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Pickle Me This

October 7, 2012

On mothering and books

“I don’t really feel I have to analyse my own motives in wanting children… It’s like (to me) asking why you want to write. Who cares? You have to, and that’s that. But the kids, like the writing, belong ultimately to themselves, and not to you. In fact, they’re very like the writing. A gift, given to you by life, undeserved like all grace is undeserved by its very nature, and not to be owned….” -Margaret Laurence in a 1971 letter to Margaret Atwood, from A Very Large Soul: Selected Letters from Margaret Laurence to Canadian Writers (ed. J.A. Wainwright).

“There was babbling I forgot to do, stimulation they never got, foods I meant to introduce and never got around to introducing. If a black-and-white mobile really increases depth perception and early exposure to classical music increases the likelihood of perfect pitch, I blew it. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.” -Anna Quindlen, “Goodbye, Dr. Spock”

One thought on “On mothering and books”

  1. “I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.”

    Oh, bazynga!

    Excavation of essential humanity is EXACTLY the reason for having kids. Raising kids challenges me like nothing else does. It shows me for who and what I am, in all its naked glory and un-glory and develops me as a person. It’s like walking around with a mirror that cannot be ignored. Painful and lovely all at the same time. Impossible to look at other people in the same callous way again…

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