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Playgroup With Sylvia Plath: Because Every Night, Something Has To Go In The Oven

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When you start writing a blog about thoughtful parenting and decide to call it "Playgroup With Sylvia Plath" you've got some explaining to do. Indeed, aligning yourself with a woman who committed suicide by putting her head in her own oven while her children napped in the next room is not exactly an easy sell to readers.

So, as this is my first post, I thought I'd get right to the explaining. About me, about the title and about "the blog," and how I've either risen so high or stooped so low as to even be writing "a blog." (Not to worry, a few posts in and I'm sure I will stop referring to it as "the blog.")

First, I've always been a little queasy with memoirs and first person writing and swore I would never do it.

Second, I always cringed when other writers would sing the refrain, "write what you know - you should write about your kids." Please, I had far more interesting things to write about than my kids. (That would have been the stage when writing a book on mutual funds was "interesting.")

Third, as a former journalist for a national newspaper, I scoffed at the prospect that I would ever write "a blog."

So, here I am. Writing a blog, largely about my life and parenting my three children. Whoa, Peter, did you just hear that cock crow?

I plan to write regular pieces on issues that come up or interest me as I raise my three boys (four really, if you've met my husband). Or perhaps they are issues that interest me so that I can avoid raising my kids. We'll see. I may put up smaller posts of things I've seen or overheard that have given me a chuckle or pause. Like yesterday, a woman used the phrase "tricked out Odyssey." And I'm pretty sure she was serious.

Now for the blog title. That might take a little explaining, but less than you'd think. Yes, I've read my share of Sylvia Plath. What girl who wants to move to New York and write hasn't read The Bell Jar and thought, "oh that's so me." Except, of course, for the parts about the abusive dates, the boyfriend's tuberculosis, the therapists and the mental institution. As for much of the rest of Plath's work, I have never considered myself smart enough nor troubled enough to really understand or appreciate poetry. (Nor do I buy that Bill Clinton or Monica Lewinsky ever read much of their copies of Leaves of Grass.)

So it's really more about the playgroup part. Back when my kids were in the playgroup stage, I had bastardized that dream dinner date game. You know, when the Miss America candidate from Arkansas says, "My three dream dinner dates, living or dead, would be Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Julia Roberts."

I pondered, who would be a dream addition to playgroup. Sure, I could have been separating my toddler from the one pound bag of Twizzlers, but this required some real thought.

I went through the short list of smart, funny women. Hmm, none of them had kids. There were plenty of smart, admirable, accomplished women. And some of them actually had kids. But in playgroup, you're not looking for admirable and accomplished. Why surround yourself with people who are constant reminders of what you're not doing?

And then it came to me -- Sylvia Plath. She covered all the bases -- smart, interesting, accomplished, we could swap writing struggles, she'd lived abroad ... And let's face it, here's someone who could make even me feel like I was being a pretty good mother. Besides it's always fun to have someone in your circle who's a little bit famous -- or maybe infamous.

And really no matter how great your playgroup is, wouldn't it be nice to once in awhile have a mom say, "you know I've hired a sitter for playgroup this morning -- bring all your kids over and then we can each go out and do what we want for the next four hours, separately." Sylvia would have been just that kind of playgroup mom.

And bonus, have you seen her ex? He was hot in an older-man, Sam Shepard sort of way. There's always a chance Ted Hughes would come to couples' dinner (they'd bring something room temp). Or knowing Sylvia, he might end up doing a Friday morning playgroup stint or two.

So there you have it, the genesis of the title of "the blog," which will have little to do with playgroups and even less to say about Sylvia Plath.

As for the tagline under the title (Because Every Night, Something Has To Go In The Oven), some of you may wince and think, "yes, but, isn't that a bit much?" Well, frankly, sometimes as an over-educated and under-employed wife and mother who does the shopping, planning, driving, cleaning, sports equipment-hauling, homework-checking, music practice monitoring, and Nerf war refereeing, etc., I frequently find myself at the end of the day staring at four people who expect me to feed them -- every night. And I think to myself, "yes, but, isn't that a bit much?"

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