This bit of writing brilliance by Tina Fey had me laughing and crying at the same time. I think that’s the definition, in fact, of what writers want to achieve on the page. May you, then, laugh cry. At the end of this prayer, I have added my own:
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes and not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers and the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
From her new book.
…and now a word from me on this terrifying subject:
Laura Munson here, Lord. I’m with Tina. And heck, Tina’s got babies. I’ve got a fifteen year old, and I can tell You (well You already know this, but for what it’s worth) I’ve been called a lot worse than a Bitch in front of Hollister. And that’s AFTER I went against everything I believe in and bought her the hundred dollar jeans and the sweatshirt with the word HOLLISTER across it and braved the foul piped-in perfume and the drum-beat-amuk hip hop and got busted looking too long at the ten foot sixteen year old’s abs on the wall. By her. But Lord, here is where I know that I must forgive…because in all honesty, I’m sure I’m a pain in her ass. I mean, how many other mothers out there make their daughters read up on the history of Hollister, and Abercrombie too, to see what their corporate ethics read like before they go around being walking billboards for slave labor in India, for instance? I probably deserve what she called me. Just like I deserved all those Necker Booters Tina’s talking about– shit leaking from neck to boots. I mean afterall, I DID whack her in the cheek that time she bit my nipple with alligator force in one of our placid nursing sessions on the front porch swing. So the neighbors probably saw. And I did once bite her on the cheek when she screamed in my ear, back arched, for some reason I can’t remember but I think it had to do with throwing my cell ph0ne into the toilet. Heck, at least I didn’t shake her. All I did was give her a little mother bear nip on those cheeks I love so to kiss. It’s her fault that she bruises like that and that she had to miss nursery school the next day due to the mouth shaped indigo on her face. Isn’t it?
My prayer, God, is I guess…really more of a confession and a call for absolution. I haven’t always been the best mother. Yes, I cut those grapes. And yes I lovingly cleaned those Necker Booters. And sang with her every night and talked about You and the moon and the cosmos and wonder and awe and the infinite possibilities of who she was and who she can become…but I fucked up too. A lot. And now she’s fifteen, and she’s taller than I am and has elegant sentence structure and the fire to match my own. I taught her only too well in this regard. I tell her that she’s a natural for Speech and Debate. She says she’s shy. I can tell You: she isn’t shy. Not around her mother anyway. So really, I guess, this is a prayer for myself. Tina, I’ve got the baton in my hand and I’m out here in front of you. Here to say that when you win that next Emmy or write that next bestselling book or write, direct, and star in a movie, she’s gonna find a way to reduce your deserved pride into dust. She’ll say things to you like, “it’s not like you solved world peace or anything. It’s not like you got Bin Laden.” She’ll be standing at your door while you’re on a conference call with the top guns of NBC pitching them a new pilot in your home office with the Do Not Disturb sign on your closed door, and she’ll fling open the door with a piece of Nutella-slathered toast and say, loudly, “you can’t even remember dog food or milk? Or butter?” and then slam the door shut, so that she sort of derails your pitch: you’re not pitching a comedy this time– it’s a drama, afterall, about the prayers of mothers for their babies. All that hope. You’re taking a break from comedy, in fact. Or are you.
I pray then, Lord, for a sense of humor when I ask her to apply her biceps to putting the hot tub cover back on since my back is out. And she says, “What’s your problem– it’s so light!” And then from the kitchen sink I watch as she struggles with it (even though she’s stronger than I am because I gave up my gym membership so she could keep in shape all winter for soccer– while I sit in the rain and snow hours upon hours…on the soccer sidelines…not improving anything but my already flabby ass) and when she finally gets the hot tub cover on, she marches in and says, “God! Why do you have to take the whole cover off? Why can’t you just open it half way. Like DAD!” Please, in that case, God, (and do You notice how often she mentions You like You have some sort of alliance with her I don’t know about! DO You???) remind me to not mention that my back is currently out as I spent the day weeding the garden since she complained, “God (see what I mean), our house is so disgusting I’m embarassed to have friends over!” Please grant me the knowledge that this is just her job, this violent fledging. She has to fledge. It’s scary growing up and deep inside her, she knows it. She’s about to go out in the world and get much worse than a flick or even a bite to the cheek. She’s going to get the ass-slapping of her life, and it’s going to burn and bleed and crust over and break open and ooze and get Staf infected and lay her up for days on end in bed. And she knows…I won’t be there to share whatever wisdom I may posess and love and stroke her hair and rub her back. She’ll be very very far away from home.
So now, the prayer is for both of us. May we both bleed just a little less than You prescribe. May our dreams come alive without always having to learn the hard way. May our pain be used for greatness. May we posess a knowing faith in ourselves even when everybody else claims we aren’t good enough. May we remember to take walks in the rain. Hours in bed with a good book. And Advil when absolutely necessary. Thank you, then, God…for Advil.