Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Attention K-Mart Shoppers

I am so glad you made it here. Now, can I prevail upon you to visit

  • Iowadrift's new site?

  • Please come to the new site, and please, please, if I'm on your blogroll, could you change the link? Both of you? Thank you! Thank you!

    Looking forward to seeing you in other, and even more excitingly designed, pastures.

    I Think It All Makes Sense In Rabbitworld

    Rabbit: What are you doing, Mama?
    Me: Checking my email
    Rabbit: Sucking a reno? Why would you do that?

    Rabbit: Who are you talking to?
    Me (on phone): West Virginia Mama
    Rabbit: (nodding head knowledgeably): Oh, West Virginia Mama. She lives in a library in Spain.
    [Note; she lives in a house in, you guessed it, West Virginia]

    Rabbit: I want a bottlemilk!
    Me: OK, do you want soy milk or cow milk?
    Rabbit: I want a bottle WINE!

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    Maybe Not So Much With The Hallmark

    I was rereading my post of Friday the 6th, and discovered, to my horror, that I actually used the word "wonder" both with a straight face and in conjunction with my children. The horror! The horror! Next thing you know I'll be descanting on how fast the boys' babyhoods have gone, and linking to sites which sell small, noseless china figurines with hydrocephalus. "Wonder," indeed. Hmph.

    Now don't get me wrong; I have nothing against wonder itself, and there are definitely times when I do in fact find my children wonderful (often in the context of, "The mess in the diaper was wonderful to behold,"). But one of the reasons I started this blog--aside from being too lazy to write in a journal where no one would read my words, because where's the fun in THAT?--was to chronicle my own, actual experience of motherhood, separate from the often oddly rosy and/or domesticated vision of motherhood which seems to float around out there, or at least which floated around in my head before I had kids. I wanted--I still want--to write about the dailiness, the moment-to-moment, so that when I'm eighty and misty eyed with senility and gin I can conk myself over the head with my collected writings and knock some sense into myself before I start saying things like, "Oh, enjoy it while they're young, because [all together please] it goes so fast!" And, conversely, so that when I'm eighty I will be able to peruse my thoughts from fifty years ago and recognize that there WAS some good stuff going on amid the exhaustion and in-your-face of having tiny boys, good stuff that I could hardly see at the time (the time, you understand, being now; am I making this confusing enough?) because I was (am) so swamped with the intensity of both the boys' needs and my own reactions to them.

    Ah, the good stuff. That's the thing. It's there, but it's different from what I'd expected it would be, and that's where my mea culpa for the wonder-writing comes in. I read and heard an awful lot about the wonder of it all before I had kids--the moment of bonding when you look into the bright eyes of your firstborn, the incredible love which [again, all together now] makes it all worthwhile no matter how tired you are, the rejuvenation of your jaded adult spirit thanks to contact with these little beings who see the world new, etc. But that's not how it's been for me, and I am willing to be that's not how it is for a lot of mothers.

    How HAS it been, then? Well, ontologically overwhelming. There's so much BEING involved with small children, and what I'm good at is thinking, which is not the same thing at all. I'm not even that great at emoting; I'd much rather recollect it in tranquillity. So the quality of the love I have for my children has unsettled and even frightened me, because it's so animal, so straight-from-the-umbilicus, like a reflex which never gets above the cerebellum. It's a love which can give me great joy and great distress, but which is too primal and while the kids are tiny, too demanding, to engender thinner, more parse-able states of being like "happiness," and "wonder," and "enthusiasm." It's a love which has drawn me farther out of myself than I ever thought I could go, and one which has stripped me down to ugly truth. Oh, how ugly. There's nothing like love for absolutely epochal humiliation and facade ripping-away and show me where it warns you about THAT in What to Expect When You're Expecting.

    So yeah, not so much with the "oh, my children make me tired, but they bring wonder back into my life, and every time they smile I forget all about the hardships," blah blah blah. That's the kind of drivel and cant which, I'm convinced, plays a part in mothers deciding to lock themselves away behind their public smiles, and act un-desperate when they cross paths with other mothers at music class or Toddler Storytime or the supermarket. So you can imagine how annoyed I was to find myself perpetuating this. As I said before, mea culpa.

    Not, as I also said before, that there isn't some Good Stuff going on too. It's just that said Stuff feels to me to be something like grace--distressing, soul-making, embedded in the quotidian, really fucking slow--and while Flannery O'Connor could write about that with brio and nerve, I cannot. The best I can do is refuse to trivialize it, and as we've seen, often I can't even pull that off.

    I can, however, change a diaper.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    The Three Year Old's Essential Library

    The Tall Doctor and I actually went on a date Monday afternoon, for the first time since I really don't know whe, and there was much rejoicing. We saw the Narnia movie (hey, I have already confessed to nerdiness), and to my pleasure it looked pretty much as I'd always imagined Narnia to look, ever since my English professor father read me the books when I was, oh, small. It didn't look the way TTD had thought it would look because he had no thoughts: he's never read the books.

    That's right, the Tall Doctor's childhood was seriously lacking in P. Rabbit and W. Pooh. Nobody went to Narnia; nobody visited Middle Earth. The Wind never blew in the Willows, the Swan never Trumpeted, and no Stories were Just So. (Beloved, HAVE you forgotten the suspenders?) Alice didn't fall down any rabbit holes, Dorothy didn't head off to see any Wizards, and Five Children definitely never met It. In The Tall Doctor's household, there were seven children, two parents, eighty cows, a dog, some chickens, and about thirty cats, but no fantasy.

    I try to remember this sometimes when I'm talking to him, but I find it hard to imagine life without, well, imagination. I mean, not that he's short on the facility itself, but unlike me, he grew up without a huge cast of characters dancing in his head like sugarplums, or vistas of distant lands beckoning for visits. And I just can't, well, imagine that. I cannot remember a time when I didn't have the sense that alternate worlds were available for the imagining (and are the voices in my head bothering you?) I cannot understand how anyone gets through school without taking refuge in long, luxurious flights of fancy during algebra class. As long as I can remember, I've had several different scripts of ongoing adventures running in my head, and it all began with Beatrix Potter.

    So seeing Narnia was most satisfying to me--and the White Witch just rocked; what a performance! She ought to get an Oscar just for her beautiful swordwork while wearing a chain mail dress--but seeing The Tall Doctor see it was even better. I knew the ending; for me, the whole film was a series of recognitions. But for him, it was a series of discoveries, and all was new.

    I thought about this the next day as I watched my father reading The Tale of Mrs. Tiggywinkle to The Rabbit, who spent most of his Christmas tucked beneath his grandfather's arm listening to just such stories. ("Christopher Robin goes hoppity hoppity hoppity hoppity hop/Whenever I tell him politely to stop it he says he can't possibly stop"). Because sometimes (OK, usually) in the midst of all the spectacular midnight vomiting sessions, public tantrums, shrieking in the library, pooping in the tub and refusals to go to bed, I forget that for every ounce of dewy youthful freshness the Rabbit and the Urplet have sucked out of me, they have injected an ounce of remembered wonder. They have refurbished my imagination--when they haven't KO'd it by staying up all night--and when I'm in my right mind, I take great joy in this. In fact, it feels as good as watching the Pevensie children trek through a snowy landscape in their fur coats. It feels as good as opening a beloved book for the first time in a very long time.

    Sunday, January 01, 2006

    Two Nerds Make a Night

    What we did for New Year's Eve: work (me) and wrangle small boys (TTD).
    What we're doing tonight, with two days off before us: eating pizza in bed while watching Ken Burns's Civil War documentary.
    Our idea of a perfect night: see line above.

    With this much nerdiness in the gene pool, our children are doomed.