March 25, 2010

Some Things Just Are

Andy Warhol - fucked up guy that he was - made 60 films most of which sound incredibly ridiculous. For example, Sleep is a six hour film featuring poet John Giorno sleeping for, well, six hours. Blowjob, while shorter, clocking in at 35 minutes, shows one continuous shot of the face of a guy receiving a blowjob. Empire depicts eight hours of the Empire State Building at dusk while Eat shows a guy eating a single mushroom for 45 minutes. What I suspect Warhol knew - because I'm assuming this wasn't just intended as a diversion from painting soup cans or coming up with cool new ironic hairstyles - was that mundane things happen that people rarely take note of. What I don't think Warhol truly grasped as that no one cares what six hours of footage of a sleeping poet revealed.

This has some translation into everyday life, pop culture and - my point here - parenting and how all of that somehow gets wrapped up in my little site.

You'll never ever see a show, scan a blog, read a book or listen to a speech about mundane parenting. But I have news for you. Parenting isn't always cute or funny or tender or heartbreaking or even hard. Sometimes it just is.

Sometimes your kid shits on the floor. Shit on the floor isn't particularly cute. There's nothing tender or heartwarming about the shit. It doesn't crack a cute quip. It is in no way ironic. It isn't magically shaped like Jesus' face and therefore eligible for as least some sort of karmic repayment via eBay. It's just shit. Like some days are just days. They're neither good nor bad. They just are. Sometimes parenting just is.

Don't get me wrong - its a fantastically wonderful thing and there's usually at least one thing in every day that makes you feel like wow, this parenting thing is really incredible. The other night, for instance, after I'd been working from home, feeling like crap because my son had the nerve to give me his cold after I gave him life - not fair - I was putting my daughter to bed. She wrapped her arms around me and despite what I thought of as my horrible attitude and short temper, said I love you daddy you're my favorite boy in the whole world. And promptly fell asleep. This was cute and funny and tender and mildly heartbreaking (but in a good way) but it was also nice since I didn't have to arm her with five suggestions as to how she could possibly spend her time until she fell asleep and, instead, I could go take some cold medicine, drink some beer and try to find something crappy on television to watch until the hallucinations started thereby negating the need for any sort of external entertainment.

I tend to view the future through a lens which focuses on major stuff - birthdays, vacations, major work due dates, those kinds of things. I'm pretty sure we all do this to some extent. And we do it because the things in between are ordinary. Some days work is neither bad nor good, parenting isn't overly challenging. Those days just are. So we set our sights towards the anomalies and wait. And I think by doing that, we're doing ourselves a disservice. I think miss taking pleasure in the mundane and I suspect that when we're all much older, we'll look back at those seemingly mundane times with a certain mixture of fondness and regret.

Posted by Chris at March 25, 2010 7:12 AM

Yes, that is true. And even the poop on the floor will seem funny. Yes, funny.
Hope your cold is better.

Posted by: Maribeth at March 25, 2010 7:51 AM

I beg to differ. I believe Andy got "it." Our lives are all about the mundane. I know when I am ancient and dementia has taken over it will probably be the regular, mundane day that I think of....fixing my boys breakfast, carpooling, waiting at soccer practice, laughing with a girlfriend that my mind will go back to and fixate on. Or at least I hope.

Posted by: Debbie at March 25, 2010 8:02 AM

Here, here.

Posted by: Christina at March 25, 2010 9:27 AM

I agree with you for the most part.

The only point I'd take some _slight_ issue with is that steaming pile of shit on the floor, and based on my reading of your blog, I'm fairly certain this isn't anything you'd disagree with:

That shit isn't cute or sweet or fun, but at some point we have to either get angry/upset, or recognize the utter insanity of this thing we're doing (raising little people when we haven't even figured ourselves out yet! who do we think we are?!) and laugh at ourselves and at the situation.

The best stories (looking back) are those involving memories like when our kid projectile-vomited at our best friend's wedding, or ran naked out of the dentist office.

Hope all of you are feeling better soon!

Posted by: pvz at March 25, 2010 9:43 AM

Very well said.

Posted by: Nat at March 25, 2010 10:49 AM

Being "not the mom" to Cowgirls children allow me to take pleasure in the mundane that she doesn't get to do because she lives with it every day. It's why I take pictures of her children licking the cake batter spoon, or chasing the chickens around the yard naked, screaming bloody murder. To her, she just wants the noise to stop. To me, it is music. And she knows it. So in the quieter times when everyone is asleep, she'll coyly text me and ask me to please fortheloveagod, send her the pictures I took. Because she wants to remember it, too.

Posted by: k8 at March 25, 2010 11:05 AM

I should have known that my daughter was going to grow up and be an amazing artist. Back when she was only 3, she was supposed to be laying down taking a nap but instead shit in her diaper and then proceeded to wipe it all over everything in her room.

Great memories.

Posted by: SoccerMom at March 25, 2010 1:38 PM

Couldn't agree more. I'm doing my best to absorb everything I can about my little man while he's little and snuggleable, stopping to remember to watch him as he discovers his thumb or his feet, but most days I just go through the motions of feeding him and putting him to bed.

Posted by: Beth at March 25, 2010 2:06 PM

Is it just me or is 35 minutes a pretty long blow job?

Posted by: Heather at March 25, 2010 2:39 PM

I've just learned more about Andy Warhol in like 3 mins than I ever have in the whole history of my life. So thanks for that.

Posted by: Kevin Spencer at March 25, 2010 3:23 PM

Loved this post. Needed to hear someone else say it.

Posted by: NG at March 25, 2010 4:14 PM

omg, andy warhol!!

i like to take pics of the mundane family stuff, i hope my intentions turn out more useful than andy's :)

Posted by: kati at March 25, 2010 5:17 PM

Next time I come across some dude getting a hummer, I'll be sure to stop and take note of it.

Posted by: Surfer Jay at March 26, 2010 1:38 AM

I forget the exact quote, but someone wise once said:
Live your life well, so that when you get old you'll be able to remember and re-enjoy it.

Posted by: metawizard at March 26, 2010 10:14 AM