Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Birthday and A Universe

June 24, 2010

The festivities are almost behind us. Not that I don't look forward to and love the busyness, but it appears that the busyness of mothers in September of many years has led to the very busy birthday month of June for both my and Nicholas's family. On my side, we celebrate Arilyn's birthday, my birthday, and a nephew's birthday at the end of the month; on Nick's side, we celebrate two cousin's birthdays and an aunt's plus the newly added celebration of Father's Day. In the future, I think we will declare June the official party month and simply celebrate from the first until the 30th.

I might have decided when I was considering becoming a parent that I would conceive in time to have a Gemini baby. Not that I am so ego-centric, but I remembered once hiding myself in an aisle of Barnes and Nobles in the Astrology section with a book of the Zodiac spread open upon my crossed legs reading about signs of compatibility wherein it stated that Geminis usually got along pretty well with and liked the company of other Geminis. Also, I thought it would be a great way to take the focus off of myself, and the often awkward attention that birthdays bring, by allowing me to celebrate the life of someone else - someone else that I helped create. As Arilyn's first birthday came and went two days before my own, I conclude that the plan was successful! In fact, my birthday was all the more richer because the celebration of her life was still in the air.

I am not sure, yet, if I would confidently confide that I based my decision to have children at a certain time of year on the whimsical declarations of a book that was probably titled Signs of the Zodiac: Your Life in the Stars...; however, when I consider my teenage years and the amount of time spent trying to understand love and life from within the scripts of movies, between the lines of dialogue, and out of the ink of canonical literature it is not surprising that this memory, this advice from the cosmic region of the stars that aligned just so on the day that I was born, would find its way out of my personal subconscious at the moment I felt the delicate and very certain pull to create life.

Perhaps, it can all be explained by the human need to be verified, or our insatiable search for answers. I looked for answers to my internal questions (When will I find love? Is this fate? Is he the one? Is this the best path?) always in things that were outside of myself: T.V. commercials, the Tao, red lights, and simple random coincidence. I once diagnosed the demise of a relationship I was in based on an accident. During a difficult time in our being together I pulled a pair of his jeans out of the washing machine. As I transferred the damp dungarees to the dryer I inadvertently hit the light switch, which resulted in me standing in the laundry room in the dark holding a pair of his wet pants. This, somehow, was a terrible metaphor for me. And whether or not I then created the unrest that did eventually end our relationship, the relationship did end. Were the wet pants in the dark the universe's way of telling me the guy was no good? Or, was I simply searching for answers outside of myself to verify and confirm what I was already feeling? I hope I am old enough now to confirm the latter.

Or am I? When our midwife told us that Arilyn's due date was on my birthday I couldn't help feeling that everything was going to be okay. Some of those fears that speed new parents into the future of our children's teenage years where they hate us because we don't understand them were unmistakeably quieted. For an instant, I saw the gleam from between the universe's eyelids as she winked at me and said, "You've got this." And though I am old enough now to understand that the true answers we seek come from only within ourselves, I must admit that when the instant was over, a quiet hope settled in.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Being a House Mom

June 9, 2010

The other day, I was looking through this chest that Nicholas and I have full of bits and rolls of fabric that we shuttle around with us every time we move with the intentions of making our own curtains or seat covers or pillows that never get made, and I found this crumbly old apron, balled and wrinkled, in the corner. It was dingy and yellow, crusty in parts from what looked like paint, and had a burn hole the size of a cigarette or incent. It was beautiful! The print on the front looked like the food pyramid only it was a pyramid of color pallettes spread out in the shape of a tree. I put it on immediately, tied it high above my bellybutton, and smoothed out the wrinkles along the length of my thigh until the hem folded up nice and flat above my knee.

I had wanted an apron for a long time. I coveted the kind that wraps around the neck and ties around the back. I imagined myself in it baking or tossing together a salad and calling to my daughter to say that the biscuits were just about ready. But this find, this beautifully used apron, gave me so much happiness that I wore it for the rest of the day. I cooked, I cleaned, I picked Arilyn up and swayed her around to the music of Tracy Chapman and Jewel, and after the dishes were done I hung the apron on the wall next to the refrigerator as an emblem of my serentiy.

Seriously? Seriously. See, it was recommended that I start this blog for professional reasons, though I am not sure how that is supposed to work, yet. I am supposed to be a professional something or other; however, all I feel myself wanting to do lately is regress. Adrienne Rich would be so mad at me! I have found myself in the position of being a fulltime mommy and not the full time very-important-literary somebody I once thought I would be, and all I can say, really, is that I am happy. Cooking has become my new poetry; doing the laundry my new explication. Now, all I want to do is slide into the flower printed fabric of domesticity and run head first in the opposite direction from where the women's liberation movement taught me to go. I read Sylvia, I know about the burning bras and the lonley, unhappy housewives of the 1950's depicted in Scorsese's Revolutionary Road or Newell's Mona Lisa's Smile, and I know that my entire youth and early adulthood was spent declaring that domesticity would never happen to me. And here I am, my joy found in a wheat biscuit recipe or scoring big with a tofu spaghetti bake.

Then I begin to see what my fellow women have probably seen long ago (which wouldn't be the first time that I have been late jumping onto the bandwagon of things) - that the run away from domesticity was in part not about disliking housework or child rearing, but was about not having a choice, not having a balance, not having any other options. What I learned from history was that I should dislike the job, that it was, in a way, archaic and that educated women needed to find better ways to utilize their skills. Thank goodness I was wrong! It's about being able to do what you love no matter what it is. And we moms who are finding ourselves falling in love with our mom-roles need to be rid of all those stigmas, even if they exist only in our heads, regarding being a housewife, a domestic engineer, or a stay-at-home, and just be.

In Spanish, a housewife is called la alma de la casa, the soul of the house. I think that says it very nicely.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


June 6, 2010

My house is a disaster. My daughter's inquisitiveness leaves my house looking like an abandoned shed after a tornado has passed through it, and I think she just found and ate an old piece of cheese that she earlier dropped on the floor.

I love to watch her, though. Sick as I am now, strep throat, runny nose, cough, and no energy to save the toilet paper roll from becoming completely unraveled, my watching has become more of an observation into the workings of her beautiful mind. For instance, for twenty minutes she empties our magazine bin by taking out one magazine at a time and placing it onto the floor. Once she has a stack there she takes each magazine, one at a time, and puts it into the drawer of our coffee table. When one falls out she does not get discouraged; she simply bends down, picks it up, and tries to place it back in the drawer. She puffs a little tiffle of breath when she bends down, her lips draw tightly together, and her eyes stay completely focused. She is completely focused. I imagine her satisfaction, her feeling of triumph, or maybe it's just a feeling of accomplishment. I, too, feel satisfied when the laundry is done or the carpets are clean. But it's the way that she creates her own chore, her own little work to be done, that makes me realize that we have all been doing this same thing our whole lives. We create our chores so that we can complete them and I guess, in essence, we like it. We humans like the doneness of doing things. What a busy folk we are.

When Arilyn graduates from the magazine business she'll move on to the shoe business (the one where she has to align all of the shoes in a row by the front door), and then she'll continue with the emptying of the toy box business (the one where she removes one by one each toy in her toy box only to return each one, without a pause, into the exact same container), and then when she gets a little older I imagine her organizing her closets and her dresser drawers and maybe fighting with me about the chores that I make her do until, finally, she becomes employed and gets paid for doing the chores of someone else, or she works for herself and gets double the satisfaction of creating and completing her own chores. And her greatest life's chore might come in the sound of a little coo or in the little tiffle of breath she hears when her own inquisitive tornado wisps around the rooms of her own house, because that, too, is a chore we choose because besides the obvious reasons of love, we also really like it.