Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Eavan Boland Poem has not been working like it used to...

As you may or may not know, when I became pregnant with The Kid, I was in grad school studying archaeology in Dublin, Ireland. It was a career choice, as I got deeper into it, I realized wouldn't be very lucrative, unless I sold out and wrote some book about new agey Celtic mythology mixed in with my scientific findings, or suddenly became smarter than I was and got that one-in-a-million job at Harvard or something. But the subject has always fascinated me, and I was really coming to love the archaeology people. They were smart, but also practical. Not your average "graduate student" stuff. They were not reading Proust, they were into figuring out the date and sequence of stone age hand axes. They liked data, and laughing. It's a rare field in the higher learning world, you know, to find grad students you can truly laugh with AND talk about heiratic measurements in Irish High Crosses, is all I'm saying. Additionally, I want to drive home the point that I knew as a career, archaeology would not be have me heading in direction of purchasing a porche, either.

Anyway, in April of 1999, I had just returned from an international conference on paleolithic rock art in Portugal (gasp! So awesome, I'll have to tell you about it sometime). And so, literally as The Kid was conceived, I was mulling over two exceedingly poor paying jobs for archaeologists I'd met at that conference. The first was a roman cooking site in the glorious Algarve of southern Portugal, like, the site was virtually in heaven, and the second was a paleolithic site in The Alps. No damn joke. I had a choice between a mediterranean seaside and a ricola commercial. I would have no money, and I would be showing wealthy tourists how to tell rat bones from cooked stone, but, well, I'd be on the Med or in the Alps. Rough.

But now, I sell insurance. Christ. Insurance. Is it not the iconic soul-crushing job? Also, if I've sold out to corporate America, should I not have something to show for it? I guess I do. Do you know what I have to show for the money I make?
  • $110 per month in prescription drug copays
  • approx. $180 in doctor's visits costs, if we don't see his pediatrician, dentist, or therapist more than twice
  • A child with a mental disorder, or three
  • constant worry, gray hairs and enormous strain, in every thing. EVERY LITTLE THING.

So, it's not the Alps. I'm generally okay with this most of the time. I made a choice to have The Kid. All mothers, however, at one time or another, regret their choice. I certainly have too. And I don't want to say I don't want him, or I don't love him, or that I didn't expect motherhood to be hard, or that single motherhood would somehow be more financially easy, but damn, people. It's hard to be The Kid's mom. The toll he's wrecked on me, and really (I could not be more serious about this one) on my family, my sisters and their kids and my mom, feels at times as though it is limitless. And he's only 6. Every day it's something new, and I'm fucking tired, let alone conceiving of what I've got ahead of me for the rest of his life. I'm exhausted of having The Kid, The Kid who must fight me at every moment over food, over not getting enough attention/ getting too much attention, daily phone calls from school, doctors, etc. It's the et cetera that kills me the most.

I love him, but I also like to fantasize about my alternate path, the summer spent in Portugal, the jobs from there, that professor I met from Cambridge asking me to work with him on Romanesque finial research once he got funding, the impermanence of the life of an archaeologist, and the wanderlust of it all. I wouldn't be human if I didn't.

So, anyway, this poem I added to the blog below. It's my favorite... It's resonated with me long before I got all knocked up, but after being a mother, it really began to rock my world. It combines all of those things that cross your mind at 5am with a suckling baby: the routine, the lonliness, I guess, the monotony of it all, but also all of those spectacular flashes of the cosmic in holding a tiny being in your hands. When they coo at an empty ceiling, and you look up, expecting to see a ghost, or an angel or something, and you get the chills; when you think of how you are continuing the species, and your body's acheivement in childbirth somehow connects to the sorority of all women, of all time who have felt this and done that, and you realize that God is somehow tied up in all of that, and so it follows that you are God and God is you, and we all are immensely creative, in the truest, purest sense, in the stupor and sleep deprivation of motherhood. So when I'm feeling the pull of sadness at my lot in life, I read that poem, and I generally answer her big question, about the going around and down to the old temple, that I am most definitely a priestess.

I reserve the right, however, to occasionally feel as though I am the sacrifice.

8 comments:

me said...

And as you do, and kinda only you can do, I sit here, made speechless.

Damn, woman.

Diane said...

WOW. Being a single Mom is rough no matter how you look at it. Your path is harder with all the other issues.

I read recently that Target was going to small co-pays for prescriptions. It was so low that it was shocking, $5.00, I believe.

I haven't looked into it to see what the details and limitations were. Harley's on much medication too.

Mrs. Ris said...

MY job is hard. I get all kinds of pats on the back, compliments on my patience at cocktail parties, and even inspire prayer chains started by my mother. "Bless my daughter, Lord, as she seeks to teach the disturbed little kids...."

But YOU.... it's a 24 hour, never-ending, all consuming, exceedingly personal business.

I will share your post with the preservice teachers I work with, to help them understand what our kids' parents face.

Sarah Dawson said...

I am totally fucking in awe of you right now.

mamacumquat said...

Molly, your eloquence is amazing. Yes, us moms have those moments where there is doubt, when we think about what might have been. Would we have travelled and taken One Last Trip? Where could i be working now if i did not have this little one? Just one more night on the town, one more obliteratingly fantastic drunken escapade, one more late night with a bottle of wine and some well-loved friends. Your blog nailed it. A sadness, a proudness, a glory, an awe. I heart you.

Jennifer said...

well put......

Matt Moore said...

Selling advertising is the iconic soul crushing job. But insurance is probably a close second.

It was nice to meet you last night.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but seriously, think of the havoc and stress taking care of you in your old age is going to cause him, and be grateful.