Friday, April 13, 2012

How Can Judith Viorst Be Eighty ?

Judith Viorst has accompanied me through my life. She was the canary in the coalmine of my youth--preceding me by more than a decade, but still, navigating the shoals of marriage and motherhood for me in a way I could identify with.

 Much has changed since the 1970's when I was suddenly a stay at home Mom and felt like I had been hit on the head with a two by four. But much has not.  Young women still are stunned by the reality of motherhood  outlined in the poem that got me hooked on Judith Viorst.  It still makes me laugh, in spite of the dated references.  It has the ring of eternal truth.

Nice Baby
Last year I talked about black humor and the impact of the
     common market on the European economy and
Threw clever little cocktail parties in our discerningly
     eclectic living room
With the Spanish rug and the hand-carved Chinese chest
     and the lucite chairs and
Was occasionally hungered after by highly placed men in
     communications, but
This year we have a nice baby
     and pablum drying on our Spanish rug,
And I talk about nursing versus sterilization
While the men in communications
Hunger elsewhere.
Last year I studied Flamenco and had my ears pierced and
Served an authentic fondue on the Belgian marble table of
     our discerningly eclectic dining area, but
But this year we have a nice baby
And Spock on the second shelf of our Chinese chest,
And instead of finding myself I am doing my best
To find a sitter
For the nice baby banging the Belgian marble with his cup
While I heat the oven up
For the TV dinners.
Last year I had a shampoo and set every week and
Slept an unbroken sleep beneath the Venetian chandelier of
     our discerningly eclectic bedroom, but
This year we have a nice baby,
And Gerber’s strained bananas in my hair,
And gleaming beneath the Venetian chandelier,
A diaper pail, a portacrib, and him,
A nice baby, drooling on our antique satin spread
While I say how nice.  It is often said
That motherhood is very maturing.

Judith Viorst has faithfully written a book of poems for every decade of her life and  I  read every one up to and including Forever Fifty,  which is when I kind of lost track, or perhaps lost interest because I was sure enough of myself not to need affirmation, poetic or otherwise, on the upcoming stages of my life.

However,  I see that Judith Viorst has penned a new one called  Unexpectedly Eighty  and as I intend to hang around long enough to hit that unimaginable number, I think I will give it a little read.   Realization of my own mortality has shaken my confidence I guess, and made me once again open to the laughter, levity and wisdom of Judith Viorst.  If she has turned 80, that means that means that eventually, if I am lucky, I will too.


Flash said...

Thank you for introducing me. I've never been exposed to Judith Viorst and she's a welcome addition to my life.

pinkpackrat said...

you are very welcome, Flash. I think you are going to like her a lot. She is quite something

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

I loved the piece that you decided to post. And I am unfamiliar with her work--your article made me want to read more of her work!