Chattering monkeys

It came as a huge relief to me the first time I heard someone else refer to "the chattering monkeys" in his head. I've got a big troop of them, myself. Lots of noisy opinion-holders on everything about me, everyone around me, and everything that happens, who chitter and chatter incessantly their more or less well-formed or baseless thoughts and feelings at nearly deafening levels (all, of this, of course, entirely between my ears -- and lest you worry, dear reader, entirely metaphorical).

On a bad day, I mistake their noises for my own feelings or thoughts. On a good day, it's almost as though I have located some magical volume control, and am able to turn their noises down so low as to make the voice that I identify most comfortably as me (it's the sane, reasonable, compassionate, and gentle voice, of course) the only one I have to listen to.

Yesterday two things happened that got them chattering to a profoundly distracting degree.

1. A family, for whom this news makes me glad, heard that their son is now invited to enroll for kindergarten at a school for which Kay is also on the waitlist -- and whom, I'd been given to believe, Kay was above on the waitlist. We haven't heard anything yet. The monkeys tell me that this means that Kay is not going to get in and that it is my fault. It is my fault for wanting her to get in despite having a perfectly good school in which she is already enrolled. Its my fault for having made a summer-long campaign of reminding the school administrators that I wanted her to get in and thus making a pest of myself. Nevermind that this is a school with a parent participation contract, in the final analysis (say the monkeys) obviously no one would want a person who by constantly drawing attention to herself and her hopes for her child makes clear that she would be a nuisance as an active parent. And not only that, but clearly, this is the universe's way of telling me to stop trying to manipulate events as I'd like them to be and the next thing that is going to happen is that we're going to learn that Kay can't go to the school where she is enrolled because we've moved out of the attendance area since she enrolled. We'll be scrambling mad-dash to get her in anywhere the first week of school and it'll be a terrible school where she will have terrible experiences and all of this will establish proof-positive my incompetence as a mother. And it is all my fault. This thing -- where all that has actually happened is that good friends of mine got good news -- is clearly, desperately, my fault. [Self-centered, much?]

2. I met with a person yesterday who is working through some of her character issues and was worrying that if she stops gossiping, exaggerating and "putting people in their places" that she will be boring. I asked her if she knows anyone who she would characterize as free of those issues and she said, "You." Which is not the answer I expected -- for one thing, I do gossip, exaggerate, and if I don't "put people in their places" out loud, I certainly do in my head -- but while I momentarily enjoyed the puffing up of the ego that went with her erroneous impression, it was not to last. In my intention to prove to her that those things do not make a person interesting, I continued the line of reasoning I had intended to follow with whomever she named. "And do you consider me interesting?" I was pretty sure I knew the answer to this one. This is a person who calls me regularly for a sanity check and who usually expresses astonishment and gratitude at my insight and usefulness to her at such times. Obviously I'm interesting, right? "Well," she said. "No offense [it was tip off, I realize now, that what followed was going to be offensive], but... I think what stay-at-home moms do is really valuable, but honestly I don't think I could say I think you're interesting."

This is, in fact, probably one of my most pernicious fears about being a stay-at-home mom: I'm boring. My daughters are going to tell people what I do or did as they get older with a dismissive, slightly embarrassed need for the person to whom they're telling this to recognize how far away they're going to fall from my tree, "She's, well, she's a [voice speeding up as it simultaneously drops to a whisper] ...stay-at-home mom." I'm not even interesting to them, now. I spend too much of our time together running errands, or issuing orders, or working on the computer. Even with other adults I often have nothing interesting to say; my reasoning faculties having all gone to seed since I quit the workforce. And why don't I have a driving professional ambition? Where's my list of noteworthy accomplishments? What's wrong with me? Why don't I behave like a liberated woman of the new century? How would anyone ever know that there is someone interesting in here? Is there? Maybe there isn't. Maybe my friend is just right, and I'm not interesting. Nevermind that she's totally wrong about me being without character defects, she's obviously right about whether or not I'm interesting.

"Hey, MONKEYS! Shut the [bleep] up!" never works, as it turns out. They just raise the volume. But exorcising them by revealing their voices in writing helps. For right now, anyway.

Today's practice is concluded.

1 comment:

  1. I literally almost spit out my water when I read that your friend said that you are not interesting! I can relate to this post so, so, so much. It makes me understand that when I go out with friends who have jobs I spend most of my time asking them questions and wanting to hear about their life. Because mine seems incredibly boring. It's like, "Wanna hear about how he stuck a bead up his nose today?" Nope, no one really is engaged by that. Sigh. Maybe one day we will be interesting again...