Posted by: scintillatingspeck | December 15, 2009

Another likely-unfocused momentum post.

I’m sure I will never win any blogging awards, which feels rather comforting.  It means I can have the luxury of writing a post purely to maintain my momentum in writing, and not worry too much about letting down my vast readership (ha) with a lapse in discipline.  No laser-sharp, finely crafted essays from me.  No, only the intermittent bursts of a wild-haired mother who is still struggling to accept the decline in her writing/cognitive skills as she endures the slings and arrows of everyday life in this insane industrial culture.

You may have noticed that I’ve ramped up the activism recently.  In addition to advocating for agriculture at the Bean Farm as a member of Grow Food Northampton, I’ve also helped to organize an initial meeting of Transition Northampton (which happened Dec. 9; next meeting will be in January) and attended a meeting of some Western Mass. Permaculture Guild folks.  These meetings have been alternately terrifying and energizing.  Meanwhile I have been swamped with email, and I’m still trying my best to be a good mom, although I don’t feel all that good lately.

Somewhere along the way I picked up this notion that I should be 100% patient and kind and unhurried while spending time with Lily, which is the vast majority of my time.  Meanwhile, it feels like lately Lily whines all day, every day, and I’m getting very annoyed by it, and far too brittle and snappish about inevitable mishaps.  I’ve been trying to coax her to use the potty (now I’m offering stickers as a reward) and she is having none of it.  I’ve been trying to guide her in terms of using utensils at the table, not throwing food, not spitting out food all the time, not demanding sugary things (Nonna and Grandpa have not been helpful in this regard recently), not hitting or kicking or pinching me, etc. and making no apparent progress whatsoever.  I’ve also been irked by all the mess she leaves in her wake, and irked by the necessity of asking her to clean up, and irked by having to do most of the cleaning myself anyway (although she does try to clean up when asked, in her own way) and irked because I feel so totally taken for granted,  and irked because duh, she’s two and a half years old, what do I expect anyway.  Most of all I’m angry with myself for being angry.  It’s exhausting.  Today Lily grabbed the calculator and broke it and it took all my strength not to flip out.  There is just no way for me to maintain this sweet, even-keeled, utterly peaceful attitude that all the Waldorfy kinds of books and websites keep talking about.  In fact, if there were one of those books at hand, I think I would hurl it across the room right now.  How am I supposed to be a good little mommy like that?!  I adore Lily and I don’t want to be mad at her, but at the same time, when day after day she keeps whining and testing me and pushing all my buttons and physically hurting me (and I do stop her and tell her sternly that that’s not okay, but it doesn’t stop her from trying again later)– how am I supposed to be all sweetness and light in the face of that?  How am I supposed to be calm and full of great, artistic ideas for toddler activities when the child still doesn’t sleep through the night, and in fact, of late, has been waking up even more?

I wish Lily and Tom and I could go on a retreat somewhere, in a log cabin in the mountains, with no internet or phone, and have nothing to do but cook food and add firewood to the wood stove and go exploring outdoors.

Now I’m even more exhausted by glimpsing the tiniest bit of my underground rage and grief.  There is so much more on topics that have nothing to do with Lily, like my everyday loneliness, my anxiety about environment/energy/economy, my unmitigated fury at the destruction wrought by my culture, my worries about my dad who has a rare form of lymphoma… just a few of the things that come to mind.  But I don’t want to write about all that right now.

I’m even pissed off that I’m expressing this through a blog and not face-to-face with a human being.

Meanwhile I should recognize that getting only five hours or so of sleep per night can’t possibly be good for my health, even if I feel driven to stay up and a)blog, b)manage a petition, c)read, d)eat too much goat cheese, simply because Lily is asleep and this is my big chance to have time for myself.  Okay, that’s it, I’m going to bed.



  1. The litany of “good parenting” versus “not good parenting” exists on so many levels. Each day I wonder if I am a good enough librarian/mom/wife/friend that it feels like I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.

    You need sleep :). And self-awareness and forgiveness. We are not perfect, we have feelings and emotions that overshoot commonsense and make us think that NOTHING we do is okay.

    You have a lot of that in place already dear. And a loving family and lots of friends who will tell you the same.

    However, in regards to the goat cheese – you can never have too much goat cheese. 😉

  2. Toddler days–hoo boy! They seemed to go on forever, and I felt so guilty that I wasn’t enjoying my child more. But the crying! The rages! Oh the irrationality! It could reduce me to …crying…rages…irrationality…

    I get daily emails from this guy who has a site called I really like his approach. One unique aspect is that it’s not just another vision of parenting perfection to aspire to, and fail, and thus feel more guilt for. The message that arrived yesterday seems to speak to your post:

    I used to feel that internet friendships were somehow ‘not real’, and therefore inferior to ‘real life’. Now I don’t think ‘inferior’, just different, and there are elements that are superior. I can articulate thoughts here that often are crowded out by the weight of physical presence. Sometimes I think this is the closest to telepathy humans will come–to put my thoughts (imperfectly articulated, yes) directly into the mind of someone else. To me this banishes loneliness, because I often feel heard and received in ways that aren’t possible in my immediate community.

  3. OH, don’t be fooled by the myth of the good mother… because you are one, temper fits and awful thoughts included! That is the real deal, girl, and don’t you know it…
    Want to come and hang out with me one of these mornings? And see my new girl? At this point we might need to plan for January because the masses are moving in next Wed. but I’d love to see you and your temper-tantruming hitting pinching adorable and obviuosly very normal two and a half year old!!

  4. Kristi: sleep, self-awareness and forgiveness. Yes, it would be good to have those. Along with a gallon of goat cheese. Or even better, some goats and the knowledge of how to make goat cheese! C’mon, you know you want to move to the country and raise goats with me, right?!

    Excavator: great link, thanks! I poked around the site a bit and found some intriguing ideas. And also thanks for the reminder that online friendships are different rather than inferior. I do agree, and at the same time, I am acutely aware of how little face-to-face time I generally get and how badly I want it, despite my pleasure in communicating via the written word.

    Carol, YES, I would have a fit of joy to see your new girl. And you! I’ve been drooling over the pictures you posted and your lush descriptions of exquisite, sweet Fiona.

    Many thanks to you moms for your wisdom and understanding.

  5. I’ve not met Lily, so I have no idea if this practice would work with her personality, but I’ll share something we do with Winston, who is also an expert 2 year old. I’ve lately been stubborn about not giving in to whining and so his whining often escalates into a a full blown fit. One day, about a month ago, when he was having a fit, I realized that he was just “too upset” and that was not good. I told him this straight up. “Winston you are too upset and I can’t talk to you this way. You need to go to your room until you calm down.” I then walked him to his room and let him know that when he came back out we could talk about what he wanted. Since that time he has periodically been taking “quiet time in his room” when he gets too upset. Sometimes at my suggestion, sometimes on his own. He has even done it when a friend has been over and they get into a sharing squabble. It has been going on for about a month now and I think it is seriously resulting in less whining, because he is starting to realize that whining doesn’t get him what he wants. And the quiet time thing is helping him to be aware of his own emotions.

    For example, this morning I doled out his vitamins rather than letting him take them out of the package, which is his preferred method. I did it myself because he had been crawling around on the floor, sneezing, etc. and I didn’t want grubby hands in the package. He had a fit. Refused to eat the vitamins I picked out. I told him I was sorry, but with dirty hands I couldn’t let him do it himself. He had a fit, took himself to his room, came out quiet and asked his Dad to help him wash his hands. He then came back to me and asked nicely to let him do it, because he’d washed his hands. At this point I capitulated and let him pick out a new vitamin on his own.

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