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Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

After a post went up from a Babble blogger that shamed mothers who breastfeed without a nursing cover, and piece over at Slate that indicated the simplest way for us to move forward as women in society would be for lactivists to care less and the market to over better nursing covers, I was invited to write a guest post for Annie at PhD in Parenting. I hope you will visit me over there and join our conversation about misogyny, the female body, judgments and the mommy wars.

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I’ve begun to think about a short story based on my recent joy in purchasing winter coats in the most reasonable way ever – online at Land’s End. There is not much more to write about buying a coat for a child on-line at Land’s End. I did it and it’s done. Amen. But that is not the way I have traditionally purchased (or come by) winter coats.

Because of money. And so really, the short story I’m outlining is about money and mothering. The first thing I ever wrote about money came out of my brain whole my junior year in high school while I was reading Virginia Woolf. For some reason it became incredibly clear to me right then, sitting at a desk more appropriately sized for an 8-year-old, staring at the gigantic word processor my dad had bought me (some sort of type-writer with a screen that looked like it could swallow me), that it would be nearly impossible to “do better” than my parents had. I called my sister at college and she agreed, so I figured it must be true. The mere fact that I got a hold of her on the hallway phone for her floor was like some sort of sign from the gods that I was onto something (much good may it do me, as they say)

Both my parents were in the first generation of their families to go to college. Both came from truly working class backgrounds. Both of them had advanced degrees & professional jobs in Manhattan. It seemed unlikely I could even duplicate such a leap, let alone overtake it. I wrote a paper and did not mention the word money or class. I had no idea what I was writing about but it hit me – the urgent impossibility of my position being educated at prep school in New York, sent off to college and absolutely bewildered about what I was going to do for my life (code for earn money, I think – the 17 year old brain perhaps fuzzy on this point.)

This proved to me even more true when I graduated college during a tiny recession that by today’s standards does not rate. I was working, married and thinking about all of these things – and also none of them because I was working so much for not so much money, as was my spouse – and then we had a baby and so I was home to think about them all day long. All day – and some of the nights too.

My breastfed child did not enjoy me holding a book while I nursed. He repeatedly swatted at it. It was just this object in his peripheral vision to be grabbed, I suppose. So I did not read but rather thought about things. Does anyone else have a child old enough to remember breastfeeding in the years before streaming video and podcasts? My youngest child was breastfeed to podcasts and streaming npr, netflix – and even had the tenderness to not swat at books or magazines while they were in my hands.

That many years later, with children off at school and my career taking some pleasant turns, I am here pondering NaNoWriMo, sketching out this story & wondering if there is quite enough there for a novel. I don’t want to start writing until I know. Because two years ago, when I last attempted the athletic feat that is NaNoWriMo, I was without an idea at the start. I had such a long ramp up period, that I never could have finished. I also had a three-year old and we all know how crazy they are.

What do you think about mothering and money? And what do you think I should do about the agony of National Novel Writing Month? What are you going to do? Also, one more thing about the Land’s End coats – they have grow with me sleeves. Why did I not invent that when I was 17 or home breastfeeding a baby who rejected novel-reading?

*PS Land’s End did not pay for this post.

Sadly.

– Maybe –

Never mind, I like it better this way:

The coats are great. My thoughts are my own.

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September is more than half gone, and yet it is still the first Monday all three of the children are off at school. It’s like that, Kindergarten. Your five your old goes off on the bus,  catches all the germs by licking the Legos, and then comes up and collapses in your arms on Friday afternoon.

He’s recovered now. So it is my first Monday of shipping them off. Were it not for my sister, I might have spent the day in my pajamas watching Mad Men on Netflix. Instead I am writing in a coffee shop with her. I have a coffee cup, a cell phone and a red netbook.  It turns out I look exactly like people who do this all the time.

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Summer’s end has been celebrated here for the past few weeks: one last swim with friends, one last trip, one last time eating ice-cream for dinner, one last beach day, one last let the kids stay up til they are stupid-tired and tip over when they walk.

I’ve been preserving the harvest, allowing the kids to watch one more TV show so I can get the jars packed and sealed in the proper time.  For the last month, I have shelved every possible project that seemed like it could stay on hold until they all went to school, all day, for the first time since I had my first baby 12 years ago.

That day is tomorrow. Summer’s true end was bedtime tonight, with my husband scrubbing down the children after a sticky long weekend  and with me filling out the last bits of the school paper work at a kitchen table littered with jars of sauce, salsa and chutney.

Our kindergartener  is asleep.  In a matter of hours he will be off and away with his brothers and friends. I have no idea what tomorrow brings for me – aside from sorting through the endless projects, ideas and tasks that I have spent my summer brushing aside with what has been become a mental tick of so many years making, “this can wait til everyone is at school.”

I am going to have to stop saying that.

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At night, they sleep in star fields, by day they run with wildflowers.

10/14/2000

Lily Rose 2/8/2005

 

A gift from my sister. If you are remembering anyone today, I’d love to know about it, to hear your story. You can leave a link or just share in the comments. As you can see, I am 10 and 5 years out from these pregnancy losses of my girl children. I’m upright and alright. If you are needing support, I recommend Share and Glow in The Woods, a best friend, some brownies, maybe a glass of wine.  Beyond that I have no advice, I’m just listening.

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I grew up in a college town. There I went to a pint sized prep school that had almost all the trimmings. It had a quirky artistic feel to it – perhaps brought forward to defend itself where it completely lacked in athletic prowess (meaning equipment, brawn, coaches, property…). Our school was, in fact, slowly going broke, though we didn’t know it. We always had the theater, however.

For a while I took my music lessons at school. I don’t remember if I stayed after school or if I was getting pulled out of class or if it was in fact part of the curriculum. The lesson room was just off the chapel. It was really just the hallway between the chapel and the chaplain’s office. Someone had pushed a piano in the corner and there were two stools. It often smelled like incense from what we as kids called long chapel, but was really the Thursday Eucharist. The other 4 days were short meditations or hymn sings. Long chapel’s incense lingered in this little space. To get there, one had to tumble down the back stairs, or march down the front stairs and pass by the headmistresses office – uniform perfect, no shuffling of feet – on the way there one could hear the tail end of some other student’s lesson. One could perch on the top step — the chaplain’s office being in some limbo between the basement and the first floor – and wait listening to the whatever wind instrument was being played (strings/suzuki went to the 7th floor, where they practiced in what can best be described as a very large closet full of stringed instruments. SUZUKI was printed boldly on the door. Wind instruments players had no door on our hallway and I believe piano students were taught in the real music room, which was in the real basement of the building, reached only by the main stair case.)

For a short time I took my lessons at home on the family piano- our church was almost overpopulated by Julliard students earning cash while trying to make it in the city. Most were not born educators, which was why the music school was my very favorite place to take my lessons. Its creaking stairs took you on a journey past other players rehearsing, practicing, struggling and breakthroughs. The way the orchestra sounds when it is warming up was just how the music school sounded to me all the time. I did not practice as much as I could have. I was often late, running the 10 blocks south on Broadway, flute clutched to my chest, papers flapping, but I did love the perpetual feeling that we were back stage. It was a behind the scenes pass to a world I didn’t expect to enter, more serious and older students concentrating, earnestly perfecting their pieces for the next recital. Walking in and out I felt the shiver down my spine that comes just before curtain as you sit in the theater with the lights dimming low. Something wonderful was just about to happen for someone.

This week I went back to music school. My son has been taking viola at the community division of a local university’s well renowned school of music. He has been most often shuffled off their by husband in the early evenings and often enough by one or the other of his grandparents, while I mind the home front of toddlers sleeping late into the afternoon and messing up their bedtimes, or not sleeping at all and being way too cranky to be brought along or left behind by their mama. Today, very near the term’s end, I decided that I would go to music school with Thinker. It was an innocent decision. I hadn’t met his teacher yet. I hadn’t heard him with piano accompaniment. I wanted to get away from cranky non-napping toddlers!
And suddenly, I was back at music school. The sound of other musician’s rehearsing, all their varying skills and abilities leaking out onto the institutional flooring and filling the cracks in the painted cinder block walls, well it just about knocked me over. I snuck myself into a tiny rehearsal room, perched on a chair and knit while Thinker played May Song and Allegretto with piano accompaniment from his very nice (and young!!) teacher, feeling for all the world just like some kid’s parent – and this is not news, but strange to be feeling it all the same time I am feeling just like a kid myself with my papers discombobulated in my music folder, running those 10 blocks downtown and looking all the while uptown for the M104 bus that might save me and keep me from being 5 minutes late if only it would catch the next green light.

And just as I came to the end of my knitting row, our lesson was over and I found my feet back on the cement floor of somebody else’s music school.

Read Full Post »

I grew up in a college town. There I went to a pint sized prep school that had almost all the trimmings. It had a quirky artistic feel to it – perhaps brought forward to defend itself where it completely lacked in athletic prowess (meaning equipment, brawn, coaches, property…). Our school was, in fact, slowly going broke, though we didn’t know it. We always had the theater, however.

For a while I took my music lessons at school. I don’t remember if I stayed after school or if I was getting pulled out of class or if it was in fact part of the curriculum. The lesson room was just off the chapel. It was really just the hallway between the chapel and the chaplain’s office. Someone had pushed a piano in the corner and there were two stools. It often smelled like incense from what we as kids called long chapel, but was really the Thursday Eucharist. The other 4 days were short meditations or hymn sings. Long chapel’s incense lingered in this little space. To get there, one had to tumble down the back stairs, or march down the front stairs and pass by the headmistresses office – uniform perfect, no shuffling of feet – on the way there one could hear the tail end of some other student’s lesson. One could perch on the top step — the chaplain’s office being in some limbo between the basement and the first floor – and wait listening to the whatever wind instrument was being played (strings/suzuki went to the 7th floor, where they practiced in what can best be described as a very large closet full of stringed instruments. SUZUKI was printed boldly on the door. Wind instruments players had no door on our hallway and I believe piano students were taught in the real music room, which was in the real basement of the building, reached only by the main stair case.)

For a short time I took my lessons at home on the family piano- our church was almost overpopulated by Julliard students earning cash while trying to make it in the city. Most were not born educators, which was why the music school was my very favorite place to take my lessons. Its creaking stairs took you on a journey past other players rehearsing, practicing, struggling and breakthroughs. The way the orchestra sounds when it is warming up was just how the music school sounded to me all the time. I did not practice as much as I could have. I was often late, running the 10 blocks south on Broadway, flute clutched to my chest, papers flapping, but I did love the perpetual feeling that we were back stage. It was a behind the scenes pass to a world I didn’t expect to enter, more serious and older students concentrating, earnestly perfecting their pieces for the next recital. Walking in and out I felt the shiver down my spine that comes just before curtain as you sit in the theater with the lights dimming low. Something wonderful was just about to happen for someone.

This week I went back to music school. My son has been taking viola at the community division of a local university’s well renowned school of music. He has been most often shuffled off their by husband in the early evenings and often enough by one or the other of his grandparents, while I mind the home front of toddlers sleeping late into the afternoon and messing up their bedtimes, or not sleeping at all and being way too cranky to be brought along or left behind by their mama. Today, very near the term’s end, I decided that I would go to music school with Thinker. It was an innocent decision. I hadn’t met his teacher yet. I hadn’t heard him with piano accompaniment. I wanted to get away from cranky non-napping toddlers!
And suddenly, I was back at music school. The sound of other musician’s rehearsing, all their varying skills and abilities leaking out onto the institutional flooring and filling the cracks in the painted cinder block walls, well it just about knocked me over. I snuck myself into a tiny rehearsal room, perched on a chair and knit while Thinker played May Song and Allegretto with piano accompaniment from his very nice (and young!!) teacher, feeling for all the world just like some kid’s parent – and this is not news, but strange to be feeling it all the same time I am feeling just like a kid myself with my papers discombobulated in my music folder, running those 10 blocks downtown and looking all the while uptown for the M104 bus that might save me and keep me from being 5 minutes late if only it would catch the next green light.

And just as I came to the end of my knitting row, our lesson was over and I found my feet back on the cement floor of somebody else’s music school.

Read Full Post »

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