Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Selective memory

Sometimes when I'm feeling low and not too productive, I click through the archives to see what was going on a year ago today. Turns out this time last year, in the flickrsphere anyway, we were also in Concord for Great Grandfather's birthday. His 99th.

I think about "family" a lot more than I used to. It shouldn't be surprising seeing as how time seems to march at break-neck speed once you decide to spawn. All of a sudden heartache and mortality loom large on an otherwise unincumbered psyche.

Not that I wasn't a fatalist BEFORE deciding motherhood might actually be a good idea, just that when time is marked by a child's metamorphosis time marks you, too.

Yet, as I count on my fingers the three months left until Thing 2 will be hatched into this world, it all seems so incongruous. So incomprehensible. How is it possible that time moves with the speed of both molasses and lightning?

Lately, we've been "shopping" daycare facilities, and it's been nothing short of culture shock (for me). Giant, multi-colored complexes in professional parks. Cinderblock walls, locked doors and intercom security. Everything is colored with learning speak: "The we-prepare-your-kids to-be-the-brightest they-can-be" slogan marketed to modern parents.

Instead of "free play" kids engage in excercising their "gross motor skills."
These great bastions of early childhood education build "problem-solving" and "critical thinking skills." Instead of story time they delve headlong into literacy achievement.

The critic in me wants to smack myself over the head and say this is why Mommy's supposed to stay home: so that Junior can learn about family before he has to learn his ABCs. So he can get hugs and kisses instead of lessons and progress reports. Yet the phobic in me knows that without my stable income, we are only one out-of-commission truck or lost client closer to destitute. And worse, we are one nervous breakdown away from total chaos. And in the end, nothing really changes.

No matter what they call it this week -- story time, literacy readiness or whatever catchphrase sounds like it will net the most cash from stricken parents -- in the end it's still about sitting around on a carpet somewhere reading "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish."

It's just that it's so easy to pine for a simpler time; a time when health care wasn't a three-ringed circus, groceries for the month didn't cost a week's pay and heating a home didn't include budget plans.

And yet, when you really look into it, when you are reminded of the kitchens and cafeterias our grandmothers worked in or the assembly lines, it's entirely possible the golden age had its tarnish, too.


ECR said...

The break-neck speed and the markings of time are something I think about a lot now. All the time, actually. It's a scary concept.

Gail said...

I was thinking about gender issues last weekend. On Sunday when my friend and I were at the rowing club, she said that women weren't allowed to row in the Olympics until 1977! It will probably be a couple more generations before the decision (and guilty feelings) of working or staying at home to childmind will be more equalized between the genders.

Heather said...

You are so right about how you notice time way more when you become a parent. I never knew how fast it moved until I turned around today and realized that tomorrow my son will be nine weeks old. How did that happen? Where did the time go? Wasn't I just pregnant?

As for the daycare thing. We chose the one where I felt like he would be more in a home setting than an institution. There is no intercom system and the walls are painted brightly with all kinds of pictures of kids and art projects. It made me feel the most comfortable and I think that is important.