Mom! There’s someone at the door for you!
One of my children runs up the stairs, extracting himself from the movie being watched for Friday morning fun (and Mommy sanity) while another stands next to me as I answer the door.
A polished, professional young woman informs me that she is from the local TV station and that my house was pointed out as having someone who might be home to do an interview about the little library on our street.
Ah, yes. Because up until this past year when I returned to work, I have been that woman that can pretty much be counted on to be home during the day. Need a few extra kids for a photo shoot? Try the house on the corner. There are lots of kids there. An interview for the local paper about taking meals to people? She’s usually home. A TV story on the little library? Ask her. She probably reads.
I know the library is there. It’s been there for over a year. I know of at least two others around town, one on the campus of EMU and one next to Emmanuel Episcopal Church. That one looks like a little church and lights up inside at night.
Well, actually, I haven’t used it. I tell the reporter, hoping to be released from the call.
Shame begins to seep through my being as contempt leans over and taps me on the shoulder, reminding me that I didn’t even go to the cookies and lemonade porch party to celebrate its grand opening. It was a neighborhood event, and I didn’t go.
What kind of a neighbor are YOU? Don’t even think you can talk about this or pretend that you are the little library lady. You haven’t even opened its little glass door!
My daughter crouches down next to me, expressing interest in the interview. She is ready to talk about anything. I send her gently inside and return to the porch to explain why I am not the person for this interview.
Yes, I know about the little libraries and others around town, but this year has been SO FULL, and I haven’t even had the time to consider reading extra material. I’m sorry that I’m not a good candidate for this interview.
I see something in the reporter’s eyes that I think I recognize. Deadline. Desperation. Determination to get this project done and checked off the list.
Have I thought about using the little library? Do I have thoughts about it? Would my daughter and I be interviewed to share our thoughts on the little library?
I hate this! With every fiber of my being I hate being put on the spot almost as much as I hate the feeling of having a project that needs to be completed, as I am sensing this one does. I hate being able to feel another person’s shoes on my feet. I would want the mom on the corner to grant me the time and words that I needed to finish a job.
I decide to help with the interview, grateful that unlike yesterday, I had gotten dressed before noon. My hair is another matter, and I am trying not to think about how I look as the three of us walk up the street to the little library.
It’s not about me. It’s about community.
We are interviewed and videotaped, and I am cringing inside wondering how this will turn out. I wrestle through feelings of falsehood, though I never indicate that I am a regular user of the library.
Instead I focus on the theory and practice and idea of having books readily available. I focus on intention.
And then, as we strike our final videotaped pose, my wild-haired girl and I, the little glass door opens to reveal a book by Garrison Keillor, which I select, as my child chooses a chapter book about a cat. We sit side by side reading, giggling, and then walk home together.
We glance at each other, and she says,
I LOVED that!
I HATED that! I reply.
We laugh and continue on with our day, as I try not to think about the outcome of the story.