Who says what?

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

Monday, August 31, 2009

One of Them

It's a chilling moment, really. Standing there at the foot of the playground, surrounded by adorable children and endearingly engaged mothers, listening to the sounds of these otherwise normal women saying such things as, "if you do that one more time..." and "Good job! Wow!! You just slid down the slide ALL BY YOURSELF!!!!!!" And, "Johnny, sand is not for throwing. We don't want to hurt anyone. Look in mommy's eyes; see how hurting sand makes her sad. Do you want to make mommy sad? Johnny, I said look at me. Johnny, you're not listening."
Johnny is eleven months old.

Some part of me cringes to be in the thick of it, a throng of summer mothers. Surely, I don't talk like that. Surely, I don't look like that. And I take such pride in my mothering. It gives me such definition. I wouldn't want to make fun of these innocent women and their startling single-minded devotion to their exceptional slide-going offspring. (Because those first couple of slides really are worth the hundred and ten pictures you take, until you have a few more children....)

I speak in mother-tongue now. It's a language all its own. I sit on the beach and hear it all around me. Every now and then, it seems foreign again and I wonder who these strangers are. And then I realize they are me, and you really shouldn't throw sand because as we all know, sand is not for throwing, BALLS ARE FOR THROWING.

Are you looking at me?


  1. OH NO! Not mother-speak!

  2. The thing is, when it's done one on one or in small groups, it doesn't seem so...strange. But en masse you begin to worry about yourself.

  3. Yes. After a whole day of it (dear Lord, sometimes two days - they call it a "weekend") I find myself resorting to snark and untruths just to remember that I'm a grown up.

    "Mama, why is that a bus?" he asks.

    By Sunday afternoon, my answer is likely to be, "because whales don't have wheels, honey."

  4. HAHA, and haha some more. That is so good. I wish you were here to give me one liners. My morning was spent with "100 Whys" and ended with a whole lot of "I don't know," "I don't know," and "Really, honey, I DON'T know."