Monday, May 21, 2012

Reading with Real-Deal Moms

I was super-crazily honored to be part of the "Listen to Your Mother" reading series in DC a couple weeks ago. Here's a link to the website:

Cousin Stacey (the other Funk Pony mistress) was instrumental in providing feedback (i.e., red pen edit), and I trusted her completely because she is both brilliant and a gorgeous cream puff. Quite the combo.

Here is my essay from the May 6, 2012 reading:

The Door of Insanity
By Lindsay Félix

You may not be familiar with the term “Door of Insanity.” So, let me provide some background. The Door of Insanity is mentioned in the rarely-spoken second line that follows “It takes a village to raise a child.” That is, “It takes a village to keep mothers from answering the insistent pounding coming from the Door of Insanity.”

Knock. Knock!

My three-year-old, Angeline, is napping in my bed. As I tucked her in this afternoon, she asked, “Are you going to clean your room?” Hmmm… Even a three year old knows that a pile of t-shirts, panties, and sweat pants don’t belong on top of great grandma’s antique hope chest. Touché, little one. Although, she’s the one who chewed up her carrots and spat them on the carpet this afternoon. Knock. Knock.

My youngest daughter, Isadora, is napping after about 14 attempts. She just recently moved in to a toddler bed, so the novelty of getting up and adorning her hair with flocks of ribbons, or slamming the rocking chair into the wall has not yet worn off. She’s persistent. Tell her “No” too many times and she’ll march over to anything she can get her hands on and slam it on the ground. She’ll look at you with steely eyes, her lips pouted out as if to say, “How you like me now?”  Knock-knock-knock!

My friends’ laughter and commiserating about their insanity quells my own parenting anxiety. The knocking subsides.

But the knocking on the Door of Insanity was quite loud a couple years ago when I miscarried in a throbbing rush. I was at home. I actually held in my hand the dime-sized collection of cells that had been. In the end, I dug a tiny hole in our garden, and buried it beneath perennials that bloom in the earliest of spring days. The Door of Insanity swung open.

Over the phone, I told my cousin that I didn’t want to get pregnant again. I was mad. Petulant, even. I didn’t want a different baby. I wanted the one that I had lost. My cousin waited a moment, and asked, “How do you know that a new one wouldn’t have the same little spirit?” The Door of Insanity quietly creaked, inching toward closure.

Yet another dear cousin, on hearing me say that I was “trying not to be excited” about being pregnant again, said, “If something happens again, it’s not like pretending not to be excited will have helped. Just be excited now!”

My mother also talked me down. “Lindsay, you have to let yourself enjoy this. It’s a gift.” The Door of Insanity silently shut.

As I type this, I’m gazing at the cover of a magazine featuring the puma-sleek body of the lead singer from the Pussycat Dolls. I am jealous of her honeyed skin and clavicles. I am orbiting farther and farther away from that hot-girl world. I know what is inevitable. You see, I am currently “knocked up,” “with child,” “expecting.” As the weeks-old embryo divides and divides its cells, I will grow immense, and drift far off from hotness like a looming parade balloon. I’ll dance ponderously to “Don’t You wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?”

Knock. Knock.

However, when I’m standing at the kitchen sink, and my husband walks by and pinches my pregnant derrier (because everything looks pregnant), the knocking at the Door of Insanity stops.

The village keeps parents from flinging themselves over the threshold of the Door of Insanity. This was evidenced when my sister was diagnosed with leukemia when she was six years old. She passed away when she was nine. My parents were only 37. Not that they could have handled it any better if they had been older or wiser. The Door of Insanity blew open and engulfed everyone.

Without family members to pick up my parents from the dregs of grief, without friends taking my brother and me for a couple hours so that my mom could linger in my sister’s bedroom, without the village’s faith in the remote possibility that happiness and love might yet return, my family would have been lost. Over the years, the Door of Insanity closed millimeter by millimeter. It is still not shut, but only a sliver of darkness seeps through the gap.

The village that saves us sometimes includes our children themselves.

One of my proudest parent moments was when Angeline called me “Poopy mommy.” “Angeline! That is not nice!” I admonished. She quietly assessed me. Pondered. She pointed her toddler finger at me and declared, “Tinkle mommy!”

In the moment that followed this declaration, there was no knock on the Door of Insanity. Instead, I was downright giddy. Inside, of course. I dutifully furrowed my brow. But my husband, standing behind her, held his stomach in a painful, silent laugh. How clever she was! What moxy!

Yet, we truly fear her teenage reign of terror.

The pounding on the Door of Insanity will grow louder, tomorrow, or next week, and over the years, but my husband and I will depend on our precious village to hush the knocking and attach a child-safety lock to the Door. 

1 comment:

  1. I have shivers all over from your words, descriptions, emotions, writing style, all of it. Plus the whole "I've been there 1,000 times too. I love you and I love this essay!