Sunday, August 14, 2011

Have women always been likened to cats on a tear or is it just me? The movie version of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help seems to take the serious issues of inequality among the races and put them into the context of a cat fight – or at least some seem to think so. Having read the book, I find that I don’t particularly want to see the movie. Fact is, there are varying degrees of selfishness within us all that can contribute to our being kind or our being mean – and although barriers to true civil rights have largely been lawfully put down, the meanness is in the loopholes. Times are more selfish now than they ever have been, as the loopholes threaten to overcome the laws. Wait, I said threaten? I think they’ve already been overcome. I also think this wasn’t what the civil rights workers had in mind when they were singing that song.

Back to women – I’m not sure if another tale of Caribou Barbie was supposed to be in the making when a journalist asked me for permission to use this picture I took when I passed through Wasilla last summer:

…but if a Wasillan-on-the-street piece on the all-too-present Sarah Palin was supposed to be in the making, well, I responded too late for the picture to be used, and I found I was kind of glad about it. And I’m not glad because I am suddenly going all-in for hunting from helicopters and making speeches only Dadaist bebop jazz poets could snap their fingers in appreciation for, but because I am tired of women in power and/or grasping at power being so stupid that I cannot support them. I had a friend in college who once expressed a need for there to be an old-girl network in the art world, which is still a pretty damned sexist arena, in order to help us all break some glass ceilings. Well, the art world is very much the entire world, and I am still torn between the ever-present need for that old-girl network and the need to shake these idiotic women silly and try to impart to them how much they will be on the wrong side of history if this keeps up…but hey, we’re living in times where nobody thinks that far ahead. We don’t even think that far behind.

Which brings me to a fairly womanly thing that I never ever thought I’d feel – the longing to have my son back on a day-to-day basis again. This is the first time he’s been away from us longer than ten days, and it’ll be good to have him back from his Grand Grandparent Tour of 2011. Tomorrow he returns, and until he does something like spill the first glass of milk he pours – oh, hell, even then, I’ll be happy to have him back. Part of my recent crazy times have simply been born of this feeling of someone missing, of a vital role having been snatched away for a time, and it’s something I thought would never happen to me. Perhaps it’s a form of parental Stockholm syndrome, I tend to think in my darker moments, but then explain to me why a nice young man sidled up to me at a bar recently and, when he asked me what I do, I answered that I raise my son? I am a mom. It’s true what the ubiquitous “they” say: once a mom, always a mom. A new school year is ahead, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the little guy is nearing his ninth year on the planet. Can’t believe we all got this far without more than a hairline fracture, a sliced-open cranium, an ADHD diagnosis, and my particular neuroses. I still find it amazing that any human beings grow to adulthood.

I am also finding that there are no loopholes to true parenting – because if I knew what true parenting was, I’d box it up and sell it for beaucoup bucks. Sure, some things can be gleaned from books and from the experiences of others, but the practices are all one’s own. Practice well, everybody.


Chuck Rummel said...

My parents got me a shirt that says "I have parenting down to a science. Every day is an experiment." I had more then a few complete strangers come up to me when I wore it at the Magic Kingdom telling me things like "great shirt" or "so true".

ALM said...

Parental Stockholm syndrome. Perfect!