On this lovely Sunday, I begin 3 days of kid-free existence. I feel rather giddy about it. And also rather nappy. In fact, a nap may very well interrupt my writing of this post. Which might make this the best kind of Sunday afternoon, except for the problem that I often wake up crabby — scratch that, I always wake up crabby.
The Sunday afternoon nap remains an appealing daydream, despite the fact that I’m a terrible napper. Not only do I always wake up crabby, but I also have to trick myself into sleeping. Even then it mostly doesn’t work. Just now, for example. I had This American Life on the radio and all those mellow voices were lulling me. My eyes were getting heavier and heavier. My behind was sinking deeper into the couch as my muscles relaxed. I put the computer down, but kept the radio on, and curled up, listening and not listening, trying to distract my brain.
My brain whirls and whirls. So there was no nap.
* The telling moment
It happens in fiction all the time — that one little moment, comment, reaction — that tells the truth of who someone is or how healthy a relationship may or may not be. But we don’t always gets to see one in real life. Here’s one I heard about recently.
A young man liked a young woman. Happily for him, the young woman liked him back. But they were taking it slowly, making sure they had a solid foundation of friendship before taking things in a romantic direction. Truth be told, this was the first young woman to like the young man back.
Both of them had recently read The Fault In Our Stars and were looking forward to seeing the movie when it came out. The young man’s mother told her son about something a friend of hers had done: seen an advanced screening, with the author, during the movie, they were served risotto during the dinner in Amsterdam scene, and after the Q&A, they all went out in the parking lot and egged a car. She told her son, thinking that he’d get all jealous about her friend meeting John Green and doing that cool stuff.
The young man turned a serious face to his mother and asked about the throw-up scene, and how graphic it was, because the beloved young woman had a problem with seeing other people throw up, and he’d like to be able to warn her about it, so she’d be more comfortable seeing the movie.
What a lovely glimpse of her son as a boyfriend.
* Scope for imagination:
A Facebook friend linked to this article this week. It was an interesting piece about a subculture I’d never heard about: young women in southern Guangdong province in China who could choose to become “self-combed women” rather than marry. Now, it’s not like they could then go to university and live a fabulous and independent life. They had to leave their families and work hard, either in factories or as servants in others’ households. They were illiterate. They were expected to send most of their income to their family of origin. But the women made money, and their contributions to the household were worthy of thanks — these were unusual in that culture in the 1800s through the mid-1900s. Women who entered (either by choice or by force) their husband’s family’s household would have had to endure whatever kind of treatment the husband and his family deemed their right, and they’d have to serve their parents-in-law with no thanks (because they were merely doing what was expected). Also, the self-combed women were expected to remain celibate. They were independent of the marriage system, but still bound by cultural norms; able to choose, but not have many choices.
The thing that has my imagination all fired up is the name itself, “self-combed.” By deciding not to marry, they wouldn’t get to do the pre-wedding ritual when their mother would comb their hair into a bun to symbolize their transition from single girl to married woman. They combed their own hair into their own bun.
When I looked into this more, I found a contemporary visual artist, Man Yee Lam, who sees her own life in the complicated story of the self-combed women: “‘Self-Combing Women’ is an exploration of my relationship with my ancestral roots, and of my life-long battle between my independence as a woman and my experience of subjection to cultural patterning.” Click here to see the piece she made of a woman inside a silk cocoon (the self-combed women often worked in silk industry factories).
* Do I miss my children when we’re apart?
I won’t keep you in suspense: no. For the most part, I do not pine, I do not ache, I am not distracted by their absence. When they’re gone, I am glad they are on whatever adventure they are on, with whichever friends they are with. And if I’m the one who’s gone, I’m generally consumed by whatever adventure I’m on, with whichever friends I am with.
This is in the forefront of my mind these days because my 15-year-old son is off in Europe for 2 1/2 weeks with his best friend and said best friend’s mother. In the week he’s been gone, I’ve had one teary moment — right after we’d finished a FB chat. We talked via Skype this afternoon, and there was no teariness. He’s having way too much fun, seeing way too many amazing things.
And, as I said at the beginning, I’m giddy because my daughter is camping with a friend and her family for 3 days. It’s fun for me and my husband to have the house to ourselves, to have cut in half the needs and schedules we have to negotiate. This time, I’m not even racing to paint the kids’ rooms, as I was the last time we had them both gone for days at a time.
There are many different kinds of mothers, and I guess what I’m doing here is claiming my own style, my own way of loving my children.
* I must confess
That most of my ramblings these past few days revolve around bad words and unkind thoughts that I aim at my neighbors and their love of all-day and middle-of-the-night fireworks, particularly those booming M-80s.
I’ve been enjoying The Netherlands’ performance in the World Cup, spending lots of money at the Dutch store, eating more dropjes in the last month that I normally do in two years.
SO, what are you rambling about this Sunday?