“Mom — the person most likely to write an autobiography and never mention herself. A mom reads you like a book, and wherever she goes, people read you like a glowing book review. Perhaps we are given a mom that we might take into death the memory of a lullaby.” — Robert Brault
She is art. She is poetry. She is song and mystery intertwined. According to Robert Brault, mothers are about as sacred as the Virgin Mary and as rad as salted-caramel-pretzel-fat-free-frozen yogurt. While I would love nothing more than to revel in the glistening hallowedness of Brault’s depiction of motherhood, there’s just one slight problem:
I haven’t read a book since Dubya was in office.
While he was on his way out of the White House, I was on my way into the the great feminine rite of passage called, “motherhood.” As everything else on my body grew during pregnancy, my brain fell victim to the electromagnetic shrink ray and has been barely detectable by microscope ever since. Now that I am four years into this pear-shaped office, magna cum laude sounds to me more like a request to turn up the volume of an episode of Astro Boy than an academic distinction of great honor.
What happened to the honors-tassel-sporting force I used to be who could fake an intellectual conversation with the best of ’em? It seems I lost my way somewhere between the Great Recession and Tacky the Penguin. Who will free me from these uncultured chains?
And then God said, “Let their be podcasts.”
“What’s that? Oh Mommy can’t hear you screaming from the back of the minivan for the ‘ay-ples and ba-nay-nays’ song on repeat. She is listening to an interview from the Greenwich Observatory.”
“‘Are we there yet?’ No baby, mommy still has 10 minutes left of a design trend Q&A. Count to 100 and then we’ll be there. OK. Count to 200.”
“No, sweetheart. Mommy didn’t take up chain-smoking. I’m just working on my Deborah Treisman impersonation for the next time the New Yorker is hiring a new fiction editor.”
By no means am I suggesting we ought to drown out our children’s inquiries and commentaries. I am merely pointing out the obvious — peace and quiet is a luxury we cannot always afford.
Audio podcasts are a medium that we mamas can get behind with greater ease than turning the pages of a book or periodical.
Perhaps, when I’m old and gray and my children have gone on to become wealthy, forward-thinking philanthropists who contribute generously toward their parent’s retirement, I will be able to resume my favorite page-turning pastime (unless E-books have taken over the literary free world).
Until then, here are a list of my favorite podcasts.
BBC World Service (Global News) … because global tragedies are easier to listen to when spoken with a British accent.
After the Jump (Design) … Brooklyn-based author, designer, and editor of Design*Sponge, Grace Bonney interviews artists and shop owners while providing listeners with the inside scoop on creative design and up and coming trends.
New Yorker Fiction (Arts) … These are good for long drives and sitting in the dentist chair. Featured authors reading and discussing fiction selections from decades passed while using words that I have to later hit up on Dictionary.com just makes me feel smarter.
TedTalks (Education and Technology) … world leaders discussing business and global issues, or as they say, “stuff worth spreading.”
New York Times Book Review (Literature) … Let’s face it — just isn’t the same without Sam Tanenhaus hosting (no offense to Pamela Paul).
Another Mother Runner (Health and Family) … hosted by two women who haven’t confused taking running seriously with taking themselves too seriously.
Freakonomics Radio (Society and Culture) …Author Stephen Dubner reveals the “hidden side” of socio-economics in the 21st century.
Stuff You Should Know (Conversation Starters to Impress Your Friends and Make Them Think You Actually Paid Attention in Humanities Class)… from howstuffworks.com — a lighthearted discussion on a variety of pop-culture topics.
Now for a bit of housekeeping (because after all, we are mothers therefore when are we not housekeeping?). I realize that for some who wouldn’t call themselves “tech savvy” establishing a podcast library sounds about as daunting as filing for non-profit tax status. For all you iPhone users, trek over to the iTunes App store and download the one that looks like this…
Let’s all say it together … IT’S FREE! Finally … something that is, right? Then simply search and download ’til your heart’s content.
For the other half of you smartphone users, here are a few downloading tips for Android.
As for the rest of the digital delayed population, do not dismay. Follow these instructions for downloading podcasts onto your Mac or PC hard drive, and you too will find yourself on the pathway to enlightenment.
Leaders are readers. Few would beg to differ. While we mothers might be slightly bending the “reader” half of that phrase, the idea is to still be able to hold our own in conversations containing words larger than two syllables. Test your new knowledge on the husband and the kids at dinner tonight and see if you don’t get some “glowing reviews.” If you suspect it might go over as good as left-over meatloaf, rest assured that someday they will be awe-inspired by your ghost-written autobiography.
As for the “memory of a lullaby,” I’m afraid Robert Brault may have been exercising some artistic liberty. But if Sade ever comes out with a podcast, trust me … you will be the first to know.