Writing dovetails with life's phases

The Middle Ages

August 17, 2008|By Susan Reimer

I was a sportswriter when my bosses asked me if I wanted to be a family-life columnist.

That was years ago. I had a pretty good idea of what a family-life columnist was, and I'd certainly never aspired to be one.

They wanted me to write about my life as a wife and the working mother of school-age children. That was not anything any journalist who came of age in the Watergate era wanted to write about.

"But I don't have a life," I objected. "My career is in the Dumpster. My home life is chaos. I am everything I once ridiculed - a car-pooling mother of two who volunteers at the schools.

"What am I going to write about?"

"Write about that," they said.

So I did. For something like 15 years, until my children drove their own cars and graduated from all those schools.

I was a family-life columnist when they asked me to be a baby boomer columnist.

"But I don't want to write about boomers," I protested. "Everybody hates boomers."

Besides, I never thought of myself as old enough to be a baby boomer.

There is a refrigerator magnet that asks the question, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"

My answer has always been, "Pretty much, 30."

But I agreed to write about boomers.

For the past year and a half, I have been writing about what it is like when the nest empties and retirement looms. When you still feel like you are 30 inside, and everybody, including presidential candidates, resents your whole generation and the footprint it has put upon the culture.

I was writing about boomer issues when they asked me if I would write about gardening. That was, like, last week.

"You garden," they said.

"Yeah," I said, protesting again, "but so much of it dies. And my gardens look like they were planted by a crazy person."

"You could write about that," they said.

So, I will be writing about gardens. Other peoples', I hope. On Saturdays. In the coming Home and Garden section of this paper.

I am one of the lucky ones in this business. My writing has dovetailed nicely with the phases of my life - despite my protests.

When my son was eating only pepperoni and barbecue sauce sandwiches, I was able, under the guise of a family-life columnist, to call a pediatric nutritionist.

"Do you think this is unhealthy?" I asked. Then I wrote a column about it.

I am not sure how many mothers of boys eating such dreadful sandwiches were able to find comfort in that column, but there were plenty of other columns that seemed to help.

"We all live the same life," I would tell my fellow mothers. "I just get to write about it."

I am not sure I would take any gardening advice from me, although my friends Betsy and Nan seem to think I know something. But I will try to introduce you to people who are better gardeners than me, and I will try to tell you why I like to garden.

Oh. And one more thing.

I have always believed that women care about more than the price of bread, milk and eggs.

We will prove it again this year, I think, when we outvote the men, again, and maybe tip a presidential election.

I will be writing about that kind of thing, too, on Mondays in the news section of this newspaper.

I am doing a lot more gardening, now that the kids are grown.

But I am thinking a lot more, too.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

Staying young, growing old and what happens in between

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