Friday, August 31, 2012

moms say the darnedest things

Well, not me. I say the damnedest things and unfortunately, Clare now knows all the words she--and I--should not say.

My mom, however, manages to say the most astonishing things, and their force is undiminished by their (mostly) G-ratedness.

While I'll stand by the last post, there is as you might guess a certain "rest of the story" that goes unreported. And while indeed that was the comment, I missed a great deal of its intent--as if I hadn't known that having a serious convo in a room full of small children enjoying (mostly) themselves very loudly was the sort of absurdity that farces are made of. Anyhow. The good thing is, we finished the truncated convo over the phone a couple days ago, with only poop in the bath and pee on the floor to complicate things.

So, though my mom is blessed (so she says) without giving a damn, sorry, darn, what anyone who might read this blog thinks about her, she was a bit peeved to come off as June Cleaver. Which she is not.

And that is true, and in the impossibly long version if the previous post (now deleted and only recoverable for those with supergeek skills), I had a long paragraph reflecting on what it is I learned from my mom as she negotiated these matters herself.

And what I learned was that, like me, my mom believes that being a good parent to your children is your most important priority, and at the same time, is a woman of intellect and drive and vision that she requires a context larger than the four walls of her own house to operate in. When my mom began, after her years as SAHM with the three of us, her professional life in education, I watched her work hard, receive professional recognition, and enjoy seeing that what she did was significant in people's lives. She's still doing that. My mom is one of those teachers that grown people with their own kids walk up to and say, "do you remember me?"

I didn't have June Cleaver as a mom. I had someone a damn, er, darn sight better.

Even if she does say the darnedest things sometimes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I look HOT.

That's what my 6-year-old said to me as she twirled in her dress. "I look HOT in this. Right, Mama?"

"No, honey," I said. "You look wonderful, and beautiful, and fancy, and super-cute, and your dress is awesome, but you don't look 'hot.'"

"Yes I do. I look HOT." And she waggled her hips for good measure.

"Do you know what 'hot' means?"

"Um, duh. Like I look really good and--stylish."

"No, sweetie. 'Hot' means you look sexy. And sexy is something grown-up bodies can look like, but your body isn't grown up yet. So, you look great--but you don't look hot. And no one should think you look hot, because you're not grown up enough yet to look hot or be sexy."

"Oh. Well, I'll just have to tell the girls at school to stop saying 'hot' then. I guess they don't know. But I can teach them!"

Yep. Yep, you can.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

her first wedding

Last Saturday, Clare went to her first wedding. She was ecstatic about it--planned her outfit meticulously, asked me to put her hair in curlers the night before, demanded to wear a pair of heels from her dress-up chest (sigh)...and donned her pink fairy wings for the occasion. She also enthusiastically embraced the role of junior amateur photographer and I now have a small collecton of blurry photos of people standing around in a church on my camera roll. She had a great time--as we all did, except for maybe Zadie, who was uncharacteristically silent all the way to Brooklyn and then, as soon as we entered the church, decided that this wide open echoing space was constructed just so that she could fill it up with bee-yoo-tee-full noise. I spent a lot of the ceremony walking her around in the back, vainly shushing.

I am very glad she was loud and that we were hanging around in the back, or I'd've missed my favorite moment of the wedding: the fist-pump and "YES!" on the way out. :)

Clare was still full of excitement about her first wedding on Sunday. When her Sunday school teacher asked the kids if anyone had done anything especially awesome this weekend, Clare's hand shot up into the air like a rocket. "I did!" she exclaimed. "I went to a WEDDING!!!" That's great, said her teacher. Then, "did the bride look beautiful in her dress?" (This was not, as you might think, a generic follow-up question--she knows my fancy, girly girl well.) "Um," said Clare after a pause. "Well, it was two boys actually." And teacher says, without skipping a beat: "Oh. Well, did they both look very handsome?" Which, of course, they did. You can't help but be your handsomest when glowing with happiness.

After this exchange--the first time I've seen my girl be her full natural chatterbox self in Sunday school--she turned and looked over her shoulder at me & Z on the couch, grinned, and gave me a thumbs up. Full of joy and completely pleased with herself at having such a great weekend report to share.

Thanks, guys. You made our weekend. Blessings on beginning your married life together!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

And then she said,

"I'm glad you didn't get that job."

I think she was trying to make me feel better.

I know what she meant. At least this year, I won't be juggling a full-time gig and the demands of a newborn, increasingly sleep-deprived and constantly facing feelings of professional and domestic and personal failure. At least now I can stop feeling guilty for leaving my baby to go to class and for all the volunteering I couldn't do at my eldest's school, and equally guilty for all the sketchy lecture notes and belatedly returned papers. At least now, I'll only have one full-time, demanding job, instead of trying to juggle two.

At least now I might get some sleep.

But I'm not happy I didn't get the job, and despite understanding, mostly, what I think my mom wasn't comforting.

Because just like being a mom is who I am, so is being a theologian. Losing a job doesn't make me not a theologian, of course, but it does mean I no longer have a forum or reliable opportunities to theologize. And it means that there's no place in my life where I am regularly affirmed in that aspect of my identity, in the form of collegiality, respect, and, of course, not insignificantly, financially. (Toilets not only seem indifferent to regular faithful scrubbing; they're pretty meh on professional God-talk as well. Likewise, the piles of laundry and stacks of dirty dishes remain unmoved by my eloquence in invoking divine intervention.)

While I welcome the recognition that juggling full-time paid employment and a newborn is an attempt to live the superhuman impossible, I don't think it's because being a mom and being a theologian (or whatever your vocation) is essentially mutually exclusive. I suspect that my mom does, and so, she's uncomplicatedly happy that I no longer am attempting to juggle impossibilities. I'll be happier, I think she thinks, without trying to carry a full-time teaching load. I'll get some rest. I'll be able to do fun things with my children. I'll be able to keep the house to a satisfactory if minimal standard of orderliness. I'll be able to knit, make bread, read books for fun, do yoga, go on walks, blog, play, nap, feed my family nutritiously and deliciously and feel virtuous about it, volunteer at Clare's school, etc., etc. All the stuff I haven't done in a very long time because every single waking minute had to be devoted to Getting Something Utterly Necessary Done--while staving off the looming anxiety about the other pressing agenda items that therefore weren't getting done because I was doing Something Else Utterly Necessary.

It sounds absolutely reasonable. And I'll do all that stuff, and more besides. I can fill up my time. But I'm not going to be happier. I may be better rested, I may be healthier, skinnier, a little less tense, but I won't be happier. Because I'll be missing doing one of the things I love most.

I theologize. I can't help it. For awhile I had a forum for this, and now...well, I have a blog. And a Facebook group. (Not that y'all are chopped liver. Love and kisses!)

What I need--what we all need--are workplaces that value our motherhood, and households that value our vocations.

That, and I could use a job.