I only blog after dark. Just like a vampire, I wait until the sun goes down before I start spilling blood. Well, not really blood, more like words. I spill words late at night. But never during the day.
That is because I am two people. In the daytime, I am Allyson: the mom/wife/sister/daughter focused on getting through the day and making sure that everyone around me has what they need. Then, at night, I’m Al: I am (somewhat) relaxed, loose, and start thinking about what it is that I want to do. Do I want to read a book? Watch t.v.? Have a glass of wine? It’s me-time, baby. Show’s over.
I am not alone. Everyone has two sides of themselves, whether or not they want to admit it. There’s the one face that you show to the world, and then there is the real person inside. It takes a lot of bravery to show both of your faces at the same time: Bruce Jenner is doing it. Lady Gaga did it last night at The Oscars. It can be scary and it can also backfire: Brian Williams is in trouble for doing it.
My little Aidan is having trouble with his two sides. On the outside, he’s a 6 year old, who is missing his front teeth and who enjoys soccer and fruit snacks. On the inside, he’s a much older person, who, for fun, reads all forms of historical non-fiction, watches documentary on famous inventors, and loves discussing cell biology and disease. The best way to illustrate this is the following story: while observing his brother Sam at a final callback last week for a musical, he asked me what the director was doing. “He’s lining them up,” I told him. “He wants to see who he likes, and who he doesn’t. He needs to figure out who he wants.” Aidan turned to me, and, without skipping a beat, said, “Yeah, you know who else did that? Slave owners.”
Poor Aidan lives with these two selves all the time. He can’t figure out when to take out the little kid and when to take out the older one. He gets in trouble at school if he brings out his teenager mentality while still acting like a little kid. People don’t know how to react. He’s conflicted, angry and confused. It’s tough to learn how to live with two different people inside of you. I have only now learned how to keep both parts of myself alive at different times of the day.
Perhaps the reason why people so far have loved the “Mom On The Road” book is because there are many people who know me by my daytime “mom-ish/charitable/vanilla” self, who are somewhat shocked to read a book written by me that includes sex, masturbation, and several other graphic and controversial scenarios. “Wow. I never knew you had that in you!” said a woman I have known from places like school pick-up and the grocery store. I don’t. At least, not during the day. (I wrote most of my book at night as well.)
This past weekend, I watched a friend I have known for over a decade show a new side of herself to me. Diagnosed with breast cancer only months before her daughters’ dual bat mitzvah, she soldiered through a weekend of celebrations with one goal in mind: do not feel bad for me. Do not pity me, and do not take the focus off of my daughters. I’m fine. Now, I know she’s not fine. I went to chemotherapy with her last week, and have watched what her body is going through. She’s exhausted and in pain and weak. But no one would have ever known that this weekend. One person: two people. Both are amazing.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with having dual identities. It’s incredible if people can juggle them both, and it is heartbreaking to watch them be simply unable to do so. It’s even worse if the world doesn’t know how to react.
So, tonight, I will quote the great Johnny Castle from Dirty Dancing, combined with some knowledge that we gained from “American Sniper”: nobody puts a fake baby in the corner. It’s very hard when you are trying so hard to put on an act that no one with any sense will believe.
If you can, don’t hide who you really are. Embrace the two sides of yourself. We have learned Lady Gaga can be strange and also incredibly talented. We have learned that Bruce Jenner can be a loving father, while wishing he was a woman. And our family is trying to figure out how a toothless 6 year old who has temper tantrums over empty bags of chips, can also compare callbacks to a slave auction.
Join the best parts of yourself together, if you can, and see how the world reacts. See how you feel. That’s what blogging does for me. That’s what writing this book did for me.
(Momontour legal disclaimer: the book is not about me. It’s about a woman who worked for the Mariposa County Public Defender’s Office and, in real life, I worked for the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office. The first stop of her tour went to West Haven, Connecticut, but in real life, I went to New Have, Connecticut. See? IT’S TOTALLY DIFFERENT.)