Tuesday, May 22, 2007

on being a mother (take 17,443)

My mom and I had an interesting conversation last week in which she asked whether I think the mothers of our generation feel as much tension as hers did about staying home, since the cultural pendulum seems to be shifting toward valuing Mother as a full-time vocation.

The answer is yes, I think, and will always be. The generation of mothers before us faced an unprecedented pressure to break ground professionally, to prove that they were not only equal to but the same as men, which by definition caused frowning at women who worked at home with their kids and lived "traditional" lives. This generation is more on the side of our being equal to but different than men, and recognizing great and essential strengths in the differences. This thinking allows for women to choose either profession or combinations of them and accounts for third wave feminism and the slow pendulum swing. It's kind of a relief, really. Women are allowing ourselves to be whole, to define what wholeness means.

My thought, then, is that as long as we are people who are concerned about our whole selves --our individuality, our sexuality, our wellness, our creativity, our intellect, our relationships, our needs -- we will always feel rub with motherhood because nothing else demands this amount of self, of giving, of creating, of compromising; the manual labor alone is ridiculous (why did no one warn me about that part!)

There are many frustrations I have with being a mother full-time -- the fact that there is no roll-off-the-tongue-profession to name at a cocktail party, no neatly carved career path, not much of a reason ever to wear suits, no quarterly reviews to boost my morale. The fact that when a friend living in SF on an amazing poetry fellowship came to visit, chatting articulately about politics, literature, her complaints about academia, I felt utterly one-dimensional among the board books in my living room and had to work hard to remind myself how I am not...

So there is rub. Of course there is. And there are days when I think my eyeballs are going to drop out of my head and my arms are going to fall straight off of my body to the ground. But here I am. Each day, here I am. I wake up and I choose to be with Silas for the day. I get to be with Silas for the day. And he teaches me a lot about what I am made of. And he makes me laugh -- at him but also at myself. And he stretches me and makes me consider whom I want to be. And so I choose this -- to be with him -- this crazy little scientist who opens and closes everything, fake laughs to make me laugh, who knocks on doors and windows with tiny fists, and scoops blackberries into his mouth faster than I've ever seen.

The Southland

Silas and I recently got back from a week in Nashville and Atlanta. Finn Moyer, 2 weeks old, hardly made a peep night or day and Sara looked beautiful and showed virtually no signs of having just given birth (not to mention having had a C-section!). Max graduated in his poofy hat
with his huge smile (I loved being there to celebrate him), and Ella whirled through the week in her ballerina outfit, bouncing and talking about sleeping blooty.

Their Nashville neighborhood may be a perfect neighborhood: old wood houses close enough together with front porches and paned windows, big trees along the streets, and alleys winding behind. The entire trip g r e e n continued to strike me: hills of grassy clover, limey leaves unfolding from bushes and along branches, towering water oaks and maples, shaggy and ancient.
These are trees that have lived. Delicious.

And it rained. Even thunderstormed with jagged lightning spearing from the sky. All week it was hot enough for Silas to play in a wading pool, hot enough to wear sun dresses without layers, hot enough to woo fireflies into glow. I miss those summers...

This is Silas's photo smile

3 Homers

at KJ's graduation

She walked barefoot and officially gets the award for being the first Moyer to have a moonbounce at her house for a party!! (I think if Mona has anything to do with it, there will be a moonbounce at every 5101 party hereafter).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Going to Court

Well, my brain is a bit too fried to write anything substantive or reflective, so I am writing only to brood about the DMV. The long and short of it is that I owe California $1000 -- yes, one thousand, there is not an extra zero there -- for two red light camera tickets. Apparently I got one in January of '06 that they sent to my former address and then doubled, and one at the end of last month. In DC, the same offense warrants at $75 ticket. What is WRONG with California that they need to fine $346 for a red light offense? So, tomorrow morning, off to court I go to plead guilty and hope for grace. Can't wait for this thing to be done!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

small thanks here and there

Thank goodness we don't move through this world without other people...

I ended up talking with my mom for an hour -- she happened to call at a crucial moment -- and voiced many balled up thoughts --- relief.

Then Ben left work at 4:30 and met Silas and me at the park (Silas is in love with Ben -- and parks for that matter). I climbed up the jungle gym after Silas and then once he went down the slide, sat up there with my eyes closed, face up to the sun, breathing, while a 7 year old boy climbed over me and monkey-barred back and forth to my left. Sometimes we need a breath.

We then wandered to the post office and back home. No pressure to be anywhere. A break from pushing a stroller. When we got here, Ben and Silas went to play with Annie and Honey (the neighborhood Frenchie and Pug), and I gathered up my People mag and a coke zero with lemon, bundled up in my green vest and uggs and sat out back in the cooling afternoon breeze, sun flickering through leaves and read about Drew Barrymore (I love her these days) and a slew of other people who don't matter much but name their children interesting names and are fun to look at.

Ben cooked Silas dinner and is giving him a bath right now. Breaks are good.

I'm going now to make my specialty hamburgers that will have to be shaped like hot dogs since we only have hot dog buns and are still bread-eating Americans, unlike everyone in the magazine...

May Fair Scramble

You know those rides at May festivals -- whirly gigs or merry mixers or the scrambler? I am on one of those. In fact, I have been for quite some time now. I love those rides -- Mari and I used to stand in line for them over and over, beg to stay in our car to keep riding, but what makes merry-mixing repeatedly so exhilarating is the pause between trips, the brief moment when the body is reassembled, when gravity, sky, ground reassert themselves, before you hurdle into space again.

Riding one of these contraptions for days or months on end, however, is another story. It's hard to know what to do, really -- jump off mid-motion and slam into the wall, stay on and risk walking lopsidedly for the rest of my life bent by centripetal force, scream at the top of my lungs into the blaring music, throw my shoe at the controls in hopes of jamming them and risk killing us all (or it could just get funny, like when KV kicked his sandal off on that ride in NJ and hit that old woman -- maybe I'll try that, laughter usually does heal in some way or another...).

The truth is that young motherhood is hard. Hard in a way that's deep and gut wrenching and most of the time buried under survival and looking at the sunny side (which, to be fair, is bright). Yes, it is flexible and exploratory, oozily relational and often funny. But it is also utterly uprooting and messy because the need to give never lets up; the demands on my time and body and attention stretch out ahead of me in an unending line, like the yellow brick road but without Oz.

So here I am, hurling through space, around and around in this red metal car.