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We All Want Impossible Things By Catherine Newm...

MW: My mom was and is gorgeous, like your mom. She had all the designer clothes. I always thought she was just so beautiful, and it seemed to me that she always did things the right way. My family was very loving and progressive, but there were a lot of aspects of their adult life that I just never questioned. I naturally fell close to the tree, and that suited me. It never occurred to me as a kid that I could crawl a little farther away if I wanted to and still be okay.

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newm...

MW: I think my first introduction to you was Waiting for Birdy. Someone recommended your book to me when I was pregnant. It was one of two or three narrative accounts of young motherhood that I read during that period, and I\u2019m not going to say what the other one was, because I didn\u2019t like it as much as yours. I loved Waiting for Birdy. I was charmed, and I hope this isn\u2019t weird, but I sort of aspired to strike the chord as a parent that I saw you striking in that book, which a very, like, polyphonic chord. It was in no way a record of \u2018perfect\u2019 parenthood, but here was a loving family, a playful family, quick to laugh, intuitive, nerdy, informed without being anxious or hovering, all these things. Did you always know you wanted to be a parent?

CN: [Laughs.] There is some sex in my novel, which my daughter Birdy read, and she loved it. The best character in the novel is very closely based on her. I was writing it during the pandemic, and Birdy is just the funniest person to live with. It\u2019s just nonstop her saying crazy, really funny things. And the novel is filled with that unfolding in real life \u2013 Birdy coming in and saying some ridiculous thing. And then Ben, my older child, is like, I don\u2019t really want to read about Mama having sex. Because there IS some sex in it. And Birdy was like, Well, it\u2019s fiction, Ben. It\u2019s just fiction. It\u2019s not about Mama having sex. But it kind of secretly is.

CN: The story I tell about it is a true story. Birdy is the kind of person who, if she feels like you\u2019re going to start explaining something to her, she loses her mind. She gets so irritated. She does not want to be explained to. Now she\u2019s a teenager who is exactly like that still. At some point, I was like, Hey, Grandma and Grandpa are coming. Can you sweep the kitchen floor for me, please? And she said, I'm happy to do that. I don't know how to, and I don't want you to talk to me about it. And I was like, You're impossible and annoying, and I don't know how this is gonna happen. But because of that experience, I went to the library and said, Give me your book that\u2019s, like, a huge photo-illustrated guide to chores, for kids. Can I check that out? And they were like, That\u2019s not a thing. So I pitched my publisher the great big chores book for kids. This is literally what it was called: The Great Big Chores Book for Kids. I wanted it to be this thick [holds her fingers apart], and I wanted each chore to be accompanied by a multi-step photo essay with tons of closeups: the dustpan braced on the floor, the little strip of dust after you sweep it into the pan, the hand cupped under the counter that the crumbs are going into. I will continue to insist that this book should exist. My publisher was like, That's the least fun idea we've ever been pitched.

CN: Not to be overly deep, but I\u2019ve always thought, raising Ben and Birdy, you\u2019re human and you\u2019re a parent, and you do a million things wrong. We\u2019ve apologized. It\u2019s all fine. But what we\u2019ve always hoped is that we don\u2019t leave them with these really deep holes that other people need to shovel into for their whole lives. You know when you meet people who have such deep holes \u2013 and you\u2019re in it, you\u2019ll shovel for a while, or forever, depending on your commitment to that person. But it\u2019s so much work, and it asks so much. I think about that, and I want to not give my children these giant emotional holes. Because when someone doesn\u2019t have [a giant emotional hole] and you share things with them, they don\u2019t need to take what you\u2019ve shared and stuff it into their hole. Like, if you share information with someone and they don\u2019t respond the way you hope, that\u2019s someone who\u2019s taking the information and trying to stuff it into their hole. But if they don\u2019t have a big deep hole, they don\u2019t need to do that. 041b061a72


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