Kitchen Table Revolution, Interrupted

On Friday, my Mom and I spent the day in the kitchen talking about a revolution.  Well, we were talking about the state of the world, daring to broach our  fears about countless taboo topics.

What happens when we all find out that Al Gore has been right?  What happens when people really start to run out of water?  How many links in the chain have to break before our global network of food distribution?  How many days of product are in an average supermarket?  For a proud liberal, why do I have a funny perspective on guns that I don’t talk about much?  In what part of the psyche and the spirit should stories like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest reside?

Ach, Marisa!  What are you doing to your dear readers on a Monday morning?  The sun isn’t even up yet and with gloomy thoughts like this you are practically daring it not to rise!

Fear not, if you are anything like Mom and me you will plunge into your seas of worry and dredge up all of your 3 a.m. thoughts even though it is the middle of the day.  But then you’ll get up for another cup of tea and the phone will ring and you’ll pay the cable bill or head to the dentist and you’ll pretty much forget this little dip into the nastiest recesses of your “what if…?” consciousness.

Of course, we all do this.  I, for one, have no idea how I would get through each day, full of all sorts of mundane beauty and banal ugliness, if I was truly tuned into my concerns about the state of our collective future.  It is pretty much impossible to fully enjoy an infant’s laugh if you allow yourself to focus on all the evils that might endanger it.

And so we engage in these impassioned discussions and stir up the sediment that our modern, Western, wasteful lives have created in the riverbeds of our awareness and then we start making dinner.  The conversation I had with my mom was so amazing and touched on so many important topics, it had me wanting to take meeting minutes.  But, I had my hands full with the baby when I was not clearing up the endless piles of clutter and I never got around to writing til right this Monday morning minute.

If I had had the chance to play scribe and record the litany of ills and the faint glimmers of solution would we be any closer to solving any of the world’s problems?  The tragedy of the whole conversation was that, as much as we were both so invigorated to trade ideas mother to daughter and back again and to flow along in the tides of conversation, we really felt pretty powerless.  Talking about Washington’s party politics and the conservative pundits’ maniacal desire to debase our president’s every action and motive left us rather deflated.  We were saved by a gently shaken snow globe of a January day  and by an infant just discovering her voice.  A baby who has not yet had to worry about the lies that the media propagates and the impossible search for truth.

We are not powerless, of course.  We have the loving bonds that allow us to dive deep and surface together.  It is as true that enough of these conversation will change the world as it is necessary to believe that they can.

No More Secrets, Mom

Photo by cornish.pixie07,  http://everystockphoto.com

To: Mothers from the Baby Boom Generation

From: Your Daughters of Childbearing Age

Dear Moms,

We know that you have a lot on your mind, what with your decimated retirement savings and wondering whether our Dads (or the men who have replaced them) have had “that talk” with their doctors that the commercials they play during Monday Night Football say are essential, but we have something to discuss with you.

It’s probably not fair to dredge up the past.  Life is all too full of regrets and, now that many of us are mothers ourselves, we understand that guilt and “I should’ves” are all part of motherhood from the moment of conception.  But, you take the bad with the good.

That’s what we really have to talk about.  The good.

HOW COME YOU NEVER TOLD US?

You raised us to believe in ourselves.  You raised us to believe we could do anything.  It wasn’t your fault we ended up with eating disorders or fraught relationships with food.  Those ballet classes were intended to make us love and trust our bodies.  And all that encouragement to study hard and the stellar job you did at getting us to raise our hands just as much as – if not more than – the boys?  That was an excellent parental accomplishment.  You helped pay for college and you cheered us on when we pursued those advanced degrees.  Heck, you were the ones who broke the glass ceiling that made so many of our academic and professional achievements possible.

But, in the midst of all that, how could you forget to tell us?

Did you want to save all the magic for yourself?  Did our “do more, make more, compete more” society really convince you that keeping up with the guys at the office was more important than what you had done with your lives?  So many of you pulled off the 9-5 gig and raised us, but you only really groomed us to take on that not-always-glamorous work world.

Moms, you taught us so much.  We learned just about everything from watching you.  But you kept your secrets, didn’t you?  Perhaps it was the insatiable American desire to make sure that each successive generation has more than the last that made you mum (pardon the pun).

So, here we are in our twenties and thirties.  Some of us have discovered the secret on our own, but many are still fumbling round in the shadows.  Most of us have to get up awfully early to make the commute, you see.  We have started sharing the  the secret with our sisters, but a lot of us are still in the dark.

Those of us who are in the know do not want to cast blame.  We just need help from you, the veterans.

You see, you never told us that motherhood was this incredible. You never mentioned what magic was sparked when you first looked into our infant eyes.  You never described it as the greatest love story never told.

We are still traipsing around, many of us, thinking that pregnancy is something to be avoided at all costs.  We spent our women’s studies classes becoming impassioned about our rights to go Planned Parenthood, but never about our rights to have midwives attend our homebirths.  We have looked at those women with strollers and diaper bags as poor souls, cut off from the tribe of modern chick-dom, unable to pursue the dreams to do more, be more, achieve more that were instilled in us since girlhood.

You’ve loved us well, you’ve shared your beauty and strength with us, but you never really mentioned all that you must have received in return when we were curled up in your arms, dependent on you for every aspect of life.

Please, moms, no more secrets.  Tell us the stories of our births and our babyhoods.  Tell us that motherhood is an odyssey like no other.  Tell us that it is just as valuable as all the stuff we have studied for and trained for.  Tell us how we can be more like you, the mothers to us all.  All of us are not destined to follow in your footsteps, but the world will be a better place if girls and women were raised knowing what bliss might be possible.

Love,

The Mothers and Potential Future Mothers of Your Grandchildren