A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || October 2, 2012 || 1:57 am

Today I have been taking notes on mothers, on what they are, on what I am, on what we are to them. At first I took these notes mentally and then they began to sort of steamroll me and crowd for space and some of the better bits were sliding away while beseeching me to tether them to something more intractable than my headmeat. Then I remembered I have that fancypants phone with the infuriating Swype technology that makes plain ole straightforward words like ‘kale’ into messily unrelated, inexplicable nonlinear ones like ‘Kryzygstan’. How the fuck, brilliant technology, how the fuck do you imagine that a blip on the map central to nothing even remotely like the Piggly Wiggly down the street has anything to do with my grocery list? This part of technology, I do not get. This part of technology makes me want to abandon all the other parts of technology wholesale.

But the part of technology that is boon to me is the one that lets me forsake all the random scraps of paper and cardboard and envelopes that I’ve spent jotting ideas on and stuffing into a drawer until they come to fruition or I’m so embarrassed by them that they become lighters of candles burned too deeply down in the jar to reach (after that I run them under the faucet, so that not only are those terrible ideas and turns of phrase charred, they are damp and runny and pitiful, as well. They personify themselves on another level, and then I can avail myself of them peacefully…almost gleefully, in fact. It’s a good practice, the murdering of shitty ideas and sentences. It’s a holy and noble practice. It’s a practice I do not practice often enough, in fact — as is illustrated by this whole parenthetical hand job).

I once bought a hand-held tape recorder, a fancy one, with which to catch notes on the fly. I destroyed it or misplaced it or something. I bought another. It was summarily stolen. The two I got after that each got laundered. The first time was by someone ‘helpful’ who had never made a move toward helping –coincidentally enough– until there were copious story notes in my pocket and agony to bear witness to once my words were washed and warped and devoid of anything even approaching human sounds. The second time was by me, because life was getting in front of me at the time and I wasn’t on top of the details.

Fuck a recording device after that, right? Blackfeet pencils with creamy lead, paper with fixed spines, paper with adhesive triangles and see-through windows, paper announcing tallies for corn chips and Mountain Dews and Marlboro lights.

Note-taking. Drawer-stashing. Idea-marinating. Substance being grown there in dark, private places after the words were released from dark, private places. Writing starts in the stutter and sputter of a perplexed soul. Art starts in the confused cracks between points of understanding.

Oh Evernote, where have you been all my scattered, hyperfocused livelong life?

I downloaded Evernote several weeks ago but have only started using it in earnest over the last month or so and it is saving my creative beans, All You Folk. Now I can jot notes to my phone which are immediately synched up in a kanjillion other places in case I fuck one or more of them up with my frail analog tendencies. I can record snippets, too, and they are immediately swished up into the ether and synched to All The Places. I can scribble a note with my very fingertip, in my own handwriting. My literal hand, writing! I can snap a photo and jot to it with that same finger (or another one! if I’m feeling wacky like that). Save, swish, sync. I can sketch, saveswishsync. I CAN WRITE ON PAPER, SCAN IT TO MY PHONE, AND REMORSELESSLY DISPOSE OF THE PAPER IMMEDIATELY. Scan! *stick arms* Save! *exuberance* Swish! *triumph* Sync!

My God! Technology is bending to my mercurial but meticulous whims! Makers of Evernote, I owe you a baby, because telling you I owe you a beer doesn’t seem like a grand enough thank you.

So, babies.  Maxim said to me yesterday that he has been wanting to have a baby lately (Internet. Do not e-mail me. We are not going to have more babies.) and that made me thoughtful about myself as a mother. I try not to contemplate myself in such a fashion, at least not too very often, because being too self-aware as a mother is to invite yourself into all kinds of agony and also probably great heaps of nervous breakdown-ing.  I’m not being the slightest bit hyperbolic or tongue-in-cheek when I say that, either. You mothers know what I’m saying. I mean, be conscientious as shit, Moms, be present as all-fuck but don’t be too exploratory because your kids need you to make oatmeal and sign permission slips, and those things are hella hard to do when your cheese has up and taken a slide off of your cracker.

My own mother is going through something of a hard time, and I’m trying to be her cheerleader. My constant thoughts of her plus Maxim’s admission of baby longing made me think about what we are when we mother.

This song has been chasing me around for months now,

and it is wrecking me, wrecking me, wrecking me. Mary stays behind and cleans up the place.

I am about to mother my father into the grave; I can tell because he is making peace with things that I thought he’d outrun or abandoned.  He refuses to make plans. He tells me freely of the things that he has staunchly decided not to worry himself with any longer. He smiles while he tells me all these things, earnest. Still, he is afraid.

I am about to be the mother of someone who is halfway around the world being a man but who is still –somewhere in time– floating under my ribs as I coo to him, promising him future and love and arms that will always embrace him. I’ll will my ribcage around him when men who don’t consider my oh-so-painful love for him have their rifles and their hatred trained at him. I will rock and snot all over myself deep into many sleepless nights while I wish a vacuum around him where bullets are not even a thing, much less a danger to my boy’s heart, the one I carried in my own before it even had fancy trappings like chambers or valves or beats.

Today, unfathomably and up out of nowhere, I am a human being in a vast amount of pain and in need of mothering myself.

Tomorrow I may have a taste for lemonade and the mouth that comes away from the glass might be smiling, smiling, inviting you in, “Hello! I’ve missed you. Please come sit by me. Can I offer you some refreshment? Some peace? Some understanding or commiseration?

“I’m so glad you’re back. I miss you when you are away.” Tomorrow I may be mothering you.

Tell me something about you as a mom. It has to be private and it has to be liberating. I won’t judge you, and I will tear a strip off of anyone who tries to. Momming is hard, man. All we come equipped to do it with are these puny arms and these ache-prone innards, and that makes me proud of us for showing up, even.

If you’re not a mom in the technical sense, I want you in the fray, too. Tell me about your mother. When we take time to ponder them, they engender SUCH a profundity of emotion in us. Today I am sitting in that emotion and it’s surrounding me on all sides. It’s terrible. It’s transformative. The latter makes the former bearable.

15 worked it out »

  1. the muskrat 10.2.2012

    My mom watched her dad go to Korea, my dad go to Vietnam, and me go to Iraq (x2). I’m sure my trips were the hardest to endure.

  2. twobusy 10.2.2012

    This is alllllll kinds of painfulovely. Which isn’t a word, but really should be, because I don’t know another to describe something like this, or the roiling waves of ache and hope and fear ebbing and flowing therein.

  3. Gretchen 10.2.2012

    My own mother rarely hugged me, and I don’t remember her ever telling me she loved me. I had fantasies my first 10 years that she wasn’t my real mother, that my real mom was out there somewhere and really did love me. She wasn’t someone who ever wanted to be a mother, and she really shouldn’t
    have been. The primary emotion she inspired in me was fear. Consequently, I never wanted children, because I didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to be a not-wounded child, and I couldn’t imagine making a world for someone to grow up and feel…something other than afraid.

    I never wanted children. Certainly my mother never wanted ME.

    And so, when I went away to college, and I was raped, and I got pregnant and came home with the intention of having an abortion…of course my mother told me no. I couldn’t have an abortion. And I, despite being of legal age, believed her.

    So I began to plan to put the child up for adoption.

    And when my mother threatened me…told me she would go to court and get custody and raise the baby herself if I even dared to try…

    I suddenly became a mother. Because I would not subject another child to that, let alone a child who was part of me.

    I became a mother that day, when I was 6-7 months pregnant.

    I don’t think I was a very good mom; I didn’t bake cookies, I wasn’t very good at playing, and I hated the minutiae of being the mother of a school-age child.
    But my sons knew, every day, that I loved them. They knew because I told them. I hugged them and kissed them even when I wanted to strangle them.

    And they were never afraid of me. Afraid of my disapproval, maybe. Afraid of consequences. But not of me.

    So I guess I did okay.

  4. EarnestGirl 10.2.2012

    Lookit. Darling Jetty. I am in the messy middle of my morning and you’ve gone and made a sniffly wreck of me when I am all up on my mother/wife/domestic horse trying to clear the course of my day without falling off or knocking down a fence. And now, instead, I am going to be returning to this in my head and heart all day, like a tongue to a toothache.

    For now I’m going to slide off my horse and say just this: Our mothers are a yardstick we carry around forever and always.

    TwoBusy’s word is perfect: painfulovely.

    to be continued.

  5. Dory 10.2.2012

    As a mother I go from tender, funny, silly to all-of-a-sudden fierce when I get that ‘whatevs’ eyeroll. Of course. Since one of my first memories at school is a teacher saying, “You must get *that* [eye rolling] from your mother.” Odds are the zero to sixty reaction came down the same path. It catches me off guard, too.

  6. sarah piazza 10.2.2012

    sometimes i catch myself parenting just like my mother did. and she was most often a pretty terrible parent.

    so what does that make me?

  7. Jett Superior 10.2.2012

    Human. Human is what it makes you.

    The fact that it engenders this reaction from you even now looks to me like, in an inside-out way, you are defending your mother today since you couldn’t back then. I am endlessly intrigued by parental triggers, both those belonging to me and those of others.

    I feel like there are countless ways that I fuck up, but I make it a point to show up and that’s a big deal. Hearing and knowing an ‘I love you’ on the regular is crazy-important to us as people. I count that a win. We all have losses in the pocket.

  8. Ginger 10.2.2012

    My mother was such an amazing mom as I was growing up (we have our issues now, but man was she just…on my fucking side as I grew up. Even when she wasn’t, you know?), that I constantly worry I won’t live up to it and be as good a mom.

    But I’ve always been a mother..I mothered friends, family, neighbors, from as young as 8. I come by that nurture thing honestly, so I feel confident about my abilities as a mom there.

    Where I question myself is in…all the rest. Will I be able to teach him the right lessons? Will I be able to show him how to honor and respect women and the world around him? Will he grow up, after being in my care, to be a Good Man. I don’t always know if I’m mom enough for that part, ya know?

  9. jenniferjulien 10.2.2012

    Jett, I hope that you can feel the love I’m sending your way. Those overwhelming days are the worst, and they make it so hard to remember how great all the other days are.

    I almost didn’t read this post because notes on mothering are never real fab in this house. I read Sarah’s comment and thought, “That’s what I was going to say!”. So now I don’t have to. Thanks Sarah! My own mom did the best she could with what she had and I can’t fault her for it. But I do find a lot of those things I learned from her coming out in my parenting. It’s so hard to take a breath sometimes and *not* trust those intuitions.

    I hope like hell that tomorrow will be a better day for you. I wish like crazy I could knock on your door with a bottle of (whatever) and bring you some smiles.

  10. bri 10.3.2012

    i told you this on the phone but my momming secret is that i hate stay-at-home-momming with most of my heart and soul.

    since i pared down my biznass to accomodate the school schedule of 4yo, and i spend all but three hours a day with her, i just feel dumber and less challenged and boring. i mean, i love her, duh, but i am not cut out for endless My Little Pony tea parties.

    i feel guilty about that because i think our society still pushes a SAHM gig as the only TRUE option for REAL moms. also because i know a lot of women would kill for the opportunity to not worry about work or money and just get to be with their kids and i have that opportunity and it’s hnnnnnnnnng, yo.


  11. Cherie Beyond 10.4.2012

    I intended to never get married right up until the second I walked down the aisle.

    I intended to never have children right up until I was pregnant.

    It wasn’t that I thought I couldn’t do these things, but I figured I probably shouldn’t, as I would be very, very bad at both of them.

    And I was right. I am very, very bad at both wife-ing and mothering. I am both externally bad, in that I yell, gripe, and flail too much, and I am internally bad, in that I feel like my soul is constantly sat upon.

    But as a worshipper at the altar of realism, I believe our life is the product of our choices. So I show up every day to my choices and I attempt to work them into something I can live with without fucking up everyone else too much in the process.

    Or maybe I’m just having a bad day.

  12. Lynne 10.7.2012

    First, I wish you did not have to be sending that boy off to fight, and I’m sorry about what’s going on with your Dad and your Mom. I will be keeping all of you in my heart. So here goes my ‘fess up: For eight years after we split, my ex was the “primary residential parent.” AKA Mr. Mom. There are so many reasons why this was so – I was the one that couldn’t stay married to him, couldn’t cope, couldn’t dredge up the strength to fight him and had no money to do it legally. He would never let me win as long as it meant I could leave him also. So I became the weekend parent. But I hated every minute of being away from my kids. They were actually with me three nights a week, and when they weren’t, I was only two miles away and was on the phone with them an hour every night, but still. I knew people thought I had walked away from my kids, but that just wasn’t the story. I put the air mask on myself, and I knew knew KNEW that eventually I would have them back completely and they (and everyone else) would know the truth. It did finally happen; everyone eventually figured it out. But it still kills me that my ex was the Brownie mom and school trip chaperone while I was too afraid of conflict with him to show up at the same functions. In a karmic, ironic, twist of fate or whateveryoucallit, both of my kids had major fallings out with him in their early teens and came to be with me 100% of the time and no longer have any relationship with him at all. I didn’t wish that, and I continue to push both sides to reconcile, but he and his wife and young daughter left the state, left no forwarding address, and my kids continue to suffer the pain of our divorce. I believe I did the right thing back then, but I will never know if there was a better way that might have hurt my children less. I appreciate you asking for something liberating but I don’t know if this was for me. I will always blame every problem in their lives on my decisions.

  13. Jett Superior 10.9.2012

    What you worry about, I worry about too. It seems like I am constantly nagging on my kid about passive misogyny and what it means to respect a woman. Sometimes so much so that I fear pushing him further from the values that I want him to have. (I was a born mom, too. I knew from a very, very young age that I wanted a passel of kids.)

    It wasn’t such a terrible day, just…loaded. I’m fine. I’m still taking notes on motherhood. I’ve started a piece that feels important to me.

    I’ve said it a dozen times: We birth an eight-pound kid and fifty pounds of guilt. The guilt grows commensurately with the kid. The guilt’s favorite places to sit are on our brain or in our guts. I love my kids with a wicked passion, and there were times I got to stay at home with them and times that I didn’t. Both were hard for various reasons. Some ball, I have felt over the years, is always getting dropped.

    “….I am internally bad, in that I feel like my soul is constantly sat upon.” is just sheer poetry, and it made a knot well up in my chest, because yes. Of course you are externally and internally bad. As am I, as is everyone who has piped up here. I think maybe you have a set-mouth way of mothering, which is not bad, because you come from a long line of set-mouth sort of folk, from everything you’ve told me. In all the interactions I’ve ever had with you not once has “Is bad wife” or “Is bad mother” ever occurred to me. I think you have a grand spirit and a flat-planed sense of humor that is just so remarkable. I think you are entitled to fail, and to feel like a failure, but I don’t think you ARE a failure, nor should you live in that space where your head is lying to you.

    One thing I’ve never written about –and very few people have known before I’ve written this– is that my kids’ father abducted them, took them over state lines, hid them, and it took two years in and out of courts in more than one place to unsnarl our lives and get my kids back. I knew people were judging me, too, even though there were intricacies to our case (no custody agreement on paper when he stole them, etc) that no one was aware of affecting the way the judicial ball rolled. I’ve never known such pain in my life. My children suffer fallout to this day as a result of their father’s actions and my inability to get them back fast enough. I was trying to do it all legal and above-board. If I had it all to do over, I’d have taken the posse that stepped forward up on their offer and went and got my kids back while those men held my ex down and broke his legs. Not very Christian of me, I know, but those two years away from me –in all practicality, the only real parent Sam and Scout had ever known– really did a number on my kids and their relationships.

  14. EarnestGirl 10.12.2012

    … like a tongue to a toothache. (cont’d)

    I stood behind the chair, a tilted to the right, hands to my stomach as two gorgeous mother-loved girls watched – watched!- the suicide note left by a girl on you tube. THe girl was persecuted on social media. She left her story and the trail of her cutting and pain on the same medium. A medium that can hurt our kids in ways we have absolutely no control over. The no control part is not new to loving anyone, especially our children, but the ways our mothering is challenged by developments in media … in the ways of our “brave” new world… in the face of hatred and cruelty in our shcoolyards and in countries whose names we stammer to speak… Well. It is to fall on one’s knees.

    And so I am going to pick up Kingsolver’s Small Wonder once again and let her remind me to to hold fast to hope and the belief in enough love, small miracles, and the grace to trace the mothering pathways we all walk. If you’ve not read it, ferret it out. There is much to recommend it to your motherhood notepad.

  15. jill (mrs chaos) 10.17.2012

    I needed to read this today. For whatever reason I’m late to the game, I needed to read this today.

    My heart hurts for your kiddo being so far away from you. (And my heart hurts more for when they were little and away from you.)

    I’m worried about the phase of motherhood when I have to let go. My kid will leave for college in 2.5 years and I’m already worrying and fretting about it. Because I just really like them a whole heck of a lot.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

(you know you want to)