Background Switcher (Hidden)

Raising the Fist

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I found a quote today by writer Tillie Olsen, born in Nebraska in 1913--which would make her just a year younger than my dad:

"More than in any other human relationship, overwhelmingly more, motherhood means being instantly interruptable, responsive, responsible, Children need one now ... The very fact that these are real needs, that one feels them as one's own (love, not duty); that there is no one else responsible for these needs, gives them primacy. It is distraction, not meditation, that becomes habitual; interruption, not continuity; spasmodic, not constant toil.... Work interrupted, deferred, relinquished, makes blockage--at best, lesser accomplishment. Unused capacities atrophy, cease to be. (Silences 18-19)

At first blush, this might seem to be a comment born of despair, from a creative spirit thwarted by constant interruption. (Since I started this blog entry, I've been interrupted three times). But I prefer to view Tillie Olsen's observation as a raised fist from a mother who persevered and wrote anyway.
The sound track behind me? Phoebe has finished straightening and is now vacuuming the living room. I can hardly believe it myself, but this is the second Saturday she's busied herself, after an initial fit of ennui, to picking up after all of us. While I write, or draw, or otherwise raise the triumphant fist of creativity.
Liam: "Phoebe's getting all the loving. I'm not getting really big loving."
For his part, Liam picks up after himself pretty darn well. It may take him a week to get to it, but he can throw wooden track pieces into a bin with the best of them. Mostly, he keeps me laughing. At the grocery store yesterday, we passed a cinder block wall splashed with grafitti. Liam gasped from the back seat. "They wrote on that wall!" I explained about grafitti, and why kids do it. "Wal, I wish I was a caveman," he replied. "Because they could write on the wall, and nobody got mad."It's a quiet, snowy day, 30 degrees to yesterday's 65. Kind of a shock. I've put out a whole oversized jar of suet dough for the suddenly ravenous birds outside, jacked the heat in the greenhouse, corrected two drawings for New York's breeding bird atlas, and produced two more drafts. The kids started the day watching Racing Stripes, an unusually well-done movie about a zebra who wants to be a racehorse. To our amazement, Chet watched it right along with them, eyeing the animals onscreen, until the warm blankets got the better of him and he drifted off.
Charles cleaned the kitchen with me, walking around on the table until he found a bag of Dora the Explorer graham snacks, chewed through it, and helped himself to one. Booger. You can say what you want about parrots as pets, but you cannot say they are slow.
In a search for warmth and comfort after the movie was over, Chet moved into the studio, where my creative fires were burning. And he stole my chair. So I finished the last drawing standing up, with Baker's doggy afterburners firing away periodically behind me.
The studio is quiet but for the scratch of Phoebe's markers and the chuckle of the macaw, shredding and rearranging the papers on his cage floor. Chet's tags are jingling as he takes the last stuffing out of a long-limbed frog. Liam drags a chair down the hall and across the floor, and climbs atop the flat file to draw, where Chet can't lie down on his sketchpad.
Tonight, the kids and I will make popcorn and watch Amelie, a DVD from the library. We'll all have earned a cuddle on the couch. We'll send this one out to Daddy, working a trade show (Birdwatch America) in Atlanta. Wish you were here, love. I know, it's a chick flick, but we still wish you were here.


[Back to Top]