Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More White Whales in Tuesday Tidbit Form

--Yesterday's post, in which I considered how obsessing over weight loss and obsessing over housework keeps us from doing our important creative work, didn't even consider children. I don't have children, and I try to refrain from pontificating on motherhood overly much. I read Tillie Olsen's Silences; I know the grim statistics about how well motherhood goes with artistic output. But I've also been startled at how much my young nephew has enriched my life. I imagine that my sister and her husband enjoy day after day of such enrichment. I forget about how much of their days revolve around clean up and transportation.

--In this article, Erica Jong develops the idea of society's vision of perfect mothering and how impossible this vision is for normal women who aren't rich. She also throws in some history: "The first wave of feminists, in the 19th century, dreamed of communal kitchens and nurseries. A hundred years later, the closest we have come to those amenities are fast-food franchises that make our children obese and impoverished immigrant nannies who help to raise our kids while their own kids are left at home with grandparents. Our foremothers might be appalled by how little we have transformed the world of motherhood."

--I won't even talk about the people who cook for their dogs. If I only knew of one person who did this, I might dismiss it as a fluke. In fact, my sister cooked an anti-cancer diet for her dog, and I'm fairly sure she bought the dog an extra year of life. We'd probably all do better if we ate that diet: sweet potatoes, tofu, sardines, collards--those were the mainstays. But I know several people who not only cook for the perfectly healthy dog, but cook several separate meals for the various appetites in the family. I need not tell you how many extra hours of every day this cooking consumes (not to mention clean up!).

--If you feel like you're crazy for not being able to get everything done (in motherhood or in other aspects of life), it helps to think about where the message comes from. Is it your grandmother who demands that house be vacuumed weekly, even if you've been out of town for the larger part of the week? Is it your 7th grade teacher who tells you that you're not living up to your full potential, even though you write several poems a week and blog almost daily and send out packets of poems into the world, all the while holding down a full-time job and making sure that the bills get paid? Who is this voice that demands that you polish the wood furniture and the silver? Why can't you just put all of the laundry in the washer all at the same time? Why do you have to wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher, the recycling before you put it in the bin?

--Of course, you might have very good answers. If it's working for you, carry on. If you find yourself longing to have time to accomplish what your heart desires, look at what you can jettison.

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