Herman Melville’s Advice for Parents

Right after Molly was born I joined my local MOPS group, which, amazingly, was started by another mom while she had one small child just around the time she delivered her second!  How the heck did she do that?

Each week at MOPS we focused on a different aspect of motherhood.  It was a thoughtful group of women and  they had a lot to say about what makes a good woman, wife, and mother.  I miss talking shop with that group!

One day, another mom shared The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson.  It has made the rounds in most motherhood circles and on Facebook so I won’t re-tell it here.  If you are not familiar with it though, check it out.  It’s clever food for thought.

To be honest, as Molly was only a few months old at the time, I couldn’t really relate.  While I loved the imagery of a builder carving a bird into a beam that the world would never see, I looked at the women nodding ascent and wondered what kind of drama queens they were.

Molly was an easy baby.  My husband was incredibly grateful not only that I had gone through such a difficult delivery but that I had put my career on hold to become a stay-at-home mom.  And I was pretty happy to leave the last office that I worked at.

Pan to about 6 years later.  I think about the idea of “building cathedrals” all the time.  It’s not that I feel invisible because of my family.  I guess I’m lucky.  My husband and kids are all really pretty grateful.

Rather, as someone who had a pretty interesting career with lots of recognition, there are many days when I wonder whether my time would be better spent back in the courtroom arguing cases rather than the bathroom wiping butts.

When I worked outside the home it was easy to tell how I was doing.  At home, building people?  Not so much.  Some days  – –  especially now that JohnJohn is hitting the peak of terrible twos tantrums – – it feels like the self-destructive obsession of chasing Herman Melville’s elusive white whale.

It is so much easier to build a jack- o'- lantern than a person.

It is so much easier to build a Jack-O’-Lantern than a person.

Moby-Dick was published 162 years ago today.  While “Call me Ishmael,” may be the most famous line, these are the ones I imagine Melville writing for me today:

“For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught—nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!”

Now, I’m off to grab a cup of Starbucks, which, by the way, was named after the chief mate on the Pequod, the whaling ship where Moby-Dick takes place.

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