Wednesday, July 8, 2009

PB & J

Anyone who has been visiting
The Creamery for the last year or so knows that I struggle with the idea that I should be doing something here. Talking about Stuff. Or coming out on the side of Something. Or I should be sharing a New Viewpoint on an Idea. And then I post a bunch of things about Alice and Motherhood and Wifehood (I say it's a word) and Womanhood and Personhood (another Whimsyword - which brings me to this) and WHIMSYHOOD. Then I post a bunch of pictures of my cats.

It's a mishmash, at best. At its worst, these bits of my writing are small. Which, oh dear heaven, I've also written about.

Sometimes I'm okay with it. Sometimes I'm not. I think, for your benefit, I should tell you that I'm in a whimsical floaty way about it all right now and some days I want to have MEANING and others I'm just happy to write something mildly amusing about going to the grocery store (coming tomorrow: MILDLY AMUSING ANECDOTE ABOUT THE GROCERY STORE).

Robert Fulghum wrote an essay about this, actually. He talked about how sometimes he's all WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS and other times he's all MEH, I'M FINE AND I'M JUST HAPPY TO BE ALONG FOR THE RIDE. He says it much more eloquently of course.

Yesterday while Alice and I were eating lunch, I flipped the TV on (mother of the year, right here) to watch The Abyss. We caught the middle to end portion. You know that scene where Virgil is giving his estranged wife, Lindsey, mouth-to-mouth because she just drowned? And he's done all the breathing and he's even used the shocky paddle things and nothing is working? And everyone around him is stunned and saddened into silence because clearly, she's dead. So then Virgil, he won't let Lindsey go. He starts up the mouth-to-mouth again and keeps saying DON'T YOU GIVE UP, DON'T YOU GO in between breaths. And then he loses it - starts pounding on her chest so hard you know he's broken not one but ALL of her ribs. And he's beating her chest and screaming and crying DON'T GIVE UP, DON'T YOU GO, DON'T LEAVE ME, YOU ARE STRONG and his voice, it goes all whispery and desperate as he is just begging her, willing her to live? That's the scene that was on while Alice and I ate our PB&J. It made me think about passion. Virgil there, in that moment, he is most definitely a man of passion.

A few minutes later, I found myself reading the comment from Serenity Now giving me permission to not worry about the Big Things. And then, the dear girl also sent me a very sweet email... it was so incredibly nice and thoughtful that poor Virgil and all his PASSION just plum jumped out of my head and seemed ridiculous. Especially in the face of this: my life IS small. I like it that way. My perspectives ARE quiet little things. I like them that way. This blog is written by me, about my life. So why wouldn't it be small, intimate, quiet?

Here is where I actually make a POINT about all of this naval-gazing. I don't think this kind of self-inspection and introspection is limited to me. And it's most certainly not limited to me-on-a-blog. In the last sixteen months, my life has changed dramatically. I used to get up at the crack of O-dawn-thirty every day for a fairly high-falootin' job. I wore dressy pants, is what I'm saying. And skirts. And (oh heaven help me) nylon stockings. I talked to people about my opinions. I influenced. I assisted. I made a difference. Sixteen months later I DO get dressed every day (my personal quiet goal for myself when Alice was born: GET DRESSED IN ACTUAL CLOTHES EVERY DAY). But "dressed" is a sliding scale of cleanliness and fit. It's a little different than how things used to be. Where once upon a time I used to plan and execute large monthly meetings of 500+ executives, I am now chasing a half-naked girl-child through the living room, yelling COME BACK HERE YOU NEED TO WEAR SOME PANTS! And this gem DO NOT TOUCH THE POOP! and GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE POOP! And another favorite WE DON'T PLAY IN THE TOILET!

What I'm trying to say is that I think I have to remind myself that what I do here, in this house, is vitally important, even if it feels small. And truthfully, it feels small, like, 95% of the time. (I am not downplaying the Life of a Stay at Home Mom, because I know that it's really important, and more than that I feel that it's what I'm meant to do - and even more than that, I LIKE DOING IT. I REALLY REALLY LIKE DOING IT.) The Creamery is my own personal place to share what's going on in my head and sometimes it feels like that smallness is pulling the walls in until there's no room left in my very brainspace except for poop, diapers, and teeth. I want to know that I can still think of Big Picture things even if I've got my mind mostly on the poop, you know?

For my own sake as well as yours I want to know that I can still think Big and Deep even when I'm only deep in diaperland. I want to know that I can find the meaning behind the teething, and the owies, and the first words. I want to know that I can share what I discover through the filter of my life and make a difference. It's about understanding the world through the remedial tasks at hand. Isn't that what a good writer does? She presents the mundane world to the reader and then shows him how that trivial item really teaches sometime about the Cosmos. Even though it's just a picture of a cat, it's a picture of a cat with a story - a story that taught me something. And now I'm sharing it with you.

In our imagined kitchen table conversation, this is where you jump in, glass of juice in hand, and say that sometimes it's just a diaper change. And I nod and agree: yes, it is. But it's also the life I live, the life I'm living - and the diapers, they mean something more than poop. Every single one of them has something to teach me, something to find (insert POOP joke here), something to be examined.

See, like I was saying: the examined life versus the un.

In the end, it comes down to finding passion for what you're doing, and to some extent - how you're doing it. I can have Virgil's passion, a kind of breathy quiet screamy passion, when I am finding meaning in my everyday doings. It's the only way for me. And it's why I can get a little green-around-the-gills desperate when I feel like I've put myself on autopilot and I'm not examining or questioning things. It sounds tiresome when I put it that way, but in my opinion, this stuff is the lifeblood of, um, life. If you can't feel excited about the things you're doing - whether you're digging a ditch or singing a song or cooking dinner or reading a book to your little girl - if you can't find something to inspire you in that... what's the point?

This, my best explanation for the sometimes fretting over Creamery content. I'm searching for meaning in things and when I don't find it, I'm disappointed. But as I said yesterday, sometimes its just about the chickens.

Pre-posting edit:
When I'd written that last bit about chickens, Alice woke up from her nap. After the usual post-nap meet and greet (we're fancy that way, there might even be evening gowns), I left Alice to her own devices while I went searching through my several Robert Fulghum books to see if I could find the essay I mentioned. I was so deep in my purusal, it was several minutes before I realized Alice was making a very specific noise down there on the floor, at the foot of the bookshelf. She was hunkered down on her knees, animal book open in her lap to the TIGER page. And here is what ishe was doing: pointing madly and saying RAOOOOOOOOORRR. And that's a purposeful misspell because that's exactly how she was saying it. I abandoned my essay search and sat down beside Alice. Clearly, I do know what's important. And it's making animal sounds with my daughter. It seemed like the right thing to do. She was RAOOOOOORing with Virgil's passion. I'm into that.


Spadoman said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings with me. Yes, I say me, because even though many come here to read, you are talking to me when I am reading. That's how I do it. I imagine sitting there, talking to you, telling you the story. (Except I see coffee, not juice) Thanks for that glimpse. I find you an amazing gal.
My spousal unit thanks me often that I carried the weight of financial responsibility so she could stay home and raise kids. Staying at home with the children is natural. Day care with strangers is not.
Now, as I don't work for wages and am considered disabled, Barb works out of the home. And although I don't have kids to take care of, I do have duties that pertain to taking care of the family. Like today, I will do some grocery shopping and make the brownies for tonight's birthday party for Grand daughter Anna, who turns eleven today.
Nothing we do is mundane. All of life is lived every moment. People like you just take notice where some don't and miss the great ride.


PS I know it might seem weird that I come here. I mean, you write about your child and being a stay at home Mom and most, (maybe all except me), commenters and readers are other women, younger women, maybe the age of my daughters women, and I seem out of place at times, I like it here. It has sanity and keeps me from thinking too deeply into other things as I, too, like to raooooooooooooooor and give silly names to my cars, motorcycles and tools.

More Peace.

M said...

So say we all, my friend. So say we all.

Whimsy said...

Spadoman. I think you fit rather well.

You are welcome any time.

serenity now said...

Amen, sister, amen.

Anonymous said...

Love you, girly!