, I’m keenly aware I’m raising them as heroines and not as princesses. The difference is distinct.
While clearly I want to stave off the wolves of hunger and cold at our door, I’ve never intended to garner ermine cloaks or a palace for my girls. I’d prefer for the girls to know themselves neither in need of saving by prince charming, or required to save that somewhat dubious character, either.
As a teenager, I read a great deal of Joseph Campbell, and I’ve returned repeatedly to Campbell’s hero quest. I remind myself at moments of keen doubt – what am I doing as a parent, anyway? who let me lead this drama? – that doubt is a key element of any heroine’s path. Embrace, and move eagerly on to the next phase.
If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.
– Joseph Campbell