“To write well in the mother-child arena, a person must understand that the essential condition of motherhood isn’t pleasure or wonderment or even terror — although there’s plenty of that. The essential condition is absurdity.”
I love this quote by Judith Newman of the New York Times writing about Anne Enright’s new book Making Babies. How true of an insight. Newman opines on why writing about children is tough: because 95% of child rearing is incredibly boring. It’s only the 5% of pure, raw joy that keeps us going. It’s easy to understand that 5% as mothers but what about the 95%? Newman questions “How did I survive spending most of 2004, the year my twin sons were 3, in front of a tank of sea lions? What got me through the years when the only way to persuade one son to brush his teeth was to hum the theme song to “The Pink Panther”?
I love her questions because she is being so real.
How many times do I need to wrestle Mario before he gets tired out? What gets me through playing baby with Maria every night? Why is it that the only way to get them upstairs to change in their pjs every night is to chase them like I am a big, kid-eating monster? How do I always fall into the trap of reading three extra books when I made it clear that I would only read one before bed? What am I thinking when I agree to let M&M help me make chocolate chip pancakes and eggs and powdered chocolate milk (can we say “complete mess”)?
I go back to the quote above… the essential condition of motherhood is absurdity. I look at all of these crazy antics I engage in and all of the hoops I climb through for these munchos, and I realize, yes, it is absurd. It is completely nuts. Insane. And I would never have dreamed of doing one-fourth of it when I was single and 25 years old. But would I change a bit of it now? Not a chance.