February 26, 2010

The Ideal Mother

A presentation by
L. 'Ailina Willis

Inspired by Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother


February 20, 2010

Multiple Personalities Disordered

I'll tell you what's bewildering. The prospect of The Playdate.

The girls and I had an impromptu lunch date with a young mother from the homeschooling group today. We met by chance. We're probably a good 10+ years apart in age, but it was a good match, because we both have 7-year-old daughters.

It was fun. But I admit, a part of me needed to pat the ground beneath me every now and then to assure myself I was alive and awake and not trapped in some weird dream or perhaps reliving a day I'd forgotten in my early adulthood.

Sitting there chatting and munching on waffle fries, I suddenly had the impulse to ask questions I might've asked when I was pregnant with Kid #1, before I knew what being a parent was like. before I actually took on the responsibility of a baby and all I had to go on were speculations and information I got from books and other experienced moms. I longed to ask this young mother for advice. And that stunned me.

I don't consciously feel uneducated or uninitiated about parenting young children. I have memories of what it was like. Like riding a bike. (?)

But still. A very important aspect of my personality has forgotten myself in that role.

At risk of coming across as too self-congratulatory...my circle of confidantes and touchstones have been older moms who have long grown out of predominantly "discovery" parenting and have been enjoying "exploratory" parenting, "revision" parenting, and "hands-off guidance" parenting for kids who have one foot in adulthood. Topics of conversation have been college admissions and work permits and matters of adolescent maturation. Not baby care or early childhood enrichment or teething or...playdates.

For the first time since I was a teenager, I felt like a Poseur. A wanna-be. Someone who postures herself as seasoned and knowledgeable about a scene, but is clueless and useless for all practical purposes. Why? Because I've forgotten.

But forgetting is not gonna fly. I'm going to talk to more young moms and go on more playdates, because it will not only be relevant, but encompassing -- like a social Venn Diagram. And therein lies the conflict.

'Ailina is picking up a hat she shelved years ago, and she's scared to death it doesn't fit her anymore. But even if it doesn't -- even if it looks ridiculous or doesn't match with anything in her closet, or even if it gives her a headache sometimes because the band is too tight -- she's going to wear it, under the hat she already wears every day, or over it. Whichever won't get her arrested by the Loony Police.

So this adds yet another layer to this identity of mine I so struggle to define. Not that I need a square hole or round hole or whatever to fit in. What I need is orientation. I need self-awareness. I need a sense of proportion.

I don't foresee any danger in the unknown here. I know whatever doubts I may assume or whatever false steps I may take along the way, they're purely par for the course of experience. Old tricks and new tricks all rolled into one. It's okay. I'll be okay.

I'm just making a mental note of the psychological and social adjustments I'm going to have to make along this leg of the journey. I know it's not going to be easy. I know my questions will multiply and turn in on me. I know I'm going to have to beat back the adversaries of my own mind. I know I can do it.

I just really, really wonder what I'll look and feel like when the transition is made, what kind of person I'll be then. Who will I be next year?

February 14, 2010

The Refiner Family to increase by one Summer 2010

The news "officially" broke last night.  Of course we knew before now (one need only pause for a brief moment to put two and two together) but held off on making the announcement until all the immediate family members had been notified.

They were "notified" last night after dinner, and I got it on film.  Nothing as dramatic as some of the meltdowns I've seen on America's Funniest Home Videos, but the kids' reactions were humorous, if a bit predictable.

Mom & Dad:  "Well, kids...we're going to be adding a new family member."
Rocky:  "Before you even said anything, I already had one word in mind: 'Again?'"
Priss:  "Are we getting another pet?"
Bunny:  "Yay! That means we get to play dress-up with it, just like a doll, only real!...Oh, wait a minute. Does this mean we have to do more work?"
Moe:  "Are you joking with us?"
Priss:  (fingers in her mouth) "I'm not going to be the youngest anymore."
Moe:  "Are you sure you're not kidding?"

The initial shock has passed, and we're now moving into the earliest preparations.  Mainly, working on the family budget, getting major repairs done on the house.  There's a sense of urgency in accomplishing as much as I absolutely can these next few months to pull the family together and get us into a solid position. So much will change after the baby's born, including ease of mobility.  A baby will change the face of camping for at least the next five years.

One thing is certain: I'm at no deficit for inspiration or motivation.  It's been a long while since either came upon me in any great abundance.  I'm moved to WRITE.


Now Publishing...
Notes on the sprouting of the sixth kid.

February 11, 2010

February 10, 2010

You will not make me cry. I will not let you make me cry.

If I were a lesser woman, I'd be in tears right now.

It's 47 degrees inside and out.  I've been freezing my rear all day.  Kids are fine near the fire in the living room, but I can only break away from "apprenticing" long enough to thaw my appendages, then it's back to holding wood in place, sweeping up, holding one end of the tape measure, etc. etc. etc.

Progress is so slow.  Really, all we thought we'd have to do was pull out the old broken door and replace it with a new one. But then we found rot on every adjacent beam....  You just can't cover that stuff up and hope it'll go away.

So it's 6 PM.  Getting too late for Miner to use any of the power tools if we want to stay in the neighbors' good graces.  But he's determined to get at least the door in the jamb before bedtime.  Don't know how he plans to accomplish that tonight, because the cedar siding has to go in before the door can.  That means more measuring, more cutting, more nailing....

I believe I'm going to be sick.  Already have a comfy cotton hanky in my pocket, waiting for the inevitable.

February 5, 2010

Finally tying the knot...

...Saturday, February 6th.  After a 14-year-long "engagement," Miner Refiner and I will be married in a small Justice of the Peace ceremony at home, in the presence of our five children and our parents.

It's about time!