Anne Heche's Blog: The Mommy Wars
"Our kids will grow up playing tennis, it'll be perfect!" we thought.
Please give a warm welcome to our newest celebrity blogger, Anne Heche!
Best known for her roles on Men in Trees and Hung, the actress, 43, also appeared in Return to Paradise, Six Days Seven Nights, Donnie Brasco and Wag the Dog.
Heche is “forever engaged” to James Tupper and is mom to two sons: Atlas, 3, and Homer, 10.
It’s summer time. That means summer vacation. The kids are thrilled to be out of school, the parents are tormented about how to entertain them.
James and I just finished a movie together in Louisiana (Nothing to Fear — A SLASHER FILM. Yes, produced by that Slash.) It finished shooting three weeks before school got out. We took Homer and Atlas down with us and stayed in a beautiful spot right on Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville, so we figured we had had our “traveling vacation” and decided to do a “stay-cation” instead!
To us parents this was ideal, indeed. We didn’t need to pay for air travel, nightly dinners, or fancy hotels. But home or NOT home, the question still remains: “What were we to do with these children, every day, for seven days a week and every night for seven nights…?”
While bicycling in our neighborhood one spring day, James and I happened upon a gorgeous public building hidden among ivy and sycamore trees on a side street. After we rang the bell, we got invited inside, and found ourselves in an historic tennis club. A TENNIS CLUB. Wow.
It was gorgeous, a stunning building from the ’20s kept in pristine condition. Black and white pictures of old-time famous tennis players framed on the walls, antique carpets and the scent of freshly popped cans of tennis balls. “People here play tennis. A lot of it. They call it social but some take it pretty serious,” the nice man that greeted us said.
James and I nodded as if we too played tennis, but the honest answer, was that we did NOT. We really, really LIKED tennis. We saw it on TV. When we were young we picked up a couple of rackets a couple of times each summer and commented about how fun it would be to learn to PLAY tennis.
“We’d love to join,” we said bobbing our heads, “serious” about one thing: giving our children opportunities that we never enjoyed. We felt so lucky and blessed that we could give Atlas and Homer a chance to learn tennis at such a young age. It felt like the gift for a lifetime! “Our kids will grow up playing tennis, it’ll be perfect!” we thought.
Cut to: “No way! I don’t WANT to play tennis. I HATE tennis.”
Homer was declaring WAR over tennis camp. Yes, tennis CAMP. Mom and Dad’s “solution” was to have him play for three hours in the morning, have lunch with his friends, then have the option of swimming or playing games for a couple of hours before pick up. In other words – HELL!
“I am NOT playing tennis. This is NOT how I intend to spend my summer, you should CONSULT me before making these kind of decisions about my life,” he told us. “No. Period. I’m not going.”
I mockingly replied, “I’m sorry, Mummy. I don’t want to play tennis at the tennis club for summer break!” (Yes, I was speaking like a bratty English school girl with a fake, whiney accent…)
“I want to sit around and DO NOTHING all summer, I deserve it, don’t I Mummy? I want to do nothing while you and James work to provide me special privileges that I can deny! Can’t I do that, Mummy? Can’t I, PLEA-SZE? (beat.) Mummy?”
This was HORRIBLE mommy behavior, I know. I watched as his eyes welled with tears. I believed I had made some sort of impact, but it was unpleasant for everyone witnessing it to be sure. Even the dogs and the cat seemed to be crying.
I did what I always do when I’m completely embarrassed by my behavior; I looked to James for approval. He kind of nodded sideways and shrugged his hands, like, “Well, it wasn’t the BEST you could have done, but it wasn’t the WORST.” God. I hate that. Why can’t I just be right once in awhile? Just completely RIGHT?
I had hurt my son’s feelings and now I wanted to cry too. But instead I forged forth. “I would like you to give it a try,” I said in my attempted normal voice. “We will take you tomorrow at 9 a.m. for a half day. If you really hate it, we will try to find other things for you to do. Who knows, you might like it.” Homer sulked. James nodded, “Much better.”
CUT TO: Bzzzt! Bzzzt! Oh no. Monday morning. The club was calling. It was only 11:30 a.m. Down deep, I knew this would happen. “Homer…?” There was silence. “Are you okay?” I heard him kind of stammer and catch his breath. “Do we have something interesting planned for the afternoon?” I was pretty sure I knew where this was going. “Or can I stay till three?”
I nearly choked. “Ummm…” I said, pretending to be all casual. He cut me off. “You were right, Mom,” he said. “I’ll eat my words on this one. I had a great day. I think I really like tennis. I’ll see you at 3, okay?”
Three weeks later, Homer has won the award for most improved player in camp and has been asked by the best novice player at the club to be his doubles partner in a league circuit for kids. Am I proud? You have no idea.
It’s what we want for our kids. A hope — a satisfaction that when we work, we can provide for them anything that gives them a good feeling about themselves. That’s it. The mom wars. The good, the bad, the ugly. The future.
It’s all about them. And what I learned this summer is if you really are reaching out to them, for them, they will come to embrace it. Ahhh, love.
— Anne Heche
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