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Saturday, September 29, 2007

More Disappointment Machine

I have come to realize that you need to tell children what you can and cannot accomplish... not that this makes any difference to S.O.v.s.1 & 2... Here's the problem. They want all of you, meaning all plus more. They want milk and you to change the channel and to look all at once. Of course we try but it doesn't seem to quite work. Something gets missed, milk gets spilled and then someone is disappointed. Even the husband can get his share of it when something is forgotten at the grocery store or the proper socks are not clean. They try not to act disappointed but...

I often wondered what the meaning of the housewife song in the musical "Working" was. OK, let me fess, I didn't really wonder at the age of 16, I was pretty obnoxious thinking "Number one, I will never be a housewife and number two if I am I certainly won't be that kind of housewife!" - Never say never. Actually not a full time housewife, I'm a part-time employee, part-time housewife. For those of you who have never had the chance to see the musical which you should if you can, no doubt it is relevant today and quite beautiful, the housewife sings, "All I am is just a housewife" in melancholy tones. I realize what that means more now. You never intend to be something that can so easily be taken advantage of, dismissed, disappoint... You imagine that your house will be clean and tidy and your children just so too. That everyone will be happy and there will be time for a quiet cup of tea as the little ones are playing in the backyard nicely or napping.... You never imagine that the constant drudgery of things getting dirty, cleaning bathrooms, toys laying around and no one but yourself seemingly bothered by it enough to pick them up... You never imagine that you will feel as if you are working... for them and that your interests seem somehow subverted.

It's the same with any occupation of course. We are very few of us fully appreciated for what we can do but soundly reprimanded for what we might mistake. I suspect that with our society's rabid obsession with celebrity and grand accomplishments cleaning both bathrooms in the same day or totally reorganizing the company's rolodex to be more efficient seem somehow petty compared to birthing Brad Pitt's child, winning enough money in the lottery to be able to hire a nanny or your startup company ending up on the Fortune 500 list in its first year of existence.

Even my love, my acting, has at time felt.... well, there was one recent performance where the thought popped into my mind, "I am nothing but a trained monkey". So I think nothing is totally satisfactory - only in the final cut - we take out all the disappointment and boredom and neglect in the editing and life on the other side looks grand...

Speaking of hiring a nanny. There is no bed of roses either. If you are relegated to hiring a nanny it means you are working too much probably and dont' get to see your kids enough... but if you want them to have a good education, be in the good school neighborhood you'd better keep working... And if we as women have to admit we need help we have on some level disappointed our sex. You can see it in the eyes of your elders and your peers. It even disappoints to not have 'married well' enough to be able to be a stay at home mom, I have noticed at S.O.v.1's school. They are slight, the sidelong pitying looks and subtle but they are there. "Oh, your husband doesn't earn enough for you to stay at home? That must be so humiliating" they seem to say though they would never say it out loud certainly.

Any way you slice it something falls by the wayside and someone is disappointed. And forget being sick. Unless you remind your kids 12 times before breakfast that you don't feel well they will expect the perky and if you don't have it to give up there it is, the disappointment. Today, I feel like crap, so instead of dusting and vacuuming the sand out of the window wells I will play as vigourously as I can with my kids... at least that way I only disappoint myself.

Tell someone today you appreciate the little things they do... we all forget.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Random Minor Irritations

You know, I now - though I did not previously - understand why mothers choose to homeschool (or maybe just one of the myriad reasons)... because of the mommie politics. Even peripherally on the fray I already feel victim to them. There is a distinct seperation between Working Mommy and Stay at Home Mommy. SAHMs definitely rule the school and all school functions. WMs are second tier, adjunct unfortunate necessities because of their spawn and "we love the kids of course" but the WMs just don't 'participate' as they should. And I'm not even a full-time WM!

There is no overt commentary of course, there is only the, well, high schoolesque shunning and looks and... can we just all remember back to high school where there are clicks and rivalries and no one has to say word one you just know because you KNOW! Back when we were all less kind and forgiving and more attuned to the energy people throw off. You just knew cutie girl suzy was after your boyfriend because you knew! No one had to discover them making out in the gym. Well, Seestor and I have been exchanging shunning experiences since our 5 year olds have started kindergarten this year.

One would think that since there are so many more WMs that the playing field would even out. But what we must remember people is that there can only be so many cheerleaders! And if you are not one of them.... (ironic since both Seestor and I were cheerleaders in school... but this is a whole 'nother playground!)

Had more play performances last week. Friday, great audience. Saturday, miniscule and tough. It's so hard to keep just a few people with you, you have to work and work and as it is a solo performance there is no one to lean on or gaff with backstage and complain about the dud of an audience. Not that they didn't appreciate it... it just felt like they were holding their breath the entire time... didn't feel comfortable enough to react... As a result I was completely knackered on Sunday and have not really recovered since.

I was talking briefly the other night to S.O. about what a difficult juggle being a woman is. I mean the potential of becoming a disappointment machine is great. Women need to be good, first and foremost and not bitchy (although I am trying to help S.O.v.2 retain her inner bitch without being a complete one because I think it's always helpful to have her in reserve), sexy but not slutty, a good mommy without being fanatical or overbearing, a good friend without being nosy or uninvolved, a good sister without being nosy or meddling, a good worker without losing your own hopes and dreams, a good cook, homemaker, dresser, cheerful, clean, upbeat and sweet... and I am sure I have missed many, many things on that list. Whereas a man's item agenda involves mostly manly things (much to their own psychological and emotional detriment I'm sure) that are all, well, manly. The definitions of what a good father, brother, worker, husband, lover, etc. all look pretty much the same. The downside for men is that they all look pretty much the same... Women's definitions run to the schizophrenic however. It is a matter of switching gears on a dime and when you are tired or distracted or compromised emotionally the gears can get jammed up. Then you just don't function well and things get dropped... like the kids' dentist appointment that was supposed to be last week... or, oh, meals...

It's just not possible for a woman to be effectively tired. There is just no outlet. Vegging in front of the TV or football or golf with the guys is the purview of men. They need to be a guy with guys sometimes. I don't know why, I just know it works. It always makes them better at everything when they come back from 'guy time'. But as a woman, even when you get 'gal time' you can't really let go... maybe because for men all the gears are closer together. For a woman it's 0 to 60 is sixty seconds or something gets left behind....

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Biological Sound Barrier

I just watched "Venus" yesterday at work. I had absolutely nothing to do and couldn't bring myself to surf the web any longer or read another movie making magazine and I was being held hostage by the clock. I remembered we had a couple of screeners so...

There is one very lovely scene where Maurice (the Peter O'Toole character) and the young girl, Jesse, are in a museum and looking at a painting of the goddess Venus (spoiler alert). He says to her the the female body is perhaps the most beautiful thing men ever lay eyes on (pressumably his is only talking about heterosexual men, I would guess gay men would beg to differ). She asks what is the most beautiful this a woman lays eyes on. He says her first born child. You can tell by her reaction that instinctually she knows this to be true and will never be able to lay eyes on her first born, technically speaking (a pain women who have had abortions or miscarriages of their first conception no doubt on some level share). Whether this is politically correct or not it seems to me inherently true, and something mankind collectively has always understood.

It makes it obvious why men try to keep getting that 'first look' by being horn dogs and why women always want another baby. OK, before you all go getting your knickers in a twist I am talking in GROSS generalizations leaving the possibility and inevitability for a wild range of differences from this. But it also makes me wonder, if we understand this collectively, why do we fail to apply this understanding to our relationships. Any woman who has children knows that you are so in love with them that it is very easy to neglect the husband for weeks whilst steeped in the cocoon of children's love. And men, well they have these things called 'needs' which is really another way of saying "I want you to want me" Cheap Trick was so wise.

But yet we still fail to see each other's perspectives... but then we fail to see each other's perspectives on a lot of things. Maybe to be human is essentially to be hedonistic and selfish. We fight those tendencies because we are civilized... but we don't always win over our nature.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hip Kids

What a day.

First thing this morning the kids and I went to a composting class in Palm Springs. We have a completely blank slate in our backyard, all sand with a few tumbleweeds. I have tried and failed at it before so I figured... I thought it would be taught outside, but alas, it was inside a classroom at the Police Academy. The kids did get to see live worms in the vermiculture display. They always like that.

Then it was off to downtown to get a cup of coffee and a pastry before heading off to pick up one of the owners of the art gallery where I perform my play to go off and do a local radio program. The kids came with us into the studio and did an excellent job at being quiet while we were on the air. S.O.v.1 did have to go pee pee pee right at the beginning so we had a rush business and then back to stump the play.

Then to the toy store for a reward for being so well behaved (or a bribe depending how you look at it!) then to lunch. By this time we were all quite knackered and so it was a long sleepy nap next.

Then after S.O. got home we all dressed up and went off to the art gallery's season opening show. They loved looking at all the paintings. They even requested to go see the art in the other gallery's in the building who were also open.

Wow. I certainly hope they will be as well rounded as it seems like they are already!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

They Still Don't Get It

They, men, still don't get it how easy it is for them to walk out the front door. I am speaking in general terms here, of course. I mean, they don't understand how loose their responsibilities hang on them.

S.O.v.1 started school this week. It's a big time for him... and for me. Probably more for me than him. It means one of my responsibilities hangs just a little farther from me and in good, capable hands for a time during the day. Most of those hands feminine.

As liberated as we are women still bear the brunt of the responsibility for all things house and children. If a man leaves a thing undone he knows with some unconscious certainty that it will get done, somehow, and by whom is not his place to wonder or know. At appropriate times they of course protest this fact and take reigns and Lord knows we appreciate it mightily, any sort of backup we can get.

But if you look around a school, and especially a parent meeting, what you largely see is women. This at least gives me some relief that I am not in the least liberated relationship - and I thought I was doing pretty good - in town. We are all smart and capable and worthy women, and what we are bound to is to take care of the babies no matter where else our strengths may lie.

I realized this week for the first time that women with children think not in terms of goals for the future reaching 1 year or 5 year milestones even. We look to when school starts, when our children's milestones of independence are met and so then we can loose the bonds just ever so slightly to say, take more time for ourselves, to reach our own goals. It is endemic. It's not just me. For that small comfort I am grateful.

Because when I think of my work life, my 'career', it is not in terms of what I might be able to accomplish but where my children are in their need for my care and attention. Men don't get this. Of course they don't live this so how could they know and if they cared to know they might feel badly, and then that does no one any good. Because of course we all know, whether we care to admit it or not, being a mother is a very particular bond and responsibility, one which being a father does not even come close to matching in its scope. Fathers are necessary but mothers are vital. Perhaps if men actually realized that - maybe if they all paid attention to who all the knumbnuts on TV say hi to when they get caught in the Jumbo Cam - there might actually be a Single Mother tax break, or a Mother Trying to Work But Her Child is Home Sick With Daddy Lunch Break, or a Sports Widow Vacation Allowance - really, that one is really necessary for a lot of women, thankfully not me.

The point is, as my mother reminds me often, the childen are attached to the mommy by a cord, an invisible cord that ties them to you until they no longer need you. A time which we all conversely dread and anticipate with relish. It is in a way a beautiful prison. Someone has done the walls up real nice and the guards are just lovely company, but you ain't getting out until it's time and there is no parole board. Fathers may be able to give us a break every once in a while but the babies will need their mommies until they don't, and that is just all there is to that. Might as well do good, honest time.