Tuesday, May 09, 2006

in the belly of the beast

In spite of my currently idyllic suburban existence, I still have my natural-co-op-girl creds, which I prove by using only natural cleaning products. However, our bathtub, where my precious offspring soaks his body every single night and which I usually clean with Bon Ami and some natural lavendar soap, has developed a permenent layer of orange goo that my natural fallbacks just simply cannot remove. Today I caved and got Lysol bath cleaner foam, after standing in front of the Evil Cleansers shelf at the drug store for a really long time, talking myself into and out of and back into buying it.

Man, that shit really works. I'm going back for the straight bleach tomorrow.

But it cannot be the temptation of the eco-unfriendly products that is making me feel a little in despair today, can it? No, I think my despair can be traced back to reading jo(e)'s blog a couple of days ago. I love jo(e)'s blog, of course, just like you do. She's such a great writer, and has such an interesting, settled life. I can't wait to read about her adorable, spunky children and her endearing, active parents. But, sometimes I can't help wishing that more warts would show, you know? I mean, is it really as effortless as it seems to work as a professor, be just about the best writer on the web, be the world's funnest mom and keep up with seemingly hundreds of friends and extended family, all while attending thrilling conferences and practicing excellent self-care habits? SURELY NOT.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, she was blogging about her philosophy of parenting, which is, distilled, to be the kind of person that you want your kids to be and they will emulate you. According to the comments, most everyone was grateful for this advice, which, they said, would help them really be themselves.

It sent me into a spiral of self-loathing.

Who's the kind of person I want to be and, therefore, want my son to be? The list starts with patient, spritually aware, light hearted, present, gentle, strong, honest, relaxed, organized, compassionate, politically astute, revolutionary, smart, healthy, fun, hospitable and forgiving. Especially forgiving. Instead, I am so often, blech, not those things. Today, for example, I had the great idea to take Eli on the longest bike ride of his young life at 4:00 in the afternoon (40 blocks, the second half mostly up hill) and then GOT MAD AT HIM WHEN HE COMPLAINED ABOUT BEING TIRED. He's three years old, people! What is my PROBLEM?

All I'm saying is, it's an ok theory, but when I'm barely hovering just over the line from that cranky, resentful, impatient, anti-spiritual person that I feel like a lot of the time, having Eli be just like me doesn't seem like all that much to aim for.
I'd rather be the parent that Penelope Leach tells me to be.

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