peace at last

Mmmm. Hot tea and cinnamon graham crackers, which I don't think I've had since childhood. Very comforting on a cold day. I haven't been intentionally avoiding my blog. I feel well enough to think interesting thoughts again, to get caught up on my life chores, to do some business. Just not well enough to do more than one at a time. It helps me realize how much I love juggling life, and how many balls I keep in the air when I'm at one hundred percent.

Plus, now that my brain is working again, I've been making mental shifts. Big, fast moves that I can't always talk about right away. In addition, after my last conversation with Phyllis, I'm mindful of owning what I'm saying before just putting it 'out there' too soon.

One such shift has been occuring around my current choice to be a full-time mother. I've at least alluded to the fact that this hasn't been an easy decision or one that I don't question frequently. Mothers in these times have so many options regarding vocation and career, each with their unique set of benefits and costs. Every time I've re-evaluated my career decisions, I'm still drawn to choose to be at home by some inner, mysterious compulsion. Not knowing what's at the source of that compulsion has made it difficult for me to own that choice completely, or at least that's how it seems now, looking back.

Last week I talked to my grandmother, whose ear I may have literally talked off about a book I had read in the previous twenty-four hours. Remember my clues? Well, this book was a clue to the inner torment I occasionally experience around my choice to be a full-time mom. I realized that I've been obsessed with my grandmother for at least the last year. The world my husband and I live in has changed so dramatically from the world they raised children in; I feel sometimes like we live in another country and I'm scrambling to find that gem of wisdom from those who've gone before that will help us navigate our way through a strange new lifestyle.

The book is called To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Your Inner Housewife by Caitlin Flanagan, a staff writer for The New Yorker. In an interview with Stephan Colbert on The Colbert Report (are you getting a sense of my major news sources?), Flanagan confessed that the subtitle she wanted was "How Feminism Shortchanged a Generation", but the publishers didn't think that would sell. I was intrigued. From the clutter obsession to managing children's executive-like schedules to sex, no topic is off-limits as Flanagan describes some of the unforseen fall-outs of the feminist movement and the dilemmas mothers are now faced with every day.

One of my favorite quotes is: "Nowadays American parents of a ceratin social class seem squeaky-clean, high-achieving, flush with cash, relatively exhausted, obsessed with their children, and somehow--how to pinpoint this?--undersexed." I laughed at several familiar faces that immediately came to mind.

When I look at my grandmother and her high level of contentment with her life, I wonder what happened between her generation and mine that has left myself and my contemporaries so confused about what we want and what price it will take. This book was a gentle map, showing step by step how we've gotten here from there. In addition, it helped me clarify what that mysterious compulsion was: some desires I hadn't identified before, combined with the way the arithmetic on that benefits/costs comparison adds up in my world. For me, for now, the price of choosing any other way is too high. Seeing all of that, I've now found some peace with my inner housewife.