Saturday, April 14, 2012

Meg Meg Meg. I heart you.

This post was originally posted a year ago in February. It's one of my proudest posts and was a guest post on and then reposted on BlogHer. It also got the attention of one of my favorite authors, Meg Wolitzer. Of course, I had to wave around the link on her blog first, but still. She responded. She KNOWS me. We're BFFs acquaintances now. 

 *  *  *

I just finished reading The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer. It’ll be taught in colleges one day. Eminent Authors 450 taught by Professor Trey Abernathy—who will no doubt be a balding man with a bouncey nod, and light in his eyes. Also, this imaginary professor wears Chuck Taylors with his tan suits. But the important detail is that the class will be taught by a man.

I’m in a ten-year nap. I gave up my life.

For them.

That’s what motherhood is. The truncating of a woman’s life for the nourishment of another, beginning at conception and filling and fulfilling the innate function of our breasts with milk of women’s sacrifice. Shouldn’t the book be called The Eighteen-Year Nap? The Eternal Nap? Will I ever “one day…just [wake] up, and there [will be] somewhere that [I] need to be”? as Meg so poignantly states in her last line of this book.

I both heartily agree with and reject the idea behind Wolitzer’s last line in the book. Am I to suppose that my early motherhood years are to be considered a “nap”, when in fact I do very little sleeping and a whole lot of dirty work that a sanitation engineer may wince at. Is the latter part of the sentence insinuating that working a paying job or volunteer work or anything that isn’t stay-at-home-y is the awake part of my life? The real living? That staying home with my kids is the “dream” and all else is the part where I’m awake? I’m quick to ask if Meg is a mom.

She is…which then leads me back to tending to agree with the same statement that I’m so infuriated with.

“But now the world […] had taken [the mothers]. He knew that this could happen. One day you just woke up, and there was somewhere you needed to be.”

Is it wrong that I feel myself trying to wake up every day? I smack my cheeks with “good literature”, splash the water of “continuing education” in my face, and jostle myself “meaningful conversation” just to get out of this motherhood “sleep”. This ethereal place where I can have a 20 minute conversation about my kid’s pink eye and spend another 20 on my hands and knees scrubbing the carpet free of a marker ink…again.

“Are you being Superman?” I’ll ask my son, “Or Batman?” And meanwhile three more homes in the neighborhood are repossessed and the families left SOL.

“Did you just poop your pants again,” I’ll ask my son. And the next day, a student asks me if I was alive during WWII (I’m not even 30), then I have to scold a kid for derogatorily calling someone a “Jew”.

“Your son can really read,” I’ll say to a fellow mom, “He read ‘pizza’ on my microwave panel.” And meanwhile Egypt is single-handedly starting rebel wild-fires in snafu Middle-East.

And back to the other hand…

My daughter says, “Look , Mom. I read the word, ‘pot’. P-O-T. pot,” And in high schools across the nation, students are reading on a 5th grade level and experimenting with pot—some given to them by their parents. And other parents complain about their kids having too much homework. And everyone blames the teachers and the education system. And I wanna give President Obama a hug for telling parents to turn off the TV already and read a book for Lincoln’s sake.

Motherhood is the most important job of a society. More than soldiers who protect society. More than politicians who lead society. Because…

We raise society. We provide a moral and educational foundation that ought to be firm enough to withstand life’s alterations, tempests, and Time.

But it is a sacrifice. Perhaps allegorical to the sacrifice. After all, we lay down our lives for them. Take an eternal nap for our children. We won’t be waking up because there’s somewhere we need to be. We are already here.


  1. Very interesting post, Rena. I never quite thought of it as "napping", but we do tend to put a lot on hold during those child-rearing years. I think about my own mother who raised children over a nearly 40 year period (20-year difference between the oldest and the youngest child, then raised a granddaughter). My mom did seem to "wake up" after she was no longer needed by her children.

    I enjoyed the humor thrown into the post, too. :)

    1. I'm going to have to assume that my whole opinion on this subject will change once my kids are grown. Currently I'm divided. Will we discover there's something else that needs to be done once the kids are all grown? I seem to have a full schedule all the time even when I'm not with my kids, so I don't know. Guess time will tell.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. I can proudly say that I will not have empty-nest syndrome in the fall when my son leaves for college. It's all I can do from sticking out my little toe to make it come a few days sooner. Terrible? No. Real. I love him dearly but it's time.

    1. Ha, I have a brother we all said that about!

    2. I'm betting I was that child. I was the 5th and last and hyperactive most of my life.

      I should go hug my mom...

  3. Wow great post! It's hard being a mom and "putting career goals on hold" so I can raise my boys. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm not saying I don't need help because I do. But I hate how all I can talk about is their issues etc - I used to be way more interesting! But they are my passion so like you I agree and disagree with that quote!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!
    Fellow A to Z er
    Leigh @

    1. Sometimes they are all I can talk about, and other times, I loathe "kid-talk" and rather be gossiping about the latest Joss Whedon movie.

  4. Not being a mom, my life is totally different than many women. Some of my friends act like they're a martyr and complain like thier kids are such a burden. It's nice to hear these comments. I know both my parents gave up a lot to be good parents and we're the better for it.

    1. I understand the martyr feeling. It's definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. The sacrifices were not what I expected. I hope I'm raising them well. Guess I'll never know until I read their memoirs. =)

  5. Great post, Rena! I've been jumping around blogdom this past week and seen posts from people that desperately want to be moms, and others who wouldn't be a mom for any amount of money in the world. Then there is the rest of us.
    I know that raising my children is the most important thing I will ever do. Now that they are almost grown (20, 17, and 15) I sometimes panic when I see that their rooms are consistently messy, that they forget to take the trash out to the road over and over again, and they still ask me "What's for lunch?"
    Other times I swell with pride, when they stand up for someone that is being picked on, when they share their faith with a friend, or when they do something that I know is particularly brave.

    What a ride it's been! A nap? I don't think so! I have never been so awake in my life! :)



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