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.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Fellowship of the Frogs

Laptop booted, tea by the bed, pillows just right, and the electric blanket on six, just the right nest to start my morning pages.

“Make a date with your unconscious at the same time everyday. Show up and it will be there.” That's what Mary Oliver said at her poetry reading last night. I looked at the clock. Nine-thirty. Exactly the time I intended to show up every single morning. Like the great writers, there first thing, ready to catch the precious gems before the day could devour my genius. I bet most women wrote in their pajamas. I had trouble trying to imagine Ernest Hemingway or Thomas Mann in their PJs.

Just then, I heard the front door and Emma bounded into the bedroom. “Hi Grandma. It's time to watch the rest of the movie.” I must have looked confused. “You know, Fellowship of the Rings. From last night?”

“Oh, the movie.”

“Grandma, you promised.”

“We said ten o'clock. That's not for a while.

“I'll wait.”

“Why don't you come back.”

“It's too far. I'll wait.”

“You only live downstairs. I’ll call you.”

“The gravel hurts my feet. I'd rather wait here.” She crawled into my bed. “When are we going to watch the movie, Grandma?”

“At ten o'clock. I have to write my morning pages first.”

“Ten?” Emma looked at the clock.

“Okay, what time is it now?” I never missed an opportunity for an educational experience.

“Grandma, I know how to tell time.” She folded her hands and kept her eye on the clock. I relaxed a little and began to write; first the date, April 26th, my birthday…… Good God, I'm almost seventy-five. It seemed only a few years ago I was in my fifties, out every morning at seven to jog, divorced and dating a man in his forties. Now, twenty years later, I'm still single, facing the lawful infirmities of old age and wondering what happened. Would I even want to share my life with someone now?

The sagging, the wrinkles and all? I smiled as I remembered the morning Emma and her cousin, Rose, came down to the garden and found me in a reckless moment wearing shorts and a tank top.

“Grandma, you have crinkles on your legs.”

“Yes, aren’t they neat?” I’d answered. “My grandmother had crinkles on her arms and legs. They were really soft and I loved to touch them.”

Emma and Rose rubbed my knees. “Yes,” they’d hummed in unison.

“I don’t have crinkles” Emma had said.

“I don’t either,” echoed Rose, taking a quick check to be sure.

“Oh, no” I’d answered. “You can’t have crinkles until you’re old. You have to live for a very long time. But don’t worry, you’ll get to have crinkles someday.”

* * * * *

“What are you writing, Grandma?”

“I don't know yet.”

“You could write about a little girl who eats ants.”

“I could.”

“I eat ants.”

What would Mary Oliver say about that? And what would she do with a granddaughter who lived downstairs and came up every morning to snuggle. I looked down at Emma. “Ants? You mean the little crawly kind? I imagined a giant ant, jaws opening, ready to snap up my computer, morning pages and all. I need to fight for this time to write. “Why don't you take the dog outside and throw a few balls to him?”

“I smash them and then I eat them.”

“The balls?”

“No, Grandma, the ants.”

“Oh, of course, the ants. You eat them? Why?”

“They taste good.”

“Aren't they bitter?” I shouldn’t be encouraging her to talk. Maybe I should try to write about ants.

“Some are and some aren't. The ones at school aren't bitter.”

“Do you think this has anything to do with the time when you were four and I found you
picking ants off the camellia bush?” She wasn't just picking them off. It actually had been a more heartless act, a primitive killing rampage, as one after another ant was smashed out on the sidewalk. “Do you think your eating ants had something to do with my telling you that if I caught you killing anything, I'd make you eat it?”

“No, I just like to eat them.”

“Well, when you eat them they die. Maybe you could wish them a good reincarnation.”
She liked that concept, and thought for a moment. “Maybe they could come back as frogs. I don't kill frogs.”

Emma looked at the clock. “When are we going to watch Fellowship of the Rings?

“Pretty soon. What do you think if I wrote something called Fellowship of the Frogs?

“Whatever, Grandma. Is it time?”


It could be a children's book. Maybe a story about reincarnation. A little girl who loves to sit by her pond and finds that her father, grandmother and ancestors have all come back as frogs. Or maybe I could write about crinkles and old age and why not include the time when she was a toddler and asked, “Do you have hair on your ginina?”

"Yes,” I’d answered. “I have a little left.”

"Will you show it to me?"
When I take a shower.”

She heard the water running and came to the door. "Can I see now?" as she'd slid the shower door open and peaked in.

"Oh," she had said, looking curiously. "I don't know if that’s good."

* * * * *

Emma blew impatient breath all over my arm, “It's almost time to watch the movie, Grandma.”

“Just give me some space,” I snapped. ”Can't you find something to do?”

“I am doing something. I'm waiting.” She looked back at the clock.

In desperation, I wrote a sticky, “Write about crinkles and gininas.”

Emma pulled the dog onto her lap and his head pressed the delete key. “Is it time?” she asked.

I pushed her away and then felt guilty. “Just keep your eye on the clock, Sweetheart.”

“Okay, here's a test.” She went on as if nothing had happened. “Who is Legolas; a dwarf, a human or an elf?”

“He'll be a dead elf, if he doesn't get out of my space until ten o'clock. Get your computer. Write a book.”

Zoe wedged her sleek black self in between my laptop and body, and kneaded her nails into my nipple which was, unfortunately, in easy reach.

Emma moved over a bit. “Only if I can play a computer game.” She looked up at me. She knew that look. “That's okay, Grandma. I'll just wait.”

I looked at her sweet, innocent face, soft brown eyes that showed not one hint of the jungle and I smiled. “You know what? Let's just watch the movie now and I'll try to write later.”

By Toni Triest


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Wow, what an insightful story. I and purely relate to that situation caught between my writer self and my I-want-to-be-an-attentive-mommy self. Thank-you for describing it so wonderfully, Toni.
Gail Strickland
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