Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Last Day

Today was my son's last day of his first year of preschool and while I was looking around at the playground afterwards searching for the champagne, no one else seemed to think it was in order. So much for marking the major milestones...

After all, aren't we the same people who posted online photographs of the kid the first time he a) clapped his hands b) peed on the potty c) picked his nose? Yes, we are!

And aren't we the same people who called up the grandparents the first time she a) rolled over without being gentle led into it by our hands b) sat up c) talked back to us in our own angry tone of voice?

I was thinking, on the drive home, oh, time goes so quickly! And then, getting unsentimental, I remembered how slowly some of these days have gone. I suppose they're both true. Just yesterday (it seems) he was a babe in diapers drooling on my shoulder, when actually, just yesterday, he ripped some buckets out of my daughter's hands and said: "No more bucket time! Bucket time is OVER!" What a lovely moment. I saw with perfect clarity just how I act when I attempt to discipline.

Now he's grown his four years as a child, and I've grown mine as a mother. This mothering thing has a steep learning curve; I'm happy to say I think I'm getting better. Very slowly.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why This Blog Is Lame

I don't know if anyone else can claim this great title, but it suits me, so I'm taking it. I am the anti-blogger. I am the blogger who doesn't even like blogging. I am the blogger who doesn't do facebook, who will not tweet. In fact, in graduate school, I refused to have an EMAIL account (and I'm not that old so yes they existed back then and yes that's how people communicated). I was the only person in the entire school without one. I insisted on being PHONED for all communication. Can you imagine?

And now that I use the cyber world slightly more than that, I still will not bend the very few Luddite scruples I have left. (And after an enlightening program on the shameless privacy policies of Facebook aired on NPR which I heard, I am quite happy about my choice.) And then, to get to the point, my blog is lame because it's not a gushing confessional (think I'm going to write about my sex life, fights with my husband, and my worthless boss). Nor is it a political firework. (Although I have said before and will say again that writing about diapers and poop IS a political act.) And, I do not appear naked anywhere. I don't talk about celebrities. I don't date them either.

Alas for the six of you who read this. Where's the meat? Where are the goods? And for that matter, where's all the advertising? Am I the only blogger left who isn't hawking goods for a dozen companies? (Yeah, I am selling my own book. And if you click on it you'll get to Amazon, but really, you should be a better person than that and buy it at your local bookstore.)

Anyway, I'm still right. I'm as right as I was back in seminary when I refused email. Communication is always better face to face--if not then voice to voice. And the only world I want to be a part of isn't cyber. Call me old-fashioned. Call me lame. I want people for dinner and play dates. (And yes, occasionally, I do long for a few comments left on my posts, but not nearly as much as I long for company.) Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I could start up a whole website about this, a whole network of people just like me, blogging and connecting and posting all about how much they don't like the internet. Think it would work?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Chocolate is Back

One of the saddest, sorriest, most devastating side effects of my pregnancies has been a total lack of interest in chocolate. In fact, just a month ago, my husband bought me some of my favorite chocolates. They sat in the house untouched for days. Then I gave them to my mother. (Never mind being too sick to get out of bed, not being able to eat all day, constant nausea, and an aversion to the smell of my own house.)

Begs the questions: who am I? Without my chocolate, do I even exist?

I am happy to announce that a very small, modest, controlled desire for chocolate has resurfaced in my life. Though it will not lead me to eat an entire box of Whitman's chocolates in one sitting, I do believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I may well become the person I used to be.

In the meantime, morning sickness, as usual, has proven to be my best diet and people cannot stop saying, "You look so thin!"

Amazing what happens when you take a daily chocolate regiment out of a diet. Still, colors weren't as bright, laughs weren't as hearty, sunsets weren't as brilliant without chocolate in my life. I'm so glad you're back, dear chocolate. But what a shame that you give me terrible heartburn; can we work on that?

Isn't it always the ones you love who hurt you?

Monday, May 17, 2010

You're Having a WHAT?

Now that it's officially, official (little baby ultrasound pics. and everything),I can start blogging and blabbing about baby number three due in October.

I thought I'd start with some of my favorite responses to this little announcement:

"I'm happy for you...I think."

"I can't believe you're having another kid!"

"Did you...make a mistake?"

"Was this planned?"

And these are no innocent strangers. These are friends! Yes, shocking though it may be, I wanted to have a third child in this age of only children. If I had it my way, I'd probably have a whole lot more; despite my imperfect parenting, I love it. You'd think from these comments I'd announced my 20th child! Like some crazy, quiverful movement fundamentalists! I'm AMISH folks, get it straight. Amish, feminist, liberal and religious. Geez. And yes, I'll give birth with a long dress on and a bonnet. So you can be happy for me, really. I am not merely at the mercy of my biology like all those poor babes a hundred years ago. I HAVE birth control. I just don't use it. :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hanging Out With the Food Throwers

I got a number of responses after blogging about loneliness and motherhood. Reading a a great essay, "Tell Your Secrets," by Ariel Gore, included in the book Your Children Will Raise You, I came across this:

"I'll never get used to the reality that motherhood is such an isolating experience. There's hardly a more common profession, yet many of us feel completely alone. Our individual homes and our time constraints keep us from one another. And labels--bad mother, good mother, stay-at-home mother, working mother, single mother, and the rest--not only encourage guilt and undermine our efforts but also divide us as potential allies."

I do wonder, often, if motherhood isolates as much in other cultures--or if it did in other times? Or if our time and place isn't a particularly isolating one, separated as we are by our technologies and our suburban privacy. My husband tells me that the idea of private property doesn't exist in the same way in England. They have walking paths that cross individual property all over the country. You just keep walking respectfully.

Sounds good.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

What else does Mother's Day make you think of but shopping?

Flowers, candies, chocolates...books!

New motherhood can run the gamut from simply exhausting to severe-depression inducing, and a card once a year makes it all worth while.

Seriously, now, there is no other time like that first year: intense, overwhelming, amazing, acute. That's the main reason I wrote my first novel--when my son was nine months old. I'd never known anything like it, despite what friends and family had told me. And every time I talk to a new mother, my heart responds in sympathy.

So I've concocted a Mother's Day challenge. For every person who gives a copy of my novel, THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME, to a new mother (first year of motherhood) in her/his life, I will donate two dollars to MotherWoman. MotherWoman is an incredible local (to the Amherst, Mass) resource for mothers of all kinds and stage. If you don't know a new mother to give the novel to, you can simply blog about the challenge and the book, and send me the link, and I will donate two dollars to MotherWoman. (When you visit their link you can also see their mother's day fund raiser.)

True, there's some shameless self-promotion in here. I DO want people to buy the book. But it's also been powerful for me to receive the letters and emails from the mothers who have read it who feel that it is has helped them tremendously. Here are a few samples from a few of these--and keep in mind these are all people I do not know. (And I didn't bribe or pay them to say these things!)

It is 5:00 am, that terrible time you describe in your book when it's too early to get up and too late to go back to sleep - I've been up since 2, actually, and just finished your book - I cannot even tell you how much it helped me... thank you, thank you. --A Massachusetts Mama

Thank you for writing the book This Little Mommy Stayed Home. It was one of the best books I have ever read, honestly. Very truthful, very funny, very real. Reading your book helped me focus on something else, and laugh along with you. It was great, and I am so thankful that I found your book to help me through the hard times. I am just sad that I am done with the book now. --An Iowa Mama

I just wanted to write you to let you know how much I'm enjoying "This Little Mommy Stayed Home." I've been reading it non-stop (in my "free" time between working full time and taking care of my four year old daughter) and I am so amazed by how funny, accurate, and wonderful this book is! I just took it with me on my lunch break and almost started to cry (I am toward the end now). You've captured everything I was feeling as a new mom and it's really made me think about and remember how hard that first year was. --West Coast Mama

Thank you for the gift of this book. --NYC Mama

That's just a small sample!

Here's all you need to do: Give a copy to a new mom. Pick one up at a local bookstore, at Cradle, in Northampton, or online.
Blog about the challenge and the book (if you don't know a new mom) to spread the word to other new moms.
Then, drop me a line at wildemama@hotmail.com and let me know. I will donate $2 for every book given or blog posted. I would love to make more than a small offering to MotherWoman! (More than ten bucks, anyway!) They do so much good for women in a time when we really need it--when don't we need it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Way It Is

Now you'd think my single biggest gripe with motherhood would have something to do with the way the children gang up on me whenever I want them to do something and run for cover under the baby's crib where I can only reach them if I am willing to drag them out by their ankles. (Which makes me think of city and town "leash laws" for dogs that essentially say you either need to have voice control over your animal or put it on a leash. Hmmm. I think I need two leashes. No way can I direct these children with my voice.)

Moving right along from what is NOT my biggest woe to what is. And frankly, most times, it's a sense of isolation. Staying home with children, despite the many opportunities to go to parks and on play-dates and to playgrounds, is, essentially, a one-woman job. No chats around the water cooler. No conferences. No meetings. Who knew I would one day crave committee meetings?

Some days, I eat every meal alone with the children. Just the three of us. One with table manners, two who throw food. Makes me want to live in a commune.

Seriously, I am a community-oriented person. Last year we put in an offer on a house in a co-housing community (which sadly we didn't get). I think introverts are much better at stay-at-home mothering. Meanwhile, it makes me, on some days, long to be in a polygamous marriage so at least I'd have the company of the other wives during the day--and someone to chat with while I wash the dining room table for the seventh time. Not a bad trade off, I'd say. (I should forward this post to my husband. I think he might dig it.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Knew It Could Be So Hard?

Just finished reading a fantastic memoir: Waiting for Daisy.

Peggy Orenstein manages to be heartbreaking and hilarious as she retells her SIX year saga to have a child. Despite the fact that my reality of child-conceiving has been completely different, I adored this book.

In the first place, it's a fascinating treatise on the idea of motherhood itself--choosing it, not choosing it, fear of it, delaying it, aching for it. In the second place, I had NO idea the real ins and outs of fertility medication/procedure, and it really blew my mind. (The urine of virgin nuns comes to mind as one surprising piece of the "get pregnant" recipe.)

If you have any mother friends who are struggling trying, or have in the past, give them this book. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone could have a harder time than Orenstein (though I'm sure it happens), and she has such a good perspective on her own craziness.

Maybe that's why I liked it. I like people who can make fun of their own neuroses. (Although lying in bed waiting for a thunderstorm this morning and NOT sleeping for worry was not very funny. But it is true that ever since I got electrocuted by the washing machine during a lightening storm, I've developed a touch of a phobia.)

Getting back to the topic, though, some of the questions Orenstein raises I really like:
Are women waiting too long to have babies?
Will a career ever fulfill a woman in the way a child can?
How far would YOU go to have a child? (A good, imaginative exercise for those of us who occasionally want to give our children to those virgin nuns who pee into cups.)
Did the feminists ruin us with too high expectations?
If you never had children, would that be okay with you?