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Archive for the ‘kindred spirits’ Category

When children are sick, and changes are afoot, and midnight and 3pm seem about the same, and other things besides blogs need to be written, the only things I can come up with seem to be Twitters.

Twitter: Yet another technological thingamajig that I had a good laugh at my husband for suggesting to me–I believe my exact words were something like….”Ha, ha, you’re a narcissistic stalker!” He showed me his account–his colleagues use it at work for telling each other…well, I didn’t really read it, read it because it was too boring, but they use it to give updates to each other. Why I would profess to assume that anyone would want daily, hourly, minute-by-minute updates on my life was beyond me, and I certainly don’t need to get quite so involved in other people’s business.

But….then my sister moved far, far away, and I did want to know what she was doing all day as she acclimated to a new place, and assumed she wanted to know just what book I was reading to my children and what we had for lunch. And then I thought I recalled seeing this strange Twitter thing on a blog or two that I love, looked around, and there it was. If it’s good enough for Christine, it’s good enough for me.

And the true glory of it–I now know that a friend on the West Coast was making homemade desserts with her girlfriend to prepare for Thanksgiving, and know that today, a friend on the East Coast is getting out early from her job due to snow. These are friends that I have known since elementary school, and I used to know those daily details, but now I don’t. I always want to plan an hour of uninterrupted time to talk on the phone with them, or write a four page email, and really, it’s hard to do that often for all of us. But these little twitters–you can’t go beyond 140 characters no matter how much you want to–give me all those details that might not make it into a phone conversation or an email, and keep up that closeness we had when we were playing softball together or sitting in science class discussing our true 9th grade loves.

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1.  I saw a mother pushing a stroller down the street this morning. She had bright pink hair that stuck up all over her head, and she was covered with tattoos, most of which were red. She wore an orange dress with very big black boots.

2.  This afternoon, at a play place with a big bouncy thing, I watched a mother with two elementary-aged children. She was jumping higher and laughing harder than any child. Other parents sat in the convenient laptop and coffee section.

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That’s what he calls himself when he does this.

Minutes passed as he ever so slowly crept closer to a group of deer.  One remained, and they just stared at each other.

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Nature is so different to me now with him around.

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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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On my way to bring Martin to his little gym class, I was behind a car decorated with bumper stickers that advocated everything I opposed. From politics to religion to the rule of law, it was me, but opposite. I followed this car all the way into the gym’s parking lot, and we parked next to each other. A woman got out with a boy about Martin’s age, who, when he saw us, called, “Hi! Didn’t I tell you that you were my friend last week?” to which Martin replied, “Yes! You were wearing a blue shirt!” They scampered in the door together, took off their shoes, and were off.  Blue Shirt’s mother and I said friendly hellos, and aren’t-they-cutes, and then I prepared to leave.

But the aren’t-they-cute talk turned into a discussion of the beauty of 3 year olds making friends, then to why adults couldn’t hold on to that, then to the Jena 6 and the disparity in our country based on race and privilege . . .then to how we re-organized our lives to be home with our kids and how we felt about it . . .to . . . OK, now my little Chris just couldn’t bear the injustice of not being allowed on the trampoline any longer, and I really had to leave. But, barely breaking stride, she pulled out a toy train with eyes from her bag and Chris nearly collapsed with delight.  That bought us some more time to get into the negative images of women in advertising . . .

Shame on me for that flicker in my mind wondering what kind of idiot could drive a car plastered with bumper stickers advocating that kind of crap. Well, she could, she does, and she happens to be a kindred spirit in motherhood.  Go figure.

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The other day, I went to a coffee place that I frequent, or, rather, I frequented with one baby, but infrequent it with two little guys because it doesn’t fit a stroller, and everything in there is breakable or art or both. Those sorts of places scare me when I’m with my kids, and thrill me when I’m by myself. Anyway, I had both of them that day because it was rainy, and I couldn’t face a major outing, but had to get out of the house, and all the better to an adult-ish place.

I had one in my arms despite his best wriggles, and the other hand-in-hand. I maneuvered thorough the line and got the coffee and made it to the milk-and-sugar counter. I add a lot of both, and I was determined to do it, so I took a deep breath and started to figure out a game plan that would get my coffee right and my children not scalded. A woman stepped over to me and said, “Would you like me to hold him for a second while you do that?” I admit that my typical reaction to a stranger trying to take my baby would be to kick her in the shins and run, but this was so clearly a kindred spirit and a grandmother. I can’t tell you how I knew, but I did. I handed her the baby gratefully, and got the coffee ready while we chatted a little bit. She told me that no one gets this unless they have been through it. She held the baby so gently and spoke softly to him while he noticeably did not try to wriggle away. She was calm. She had a stylish haircut and soft eyes.

We stepped over to a nearby table, when a woman who had been sitting close by and had heard us blurted out, “I just dropped my two kids off at day care and I was relieved. I feel so guilty, but I really was. It was just such a hard morning. I just couldn’t do it for another minute. I’m happy to be going to work right now. I feel so guilty.” I looked into a face of a woman who I just knew had dusted on makeup at red lights, taken 45 seconds to dry her hair when she needed ten minutes, and was just so tired. I knew that because I have seen that face in the mirror. The grandmother, in her soothing, hip tone, told her that what she was doing was very difficult and that she was a wonderful mother. The mother had teary, red eyes, but she nodded. She looked at her coffee and was still. I hoped she had left herself a few minutes to sit by herself before heading on to her office.

When I walked out the door, I felt pulled back in. I’m probably never going to see those two mothers again, but something tells me we could have helped each other, could have needed each other.

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