Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the drowned and the saved

Blame Sleeping Beauty.  Fall asleep for 100 years, handsome prince wakes you up, and you live happily ever after.

Oh yes. The prince doesn't mind you have morning breath.

Damn you Walt Disney, for making these princesses- who show you need a man to be happy. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella....

Let's throw Bettleheim out the window on this- is there something wrong that the Mouse taught several generations of women that they NEED a man in their lives to be complete?

After all, like the Virginia Slims advert, we've come a long way baby. In my grandmother's generation, women didn't work. And if they did, they were teachers, librarians, or nurses, or typists. Phone operators from the 40s .Women weren't doctors. They married them. Women didn't start going to med schools til the 50s and 60s. Women didn't become lawyers til then either, lets face it, women didn't really go to college at all until the 50s or 60s. And if they did, many of them were female only. And even then college was treated as a joke, a place to get a MRS degree.

I had a Professor for the Pre-Raphalities, and something she said stuck with me all these years. She had gone to an Ivy college- i don't recall which one- and mentioned that her roomate told her once- as she was homebound with 3 children under 5 'At least I studied Shakespeare once. I think of King Lear when I am cleaning the floor'.

Does that mean her children will grow up to be Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia? Or was she thinking it was sharper than a serpent's tooth to have children? Or was her life not what she thought it would be as she was cleaning the floor. Was that all there is? Wet diapers, runny noses, bruised knees, nightmares, and the satisfaction of knowing that despite that- she created something no one else has, three human beings who could grow up to be anything and everything they want?

I will be damned if I know. I thought my raison d'etre was to have children since I have a womb and ovaries. I am learning now, maybe there is more to do besides passing on my DNA to the next generation.  Biologically, I have some years left before that door closes, but lets face it- it's closed now. Now is the time to figure out how to rebuild dreams, go on with writing, which as always been a dream and a reason to get out of bed, and just continue. Like Faulkner's brilliant last sentence in "Sound and Fury"  "Dilsey preserved". I have to preserver too.  (I just hope this entry isn't full of Sound and Fury, signifying nothing, and I am an idiot, though I wouldn't mind being a bit more like Benjy).


Wellness Writer said...

Very interesting piece. I wonder what that mother of three meant as well. I had my son when I was 39 and my husband was 52. Truly, being a mother has been the best thing I've ever done. But, I don't believe that everyone needs to have children to feel fulfilled. There are certainly other dreams to pursue.

susan said...

Hi Susan,

I'm in my mid forties and although I would like to have children, I don't think it will happen, and I don't have a boyfriend.....I am sure that everyone has a purpose and a gift, sometimes it's just harder to find when you aren't looking so hard. Thank you so much for understanding, it means a lot to me.

Syd said...

So true. I was astonished that everyone's mother didn't go to college or take graduate level courses as mine did. She was unique for her time.

We haven't regretted not having children. It just wasn't in the cards.

Anthony said...

Well, if we're examining the meaning of life here, I haven't a clue. You're asking a 52-year old childless divorce, so WTF went wrong there?
I think men, to a lesser degree have the paternal instinct too, and I may regret not fostering a spwan, but at this point I realize that I'd be rearing it alone, and that ain't no picnic.

So, who knows why we're placed here - to procreate, have random sex or sit alone in a room contemplating life? When somebody figures it out, send me an e-mail.

susan said...

@Syd, thank you for those words.
@Anthony, I don't know the meaning of life but I honestly think it's to open cans of tuna for the furry ones.

sallyo said...

Motherhood is not just about giving birth. It's also about nourishing others, including other people's children, friends, and even pets.
I understand what your professor's friend meant: sometimes motherhood does seem like drudgery with the diapers and dishes, helping with homework, listening to their woes, etc., etc., etc. On those sometimes seemingly endless days, thinking about or having an adult conversation on something other than child-rearing concerns is a lifesaver.
I agree with Wellness Writer. Being a mother has been a great blessing for me, but there are other paths to pursue that are also meaningful and fulfilling.

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