Before I ended up as a writer/curriculum specialist/early childhood education consultant I spent years working in the theatre. Acting was my THING. I’d walk around saying,“I burn for the theatre.” My journals were full of little messages to myself. “Act with all your soul,” I’d scrawl in big underlined letters. “You must live the theatre.” Whenever someone would ask me how I got into the field I would always tell the following story:

When I was in first grade I played the lead in the Christmas Pageant. I was the lamb positioned just outside of Jesus’ manger and I had the only line in the whole play. I kneeled for an hour in my little felt lamb costume sweating away and just when I thought I would surely pass out the spotlight shined right on me and I gestured with my little lamb paw and said in a quivering lamb voice “Come, let us adore him”. And everyone cheered and the play was over and I was hooked.

Whenever I told this story people always said, “aw that’s so sweet,” or “you must have been the cutest Jew in the pageant,” or “that’s amazing that you found your passion so early in life.” It wasn’t till I told this story to my husband some twenty plus years after it happened that someone gave me the appropriate response to that tale.

“Why would a lamb have the only line in the play? What about Mary and Joseph? What about the Wise Men? I know you’re not a Christian so maybe you don’t know this but the lamb is not the central figure in the story of the nativity. There is no way that you had the lead.”

At first I argued for the story that had so shaped my identity, “Well I know in the bible version a lamb is not that important but ‘Come, let us adore him’ really sums up the whole story, don’t you think? The play only needed that one line! They gave it to me because I had a gift for public speaking and pretending to be a lamb! Everyone else just stood there looking holy while I carried the play!”

But there was no way I was going to win this argument.

He was right.

I absolutely could not have had the lead in the play.

They whole story was my myth. Maybe I felt like I had the lead, maybe that moment did indeed change my life, but there is no way it happened like I remembered it.

In thinking about my daughter and the fact that she has now entered an age where all the experts believe she will begin having conscious memories I wonder how she will look back on these time. I wonder what kind of mythology she will create.

Like, maybe she’ll be a drummer and when someone asks her how she got started she’ll say, “Well, when I was two my mom took me to this amazing concert, I think it was Bob Dylan…yeah, Bob Dylan and he called me up on stage and I played the drums and I felt the rhythm in my whole body and the crowd went wild and I just knew right then.” And the experience she’ll actually be remembering is the weekly sing along at the local library and the invitation made to all children at the end of each performance to come up, wait in line, and bang on The Surdo drum.

Or maybe she’ll be a chef and when someone asks her about her culinary influences she’ll say, “I owe it all to my mom. She made this incredible pasta dish that was just transcendent. That dish hooked me on cooking, I mean, really all my adventures in the kitchen are just an attempt to match that pasta.” And I’ll stand up and bow to wild applause knowing that the dish she speaks of is actually Annie’s Mac and Cheese and that my only contribution to the meal was adding two tablespoons of milk and a sliver of butter.

It’s really kind of exciting to think that at any point we could stumble upon an experience that will become the mythology that shapes who my daughter is. And it is actually kind of liberating too. No matter how I navigate through any given moment. No matter how many times I fuck up or manage to do something amazing, the experience is really hers and hers alone. It’s her story. She will tell it the way it unfolds in her eyes.

And it occurs to me that this must be the same reason why I write at the end of each day. As a mother I want to build and savor my own stories, my own version of how it all went down. Like the first time she said, “I love you mommy” and the whole house shook and the sky lit up and my heart just broke into a million pieces right there on the floor. And though there is no hard evidence of this occurrence, there was no structural damage done to the apartment, no reports of a strange flash in the sky, no medical record of my broken heart that is how it happened for me.

That is my mythology.

And I’m sticking to it.

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