The Details

There was some talk last week about mommyblogger bashing. I don't think the bloggers in question need any help defending themselves, but hearing that these entertaining, engaging writers are being criticized for the perceived triviality of their subject matter has got me thinking about what it is that makes this type of writing worthwhile.

While we were visiting my parents I went through some boxes of my old stuff and found a book I read as a teenager, Breakfast at the Victory: The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience. I don't remember the specifics of the book, except that as I read it I had the strong sense that every detail of life was full of something transcendent; that the mundane tasks of everyday life were much more important than you'd think.

I'd kind of forgotten that this book existed, and I haven't re-read it yet, but I bet that when I do, I'll find that over the past 15 years a lot of its ideas have gotten rolled into the way I look at the world. (Also,as always happens when I re-read something like this, I'll find plenty of drivel to be embarrassed about having swallowed uncritically as a wide-eyed youth.)

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I think this kind of writing (blogging about personal life in general and conceiving/adopting/raising kids in particular) has value of a kind that I don't think people talk about much. It is important in a way that goes beyond entertainment (a fine reason for blogging if you're funny and a good writer) or community building (a function for which I'm also grateful).

What I want to say is that by noticing and writing about the daily details, we are getting at something transcendent. I don't exactly mean that I think an image of the Holy Virgin is going to appear in the swirl of leftover peanut butter on my kid's high chair tray. But sort of like that.

It matters that you know about my ugly dishrags and I know that your kid pooped in the tub and your babysitter quit and what wore you out last week and what you're scheming to do next and how little you've been sleeping. Not just because these might make good stories, and not just because we are getting to know each other, but because the tapestry of all this together has beauty, the kind of beauty that gets us all a tiny bit farther toward figuring out what it's all about.

The cheese cubes and the hostas and the stain removal and the cute toddler words are not all there is in the world. Writing of all sorts is better if we keep some kind of broader context (like, one that includes all kinds of people not exactly like ourselves and not even like our audience) in mind. The world would not get any better, and would probably get much worse, if no smart person were writing anything but mommyblogs. But also, the world would be worse—for me, and maybe for lots of others not quite like me—if no one were writing them.



Once simply a wildly popular blogger, I now take the fiber arts scene by storm with these stunning new pieces:

Stingray Dishrag I

Stingray Dishrag II

Coming soon: Photos of the ribbed, tubular dealie I made this weekend as a result of my mother in law's lessons on double-pointed needles.

Now all I need is a pattern for a winter hat with strings that tie under the chin. One that will fit a big-headed 15-month-old.


One Mom's Filth...

On Tuesday I took M to the playground in the morning and ended up chatting for a while with a woman who was there with her two kids. We had a nice, normal conversation about stuff in the neighborhood, and she told me about a couple of nearby things to do with kids, and I hope we run into her again.

While we were talking, she was giving her kids, aged about two and three-ish, a snack. Juice boxes and those gummy fruit things. The two-year-old accidentally dumped her whole packet of gummy fruits into the sandbox, and the mom very calmly and matter of factly picked them up, placed them back in the packet, and put the packet away in her bag, saying, These are dirty now. We'll have to have another snack when we get home, as the toddler cried and then, eventually, recovered.

I watched the little girl sniffle over her lost snack and though thought, I’m glad I’m not giving M a snack right now. Because then this nice neighbor and potential new friend would see my filthy habits and never want to talk to me again.

Really, I routinely pick little pieces of broccoli and squares of cheese back out of the sandbox, brush off the larger pieces of sand, and give them right back to M to eat. By this woman's standards, I probably might as well be living in a landfill and scooping garbage into my daughter's mouth for each meal.

On the other hand, I don't exactly agree with her choice of snack foods (sugar! bound together with horse hoof byproducts! colored with dyes! and molded into the shapes of cartoon characters!) and that didn't keep me from thinking she was a pretty cool person to talk to. So maybe she'd be able to tolerate my dirtiness, too.


k2 tog

Talked to my dear friend E on the phone yesterday:

E: It was so great to see you guys.
Me: Yeah, it was like the parenting commune I wish we lived in.
E: When are you guys going to start that? We'll move in with you.
Me: We just need some land.
E: I know how to pickle carrots. I pickled some carrots this week.
Me: And I'm knitting a dishrag. We'll need dishrags.
E: Because on communes there are lots of dishes.

Visiting E and family several weeks back, the adult:kid ratio was 5:3. The end of July, we were with my parents and many other relatives coming and going. Always the option of talking to another adult, and often the option of, say, going to the bathroom alone.

Back here last week, I was hit all over again with how lonely it can be on the days I'm home with M, how often it feels like I have to scramble to fill up the hours with somewhat fun or somewhat useful activities to keep from getting swallowed up by the enormous quiet of it.

By Friday, I'd frantically signed us up for not one but TWO toddler activities (a thing through the school district that's kind of parent support/education coupled with playtime, and something at a nearby rec center where apparently the kids sing and play with instruments). Both start in mid-September.

In theory, I don't like the idea of so many scheduled activities for a one-year-old, and I wish I hadn't just shelled out over a hundred bucks just to have these things on the calendar. But in practice, what on earth else am I going to do with all these days coming up, you know? I'm still looking for my tribe around here.

And I AM learning to knit. You should see this dishrag. It is completely cattywompus, but I am nonetheless inordinately proud at having made it. Er, most of it. Got about a dozen rows left to go.


More Later

We are back from a lovely vacation. Have been back four days. We have one still packed suitcase (untouched but for my having fished out my toothbrush and a bra on Sunday night) on the living room floor; one bag (M's) dumped out on the floor of her room; one baby who has not had a nap longer than 30 minutes nor fallen asleep for the night before 9:30 since we returned home; and two parents who, despite M's newfound mega-cute word use (makkee for macaroni: brillant AND adorable!) are about to lose their goddamned minds for lack of waking moments sans toddler.