Archive for the ‘freedom’ Category

I can feel you watching me, hear the stifled giggle, and am fully aware of just how pathetic you think I am that I get this thrill from leaving my house in the evening to go by myself to a coffee shop to write on a laptop for an hour or two… Pretty exciting, right?

How do you like this, then: When I see a little toddler run by, I kind of miss my kids already, who are sprinting, wildly laughing, around their father’s legs in the kitchen while he tries to make them dinner.

(Don’t miss them enough to leave yet, though.)


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Don’t do that.   Stop it.  Don’t touch.  No, no.  Stop.  Don’t.  Please stop.  Hurry up.  I said, please don’t do that.

Imagine that the world is approximately three million times more interesting than it even is now.  You’re fascinated by everything you see, but you have a loudspeaker attached to your shoulder saying don’t touch don’t touch don’t touch all day long.  Sometimes I feel like Martin and Chris must feel like that sometimes.

I detest hearing the don’t-touch-stop-it-put-that-down stuff coming out of my mouth.  As much as it has got to be said sometimes, I try to have a Shut-Up Day once in a while to keep the unnecessary ones from becoming a habit.  If I feel a don’t-touch-it coming on, and if I don’t have a damned good reason for it, I shut up.

If it’s not about safety or rudeness or another valid concern, why can’t he touch it?  Why quell the instinct Martin had the other day to explore every button and attachment on the vacuum cleaner, then use them for magic wands, then catch crocodiles with them.  So it’s a mess–big deal.  When Chris squeals with shock at seeing an ant with a crumb on the sidewalk, do I really need to rush him past it to get to the grocery store quicker?

But sometimes I’m late, or tired, or, worst of all, just too accustomed to the wonder and magic they see everywhere.  If I feel a twinge of that, it’s time for me to shut up for a while and let them talk to an ant.

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280 Main Street is Emily Dickinson’s address in Amherst, Massachusetts. A teacher took me there in elementary school; if ever I have felt a spirit in a place, that was the time. For all the dry, academic articles I read about her later in my education, I never shook the first feeling I had when I was a little girl. I was quite sure that she was still hanging around Amherst, amazed and amused, and sometimes pissed off: You aren’t really taking apart my homemade books and changing the order of my poems, are you? . . . . Oh, so now I’m some kind of weirdo recluse, eh? . . . . “Unrequited” love? So much for what you know. . . . I swear, you damned editor, if you change the punctuation one more time . . . .

It’s awfully nice to meet a poet when you’re a child, and your imagination rules your book-learning. Those are the ones you can talk to, and the ones who talk back–and read your blog. So, Emily, from a stay-at-home mother who is probably misjudged sometimes, to a stay-at-home poet who was, too–here’s a blog in your honor, no editors in sight.

Much Madness is divinest Sense-
To a discerning Eye-
Much Sense-the starkest Madness-
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail-
Assent-and you are sane-
Demur-you’re straightway dangerous-
And handled with a Chain-

Emily Dickinson

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Today my sister and I brought dinner to a woman who just had a baby. She lives in a giant house, brand new. The problems she speaks of the most, publicly at least, revolve around the new stove acting up and an incorrectly laid teak floor. On the way home, we stopped at the drugstore, and while waiting in the parking lot, I saw another mother, still in her fast-food restaurant apron, rushing into the store while clutching a two year old in her arms. Her hair flying, her face splotchy, her car dented and rusted.


On the way home from the drugstore, we waited at a red light and watched two men in a truck try to get the attention of a woman in a convertible next to them. She glanced over at them as they leaned out the window and shouted to her, then she quickly looked straight ahead. They continued to yell to her, laughing and hanging out their windows over her car. She kept pulling up, trying to get away without escaping into a crush of speeding traffic.


That evening, I went to the grocery store, the fanciest one in my little suburban bubble. But it was dark, and when I pulled into the parking spot in a distant part of the lot, I noticed a man sitting alone in the car next to me. I thought, ‘No way. Park somewhere else.’ Then, ‘Grow up. He’s just a man in a car.’ But he was a man sitting alone in a car in a dark parking lot, and when I made eye contact with him . . . he seemed creepy. I moved. (He was probably a saint–waiting to pick up a friend or partner so she wouldn’t have to walk through that same dark parking lot.) Why did I assume predator?

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I watch Bill Maher occasionally, but I didn’t see the breastfeeding comments until I YouTubed it after reading about the outrage women were feeling about what he said.

And I found that I really didn’t care a whole lot.

I even laughed a few times.

And over the last nearly four years, that was me you might have seen nursing in restaurants and everywhere else I felt like it. I don’t think anyone actually saw any skin, because except for one unfortunate incident when I ended up wrestling with a Baby Bjorn at an outdoor cafe, no one would have realized what I was doing. (One might be able to catch a glimpse if one stared, in which case one would deserve it.)

But who cares if people can see or not–let it all hang out if you want to, I say, but it does seem that a woman breastfeeding in public rarely shows skin. It perplexes me that people would be uncomfortable by something you can’t actually see. Now if it’s the idea of breastfeeding that freaks people out; well, that’s beyond what I can really comprehend.

Back to Bill–don’t get me wrong, I get why people are infuriated about his comments–he came across as arrogant and ignorant when he was talking about nursing, especially when he got more serious at the end talking about breastfeeding activists. Of course it was offensive to people. How to tie dogs, Hooters, narcissism, and laziness (Ha! That’s a part that made me laugh.) with breastfeeding in public is beyond me. But that’s how he does that “New Rules” thing at the end. Yeah, it deals with serious issues and current events, but it’s comedy, too, and comedy with a major shock factor. The jokes he’s made about politics and religion–wow, even I was shocked a few times (even when I agreed, and even when I laughed). So that’s the show, that’s the man, and the breastfeeding comments fit right in. I know what I’m getting when I watch, which I’ll continue to do, so that’s why it didn’t really get much of a reaction from me beyond, Ew. What a jackass. And, yes, a few laughs.  (And wishing he was sitting at my kitchen table with me so we could really get into it.)

That’s just me, though. More power to the people who want to write letters and start petitions. Just because something is supposed to be comedy doesn’t mean everyone should laugh it off or ignore it–there’s a lot to a joke sometimes. That’s what so exhilarating about free speech. He can say it, people can respond, and now everyone’s talking about it. It’s what’s so thrilling about freedom in general, and why we should celebrate when breastfeeding laws are passed. Bill Maher can sit next to a nursing mother in a restaurant and freak out, and hopefully, that will be OK, because she will be in a state or location where her rights are protected.

I hope every instance of a mother being told to stop nursing in a public place gets as much attention at Bill Maher’s comments. Those are the situations that really make my blood boil.

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Get Us Outta Here

You know when you can’t play Candyland or pretend to be a crocodile one. more. time.

I needed freedom today. I wasn’t going to get it.

So I got us all some freedom. We went out in a field by a pond. They ran. I sort of stumbled behind them. They fell in the grass and rolled around. I fell in the grass and lay there. But their sparkle returned–which wasn’t there at home with a very tired mother just mumbling her lines when asked to be a monkey, or a beetle, or a bus.  We jumped after grasshoppers and dove towards butterflies. We fed the ducks and talked to the turtles. No following playground rules out here, no need to be quiet, no saying, “Be careful! Watch out for the baby! Don’t touch that!”  In a world of playgroups and gym class and picnics and museums and storytime: freedom.

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