Sunday, July 01, 2007

Oh to Be a Freeborn....Anything

Let me begin this post by reminding my regulars that I do love my children.

But tonight I really don't like them.

On the eve of our first family trip in a while, I'm wishing I hadn't planned it at all. Over the last three or four days I've hustled, bustled, and been on the go, shuttling them to movies and family events and just about anyplace else they felt they needed to go. I did take about 45 minutes and head off trail at the park today, just to hear the wind in the trees and feel my feet on the earth.

But otherwise, I'm tapped out. This evening instead of listening to me when I said to read instead of watching cartoons online, because they can do that tomorrow and tonight is all I have, I foolishly let them talk me into letting them drift over to CN while I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and trash and papers and packing.

That is the end of it, and the end of a lazy summer up til all hours while I sit and wait for my free time to roll around. That dog don't hunt, in fact, it took a bullet in the tail.

At their other house they have a great deal of freedom, and far more space to be shoved out of the way with their CartoonNetwork obsession without it annoying everyone else. What's worse is the CN and Nick and whateverelseisoutthereoncableeatingupbrains is allowed to be consumed at such a pace that they can recite line for line some of the shows. What a world it would be if children could recite a line of Robert Frost, or even better, a line of their own poetry.

I've really had it on so many levels. This little place is all I have. I try to allow my kids most of what they are used to in very small doses, but it is literally never enough. I really do try to show some interest in it, but frankly, it's just junk. When among a group of adults I recently expressed some appreciation for the artfulness of some of that junk, specifically a show which celebrates the imaginative powers of young minds who make up distinct and complicated imaginary friends to meet their needs -- indeed, because of the interesting psychology behind it that particular show might be the one thing I can tolerate -- you would have thought I had grown a second head. So I remain at a total loss as to the appeal of any of it and cannot for the life of me fathom why so many thinking adults allow this stream of consciousness-killing crap into their kids' lives.

So when my own kids bring that junk into my space, I can take it for about five minutes before I'm over my limit. And actually, that time is running shorter and shorter.

I really do love my kids. We do watch movies together now and then. And we do lots of other things together, like this trip we're about to take. But I think I'm over my limit in more ways than one. I'm back to a place I was about a year ago when I found myself without room for me when they're around. And I need that space back, and that means they will have to give up something that most likely isn't good for them anyway.

Tonight my daughter came down stairs upon a summons to take back up to her room some stuff she had left on the table, and she was surprised to see that her tooth had fallen out. It was impossible for me to muster any excitement. We looked around for it a little but chances are it was washed down the drain while she was brushing her teeth. By the time I got her in bed, I sighed an unceremonious "Oh well" and that was that. I felt guilty but I could barely care about a lost tooth with the mound of chores that lay ahead and the seeming lack of interest on the part of either child just how much has gone into pulling together this trip on top of working as well as the activities they've thoroughly enjoyed over the last several days.

When I saw Carrie Rodriguez last weekend, I thought, "What this world needs is an all-woman tribute to Jimmy Martin." I love Jimmy Martin songs. They're so full of gusto, and I don't mind singing them. Because a lot of the time the stuff that comes out of those songs really hits it for me. Like Freeborn Man. I love to sing that song, and not ashamed of it at all. There is no doubt women can appreciate those songs. I read recently the best quote I have seen in a long time, from a woman who runs a clever niche nonprofit here. She said, "Before I had children, I was a man." Ain't that the damn truth.

What would happen if I actually walked away from it all? I have actually been blamed for putting other things aside in the interest of my kids, like, it was the wrong thing to do.

To those I say:

They're children, you fucking morons. I didn't have them to send them to boarding school, sit them in front of a TV, or leave them by themselves at 10 p.m. on a school night so I could have a social life. I chose them. They require effort and attention to be the smart, engaging little people you like so well.

I'll get through this next week and I hope I have a little time to enjoy it. Hopefully my kids and I can make up and share a meaningful connection and place to move forward from that does not include me sacrificing my values and personal space and sanity. Meanwhile I'm going to dream about singing this song. Someday, my home might be on my back, and I don't think it sounds all that bad. No TV, no Target, no LL Bean, no Amazon.broke. No junk, no stuff. Just music.

Not bad, not at all.

Freeborn Man
Performed here by The (Almost) Original New South from the Sugar Hill Retrospective


At July 01, 2007 10:02 PM, Blogger christian said...

yes, bluegrass rocks. keep up the good work in the name of an under-appreciated genre.

At July 02, 2007 8:56 AM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...


I know just what you are thinking. And I think I know what you are feeling. I feel it too.

Kids always want more. What you have to give them is rarely enough. They are sucked into our consumer culture at such a young age.

I don't know if it'll work with them... sit them down and tell them what you need. Maybe if they help you come up with ideas to get the space and quiet you need, it'll help them understand, and will help them give it to you.

Otherwise, you'll have to just take it, and they'll react a lot differently, as if you were trying to steal something away from them. They won't know it's just your sanity.

Love you,

At July 02, 2007 9:14 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

I don't have children, just some cats that we think are children but are actually little old men with health issues... but I think I understand that spread-too-thin, where's-the-meaning-and-purpose in working-myself-to-death and are-we-having-fun-yet syndrome because I have painted myself into a similar corner. If the paint ever dries, maybe I can walk away. It never seems to dry because I can't stop painting.

At July 03, 2007 6:30 PM, Blogger Women on the Verge said...

OHHHH mama--- mam oh man do I know how you feel. My youngest would veg out in front of the computer or tv losing brain cells by the second all day if I would let her ( I think Cartoon Network is actually part of a larger plot to stupefy our kids into submission), and my oldest gives me looks of barely concealed horrified suprise if I ask her to pick up her dish from the table. She asked last night for an allowance. I asked her what she'd done to earn it. She got a far off look in her eyes and said.. you showed me how to do the laundry once... It doesn't help that 99% of the other kids she knows are totally catered to... cell phones, plasma tv's in their rooms, etc. They're absolutely shocked when they come to our house and see that we only own ONE tv and it's not a mammoth plasma but a demure 27 inches.

If you can figure out a way to get them to actually CHOOSE to read on their own PLLLEEEAAASSSEE share it with me!!


At July 03, 2007 9:43 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Thanks for stopping by, Christian! Y'all should visit Christian's bastardly site. He's a fine painter.

You women made my day. Thank you Shameless, you know the kids well and indeed we have gotten into a better groove. I think summer is harder to maintain the space.

Ethel, I was indeed thinking about you and Lucy the other night and wondering how your summers are going. You have two daughters? I adore mine but if my daughter had been born first, she'd be an only child. She is, however, an avid reader. I think because we are a two=household family -- they spend every other week with dad -- they know they can't have Nick or CN or whatever at my house so they have to find other options. the end I know my kids are not different or certainly worse than other kids.

Blueberry, you are indeed on target...that's the problem. I paint myself into a corner and then find myself screaming that ARE WE HAVING FUN YET??? mantra.

Thanks people. Things have calmed down, we made it over to our destination, we've enjoyed the stay so far, and I'm near the bottom of a bottle of Yuengling with sleep soon to follow. One day at a time, I guess.

Thanks for stopping by, and a safe and happy Fourth to all.

At July 05, 2007 6:38 AM, Blogger MichaelBains said...

Wowzers! I do hope that awesome expression of angst did help, at least a little. As usual, you wrote it out beautifully and with a great sense of the balance that's missing and which you do so deserve.

Don't worry either. She'll lose more teeth. :)

At July 05, 2007 6:40 AM, Blogger MichaelBains said...

Wow x2! I just read Shameless's comment and HEARTILY 2nd it. Tell them what you need and get them to laugh about it with you! THEN it really is easier for them to want to do whatever you ask.

(And easier for "a little luck" to come your way as well! {-; )

At July 05, 2007 6:43 AM, Blogger MichaelBains said...

Oh... Then I read on and see... but you know that.



At July 05, 2007 8:57 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

LOL! Well Mr. B it's still awfully nice to hear from you. There have been many moments when I realized, I'm insane for taking this on before both kids are above the age of 10. But overall we're enjoying ourselves, there's too much to see and do and not nearly enough time. We're exhausted! Lights out and thanks, y'all!




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