I hate those phone calls. A hapless coed from my Jesuit alma mater was trying to squeeze me for cash. But before these people get to their real point, we have to suffer together through the scripted chat-em-up, wherein they pretend to care about my graduate school experience and my life thereafter. She really had an uphill battle last night, since even I had no interest whatsoever in discussing my graduate school experience or my life thereafter. (Yawn.)
Hapless Coed (HC): So, I see that we have your current employer listed as . . . Homemaker. Is that still correct?
Me: [Chuckling over her rather clumsy handling of the script, especially since she’d told me she was a communications major.] Yes, that’s me.
HC: OK . . . So, what all does that entail?
Me: [More interested in my book than in this little game, but still feeling conventionally polite enough to censor my kneejerk response, which involved detailed explanations of the bodily functions of small and unruly persons.] Oh, you know, all the stuff that makes a house a home.
HC: Hmm . . . OK . . . So would that be more like interior design, or are you involved in the actual construction of homes?
Me: [Laughing out loud now, as I realize that the poor dear really doesn’t know.] I’m a stay-at-home-mom.
HC: Oh! Riiiiight . . . I’ve got you now.
I don’t think she’s the only starry-eyed undergrad in that call center who’d need “homemaking” explained. I only wish I had realized sooner that Homemaker, or Minister of the Interior, or Humble Servant, or whatever you want to call it, can be a legitimate and full-time occupation. I could have used my dormitory days to far better effect.
After I disappointed the caller’s earnest desire to get that pledge card out to you right now, I hung up, and I thought—I’d rather be giving out kisses for sweet dreams than dreaming big in a lonely dorm room. That hapless coed is burdened with the need to write the story of her own life. Exhilarating? Maybe…but also weighty, with the feeling of fate hanging on every decision. And even terrifying, fraught with agony over whether the mishandling of a subplot might not destroy the entire tone and trajectory of the grand opus.
I do expend much prayer and effort, even agony, in the earnest desire that my children’s names appear, along with my own, in the Who’s Whose. But oh, how sweet the comfort in knowing that the trajectory of this Grand Opus will not be mishandled! The story has been written, the main plot played out. The Hero has overcome. The mighty task has been completed. In the subplots, we groan desperately for a more final catharsis, but we know, even as we yearn, that consummation is surely coming. The more I lose myself in the larger plot, the more I’m rescued from the quixotic quest to “find myself.” No matter what I do or don’t with my life, that Day draws closer, every day.
God knows I can’t be trusted to write my own story. Thankfully, all I’ve got to do is follow the script. And it helps if I play my part as though I mean it. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some serious rehearsing to do.