brothels and donkeys: this is your job

October 23, 2009 at 6:00 am 7 comments


This is Xi reading to Echo a 1985 tour guide of Mexico that she got from her Grandpa. She is able to read most of the subheadings because they come with an icon. But unfortunately I found myself having to explain, in the most six year old appropriate language that I could, what a brothel was. Seems there is a “sin section” of this particular guide. Anyway, I am glad I took the photo because looking back on the day, this was one of the precious few sane moments.

This was a typical exchange:

“COCO NO! NO COCO! NO COCO! NO! NAAAAAALLLLLLIE can you help us!!!!? Nallie, Echo is holding that stuffed animal and I want it to stay under the covers with the others!”

“Well you weren’t playing with it, so just like all the other toys in this room, it looks available.”

“I am playing with it. In fact I am ALWAYS playing with them. They’re just asleep.”

And I think to myself, oh great.

And Echo stood her own nonsensical ground. For example:

“MOM! I don’t want Xi to talk. NO XI! DON”T TALK!”

“She is going to talk Echo.”


“Because she is a human that lives in this house, and humans talk.”

“Are donkeys human?”

And I think to myself, ANYWAY…

My brain kept trying to keep up and make sense of their needs and wishes and boy was I faltering. There just was not much sanity to be found. On any given day this phenomenon would be challenging, but on this day it felt IMPOSSIBLE. I’d say to myself: “I throw in the towel!” And then I’d open my eyes and they were still there! Still making unreasonable requests, still needing me.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised. When parenting like this, with unconditional love, and empathy, everything hinges on the parent’s presence of mind, and the presence of your actual body. You must explain brothels in Mexico and why donkeys are not human. You hold, and soothe, and give, and feed, no matter what. You do this even when you are stressed about money, or when you’d really rather check email, or when your flock of children has gone insane. This is the job you want, and quitting is not an option.

But it is grueling. And what that means is we need support. We need fellow mamas that parent like we do, that will just nod their heads in understanding. We need partners that appreciate the tasks we accomplish each day, and that also know that if we did not accomplish any tasks, it is because we were engaged in more important concerns (like nursing, reading, and pretending). We need blogs like this one, and this one, to read late at night, so that we do not feel alone.

Entry filed under: empathy, favorites, parenting principles. Tags: , , , , , , .

filly, feeleez, (we didn’t realize they were basically the same name) empathy delivery

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ivy  |  October 23, 2009 at 7:17 am

    You are a good mom. I’m amazed, and impressed by and sympathize with the idea of having to explain a brothel. wow.

  • 2. Romy  |  October 23, 2009 at 8:47 am

    This is a great post. It is funny how insane kids can seem, and can make you feel. But somehow we’re always brought back to the middle and it seems to work out. It can be so hard to be patient but at the end of the day, it sure is worth it.

  • 3. Alyssa  |  October 23, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I was discussing with a fellow mom what I was reading/learning from the feelez blog, along with the npc site…she really liked what she heard…and then she said, wow…that sounds like a lot of work. and it’s true…it does seem like a lot more work than just telling your kid to stop doing something, throwing them in their room or spanking them. even if it involves more work i think i prefer the “lot of work” model. but, it involves casting out some demons on my part. thanks for these posts.

  • 4. Krista  |  October 23, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    And dang it if them being so darn cute doesn’t also make a wee bit easier? Most of the time anyway? 😉

  • 5. Keely  |  October 23, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    I love you site…I found it a while back and it is like we are living the same senarios–I will have a frustrating moment or day…find your post in my reader from that day…and it is like a little piece of heaven. Thank you for sharing such vulnerability and love in your posts.

  • 6. Annie  |  October 23, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I echo others’ comments… thank you for making me feel not so alone in this journey of motherhood. It is very hard and extremely rewarding and sometimes very confusing (i.e., explaining brothels!).

  • 7. Amy  |  October 24, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I love the details of the exchanges with the girls. Today Aidan (6) was trying to tell Lauren (3) that she wasn’t allowed to sing anymore because it was annoying him. I was reminded of it when reading that Echo told Xi not to talk!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 31 other followers

%d bloggers like this: