Fri 4 Jul 2008
i am all ascatter.
my work is mostly done…my formal work, my paid work. the paid part, at least, is totally done. there are still a few finishing touches i’ve committed to finishing up as freebies, just ’cause i get this nifty sense of validation from being involved in things that exist outside the four walls of my house. but these bits, these leftovers, languish now. there is no drive, no rush. after almost fifteen weeks on bedrest, i have actually unyoked myself from schedule, from the fetters of duty, from the little voice in my head that berates me with its ancestral refrains of Protestant Work Ethic virtues until i am compelled to accomplish, to complete, to drone away my days in busyness. i have sent the voice away on a whisky binge. i hope it is enjoying itself.
but i’m kinda lost without it.
i loll my way through my days, browsing the Baby Center naming boards, assembling photo albums, considering the abject state of my dish pile. having to lay around in the sunshine reading books and whiling away the hours hydrating myself with lemonade? um, yeh, it’s torture. ahem. or really, not at all. but that same little voice that ought to be soused by now on its whisky vacation still seems to have left an echo behind it, a hollow sound that eats at my pleasure in all this unaccustomed time just to Be.
i am more than capable of filling the time. but the fact that i spend half of it worrying that i’m not making the most of it and the other half trying to appear more productive than i really am suggests to me that i have a problem.
this morning i literally tripped over the root of the problem. it skittered away from me across the hardwood, and i sank into the couch and stared at it, revelation dawning. it was clear as a bell, and a beautiful blue. it told me, friends, that my life is not actually my own, to enjoy or squander as i wish. i have a colonized mind. my life, o lo my brothers and sisters, is a Thomas the Tank Engine episode, and the narrator is eager to get my lazy ass redeemed, already. my name is Bonnie and i am addicted to being a Really Useful Engine.
if you are not parent to a two-year-old boy, you may not be familiar with the smugly innocuous yet sanctimonious little morality plays that make up the backdrop to our waking moments here at chez crib – but if Oscar is awake and not eating, he can usually be found either carrying around a small blue train, begging to watch the same small blue train on YouTube or video, or demanding that someone read to him from his Big Thomas Book (a collection of righteous stories written – surprise! – by a post-war Protestant Reverend) or his Baby Thomas Book (a catalogue of Thomas products which Oscar’s parents could spend thousands of dollars to buy for him if only his mother were not so cheap and ironically Protestant in her attitudes towards material expenditures…and if she needed more things on the floor to trip over).
in nearly every Thomas episode, wayward Thomas gets distracted by mere petty enjoyment or vanity, and must be redeemed, brought back into the fold of industriousness by some mishap, train crash, or other teachable moment. the Sodor branch line which Thomas runs has a disturbing number of crashes and mishaps, to be frank – i would not suggest anyone book their next vacation with them.
but i have the sinking feeling i’ve done just that.
i am not sure when this conversion to the Church of Usefulness happened to me. i spent decades sleeping in, taking jobs in odd corners of the world because they offered a twenty-hour work week, drinking myself cheerful in seedy little bars and puzzling over obscure philosophy for fun, not credit. i still paid all my bills and was sober for all my classes, admittedly, but i was free from the internal compulsion to validate myself by busywork, by accomplishment, by checking things off the to-do list.
is this part of motherhood, or am i just a loony shut-in?
first meeting of Really Useful Engines Anonymous at, um, my house. soon. send help, wisdom, or at least some toothsome sweets.