29 April 2011

Makes sense

I like how the same people who think children in a large family don't get enough attention have no doubt that that the hired hands at a school or daycare provide completely satisfactory personal care and attention to whatever number of children spend the majority of their waking hours there.

27 April 2011

Can't go wrong

Nothing more staggering than a baby boy. Nothing more precious than a baby girl.

26 April 2011

To the Housewives, to Make Much of Peace, no matter how much you've already made of it

And then there are the times I wish they'd start fighting again . . . or maybe that someone would just miss me . . . so I could sit down and read books for a while.

The sink! Someone has to stay at the sink!

17 April 2011

Blog off

We're out for Holy Week. Pax vobiscum.

13 April 2011

Vigil till the Morning New

Sad post. :(

So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

They are always with us. The peculiar gap in a family's "normal" time frame; the day that can never be all the way happy again; the baby the others remember and sometimes ask about; the lady whose story everyone knows and no one mentions. Always here because, however briefly, they were once.

Friends, I remember. My dear D and her baby T, my dear R and her baby B; my great-great aunt and her only baby who died at the hands of a birth attendant; Bathsheba and her doomed son; Jerusalem's Rachels and their Holy Innocents; every story I happened to hear and can never forget.

What word could help all of you? None could be right. But I sit with you always across time and space, for I see that your grief is very great. My heart aches and even now I weep for you. Easter is coming.

Old Possum on family

Now the family is an institution of which nearly everybody speaks well: but it is advisable to remember that this is a term that may vary in its extension. In the present age it means little more than the living members. Even of living members, it is a rare exception when an advertisement depicts a large family or three generations: the usual family on the hoardings consists of two parents and one or two young children. What is held up for admiration is not devotion to a family, but personal affection between the members of it: and the smaller the family, the more easily can this personal affection be sentimentalised. But when I speak of the family, I have in mind a bond which embraces a longer period of time than this: a piety towards the dead, however obscure, and a solicitude for the unborn, however remote. Unless this reverence for past and future is cultivated in the home, it can never be more than a verbal convention in the community.

T.S. Eliot, Christianity and Culture

11 April 2011


So, every now and then (or, um, every day) I get to feeling a little down about some of those endlessly undulating household hot spots. You know the type: the “target behavior ” of one kid or another, the piles on the counter, the dust on the blinds…the zillion and one things that conspire together, alternately biding their time and rising in accusation…

The angst, of course, is often triggered by an unrealistic expectation that goes sprinting around a blind corner, only to be smashed back down on its behind, painfully wounded, after running smack into the reality that was moving inexorably around the other side. Yes, I think it’s safe to say that “keeping it real” is a skill that I haven’t quite mastered.

So a couple days ago I was feeling quite keenly the mismatch between The Ideal Household (you know, the one that exists somewhere in Plato’s world of forms…) and the one that had just lost another game of chicken with reality. After the kids were finally down if not out, I sat me down with the computer and a cup of tea and indulged in a little long-overdue bloghopping, notably down our blogroll.

Boy, am I glad I did. In many of the blogs I caught up on, y'all offered, in one way or another, great encouragement for keeping it real. Thanks, girls ;). For instance, Leah (Hey! Congrats, Leah!) blogged an “everyday,” wonderful moment of confession and absolution in her family’s life. And Dakotapam warmed my heart by being “perfectly imperfect.” I particularly like the adage from her husband’s engineering days: “There is quick, cheap, and quality. Choose two. You can never get all three.” This concept is endlessly adaptable for motherhood. Choose two in each group, because you can never get all three. For starters (and I'd love to hear someone else's infamous triads):

Breakfast, shower, hair combed.
Children’s teeth brushed, own teeth brushed, sink clear of egregious toothpaste goobers.
Homeschool, clear counter, floor swept.
Clean house, happy children, homecooked supper (HAHAHA sorry I can't even type that one with a straight face).

Way back, I wrote about another remedy for my to-do list angst. Triage seems like another great way to trick the to-do list and get a head start on the day: Make a list of things that “must” be done, and then go ahead and ward off that inevitably painful collision with reality by crossing one* off.

*Eh, better make that one or more...

Or maybe we're responsible for our own decisions

I'm probably more entertained than I should be by the mysticism attributed to human decision. How many times I've heard a person intone wisely, "When [X applies to you], you'll know," as if some messenger from the world of forms visited her with indisputable tidings of her own personal X. Apparently I too will someday be privy to this sort of occult knowledge, or at least, I guess I should hope so. How embarrassing to be too obtuse to pick up on my own Platonic reality.

There's also, "[Y] was God's way of telling me [Z]." I don't envy anyone her Y or her Z. But even so, who is this coy "God" who drops hints and whispers secrets and speaks in special codes to special people? And when is he going to send me a Valentine?

07 April 2011

The post we've all been waiting for

In case you don't already know, because the leaks have been far and wide, and I'm rather wide myself at the end of 12 weeks: Baby 6 in October, DV.

05 April 2011

Wolfish wifehood

Modern women defend their office with all the fierceness of domesticity. They fight for desk and typewriter as for hearth and home, and develop a sort of wolfish wifehood on behalf of the invisible head of the firm. That is why they do office work so well; and that is why they ought not to do it.

G.K Chesterton, "The Emancipation of Domesticity," Brave New Family

04 April 2011

Chaos revisited

Back before the hills got dusty, when I still had the luxury of deciding how early I would get up and what I would do in the morning, I observed that any amount of time I allowed for getting ready was exactly enough. If I overslept and only had 20 minutes, I could be ready in 20 minutes. If I got up early and found myself with two hours, I was just as likely to be trying to put my shoes on as I ran out to my car as if it were a 20 minute day. The time required somehow always shrank or grew precisely to fit the time available.

This is how it's gone for me kidwise, too. When the hills had just started to get dusty, we had one kid, and I don't remember any less scrambling in our lives. One kid is as much reason for a littered house, rolling in late, or a sleepless night as five kids. I've rarely been as tired as I was with one kid (who, admittedly, slept less than most adults), or spread as thin as I was with two. Five, for me, is much easier than two. I'm not saying there are no differences between the few-kid house and the many-kid house, just that around here it hasn't felt like as wide a gulf as people seem to think. A kid complicates things, period. After that we're just arguing about how many fit in a minivan.