Part three of the MER documentary series, A Sense of Place. Program is titled “A Region Within Walls”, and looks at the lives of mothers of young children.
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Adele in a carriage blankets to cover her plastic arms and warm her cotton belly eyes the closed with a click opened and bright blue surprised glassy serrated at the iris. But oh so beautiful. She squeals when tilted her dress is Stitch from scraps or bought more often at the store with Mommy. She was held to tossed about and whispered to answering the mysterious summons. She was Joan or Marianna Jenny to Perfect Teeth shown between Rose cut lips. She was perfection in plastic. Now a living skin almost as clear as hers, but breathing covered with tiny pores and moving all by itself. The eyes will be deeper midnight turn into brown or Bluetooth. The softer less like a mirror. It will answer the mysterious summons that was harvested in fantasy. And be held to post about still whispered to yet. Be real. A sense of place a documentary series, which looks at regions and regionalism in the state of Minnesota produced by Minnesota educational radio under a grant from the Minnesota Humanities commission. This program is called a region Within Walls. When he was first born, it was a very Escapist attitude of mine to be able to think of years in the future just because I was suffering so much with what was happening it and I could tell no one about it at the time, you know, they'd asked me how I was and I I just would really lied because I didn't want to admit that it was that bad. It was too hard for me to say so at that time everything was in the future and in what was happening to me was so foggy. It really wasn't real. I didn't consider it as real just something that had to be done and gotten over with first of all my my babies were born early and they had to stay in an incubator for at the hospital for a month. And I so I never had any physical contact with them for until they were 4 weeks old. and I went down to the hospital everyday to look at them and they I can identify really relate that these are my children they belong to the hospital and there's would hold them up to the window. I thought of emit Morris. My husband's children. And then when I did bring him home. I felt like I was taking care of somebody else's children that they weren't mine. I couldn't it didn't feel this. This so-called immediate love you are my children reaction that I had thought. Every Woman feels idealistically you plan to you know, you've got it all set up in your head you want to nurse because it it's a communication between you and the baby that's going to bring you closer together and you find out that they bring the baby every 4 hours and the baby woke up in 3 hours and was hungry so they fed it so they bring it to you and it's full and it's not hungry and you hold it for an hour and you snap it on the cheek. Can you pull its mouth open? And it doesn't it doesn't know you it doesn't care doesn't relate to you. You think Jesus could be anybody's baby. It could be but it's not the baby is yours. You take it home learn to care for it. You become over a. Of long use something someone people call Mother you've moved without changing your address to a new region a place uncharted on the map of Minnesota, but intimately known by women all over the state. There's no need way to study the terrain. It's more a matter of exploration. You will discover the Hills and Valleys the sunny spots in the stormy cold nights of this place all on your own you will learn of yes, you will all about this region Within Walls. control control control Before I got married right after high school, I babysit for my mother who had five children left at home for a full week. And I was so busy all day long cleaning and cooking changing diapers doing all the kinds of things that house always have to do and I remember sitting down and being scared and saying my gosh, I'm so busy I couldn't ask to be busier. But what have I done? I've done nothing that really intrigues me and it scared me and I thought I'm not going to do that when I get married and I think that's I think at that point. Maybe I could have thought more about how I could have avoided that because I find myself in that very situation right now where you're at, you're not lazy very few housewives are lazy as far as I can tell I can't can't even afford to me. But you just don't feel gratified at the end of the day and I'm just happy that there are quite a few people who feel that they have to fight this kind of thing. They have to find something else to do if your time I remember that. Paddy Flaherty's 25 mother to two children a typical day in her life goes something like this. I try to get up early enough so that I have a half hour before the children. Wake up. Then I read the newspaper have a cup of tea do the crossword puzzle if I have time the children get up and I feed them. And I do the breakfast dishes. I tried to get my children interested in some kind of project if they're not already finding something on their own. then I usually do something with the children in the morning something that we can do together. And then I feed them lunch try to do lunch dishes put the children down for nap to clean up the house. Which would involve picking up all the rubble in? garbage that have accumulated all morning and probably you know since it's the day before it's afternoon and then I start fixing supper and My husband helps me with that. And I do the dishes. My husband generally takes the children while I'm doing the dishes. and then there should be some spare time in there somewhere and I can't quite make out where it should be. Often times we do something in the evening not always but often times we do go somewhere down to down to the beach or you know down to the bridge as a family do a small family thing. Even if it is just going to the grocery store or some such thing when we come home and put our daughter to bed and generally Wrangle with her son for a couple of hours and then he's in bed and during the course that evening either my husband or I are both of us are able to read That's generally our past time in the evening or I will be needing or sewing Banda that's good. You know when by the time the kids go to bed you feel like you haven't had any time at all to spend with your husband. You're generally quite tired by that time and or I'm quite tired by that time and you always feel like you should stay up until 2 in the morning to have some enjoyment together. Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird. Bahamas gold diamond ring the thing that I enjoy most is if I can get the kids interested in something new and something that really intrigues them, you know create a project of my own for them or help them create a project of their own. That is what I enjoy in terms of housework. I enjoy having a a reasonable house and I enjoy having a Smooth running place but I don't really enjoy doing it scrubbing floors is no way fun. You know and dishes are just Insidious cuz every time you do them, they're right again, and I don't know how could anybody enjoy doing the dishes? I think the problem is is that none of it seems particularly useful to me granted all these things have to be done in order to live day today, but nothing seems very important some right you want to give them a lot of attention and you want fine interesting projects for them so they can learn and grow and develop and all those things but when you're home whether or not you know, if somebody standing over over you with a club or something you feel obligated to get those dishes done and to get them to get that floor scrubbed and And you have a conflict and because you have children who are interrupting you went when you're doing that work that is for some reason important and you can't give them the attention that they require and get you have to get these other things done. And so you can't do either very well and you end up shoving your children away and getting angry with them or they get very upset and you know, you're really in a bind. You don't really know which way to go. Do you leave the house and let it go to hell? I I rather Envy a lot of the people from our parents generation who never questioned it and always felt that keeping a house in and doing all the work that was involved with that was a labor of love. 1 gaze at who do accept was raining? old enough Jean Grey swisshelm edited the Saint Cloud visitor later the Saint Cloud Democrat in the 1860s early in her marriage, she discovered the cheapest as to talent for painting and began to struggle with the tension created by the need for self-expression and the requirements of her household from her autobiography half-a-century published in 1880. What graceful lines in gorgeous Colours floated around me? I forgot God and did not know it forgot philosophy and did not care to remember it but alas I forgot to get Barnes dinner and although I forgot to be hungry. I have no reason to suppose that he did he would willingly have gone hungry rather than give anyone trouble, but I had neglected to duty not only once did I do this. But again and again the fire went out of the bread. We ran over in the pants while I painted and three my conscience began to trouble me housekeeping was a woman's sphere. Although I had never then learn the words for no woman had gotten out of it to be hounded back, but I knew my place since going to leave it. I tried to think I could paint without neglect of Duty it should have occurred to me that painting was a duty for a married woman. Had the passion sees me before marriage No Other Love could have come between me and my art but I felt it was too late. My life was already devoted to another object housekeeping. He was a hard struggle. I tried to compromise but experience soon deprive me of that. Hope for the paint was to be oblivious of all other things in my doubt. I met one of those newspaper paragraphs with which men are want to help women into subjection. A man does not marry an artist but a housekeeper this fitted my case in my Doom was sealed. I pushed away my brushes. Resolutely Crucified My Divine gift in while it hung riding on the cross spent my best years and Powers cooking cabbage. Last night in my dreams. I was stationed listen to Lose My Faith. enough I I felt totally frustrated creatively and As far as painting my crafts reading, you know, any of the things that go into my life. I've had to file away in my mind for a for other days You reach a certain point where you at? I just totally absorbed by it by children. And I and I just like I'm just not crazy about children from this before before I had Jeremy. I consider myself one of those people that's just kind of how she gets along with children. So well, but now, you know, I have I've had my I've had my fill I wouldn't go out of my way to do volunteer taken care of children other than the ones that I take care of it as a living. You know, it's is no more no more of a big Miss to me. It says it has its. It's Has Its Real side. Now. It's got other dimension. Carol Erickson it 22 has an infant son, but no husband for 16 months. Her life has been totally child said I knew her in her pregnancy softide complacent biologically and psychologically preparing to enter this other region today. She reflects on his unpredictable dimensions. When when he was an infant I didn't have days. It was just from from minute to minute and he was a colicky. A child. I mean there were times where he would just go 24 hours. And because I I did not want to accept a lot of overpowering help from my parents who I was living with at the time. I was the one that got up and always took care of him. There were times when I was sure. I was losing my mind just absolutely positive that I was not going to live another day that I was just so physically and mentally exhausted. And I could not see myself getting out of it. I really felt like I was going down for the third time. But by the time that he was 4 months old and his, you know, nervous system was straighter and I could start someone getting out. And then I moved out when I see you is 6 months old then things changed quite a bit until I'm at the point today where because I have many more outside context because I am working. The woman that I work for it provides transportation for me. I can think more in concepts of What's going to happen to me in the next couple years? And it's no longer, you know, like just from like an hour to our thing, but my days are much more pleasant to me. You know we get up we get up quite early. We spend a lot of time outside. He spends time with his his friends and I'm a believing when he's around now to concentrate on things. Which I guess is really hard to to realize that having a child around you can't even you know, you can't sit down and start writing your income tax all are doing this or that because they just totally want your attention if they don't have yours and there's no one else is in the house if they can have you really stuck. So you start doing things like I do, you know, I started doing my sewing in my important things like at 10 at night after all the things are all settled down and sometimes I'll be up until 4 and see if you know, I had to make the choice. Well if it's sleep or is it in complicating something that has to be done or something that gives me some type of recreation. Sometimes there are more important things to me than just having sleep I don't know if I ever want to become tightly involved with one man. It's a concept I've grown up with all my life and I just didn't really shine away from it now because they're too many things that I that I want to do and I don't want anyone to Encompass me in his life for his dreams. Sometimes I think do you know if I've never had Jeremy at the particular time that I had him? I could have gone on living in a lot of fantasy worlds. And I am really thankful to him that way. Did he just I mean it was a hard way to do it, but I'm still really young and I think you know by the time that he's that he's old enough to be almost on his own and I'm going to be 35 36 years old. you know I'm and I'm kind of happy about it when I think of it that way because I just see myself I envisioned my dreams for myself are so much broader than they ever were before just because I went through such a time. Where there was nothing else, but this kid But now they're just know I have just no limits for myself. Now. I really feel like God damn. I can come push anything. I want to if I just get it together, if people if other people just let me get it together, especially as men just let me get it together. So in that way, you know, you're when I'm playing with him. I'll think about Jeremy, you know, you really did a lot of good things for your old Ma. I wish that I could be. I wish that I could do. I wish that I could go round. I wish that I could be. Twin Cities poet birla Williams asks, will you miss me? Some days I managed not to be a poet. In fact, some days managed me so far from poetry. I think I've reached a static State therefore. I know it can be done. You will come home happily to find me stirring first course soup smell yeasty pungens of homemade bread. I hear will be smooth my face bright like a blank sheet of paper waiting for your kiss your days experience to be written upon it. House will blind you with it Shine. You'll find no scraps of recorded thoughts. No Stones pedal or curled leaves that hold the images of a dozen poems. And even if a day may come when the sun casts strange blue head Shadows on the snow the wind snags a new note or carries back. Some old old sound I had forgot. I will turn my eyes and ears away. B chauffeur housemaid nursemaid mistress be your good wife. I will not clutter your life with sharp wrong faceted fragments of whoever I might have been. I will pour my love into the lives of our children and ignore the enchanted unclaimed child tapping Forever at my window. Ignore slat raise stare at the sun until I'm blind the difference of days of cells simple woman your mirror my back healed hard against the poem pretend away the blue Rim Shadows, you know, you've got nine kids, you know, but I really wouldn't do one thing different. Not one. I I can honestly say that I am very I'm I'm I'm happy. We don't have everything that possibly our next door neighbor has materially but I I feel that that spiritually and an emotion. As far as my life is concerned. I'm I'm very I'm very content with it. I I can't I really wouldn't change places with anybody right now, Maryland for that is 35 the mother of nine children. It's safe to say that by now. She knows the territory pretty well and she says that you find satisfaction and growth within its very real geographical limits. Homeschool Church neighborhood. These are the physical boundaries. She operates within still her life has a kind of flexibility. You can chalk it up to experience if you like, but Marilyn has some other thoughts on the matter we join dumb. cfm's Christian family movement and the Christian family we don't mean that you have, you know, I'm a million kids and family is the church and I think that one thing that they stress so emphatically is communication between partners and then everything else comes relatively easy, and I think I think we joined in 66 and as far as being when I felt a total person, I think it came more at that time that it had before. I I mean I realized more who I was at that time and in that I was still was a person even wrapped up with all these people that like, I'm not taking a complete credit for all this because Tom is the way that he is with the kids and He doesn't. Feel that it's not his job. And I think a lot of men contribute to their wives in the insanity. If you want to say that whoever said that it was a woman's job to do dishes or a man's job to rake the lawn. We don't feel that each of us has a particular place in this house. We're here and we're a family and were a man and we're a woman and whatever we feel like doing at that time. Not that I feel like doing dishes or he feels like doing dishes. But if they're there that's what we do and we've always we've always done this since the time when Mary did you know that we haven't had a certain job or you know a place in the house were just together. Looking through my windows see the old blue sofa the round table with The Fringe cloth the stately secretary the fireplace count the spaces at the dining table watch the candles Flames flickering standing Splendid in holders of silver where once you might have looked the sofa bulbs with springs and sprung the draperies plastic 198 on special television sound filled every corner of every room then they're dreaming of silver candle holders decisions were decided. life was committed to The Shining vision and now Now can I save a Silver's tarnish the candles burn down too far? And I toss away the polishing cloth leaving the dust behind and walk out into the gleaming night. Looking through my windows tell me. Can you see me? Doll in a carriage by Molly Ernst from her book of poems primigravida published by Earth art publishing Woodbridge Connecticut, excerpt from half a century the autobiography of Jane Grey swisshelm published by Jensen McClurg and Company Chicago 1880. Will you miss me by birla Williams published in the Hamline University bulletin September 1972 nursery rhymes from the golden Records album 101 Golden Nursery songs and special things 2K luukkonen for performing three selections from her repertoire of feminist books on a sense of place was written and produced by Claudia daily for Minnesota educational radio under a grant from the Minnesota Humanities commission engineering by David felon.