Archive for October, 2008

How Does She Do It?

Carla: At my house, the answer is “She doesn’t.” I am coming off a couple of weeks of intense work and staring at another deadline that will sneak up on me if I don’t start in on the project right now. A week ago, I hit my emotional and mental wall, not knowing how I could possible get my project done and still function as a human being/mother/wife/person who has other stuff to do. With the help of a lot of PBS Kids and a very helpful husband I got my project done, but I felt like I’d failed in so many other ways.

I just know my kids are going to bring this kind of stuff up in therapy one day: “My mom was ALWAYS on the computer. I’d come home from school and there she was. I’d go watch TV for six hours at a time and come upstairs and there she was.” Honestly, I hate to think about the message I’m sending them.

At the same time, I love what I do (not so much during deadline week) and I’m grateful for the chance to be part of the publishing world. I feel like I midwife a lot of wonderful books into being, books that change lives and heal hearts and draw people closer to God. I do feel gifted for this and I am blessed to have work I can do from home. But weeks like last week I just don’t know how to be all the people I need to/want to be sometimes. So that’s my question for the revolution. I don’t think we’re supposed to do it all, but how do we figure out how to do the bits we really believe we ought to be doing?

Caryn: This really is THE question for the revolution, I think. More than learning to say no or weeding out the unimportant stuff or whatever, it’s about how we do what we’re called to do. And I think you just do it.

I keep thinking of Finding Nemo: At the end, when the fish are trapped in that net and all crowded and stressed, and the dad or Dori (I can’t remember. Maybe Nemo even) tells them to “just keep swimming.” (For what it’s worth, my kids mostly watch this movie in Spanish because we’re weird like that in our casita Cubana. So I hear the fish saying, “Nadaremos!”) And I think that’s perfect advice for moms.

Because when we ignore what God’s calling us to do, say like Jonah, we risk getting tossed overboard swallowed by a big old fish. So I figure we might as well get swimming ourselves. So that’s what I do. Just keep swimming. And pray for strength and endurance and that I won’t lose my mind and my kids and husband won’t hate me. Oh, and a nanny. I ALWAYS pray for a nanny. God’s come through with everything BUT that. 

Carla: Love the image. And of course what I really love (other than that you watch it in Spanish) is the idea that it takes all of the fish to make it work. Nemo and Dori can’t do it alone. All of the tuna need to swim as a group, as a community, to save each other. I think a lot of my stress comes when I think I have to not only do it all but do it all by myself. But I have called on neighbors for extra babysitting help, given up the idea of a perfectly clean house for one cleaned by the kids, and let myself lean on friends who are willing to listen to me vent about my self-induced  stress without reminding me that it’s self-induced. So nadaremos Caryn!

Ten fake bucks to anyone who can guess what advice I’m confident will appear in the comments.

Obama’s Mama

Caryn: Yesterday I got a press release from a Christian publisher touting a new book on the life of Barack Obama. The release detailed who wrote it, what it was about, typical fare. So typical, in fact, that it included this little line: ” [the book] explores the unlikely success story of Obama, the son of a Kenyan sheep herder and a white woman from Kansas.” 

What’s so “typical” about that? The description of Obama’s mom. (Or any mom, for that matter.) While the dad gets an interesting, question-begging description of who HE is, the mom gets to be “a white woman from Kansas.” Really? This is the best we could come up with to describe Barack Obama’s mother, a woman who raised this charismatic, intellegent, potential leader of the free world, of whom Time magazine says: “Barack Obama’s mother was at least a dozen things. S. Ann Soetoro was a teen mother who later got a Ph.D. in anthropology; a white woman from the Midwest who was more comfortable in Indonesia; a natural-born mother obsessed with her work; a romantic pragmatist…”

That’s what they had to say? But really, what more do they have to say about any of the rest of us?

Now I realize I’m just being super-sensitive here, but come on! I’m so tired of moms getting all the plain vanilla or should I say “white women from Kansas” labels. No offense to white women from Kansas. I know many. And they are all terribly interesting people. And all quite capable of raising future presidents. I don’t see what’s at all “unlikely” about that!

Can we at least TRY to give moms a bit more intrigue? Sheesh. 

Carla: Oh Caryn, I’m so proud of you for being outraged on behalf of Obama. I know it’s really his mom, but it’s a step.

On an unrelated note:

 

this makes me love Minnie Driver more than ever.
This, if you can’t tell, is actress (or maybe I should stick with “white woman from England)” Minnie Driver and her one-month-old son, Henry. This picture, one she herself posted on her myspace page, makes me love her more than I already do. She looks tired, unkempt, and totally in love with her boy. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate her showing the world that motherhood is not a photoshoot.
Caryn: You see how nice I can be, how concerned and loving, about people I never have and never will vote for? Defending his mother’s dignity? (Though, now that I’m typing this, thinking about how much I don’t like Obama’s policies, thoughts, and plans, didn’t he call his grandparents “regular white people” or something? Ugh. Now I’m disgusted again after trying to be SO NICE!)
Moving on….yes, that Minnie Driver photo is fantastic. Beautiful image of motherhood, capturing one of my favorite kind of mom-moments. And that white boy from California is darling. Little mouthie catching flies…..

Who Has Time to Revolt?

Caryn: This has to be quick because I seriously should be doing about 20 other URGENT things (like feed my child lunch and do my other, actual paid work), but I wanted to quick address this issue of time and the Mommy Revolution. We have Carla’s Facebook friend (and I’ve got a friend request pending myself. Fingers crossed, everyone!) Heather to thank for this particular train of thought.

Right now, Carla’s Facebook status says she’s “buried.” I commented that her buriedness made me feel less guilty for having no time to post something here. Then Heather said that that little bit made us seem more “real.” Which is good, but it scared me a bit.

We certainly don’t want any of you to think the Mommy Revolution is being waged from some lofty, quiet, thoughtful place, like university students of yore (and probably still today. Darn liberals.). We’re certainly not doing this over cocktails sipped at the club while the kids swing rackets and we complain about the rude service at that latest resort. 

People, this is coming to you from the front lines: from laptops on top of a table/desk strewn with actual workstuff and the most random toys and markers. (My baby is drawing on my leg with said marker as I type.) We do this in the free moments—between family and work and (ahem) tidying up–we don’t have.

But we do it because it’s important. Because it’s high time. Because moms are hurting and lonely and misunderstood and it is time to move on and start some new conversations, ask some new questions about motherhood and our lives and expectations.

Whew. So, my point? Again, that’s debatable. But you need to know we’re in these mothering trenches with you (Man, I’m sounding like a Schooner Tuna commercial! See Mr. Mom post below….). Just wanted you to know the place we’re coming from—our real, crazy, frustrating, no-time, but lovely, lives.

 

Carla: So well put (except the liberal bashing. Don’t make me go off on Sarah Palin). We are absolutely in the thick of it. How thick? I’m writing this at ten on a Friday night because this is the first time I’ve had the chance to form a thought today. There was no school for the older kids, but the little one had preschool. So I tried to work this morning while the big kids watched a movie and played in the yard. (Mostly the first. In fact only the first. I just wanted to make us sound like an active family. Which we aren’t.) After we picked up Maddie from preschool, I had my yearly mammogram (wheeeeee!!!) so I dropped the kids off at my friend’s house for 45 minutes. Then we hauled it back home, fed the dog, got back in the car, grabbed dinner at a coffee shop and went to see Wall-e at the cheap theater. Maddie fell asleep on the way home, and as we were walking to the house, Isaac fell and clonked his head on the concrete steps. Maddie woke up and started screaming, Isaac was screaming, and I was trying really hard not to scream. My husband is out of town, so I was on my own here, trying to get two screaming kids and one not-screaming kid into the house without waking up the neighbor’s baby. Now they are sleep and I have to spend at least the next two hours working if I’m going to come anywhere close to meeting my deadline. And I threw in a load of laundry because Emily’s soccer uniform stinks and she needs it in the morning. And the dog has some kind of allergy and keeps scratching herself which means the floor is coated in dog. And the cat threw up in my room. And I’m pretty sure we don’t have any milk.

But we both believe that there is a real need to give voice to what we see happening in our lives and the lives of so many other mothers we know. Our days don’t fall into black and white divisions of work and family. They are an organic mixture of errands and conference calls and lunch dates and play dates and messes and kisses and everything else that makes life right and good. That’s why we aren’t interested in conversations that force moms to choose sides–about anything. There aren’t sides to motherhood. There are angles and facets and perspectives, but there are no sides. At any given moment, both Caryn and I are typing with a child connected to us in one form or another. We don’t turn off one part of ourselves when another part kicks in. And we don’t think you do either.

We believe moms are complex, complicated human beings with all kinds of gifts and ideas and struggles and dreams. And we believe that when we can find ways to express all these facets of ourselves, we are better, healthier, happier women because of it. At the same time, we both know–oh my how we know!–that sometimes the only dream you can muster is the one were you get to go to the bathroom by yourself. But that doesn’t mean all those other dreams have to die. This revolution is partly our effort to remind you of that, but we’re hoping to remind ourselves as well. 

I need to go make sure my son doesn’t have a concussion. And Heather, please confirm Caryn. I have decided I can share my excellent friends with her. Just promise you won’t like her better.

Caryn: Can we give a round of applause to Carla, here? To have a day like that and still write so eloquently? Seriously. Amazing.