Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

And he spelled my name wrong ... but the poor man had been sitting at that table for about six hours total by then, so bless him for even signing it at all!

So this happened

Peter S Beagle is touring the country screening The Last Unicorn animated film from the 80s, and since the movie is a childhood favorite (and the book remains a favorite to this day), naturally I leapt at the chance to go.  I wound up at the end of the signing line after the film and Q&A, and as the friend who had accompanied me having to drive back to Oklahoma, I wound up at the end of the signing line alone.  So naturally I struck up conversations with my fellow fans.  (And a good thing! It was a three hour wait!)

The lady in front of me in line, along with her daughter, had won the grand prize in the raffle drawing, and we got to chatting about good books to read aloud to one’s kids.  This is a topic of great interest to me, as I got bored reading the usual Dr Seuss and whatnot pretty quickly, and started the Viking Prince on chapter books as soon as I thought I could get away with it.  It is highly unlikely that nice lady will ever find this post, but here, for anyone who’s interested, is an incomplete and idiosyncratic list of books that I have read or will read in the future to my son.  (He’s four, for those who might want to borrow this list for their own kiddos.)  In no particular order:

  • The Last Unicorn – Peter S Beagle
  • The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
  • The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
  • Dominic – William Steig
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin
  • Tiger Moon – Antonia Michaelis
  • The Neverending Story – Michael Ende
  • Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  • Bunnicula – James Howe
  • The Dark is Rising Sequence – Susan Cooper
  • The Chronicles of Prydain – Lloyd Alexander
  • The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
  • The Halloween Tree – Ray Bradbury
  • The Thief of Always – Clive Barker
  • The Snow Queen, etc – Hans Christian Andersen (any fairy tales, really)
  • The Moon’s Revenge – Joan Aiken
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, etc – Beatrix Potter

You can see my list is heavy on fantasy and fairy tales; your own list might tend in a different direction.  And of course you have to use your judgment as to whether or not a book is working for your kid.  The Viking Prince loved the first Bunnicula, but the sequel failed to grab him (it was a lot more dialogue-heavy, and used tropes and character types he was neither familiar with nor interested in.  Also, no vampire bunny, so that was a strike against it.  We might try the third book when he’s a bit older).  The Thief of Always might be a bit old for read-aloud to a four-year-old, but perfect for an older kid.  And don’t think that just because your kiddo is reading that you have to stop family read-aloud time; I intend to continue it for as long as I can get away with. :3

How about you guys? What are your favorite books, either from your own childhoods or discovered seeking books to read aloud to little ones?




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Ironically, in light of my previous, I just got a ton of work dumped on my head, and am swamped.  It is exciting and in one case slightly hilarious work, but still.

I would like to thank everyone who liked or commented the mommyhood rant; I had no idea my dashed-off scribblings would generate such a reaction.  People had lovely, kind, and helpful comments, so that was a great comfort.

I feel certain I had some follow-up things I would have liked to add, but  The Kiddo is telling me all about the curry he is going to eat for dinner, and wanting all his toys to do voices talking about curry, and now it is dinnertime, and I must away.

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Yes, the default language on my FB is Pirate. It looks weird to me any other way.

I want to talk about something actually serious today, and I’m going to try to be calm and respectful about it, even though my initial reaction was, “Screw you, Commenter Number 3!”  Except the word wasn’t screw, if you get my meaning.

My two-and-a-third-year-old is sleeping as I type this.  I have lots of other things to do: phone calls to make, bills to pay, maybe grabbing a shower, and then if there’s any time and energy leftover, actually writing or arting.  Odds are good, he’ll sleep just long enough for me to type something, maybe get a shower, and then wake up while I’m towelling off my hair.  Then he’ll be awake again, and he’ll need a snack, and he’ll need to be kept from throwing things at the cats, and he’ll need, and he’ll need, and he’ll need….

I understand that motherhood is a blessing (to quote a friend, “it’s a fact I have memorized”), and that good parenting is important, and that family is important, and good relationships are important, and so on and so forth.  The problem I have with commenters 1 and 3 above (I’m commenter number 2, and I never get enough sleep) is that they are (deliberately or not; I’m sure they’re very nice people) poo-pooing with platitudes a very real problem.

Maybe I’m a terrible mother.  (Most days, I’m convinced of it.)  But sacrificing my personal goals and ambitions on the “altar of self” (or rather, the altar of catering to a tiny selfish person’s every need) doesn’t make me feel saintly; it makes me frustrated and pissed.  I legitimately have goals for my life beyond my progeny, goals for my art, and it is ridiculous a.) to say that once you’re a mommy that’s all you are and can ever be, world without end amen and b.) to make me feel like crap for wanting to be a person, whole and entire, and not just mommy.

My friend asked a real question.  She did it with a smiley face, because she is a wonderful, sweet, kind, smiley person.  But the question–HOW?!–is legit, and deserves a legitimate response, not some Pollyanna bullshit.  (Sorry, I said I was going to stay calm about this, and it’s not happening.)  This is the short end of the stick, and you’re gonna like it anyway, helps no one.  Plus, you are not doing your children any favors by sacrificing everything up to and including the things that help to fulfill your soul.  Unless you genuinely are a saint (I’m not, God knows), it will only make you bitter, frustrated, angry and resentful.  I am speaking from personal experience here.

So let’s engage this question:  How does one pursue a career (in art or anything) while raising children?  Does one pursue a career while raising children?  Or is one S.O.L.?

If one is not S.O.L., how does one manage?  What if daycare or hiring a nanny are not options?  (They aren’t for me, and many others I know.)  There’s only so long one can go short on sleep–and only so long going short on sleep is effective.  After a while, you’re too tired at night to work, and too tired during the day to deal with the demands of motherhood.

I don’t know.  I don’t have an answer, and I wish I did.  I’d apply it to my own life and share it with all my friends.  I just know, I’m tired all the time (and prickly too!), and I find it insulting to the genuine pain and frustration of the would-be working-artist-mother to say, “Buck up, you!  Children are more important than your selfish ambitions, anyway!”

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