But if the idea of Time appealed to them, big-time journalism did not. There came to be a gap between us, not of my making and not as large as the one that existed when I was a teenager pretending to be an orphan, but it was big enough to trouble me. My parents would never say, "You're putting on airs," or "too big for your britches," as they did when I was a kid. But I could tell they didn't feel entirely at ease with a life they didn't feel part of. They'd made a lot of adjustments downward, giving up on "my daughter, the nun," and "my daughter, the teacher." They were ready to settle for "my daughter, the lawyer," until I snatched that away from them. My daughter at Time was something else again.
Washington journalism had come to symbolize that I had left the old neighborhood and wasn't coming back, even though I came back all the time. I couldn't get them to Washington short of threat of a nuclear meltdown— literally. One of their rare visits took place during the leakage from the reactor at nearby Three Mile Island when they came to stay with me for three weeks — long enough to turn my household into a replica of theirs, right down to their sulking if I wanted to go out.
I wanted my parents to be proud of me, but not too proud. I preferred they be somewhat blasé, like the parents of my fellow journalists who took it for granted that their offspring would get White House invitations. They were either horrified (how much I paid for my house in Georgetown, and Georgetown itself), or too thrilled ("You had dinner with who?"). Once again I kept secrets. I would hang on the phone with my mother discussing meat loaf recipes, but not say who I was making the meat loaf for. They weren't familiar with the notion that if you hang a lamb chop in the window, they will come. It doesn't even take meat loaf to get Senator John McCain.
Excerpted from Anyone Can Grow Up: How George Bush and I Made It to the White House, Copyright © 2003 by Margaret Carlson.