I'm sitting in a hotel room in Santa Clara, California, The room is nicely done; it's completely renovated with all of the conveniences a modern hotel should have. And it's not only a hotel room, but a one bedroom hotel room, complete with a door on the bedroom!
I find myself sitting in this nice room, waiting quietly for my daughter to wake from her nap in the bedroom that has an actual door (if you are a parent and do any type of traveling with kids, you'll understand the importance of this door). I'm wondering what to do; I'm not at home so I can't clean or fix something. There's no laundry to do. No dinner to prepare. I can't leave the hotel room to do anything because my child can't be left alone. I stand to look out the window- cause I actually have some spare time to gaze longingly out of a window- and realize that it's awfully bright in here. I like it dark and cozy. What the hell am I doing with the curtains open so that the sun has full access to my room? That's not like me. So I pull the blinders across the window most of the way, allowing a tiny amount of sunlight in, and the room transforms into my den; a dark, cozy room that's now the perfect setting to read or write. I pull up the chair, brew some hotel packet coffee, logon to my laptop and find myself here, ready to tell you about my latest read.
One morning, many months ago, I met a friend for coffee. We both realized around the same time that we were avid readers and decided to use this opportunity of meeting for a book exchange. What a great way- and a free way- to get more books to read. At the end of our session of chatting it up with some brew from the heavens above, we went to our cars and did the exchange. In the stack that I got was a book called Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.
It had been months since our book exchange and I felt kind of guilty for not reading any of the books that she gave me. And what if, at our next meeting, she asks me if I liked the books. I needed a response. A real response, just in case she decided to quiz me.
I didn't know much about Frank Lloyd Wright, and if you're the same, I won't ruin the story for you (like one of my good friends did while I was reading the book- flaunting her knowledge about his life and all!). Loving Frank is about Frank's affair with a married woman named Mamah Borthwick Cheney and the trials and tribulations that they go through to be together. It takes place in a different time- a time when cheating on a husband was regarded as a very, very bad thing to do. Cheating on a wife, that was a little more acceptable- still bad, but not as bad as what a woman might have to endure. Frank was also married to a woman named Catherine, but he seemed to struggle much less with the decision to move on without his kids.
Mamah ends up leaving, not only her husband, but her two kids as well. That really broke my heart to read about. It made me angry to think that a woman can give up her kids to be with another. I understand marriages not working out.... I'm divorced and have a child with my ex-husband. I also have that wanderlust spirit in me and if I didn't have my son, I would have up and moved at least a couple of times now. But, I stay. I stay so that my kid has both parents. I stay because I don't want to have to make him chose which one to live with. And I stay so that I don't ever have to give him up. It's somewhat simple in my mind. Do what you need to do and then be there for your kids. If that doing what you need to do involves leaving your kids behind, figure out something else because you're going to hurt those babies of yours and yourself in the long run.
The author did a great job of making you feel Mamah's sadness because she left her kids behind, but it was a sadness that I didn't really want to feel, especially because I do most of my reading at night, right before I drift off into dreamland. Yes, I had a couple of dreams about this and woke up in a bad mood because of those miserable dreams.
During Mamah's travels with Frank (they spend time in Germany and Italy), she meets Ellen Key, a well-known feminist who wrote several books on the feminist movement. So, that got me to thinking: does being a feminist make it ok to have kids and then run off and leave them because you realize there are other things to do? Does being a feminist mean that you shouldn't always have to be with your kids to raise them and then send them off when they are old enough to cope in the world without mama? What exactly does being a feminist mean? Especially these days? Has the woman's movement pushed us all a little too far and away from our kids by making it ok to not be so into being a mom?
What do you think?
I finished the book depressed by the entire story. Not to say that it wasn't a good book. It was just sad. Definitely not a story to lift your spirits. I did like it nonetheless. In fact, I plan on passing the book down to a friend of mine whose mother just graduated from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Taliesin. I thought she might like to read it since she has a closer connection through her mother to Frank.
Now I'm off to do some reading while the little one still sleeps. A two hour time change has made my little girl sleepy and given me some unexpected spare time!