Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Mother of the Year

I am a private person. One reason that I gave up acting was that I wasn't comfortable living part of my life eternally in the public eye (The other reason that I gave up acting was that nobody could conceive of hiring me, but that's another story). So why write about my life in a place where someone could read it? Why choose, as I have, to focus on the more embarrassing moments of my existence? Because my life, right now, can be summed up by a mathematical equation:

PP+ 20m= PH(e)2.

That is, any Private Pride I feel about my ability to run my life, take care of my child, attend to my business or behave in a way that could be described as competent will be followed, in less than twenty minutes, by a Public Humiliation that is equal to the Private Pride squared.

Example #1 - When my daughter was six weeks old, I had my very first date by myself. It was an adventure both heady and exotic. I made a trip to the car wash.

Leaving Consort and Child at home, I put on a bra for the first time since leaving the hospital, crammed myself into clothing, and headed off. While sitting at the car wash, enjoying the sensation of not having someone hanging from my nipple, I noticed a woman waiting for her car with a tiny infant in a bucket seat. She and I started to chat, and I told her about my child at home. She looked at me appreciatively.

"You look good", said she.

I thanked her.

"No, really, you look great. I can't believe you had a kid six weeks ago."

I blushed becomingly, got into my car to go home, and mused about what she said. I did look good, I acknowledged. Better than good, I looked...great. Really great. I started to imagine that people in our neighborhood, seeing me walking my new baby, might wonder if I had adopted her, or assume I was walking with someone else's' child. I looked that good. Gliding home on steel-belted tires and arrogance, I walked into the house, and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

My shorts were on inside-out.

Pockets flapping, seams gaping, no-way-that-anyone-missed-it, inside-out. Four and a half years later, I still don't understand how I managed to button them.

This wasn't a one-time event, either. There were other times when people told me how together I looked -- being the parent of an infant and all -- when I would later find out I had gotten some major piece of clothing catastrophically wrong. It got to the point where if someone seemed to be heading towards me saying something pleasant, I'd instinctively grab my hipbone to make sure my underwear wasn't on over my pants.

Example #2 - Recently, there was a terrible car accident on the major road leading out of our neighborhood. I won't try to minimize the death, horror and pain of this, but I am a mother and can only hold one thought at a time, so my most immediate concern was about the morning commute to Daughters' school. I hustled her out of bed a little early, got her dressed, got her into the car, and found a route that neatly circumvented the emergency crews, while also missing most of the traffic jam that had been created by this tragedy. Considering the extra levels of stress, and the hair-brushing fit she threw, I was commending myself for staying calm and cheerful as we pulled up to school. Why, we'd even made it a couple of minutes earlier than usual.

As I parked, a small voice piped from the back. "Are you planning on feeding me breakfast?".

Oh. That.

We rummaged around in her lunchbox and I decreed that raisins, eaten while walking into school, are "A fun picnic! A picnic with all your friends! Who had their picnics at home!" Nothing says Quality Parenting quite like skulking across the schoolyard frantically feeding raisins into your child's mouth like a slot machine.

So, if I continue to blab about what I have gotten -- and continue to get -- wrong, then maybe the equation will work the other way. In the algebra of karma, maybe I will build up enough Public Humiliation points that I can start to feel genuine pride about the most important work I am doing: raising my daughter.

More likely, by actually feeling a little pleasure in having finally written this down, I have set the original equation in motion. Within twenty minutes, I will be in a parking lot screaming at my child, "You have to eat three French fries before you can have any ice cream! Did you hear me?"

I will then notice no less than five women from Pre-Natal Yoga, watching me in mute horror.

When this happens, I promise to report on it.


Blogger Unknown said...

The way I remember it, you looked MUCH better in those colors than I did.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Happy to have entertained you. I hope I continue to do so.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for making me laugh. When I am working through a problem at home or work, I take a break and read your blog. What joi de voi!

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Quinn,

Your blog is a delight to read. I found it quite by accident. Keep up the funny stories.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have found your blog by accident and so glad I did!
I watched you faithfully on Family every week. And just loved you in The Goodbye Girl.
I've often wondered what happened to you and how refreshing to see you're a mom and have a business.
I'll be back often. All the best to you.

7:50 AM  
Blogger repsac3 said...

As this seems to be the place to say "Hey, you were so great acting..." allow me to add my "Hey..." here... I watched The Goodbye Girl three times in a row (back in the day when you could just stay in the theatre as long as you liked, once you paid).

I'd like to say it was all about you (even if that might've been creepy, considering I was 15-16 at the time) but it wasn't; the fact of the matter is, I wanted to become Elliot Garfield. (I never did, of course, but that character did affect my being, at the time...). Your addition to Family filled me with joy, as well. (There my affections were firmly on Buddy. My best friend's sister used to give me all the Kristy McNichol posters from her Tiger Beats...)

Anyway, back to the present...

I've been forbidden to read your blog after my lovely bride goes to bed, because the sounds of joy, laughter, and recognition (of things I do myself, occasionally, but most often of the words & deeds of the women in my life past & present) keeps her awake, when they're not frightening her into thinking I'm having some kind of heart attack, difficulty breathing, or seizure.

Thanks for all of it, QC... I look forward to getting yelled at by my wife a whole lot more due to your writings...

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My boyfriend and I have seen the Goodbye Girl several time and we love you in this movie. Your character, and the way you played the part, is so touching. We were sitting here wondering, "Where is she today?" Thanks to Google, we've found you. Great to hear that you've managed to define success for yourself and not other people's expectations. And a HipHugger is the perfect gift for my girlfriends who are giving birth left and right. I wish you and your daughter the best that life has to offer. Oh, by the way, we're watching The Goodbye Girl as I'm sending you this short letter.

Bob and Jay
Brooklyn Heights, NYC

2:42 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Wifey and I loved you this weekend on TCM, tracked you down after seeing you only had 2 movies, ending in 1980, in my Movie book. Wanted to make sure you weren't dead!


7:32 AM  
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1:04 PM  

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