baby, baby blanket, baby hunger, baby things, bonfire, craft fair, cranky, dancing, Diva, Edith Stein, feminist, garlands, Grace, Hello Nurse, I miss you, LM, misogyny, phenomenology, philosophy, resentment, Sarasvati, Scheler, Seraphic Single, sky, swing dancing
I’ve been feeling uncharacteristically cranky for the last week or so. Every time I turned around something seemed to crop up to irritate me. I think it started when I was reading Scheler. I’ve been reading his shorter work Ressentiment (a phenomenological study of resentment) in spare moments, and for the most part, have been fascinated and intrigued. The cool thing about phenomenology is that is starts with human experience, with the way we actually experience different things in our everyday lives, and then goes from there to get at the essence of what we are experiencing. This means that as you read it, you can relate to what the writer is saying, and see how what they’re talking about applies to your life. I was getting a lot out of what Scheler said, thinking that here was a man who understood things.
And then, like running into a brick wall, the man turned misogynist on me. From making excellent sense, he suddenly started spouting some of the most hateful batshit wack stuff ever. Women, he said, were more prone to resentment because they’re just naturally more vengeful. This is proved because all the classical godesses are so vicious. Plus, you know, witches. And of course, since women spend all their time and energy competing for male attention, they’re more likely to feel wounded when things don’t go their way. He includes some rather nasty comments about old maids, and then goes into a totally bizarre tangent about how industrialization destroys femininity, so only the women who “lack specifically feminine charms” will survive. The “purer feminine types” who don’t have wealthy families to support them will inevitably be forced into prostitution, since, of course, the only thing real women are good for is sex. And then, like he’s suddenly run out of crazy-sauce, Scheler goes right back to making sense again. It was like for a page and a half he took a drop down the rabbit hole, then popped out again back into reality. So utterly bizarre.
Anyway, reading this wackitude made me, shall we say, a little cranky. It wasn’t just having someone I was starting to trust suddenly turn hatefully weird on me, some of those things he said about old maids stung! I wasn’t just me, but also my girl Edith Stein, his contemporary and (at times) co-worker, who probably had to deal with this crap on a regular basis. I knew that she had to fight to get her education, but I hadn’t fully appreciated how unpleasant it must have been at times. Thinking about that made me not only cranky, but sad for a woman I’ve grown to appreciate and love.
Then, when I was the craft fair last Sunday, I was talking about my product line with Sarasvati, who suggested that I branch out into things for babies. You see, while the garlands and pennants are enough to fill an Etsy shop, they aren’t really enough for a craft fair booth. You need more stuff to keep people browsing through until they find something they want to buy. This is something I’d thought about before, but when I thought about it more seriously on Sunday, something hit me that I hadn’t felt for a long time. Specifically, one of my deepest desires since I was a child has been to be a mother. There have been times when this desire has been stronger, and times when I barely felt it at all, but it’s never really gone away. A long time ago I made a decision that I never wanted to be the kind of woman who is obsessed with getting married and having children, or the kind of woman who has a raging fire alarm for a biological clock. So I let go of my dreams of children, worked on being content and happy with my life, started saying “if I get married” instead of “when,” and for the most part, was fairly successful at becoming what one of my favorite bloggers would call a Seraphic Single. While I would be blissfully happy to welcome Mr. Right if he suddenly showed up at Theology On Tap one night (or better yet, at swing dancing), I am determined to enjoy the life God has given me, even if it doesn’t currently (and may never) include a husband and children.
All this is well and good, but on Sunday when I started thinking about spending hours lovingly crafting baby items to sell to women I don’t know, devoting a major portion of my life to thinking about babies, designing items for babies, etc., I suddenly got swamped with a flood of emotion. I may have surrendered my desire to have children, but it didn’t go away. In some ways it would be super easy to sew up some adorably cute blankets and bibs, maybe knit some baby socks, but I don’t know if I could take it emotionally. It would be like rubbing salt into the wound on a daily basis. Except, maybe instead it might be healing, a way to express my love for children even though I don’t have any. On Wednesday Diva told me about how much her baby son loves the blanket I knit for him, how it’s the only thing that will comfort him when he’s cranky in the car. I also remember how much joy I got when LM would text me about how much her baby loved the blanket I knit for him. Perhaps if I thought about the babies I was making these things for instead of myself, it could be as much of an expression of love as when I was making those blankets. I’m still turning these thoughts over in my head, and I don’t know quite where I’m going to end up with it. But it’s not easy working through these things.
Usually, one of the things that always makes me feel better, not matter what, is dancing. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in an abysmally black mood, gone dancing, and left feeling a million times better. On Wednesday I headed off to dancing hoping for the same miracle to happen again. It didn’t. There was a live band, which was nice, except I wasn’t feeling their music. It just didn’t make me want to dance. I don’t know why – it sounded swingy and bouncy, and ragtime-lovely. And yet the only times I wanted to dance enough to go grab a partner was in the DJ’d parts during the band breaks. Consequently, I didn’t dance much, which got more and more discouraging as the night went on. Plus, I really missed Sky. When I left dancing, I was feeling just as cranky as when I arrived.
On Thursday I headed to Theology On Tap. The speaker was an adorable young married couple who told the story of their courtship and engagement. It was so Devout Catholic cute it could have been sickening, except the couple was so likable you couldn’t help but enjoy them. Did I mention that the wife was about eight months pregnant and (what else) adorable in her maternity wear? Needless to say, this did not make me any less cranky.
On Friday, finally, the black mood started to break. I read a little more Scheler, who reassuringly showed no further signs of impending insanity. Then I headed off to a bonfire out at Grace’s house. Hello Nurse was there with her firstborn daughter, a tiny scrap of an infant just the right size for snuggling in the crook of your arm. Hello Nurse generously allowed me to abscond with the baby for quite a long time, even though there were both an aunt, uncle, and grandparents competing for her attention. This was, paradoxically, soothing. And then, it was so beautiful out at Grace’s place. It’s on the edge of her Grandparents farm, with wheat fields all around, and clear skies that show the stars. It was a perfect night for a bonfire, just cold enough to make the fire’s warmth welcome, not so cold it was uncomfortable. The company was great. I had good conversations, and laughed until I cried. And as I left, for the first time in days, I wasn’t cranky anymore.