The world has finally turned its face toward Spring. It seemed as though it was never coming, and now it is here in a rush, the warmth and the green and the long hours of glorious sunlight all at once. I don’t need the clip on light for my computer again until Fall, even when I am up at dawn to write.
So I’m happy and I missed it more than I even knew.
I am wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers, in all permutations, around the world today.
Last year for Mother’s Day I posted on books about mothers. This year I talk about being a mom while reading unusual Mom-terial. So it’s about Moms. Sort of. It’s a tiny bit about me as a mom.
A few weeks ago I took my son on a Mom guilt assuaging trip to the indoor water park. I thought bringing along a book was a flash of maternal optimism. I didn’t think I’d really get enough time to polish off a decent part of a book.
What I learned that day was that it’s glorious to have a child who is old enough and has the inclination to play on his own after my obligatory slide runs and trips around the lazy river. I soaked up every moment of mom reading glory, at least an hour away from every other obligation and my cell phone locked away in a rented locker.
If I had known I would get that reading time I may have chosen a different book, just in case any other parents in the throes of boredom/relaxation looked over to see what I was reading. I forget in my avid kindle reading that paper books involve covers. They don’t have the privacy of an electronic device. I wrapped my book in my towel when I wasn’t reading not because I didn’t want someone to take it, I didn’t want someone to think I was weird. I mean, it’s a Hannibal Lecter mask on a bust. Not the shoe, martini glass or handbag that would slip me into true anonymity.
A Book of Social Science:
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach us About Success, Kevin Dutton
Although my degree is in Psychology, I wasn’t super excited about this category. Social science books are interchangeable in my mind with self help books. Books on how to optimize your brain function and stop being codependent or free you from whatever vices you believe yourself to have. Books that break down the nuts and bolts and provide entire chapters on motivation to even change in the first place. Nah. Too basic. Too close to work.
My formally educated father in law bought this book for a plane ride and gave it to me when he arrived in my home on the other side of the country from his home. He’s an engineer, and although I liked this book, I wondered how relateable this book is to those who are educated but not as much as I am in Psychology. It is clearly written for those who have learned about research methods and how to be a decent consumer of research, at the very least. I thought this was a definite plus. I didn’t have to skip over anything too basic. It was good at firming up my thoughts on psychopathy, especially as it was framed in terms of its adaptive qualities, which, like any quality, has to exist in an optimal range to be beneficial. And the best creative nonfiction takes a spin on something, or a juxtaposition, and this talks about the good aspects of something usually acknowledged as all negative.
It talks about how their emotional recognition functions when identifying their own as well as the emotions of others, the difference between if it is state or trait, if they can shut off these qualities at times when they are no longer beneficial in the situation. It talks about how it psychopathy even stayed in the gene pool due to its benefits as well as how our cultural icons can be seen in terms of this emotional constellation. It talks about research in a very poetic and interesting way, posing hypotheses and clearly how well the results fit them. I would encourage anyone with an interest to pick up the book even without formal schooling on research methods. I might think I am all fancy with my edumacashin and I might be wrong.
There was a time when I thought I was committed to nonfiction writing forever, around the time I was finishing school and entering a golden and brief period of free time in my life that I killed off four years later by having a child. I would have liked to write something this informed and poetic and relatable. I would have liked to do the interviews with the researchers, the psychopaths themselves, and gathered my own body of main studies to review. I would have liked to do this project coming out of school and I would have aspired to it. It reminded me of where my heart was about ten years ago, going through rounds of dissertation revisions and hoping I could get a job before it was done, sharing a rented house with a stranger.
So I was someone’s mom in my mom swimsuit (and it’s definitely a mom swimsuit, designed to minimize mom body flaws) reading something completely un momlike, following the professional passion that I had long before I even thought seriously about a baby. No one asked me why I was reading about psychopaths. I also read it at the playground and the McDonald’s playplace, and nothing. I must not be notable when my son isn’t announcing farts and swearing in the big plastic tubes of playplace. I must not be notable in my mom suit in the sunlight that streams through the ceiling of the water park. When I am a Mom and my kid is behaving okay it doesn’t matter what I am reading. I am deliciously invisible.
Noveling rolls forward. Second draft revisions and flashes of panic that the sequence of events doesn’t hang together or make any sense. Then coping skills, a major one being that someone will look over this for me and help.