Monday, March 20, 2006


Two things, entangled. Yesterday I received an email from Jeremy at Little, Big, reminding us of the anniversary--third, if we can believe it--of the United States' invation of Iraq. He asked us progressive parent blogger types to recognized it. Reading his email, I was thankful for someone's explicit intervention. I was wrapped up, of course, in my life: babycare, olderchild care, musing over a next book project, laundry, and not to make it sound like life is entirely dreary and interior, cleaning up after a very, very fun visit from Marion Winik, in town to read from her new book Above Us Only Sky at the lovely Big Blue Marble Bookstore. She stayed over, we had visits from other friends, including my agent, his wife and their kids, and our friend and author-blogger, Eileen Flanagan, of Imperfect Serenity. It was, as Marion toasted at one point, heavenly. Today I was cleaning up, recycling the bottles, happy, tired. Not thinking of the War's anniversary.

So, a moment to remember the hugeness of the world and our nation's political role in making things worse,not better.

Entanglements. We tend to think small. Our lives keep us busy. We vacuum, and we live in a vacuum. War? How come on this anniversary, what we're embroiled in are "mommy wars" not debates over the wars that kill? And cultural commentators now use the phrase "daddy wars' to talk about men's issues. What about the big war out there? We waste the word, focus on fake wars that could be fixed, that are made worse by media creation, take our eyes off the war that kills.

It's the craft of living in a vacuum, and the narrowing vision of it all that struck me as I read the New York Times this morning. The responses to Claudia Goldin's Op-ed last week, the one about how mothers aren't opting out when you actually look at statistics were singularly bad, and troped, to use a good ole literary criticism word. They came from Mommy Wars central casting, they didn't even need to be written by real people. The most amazing thing: they continue to talk about motherhood in a total vacuum. If you were reading these pieces and the letters in response, and you were from that mythical planet in outer space where miraculously you too speak and read English, you would think we are a society in which families are mothers alone with children. No one talks about fathers. No one talks about more complex dynamics than a mother and her life of paid or unpaid work. Where's the context?

I spoke with a wonderful radio journalist the other day from WMRA in Central Virginia. It was a pre-interview for a show I'll be appearing on next week. At the end, he asked me where I'd like us to be heading. I explained. He told me that several times in his life as a journalist, he'd seem stories take exponential leaps forward from the discourse they'd been stuck in. He told me he thought this happened without regard to the left-or-right politics of it, but because media owners thought that a new story could make them money, that the new story was more commercially profitable than the old.

Let's hope. And is there a way to get out the word?

Stay tuned for a new feature: guest appearances at the Playground.


MojoMom said...

If you are looking for an essential update on the US led "war against terror," I highly reocmmend the March 10th episode of This American Life called "Habeas Schmabeas," which interviews Guantanamo detainess and talks about legal issues and the real reasons that the US won't let many detainees go. I wish this episode could be required listening for every American regardless of their current opinion of the war. You can access the archives through

Lone Star Ma said...

We have actually caught ourselves telling our ten-year-old not to repeat our more specific views on the causes of the war...a war which we do not approve of in our Quaker home. Whacked life where a teacher and a social worker who think ourselves wildly involved in politics if we just make it to our precinct caucus - we are so wrapped up in keeping a roof over the kids' heads - can actually worry about getting in trouble with the Patriot Act squad for voicing our opinion.

Devra said...

When Katrina hit, I had this dream our president would say "Iraq, sorry, but we have a major problem in our country we need to take care of. Gotta go!" and he would have pulled our troops and sent them to help in the areas affected/effected by the hurricane. I don't believe in being isolationists, but we had a HUGE crisis and still do. My own belief is Iraq is going to have issues while we are there, and long after we are gone, if we ever are gone.

I know I feel more passionate about all of this because my feelings re really raw as I just visited Louisiana, and it's not even close to being cleaned up and okay.

Seeing houses upon houses vacant and abandoned and knowing each represents a person and the family who they care for or who cares for them, is overwhelming. Seeing the spraypaint left over from the searches which identify houses where bodies were found and also seeing the roof on houses where people broke holes to escape from the rising water is sobering.

I realize we can't ignore the rest of the world if they are in crisis, and our country is proud of the help we give to others, but why are we not accepting more assistance from others to get the devastated areas cleaned up and the people who live there taken care of? If we are in Iraq, we need others here to help us. *sigh*

Please continue to give items to your local shelters as they have sent so many supplies to the states in the south, they need replenishment!