The Re-Education of Mommy

I used to be an avid reader. Certainly as I child, I always had my nose in a book; sometimes I got teased in elementary school because of my tendency to read books that were very large.

As a young adult, I maintained the habit, trading book titles with friends, my mom, my sister, and devoting considerable discretionary funds to bookstores.

Then I had kids. Reading screeched to a halt. Books stacked up next to my bed, languishing, gathering dust. At night, when I tried to read, my head would bob after only a few paragraphs, and then I'd start over the next night, trying to absorb the same few paragraphs with the same, predictable result: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Alas, I miss my books.

Most sadly of all, though, it seems that I have actually forgotten how to read.

On a recent weekend, I found myself as the mother of three, with the baby off at grandma and poppa's for two nights, and the eldest away at a baseball tournament with dad. The three middle ones -- the soft bits, so to speak -- remained here with me, and did a right fine job of entertaining themselves. It was work, but so much less work that I felt as though someone had removed my leg weights, and I was able to move with a lightness of yesteryear.

The first morning, I did something I haven't done in ages: sat down in a comfy chair with the New York Times and cup of coffee. The three kidlets were absorbed with Club Penguin and I was free to read.

In that week's New York Magazine, there was a really interesting article about the nature of work, and the difference between working with one's hands and working with one's head. The author describes the satisfaction -- intellectual, physical, and moral -- of fixing a motorcycle. It was a great read, and touched on all kinds of interesting ideas that have me resolved to teach my children the value of laboring with their hands and devoting themselves to manual labor to complete a project.

The problem? I had a hard time reading it. I am so unaccustomed to reading without interruption that when presented with the opportunity, I still read as though someone was about to snatch the page from my hands. I scanned the page, skipped sentences, ignored the parts that required me actually to think. I was looking for the highlights, the general gist, and doing it fast so I could get as much as possible in before someone scraped a knee or injured a sibling.

That's no way to read.

So it looks like I will be adding "reading" to the list of things I have to re-learn how to do, since having children. Other things on the list include:

  • Eating a proper meal, instead of the leftovers off of all of the kids' plates.

  • Getting out of the house without requiring an hour and 37 minutes to do so.

  • Going out and enjoying myself without feeling like I'm visiting an alien planet. Going somewhere without children without feeling like I need a passport.

  • Sleeping with both eyes and both ears fully closed.

If I needed help re-learning how to walk, I could go to a physical therapist; to talk, I could go to a speech therapist. So who teaches moms how to relearn to be themselves?

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Comments

Karen said…
Good friends do, especially those who also love The New York Times and books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance...
nicole said…
other moms?
Monica said…
Yes, Karen and Nicole -- you are right! (slap forehead now) Thanks to you both!

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