I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.
Monday, June 11, 2007
How liberal arts grads parent
Having graduated in the early 90’s, just about all of us who are ever going to jump in that pool are in various stages of parenting. So the conversation inevitably turned to what we anointed liberal intelligentsia made of the whole business. In the first place, we were pretty unanimous that our liberal arts experience had pretty much given us bupkis to draw on, especially those of us haunted by the specters of our profs shaking their heads at our compromised, gendered, commercial, authoritarian households.
Not actually a bad thing. Not really. College was for me the workshop for my most epic self – my Nietzschean no-compromises, “forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race” self. It was important to that experiment not to give any quarter to thoughts of a life compromised by material reality or obligations to another person.
But, come on now, we all did find room in our heads for spouses and kids later on. As reckless and solipsistic a girlfriend as I was, I found courtship and marriage pretty effortless when it came time. I remember when I was visiting an ex at Big State U. his evangelical girlfriend took me to see a very popular Christian speaker who was exhorting us to hold onto or reclaim our virginity (Poor ex? Yes, I remember thinking the same thing). The speaker’s point was that anyone you’d ever been with takes up space in your head just as if they were right there in your future marital bed. The girlfriend decided I wasn’t threatening when I admitted being moved by that particular visual image. But really she shouldn’t have because I took a different lesson from it, which is yes, yes, let it be.
Did we – despite ourselves – leave room in our heads for spouse and children? Were we Prince Hal, loitering in the tavern, but somewhere in the back of our minds, drafting our St. Crispin’s Day speech? I think we must have been. Not by living our lives so that we could deliver ourselves unbesmirched on our wedding day. But by living our lives so that we could present ourselves worldly, healthy, and whole.