Pies Pies Pies

Dear Family,

First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dad! I'm sorry we aren't there to give you a big
dose of birthday chaos, but I hope you're enjoying your day anyway.
Twelve years ago today, you were having a great big party and I was
riding my bike through rural Virginia at the beginning of my
cross-country trip. I remember calling you from the Ashland AmeriCamp,
and April told me that you were all having chocolate cake and lots of wine.

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We've had a great week - took a super-fun family bike ride, played
outside, read lots of books, didn't have even one episode of vomiting or
sickness of any kind. Obviously, it's time for Sarabeth's identity crisis.

A few weeks ago, the woman who runs the "littles" playgroup for
homeschoolers sent out an e-mail announcing a music and crafts session
for the kids. She signed her note, "Mama J." She happens to have four
kids, the youngest of whom is 3 months old. She's beautiful and patient
and kind...and I happen to know that she wants to have SEVEN children.

It's not that I envy her kids, or her energy, or her long flowing hair.
It's the way she embraces her work as Mama, identifying with that job
description with so little ambivalence. I'll admit that I don't know
many people like her, but often the stern and dictatorial judges in my
head tell me I'd be way better if I were more like Mama J.

I've created a whole made-up mother-who-I'm-not. She does have long
flowing hair and a soft smile, and she always has time and a desire to
play with her kids. She does enriching activities to make her children's
unschooling life well-rounded and full--but with just enough down time.
She reads books with her kids, does crafts with her kids, goes to
museums with her kids, bakes muffins with her kids, always speaks gently
and respectfully to her kids.

In many ways, I resemble this mother, because I do most of those things
(at least sometimes) and then some. I've set up my life to be a mother.
I am apart from Jem and Ben about 8 hours a week, total.

But then, at random intervals during the day, and then almost every
evening around 5:00pm, I really stop wanting to do _anything_ with them
at all. At those times, I resent the things I didn't plan for back when
I got pregnant nearly six years ago. Like, how I got a child who can't
handle it when I talk to anybody besides him (there's this sensation I
get, of catching glimpses of a rapidly retreating social life). Or how
crazed I feel sometimes, when my whole day's energy goes into the care
and nurturing of two people who are both yelling at me at once. And how
much I still want to try new things, and go new places, because life is
so _short_, goddammit!...and how much guilt I can conjure up when I want
to do things that don't involve my kids.

I used to dump giant rations of scorn (silently, of course) upon the
heads of People Who Send Their Kids to School. "They wanted kids," I'd
think to myself, quite self-righteously, "and the kids didn't ask to be
born! The least they can do is hang out with them." I'll admit now that
things are more complex than I used to think.

Not sure what conclusions to draw from this. Maybe to renew my
appreciation for how fleeting life is, how this--like dust in the
wind--shall pass? Maybe, to appreciate my kids for teaching me how scorn
heaped upon others can come back to smack me in the face? Maybe, to
appreciate _myself,_ for the times my hair flows a bit, and I am the
Mama Sara I aspire to be.

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Okay, those paragraphs took too long to write. Just a few more things.

Jem has a new word, strong and demonstrative: "Mundy." God only knows
where that comes from, or what it means. Let us just say that verbal
skills take a bit longer to mature in some people than in others. Just
ask him why his knees are skinned, though, and you'll get a great
description. First: "Whoa!" Then, points to knees, points outside, then
waves his hand forwards suddenly, palm-first. "Biff!" Then, "Whoa." That
just about explains it.

Also, my genius child sometimes tells me when he needs to poop by
grunting loudly and expressively. We were out at the sandbox the other
day when he needed to go. He came upstairs with me, sat on the toilet,
pooped, said "Whoa!" denoting his impressive bowel movement, and then
helpfully flushed the toilet when he'd finished. I was busy
congratulating myself on my child's accomplishments as I washed my
hands...when I suddenly saw a darting small person. He just couldn't
resist the perfect chance to throw a balloon into the toilet.

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Do you ever get that irrational hope on laundry day that this time,
there really won't be any more?

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This week Ben did lots of balloons, lots of origami, lots of
book-making. He can also run really fast these days.

Jeff did our taxes this week! Among his many other fine attributes,
doing taxes in a calm and imperturbable manner is high up there on the
list. Also, he's started work with his new client, did some juggling,
and went for a fun hike with me (a date! :) ) down Coy Glen yesterday.
We found some spots in the creek where it is still frozen.

I made pizza for Wednesday's CH meal, and today I taught my final
cooking class in my series: "Apple Pie That's Almost as Good as Jeff's
Mom's." What with the recipe testing all week long, I made a total of
four pies. I'm not going to make another one for at least a week.

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And now I'm going to bed. Thanks for reading this! After getting it all
out, my identity crisis seems to be passing...

Love,
Mama/Sister/Daughter/Wife/Friend/Dancer/Jump Roper/Cook/Writer/Musician,
Sarabeth