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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.
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.