A Three Legged Stool with a Lot of Buts

Writing is weird. You know how when you wake up from an intense dream, and you are trying to relate it to someone, you find the dream itself changing as you put it into words? Because dreams and words just don’t really fit together.

Sometimes writing is like that. You can’t just sit down and let it all hang out. Even if it were possible to commit the true working of my mind to words, no one would want to read it. Too messy.

One thing I’ve really always hated about writing is that you are not supposed to contradict yourself. You are only allowed to bring in contradictory ideas if they are weak, so that you can systematically knock them flat. It’s all such bullshit. You have to act like you know The Answer. I remember in school having my essays marked up in red because I kept contradicting myself. The whole premise behind writing is to pick an opinion and then stick with it.

But what about genuine exploration? What if I have some ideas, and they sound good, but so do some other ideas. And anyway, everybody always wants a neat little package of Things That Go Together, explainable in a few simple paragraphs, because it’s a busy world don’t you know.

That last post, Submission, was a doozy. I knew it would be before I even touched the keyboard. It was long, and many of you apparently waded right through to the end, bless your hearts. Still, as long as it was, I cut a lot out in my effort to make it coherent. And a lot of what I cut were the buts.

I didn’t get any of the hate mail I feared I might with such a taboo subject. I guess you all either know me well enough or understood your own path to similar conclusions. Hopefully there’s no one with a shiny blog out there feeling silently wounded, because what is this anyway? And you know I’m prone to the macro lens myself. In fact the irony of that post was that, every hour I spent thinking and writing (and believe you me, we’re talking about a lot of hours!) was an hour not submitting to motherhood.

Well, that’s not exactly true because, here’s the buts I left out of that (consequently cohesive) post.

**But! By submitting to motherhood I don’t mean erasing every personal aspiration. We’ve been over that balancing act several times before. It’s important that your kids see you taking care of yourself. You have to keep doing the things you love, for everyone’s sake.  I dare say, making the time and energy for doing what you love makes you a better mother. But (can I have a but within a but?) it all comes back to the Alcoholics Anonymous ‘Serenity Prayer’ mentioned in an earlier post.

“Grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s a three legged stool. Won’t stand without all three. No cheating.

**But! If you were to quit everything that was you without kids, then at the very least, what the hell would you do in another five years, when you don’t need to be mama 24/7? In fact at some point in motherhood what you need to do is not be mama 24/7. At some point you’d better step back and trust that you have given those little nubbins all the skills they need to proceed on their own. And at that point, having something distracting to turn your attention to would sure be handy!

**But! Here’s one I don’t think I’ve rambled about yet– Submit, but don’t enclose.

By submitting to motherhood, I really don’t mean sit around and play leggos with your kids all day, in case you were worried. I have a strong opinion that although playing with your kids is awesome, and everyone should do it a little each day, kids need to feel like they are a part of a world going on around them, not the single starring role. The stereotypical American “submitted” mama is an imbalance that I don’t think is good for either mama or kid. If it’s kidkidkid all the time, then they will surely grow up thinking the world revolves around them. I believe that turning your energy towards the home, the kitchen, other people and the general maintenance of life for a good part of every day gives kids healthy expectations. I’d like to post more about this soon, because I do feel it’s a pitfall of home-parenting. Our culture is just not set up to have kids be a meaningful part of it.

**But! Everyone has there very own lesson to learn in life. I’ve known plenty of mamas who do not need to be told to submit. On the contrary, their personal lesson is to assert! Only you can know what you need.

And lastly–

**But! What the hell do I know anyway?

6 thoughts on “A Three Legged Stool with a Lot of Buts

  1. CJ – you know how to craft a post so that people feel as if some of their own twisty evasive feeling-thoughts have been pinned down, Whew. And not only that – but that they are not Alone in either not being able to pin them down or in having them to begin with. You never claimed to have all the answers, you know, and anyone who puts on an apron and ties on some strings thinking they are going to be as kick-ass as you when they put it on is just plain silly. but i’m sure that that will not happen because another thing you know is how to shake up a brain a little.

  2. Wish you lived on my street! I’d love to let our kids all hang out playing together whilst shooting the breeze about all the buts. You have put things very eloquently on this subject. It’s a moving target and life is in the buts.

  3. Ah, lady, it sure is the but’s that keep us guessing about our lives. Keeps us realising that just cos a decision’s been made once, it can just as easily be unmade and then made different or anew.

    The flexibility of your attitude draws me in

    The fact that although you’re a breast feedin’ vagina birther, and I’m a ceasar-scar-bearin mama that had to go bottle with the second, doesn’t sound like it’d matter to you, the how’s of how ‘my’ babies got to where they are are intimate to me, as they are to you with your own.

    The writing you put on the wall is that even though we’re all different, it’s no competition, it’s life, beautiful, rich, different and varied, life. It’s how we each question, gabble on about, and practice that life that matters, and it only matters to ourselves.

    1. Yeah! There is true communication in cyberspace. That is all absolutely true Kylie. And very well put. Don’t be surprised if I quote you on that. Thanks for understanding me so well.

  4. Yes, oh yes, the buts (for me) are the nuanced human bits that make me love this blog and blog spaces generally. So much more accepting of real life contradictions than books that have a message to sell and can’t embrace the wiggleiness of life.

  5. Yarg, that is so incredibly frustrating in academia, the paradigm in which one spends all time asserting a stance and defending it. It’s hard to listen or learn. It’s ridiculous! It’s traditional. It’s patriarchal. And for the record, it’s going out the window. Only select professors still insist on it and the students, for their part, are starting to assert the need for intellectual curiosity over arrogance. I’ve had a number of good conversations along those lines lately and have been surprised to find support for it amongst my peers. It is a juicy pursuit, the lust for good questions. To draw things out and explore complexity. Way more interesting. And so I am delighted to find your buts on this page!

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