Monday, December 22, 2008

Chaos Theory and getting out of the cultural blueprint for psychic death: by me and Ms. Gore

My dear friend Kelley, who had a baby girl on the exact same day as Eska was born, is in the exact same boat as I would be if I hadn't recently re-discovered the very noble art of resting. Yes, resting! I sit in my second-hand chair, enveloped in my favorite color, green, and I just BE. And guess what, not only is it totally ok, but the house and home did not collapse, not even close to it!

I threw out my back a few weeks ago and could NOT move. Barely. I could waddle to the bathroom if I grabbed onto tables and stuff. So, I just sat in my little chair and pulled up a sidetable with diapers, wipes, water, coffee, remotes, telephone, paper and pen, motrin, chapstick. I was beside myself with worry--what about homeschool? What about xmas obsessing/decorating/cooking/planning/mailing/crafting/baking/beautifying?...but it all had to wait. I thought it was all over, my days my schedules, my hideously stressful and rigorous routine that I thought I had to "do"---all would decimate in 12 hours, right? Not at all! It was an eye-opening day. The housework was handled that evening by me and my husband in way less time than I would have spent spinning about all wigged out all day. Me and the kids watched awesome shows on TV and Greta finally got to cook without me and my obsessive watching and lecturing about not spilling eggs on the floor.

How does this happen, this house-wife madness stuff? How can cool intelligent mamas succumb to the freaked out hyper micromanagement stuff that we might remember from our own moms, our own childhoods? It happens from just being locked indoors too long. (Because every spring, as we swing on great old swings, nothing under our feet besides new green grass, i am ALWAYS struck by the insanity of organizing bric-a-brac, obsessing over tiny stains, the imprisoning lists, sales ads, TV Guide....screw it! Its not right! Its all stupid!) and yet.....when you are locked inside with it all, IT ALL becomes your life, your world, and the weirder it gets to be trapped in that house, the tighter you keep the reigns, the more susceptible you will become, (Yes you, the intelligent cool woman) to the feminine mystique and all that fly lady stuff. It happens from being seperated from other mamas, seperated from ourselves, deprived of silence, deprived of sleep, deprived of nutritious food, depreived of rock and roll, deprived of travel, deprived of truth and reality and each other. We might remember our own childhoods in daycare centers or some "family" we saw on television, in the movies, or in the glossy ads, and we begin to sort of wander around our own homes, which we suppossed to be our sanctuaries, and start play acting out some role, some fake and weird thing, and we dont even know what the title of this play is, or why we are starring in it or why we are making our kids be in the cast and the whole f-ing thing becomes depersonalizing and freaky and then it just happens, BAM, you, the kick ass chick, is now walking around with a swiffer in your hand, actually seriously convinced you are conquering dust and....well, its psychic death.

It DOES suck to be in a messy house with messes everywhere. I am not suggesting slobbery or a complete cessation of basic routine or care. But if we cant get out, get away, get a perspective, right now, in the winter, we will all go mad, and drag our kids with us. For real. I have done it over and over. I have succumbed time and time again to the lure of thinking I was only one clever chart away from happiness, one good menu plan away from tranquility, one recipe, exercise video, homeschool product, popular blog entry, checkbook balance, golden flaky crust, color coded wash load, fruity facial scrub away from bliss. But that's all bullshit. You know it, I know it, but damn it is hard to crack out of it all. Without guilt. Without harming the children. Without filth.

I am hesitant to accidentally just start plagiarizing my favorite book of all time, but it is EXTREMELY important to me to share some of this stuff with you guys, and I have referred to it time and time again: The Mother Trip by Ariel Gore. It was on my sidetable when I sat there with my back thrown out. It is with me in the bathroom, it is always lost and yet always at hand and you HAVE to read it.

The excellent and incredible Ms. Gore reminds us of the chaos and reminds us that there ain't a damn thing we can do to stop it, life, Motherhood IS chaos. It is chaos and it is supposed to be, and just like birth, we really can only succumb to it to finally just let IT happen. Life. Motherhood. The only thing I can do now, and I hope dearly that I am not doing something illegal here, is to just share with you the beginning of this most excellent book. Please take care of yourselves, Mamas! Your lives depend on it.

From the preface of The Mother Trip, by Ariel Gore:

We have children because mothering is good for the soul. Having kids wont make us rich. it wont make our lives more tranquil. We do it because it's good for the soul. Simple, right? But motherhood is never simple. Because we don't just get new people to raise when we become Mama-women. no, with them come all the chaos of personal transformation and a wicked little cultural blueprint for soul-sacrifice and depression cleverly disguised as helpful advice and "whats best for the children".

American families have always been incredibly diverse. We all know that. We also know that Grandma Lulu was propped up on Valium and Grandma Millie worked three jobs. Its not the past we suddenly feel nostalgic for. Its more like an apple-pie-in-the-sky-perfect-mother-perfect-family fantasy thing that can-especially when were tired-be incredibly seductive. It tells us what our families should look like. It tells us who we should be and how we should act. it promises stability, eternal happiness, and laundry that's whiter than white.

The modern Mama fantasy includes layers of the 1980's supermom, the 1950's happy housewife, the early 20th century domestic scientist and the Victorian fountain of moral purity. Underneath that all there's the flickering memory of slavery, genocide, and some three hundred years of witch-hunts when we burned our midwives and our wise women at the stake and women's real lives became the stuff of secrets.

When we have kids, we cant help but catch a glimpse of that old knowledge buried underneath all our cultural fantasies. We see the personal transformation we've signed up for in it's full chaotic glory and too often, because we're also exhausted and hopelessly unsupported, we get scared. So, like our mothers and grandmothers before us, we back away from the soulful transformation and instead take the blueprint and start selling off pieces of our soul for those weird promises of stability.

To varying extents, we all do it. As the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says, "Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth." But our flight into those empty promises is the reason mothers are the most depressed segment of the American population. There's no such thing as whiter than white. We all know that. and the alternative to chaos isn't stability- its psychic death.

My friend Wendy describes the Pacific as a vast ocean of mother's tears. "How sad!" I blurted out as we sat drinking lattes at Royal Coffee. But she shook her head: "Its not sad." Motherhood is not what we imagined. It is more delightful, more heartbreaking. it ruins everything. Its not the calm after the storm we have been led to expect. It is almost more than a person can bear. Almost.

...the word chaos brings up images of disorder, confusion and turmoil. But modern chaos theory doesn't claim that there's no order in the universe. No, chaos theory just reminds us that the order is intricate and changeable, that we might as well just give up trying to control and predict things. Its the scientific version of "do your best and forget the rest."

Only chaos theory can explain a dripping faucet, the branches of a tree, blood vessels, the beat of a human heart, my desk, or the nature of motherhood. Because it's change at work here. Chaos is reality. It's truth. So the next time anybody tries to sell you stability, make sure you don't get suckered into paying too dearly for it. Its a junk bond. Its whiter than white. Apple-pie-in-the-sky, big patriarchal lie.If that weren't bummer enough, its also more toxic than three big macs and a prozac shake. The more of it you eat, the sicker you'll feel.

Our intuition isn't always accessible. We need each other's support and helpful words. what we don't need is junk-food advice that tells us to ignore our feelings, that undermines our confidence and insults our intelligence. Its just a recipe for depression.Because what is intuition? Its a capacity of the spirit. Its knowledge.and what is depression? Its low spirits. Its knowledge withheld. but there is also a jumping-off point from this circular equation, a point where we can recognize our exhaustion for what it is, give ourselves a break, and in that quiet hour begin to transform the energy our culture has taught us to use to scrutinize and blame ourselves, and turn it outward, into something revolutionary.

-Ariel Gore, The Mother Trip, 2000.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I am only computer literate in a fake kind of way

Who wants to help me make the blog fancy, see where the hits are coming from, start up a flickr or whatever account for my pictures....anyone? Email me please!!! This is all too boring for me. I need much much more coolness.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Still here...

...just going through some stuff. We pulled the kids out of public school--although I am avoiding that phraseology--pulled them out, like reluctant turnips---because it sounds like there were these dear little students and the big hand reached down and snatched them away from their rightful paradise in wooden desks---LOL--but it is a wonderful thing for all of us, to be back together again.

I am giving myself permission to do some healing. In a lot of ways. I am being gentle and slow and thoughtful. I am trying to remember those times when I was pregnant when I treated myself like a sacred important giver of life, and when I ate nutritious wonderful meals, when I took long hot baths, when I wore comfortable clothes and when I was good to myself. For many women pregnancy is the ONLY time they do this, and then the moment the baby is born, that was considered to be that--and it is time to lose the weight, etc. For me, it goes from conception to the end of breastfeeding. Although its easy to forget and get swept away in the slick and hyper super wifey bullshit pretty darn quick. Baby be darned. Whole family be darned. Mama get depressed and attack everyone. (....Mama put all your kids in school.....)

We gave up a lot of our integrity as a family with the school thing. We feel weird now, strange, unsure and uncomfortable, defensive, awkward. This will pass with time and healing. I am being good to myself and winter doesnt give much of a choice, it helps to be cozy and slow and eat tons of soup when it is dark at 4:50 pm and nobody is rollerblading down the street making me feel lazy and blobular.
So we rest. And we heal. Cocoa mixed with coffee with whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate and smashed candy canes help. And the roly poly baby rolls and polls. Still no tooth, all the other kids were 4 months old, young I know...she also has not had any "food" and I dont see any reason to start messing around with that yet. she is happy and fat as a little pinky pig-a-let and I am sure no milk teeth yet is a sign that all is well being an all nursey baby apricot angel. 100% breastfed--but not by some militant stance, just see no need yet. I remember Mickey WANTED food from thr table at 5 months. His eyes followed every bite we took from his rightful place in our laps at the dinner table,and he was like reaching and grabbing for it, mouthing the air! I think he started on real mashed potatoes--butter and salt and maybe even pepper too--like humans did for eons before Gerber got us all in a tizzy measuring out little dead flakes to mix with microwaved tap water. Blech. But Eska doesnt do any of that yet.

Have cozy holidays and keep all your little ones warm and snug. Mamas in all stages of motherhood, calm down, slow down, take good care of yourselves. sorry for going so long w/out blogging, it has been overwhleming at times having all five kids home again in terms of sharing the computer and such and we are working on me not drowning in a lack of me-time.