Wednesday, August 26, 2009


So sorry for the quiet blog! Just as Maya fully recovered, I shifted my energies to vacation prep!

I can hear your gasps across the ether... Yes, I did, in fact, schedule a little holiday just after Maya's surgery and recovery. You might wonder if I've gone mad, loony, running away from the pressures of motherhood.

Well, I would not call it running, exactly, but I was due for an escape. I headed up north with my best girl for the best getaway we can imagine: a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We kept the trekking to a minimum, and essentially turned our campsite into a resort for a few days.

While I was gone, I realized that I have, in fact, gone loony, right along with the rest of my little family.

For several days, I perched quietly on one of those rigidly comforting glacial boulders, gazing out at Missing Link Lake and the spirited family of loons that lives there.

The loons were excellent hosts. They provided solid entertainment for much of the day, far better than any narrated animal planet series. We watched one of the loons hunt, catch, and eat a fish. We watched them teach their growing babies to fish. On our way out, we saw one of the parents acquiesece to the pleading baby bird and share some of its dinner.

Through all of this watching, we never could detect which loon was the male and which was the female. Their coloring is the same, they are both enormous birds, and they both seemed to interact with the babies equally.

While Joe and I don't resemble each other all that much (he towers more than a foot over me!), I do think we are a little loony, or is it loon-esque, in our interchangeability. I was able to take a mini-holiday so soon after Maya's recovery, because I had no doubt that Joe would capably and comfortingly handle any setbacks or challenges that might come up.

He is an in control, creative, and totally percpetive parent, always aware of both girls' latest quirks, so I didn't have to worry a bit while I was gone.

Surely this seems trivial. Most of our friends parent just as equally as we do, but most of them are duel-career families. When I jumped off the employment cliff into the unknown abyss of full-time motherhood, I was terrified that by specializing in motherhood, I would edge Joe out of the equation.

It was not an invalid fear. Many of my at-home peers worry endlessly when their children are alone with daddy for an afternoon. They worry that he didn't bother to put junior down for a nap or forgot to give junior teething medication or took junior out somewhere with an inadequately-stocked diaper bag. It's mostly unimportant stuff, but it speaks to how little parenting their husband's do in the shadow of their own full-time mothering.

Thankfully, in spite of my specialization, Joe has pursued the relationship with his girls that inspired him to have them in the first place. He is attentive enough to know what crib Iadditive will distract Elliot until she falls asleep (last week it was her cell phone, this week was a cup of water, and next week it may be her Arthor book). He knows how to strike just the right balance to keep Maya from throwing a tantrum, somehow giving her both the independence she craves and the help she needs.

These nuances set us apart as the parents, versus other close family or caretakers that know and love the girls. We know the little details, the small things that bring them comfort in the night, and we are experts at the big things that distract them from shredding the menus at a restaurant or disappearing into the neighbor's house without warning.

They are the magic tricks of parenting and they shift with the wind or a mood, or a weekend full of too much candy, and yet we stay in tune to them with out thinking. Both of us do.

So our family might look like a 1950s television show, what with all of the pies and the garden and the stay-at-home mom, but our reality is far closer to the loony feminist reinvention that I hoped for when I took the leap.

1 comment:

Anna said...

so glad you got away and felt no worries! I never held any anxieties when Bob was at home with our kids; was it youth or just that he was involved as I was when he was home...

glad Maya is recovering well, and that you had some grown-up time!


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