Monday, May 25

Getting into Things ...

I joined the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at the end of March, and since then the Critter and I have seen it come alive. Just a few weeks ago, the trees that are now heavy with lush green were still silvery gray, and in those few weeks, so many blossoms have grown, faded, fallen, and blown away.

Two Fridays ago we went to see the bluebells growing in the shade of the tall oak and beech trees; when I told my mother-in-law about our trip to see them, she said, "Don't you wish they would last longer than just a week or so?" Indeed. I remember my disappointment upon realizing that there is no long stretch of week upon week of long summer days. In truth, the longest day of the summer lasts just one day, and after it passes, the sunlight begins to diminish.

Meanwhile, my little Critter is crawling now and getting into things—this morning, for example, he tore off the cover of my Zen training manual and crumpled it up with much babbling joy. He really wants to walk and will use just about anything to pull him up to standing. Yes, spring will come again, next year, but it will no longer be the Critter's first. Who knows what he will be doing then? Pay attention!

Tuesday, May 5

The Loneliness of the Work-From-Home Mom

I sit in the darkened nursery, the curtains drawn, the Boards of Canada on the CD player, the Critter asleep on my lap: this is when I get my work done. There are days when the only other adults I see besides my husband are the strangers on the street and at the grocery store. Otherwise, I connect with other people mostly through the screen: e-mail, Facebook, this blog. I have the telephone numbers of a couple other local mothers, and I'm hoping to get over my natural shyness, call them, and make some "dates," however awkward they may be. In the meantime, this isolation cannot be good for the Critter. It's certainly not good for me. When did it happen that the workplace became the main nexus of community and companionship? In my first several months as a freelancer, I often got lonely, but nothing compares with the loneliness of a work-from-home mom with a Critter depending on her and deadlines to meet.

Like many other breast-feeding moms, I've thought a lot about this confused article against (or sort of against) breast-feeding that appeared not-so-recently-anymore in The Atlantic Monthly. Among the many things I have wondered in response to the article is where the judgmental attitude that the writer accurately perceives toward and among mothers—about all kinds of behaviors, not just breast-feeding or bottle-feeding—comes from. My sense is the villagers are anxious now that the village is gone and we're all out here on our own, creating whatever communities we can at the tot lot, through the Web, and over the phone.

Sunday, May 3

The American Question

In The New York Times Magazine this weekend, more reasons to wonder (and worry!) about the kind of education we should expect for the Critter. In response to "the American question," I have a few questions of my own: Why the rush? Whom or what are we racing? Why the obsession with standardization, measurement, and rigor? Does anyone who lauds their rigorous academic standards actually know what rigor means?

Whereas I tend to value most what cannot be measured. What do I want for the Critter? Paints, crayons, xylophones, and drums. Unstructured time outdoors. Good friends....