In an alternate future-world I will read the New Yorker magazine the day that it arrives in the mail. In present reality-land, they are scattered throughout the house in no real order. Some in the living room, some in the kitchen, a few hidden under piles of books in my daughters room, so I never actually read them in order. Which can be fascinating.
I recently read an analysis of Mitt Romney that ran prior to the November election and it was a great hindsight view of what went wrong in his campaign (thank God!). I do, however, have a way of filing the magazines I’ve read so I am at least reaching for new (to me) content when I do grab one.
I just picked up the April 8, 2013 issue and read a Shouts & Murmurs that just slayed me. This regular feature can be hit or miss, but this one was dead on. Paul Rudnick did a scathing parody of the overprivileged Mommy Blogger. While I do write about my family, my daughter and parenting in general, when someone called my Rant a Mommy Blog a while back I was hurt & offended. Rudnick’s humorous, not so unrealistic, depiction of blogging is my darkest fear with my writing.
This post is a bit longer than my usual, but the Rudncik is well worth the read. I don’t think I am a Mommy Blogger and there is additional proof in the fact that I have not disabled the comments.
I believe that childhood is a brief, perfect state of being, and so I’ve tried to enclose my family in a shimmering sphere of enchantment, a realm that I call WonderPlanet, right here in our Park Slope brownstone. On WonderPlanet, anything is possible, as long as everyone loves one another and Goldman Sachs comes through with Daddy’s Easter bonus. I teach my children that money is like fairy dust, because when we sprinkle it around we can dream and sing and fly, usually in business class, and we can bake heart-shaped cookies that we can share with all the other children who aren’t allergic to stone-milled spelt flour, carob chips, whey protein, and smiles.
Some people have criticized me for not going back to work after my children were born, and for hiring a nanny. But I think of nurturing WonderPlanet as a full-time occupation, and someday I do plan on returning to my career as an advocate for women over forty who still want to grow and maintain waist-length hair. In addition, I’ve begun to sell a selection of trademarked WonderPlanet collectibles online, including hand-thrown ceramic mugs inscribed with the mottoes “Wander Into Wonder,” “I’m a Stay-at-Home Dreambuilder,” and “End Bullying Today—Buy a Mug.” I’m also marketing a line of meadow-dried teas, called Peaseblossom Morn, Smoochberries ’n’ Yarn, and Private Tutor. And in just a few weeks I’ll be introducing my WonderPlanet homewares line, in collaboration with Target, which will feature handwoven raffia boxes designed to hold smaller handwoven raffia boxes.
As for our nanny, well, because Tula is really more like a member of our family, we call her our Friendgiver. Sometimes, when I’m on the chaise longue in my home office, editing the audio of the duets where I sing along with Taylor Swift and then mimic Taylor’s voice thanking me, I get a little jealous, because Tula is enjoying the gift of bathing my children and inspecting their scalps for head lice. Once the little ones are all fresh-smelling, with their heads shaved and shining, Tula and I love to create games like Let’s All Be Butterflies and Pretend That Tula Is a Windshield, and Let’s All Change Tula’s Name Again and Ignore Her Until She Answers to Mrs. Melonbutt T. Wiggleburp.
One afternoon last week, I came upon Tula sobbing quietly in a corner, and I didn’t want to upset her by asking why, but I knew: it was because, at the end of each perfect Brooklyn day, she’s forced to return to her own home, in an outlying borough that the children and I call Underplace. I curled my arm so that it hovered about four inches away from her shoulders, and stroked the air above her head, while murmuring, “There, there, don’t cry. Next weekend, I’ll let the children stay with you in Underplace, so I can finish the proposal for my cookbook, called ‘Sparkle Soup and Gummi Flax: Imaginary Recipes for Obese Children in Public Schools.’ ”
Of course, I dread the day when Sonnet, my eldest, will begin her half-days at St. Elizabeth’s, the only preschool in our area where children are required to wear wings, crowns, and non-gender-specific leg warmers. I have refused to confine or label my children in any way, and sometimes I tell Cascade that his penis is called a vagina, just so I can watch him pound his tiny head against the wall with secret joy. And once, after Nebula asked me where babies come from, we had a wonderful afternoon, filling condoms with water and then hurling them at Tula.
Most of our days, however, are spent dressing up in hand-embroidered Swedish linen smocks, tulle tutus, and velvet tunics, and fashioning dance/performance pieces illustrating what I like to call “Ye Enchantable Historye of WonderPlanet.” Yesterday, when some neighboring children came over, Nebula chose to play the Darkling Shrew, a mother who neglects her children by selfishly pursuing a life of social work and city planning. The other children all played positive emanations, including Kindness, Quiet Time, and Really Listening. They surrounded the Darkling Shrew and punched her until she promised to quit her job and devote more time to Instagramming photos of them touching oversized soap bubbles.
The afternoon flew by, and before we knew it Daddy came home, carrying a bunch of daffodils, a loaf of still warm cracked-carraway-seed bread from our local bakery, which is staffed entirely by Dartmouth Ph.D.s, and all of Mommy’s prescriptions, which I immediately sorted into imported French porcelain pillboxes, labelled “Stress,” “Mood,” and “I Wish I Had a Gun.”
The children always leap into Daddy’s loving arms, eager for kisses and cuddles and the marvellous lemon-verbena scent of that twenty-three-year-old whom Daddy insists is simply an eager Wharton grad he’s mentoring. Then, because we’re all finally together on WonderPlanet, Tula distributes the wood blocks, tambourines, and Pan flutes, and we become the WonderPlanet Starcarrier Symphony Sensation, led by me strumming my lute, with Daddy keeping time by tapping his glass against the bottle of Scotch. Together, we all perform old family favorites like “Hooray! It’s Tuesday!,” “Tula Is So Slow!,” and “Daddy Is Just Tired from a Very Long Day, So Please Stop Whining About Montauk.”
After dinner, and while waiting for Tula to get all four children in bed, Daddy and I finally grab some alone time. I show him the children’s new watercolors. We marvel at their vivid imaginations, and we ponder what it means that the stick figures in Nebula’s paintings are all on fire, under the words “While They’re Asleep.”