The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Everybody Into the Pool

I went for a three-day summer jaunt to Calistoga this past week. But instead of lounging in a mud bath and being massaged, I spent my time in the pool with two eight-year-olds, my daughter, Miranda, and her good friend, Marlena.

My sister, Kathy, rounded out our little family. It wasn’t a true nuclear family, more of an extended one, auntie, mommy, daughter, and friend.  But we had a good time watching movies in the room, eating cupcakes for breakfast, not setting eyes on a vegetable or anything green. I even conveniently forgot everything on my “must-do” list.

It was as close to a wild weekend as I get traveling with my daughter. My sister, Kathy, is a firm believer in being in the moment. This means whatever the girls want, they get. Our bedtime routine includes eating huge bowls of vanilla and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in bed while watching a “Harry Potter,” movie.

 “But,” the guilty mother part of me says, “what about brushing your teeth?” To which the rest of my family looks bored, yawns and goes to sleep, at midnight.

This should mean a wake-up call of say, 10 a.m.? Instead, the girls bounce out of bed at 7 and I, slinging the entire contents of the hotel coffee maker down in one gulp say, “Sure, you can watch another Harry Potter movie.”

Kathy and I are sitting on the bed in our little room, listening to the growing boredom in front of the TV.

“This is too scary.”

“Then close your eyes.”

“I don’t want to close my eyes.”

“I want to watch the movie.”

That’s when a brilliant idea comes to mind, “Let’s go swimming!” I say, emptying the contents of the second pot of coffee. Kathy smiles at me and says “I’ll take the next shift.” She slumps down and goes to sleep.

The girls and I get dressed and walk out to the pool. That’s when I realize this hotel was going to be a bit, well, problematic.

You see, at first we had stayed at the kid-friendly one but it filled up. So we moved to another hotel with a covered pool. No worries about sunscreen here. But the two hot tubs in addition to the large pool should have given me a clue. More adults, fewer children. And with more adults, well, more worry on my part. Are the girls bothering them? Will I have to keep saying, “Don’t splash, kids.”

Miranda and Marlena ran to the pool. They jumped into the deep end. The splash, wave and giggles caused heads to turn in the hot tubs. One gentleman took a big gulp of his wine. Another woman pursed her lips and shook her head. A different lady shook out her “People” magazine with Michael Jackson on the cover, furrowed her brow and pulled the reading material so it covered her face.

I wondered as I dumped the towels on an empty table and followed the girls in, if these people had ever been children. Did they remember the fun of jumping into a pool on a hot day? Did they play “Ring around the Rosy?” in the shallow end?

Or was it my fault that their silence had been shattered by the laughter and energy of youth?

I walked over to the cooler hot tub where the woman resolutely kept her face glued to the magazine. I could see the girls easily while I stood in the tub. Their play made me smile. I remembered something Barbara Kingsolver wrote in “High Tide in Tucson,” her book of essays.

"The way we treat children - all of them, not just our own, and especially those in great need - defines the shape of the world we'll wake up in tomorrow." I wondered as I watched the man drinking at 10 in the morning and the woman devouring information on Michael Jackson, how they had been treated as children. I contemplated if they had played and no one had paid attention. I questioned why the splash and shriek of joy was harsh upon their ears.

I made my decision and climbed out of the adult hot tub and jumped into the deep end of the kids’ pool. I joined in “Ring Around the Rosy” and as I saw my child and her friend smile, I reveled in my delight in joining them, and I remembered why I love these getaway days.

By Georgie Craig

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Saturday, July 04, 2009


My Pretty Pony Cry

Driving home after an all-around blasé late afternoon, I find myself sneaking glances in the rear-view mirror whenever possible.

Behind me sits my three-year strapped in her car seat, her face morphing into what I can only call grade B variations of preschool drama. First, a stern look to the right. Then head pivoted to the left. At my next glance: her eyes are shifted upward with her mouth forced into a comical downturn frown. Next: a furrowed brow, yet placid mouth. And on. Each gesture clearly not bringing on the desired result, affirmed by the eerie silence from my usual chatterbox.

There’s been a dark cloud lurking across her little face all day, just waiting for any storm clouds to gather. And now preceded with a soft “hick!” sound a flurry releases in a warbled “I never had a purpu Pretty Pony!” followed by “Ooooh-hoooo-hooooo” soft wails.

“A what?” I respond, “You’ve never owned a purple Pretty Pony toy? And so you’re going to start crying?” I can’t help but call her on this illogic, but for my daughter my questions only serve as odd affirmation of this apparent injustice, and launch her into louder wails.

Of all the things to cry about…then it hits me. Why not? Why not just let it out and wail for the lack of some random plastic horse with a chroma-colored mane in your life? If that’s all you have to lament about, let loose!

And she does.

Starvation, deprivation, annihilation … it’s a wonder that daily crisis don’t send us all into a tailspin. All day we have the choice to tune into world events or tune out best we can, all the while juggling life in a global economic crisis. Gloom and doom: how can it not seep under your skin, infesting your membranes with fear and worry.

Day after day.

And, yet, we persevere as parents and continue to rally, until in my case, a random commercial shows say, a grandparent embracing her grandchild and whoosh, my tear ducts overflow. If I’m truly lucky I’ll get in some boo-hooing.

Yes, nothing tops a good cry.

Letting emotions out: how better to strengthen reserves so you can persevere during the true testaments to the psyche? And in a life of joy and sorrow there will be many, many testaments.

Now have yourself a Pretty Pony Cry.

By Maija Threlkeld

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Friday, July 03, 2009


A Mother FINALLY Gets to Rock Out

Just back from a concert. A ROCK CONCERT!!!! The first one since my daughter was born nearly eight years ago.

This is sad.

I wanted to be happy. 

So I invited a bunch of friends to hear The Motels and Berlin at the Marin County Fair. It was my daughter's first concert. She spent the nearly 1 1/2 hour Motels' set draped across me as we sat on chairs under a big tent asking if it would soon end. I still managed to sing along to "Only the Lonely," and danced and wiggled underneath my splayed daughter. 

Look when a mother has to rock, she's gotta rock. I was still doing my mother thing, but also my own thing. 

I needed it.

Then we took the kids for rides and games at the fair. We returned to our already laid out blankets outside the seating area as I knew sitting still wouldn't work with the children. I arranged the patchwork of blankets so our sight lines were perfect, and we were in front. Berlin came on and I never stopped dancing and singing. It was like the ghosts of the '80s swarmed and invaded me. I was a possessed, crazed, long in need of a night of fun mother. 

I noticed a number of us in the audience. 

A kid accidently kicked over my glass of wine. I didn't mind because I was kicking up a storm myself. Mimi and I even danced together to a couple of songs. 

Then the evening ended with a fabulous fireworks display. All the mothers agreed -- we have to do this way more often and while we love our kids, next time, we're going to leave them home.

Still, it was sweet to share this rock concert, her first, with my daughter.  

It was my past mingled with my present. What a gift. 

By Dawn Yun

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Thursday, July 02, 2009


Oh, Shit. An Eco-Friendly Bag that Can Not Be Reused

When I used to think about shit in a bag, I would envision some evil teen schoolmate running away from a hated neighbor’s door, with the bag engulfed in flames on the door mat.  Obvious signs of boredom in the sleepy desert town that I grew up in. 

Now I have a different vision.

My husband and I were driving home from a day of trying to get our five- and six-year old boys proficient in skiing and most of the trip had been shockingly uneventful.

Then as we neared Sacramento, the traffic slowed, expectedly during rush hour and we were sandwiched among the many people trying to get home. Then, arousing me from a daydream about a hot shower and sleep in my own bed, I heard an angelic voice from the second row in the van:

                  “I have to go potty.”

                  “Pee or poo,” I said.

                  “Poo.  I have to go potty.  I have to go potty.”

The increasing urgency of pitch in his voice was not a good sign.  It had been just one hour prior that we had to make a specific stop in the middle of nowhere to do just that.  I had given quick wave to the pizza parlor owner as I hurriedly trounced my pajama-clad boys to the bathroom.

                  “You are standing. Didn’t you say you had to poo?”

                  “No.  I’m all done.”

                  “Are you sure?  Why don’t you try again?”

                  “No,” he said.”

I was catapulted back to the present traffic jam by his clearly less angelic tone.  Like a contractor who had just counted zero from ten on the biggest demolition project of his life:

                  “It’s gonna blow!”

My husband is behind the wheel, howling and saying through choked laughter:

                  “I’m sorry.  I know he’s in pain…”

The considerably more panicked voice from the second row:

“Hurry, hurry. It’s gonna blow.”

Looking around, I see a GPS screen, an umbrella, three empty single-serve chocolate milk containers, a pen and a package of saltines.  Oh Lord, not even a cup from a fast-food break.

My husband says in a MacGyver tone:

“Dump the bag of food and use it.”

Mind you, this is my re-usable eco-friendly near-canvas bag.  I picture removing my shoe as a receptacle and decide all other choices are grim.  The bag it is.

                  “Stand up, unbuckle, get your pants down.”

I am breaking laws that I hadn’t even realized existed and have no idea how I am going to make up for the dichotomy of imploring to my children that they are NEVER to unbuckle their seatbelt in a moving vehicle.

                  “Get over here, bend over and go.”

My husband is trying to move to the side of the road, but nobody is letting our car in.  I am trying to position the bag to not get any waste on me while contorting from the front passenger seat.  I look up at my other son in the seat next to his squatting brother, and see both fingers shoved up his nose.  He says:

“I’d gonna vomid.”

“Don’t you dare!”  from the driver’s seat, still striving for the highway exit, so close in distance but so far away in time.

Wiped and strapped safely back in his seat, the smell permeated the van.  I had to try as hard as I could to not think about the shit in the bag next to my foot.  Someone should have told me years ago that these were job requirements of a mom.  And as for Dad, I made him throw the bag away at the next pizza place when we were finally yet untimely able to exit.

                  “Windows down.  I don’t care if it’s raining.”

 By Jennifer O’Shaughnessy

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Holding Tight

“When Mommy’s old and shrively will you carry me too?” I ask my four-year old son hoisting him onto my side while walking into Whole Foods Market.

“Oh don’t ask me that anymore!” he snaps back annoyed, before instructing firmly: “When you’re OLD and shrively I will, but not while I’m a kid.”

I chuckle to myself at the response. I remember the first time his solid frame led me to ask that question. His face took a contemplative look before he eagerly offered “Yes!” with a jubilant smile. I think he too envisioned the “big and strong man” he hopes to become.

He and I are running errands together having left his two sisters home with Dad. It’s a rare excursion out for just the two of us. When he requested that I carry him I was tempted to lecture about how he’s a big boy and can walk. Maneuvering a clunky metal shopping cart one-handed is just never appealing.  I look at him from the corner of my eye, “Are you tired?”

“No,” he rubs his cheek against mine. “I just want you to carry me.” He leans his head in the crook of my neck before opting to keep his cheek pressed against mine as we continue on our way.

Together we meander down the aisles discussing what vegetables he hates, what apples to buy his sisters and what’s still on the list, all the while our heads leaning together, cheek-to-cheek. While we wait our turn in the meat department, I remind myself to take a moment to take in this moment. I feel William’s warm breath as he asks about the various meats, a butter-soft cheek pressed close and little arms resting on my shoulders. Tomorrow he may opt to never be carried but for now I have my little boy.

On the ride home he calls over the Jack Johnson music, “Mommy, I’m going to die the same time as you.” I repeat what I heard for clarification and he simply offers, “Yes.” I look back in the rear-view mirror and catch a glimpse of his content, smiling face looking out the window.

The next night while turning out the light I assure that I’ll come back and snuggle once he’s asleep. “Do other boys have their Mommies come back and snuggle?”

The question catches me off guard. Already feeling the pressure of peers? Just yesterday it seemed that he asked me to stay and snuggle. Wait, it was yesterday, so, “Yes,” I readily and assuredly reply.

“And ugh, I don’t need these things here anymore. Just give them to Grace!” he offers while flinging two stuffed animals off of his bed. I find myself actually feeling a pang of sadness for these once loved stuffed creatures, coveted Henry the bear and Telly the cat whose roles have suddenly shifted from loved ones to just things. But I take my cue and assure William that his little sister Grace will take good care of Henry and Telly.

For all that I love to watch my children stretch and grow I hold tight to these moments of a soft cheek pressed close and little hands reaching out.  Life in this stage is a rhythm of holding tight to memories and continually letting go so my children can stretch and grow. And somewhere in this rhythm I will continue to find my groove by taking my cue from them.

By Maija Threlkeld

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The Man in the Mirror

First there was shock, then came the thought, "Who will take care of his children?"

That was what went through my head when I heard that Michael Jackson had died. 

I immediately thought of the woman who bore his first two children and hoped it would not be her. She was paid to be a surrogate, gave up her rights and from what I've read about her would rather raise horses than those kids.

According to several news reports she said something that she certainly did not have to share. Not now during such a painful time for his children. She said that Michael was not their biological parent. 

He was their father. They knew him as Dad. Fortunately, the children are with his mother and his family. Hopefully their nanny, who has helped raise them for most of their lives, will continue in that role.

There is something else about the death of Michael Jackson that has bothered me. My own guilt and judgement about him in life and the almost saintly quality I've given him now that he is gone. 

Death does that. Bad memories often give away to good, and they are what remain.

His skin was widely believed to be bleached. Now journalists are saying he really did have vitiligo, which splotched his skin and turned it pale. He also suffered from lupus, a harsh anti-immune disease. Perhaps that is why he wore surgical masks and allegedly took a number of drugs. That and years of strenuous performing left him in pain.

One thing I never believed was the molestation charges. The dentist who said Jackson abused his son, actually used a truth serum on his own child during a root canal. Can you imagine? Why did Jackson pay up? He said it just wasn't worth it. Haven't we all felt like that about one thing or another? OK, maybe not to the out-of-tune scale of $25 million. But understandable. 

And then like a modern Jean Valjean in Les Miserable there was the district attorney who was going to bring Michael down regardless of the facts. The infamous molestation trial. Michael in his pajamas. So many, including myself, thought he was faking it. But I have spoken to people who have been on trial or have had family members who have been and all said they were on medication for much of their ordeals. So, apparently, quite understandably now, was Michael. A weak case. One that should never have been brought, Michael won, but he lost so very much. The financial and emotional strain cost him his career, his credibility and he became the equivalent of a cartoon character. A freak. Someone not of this world. 

He was none of those things. He was a devoted father. A loving son. A caring brother. A man who, literally, thrilled millions and helped create the music video genre of MTV.

Michael Jackson is an object lesson in glass houses and to look at our own reflections before casting stones. Only then might we put down those rocks, and cast aside our harsh words and too easy judgements.

Michael Jackson is now in the same category as Elvis. His father said he would be bigger in death than he was in life. He left a legacy far larger than that. He had three children, just twelve, eleven and seven. Far too young to be orphaned. They are what is most important about Michael Jackson. He was their parent. He was their father. He was his children's dad. 

By Dawn Yun

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Monday, June 29, 2009


Sucker Punched

The three of us sat idly chatting while observing our young children practice their strokes during swim team practice. A pleasant enough afternoon safely protected from the sun’s harsh rays under the cool shade of a large patio umbrella.

A mild, uneventful afternoon watching our children.

Conversation meandered from good nutrition for our children to school volunteer activities, which led to my sharing the juggle of combining my work with the children’s schedules.

Somewhere in the midst of suggestions about daycare and nannies I asked one of the mothers, a former teacher, if she was considering going back to teaching sometime down the road.

She turned to me and replied confidently, “No, I enjoy being a Mom.”

I didn’t know how to answer.

My three-year old, dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, snuggled against me before scampering off to find a friend, her yellow gown billowing about her. The “princess phase” is in full tilt at our home and I can readily recite the soundtrack from the Princess and the Pauper movie.

The kids and I laughed on the way home from picking up their third grade sister about Grace’s interest in all things girly. Grace delights in the attention.

Gazing across the pool I watch my six-year old’s determined arms as he swims toward his instructor. He knows that I’m rooting for him. Strong arms! Strong legs! When he gets out of the pool inevitably he’ll race to me, hugging his wet body against me, eager to share how much better he’s swimming.

I think to my third grader’s determination to complete her homework first thing after school. She’s right now busy at work on a book of illustrated poems, inspired by Shel Silverstein, whose work I shared with her class.

They are my love.

I enjoy our life.

I enjoy being their Mom.

But why should I have to justify that?

I breathe in the still air and offer as evenly as I can, “I enjoy being a Mom, too. I also enjoy my work and am glad to have it.”

No more said but inside the wind’s still knocked out of me.

By Maija Threlkeld

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