The Lingering Earworms of Motherhood

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on

A friend of mine recently asked on Facebook, “What’s the longest you’ve ever had a song stuck in your head?”

Sister, my brain has been leasing out space to Baby Beluga for nearly a quarter century, ever since my now 27-year-old fell in love with it and wanted to hear it several times every day, often insisting we both sing along. The song isn’t there non-stop, but it has consistently popped in to say hello at least once a week for all these years. Raffi has some catchy tunes, I’ll give him that. At this point, I assume that if I reach a stage in aging where my memory loses information like my own address or the names of my children, I’ll still have a “little white whale on the go” to think about.

Also, I read the book Madeline aloud so many times that I can to this day recite *several pages* of it from memory. I could really use that headspace for things like staying current with technology changes or keeping track of my to-do list, but nope — “an old house in Paris covered in vines” it is. And let’s not even get into “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike these songs and stories. In fact, I adore Madeline. But I don’t know what use they are to me now, echoing around in my mind, so irrelevant to my current life. Unless…I could analyze them to figure what I can do in my own writing to make it so memorable? Or… if I become a grandmother some day?

Mostly, I take it as a sign that my brain has a mind of its own that’s not entirely within my control, and that it was shaped in some permanent way by the experience of motherhood. Thoughts come and go as they want. You might even say “Waves roll in and the waves roll out.” Maybe I shouldn’t overanalyze and just accept it as the rhythm of my internal life. After all, there are worse things that could be going on in my head…

“You are the dancing queen.”

Oh lord.


The Mislaid Plans of Wives and Men

Last summer the hubs and I took a field trip to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (aka Paradise) in Mansfield, Missouri. It was a fun day. There’s a whole little village built around the store, with much more for sale than just seeds. But seeds were our target acquisition, and we spent a good hour browsing the hundreds of varieties of just about everything that will grow in Missouri, before making our selections of…I don’t really remember.

Seed store

I do remember we both were excited to the point of giddiness about the prospects for what we could do in the yard the next spring. In my mind, 2018 unspooled ahead of me with a level of organization I’d never before achieved. Seeds started indoors in February. In the ground in April. I did a lot of reading about optimal conditions for indoor seedlings and mentally bolstered my self-image as a budding urban homesteader.

What really happened was  – well, a lot. Much has happened between our seed purchases and now. I got a second job. This is good. We needed the income stream. But it takes time. And my son started experiencing some medical problems that have turned doctor’s appointments into a time-consuming mother-son hobby. And winter has just gone on and on and on. And…all those excuses aside, my husband and I both forgot where we put the seeds!

We’ve looked in the usual places, and then some unusual places. We haven’t been able to find them. Now I can’t even remember what I bought. I’m pretty sure the spouse went for heirloom tomatoes and possibly some varieties of sunflowers. Me? I can’t say. Basil? Another herb? Maybe? Some kind of flower, I think — possibly nasturtium. I like nasturtiums. It’s likely I’d decide to grow those.

But not this year, apparently. I guess, if we ever get past the danger of frost and I ever find the time, I’ll go buy a few things from a nursery to stick in the ground. And the seeds will eventually turn up, right? And then it will be a delightful surprise. And I’ll be able once again to ignore the stark divide between the self-sufficient homesteader I want to think I can be and the real, disorganized, there-would-be-world-famine-if-everyone-gardened-like-I-do person I am.

I have an acquaintance who really is an accomplished homesteader. She cans. She makes her own soap. She raises her own sheep, shears them herself, spins the wool, and then knits it into blankets and clothing. Me? I buy seeds and mislay them.

To comfort myself, I try to remember the things I actually do well. Um… I excel at word games. And I can alphabetize like nobody’s business. If you ever need things put in alphabetical order, I’m your person. And if you need someone to daydream about gardening, I’m also your person.