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So Ive been wrestling for the past few days with something that really should not be something one wrestles with. Clearly a "first world white people" problem or whatever term should describe my fortune in wrestling with this and not how I'm going to feed my child. The "problem" ?
Going to IKEA.
SO here it is in a nutshell - I want to go to IKEA. In fact, I have this desire
to go to IKEA. Which in itself is weird enough. I mean, its not entirely out of the blue, as we are renovating and furnishing our guest house in preparation of, well, guests. Ive never really 'furnished' a house before, as basically everything in our own home was either a wedding gift or a stroke of luck that my husband's aunt wanted to get rid of an entire storage unit of beautiful furniture. So in a way, it actually seems 'fun' to go and choose the little odds and ends for the guest house. Plus its on a small enough scale that Im not overwhelmed by the prospect of 'filling' an entire house (or the cost that would entail). SO anyway, its not illogical that I want to go to IKEA.
BUT the nearest IKEA is just over an hour away. Which is bad enough just to go shopping somewhere. Take into account that Ill have a toddler in tow and it becomes that much less appealing. And I really hate when our outing for the day consists of a shopping trip. But what I hate most of all is when that shopping trip is born out of boredom on my part.
You know why my demographic is the prime consumer? Housewife, Stay-at home mom (although I work from home, Its hard for my to identify as a work-at-home mom since I feel like 'work' implies a scope beyond mothering and I mainly feel more of the 'trapped' sense that STAY implies....thats for another post I think).....anyway, we are great consumers because we are bored.
Ok, Im not going to pretend to be the spokesperson for moms or stay at home moms or work at home moms or housewives or anyone. But on behalf of myself, I can tell you that this whole situation is mind-numbingly boring sometimes. Maybe even often? And not in the "I have nothing to do" way, because believe me, thats not a problem. Not in the "I have no interests" way either, cause I have plenty. And not in the grand sense of "nothing going on" because I am surrounded by amazement and wonder. Watching a child grow and learn is nothing short of astonishing. Thats the truth. But there is also the fact that I have 15 or 16 hours to fill every. single. day. ...... with a 2 year old. Which limits what we can do, how we can do it, where we can do it, when we can do it, and on and on and on. Obviously Im filled with awe about a hundred times a day with my son. But even I, who loves to ponder and analyze and dwell in the wonderment of life, cannot do it for 14 hours a day. Most
of my time is spent figuring out how to keep him occupied, in a way that ideally involves interaction and learning. And believe me, we are not a tightly run ship around here. He gets plenty of unstructured time to play by himself. I do not feel compelled to bust out flashcards and be regimented and shit like that. I have no problem pushing nap time in order to facilitate an outing. But at the end of the day (or the beginning I should say), we have hours and hours to fill. He needs interaction. He needs supervision. He needs stimulation. His skills are limited. His temperament is limited. I have no problem "being the parent" but lets face it - we run on his schedule.
And we need to get out of the house every day. Id love to say we go for long nature hikes and wade in the stream on a daily basis. But its winter, its new jersey, and Im 8 months pregnant. Sometimes a trip to Target is all I can muster.
And I don't want to foster that as a 'normal; and 'healthy' activity..... I mean, shopping shouldn't really even be considered an "Activity", I don't think. I don't even really like
shopping for the most part, especially
when its just being used as catharsis.
And yet, I want to go to IKEA, so whats the big deal? Its just a trip to IKEA. Besides, we have nothing else planned for the day. Why is this such a problem for me?
I could go on and on about being bored at home, being bored in New Jersey, the challenges of balancing practicality and idealism in parenting..... BUT its nap time. Which lasts just over an hour..... which is the exact travel time it would take me .........
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This is the other part I really don't get about celebrity death commentary- the people who want to minimize the "importance" of a celebrity dying by comparing it to all the countless people/ children/ soldiers who die everyday. I have so many problems with this approach.
First of all, if the point you are trying to make is that all human life should be valued, then how can you base that argument on comparing one life to another? Second, I feel like these people feel very virtuous for trying to "keep things in perspective" or something like that but that, to me, is not even a viable or sustainable perspective to have. If the argument is that the celebrity does not deserve grieving any more than the nameless daily deaths, well, then we can choose to grieve for no one or everyone. Either choice is not practical, not realistic, and not in our human nature.
And finally it drives me absolutely nuts that people can't just give credit where credit is due. Yes, it is heartbreaking to think of the children dying and suffering every day all over the world. But unless I am going to take that on, make it personal (and - gasp!- do something about it) then frankly, it has not affected me. Yes I am acutely aware of how lucky I am for this to be the case, and yes I realize how cold that might sound, but I for one, am being honest. The homeless person that died today had no impact on my life (none that I know of anyway) whereas Michael Jackson provided endless inspiration, comfort, motivation, delight, and even bonding between me and my brothers, who must have analyzed every single dancer in "Smooth Criminal" about a hundred times. Michael Jackson inspired and affected millions of people. Whitney Houston did the same. Why is it a problem to some people that we relish that and celebrate them for it and mourn our collective loss? The same reason I don't grieve for your uncle's death whereas I will grieve for my own uncle's death is the same reason I feel no shame in grieving for a celebrity who has touched my life and not grieving for people I have no connection to.
And besides, compassion for one does not have to come at the expense of the other. My heart is big enough for it all. Is yours?
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Not sure whats wrong with people..... not sure how we all became so callous, so removed from compassion it seems..... relative anonymity of the internet hasn't helped our civil discourse, I don't think....
I'm just thinking about Whitney Houston and her death and there are so many elements that grab me about it, and celebrity deaths in general. Any commentary that is less than kind toward someone who has died , I mean especially someone you don't even know, seems so cruel. So many people are quick to point out that she was a drug addict. Which is fine. No one is asking anyone to feel sorry for her, but to blame an addict is to miss the point. We don't have any idea what she was up against throughout her life. We don't have any idea the toll fame takes on your sense of well-being, although we should all be able to admit that it must, that the way we treat celebrities must be perverse in some way, for the tragedy to repeat itself over and over.
At the end of the day, I am all about personal responsibility. But Id like us to stop pretending that the way we treat eachother is inconsequential. The same public that feel celebrities owe us explanations and apologies for their behavior, the same public that actually buys magazines with headlines like "stars without makeup" or "guess whose cellulite this is" , the same public who throws adulation and condemnation around as if these people mean something personal to us
are the same public that draws satisfaction from the final tsk tsk.
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I feel like I have to be diligent, fierce, and consistently on point in protecting my son from being fed the misgivings, fears, and judgements us adults have all become so attached to. I see it from every corner, even within our family, from people who love him and want only the best for him.... still they impose on him their strict limitations, their unobserved shortcomings, their own lack of self awareness mutated into some distorted forms of concern and caution...... Essentially people want him to be what they want
him to be. I want him to be who he is. Which basically means I want him to be free to discover what that means. I want him to like what he likes and want what he wants and feel what he feels without questioning what that "means" about him or what that means to the rest of us or how that fits into society.... And I don't mean this as some philosophical rhetoric that I plan on discussing with him one day to make him 'think about'.By then, the foundation has been laid. This is an active engagement on my part, an actual duty requiring constant awareness, presence, thought, discussions NOW, tact, and compassion. You don't even realize how narrow minded, prejudiced, and afraid we all are until you become a buffer between those thoughts and a developing mind. It makes me feel kind of hopeless in general but that much more determined when it comes to my children.
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