Thursday, October 18, 2007


I’m not sure exactly when or how it all started, but at some point during the last year The Boy became an avid collector of stuffed animals. Of course, he’s a connoisseur of some discernment; his tastes running to the more exotic end of the spectrum—as you can see, not a teddy bear in sight.

Sadly, he’s not very imaginative with naming these treasures. There’s Draggy and Crocky, the first proud members of the troupe; Rexxie, Steggie, and the awkwardly handled Tri-ee; Baby Dog, Brother Dog, and Big Sister Dog (always in that order, naturally); Turdy, whom I can’t bring myself to address by name, but I’m constantly looking for him and dragging him out from under couches, beds, and piles of quilts because he’s a fast favorite, and he just can’t seem to stay put; and finally, there to the left, Finey—the big crocodile. If you ask Boy why Finey is called Finey, he’ll tell you with all the little boy bravado he can muster, “Because he’s FUNNY!”

Every night The Boy gathers this motley crew of cuddly beasties in and around his bed according to some gentle, fluid hierarchy that only he understands. Draggy is always draped across the foot of the bed, the Dog siblings curled snuggly in his tail. Sometimes he graciously allows Crocky or Finey, and Big Sister Dog to sleep with EM. But I know he prefers at least one of the crocodiles on the floor next to his bed, under the heater. The rest he gathers in a furry mass on his pillow. One lucky soul, usually Turdy, gets to sleep under Bobby, his still and ever constant blankie—a crutch which, by the by, he feels more justified than ever in clinging to because “he’s seen that boy on Charlie Brown has a Bobby too, only his is bigger, and that mean girl always locks it in a closet, and that’s not nice, because then that other Charlie Brown boy can’t sleep, right Mom?” And if it’s on TV? It’s legit man—it’s ‘fer real.

I’ve told Boy that when we’re gone, Draggy comes to life and flies around the house taunting and playing with Puss like the naughty, great magpie he is. “And,” I’ve told him, “When you’re asleep? Both Draggy and I fly around the house together, chasing away bats and eating spiders.”

At first, he scoffed and refused to even discuss it.

Draggy isn’t REAL! And MOMS CAN’T FLY!

But so adamant and steadfast was I in my rebuttal, that I now believe he’s at least open to the possibility.

It occurs to me that it’s wrong to fuck with him this way. But I ask you. What’s the point in harboring and so carefully tending such a colorful band of brothers if you’re not going to apply at least some imagination to the practice? And besides, how is a flying mother any worse a fantasy than all that Santa crap we shove down their throats?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Somebody Should Write A Song About This One

The lofty subject of MY LIFE and what I’m eventually going to make of it has come up rather a lot lately. After all, as most of you know, my Littlest Miss started pre-school full time in August, and with no kids at home to look after, what—the world would know—do you do with yourself all day? And Jesus! But don’t you get bored with that?

Now I’m not naming names, or anything like that (aaaa-ahNanMisterMarkMomsnootybrother-in-lawJillychoo), but over the past month or so I’ve found myself in the middle of several heated (albeit, solely from my end) conversations where they’re all like, “You’re young/smart/talented/wonderful enough blah blah blah you can do anything you want blah blah.” And I’m all like, “Yeah but.” And they’re all like, “What?” Then I’m like, “Well, but, see.” Then them, all impatient-like, “But what?” Finally shaken out of my stupor, I come at them like, “The kids, the language, the cost of day care, my age, the war in Iraq, melting glaciers in Greenland, and the recently explained, but still troubling loss of the honey bees blah blah blah. Plus, when would I run?” Which is generally an excellent opportunity to segue the discussion into, “No, my calves aren’t bothering me anymore. But yes, my left knee is still rather twitchy, especially when I run more than 10 kilometers.” And, “Oh? Had I not mentioned that I passed the 10K mark? Last month sometime. Actually it’s more like 12 now. Yes, I am rather fabulous, aren’t I? Blah blah blahddy blah blah.” Then I congratulate myself on another touchy subject well thwarted.

In all seriousness though, I’m not saying there’s pressure, pressure, everywhere pressure, from all sides pressure. But I do have—whether imagined or not—the uncomfortable feeling that everyone’s sort of waiting with baited breath to see what I’m going to do next.

I have said, and I genuinely mean it, that the only thing I’m interested enough in and care enough about to go back to school for is midwifery. It’s a five year commitment that would, sure enough, be a right worthy accomplishment, and finally give me something interesting to say when asked that nettling, ubiquitous question, “Yes but, what do you do?” Plus, you know, with such a career tucked smugly under my belt, I might finally consider looking into attending a college reunion. Because, let’s face it, I’m pretty sure Smith doesn’t accept reservations from SAHM/blogger alumna. Unless they happen to be married to wealthy corporate bankers who have recently contributed thousands to the construction of the new campus center. Which, eh, I’m not.

But that’s neither here not there. Stick with me for a minute. I promise, I’m going somewhere with all this.

One of the perks of having all three kids in some form of school during the day, is FINALLY, after seven years, I’m free to sneak in a bit of recreational daytime television. The luxury! The decadence! The shear perversion! I’m all over the various Discovery Channels and National Geographic, even Animal Planet when they’re not showing episode after episode of that boring Pet Rescue crap.

Also for the first time in seven years, I’m caught up on all the ironing. Because let’s face it, a two foot deep pile of Mister’s pants and shirts is nowhere near as onerous a chore without farking Sponge Bob or those tedious Winx chicks yapping at me in the background. Give me an hour of that Dirty Jobs guy, followed by another hour of Lonely Planet, and I’ll give you a closet full of stiff collars and crisp-ish pleats. (There’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, but that would take me even further off course than I already am, so let’s just leave it. Shall we?)

Just over a week or so ago, I happened upon a program on the History Channel about the Mayan calendar—Doomsday Prophecy or some such thing. It wasn’t all that good. Light on the archeological/historical significance of the calendar itself; heavy on the sensationalized, innuendo-laden conjectures of some stoned-out Mayan shaman somewhere along the line; the dramatic, crescendo driven soundtrack and steady stream of morbid, death-and-destruction video montages left no doubt that the only message the producers wanted the viewer to take away from the program was that we’re all going to die violent, ugly deaths on December 21, 2012—the precise last day of the Mayan Long Count.

Yeah. Believe it? Not so much. But it did engage my imagination long enough to make me think some darkly profound thoughts.

Hang in there! We’re as close to the point as we’ve ever been! Two, maybe three more circuitous tangents at the most! Promise.

December 21, 2012. That would really suck, would it not? That’s just a little over 4 years away. EM would probably have started her period by then, but would she have come as far as that singularly disconcerting muddle of pleasure and embarrassment over her very first kiss? The Boy would only be 10, and I would never get to hear how his voice—his REAL voice—deepened and filled out. And Missy, granted it might be seen as a small mercy to have escaped her teen years, but all that fire and grit lost? She would have made one splendid woman, but if those pesky Mayans are right, I would never get to meet her.

Shit. It wouldn’t suck just a little bit. It would suck a whole lot! Oh eh, and not to mention all that Christmas shopping, and wrapping, and decorating, and baking I would have done by the 21st. Talk about a waste! Perhaps that’s the year we should pack up and go to Thailand for the holidays. Just in case.

But what about me, I mused. If the world were to come to a screeching, shrieking halt in 4 years, would I regret that I hadn’t made more of an effort with my life? Would I regret not having put the time and energy into mastering Norwegian well enough to go to nursing school, and bust my ass building that career everyone keeps telling me I’m so capable of? A career that, as my Smith sisters would have me believe, my very pride should compel me to pursue? Or would I be able to stare down the bitter end, content with my place in my home at the very center of my family’s well-being?

I wish I could say that the answer that came to me was exactly clear-cut and easily broken down in pie-graph form. There are certain things I would regret. The language, for one. My stubborn, inexplicable laziness with regards to fully absorbing and mastering the primary language of my family after nearly 13 years of living here is a guilty thorn that I have nursed for far too long now. And perhaps I should have written more, as I have always wanted to do. But writing is hard work! And I’m nowhere near convinced I have enough of the word mojo to move beyond the self-indulgent journaling stage. Still, the end of the world is no time for excuses. It would be a regret that I hadn’t tried, plain and simple. But of all the theoretical events and accomplishments I could think of that I might bemoan the loss of on December 21, 2012, a career—be it in teaching, or nursing, or midwifing, or cataloging books in a library—was not one of them.

Home then. I choose home. For now anyway. And for the foreseeable future.

I wish I knew if I’ll look back at that sentence 4 years from now and regret it. But how could I? I don’t even have any real sense of how I’ll feel about it a year from now. Perhaps because my kids are still so young, and their wants and needs are still so tangible and immediate, I have a hard time imagining myself with enough freedom to think beyond dinner tomorrow, dance class on Wednesday, and perhaps swimming next weekend.

Of course, something tells me that I should be planning for, and moving towards that level of autonomy now. But I can’t. For whatever reason, I don’t want to. I want to get EM finally reading at grade level. I want to teach The Boy all the sounds of the alphabet, and get him excited about some sight words. I want to help poor, befuddled Missy sort out her colors. And I want to run a half-marathon by early summer. These are my immediate goals. Because I don’t seem capable of planning for the long term, I’ll set my sights on shorter, more manageable chunks of time. You may talk to me again about MY LIFE after Missy starts school.

Oh hey, and if the world really does end on December 21, 2012—I win because I’ve got the cutest kids!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Her Father's Daughter

I don't know why I find this so amusing, but I do.

EM is still drawing the same stiff-haired fairies and princesses that she's always favored. But this year, instead of squiggly lined jibberish, the dialogue bubbles are filled with math equations.