Tuesday, August 24, 2004


In anticipation of the mini heatwave forecast for this week, the wading pool has been reopened for a few days. Yay!

We spent a couple hours at the park this morning, and I was woefully underdressed, misled by the direct beams of sunlight and momentary stillness when I'd stepped out onto the balcony to check the weather before heading out. Don't worry — Helena was suitably jacketed (just in case), and we tried out her new covered shoes. But I'm all sniffly now, and I rather expect I'll fall deathly ill by week's end. I sure could use a couple more days of wallowing in self-pity.

Helena had a swell time doing all the usual playground stuff but most particularly, along with a handful of daycare toddlers also seated in the playhouse, in repeatedly piling sand onto the table and then vigorously brushing it off. Ah, the simple things...

Scribbling Woman has in one short post of interesting links managed to revive my work-at-home–mom crisis, putting an end to the comfortable denial I was just barely starting to settle into.

"Mothering in the Ivory Tower" (author's blog here) at Literary Mama:

I am at work on my computer, typing, typing, typing on an academic article that is due at the end of this month, but I am only partly here. I try to focus, to concentrate, to get this done so I can go back to my daughter. I keep being drawn back to her image, her smell, her touch, as I imagine she does with me.

I must do this work, but I have to call it as I see it in my own life. I won't pretend that Sarah is not suffering. I won't pretend that her pain doesn't matter. I won't try to justify it in terms of her well being, as in claiming that "she is learning to be more independent" or "a happy mother makes a happy home." I won't be pacified by the nanny's comment that "she stops crying the minute you are out of sight." Does my pain at a loss hurt any less because I can reconcile myself to it? No, of course not. Then, should I disregard her pain because she is learning to deal with it? Because it is short-lived? Is my child's pain less important than mine? Even though she won't consciously remember this later, if therapy has taught me anything, it's that the unconscious forgets nothing.

I won't deny the obvious truth: I am rebuilding my career on the back of her grief.

I used to think all those people who said they slept about 5 hours a night were weird, if admirable. I remember hearing coworkers talk about getting up at 5 in the morning. Of course, it was always women saying these things, but maybe men just don't like to talk about their sleep habits.

I imagined these creatures staying up till midnight, chatting with their lover over a bottle of wine, getting up before dawn in a zen-like frame of mind, to enjoy coffee, read the newspaper, breathe the air. They're crazy, I thought. Who could like that stuff better than 9 hours of glorious rejuvenating sleep? Lovers and lazy coffees are well and good, but at what price?

It never once crossed my mind that these women might sleep a mere 5 hours out of necessity — that they were up late finishing a report and doing laundry, that the baby demanded feeding in the morning and it was the only way to get older kids to school on time.

Five hours of sleep. They said it with a secret smile. Proud? Stoic. Why didn't they tell me?

No comments: