V.Vale is the founder and publisher of Re/Search, a mainstay of underground publishing for over thirty years.
I resonate with this (again, I get the irony of posting this to my Tumblr), especially as a mother, as a writer, as a human…I need to unplug, and I need to welcome others into a quieter, more connected, present space)
I wrote a post about Mother’s Day.
About what I thought it’d be like, and what it really was like.
Visions: breakfast in bed, homemade cards, flowers, etc (Hallmark commercial inspired)
Reality: lots of family, lots of activity, lots of love…especially wonderful? A brand-spanking new niece to love and snuggle.
But you know what? It all just sounded selfish. I couldn’t make the words sing, I couldn’t find inspiration to tell you about MY day and MY baby and MY husband (which usually bring me an overabundance of inspiration and words).
Today I got it.
Sure, I celebrated and enjoyed my first Mother’s Day, and I’m tearfully and overwhelmingly thankful that I have Silas, that he’s the little man who made me a mama. My life is what it is because of him.
But there are many who aren’t who want to be mothers so badly. For them, Mother’s Day must feel like hell. To have the thing that they want with their entire body and soul kept from them—and then flaunted in commercials, Facebook posts, greeting cards, storefronts…blog posts.
It gives me pause. On one hand, it helps me celebrate in a deeper, more reverent way the utter inexplicable gift of my son.
And on the other, it helps me remember those that I love—the ones I pray for and hurt with as they continue on their journeys to becoming parents.
I have questions that this side of existence will never answer, but I ask them anyway: why can some people have sex one time and get pregnant and regret it while others go through every medical procedure, every needle prick and blood test and waiting period they can afford and still NOT have a baby? How can some people welcome a baby who lives 11 days…and then is gone?
For these people, Mother’s Day is one of weight, of blankness, of waiting, and listening, and—how I wish I could change this—hurt.
And I guess to you all carrying that burden, I feel it. And I send you love and peace.
Before I was a teacher, I had a few that I loved.
My third grade teacher, Mrs. Johnston, visited me at home when I was out with pneumonia. I’d built a pretty stellar couch cushion and blanket fort in the middle of the living room, and was so embarrassed that I refused to come out and say hello. She taught us the shag (the state dance of South Carolina), how to write in cursive, and threw a wonderful Christmas party at her house for all of us. Mrs. Johnston was kind in a way that reflected in all of the little extra, out-of-her way things that she did. She wasn’t just a teacher in the classroom.
My high school English teacher, Mrs. Fleming, encouraged my love of writing often saying I was a “weaver of words.” She noticed me, she cared about me, and she introduced me to Annie Dillard, Jack Kerouac, and Henry David Thoreau. Every year she took her British Literature classes on a “pilgrimage” a la The Canterbury Tales from the Fountain Inn DMV through the woods to her backyard. Along the way, we (dressed in full Medieval regalia) told our researched tales. When we arrived in her backyard we found a man playing the lute, her giant English sheepdog, and bottles of Coke re-labled as “mead.” Giant group pictures of each class adorned her walls as did a banner that proclaimed “Mediocrity or Excellence…the choice is yours.”
(I made one of those banners for my classroom too)
It’s been years since I’ve seen these women (I’m not even sure if I’d recognize them if we passed on the street), but they guided me, changed me, and helped make the best parts of who I am shine.
Because they taught me.
Silas, the one single thing I hear about you more than anything else—and people have said this from the time you were born—is that you are so sweet.
And you are! You have a genuine, eye-crinkling smile for most everyone you see, you don’t mind being smothered with love, and you enjoy others so much. So, of course, you’re teaching me a lot about the way to live life.
Only eight months in this world and you know how to live in it better than I ever will.
and eight months:
These past eight weeks have included major changes in your short life, Silas boy. Easter, family reunions, new foods, first visits to the church nursery, crawling, pulling up…you are all over the place. The edges of your world continue to stretch and shift. You are constantly exploring. Which, to you, usually means crawling to something interesting, pulling up for a closer look, and then a swift grab and lunge to your mouth. You love to chew.
The day your Papa went back to school was the day you decided to stop dragging your body around by the elbow and started your version of crawling. Your first destination? The fireplace. I was in the kitchen, four steps away—I noticed a certain quiet, so I looked for you in the center of the den. Gone. Then I found your two pudge legs sticking out of the fireplace. Your fists were full of sand and ash, the front of you was black and you were loving it.
You did it again before I got the fireplace screen up. Now our den is a mass of barrier pillows and outlet covers and every high surface contains a hodgepodge of things we’ve had to get out of your way.
Too bad this has been a favorite website of mine for awhile…will I soon be a contributor?
I don’t care. I can’t help but love seeing what interests you, see you become your own little person. It’s the greatest joy of my life.
- buttons (as in the variety found on calculators and remote controls and credit card swiping machines…oh, no—do you love numbers?)
- splashing in the bathtub
- the cat (though he doesn’t share the sentiment, and you had a scratch on your cheek to prove it)
- when the car stops and you know you’re about to get out—you screech and kick your feet
- going on errands: it took me an hour and a half to get through Publix today because you had to talk to the woman at the deli counter, the man at the seafood counter, two stockboys (“hey, he’s uh got a little drool coming out of his mouth”), a lady in the baking aisle, two cashiers and a bag boy. I do not exaggerate.
- your cousin Easton
- your Papa (you reach for him and cry when he leaves the room sometimes)
- being tickled
- your favorite toys include a small rubber goldfish with big red lips and a VW bus Matchbox car (a separate post coming later this week on Silas’ favorite toys)
- people. babies. little kids. dogs. cats.
- ceiling fans
- a plastic hamster toy you saw at AC Moore
- feeding yourself (just a glimpse of the puffs canister causes near hyperventilation)
You do not like:
- Standing up in your crib and then forgetting how to get back down.
- grits (this makes your Sonny very sad, but also very happy because of the face you made when you ate them)
- getting your face wiped or your nose cleaned out (you know how to grow a boog)