Without Kids, What Would I Know Worth Knowing?

31 05 2008

What would I be doing now without kids?

In my life parenting has been a real education. So I guess without kids, I’d just be uneducated!

This is funny to me now, in light of all the formal schooling I had under my belt before I had kids. By 30 I had earned my doctorate and some worldly responsibility for other people’s children, for the structure and process of THEIR educations.

If I didn’t have children of my own to think about, I’d still be thinking about kids and education and getting paid for it, but my own education would have a big black light-sucking hole in it and I’d probably never even know it.

And without having kids who changed my life, would I be a systems thinker? What I’ve learned by living this life as mom to these children, is that moms don’t only give life to their kids. We give life to ourselves in the process. Family life IS life itself, not a separate unit or system apart from the real world, not a straight line with ancestors and descendants going up and down in a family “tree.”

Family is organic process, not inert structure. Ever see the movie Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking About Having No Children

30 05 2008

The latest Thinking Homeschooler topic is to imagine what you would be doing right now if you didn’t have children.

So there are these two wonderful people in my life who weren’t there 15 years ago and I’m supposed to imagine they aren’t here now. Almost impossible!

And sad. Because I had an OK life before the kids. DH was terrific, as always. We had bought a little house and I had my little job.

But it wasn’t a full life. There was plenty of time to party and goof off and not get things done. But there wasn’t much to point to and be proud of. Just going along, doing the next thing. Or not. There was a lot of “or not.” It was an unfocused life.

So, if I had never had children, would I still be wandering and unfocused? I don’t know. It’s so difficult to imagine that I would have suddenly found as much inspiration doing something else as I find in my children.

We briefly discussed the possibility. I was an older mother. I guess I still am. 🙂 But, at 36, there was the chance that I wouldn’t be able to have children. And so it was wonderful to hear DH say he’d still like to be married to me even if we couldn’t have kids, which was the reason we were even talking about marrying after 13 years of living together.

But if I hadn’t been able to get pregnant . . . after some time, I would hope I would adjust and find something useful to do with my time.

I suppose I could have become involved in politics. Becoming one of those wonderful people with no children who know that yours should be in public school and just how all that should be handled.

Or I could have found something that involved children — volunteering at the local Boys & Girls Club or school. All the while having no insider’s perspective on any of it.

Or I could have given a damn about work and made more money. And what? Had a perfect house — no posters pinned to the wall, no toys scattered in the yard, perfect grass and enough money to get new furniture instead of shopping thrift stores.

Maybe I would have had new clothes, too. And an actual hairstyle! Those things just don’t matter when a toddler is climbing on you or a teen needs to get somewhere.

Maybe I’d have traveled. That sounds like fun.

Damn, this is difficult to do. I think of traveling and immediately think about seeing some interesting landmark — with DH and DD and DS! Now, block the last two images out of the picture, leave only DH in — yep, I could do it. It would be fun.

I guess.

Doc’s Version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”

30 05 2008

Current Thinking Parents wiki topic:
What would you be doing right now if you didn’t have kids?

What JJ thinks about this topic:
See Doc’s Domain for a better post on this than you’re likely to see, at least from me. Although hmmm, maybe I could take it in a completely different direction then, write a limerick or do a parody of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. . .no, wait, that literally WAS about what he’d be doing if he’d never had children . . .

Good Post From Holly at Unschool Days

28 05 2008

Go take a look and enjoy:
“One-hundredth Post– and Archaic Forms of Bagel Torture”

Aren’t we a fine community at that? 🙂

The second part of her post made me recall someone (Lynn at Bore Me to Tears maybe?) recounting how she once attracted a blog-surfer searching for “horse smegma” and imagined herself becoming the online headquarters for smegma fanatics worldwide. EEeeuuuuw!

And I could add that Katherine Harris has been Snook’s most popular search term this week (since HBO’s Recount aired.) Usually it is “lion” — why are lions such a perennial favorite for web searching, can anyone fathom a guess?

Need Some Input

27 05 2008

This is what I just posted over at the QVC forums:

Does anyone here know what QVC’s policy is about customers who are addicted?

My story: My MIL is a serious QVC addict. She spends at least $2000 a month on QVC stuff. Jewelry and small appliances and kitchen items and clothing — those are her big areas. Christmas decorations and food and miscellaneous household items show up, too.

She gets a delivery to her home almost every day.

DH and I spent a couple of weeks clearing things out and storing them in the garage and generally trying to make her home passable about a year ago. And we just spent another day last week doing what we could but it’s not nearly as cleared up as the first time as we are out of storage space in her home.

She is a 78-year-old widow and, even though she sees family members quite often (most of us live nearby), she has enough free time on her hands and enough income to stuff her house full to the rafters of this stuff she does not need.

And she really doesn’t have enough income to continue this. She has begun eating into a home equity loan she has on the house.

She knows she has a problem and will swear off for short bursts, like any other addict. But then she gets in a mood and the boxes start again.

She has health issues and may not be thinking clearly all the time and we just feel she is being taken advantage of but have no idea how to intervene. We talk to her but, as I said, she stops and then starts up again.

I suppose I could wrestle the credit card out of her hand but I was hoping there was some sort of QVC policy about this that might help her concerned family.

Thanks for any help!


So has anyone else been through this? Any pearls of wisdom?


HBO Recount Not One Movie But Neverending Series?

26 05 2008

Finally the movie version of the real recount aired last night.

Saw it, liked it, found it pretty accurate but as it “ended” I did wonder why there were no previews shown for the continuing story? And why just call it “Recount” when “Schrodinger’s Cat” would have been much better!

. . .this historical kitty has been put through a quantum ringer that nobody should have to experience. After all it’s tough work being both alive and dead simultaneously. . . If the outcome of a circumstance is presently unknown and by observing the circumstance you will disrupt it, then it exists in all possible states simultaneously… Simple!

After all, it’s been eight years of escalation since then, with no end in sight. Contesting which votes count more (or less) and where and why, and fiddling the numbers before, during and after every trip to the polls so there’s never a clear “winner” and “loser” has become serial psychodrama. Every campaign and candidate is both winner and loser in the past, present and future, never a clear end to the story, no satisfying power of knowing how the story ends at last, when the ballot box is actually opened and the fate of all is sealed-revealed. Read the rest of this entry »

She’d Better Just Be Shooting Off Her MOUTH

23 05 2008

Did you hear — can you believe — what she’s said now?

Her latest rationale for staying in the race is that Obama could always be assassinated like Bobby Kennedy was in the summer leading to the convention, and then she would “win” after all . . .

Sallie Mae Throwing Good-Faith Student Loan Repayers Under School Bus

23 05 2008

Once upon a time MisEducation was a Good College Kid, bright, hard-working, meaning to make money decisions responsibly. Even she was famously taken in for a couple of years (and a few thousand dollars) by a life insurance product branded as the College Masters Scam, oops, uh, Plan.

It only bruised her ego and bank account, didn’t cripple either one, probably a good lesson in the real world.

But in today’s world a young person’s entire financial future may be forfeit to shady deals and immoral misrepresentations — even a good college kid who graduates and goes on into adulthood without making a single stupid investment or missing a single student loan payment. Worse, the government could be in on it.
See “. . .Sallie Mae’s new effort to trash the credit ratings of people in full compliance with their repayment obligations. . .”

And don’t even get me started about universities selling students’ individual information to credit card companies without their knowledge or permission, maybe there’s a video on that somewhere too? hmmm . . .

Writing Lost Girls Into NeverLand Story

19 05 2008

Sir J.M. Barrie was something of a Lost Boy himself and had no daughters, which may explain why the power of story in “Peter Pan” is Lost Boys afraid of growing up to be independent, not Lost Girls whose daddies are afraid they might do the same thing if allowed to flower outside the hot house, even in their imagination.

But it seems in this century, Lost Girls too are a looming concern for civilized humankind. Not just their technical, physical purity as in ancient cultures, but also their relationship rituals and stories and dreams and knowledge and attitudes all must be carefully climate-controlled now — if not hermetically sealed.

Conservative men protect girls and women from our coarse culture, fighting for female purity and passing it from man to man throughout a daughter’s life. Purity balls are back in the news this week — just in time to juxtapose with liberal moms sounding much too much like those conservative dads, fearing Hillary Clinton’s flower of womanhood hasn’t been similarly protected and that they and their daughters will suffer for it, that it shows our coarse culture to be hostile to the Feminine.

Oh, but for the sake of today’s argument, just IGNORE this story about using the modern world’s coarseness to lure kids to church, or tell yourself it applies only to boys. 👿

“Teens are our ‘fish,” he wrote. “So we’ve become creative in baiting
our hooks.”
. . .The alliance of popular culture and evangelism is challenging churches much as bingo games did in the 1960s. And the question fits into a rich debate about how far churches should go to reach young people.

Where were we then, before antisocial church-sponsored video games as proper patriarch training distracted us? Oh yes. . .

Is this rare agreement across the political (and sexual) spectrum, that the best answer is an elaborate separate-but-equal system of special social protections for female flowers, shielding them from a culture hostile to womanhood?

Daryl discusses the online feminist vitriol here, and the NYT Sunday Magazine takes it very seriously in “The Hillary Factor.”

I really need to think more about this.

First, the power of story that never-never leaves my own mind, is the cultural ravaging of Terri Schiavo, that eerily media-perfect symbol of helpless, infantalized girl-womanhood. Men — her father and husband and some exceedingly creepy spokesmonk in a rope-belted robe and sandals — fought publicly and pretty coarsely against each other and the paternalistic courts (and Governor) to control her very life and death, all while her mother wept bitter tears that helped no one and saved nothing, and while her grown and married daughter never said a word, just smiled that passive, vacant smile.

Another way to tell this Lost Girl story is to remember the culture’s real disservice to Terri Schiavo started by distorting her self-image as a girl and woman who had to physically conform to public standards of girlish beauty to be loved, leading to her bulimia-inspired “ice tea diet” that caused her own story to (mercifully?) end long before the Men’s protracted battle to write her epilogue-epitaph.

Second, Hillary Clinton married a Lost Boy and did have a daughter, now well-educated and self-possessed yet still unmarried and under Momma Clinton’s fierce purity protection program in word and deed, prohibited from choosing even to speak for herself while making political speeches, even to cute little girls in public much less Men with Pens Phallic or Otherwise, and even though she’s pushing 30!

Is it still paternalism when Mom (rather than Dad) Avenger wields the sword to keep the culture and public from your daughter’s purity, or is it the same old paternalistic pantsuit just cut way wider in the hips?
Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Elected First Black President!

18 05 2008

Snook already blogged our politicians writing books about themselves, as power of story about power of story. Here and here for example.
Today’s New York Times adds even more power of story to Obama’s power of story-telling:

Mr. Obama’s story first surfaced publicly in February 1990, when he was elected as the first black president — of The Harvard Law Review.

. . .Written at a time when Mr. Obama says he was thinking less about a career in politics than about simply writing a good book, it leaves an impression of candidness and authenticity that gives it much of its power. . .“The book is so literary,” said Arnold Rampersad, a professor of English at Stanford University who teaches autobiography . . .“It is so full of clever tricks — inventions for literary effect — that I was taken aback, even astonished. But make no mistake, these are simply the tricks that art trades in, and out of these tricks is supposed to come our realization of truth.”

More here about Harvard Democrats like Obama and religion as power of story:

The great strength of the liberal ideal has been its capacity to encompass modern ambiguities by, to borrow Isaiah Berlin’s phrase, shifting foot to foot…. Acknowledging distance between God and humanity is not a denial of values or a cowardice about faith. Hesitation to say, “This is the truth, we have received it from Amos,” is not a failure of nerve; it is hard-won wisdom. This shifting from foot to foot has been the virtue of liberalism, and the left should be wary of abandoning it for conservative-style conviction.

WaPo’s David Broder channeling Shelby Steele last fall, described Obama’s story power as “iconic Negro” a la Sidney Poitier:

. . .a focus group of liberal, middle-aged and elderly , , , female voters, when shown a videotape of Obama speaking in his 2004 Senate campaign. Asked whom Obama reminded them of, the answer was “Sidney Poitier.”

(Yes! I vaguely sensed that Barack Obama reminded me of some appealing classic “teacher” movie role from my own childhood story, now I remember — Poitier and his shy grin peeling an orange for lunch in “To Sir With Love”)

Finally, iconic pictures have such power of story that one really can be worth thousands of words, thus thousands of votes.

Take this one for example, via Liza’s Culture Kitchen:

Fine Evolution Post by Thinking Homeschooler Valerie Moon

17 05 2008

Science doesn’t require “belief,” it just is. Whether or not I “believe” in gravity, we’re all still stuck to the Earth. I find it hard to “believe” that energy from the sun can travel through the vacuum of space, through the layers of atmosphere around the Earth, and through the windows of my porch and still warm the air inside during a northern hemisphere January — but it happens whether I’m a Doubting Thomasina or not.

On the other hand, what is stated in the Bible (depending on what you’re reading) is not objectively observable. Science is based on what is, or isn’t, regardless of what the observer “believes” — and may change over time as our methods of observation improve

The reported commotion about the homeschool connection to conservative Protestantism makes no newsworthy sense.

Good read any day and TWICE on Sunday! 🙂

Sounds and Smells That Carry Me Back Home

15 05 2008

(For more, check out the Thinking Homeschoolers wiki.)

It’s a cliche, sure, but for me it’s all about the music.

I feel so lucky to be a bona fide boomer because the comforting music of my own childhood and teen years is always on tap, still playing on oldie radio whenever and wherever I want it. (Our kids won’t be so lucky as a demographic, to be pandered to the way we’ve always been.)

From elementary school hair-brushing and afterschool jump-roping singing along with the endlessly looping lyrics of Roy Orbison and the earliest Beatles, to I’m a Believer and Satisfaction and House of the Rising Sun and Brown-Eyed Girl and California Dreamin’ and You’ve Made Me So Very Happy on my sunbaked, oiled-up beach transistor radio, to Stairway to Heaven (and soon some early Springsteen) seeming like “real music” fit for college life as I settled into my first dorm room and was initiated into the vastly superior, mysterious fidelities of FM radio!

Speaking of the beach, now I remember how not just the music but the smells transport me back through time to those endless summers. My regular teen skin-cancer-courting grounds stretched up and down the east coast of Florida, from just north of St. Augustine Beach down through Ormond and Daytona Beach. Yes, there was salt in the air and heat and sweat, but that’s not the power of smell I associate with those summers.

For me, it wasn’t the Age of Aquarius so much as the Age of Impossibly Thick and Fragrant Body-Basting Oils, bottled in dark-brown glass with gilt-edged labels that promised you could turn at least as dark as the glass, heavy, highly viscous oils smelling of banana and coconut so evocatively that it imprinted me for life. (I hope against hope the cell damage didn’t too, but it no doubt did.) Read the rest of this entry »