I’m Not Ellen Degeneres and Maybe That’s OK

I’ve always thought that one day I’d do something that would make me exceptional. But I’m 59 years old and am not exceptional yet, so things aren’t looking terribly promising.

I don’t live in my lovely home anymore, job loss and a divorce took care of that.

I feel like I never really achieved serious success in any of my jobs. I was a sales rep and was OK. I was a news and traffic reporter and was pretty good. I’m still a copywriter and am pretty good. I’m a voice actress and audiobook narrator and I’m pretty good. I’m a blogger and thought that might be where I might really shine, but exceptional? Not yet. So, I’m pretty good at a lot of things, exceptional at nothing. I’m not saying this for sympathy; it’s just how I feel, which is really hard to admit.

And I keep asking for a sign. I keep hoping something will happen that says, “HEY, YOU’RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK!” Stick with this performance and writing thing, something good is coming.

I don’t know what I expect, It’s not like I’m Moses and a burning bush is going to come along and have a chat. And publishers don’t go looking for you; you have to find them. Writing takes skill, diligence and unbelievably constant self-promotion.

I would never admit this self-doubt to my kids, who both happened to be home tonight. Why add to their stress?  It’s bad enough they feel insecure sometimes. I’m their cheerleader, I can’t fall apart. Besides, they’ve already witnessed my wilting self-esteem more times than I care to admit.

Tonight, when my daughter and I got home, my son was here having a bad day. He hadn’t eaten anything and it was almost five. He was grouchy and feeling bad that he hadn’t been able to put the final touches on my computer, which he was fixing yesterday.  And my daughter was tired and starving, as usual.

Buttered, warm banana bread with chocolate chips.

Buttered, warm banana bread with chocolate chips.

So, I went into mother-mode and patched up a salad from last night’s leftovers and put the roasted chicken from Von’s on top with some quinoa with homemade salad dressing. My son ate that and my daughter’s lumpy, leftover, two-day-old burrito. I made some espresso for a quick latte for my daughter, who ate a little chicken. She popped popcorn and my son was diving into my banana bread with chocolate chips. Not a gourmet dinner, but they were happy. He told me my banana bread with chocolate chips was godly. They sat in the sunlight talking and eating while I watched.

I stood watching them and they looked so beautiful I took a photo. Then my son got up, came over and wrapped his arms around me in a big hug.  He apologized for being grouchy and for not finishing my computer. He told me the food was great and that I was a good mom.

As I stood hugging him, with the afternoon sunlight shining on us in this small kitchen, I thought: Wow, this feels so nice. Maybe this is the sign. My kids are good kids. They’re kind, loving and good. Maybe I am a success at this, Maybe this what I’m here to do. Maybe this job will have a more lasting effect than anything else I’m pursuing. It was a huge post-Mother’s Day gift.

Maybe I don’t have to be exceptional on the world’s stage. Maybe I don’t need a big house.  Maybe I can relax a little knowing that being a good mom to my kids, who seem to be turning out OK, is my job. Maybe I don’t have to be the next Ellen Degeneres or Nora Ephron to be considered a success. Maybe just being the good mom that my mom taught me to be is what I’m here to do. And maybe I’m starting to be OK with that.

Banana bread with chocolate chips, it's godly!

Banana bread with chocolate chips, it’s godly!

Banana Bread That Will Make You Feel Like a Success adapted from Kona Inn Recipe

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup butter- very soft or melted

2 cups sugar

2 cups mashed, ripe banana – about six medium sized bananas

4 eggs slightly beaten

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Stir together flour, salt and baking soda.  Inn separate large bowl, mix softened/melted butter, sugar, mashed banana, eggs and walnuts.  Add dry ingredients and stir until batter is thoroughly blended.

Pour batter into two greased and floured (9×5 inch) loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes clean.  Start checking for done-ness after 40 minutes of baking.  (The bread sometimes gets very dark colored, but it’s not done until the toothpick comes out dry.) Let bread cool in pans a few minutes then remove.  I butter the tops of the bread and wrap them in plastic wrap to keep the moisture in.

22 thoughts on “I’m Not Ellen Degeneres and Maybe That’s OK

  1. Fran, I just read this and you’ve been a success as long as I’ve known you….a few years! You’ve always had the ability to make people laugh and feel good about themselves. If that’s not success, I don’t know what is . You are so talented, witty, beautiful , caring (stop me), and loving …..that is success . If you have raised your children as your mother raised you, then, my dear friend, you are indeed successful. And on top of all that, you can sing Connie Francis ! Always…..Di

  2. Well, all I can say is this: the woman to whom I promised two hours to “build” a castle for a school dinner, somehow roped me into an 11-hour day to ensure it had turrets, a moat and a drawbridge–and created a lifelong friendship amidst the cardboard and black paint. You artfully gather diverse people with the ease and panache of Gertrude Stein, while whipping up food to rival the Barefoot Contessa. You write with the wit and keen observation of Nora Ephron or Nancy Meyers. And, since I love your wonderful children almost as much as you do, I can attest to how exceptional you are as a mother and what amazing people you have managed to raise. AND… as the person who encouraged you to write this blog in the first place, and helped you set it up, I know just how far you’ve come with it in a VERY short time (and how authentic your voice has become). Please: be kind to yourself, my exceptional friend. Your blog is in its infancy. Just keep showing up and inviting us all in for a laugh, a chat, and food by proxy. Love you!

    • Oh Linda, you just made me burst into tears. I honestly feel this way and I didn’t write it to get this kind of response, but every response has really touched me and given me a little push to keep going, even when I sometimes don’t feel like it. Thank you so much.

  3. Another wonderful blog, Fran- I am especially moved by this one since I have felt the same way about my life and am still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. If I could be half the writer you are, I would say I’ve found my calling!

  4. I myself think you are one helluva writer and carry pleasant and invigorating stories and news to those who need your input. Drive on Fran!

  5. Good column Bruny and we got your gifts which were very good too.

    Bernie Tunno    President Tunno Insurance  330 758-6697

    • Thanks Bern and thanks for surviving the heart attack. Because of you, I realized that life is short and bought myself a bottle of Maker’s Mark whiskey, which I occasionally mix with ginger ale and enjoy. But next time, make a less grand statement, OK?

  6. Not only are you an exceptional mother, you’re an exceptional friend, and I love you!
    And you make exceptional biscotti. And pie. God, I love your pies. And roast…that autumnal roast. But I digress.

  7. Fran, each time you write, the stuff gets better and better. I loved reading this piece — that is, until I realized that I could see myself in your situation. And reading it made it clear to me that I have failed at being something exceptional. What does your post today have to do with that? Here’s how: Ever since I met you back in — well, back a long time ago — I’ve known how exceptional you are and I’ve both admired you and tried to tell you just how exceptional you are. Now I realize that, if I had succeeded at being exceptional, my words might have meant more to you.
    Sorry I let you down.
    May I please add that there is some wisdom to the advice that some give — put all of your passion in what you love to do or what you know you are. Don’t worry about anyone measuring you. Do it with passion and everything will fall into place.
    You’re still the most talented person I know. That’s pretty exceptional!

  8. I’m sorry I am no big time publisher to swoop you off your feet but that was just beautiful and a perfect story! Thank you for sharing. I think you are TERRIFIC!

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