Sunday, February 26, 2006

Part III: The Land of Young Children

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In preparation for my role in the Literary Mama Blog Book Tour I am recounting my history with Andi Buchanan one of the book's editors.

Around the time I'd decided to take my writing more seriously, I ran into an old friend. This friend was a guy and that alone made him a novelty in my world which was almost exclusively peopled with other stay-at-home moms and lots of young children. But even more exotic than simply being male, he was single, childless and an artist. What kind of life did he lead? I envisioned an idealized version- one in which he could do whatever he damn well pleased whenever the hell he felt like it. As for my life, well, I was busy with two spirited little boys and devoted most of my time and energy to family matters.

He told me about a children's book he'd put out, a book called Dancer. It's a fanciful story about a character that travels to magical lands and comes away with an understanding and acceptance of his true nature. It was cool and all, but after I read it, I felt very agitated.

How nice it must be to have time to hang out and making up fanciful stories. What a joy to have such a carefree life and spend your time making art and talking long walks, I thought. But some of us have young children that require dressing and feeding and butt-wiping and washing, not to mention constant supervision. Some of us don't have time to sit down and write silly stories.

But at 2:00 AM that morning I woke up, still agitated and started writing my own silly story. My story, "The Land of Young Children" was a direct response to his Dancer. In my fanciful story the main character visited magical lands like the Territory of Dirty Clothes and the Dark Place Under the Kitchen Table. I was thrilled when, just a few weeks later Andi posted it on her Phillymama site.

Click here to read his story; scroll below to read mine.

The Land of Young Children
(followed by a never-before seen bonus book group discussion guide)

There once there lived a young woman known as Student. She sought to learn about life, the universe and everything. After she realized she could make her own way in the world, she packed and repacked her things as she trotted the globe in search of new adventures. At first she required a trunk and many suitcases to contain her life, but over time she learned to fit it neatly into one backpack.

“I am Traveler!” she announced. Traveler set out and experienced many wonderous things, enjoying the company of an ever-changing cast of companions. But eventually she found the Best One of All and settled into a new kind of life.

Years later her body thickened with child. Her belly danced of its own volition. It was her greatest adventure yet.

“I am Mommy!” she cried, entering a world of hugs and snuggles; tickles and giggles; small, naked bodies with shallow, sweet breath. It took time to acclimate to the unfamiliar terrain, but eventually she learned to navigate the Land of Young Children.

In this land she found a mysterious place where the sun never set on a mountain of dirty clothes generated by her small family.

“I am Laundress!” she shouted as she tossed in yet another load. She sorted and folded and matched up tiny pairs of socks. Although she did not iron, she pre-treated stains and followed care labels to the best of her ability. Laundress worked without fail to keep her family in clean clothes. Still the mountain grew and grew.

Seeking refuge from her toil, she left the Territory of Dirty Clothes, but the next task was even more onerous. Just as the sun never set on the mountain of laundry, it never shined on this strange site. She was in the Dark Place Under the Kitchen Table. The linoleum landscape was marred by congealed oatmeal, puddles of milk and crumbs of all shapes, sizes and colors.

“I am Maid!” she howled in anguish as she repeatedly swept and scrubbed the floor. Maid performed her duties often and with great heed, but she recalled from her days as Student that the universe moves unavoidably toward a state of disorder. There was no way to escape the laws of physics, but if she did not tend to the mess then surely some creepy-crawly insect would. So she dropped to her knees and labored for hours on end.

As she scrubbed away in the Dark Place she heard a cry that made her shudder. It was the call of a young child. She followed the foreboding sound to the Pale of the Potty.

“I am Wiper of Bottoms!” she wailed as she navigated yet another spot where the sun did not shine. She forced her way through unpleasant smells and indescribable sights. Wiper helped her children avoid rashes and develop a good sense of personal hygiene.

Then came the day she signed up for a karate class. She made her way to a dojo at the edge of the land. Her uniform, a soft cotton gi, was the first white item in her wardrobe in over five years. She trained and perspired without concern for the growing mountain of laundry. She eyed her clammy classmates relieved that she would not have to bathe their sweaty bodies at the end of the day.

“I am Kim Possible!” she proclaimed. “I can do anything!” She likened herself to the cute, powerful, midriff-baring cheerleader/crime-fighter her children watched on TV. Except that after two pregnancies she could not envision exposing her midriff. Kim Possible’s positive outlook displaced the gloominess of Laundress, Maid and Wiper.

After class she made her way to the border, the place of books and music, to read or write or talk with a friend. Kim Possible returned home by 10:00 because in the Land of Young Children the sons rose unpredictably-often before the sun itself. Once home she nestled next to the Best One of All and slept peacefully.

Just as birds began to chirp, a small body bolted across the hardwood floors and hoisted itself into bed, smothering her with hugs and kisses; awaiting snuggles and tickles. A soft, sweet voice demanded that she turn toward it-close enough so they breathed each other’s air.

“Mommy, your breath stinks!” the little one exclaimed. Thus began a new day in which Mommy was once again Student learning about life, the universe and everything.

Bonus Book Group Discussion Guide (feel free to leave your responses in the comment section of this blog):
1) What is your most memorable experience from your days as Student or Traveler?
2) What elements of this story give you hope that Traveler will re-emerge some day?
3) What is your favorite laundry tip?
4) How does your advanced degree help you as you clean house?
5) At what age should a child be responsible for wiping his or her own behind?

When she’s not caring for her boys or doing laundry Kim Moldofsky is a life/creativity coach for moms. She can be reached at

1 comment:

Erik Mann said...

great post, i'll come visit again soon...erik