Monday, April 09, 2007

Counterpoint

Twice already this morning, I've seen references to a weekend article from the Washington Post, Pearls Before Breakfast. It's about Joshua Bell, always one of my favorite violinists, and an experiment in which he played his violin at a subway station in DC, the idea being to see if people would recognize they were in the presence of true talent. (Side note: I won't be sending this story to our friend who has me playing the violin again, because he already has a fantasy of us playing on the town square near where we live, cases open in front. He needs no such encouragement.)

Julia has a nice post up about the article, reflecting on her own relationship with the arts, and whether her son might be more appreciative than she thought. Sweet, thoughtful, humble. Then, a leader for the babies/toddlers group at our church sent the article to the group's mailing list because she thought it was "beautiful and poignant." All great, and I'm glad to have two exposures because I would have hated to miss the article.

If only it had stopped there.

The woman from our church almost immediately sent another email that concluded with this lovely sentence about how she answers people who ask her why she is a stay-at-home mom:

Now, I will unabashedly say that I don't work outside our home right now so that I can notice my children's beauty, and give them time to notice the beauty that surrounds them.

Warmly,

Name withheld to protect the insensitive



This kind of thing always gets my hackles up. How anyone can read such a beautiful article and come away with what I consider to be a somewhat-ugly reaction is beyond me. I like this woman in person, although I don't know her that well. I don't know why she considers that only SAHMs have the inclination or desire to unleash beauty in their kids' lives. I don't know why she would consider it appropriate to involve the stay-at-home vs. work-outside-the-home debate in an article about something entirely different. I'm not sure why she'd send that to the entire list, without first reading it from one of the many perspectives of women who might find that hurtful and unsupportive, for good reasons. I don't know why she thought adding "Warmly" would mitigate the punch.

I don't know why she felt the need to ruin the article for others, but I'm not going to let her. I'm going to re-read it and take a moment to remember an experience I had this weekend, when we were away with our friends. My violist friend and I were doodling around with our instruments and started playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" for Rocco and my friend's son, who is almost two. The boys were delighted and clapped and spun. We probably played it ten times, and had we not been usurped by the boys' interest in a meal, we would have played it for hours, over and over. Even though I'm not a stay-at-home mom, it was beautiful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a great response to the Joshua Bell article by a NYC subway musician in her blog: www.SawLady.com/blog
She interprets the situation differently from the Washington Post reporters... I thought you might find it interesting.