CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the span of an editing and writing career that started 26 years ago, if you had told me that I would become a stay-at-home prison guard for three preschool sons when I reached my 40s, I would have said, "Sorry. That is ridiculous. I don't know any of those kinds of people."An interesting life, populated by very interesting people for a rather long time, was relieved by marriage to a high-maintenance man whose care and pleasure takes up AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF TIME THAT I USED TO SPEND ON MYSELF.Three serial pregnancies uncovered my previously unknown talent of reproducing like a fruit fly at what the baby doctors call "advanced maternal age."When the family is seen in public (which isn't often), we are often called "Grandma and Papaw" by strangers.
Which doesn't bother us in the least. We are, effectively, a Grandma and Papaw. Everything aches, we both need glasses and naps, and we feel like we've been together for 40 years. (Another column.)I said to a friend on my husband's 50th birthday, during an end-of-the-night scramble to collect presents and the bill, extract tips and make a semi-poised exit (to include keeping my pantyhose up), "The writer and the inventor got married."And he dryly said, "I know."My husband is also an executive in a family business. ANOTHER JOB FOR ME!Now that I am increasingly conservative (nothing like children to clarify the mind when it comes to talk of cliffs, even if they are fiscal), I wonder if there are other couples who miss partying and sleeping late and liberal behavior as much as we do.I haven't changed that
much.I just pray constantly.Sometimes you get sidetracked, and remember when you didn't think about God because you were calling all your friends to tell them what happened last night at the party.Which brings me to my children's education, keeping me from either having parties or attending them.My first son, who is in kindergarten, attends Covenant School in Huntington right now. I am the only mother who wears all black, all the time -- a leftover from my practical New York City professional work uniform.If it is available in black, I own all styles of it.
It is really good for vomit and poop -- the consequences of applesauce -- and a 4-year-old who recently threatened to pee on me.It is also good for peeling pomegranates, which the entire family may eat only
when naked -- a rule I enforce, which I learned the hard way. (Future column.)However, I think other mothers are somehow threatened by this excessiveness of black clothing. So they think I am either wearing the same thing over and over ...Or that I'm in the grip of Satan.Constant black clothing among evangelicals is always a social risk.Soon our three sons will be home-schooled by a mother who wears all black clothes!
Whew.Howard, my middle son who threatened to pee on me, is in the STEM Program at Marshall University.Talk about cutting edge! This program, funded by Buck Harless and run by Drs. Stan and Barbara Maynard and a host of impressive educational professionals, is like landing in an expensive, competitive New York preschool.Except it's almost free!Not once have I ever got the vibe from Marshall's progressive STEM faculty that anyone minds my wearing black every day, and dropping my kids off without combing my hair. (Another column.) They teach negotiation and encourage better choices. We tell ours to shut up, line up and follow us like little ducks or else. (Future column.)My new job as a long-haul truck driver, in addition to prison guard (no-stop-don't-no-stop-don't-no-stop-don't-no-stop-don't), must mean that we can turn on a video of ourselves saying this and go to Europe! Alone!Gotcha!Responsible baby sitters, who reach for the Benadryl when your back is turned, are a problem. (Another column.)I don't technically "work."HAHAHAHAHAHA!However. That is what psychoanalysts call a "fantasy." They are not talking about sexual fantasies. They are talking about dealing hard with yourself about unreality; certain notions must be punctured.Like the idea that I don't have time for coupons! Who do I think I am? (Another column.)Aggravated, annoyed, devoted and put-upon mothers and wives, join me for adventures that are not unlike your own.Reach Tracy Herz at firstname.lastname@example.org.