Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Then and Now: Poetry and Mothering

Then and Now: Poetry and Mothering

We sit at the table, mother and daughter, markers spread out in no particular order. The paper is set out side by side, waiting for the colorful scribbles of lines and right angles and the occasional smiley-face drawn so precisely from a two-year-old mind. Looking at her, marker poised carefully with such concentration over the paper, I wonder how we, as artist and mother, merge the two separate selves so that they co-exist within ourselves?

No doubt, raising a young child is challenging. Everything, at one point or another, gets pushed aside for varying lengths of time. For me, it was my writing-all forms of it in the beginning-that got pushed aside to tend to the more pressing and urgent matters: changing that poopy diaper for the third time that day, feeding, bathing, reading the bedtime story, making sure nothing ended up in her mouth that shouldn’t have.

When my daughter was three months old, I wrote this:

Poetry and Mothering

I have been writing poetry since my early teens and journaling before that. It has saved my life, literally, in numerous ways, may times. It sounds clichéd (you know everybody says that), but so very true in my life. In struggling through and recovering from depression, writing was, and still is a way to regain my strength.

These days, I am lucky if I get the daily journal entry in. Being a new mom of a three-month-old daughter, I try specifically to make the time for this. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I truly miss writing poetry. I have not written anything poetic since a little before I found out I was pregnant in November 2003. I feel rather naked without it. There is comfort in words. I don’t think it is so much rage or anger I feel as much as the pure frustration at not having the time, or more importantly, the energy to write now. I do know, though, that there will be a time again for poetry-to really write again.

I try not to let the frustration take hold. I know this is temporary. Yet, in the moment, it is painfully raw. But then, I look at my beautiful daughter with her smiles and babbles and think how absolutely wonderful she is; what an amazing creation she is; that I created her.

In having a child, I do not want my writing to be forgotten or put aside for so long that I begin to regret not pursuing it as I should have. Or-worst of all-aim my resentment against myself or my daughter.

It is vital to me that the two selves-mother/writers- co-exist, grow, merge, to form a more complete being. I’m not quite sure how to go about this yet. But, that is one of life’s many challenges, is it not?

Originally printed in Mama Says Newsletter

It has been nearly two years since I last wrote those words. Much has changed, as life inevitably does so. The differences between a three month old baby and a toddler are immense. Now there is negotiation involved about going to the park and a muffin afterward. At three months, that wasn’t even a flicker of thought in my mind.

Indeed, it has been challenging for the two selves to co-exist. Not to mention the challenge alone of rearing a two year old, tantrums and all, as a single parent. There have also been many rewards. For the most part, the challenge has been met with open arms and a willing mind. Words have become unlocked from my near-stagnant mind and flow freely to the page. Almost as freely as my daughter’s need to scavenge for Cheerio’s.

I think this convergence comes mainly from the actual acceptance of motherhood into my life with all its twists and turns, joyous melodies and dark tunnels. I remember when writing had no time limits. Now it is naptimes and bedtimes, writing voraciously into the night. I am content with that-for now.

April 15, 2006

Ordinary Magic

Why aren't there more poems about the mundane: the dishes,
the laundry, the picking up of toys and the making of the lunches
each night before school and work? Where are all the great
epics of housework, the odes to paying bills, the ballads
of the morning commute? Where is that ordinary magic?
I see it each time I bake bread, turn vegetables into soup,
wash grass stains from the knees of size three sweatpants.
But what is the invisible part of my day, that time spent in the
kitchen cleaning, or vacuuming the entire house, that doesn't end up in a poem? Isn't it my job to shed light on the ordinary magic of these things,
this time, my own sweat and work and daily grind: the driving, the
daycare, the job? I'm lost about it. Somehwere in the transformation of
dried, avacado-caked bowl into clean, ready-to-eat cereal bowl, I lose myself,
the very part of my imagination, or creativity, or attentiveness to the Universe, call it soul, call it whatever, call it POETRY! Whatever it is
I just lose my grip of it down the drain, into the garbage, back in the toybox, wherever the stuff and grime of my life needs to go in order to keep order, to keep me from writing poems. Yet I do write them. I find the time, middle of the night, to write it all down and call it a poem. I find the courage to call myself a poet, after working forty hours a week, and roasting chicken dinners to turn into lunches, and shopping, and cleaning, and laundry, and dishes, and vacuuming, and blah blah blah...I find myself writing, I find myself, in the midst of this ordinary magic--it's what I do to stay sane.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Post-Mother's Day Post

A Post-Mother’s Day Post (May 19, 2006)

Mother’s Day has come and gone. The flowers that my brothers brought are still sitting on the table: petals of the red Tulip have been blown back, looking like some prehistoric creature-some insect maybe, or a dragon, even-beautiful, but deadly and the yellow daffodil-a papier-mâché star so delicate. I should probably throw them away, but they hold a beauty now, different from when they were fresh and waxy, that I find it hard to do so.

This year was only my second Mother’s Day to celebrate officially, but this particular day always seems to have had strange events floating around it. I don’t know if strange is the appropriate word. Perhaps, ‘highly charged emotional events that can be strange’ is a better fit.

This year, over the Mother’s Day weekend, the moon was full (on Saturday) and in Scorpio (my Sun Sign). Full Moon in Scorpio is intense, at its mildest; ferociously abrasive at the opposite end of the spectrum. The reverberations could be felt into Sunday. I pay attention to these things, you know. It’s hard not to when your mother, the astrologer, gives you these tidbits to mull over.

It had been dark and raining all weekend, not a spot of sunshine to lift our moods in the slightest.

The day started off with my daughter clawing at me to wake up, and then screamed all morning. There didn’t seem to anything terribly wrong with her: she’s just two. When I couldn’t take the screaming anymore-short bursts alternated with the whiney scream, continuously- I handed her over to the Grandparents for about an hour while I went on a calming walk. Of course, she was fine with them. No screaming. We apparently just needed a mama-daughter break. It helped. But, she still continued to fire off short bursts every so often when I came back.

By the time bedtime rolled around, I was mentally and physically drained. I was looking forward to a quiet, peaceful moment to myself-no noise-at least fifteen minutes worth, before I went to sleep. So what happens? The people upstairs just arrive home, making what seems to be an obscene amount of noise: stomping and others unidentifiable. Then comes the dog from upstairs: barking for about 20 minutes without any break. Forget about a quiet moment…

Last year (my first official Mother’s Day), was a mess: a court date was set to settle child support for my daughter with her father the day after Mother’s Day. Talk about highly charged emotional events!

Another year, I found out I was pregnant a few days before Mother’s Day but could not keep it. Another highly charged emotional event-to say the least.

I would much prefer flowers to the onslaught of chaotic emotional upheaval that seems to correlate with this day.

Who’s to say what will happen in future years, though? Mother’s Day is just a day, after all, just as Father’s Day is just a day used today as a huge marketing advantage. Perhaps that is part of the chaos: the collective stress of a holiday, the need to buy cards and gifts so there is not too much guilt to be felt towards mothers and fathers.

This Mother’s Day, though, I found real beauty in the fresh flowers, despite the darkness of the day. They radiated color and life on that day, more than what any other expensive gift or card could do, and do so even now taking on the appearances of stars and insects.

Also on my blog
with additional links

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Difficult

Why is it the day you start your period, the kid(s) choose that day to be enormously difficult??

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Poem:Bleeding Out

Bleeding Out


Afterwards
When it was all done

Weakness pulsated
Beating in time
With the struggle of aching limbs

Everything else emotional was
Driven back to be unremembered
In some niche of the mind
For the moment.

Now the body lies
In grievance
On the writhing bed

It bleeds out
What it doesn't need anymore
Helpless
Unable to control this
In the end.


2002

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mama's Day

Greetings to all readers who found the blog through my op/ed in the Times Argus. (Should run in the days just before Mother's Day.) Here is the piece for those who missed it. Readers can find my other work by looking for posting signature at bottom of pieces. - Linda Pruitt



“Arise then...women of this day!… Say firmly: We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
Julia Ward Howe

Mother’s Day began not as a tender celebration of woman’s domestic devotion but as a powerful demonstration of the impact of collective action. Julia Ward Howe’s “Mother’s Day Proclamation” of 1870 is a chilling reminder of how far we have not come.

For thirty years Americans marked June 2 as a “Mother’s Day of Peace”. In a total redefinition of the day’s intent, Congress in 1913, assigned the new “Mother’s Day” to the second Sunday in May stripping it of its renegade roots and offering the consumer chaos we know today. The corporatization of a mother’s day of unity was particularly welcomed by the burgeoning floral industry. The Floral Review, a trade publication jubilantly announced that this was a holiday “to be exploited”. They did a neat job of it. Nearly a century later forgetting flowers (waxy chocolates/ill-fitting garments/overpriced meals) is unthinkable.

We must move past the clichéd expressions of gratitude. We should regard Mother’s Day 2006 as a reminder to mamas and grandmamas to reclaim their political/social power through action. Julia Ward Howe understood that all of the mothers of the world are inextricably bound through their children. She asserted that mothers world wide could and must unite to invoke real change. Today international humanitarian organizations such as MADRE weave webs beyond borders for positive social reforms from mama to mama to mama.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are an ambitious unprecedented aid project with the potential to improve the lives of millions of mamas and their families across the globe. All of the 191 UN member nations have pledged to pursue meet these goals by 2015. The goals are: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, promote gender equality and empower women, ensure environmental sustainability, develop a global partnership for development.

Before you dismiss such an enormous endeavor as impossibility bogged down in bureaucracy, heed Secretary General Kofi Annan’s warning that “we must break with business as usual” to meet these goals. One of the strengths of this effort is in its call to every small grassroots group and every individual citizen to become personally involved in ensuring success. On the MDG web pages there are many ideas for taking action at a local/individual level. Meeting just one of these goals in the U.S would mean profound social change. Imagine them all being met. How many mamas would it take?

This Mother’s Day pitch the useless knick-knacks and give mama a membership to Code Pink, Women’ International League for Peace and Freedom, or MADRE. Lose the tennis bracelet and make monthly contributions in mama’s name to local food banks and charities. Instead of one day of nominal recognition acknowledge and respect the contributions of mothers every day.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Thoughts On A Second Child

Thoughts On A Second Child


Nearly all first time moms think of it: What about another child? Wouldn't it be nice to have another one? I don't want her (him) to be the 'only child'.
It seems lately I have been asked variations of these questions by a variety of people.

I will be frank: None of these questions have crossed my mind. I have firmly made up my mind: I have one daughter and that is it. To be even more frank-I don't really want another one. This last statement shocked me at first in its bluntness, but I understand it, I can accept it within myself. I can respect myself enough to understand and accept it.

I have given this subject long and arduous thought. This past year, especially, as I watch my girl near two years. Remembering her as a wee babe (at days old, weeks old, months old) and missing that time, thinking time passes too quickly. Then, I think: no way. I could never do that again. I just don't think I could do it, first of all. I don't know if my body could handle it. I wasn't even sure if it could the first time around. Thankfully, I was blessed by something (Fate, the spirits that be, whatever) and had a most fantastic pregnancy, labor and birth.
As it is, sleep deprivation is a big problem these days for me. It is starting to really aggravate certain aspects of my own health, which I need to keep a close eye on. I couldn't imagine having a second child and dealing with the almost severe consequences sleep deprivation brings on me.
Secondly, who can really afford more than one child these days? Everything is just so expensive these days. Oil is at an all time high with prices at $78 a barrel, and will most likely go even higher in the coming months. Not to mention the price of food, clothing and housing- generally all of the basic needs for survival. There are more general, social reasons as well: overpopulation being one. Another: bigger families aren't needed in this day and age as they were when we were all 'tending the farm'. Although, at the rate the world is going, returning to the family farm might become our only choice.

To me, having a second one is not an option. I am satisfied and thankful with what, and who, I have and enjoy every minute of it (the good and the bad) even if the time does go by way too fast leaving all of us scrambling to catch up.


I just felt the incredible need to get this out.
Thank you for listening.