Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tales of a frustrated housewife/poet

A series of strange circumstances have placed me in a strange position. One which I always hoped for - and dreaded. The obsessive nature of my behavior surrounding my son's fourth birthday party has made a light bulb go off over my head. It's official, I'm a housewife. This role (only for a short period of time in my life) has put me into a talespin. As a person with a disability, I have always prided myself on being able to get out into the world, forge for work, and be very successful. This is sort of a no-man's land that many people (disabled or not) do not fight for. I walked away (temporily) from a 60k a year teaching job because it was, well, just too impossible. Being out of the loop has made me question who I am and what worth I have in the world. This is complecated by the fact that I am a poet.

Housewifery, childcare, and "staying in" to create poetry are things that fit together. Poetry, for me, needs enormous amounts of time to develop, nevermind all the paperwork of sending out and applying to things. Female poets also have a long tradition of motherhood (even the great feminist, Commie, lesbian Murial Rukeyser had a kid). But, what housework, kids, and POETRY have in common most is the marginization of their importance by society. Because I belong to a "group," (what the Times calls "the disabled") that is SO marginalized by society - I have always felt I needed to prove myself outside the home. Now that I'm not currently working I'm a little lost despite the fact that everyone in my family is happier, calmer, and the poetry factory is in running order.

I think all of us could take a lesson from the Shoalin monks. These monks' days are composed of meditating, cooking, sweeping the floor, and doing 6-8 hours of kung fu. Hell, what's the value in that?


Anonymous said...

I hear you. From a male perspective at least.

Jennifer Bartlett said...


I had you in mind a little when I wrote this. I don't know when I'll see you - it's getting very cold.