Monday, November 29, 2010

In A Flash Of Color

November is wrapping up. I am overcome this month with sheer joy and love. Looking back over my life, despite having lived fully at all times, I feel that there is not quite as much color as there is now. Love has a way of intensifying.

Fat Girl Returns With a Rant

Maybe I just need to develop a finer sense of humor but this really pissed me off. I admit to being way over sensitive about weight issues. After all a lifetime of being mocked for my weight has rubbed me a little raw. But when H showed me a picture of someone he knew using this app, I was horrified. "Seriously?" I said "That's an Apple app? What would people say if there was an app that made you look black or brown?" We know what would happen and it is righteous response. But why is there not more outcry over the Fatbooth application? Why is okay to make a joke out of being fat? Because let's face it this is an app not made to be sympathetic or whatever but to mock.  And I"m sure that there are many who think I need to chill out. It's just a joke. Cause hey fat people are funny right?

But I have to wonder if there are other fat people out there who just found this hurtful. I'm not a funny fat girl. I never was and likely never will be. I am not jolly like Santa although my belly does jiggle like jelly when I laugh. Maybe my sense of humor over fat jokes was lost in Jr. High because those jokes weren't supposed to make me laugh. They were supposed to make others me. When I see some idiot making himself fat, I think of stupid jock boys who used to laugh at me in the hall way. Who would moo and oink as I walked past their lockers, head down, shoulders hunched forward. The boys who told the joke about what you did when you had sex with a fat know the "roll her in flour" joke. That joke and those sounds pierced through my bookish armor. Pushing me into ever more dysfunctional relationships with food and dieting. And when I see that app, I know it's those boys who likely this is such a funny thing. Let's see what I'd like as a fat person. Harhar.

Hopefully my rant is for nothing as the app appears unpopular. I just wish it was unpopular due to its offensive nature as opposed to it's lack of fun.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Body Parts

In the woods, behind our complex, there is the remains of a house. The kids call it the "Burned House" and it is infused with mysterious presence. The beasties have many stories about the Burned House, and how it came to be burnt. But none of their stories are very gory. Some of them are cautiously scary. Perhaps there are ghosts....

When I was little, I imagined gory, horrific things that haunted the creepy buildings surrounding my childhood. At one time my aunt lived in a red farm house a bit out of town. It was a wonderful old house, huge and sprawling with an upstairs apartment (in which we lived at one point). The house attached to an abandoned barn that was falling apart, complete with a basement area with a jutted out pig sty. We were not allowed in the barn so it was a favorite play area for us all. We spent hours crawling up to the loft with was a "dangerous adventure" as the floor had huge gaping holes that plunged at least 20 feet to the first floor. We roamed through the empty dusty stalls, turning the least nasty ones into clubhouses (NO BOYS ALLOWED!). We found treasures that adults no longer saw the beauty in--old tractor parts, pieces of plows, tarnished buckles to animal halters.

But up in the hay loft was a scary find. A simple brown bag, lumpy with its unknown secrets. I decided it was filled with body parts. I explained to my younger cousins that it was filled with the parts of the farmer's wife. The farmer had gotten mad at her and chopped her into bits. He stuffed her in the bag and left it up here on the window sill. My cousins were terrified and frankly so was I. I laid awake at night, hearing the farmer's wife calling to me from that paper bag. I stopped going into the barn for awhile but eventually the delicious terror of seeing that brown bag won out, and I would sneak into to shiver at the sight of it, tucked up against the dirty pane.

Finally one day I was no longer able to contain my curiosity. From below, the watchful eyes of my cousins and my brother followed my careful process across the hole ridden second floor. Shaking and breathing hard, I came closer to the brown bag. I felt ill with the terror of being so near. I grabbed the bag after a few deep breaths.

"Come on, open it!" my brother called up.
One of my cousins started to cry.

The bag was heavy. I shook it, and it made a jangly sound. Like bones.

"You're chicken." Another cousin taunted.
"Yeah well I don't see you up here." I shouted. But I was chicken. I was so scared of what might be in that bag. I could almost hear the farmer's wife's shrieks. With a stifled sob, I open the bag so fast I ripped the top. Broken glass tumbled out. I dumbed the bag and a pile of dirty broken glass fell out. The disappointment hammered at me.

"Nothing but glass."


One of the many joys of a big family involves their interactions together. I am not implying that it's always joy and light between them. Often they fight, pull each other's hair, yell mean insulting things at each other, etc. But there are times where they are best friends, comrades to the end, in it all together. And those times move me. There joy in each other touches me deeply. and gives me hope for a future of closeness.

Today, it is Camille and Rowena. Rowena adore Camille. Just seeing Camille sends her into spasms of laughter along with huge smiles. Camille mostly loves Rowena but she gets annoyed easily. R's crying or screaming drives her crazy. She just can't get deal with the noise. But there is nothing annoying about Camille to Rowena. Camille is perfection in a seven year old body in R's eyes.

Camille was listening to music on one of our old Ipods. This is a new fascination with her. She strutted out with her headphones on, and gave a twirl. Rowena immediately burst into a big smile but when she saw the dance. She squealed loudly and laughed. Camille pleases at this reaction really started to dance. She twirled and swiveled. She shook her hips. She spun around and jumped.

R laughed and laughed. She squealed and shook her arms and legs. Camille was thrilled at this reaction to her dancing. R was thrilled to have Camille paying attention to her.

And I sat there imaging future best friends.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Having H home for the last two days has rocked in ever so many ways. It's wonderful to be with him of course. But it also means help in cleaning. H got it all started with a good cleaning of the living room. This inspired me to tackle the kitchen, and then today I got the dining room area done. Tomorrow and over the weekend, we'll get the bedrooms, the bathrooms, and the playroom organized and cleaned. It's exciting to have a clean space, and it makes you realize how your sense of physical space really does impact your attitude.

When I finished the dining room and did the kitchen, I looked at H and said "Wow that was easy and fast." I'm always so surprised at how quick it is to get things in order. Now that the kids are older, they do a lot more too. And I felt so inspired to do all kind of things. I enjoyed being in my home. I felt like I could organize other things in my life not just my home. A simple thing like cleaning my house helped me to clean up the clutter in my own actions and mind.

So I started playing with the idea of using these charts that float around on the internets. The ones that organize housecleaning into daily, weekly, monthly blocks. There is a part of me that revolts a bit at the idea of any kind of regimentation. However if it makes me, and us work better, function better, just able to live better, I feel as if I need to push past that laziness towards routine and really make an effort.

Thus I am hoping to start a New Year's resolution a bit early...a new way of living our lives. I don't aim to make us effective, just functional.


I suspect one who blogs is rather obligated to write a "Thankful" post on Thanksgiving. And this year, I want to so the obligation fits with desire. How OFTEN does that happen? Seriously?

Last year, I was writing about Umberto's first seizure.  We knew he was safe for the moment but we were so scared that the seizures signaled something dire. As this time approached last year, we were terrified that we would once again being running to find our son on the floor. Last night, I found that I slept rather fretfully, every noise from the kids' room waking me up. H admitted that he slept poorly as well. But there was no seizure. U's been seizure free since January. I am thankful for this simple fact.

Since that last post, I held my son's frail body as he seized (last Grand Mal in January), and even though I remained calm, there was no doubt that the moment emphasized the fragility of our bodies. And it was my son's body. My beautiful son whom I adore, and whose body is not mine but was once carried inside my womb. I made myself hold him even as I wanted so much to run away. I needed to do this as I had hid the first time, allowing H to face that darkness of imaginary loss.

This year I am thankful that my son's body is still here. I am thankful that my children are alive and well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Slow Dancing with Pequena

Tonight, in the kitchen, while making rye toast
with the awkwardness of one hand,
you began to fuss
Slowly, stiff movements from tired limbs,
without thinking, we began to sway
side to side, my hips rotating
in the unconscious birth dance we began
7 months ago

And the world righted itself
for a moment
With you in my arms,
your delicious baby smell in my nostrils,
the softness of your body against mine,
time stopped
and my purpose seemed clear.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I had to delete my whiny post from yesterday so now I'm behind again. Today won't be the day I catch up. Right now I am in dire need of sleep. I need the sleep to heal and to gather the strength to gain some perspective.

Where I am now is that my GRE grades are really pretty dismal. They are not high enough to get me into most of the place I have either applied too or am applying too. What is even more difficult is that I still have two applications to send out, and as of last night I was thinking about just not sending them. I keep thinking it's a waste of money. But then there is still this tiny part of me that is hoping that somehow my GRE scores will be overlooked in favor of other more positive material. I guess it comes down to : betting on the dream or using the money for things we need. Decisions, decisions.

And I'm also wondering when I should start to really think about a back up plan. All this makes me feel very sad, like I'm in mourning. I am a little wrecked when I think I am not likely to get accepted.

Running through this all is this amazingly crippling self-doubt. Shouldn't a smart person be able to do well on this test? And if I'm not smart enough to do a Ph.D. then what makes me think I'm smart enough to do midwifery? I sometimes am not sure what I'm good for in the end.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Freaky Family

It's been an awesome weekend. H and I got into a tiny argument once and only once at B&N. It was a bit sad, and funnily enough we said somethings that the each needed to hear. You know those little things like "I love you" and "You're the only person I want to be with." I think that we forgot that the other person needs to hear the things we think are obvious. And maybe because we said those things, we had this very simple but beautiful weekend.

Saturday, H worked extra hard on his Statement of Purpose so he could join us a birthday party. We went to the park where we meet up with some friends, told jokes, ate cake, and just hung out. Afterwards we went shopping at Trader Joe's which was INSANELY busy but I was feeling so good that I didn't grumpy. Not even once. This is seriously a record for me. Those who know me know what a big deal this is. We came home, ate, cuddled and watched a movie with the whole family.

Today was just as simple and wonderful. Call me a recluse but there is simply nothing better than being around the family. We all did our own thing for most of the day but it was like we were acutely aware of each other being around. After dinner, we watched "The Christmas Carol" which is a favorite Christmas story of mine and I've been wanting to see the new version with Jim Carey's voice since last year. It was nice but not nearly as good at the old version.

For me the weekend was capsuled by a couple of things that happened in relation to the movie. The first was that the kids were deliciously spooked by the Ghost of Christmas Future" and when the skeleton hand pointed out, Camille and I, at the same time, said is spooky voices "The Grim Reaper." We both started laughing and I commented to H "Oh my God, we are ALL so weird." It pleases me that we're such quirky people and that our kids are as well.

After the movie, the kids talked with us about how Christmas is about more then getting gifts. They kept saying "It's about being with your family. Like when Scrooge went to his nephew's house." This was the main thing they wanted to emphasize. They also seemed to get in a way that they haven't before that the season is about giving as well as getting. I don't want to pretend that it's not fun to get presents (it is!) but I do want them to be aware that there is also pleasure in giving. I also like how on the characters says Christmas is the season when humans realize that that the rest of the world is human too. I like to think that I do this all year and that I teach my kids this all year but you know it's nice to get that yearly reminder.

We're a freaky family for sure but we've got each other to be freak with. It doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Ghost of Christmases Past

My memories of Christmas are like most of my memories, fragmented bits built on stories, pictures and glimpses of images from the past. I am not longer certain of the order of these memories and I suspect there are things that do not go together but yet are clumped in my mind.

I remember a Fisher Price train. It had a string I could pull, and a yellow horn that tooted when you pushed it down. It had an elephant that I held onto until was falling apart and dirty. I can not remember what animals came with this lovely circus train. In a picture I am wearing a blue night gown and smiling shyly as I pull the train behind me.

When I was five, we used to live above my Uncle Jim in an attic apartment. I spent a lot of time between the two apartments. My uncle taught me to roll his cigarettes on a red plastic machine. I loved doing this. The year I was six, there was a lot of activity between the two homes on Christmas Eve. Aunts ran up and down stairs bearing food and gossip. Someone came and breathlessly said that my father was downstairs. I ran downstairs, overjoyed at the prospect of seeing my father. I ran through the door into the arms of the young man with dark hair only to look up and see my dad's brother. Everyone was laughing at this mistaken identity. I laughed but inside I withered up.

The year that Christmas was ruined for us all happened my ninth year. My dad came home for Christmas Eve. It seemed like there were a lot of presents but there was a tension that I couldn't understand. My brother received a little toy brown dog that everyone kept calling a "miracle" because he had been asking for a dog and this one came from a distant aunt who had no idea he wanted a dog. I don't know what I got. I don't remember. I do remember waking up Christmas morning to find my dad gone and my mom crying in a rocking chair, wrapped up in a blanket.

Jumbled together were all the Christmases where we didn't know if we'd get gifts or not. My dad didn't always come through and my mom didn't have money. I remember feeling disappointed but more for my brothers than me (they were younger) although there was always a bit of disappointment when I told my mom to just get for them. Someone always came through and we got something. Usually my mom's brother. Christmas was sad not because of gifts though but because it reminded my mom of my dad leaving. There was joy but it was twinged with a bit of disappointment, disillusionment. 

With the birth of my own children, I did not want Christmases to be filled with toys. What I wanted the most was for them to have what I missed the most about too many Christmases. Tradition. Joy. Warmth. Love. Our first Christmas with Umberto didn't involve a lot of money. We were broke. But it was a wonderful Christmas. My mom and brother were there, and for the first time it felt like Christmas was joyful. The past was pushed a bit further back and the future laid out a bit more.


I had a kind of crappy night last night and it ended up just being this pain in the ass in terms of money. I spent a portion of today sulking about it. It wasn't a big loss but it was a loss and it was my mistake. And of course this happens all around Christmas so I sulk even more. But now, H and I are sitting around and talking about his kids' at school. And I start to remember my own students from where I taught, and I tell him about this one girl.

She was a good student and would have been better if she hadn't slept through class. But she worked third shift. She didn't work for a car or nice clothes. She worked to survive. Her mother was dead and she had no idea where her father was. Her aunts sometimes helped her out but she was pretty much on her own. I let her sleep. When she was present, she was amazing. Funny and warm. She was able to grasp literature in an intuitive way that most high school students just can't figure out. 

One day I had them write an essay about their happiest moment. She wrote about the time she and her mother got evicted from their apartment. She was ten and they came home after her mother picked her up from school. There was a notice on the door and a big padlock.  This had happened before so it wasn't a big surprise. Her mom and her went out and walked around until it got dark. They picked up some hot dogs and marshmallows. Once it was dark, they went back to the apartment and broke in to the place that had been home. There they snuggled in blankets around a propane stove and had hot dogs and marshmallows. "It was like camping." she wrote. "Or what I had imagined camping would be like as we had never been camping." Later they snuggled together for warmth and in the morning, they gathered up what they could carry and left before anyone else was up. This was a moment of intimacy for this girl. A moment where she was close with her mother.

I cried when I read this essay. At the time I cried because it seemed so pathetic that this was happiness. But now I stifle a tear because sometimes you need those reminders of what is important.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Here's What My Kids Told Me to Write

Today was NOT a good day. It involved a financial mistake on my part that won't sink us but isn't making things very pleasant either. I just don't have it in for me a good or thoughtful post. I'm tired. I spent an hour trying to get ONE transcript to upload for an application. When I sent H home with R, I realized I had left my wallet in the diaper bag so no money for the parking lot guy. Just one of those days followed by a big crappy thing. So today my kids are telling me to write these things:

Camille: All werewovles and werecats must be girls.
Me: Why?
Camille: Because it is more exciting if they are girls.
Me: How so?
Camille: What does that mean?
Me: Like an example of how they're exciting.
Camille: Mama, I don't know what you're talking about. Add this, they should be cool girls not pretty girls.

Umberto: Legos are cool. And video games.
Me: Do you ever think about anything else?
Umberto: Let me see...Um..oh and comic books.

Piper: Cats rule.

Rowens is cooing while she nurses. That's her commentary on the evening.

I leave with a picture of Piper and her drag queen cat Fluffy.


I've been thinking a great deal about the politics of the body lately. In particular I've been thinking about the politics of the maternal body. From recent attacks by Erica Jong on attachment parenting to the outcry over Facebook removing pictures of women nursing, there has been plenty to occupy my mind. During a class, I'm been lucky enough to be sitting in on, we've been talking about agency through a reading of a book called The Excessive Subject by Molly Ann Rothenberg. I haven't read enough to offer much of a critique but the book is provocative enough already to set exciting new ideas about research into play. While Rothenberg does not deal with bodies as much as say Judith Butler (whom she critiques in the book), I am starting to flesh out this idea about excessive bodies. I have a long way to go in thinking and writing about the full possibilities of such a term but I can say a bit about where I want to head with this idea (I'd worry about someone stealing but since my reader is so dismally small and I'm not likely to be linked anywhere big, I'll not fall prey to paranoia). And what I am thinking is that the maternal body as shown above is shaping my beginnings sketching of this theoretical idea.

The excessive body would be a body that has a surplus of meanings. These meanings would inhibit this one body often, and maybe necessarily, not noticed by that body. The meanings I am thinking that get attached to our bodies are not within our grasp. And when they are I"m not sure we are always able to juggle or even comprehend ways of reconciling the various meanings with each other.

Breastfeeding fits into this model. Breasts are a complicated organ in our society. They are sexy, not sexy, modified to be sexier or less sexy. They are the fuel of many young men's fantasies (and no doubt some women's as well). They are Pamela Anderson running across the beach in her tight red bathing suit. They are the shiny covers of magazines. They are the alluring lobes protruding from the tops of movie star's evening gowns.

Breasts are also the markers of age, ugliness, and disease. Some breasts are clearly defined as marginal. The ones that sag. The ones that had to be removed. The ones that are lopsided. Too small. Too big. Not perky enough.

They mark us as women. In my world, I feel like I am frequently not taking seriously because my breast are too big. I YEARN for small breasts that might not warrant so much notice. My breast feel loud, boisterous, distinctly working class. I am convinced that there is a perception in the academy that the bigger a woman's breasts, the smaller her brain. I carry these meanings inside my body. They inflect the way I dress, the way I hold myself even though I do not think about these things the majority of time. This excess is already imprinted on my boobs. 

But breasts are also the feeders of human young. The "normative" biological function of breasts is to nurse our offspring. Like cows. Or any other mammal. These breasts are made to nourish my babies. They have done that job well. I am currently nursing baby number four (even as I type this as a matter of fact). I have nursed for a total of seven years and will likely nurse for another three years. My breasts define me as mother. For someone like Jong this means they have defined me as being in bondage. Because my baby refuses to take a bottle, I am almost her entire source of nutrition. My tits bound me to her in ways that I can not escape. I do not get to go out often, and when I do I am acutely aware of time. How long before this is too much milk, and I soak my shirts? How long will be she okay without nursing?

How does one reconcile these roles? Are there even ways to do so? Is there simply too much meaning to shape into these appendages of my body? Is it possible to be both sex symbol and nourisher? Am I sex kitten or mother? What does it mean to be both? Can these meanings be contained in my body?

I do not know the answers to these questions. I know that my relationship with my breasts is a complicated one as I suspect it is for most women. When I am nursing my children, I do not really like my husband to touch my breasts. I joke that they are no longer his. They belong to whatever beastie is nursing at the time. If pushed as to why, I used to say that it was because I was touched out. I am tired of having someone always touching them, sucking at them, etc. But now I wonder if is really deeper. Am I uncomfortable the plurality of meanings, symbolization, representation that goes along with my breasts? 

One of the Facebook protest pages states: " Breasts are for babies, not for men to gawk at! Breastfeeding is natural, normal, and NOT offensive!" And I have to question this. Breasts are for both are they not? Perhaps the ideal world does not wish to have men "gawking" but in our society breasts are sexual. If we reworded this to say "Breast are for babies, not for sex" would this be different? Breasts are both feeders of baby and sex symbols. If this is good or bad is another blog post but the point is that this sentence is not acknowledge the excess of meaning in breasts. I would argue that the uncomfortableness people feel surrounding breastfeeding as to do with this duality of use and meaning. And if breastfeeding is natural and normal why is there a problem? The excess here involves the line drawn between biological and normal. If it's true that most women in the United States don't breastfeed then how normal is breastfeeding? Yes, perhaps it is the biological norm but it certainly is not the cultural norm. Again we run into this excess of meaning.

This issue fascinates me on both a personal and an academic level. I am strong supporter of breastfeeding and I do believe is the best nutrition for human children even as I acknowledge that no all women are able to breastfeed. But I am also interested in who we give our maternal bodies meaning, and the things we acknowledge and don't acknowledge as we do these things. One day, I was nursing Piper who was one at the time. She was a big one but as of that moment no one had really seemed to pay much attention to my nursing a bigger baby. However that, in the children's section at Barnes and Noble, an boy who appeared to be about ten was pretty interested. His mother who was sitting at a nearby table with her friend was visibly upset. Not at her son but at me. She said to her friend, quite loudly "That is so disgusting." It was clear she referring to me. I said to her, "Are you referring to my nursing as disgusting?" She turned beet red, and stammered, having not expected me to answer back. "Well," she said, "My son is right here." I politely pointed out her son was the one who was making a choice to stare. I was not shoving my boob into his face. Then I asked her why it was okay for her son to see a book cover with Pamela Anderson lying down with most of her breast showing. This book was prominently displayed at the front of the store. The woman didn't answer. She just left. She was unable to deal with the excess of my nursing breasts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Anger has long been my stand in emotion. When I am sad, depressed, worried, insecure, I get angry. I don't want to use the word cover as I am not sure that anger is serving that purpose. I know that I am sad when I am yelling, etc. The anger isn't covering that emotion. It's more that the anger sneaks in through the door that emotion opened and spills out, certainly pushing that emotion to the further reaches of my soul but not really hiding the emotion.

Anger is what manifests when I am feeling like I am now. There are so many things that are making me feel sad, worried, insecure, stressed out but what is appearing to all and sundry is this explosive anger. As  I am throwing library books, yelling, kicking things around, I know deep down that the anger is really unreasonable. It is totally illogical and what I am feeling has a lot more to do with the other emotions that I mention. Even when I try to talk about these emotions, the anger just rushes in and takes over. Everything sets me off. There are things that I think justify a strong response but the anger makes me look like I'm crazy thus negating any understanding I might garner otherwise.

Perhaps the anger is feed on this underlying chaos that I feel bubbling beneath the surface of life. Or perhaps the anger is just a manifestation of the tension that I feel surrounding everything else.

For many years, I feel like anger was kept at bay. I thought I had dealt with it. Now it just seems like it's always there. Every night, I find myself angry about something. And I feel like it's all stupid. I am unable to determine if what I am angry  about is okay or justified. Instead, I sit here in the dark, looking like the fool. The out of control bitch who is unable to move beyond emotions to have a reasonable conversation.

When I look closely I still see there is so much healing, so much crap that I have not shoveled through. There are these years of insecurity that have developed this thick scab but have never really healed. When I am doing something that requires some kind of confidence, I find myself picking at that scab until just a little bit of blood appears. When that happens, the anger also creeps out. And I realize that maybe I'm yelling because I am afraid that no one will hear me otherwise.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I am on the floor with three Internet tabs open. On one is my application for Chapel Hill, the other is Facebook where I am chatting with some lovely moms who help keep me sane, and on the other this. All around me are lists. One is for my graduate school applications. Where things need to be sent. What things need to be sent. One is for H's graduate school applications. Same stuff as my list. The last is everything I need to do for work. I should have one for the kids should be doing.

Tonight before I go to bed, I need to:
scan into my computer: sample writing paper, CV, transcripts.
type CV
modify SOP for Duke and Chapel Hill

Work with Umberto on this Thanksgiving lapbook
Work with Camille on her final wolf project
Grade Writing Assignments for my class.
Read for the class I am sitting in on.

It makes me want to cry, or go hide, or maybe drink a beer. I am immobilized by the sheer amount of what needs to be done.

When I read that my GRE score is quite a bit lower than what Duke normally accepts, it makes me wonder if this stress is really worth it. Crippling self-doubt is the worst motivator.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Sometimes, when I so tired that my eyes feel like they encrusted with sand, I forget why I kept having beasties. I read those articles where people talk about parenting as drudgery and I kind of get it. I look back with a bit of longing on the days when I could just sit and write a paper in one setting. When if I wanted to catch a movie the only thing holding me back was lack of funds.

But then I am disarmed by a smile. She does more than make me think this is worth it. She captures me and propels me into a world that is simply joy. She is not a burden. She is a light giver.

And when we go outside and my beastie girls run, tumble, twirl, and jump through the world, I am captivated not just by their beautiful fierce strength and their astonishing grace but also by their joy rising up on wings of laughter.

These are the times I need to hold close because parenting is not a prison or a trap. There are good days and bad days like there is to everything I do. But mostly there is this joy that I wish to pull into myself.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bad Momma Days

The days get shorter along with my temper. I find that by Wednesday my patient is short ordered. Today we have plans as we do most Wednesdays to go out. And these are always the days that Camille seems to be off. Then again anytime we go out, Camille is off. She cries. She's angry. Everyone pisses her off. A sideways look can send her into a fit. 

On days when I am well -rested, I feel Camille. I can soothe her into the transition of leaving our nest. But today, I am out of sorts. I am exhausted, stressed out, and feel a bit fragile myself. Today her tears and tantrums make me angry. I try to fake it through the first few but she catches on and amps it up. After the seventeenth screaming fit because "Umberto won't give me his book!" I lose it and yell. She storms into the room, flings herself onto the bed, and sobs loudly. Her shrieks hammer on me as I try to get things ready to go with baby on my back. 

Umberto continues to torture Camille. The other beasties take great pleasure in taunting Camille. 

I manage to hold it together until I can't find the cases for the library DVDs. The kids' room is trashed and this sends me into a fit of rage. I yell and kick things around trying to find the cases in the room. At this point Camille is sobbing hysterically and I am feeling like the wicked mom of the West. But I am still so pissed that I can't just say "I'm sorry. Let's move on." 

We get outside and as I lock the door Camille wraps her arms around me. I am frozen in my act, key in the door, bags strapped all my over my body. I feel her tiny hands holding me. And I am humbled by this love and this trust. This forgiveness. I hold her against me, running my hands over her hair. We stand together. Mother and daughter. Sisters. We know each other in ways that others will never know us.

I love you mama.
I love you too Camille. And I'm sorry.
I know.

For the Why? Days

Lately I've really struggled with feeling rather like a failure in terms of pretty much everything I do. My house is a sty (no really it is). I'm behind on grading for my college class. The kids are so not where I want them in Math. I just feel really over-whelmed, and find myself thing "Why in the HELL am I doing this to myself?" "Why I don't just throw these beasties into school and let someone else do this?" After all, it really is just added stress on a life that is already pretty stressful. I have a part time job. I'm applying to five Ph.D. programs. I have a 7 month old baby. Who is one.of.four. I'm nuts as my friends often tell me.

And then I have this week where we do so much and it's just so cool. These weeks seem to come along when I need the universe to remind me that it's going to be okay. Beastie Boy and I have finally finished the first volume of A History of US. I had a rather lofty goal of reading them all by the end of our "school year." We're not even close. But we have had the most amazing conversations about war, colonization, etc.  We've talked about explorers and imagined what it would be like to explore uncharted land. What happened this week was that Beastie Boy reminded me to slow down and enjoy the process. We don't have to meet a goal. On his own, he asked if we could study Thanksgiving. He didn't make an explicit connection to the book but since it came up while reading the book, I think the connection can be made. We sat down together and came up with a bunch of questions we both wanted to answer and then we brainstormed some ways to go about finding our information. We're both pretty excited.

Later on that day, I helped C plan out a design for a lapbook on Wolves. And her excitement over all the research she's done as well as the books she's already made were contagious. See C was "supposed" to be learning about the Ocean but she wasn't into it. Getting her to do projects on it was not happening. I got super buys and we dropped the ocean stuff for about a week. In that week, C became obsessed with wolves. She read every book she could find on them. Our house was/is decorated with pictures of wolves nursing their babies, howling, bringing down prey. If you want to know something about wolves, C is the person to ask. What's so great is that she choose this subject on her own and then she pursued it. She didn't need me pushing her or me designing projects. She learned the stuff because she wanted to know.

If my beasties were in school, I would miss out on all this learning. I wouldn't get to be a part of these big jumps. They wouldn't be allowed to follow their own paths and interests. Leanring wouldn't necessailry be a relationship. While we are not unschoolers, we do have a give and a take between what I feel they should learn and what they want to learn. Even with Math which is the hardest thing to motivate them in, Beastie Boy and I had a big breakthrough when during some word problems, he figured out why knowing Math might be a big deal. It was pretty cool because after this it was a lot easier to get him to do his math work. When I ask them to learn things I'm always careful to tell them why and they in turn will argue with me about what they want to learn as well. We negoiate this process and what needs to be done.

Because of this, I'll keep on doing it. My house will be clean someday. Baby Beastie will be older and we'll be able to do more. The kids will grow ever more confident and independent. And someday we'll all wonder where that time went....

Friday, November 12, 2010


 Hmmm...this is interesting.

Hey mama. I LOVE you...

Hmm..if I push up, I can move....

I feel like Superwoman...but backwards...yeah I want to go towards mama...

Damn it you people! Pick me up! 
Baby Beastie may never crawl or walk. She has four servants and one beast of burden. Why move when others will do it for you? I suspect Baby Beastie may be a diabolical genius.


I was doing so good at keeping up and then I blew it by chatting with a group of AWESOME women. Dis tractors. But as one of them just pointed out, "It's on 9 in Washington State." We'll just pretend that it's nine here too.

So these women are part of the reason why I have this new fantasy. I want to travel all over meeting my online friends. I want this for purely selfish reasons because I love my online friends but I also think it would just be such a cool writing experience.  Now I need some funding. I daydream that I could convince a publisher to take on this project. My mom says reality t.v. which would kind of rock too...

What a great idea though: Homeschooling family of six, on the road, meeting people they only know online. The implications are endless. Theory, adventure, chaos. I want to do it. Some one out there wanna fund us? We'd come visit you...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some of the Nicest People I Know

Today was a full day and not always the best of days. The girls woke up in some kind of foulness that resulted in too many tears and too much frustrated mama. I felt tired and defeated before we even really did anything. Hanging with another home school family was good but Beastie C was rude.

But the day ended extra good because I finally got meet one of my blogger friends, John BR and his wonderful wife Kathy. They were lovely and smart. It was an evening spent catching up on each other's lives, and talking about the world. This is about my fifth meeting of someone I have meet over line, and it so far I have a good track record.

Whenever people tell me about how the Internet is destroying our ability to connect to other people, I think that it is not that simple. I have meet some good friends through the Internet. From a couple of wonderful "due date" clubs to the people I have meet through blogging, I have made some life long connections. These people have become my community. I often long for a world in which they would be close enough for us to actually hang out. I think sometimes that maybe it wouldn't be that great to know them in real life but then I meet them...and it's still pretty great.

Tonight hanging out with John BR, getting a hug from Kathy and him made him even more real to me. His poetry reads a little differently now.

Postscript: Do you think someone would fund me in an attempt to meet all my online friends:P? Seriously how cool would it be to travel around and meet all of you and write about these encounters! Awesome I say!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mother, Oh The Trap

This morning, with coffee and steel cut oatmeal (to keep my milk supply up for baby R) I stumble across this gem. My initial impulse is to not just read it as I am hardly an Erica Jong fan. I find her writing simplistic and a bit too melodramatic. Her essays and speeches just seem whiny and filled with unacknowledged privilege but since it was causing such a stir where I had found it, I decided to read it. What resulted was lots of sputtered coffee, and rants aimed at the computer screen (I am fully convinced that somehow my computer conveys these rants to the intended recipients). There is so much that just annoys the hell out of me in this article, and since she's all over the place with a poorly executed argument, there is much to cover. I cant' and wont' do it all. I suspect there will be many well reasoned arguments out there that take her to task for her silly stereotypes of AP parents to her confusing logical twists.

What I want to focus on are two major problems I have with her attack on attachment parenting. The first is that her attack ends up being leveled against other women whether she wants that to be the case or not. It's impossible to not read this article and not feel that if you attachment parent that you have somehow given up on being a feminist or having any care for women's rights. Now of course you're just a tool of some kind of nebulous thing called Attachment Parenting but it's still you. What her rant tells us is that only certain kinds of choices that are okay to make. Her choices are good, well thought out ones and the attachment parenting mom's choices are bad. It's that simple to her.

Herein lies the problem with choice. If you make choice the end all of any kind of discussion on rights then you end up in a world where all choices are valid. You can argue, as she does, that some choices are more limiting and cause more pain to others. And yes I do agree with this but I am not sure if attachment parenting is one such choice. I could  as just easily argue that her choice to work, hire a nanny, buy formula, etc makes me repressed and that her choice results in a country that does NOTHING to support me in my role as a mother. Who's oppressing who? one may ask. Choice is a problematic little idea. I see choice as a smokescreen that keeps up from focusing on other ways to view the world. There is the argument, for example, that "This is my body and I can choose what to do with it." But on the other hand this is also the idea of the body behind "It's your body so YOU take care of it."  I'm not necessarily saying get rid of choice but let's at least look at the assumptions behind such notions.

Because really so few people in the world have ANY choose about their lives. And I'm not just talking about people in "developing" countries. Choice is not a reality for most of the people I know. It's not always a reality for me. We are ALL forced to live in certain ways because of the system in which we live. Which brings me to my next big issue.

I can't figure out what Jong wants. She insists that we parents are too tired to be out in the streets protesting. Apparently what we need to do is to what she did which was hire a nanny so we could tour the world promoting our books which are filled with lovely feminist ideals. Okay then. Let's see. Find a job that will allow me time to write. Why a job? Because writing is NOT going to pay my rent, food, electricity, daycare. Next find a publisher who is going to give me huge advances and promote my book by sending me all the world. Well that's EASY. Okay so maybe she doesn't want to me to aim so big. Instead I need to find a job where I can work against the man. But those jobs don't usually pay well, and I need a fairly well paying job so I can afford daycare. Boy am I screwed. I'll never get to grow up to a good protester.

See that's the big problem here. Jong refuses to acknowledge her own privilege and in doing so does nothing to question the status quo. She bemoans that we don't have villages to help us raise our children but does not suggest that we tear down the corporations that turn us into money making machines. She does not proposal a radical shift in society where we value women and the work they do. She does not offer a visionary world (as our founding feminist MOTHERS did) where men are equal partners in child rearing and housework. She does not outline a plan where we help women and children with health care, food, childcare, etc.

Jong does not take the time to question why it's okay for formula companies to pimp their wares to poor women. She does not question why she hates fast food but is okay with formula (which is processed). I am not slamming mothers who need formula but I am slamming companies who actively try to sell their wares to vulnerable new mothers who are scared that their babies are not gaining weight. The bottom line is that the lifestyle she promotes sells as much as attachment parenting doest. They are both lifestyle niches that capitalism gets its hands on and promotes through exploitation and fear. But there are other paths, and she missed the opportunity to explore these trails.

Monday, November 08, 2010


Well I've made it to day 8 with some somewhat decent posts. But today I just don't have the energy to think. I asked H to give me something to write about and he said "Write about writing." And just thinking about that for ten seconds made my head hurt. I'm thinking tonight is not the night to work on my SOP for Toronto which really needs to be done so that I can send it out.

Today R woke me up early as usual. She's totally a morning baby and I can't wait until she's more into H. He's a morning person too so they could hang together and I could sleep. If she ever decides that she can be more than five inches from MAMA. Sometimes I fear that I have created a monster with the attachment parenting stuff. It's still hard to hear people using Cry it Out with great success (as in way more sleep than me). Or that they can leave the baby with just about anybody and the baby is fine and they've been doing it since the baby was six days old, etc, etc. And there is this part of me that wishes that I was getting sleep and that I was able to leave R for a bit once in a while. I look back though and realize that so much is just each kids' personality. Camille was in daycare from like four months on and she was still super attached to me. Piper who never saw daycare in her life is, and was, super independent. Thus I know that I'm doing okay by R and that right now she just needs to be attached for whatever reason.

So after getting up way too early, I got the dining room cleaned, dishes down, another load of laundry going, and breakfast for the beasties. I also did school work with all three of them. This was all in between R just fussing all freaking day. I have no idea what was wrong with her but I felt slightly crazed by noon. She wouldn't nap, she wouldn't be worn. She just wanted me to hold her while she fussed at me. Very annoying. She did chill out for about a half hour with some food so I was able to cook supper.

Then it was off to work with beasties in tow. H had to take the GRE today so I had to bring them. I settled them in with Chick Fil A while my students took a test. Then we went to Trader Joe's to get food for the week. I ended up spending way too much because I was starved and they had all their Christmas crap dark chocolate shortbread star cookies. OMG goodness. The beasties were less beast like than normal so it was a more pleasant shopping experience than normal (can we say "Tenderloin wrapped in bacon for the samples. They munched themselves in a meat daze). However the way back was living hell as R SCREAMED and panted all the way back. Sigh. Now she's finally asleep in my lap, delicious and cute.

But me? I'm tired. I'm too old for this baby business. Tomorrow is a calmer day so I'm hoping to get said SOP ready to go and application out tomorrow. Then I have have to get all my stuff together for transcript sending and all that fun busy work. Wednesday is another overbooked day. I need a day book as I keep doing this to myself. But it will be fun. Best part is that we are meeting John BR!!!!!! Can't wait.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Problem With Beastie Boy

This morning U stumbled out of his bedroom, and sort of fell into the recliner. H and I were both all over him: "Are you okay? What's wrong? Was your handshaking? Do you have a headache? Do you feel weird?" He was ignored us half the other time and only managed to grunt the rest. By the time I had worked myself up into a panic, he had stormed into his room in tears. "There's nothing wrong!!!" He yelled before hiding under his blankets. H went in a little later and figured out that U was mad because he had "Nothing to do" and we wouldn't rent him Halo Reach (again for like the fifth time in the last two weeks). In addition, he hadn't see his complex buddy all weekend, and despite the fact that was nine am he wanted to invite him over. He didn't ask for any of these things because he knew the answers would not be to his liking.

He was also upset because our concern comes because of his epilepsy. U went from being pretty interested in learning about his condition to just pretending it doesn't exist. His medication is a sore point as it is and any mention of epilepsy is taboo. I've stopped trying to talk about it with him because I'm just not sure where to go with it. I don't want to push it on him but, on the other hand, I am a big believer that one should be aware of their own bodies and their own health. And I know that my fussy mom concern drives him crazy in that it's just a reminder that the epilepsy does exist. As we're approaching, the one year anniversary of his first seizure, I can't help but be paranoid.

And of course there is the factor of oncoming puberty (shudder) and the side effects of the meds. The meds make him moody and irritable. Puberty makes him moody and irritable. It's a volatile combination. I write this totally calm and with understanding. I taught teenagers (as has H) and we know this attitude is par for the course. But it's a bit different when it's coming from your own child.

I told H today that I think it's hard on us for a couple of reasons. We feel like we're really close to our children. We home school. We have very family centered life. We rarely go out without them. We include them in our own lives as much as we can. And then of course we practiced attachment parenting with all of them. I nursed. We co-slept. We wore them. So this pushing us off is a bit hard. We're letting him do it as it is obvious that is what he needs to right now but boy does it hurt more than I thought it would. Plus I am a big believer in compassion for all, and it's hard to deal with someone who can just be really mean.

For awhile parenting him seemed easy. There was this kind of awful period when he was a baby where I just felt like everything I was doing was wrong. He was my first baby and I was such a moron about it all. He was the baby with colic too so that didn't help matters. When he finally hit about 3.5, it seemed to just be great. He turned into this funny, sweet little guy that was so easy. I pretty much felt like it was smooth sailing up until now. And here we are entering a new phrase for us all, and suddenly it's that panicky feeling like "Shit I'm going to screw this up for sure."

Everyday is like walking among landmines. Sometimes he needs me to be right there and other times he pushes me away. If I step wrong, he explodes. His words are rude and angry. Filled with shrapnel and flame. He hasn't learned how to direct those weapons (thankfully) but it's still a wounding moment for me. I sometimes lay awake at night and wonder if I somehow screwed up with him and that is why he's turned into this rude, sometimes mean little person. I hear/read other people's descriptions of their wonderful sweet boys and wonder "Where did I go wrong? What did I not do well enough?"

It's a new path for us, and funnily I feel myself having to go back to that same kind of listening I used when he was a baby. Waiting carefully for his cues before acting. Shaping my responses in ways that work for him and me. Balancing his needs with those of the collective. And all the while hoping to hell that I am modeling to him so that when his body calms down he has something valuable to carry into the world.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


I am totally posting on the fly AGAIN. My problem is that the day doesn't really end for me until one or two a.m. I keep forgetting that I have to post before midnight to get this post in for the day. Craziness!

Today I discovered that, according to the GRE, I am not any smarter now then I was when I began my graduate program. I say this in jest as I got the exact same score I got five years ago. But it did make me ponder on the way home if I had learned anything. It seems that I have. I know I've read much more and that my understandings of what I read as an undergrad has deepened and changed. Perhaps my test taking ability has undergone no change. I did take this test on three hours of sleep and feeling not very well. Perhaps I can chalk the no change towards betterment to this?

I'll post more on what I have learned tomorrow. Tonight I am thinking about where  I was five years ago. Piper had just turned six months, and we had just moved to this same complex. We lived across the green for where we are now. My apartment was filled with boxes and I was seriously freaked out over three papers due right on top of each other. I suspected at that time that I was not capable of doing the whole Master degree thingie. I felt stupid and inept. I wrestled with this insecurity as I tried to write papers with a nursing Piper, and in between attempted to slowly unpack.

There were other concerns. Umberto was not doing so hot in school. He was staring to tell us he hated books. We had no idea what was going on and even less of an idea of what we were going to do. Camille was not talking to anyone,  and I was scared she had autism but everyone told me I was crazy for thinking this. Piper was my most  chilled baby and thankfully left me lots of time to freak out about what a horrible graduate student I was. It was also the semester I meet wonderful advisor who encouraged me to keep working. A long with H I had two people who had faith in my ability. It helped.

And now here I am five years later with the degree in hand. Sending off more applications for more degrees. It's a frightening process but as I drove home today, I realized that sometimes you are more than you think. I had a passion for the academic stuff and I persuaded H that we had to take this leap into the unknown. Look we are now...about to leap again.

Some images from that not so long past...echoing back in the tiny body of Rowena and the frantic writing and form filling...

New Tradition Born out of Necessity

Wordless Fridays: From now on a series of pictures of that captures our week.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Running Like a Girl

The other day we were at the park with some friends. One of the boys ran by and his father said, with disgust, "He runs like a girl." I was pretty floored. Floored enough that I didn't say anything. Someone said, "Oh leave him alone he's only five." Later in the car, I sat for a moment thinking of what I should have said. I should have said "Who cares? What's wrong with running like a girl?" I run and I bet five bucks I can run faster than the guy who made the comment. And what does it mean to run like a girl? 

My friend Julie posted this on Facebook: "I have often thought that homophobia is an extension of misogyny. That there is a strong, unspoken, often unrecognized belief that women and anything feminine is inherently less than everything masculine - and anybody who adopts any female qualities is somehow less than." H pointed out when I told him this that men can't deal with men acting feminine because they can't understand why somebody would want to embody that lack. And I think they are both right. Homophobia is about many things and one of those things is the feminine and what that means. To want to be a woman is seen as a flaw, a weakness. It is meet with disgust and violence. To have womanly qualities is seen as bad, and ultimately wrong. Why do so many men not want their sons to "act like a woman?" Why do they say them "Why are you crying like a little girl?" Why do they stop cuddling their boys after a certain age? What is wrong with acting like a woman (whatever that may mean?).

Shortly after this comment is made, my own son comes running from the creek. He runs awkwardly all skinny limbs. Not graceful and certainly not "manly." His elbows are tucked near his hips and his hands flop from his upward held wrists. He looks like the stereotype of a  gay man running. He is flushed and happy because he has been taking photos. I do not look at the man who made the earlier comment. My son is not five. He is ten. If I see disgust, I feel like I might smack this man in the face.

There was a time when my son's hand gestures, the way he crosses his legs at the knee would not have been seen as womanly. Judith Butler argues "If one 'is' a woman, that is surely not all one is; the term fails to be exhaustive, not because a pregendered 'person' transcends the specific paraphernalia of its gender, but because gender is not always constituted coherently or consistently in different historical contexts, and because gender intersects with racial, class, ethnic, sexual and regional modalities of discursively constituted identities"(Gender Trouble, 6). Gender is something that is never stable as it transforms not just through history but through different social places we inhabit. Gender is free floating in some ways but also incredibly limiting because it imposes itself onto our bodies, and we learn through culture how to shape the way we carry our bodies in gendered ways.  Look at this painting of George Washington: 

I can't imagine a modern US general posing like this for a portrait. The very way our bodies move are mired in historical conceptions of masculine and feminine. 

My son at ten would be bullied if he were in school. Of this I have no doubt. H and I both taught long enough to witness what happens to kids who hold themselves the way that my son holds himself.  It is not the parents who will do this although they carry the attitudes themselves. Sometimes I even worry in our homeschooling groups that some kid is going to notice and say  something. I don't think that saying "Hey dude George Washington held himself this way." is going to make much of an impression among preteens. At ten, my son is not holding himself this way because he is gay. He is not interested in boys or girls sexually. Well if he is not sharing the information with us. He knows that he's free to be interested in whatever gender he wants. We don't care. But he's just not telling us and we don't push. 

But I have to confess that I do wonder if I should warn him that people might comment on the way he holds his body. I haven't because I also feel like this will wound him fairly deeply. I do not want him to be self conscious about his lovely body. He is already headed into that awkward stage where he becomes intensely self-conscious. This has come at a time when he is also feeling a little of out of control of his body due to his epilepsy. But then I am scared that someone else is going to say something. And they won't be kind about it. 

I do not care how my beautiful son runs or how he holds himself. He has lovely qualities that some might call feminine. I don't label them. I just nourish them because they are good qualities for humans to have: compassion, nurturing, gentleness. I want my son to grow to be a good human. Not a good man. Or a good woman. Just human in a way that recognizes the human in others around him.

(Yes this is partially by the influence "My Son is Gay" post that has been all over Facebook today but it's also mostly been percolating in my head since the rash of suicides by young gay men over the last month. I have been struggling to find the words for what I wanted to say about bullying, my son, and the fear I have for him. My disclaimer is basically no I didn't just jump on her post.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"Never Try, Never Fail"

A few years ago, the kids were really into the cartoon movie "Robots." At one point one of the robots says "My motto has always been 'Never Try, Never Fail." We, adults, laughed uproariously. Now as I gather my materials for submission to Ph.D. programs those words don't seem so funny. What started out as a energetic, excitement has trickled into a nerve wracked crawl. I often wonder if I'm slowing down in hopes that "Oops! Didn't get it done in time." will just sort of happen, and I can do the never try, never fail method of life.

When I look at everything all laid out, I just feel like I'm not such a great candidate for a program. The insecurity slowly eats away at me as I struggle through the day. When a reading seems to hard, I immediate peg this moment as meaning: You're not good enough to do a Ph.D. program as opposed to the fact that reading with Rowena screaming two inches from my ear might be a tad distracting. OMG! A typo on Facebook. Yeah I suck and can't write. And these thoughts are followed by "Why bother?" Why sink all this money into something you're just going to suck at. I actually lay awake a night and worry that I'm going to mispronounce a word as a teaching assistant.  This is life when you just don't feel good enough.

These are the times when I read stuff like this and feel this intense envy. I want that house, and that life. I want to put away these applications and move to a farm in Maine where I will do crafty things and my kids will always clean and lovely. I day dream about a life where I am not constantly feeling this lack. A life where I feel good enough. Of course I know that if I had the lives I read about, I'd feel just as insecure. Hell I'm about as crafty as nothing so that alone would be a big fail. And let's face it, my housecleaning and decorating skills are zilch. I'm not really cut out for the farm life either. I am lucky that I am able to feed the kids and myself. And god forbid I don't live real damn close to a Starbucks.

Really, I'm just longing for a place where I feel good enough. The two-sidedness I spoke of last evening has nothing to do with thinking that any other kind of life is easy. It has to do with me feeling like I'm doing everything like shit. I feel like my academic reading and writing are not so great, and then I struggle with feeling like a horrible mother and home schooling mother at that...I just feel like I don't do anything good enough. This is a hard feeling to live with, and I can't help but wish I could focus on just one thing. But then I wonder if that desire comes from just being afraid to fail.

As I send in these applications I struggle with realizing how much I really want this. I tried to distance myself because to admit that I wanted this with a deep, deep desire made me even more scared of failing. I can't imagine what it will feel like if all these schools reject my application. It's a dark place that I am afraid to explore too deeply.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Living Between Normal

My nights have been spent frantically finishing up graduate applications. I don't have time during the day to do this between homeschooling, dealing with R, and preparing for the two classes I teach. I wait until R is asleep for the night (and this usually occurs on my lap), the beasties are in bed along with H, and I type. I type up more verisons of my Statement of Purpose, my CV as well as dozens of form questions about where I live, how I score on tests, and my general state of fiances (no, sorry Duke,  I am utterly unable to pay my own way through your Ph.D. program). As I do this, I wonder if other mothers have such disparate lives.

If I choose to put my kids in school, got a full time lecturer position or whatever, I would fit in with many of the women I work and study with. It would be normal for me to do this with them. When I decided to have R, one colleague said "But why when you are just about to have all them in school?" I didn't remind her that I home school. I keep that to myself unless asked outright. And sometimes this normal does look very attractive. What would it have been like to have six kid free hours a day? What would I do? I imagine all the work I would accomplish. The articles! The SOPs! The applications completed! Oh my!

I go to the park, on a day when I have to work. We are going to hike. It's wonderful. I enjoy being outside. I enjoy talking about my children. I enjoy not thinking about work. Until I realize it's now a half hour until I have to be on campus so no more sitting on the bench, soaking up the sun. I have to rush off to work. Not so the moms I am with. They are able to stay at the park for another hour. As I hurry suddenly sluggish children down the wooded path, I wonder what it would be like to just focus on the children and homeschooling. Oh to have each day just be about the beasties and their schooling! To not have to worry about correcting or applications or papers! 

Today as I rushed to my mom's house for an impromptu visit, I pondered how I always feel like I'm running into two different directions. Frequently at the same time. Three days of the week, I can't really plan much as I have to go to work. If I do go out, it's this packing nightmare where I have to load the van with not just the beasties' stuff but all of my work stuff as well. Plus lunch for them and dinner for me. I'm usually tired on the days I don't work because I stay up until 2 am working on graduate applications. This is the only time when R is asleep enough for me to concentrate. I wonder sometimes if I'm just giving crap to both lifestyles. Maybe if I just choose one I'd be able to do that lifestyle justice as opposed to always feeling like I'm leaving shit undone. 

And I also wonder if it would make me feel part of one world or the other. Would I have closer relationships with either group if I were to just plant some alliances? If I do go to graduate school, how will I interact with other women in either group? 

Part of me knows that the allure of either world is based largely on fantasy. Many of the women I know in graduate school do not have children. And those who do struggle with the same things I do even with their kids in school. My homeschooling friends confide that things would be easier financially if they worked and as one mom told me a long time ago "I just want to be able to dress like a grown up once in awhile." 

Monday, November 01, 2010

Committing Once Again

Reading another friend's blog, I discovered that November was write a post a day or something like that month. I got the badge to prove it...

So once again, I will attempt to write a post a day for a month. I'm not sure I'm up for it. I'm tired. I have a six month old beastie. I am applying to six graduate schools. I have to take the GRE on Saturday. Yeah. Busy as usual. I figure even if it's drivel maybe it will inspire me to get this going a bit more and keep me off Facebook less. We'll see how things work out.

So in the meantime...Halloween Beasties...