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.

Thursday, January 31, 2008



My husband seems to have a direct line for understanding our three-year old son that annoys me.

I say this because I am a much better parent than he is; at least I put more effort into it than he does.

I certainly read more about it and lose more sleep over it than he seems to. Nothing seems to interfere with his sleep, and this is another thing that annoys me. Ever since the kids were born, I have not been able to sleep through the night. He snores, steals the covers and wiggles the mattress, while I wake up and poke him as he rolls over and stops whatever offended me.

This happens a dozen times a night and in the morning when I am bleary-eyed, I ask him how he slept and he says, “Great!” with that chipper, cutesy smile that used to make me woozy when we were dating, and that annoys me now.

Recently, my three-year old was getting ready to take swim classes without mom or dad in the pool with him, and he was a little anxious. I bought him new orange goggles and a hooded towel with shark fins and teeth, and explained that his class would be called The Jellyfish.

My six-year old girl was enthralled with the name and she started to dance around the room pretending to float, so my son joined in chanting and marching, and we had a little sea creature parade.

Then my son stopped and stared at me electrified with some marvelous idea. He poked out his index finger and said wide-eyed and lisping, “Do I get to sting people?”

He looked very fragile, as if I might say no. I stared back at his great black, vulnerable, tender, impish boy eyes and said, “Well of course you do, you’re a jellyfish!”

So then he and my daughter stuck out their stingers and bzzz, bzzz, buzzed each other and anything that came near them for the next week until class started.

The class went fine, much to my surprise, since he usually takes a while to adapt, but the teacher was giggly and dimply, and the other two kids were perky and confident in the water so he jumped right in.

After class they all went into the hot tub. My son was alert and pleased, and he chatted happily to the teacher whose name was Erin, and whom he called, “Errand.”

After class he skipped with me to the locker room where I stripped him down and threw him in the shower. As soon as he stepped into the water he started to howl and wail. He threw himself on the floor crying and screaming, and my heart stopped.

Was the water too hot? Did he step on glass on the floor? Had he bitten his tongue? I could not calm him down, and I went through every possible explanation in my head. Was it epilepsy? A spider bite? Maybe I had done something in the wrong order?

Finally, I calmed him down and he sobbed, grief stricken: “I forgot to sting people!! I fo-or-r-or-go-o-o-t!!” Choking back my laughter and hugely relieved, I cleaned him up and we walked back out and buzzed his teacher who said my son was “adorable!” and he said, “You are dorable, too.”

When I told my husband this story, and I got to the part about Collin screaming on the floor of the shower room, he said, “Oh, he forgot to sting people. Right? He wasn’t sick. He was angry.”

And I just stopped and stared at him shocked.

I was stuck between being amazed that he understood so quickly, and being annoyed that he had stolen my punch line. Finally, I decided that I am so frequently annoyed at my husband, that JUST THIS ONCE, I could overlook it and be amazed. So I looked at him appreciatively, and said, “Wow. You really understand little boys, huh?”

That was a real adult moment for me.

By Lianna McSwain


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Swimming Upstream

I want to scream!

My husband and I went back East with our two-year-old for the New Year holiday. We returned refreshed, inspired and motivated. This would be the year we break from our routine and create more time for family and travel!

Yet, here we are at the end of January and neither of us had done anything toward our goals.

Two weeks earlier, in the twenty minutes we had before our son would wake from his nap, we whipped up a plan and gave each other assignments.

“Great,” my husband said, as our son started to cry. “When do we want to meet next?”

My mind Rolodexed through the days and weeks ahead, and my jaw sort of dropped. There wasn’t any reliable time for us to “meet.” Our son’s weekend nap time was not reliable.

It dawned on me then that if we couldn’t find time to sit and talk (when we weren’t both dead tired), then how were we going to find the additional time we needed to actually do our plan, and change our lives?

Our lives were already so full. We had commutes to and from daycare and work, physical therapy, phone calls, e-mails, clients, doctor’s appointments, house work, groceries, bath time, dinners, and on and on.

What comes to mind is a saying from Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”

I felt like we were in a Catch-22: in order to break from our routine, we first had to break from our routine.

I understand why some people choose not to push their boundaries or create dramatic change. It’s like salmon swimming upstream: it requires tremendous energy, focus and work to go against the natural flow of our lives.

But my husband and I are determined.

In the end, we decided to meet at five a.m. one morning a week, and otherwise find time wherever we could. We anticipate that we’ll have to let some things go (like dishes, or sleep), and I’ll have to accept that things will probably take longer than expected -- which, as a mom, I should already know!

But all is good, as long as we keep swimming.

By Cindy Bailey


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Young Moms

My youngest daughter, Cameron, started preschool this fall, my third child to enter the Montessori Oak Room. My fellow preschool parents are in full family creation mode, and every month I notice more and more bellies blooming wide with second and third children.

It’s no wonder Cameron urges me to have another baby, stating her case for “just one more, since one of yours died.”

She’s still trying to fill in the place for her missing “little” brother (because he was a baby), not realizing she’s the one I didn’t think I’d be having. “Have another baby, please, please,” she says, getting on her knees and folding her hands in full supplication.

That’s when it hits me that, for the first time -- I don’t want another child. I’m so, so done. Good thing - getting pregnant at 39 wasn’t easy; now, staring down 44, it’s not just my decision.

The other moms at the preschool can’t hide their shock when Tyler and Mackenzie enter the classroom for a reunion with their former teachers. They also don’t know that the five-year gap between Tyler and Cameron has a name: Aaron.

And by the way, I’m still waiting for the “you look way too young to have a twelve-year old daughter.” I hate to break the news that my extra fine lines, padding, and chin girth are pretty much the going rate for the three children and 10 years that have transpired since we first entered the school.

These moms address me as the school’s elder statesman, and not just because I can remember when the school’s annual fundraising goal was barely four digits; I am their go-to reference for topics that barely register on my radar; how I get Cameron to eat vegetables (I put them on her plate), how I get her to bed at night (she sleeps with us), how I get everything done during the day (I don’t).

They wouldn’t believe that the child-rearing topics weighing on their minds - especially the poor souls navigating the kindergarten process in San Francisco - will resolve and vanish with barely a trace, age-progressing along with their bodies and energy levels, replaced by newer challenges of raising children in a City of Plenty.

I cannot engage in their angst any more than I can contribute to the travails of a high school social calendar or college admissions process. Even with Cameron, I’m on a totally different wavelength than I was when Tyler was her age. It’s partly experience, but mostly survival; having older children allows me to triage issues of more or less importance with the benefit of knowing how the story plays out.

They can’t imagine their children out of car seats, and I can’t remember my life before Little League and dance troupe, piano lessons, and soccer. They’re so young, I say, until I do the math and realize I was barely 34 years old when Mackenzie started there at the tender age of two.

They ask me, “What’s it like?” and I just smile. I didn’t know I was young and carefree then, and neither do they.

I won’t spoil the surprise.

By Kimberley Kwok


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, January 28, 2008


In Transition

The early morning sun shone persistently through the slightly opened blinds of my bedroom window. My twenty-three month old daughter was tunneling through the bedding on my bed, calling excitedly, “I’m hiding, Mommy! I’m hiding!”

I kept my eyes shut, hoping that by doing so, I would somehow delay the beginning of yet another day filled with toddler games and talk and devoid of adult stimulation. Finally, resigned to the inevitable, I threw the covers off and sat up with a sigh that spoke poignantly of dreams yet unfulfilled.

My daughter’s face peeked out from under the comforter, bright, smiling, and full of hope and life. “I’m hiding, Mommy!” she said with laughter in her voice. I reached out and pulled her tiny body to me, “gotcha!”

She squealed her delight and my day was right again. But somehow, this morning, as I held her to my bosom, I knew that it was time. . . time for me to do something for me. Time for me to give back a little of myself to those who had sacrificed so much for me.

Five years ago I graduated from the University of the West Indies with a Degree in Economics and Management. I remember walking down the aisle to receive my diploma like it was yesterday. I can still taste the joy, the overwhelming sense of accomplishment that propelled me forward, as I imagined that every one of the sea of faces was shining just for me. I was going to make a difference. I was going to change the world. My heart was full as I reached out and happily shook the chancellor’s outstretched hand, clasping the diploma he handed me to my heart.

Two months earlier, I had been hired by the government of my country as a Trade Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Marketing. I felt sure that this degree, a testament to endless hours of mind-blowing work, of nights filled with econometrics and complicated economic models instead of sleep, was all I needed to help me single-handedly take my country a giant step forward.

I was wrong.

It took only a few months of public service for me to realize that it would take so much more than my new knowledge and optimism to combat a system of global economic oppression that had prevailed for more than my lifetime.

My job was exciting, stimulating. But the constant frustration of trying to right an economy that lacked the financial, technical and human resources needed to survive in a rapidly evolving global economy was threatening to dampen my enthusiasm, in fact, to put out my torch altogether.

My daughter squirmed and I realized suddenly that I still maintained a desperate grip on her. Snapping out of my reverie, I released her tiny body and swung myself out of bed. Eager to start another day bursting with endless possibilities, she slid from the bed, got me my slippers and went charging out into the kitchen. The sound of her little feet pat-a-caking across the hardwood floors, made me smile. Shaking off my presentiment, I set her on the counter so we could make breakfast together. Laughing at her silliness, I allowed this simple act of mothering to soothe away my early morning misgivings, replacing it with true joy and the will to go on.

By Inga Wahle


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Mistaken Diagnosis

My son seemed depressed, really depressed. He didn’t want to get up in the morning. His energy level was the lowest I had ever seen, even though he was always hungry and ready for something to eat. Time to have a “man to man,” “woman to man,” “mom to son,” -- heart to heart talk!

“Is there anything going on that I should know about, Nathaniel?”

“What do you mean, Mom. You know everything,” was his quick, glib reply.

“Oh, I was just wondering. You seem to have no energy, no real drive. You just want to stay in
bed and sleep. Can I do something to help?”

“Sure, Mom, you can do something. Stop worrying.” He sauntered out the door.

The days passed and still he showed little of his usual enthusiasm and zeal. Even lacross, at which he excelled, seemed to require inordinate encouragement.

One day he initiated the conversation stating that it bothered him that I expected so much energy and constant enthusiasm about everything from him.

“It doesn’t give me much self esteem knowing you consider me dull and slow, Mom” and then he added sarcastically, “just because you’re such a perpetual motion machine who loves to get up at day break.”

I thought about this for a day or so. Rather than talk about it, I sat down and wrote him a letter, a letter about self-esteem. Look at the words I told him. I cannot give you what you must take for yourself. You must feel that what you are achieving is sufficient, your best, or at least makes you proud of yourself and satisfied that you did your best.

This seemed to alleviate my concerns. No more was said. Time passed and he matured into a son to be proud of, one who has well deserved self-esteem and gives credit and thanks and notice others.

Years later, my son remarked to me. “Remember, Mom, how I hated to get up in the morning, how tired I always was, and how much this bothered you? Those were the two to three years I grew from 5’ 9’’ to 6’ 4”. My feet went to a size thirteen shoe. “

I realize now that he was right. You have the same number of years to reach 6’ 4” as you do to grow to 5’ 4” and growing and building additional bone and tissue takes a lot of extra sleep. It’s so logical to think about now, but at the time I was not aware. I was thinking of the psychological implications of need for extra sleep.

Hindsight does not always help much in mothering.

By Ruth Scott


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, January 26, 2008



My son is only three-years old, and yet he has mastered the complex emotional satisfaction of a hug.

Jacob has a language delay that basically means his words lack articulation, so when he says anything clearly -- I am thrilled.

One week ago he began to say, “Give hug” as he walked towards me, arms open, and squeezed with emphasis upon contact. I equated this to modeling and that he was just hugging because he sees others do it, including me to him about twenty times a day.

Yesterday, he approached me, head down, arms at his sides and clearly said, “Need hug.” Who knows how long this adorable being has been in touch with his emotions? He was actually aware of his needs; he knew the difference between giving and needing a hug.

Predicting his need has been my job so far, as well as following through with the appropriate fix. I appreciate the clarification of his emotional independence that comes with the ability to express his needs with words. I definitely underestimated him. I am amazed at how self-aware he is at three.

A hug is a clear, physical form of communication, but distinguishing between giving and needing is emotionally complex. He goes that much further sharing his hugs with his four-year old brother, Jack, and Daddy.

That makes me a proud mama. I don’t mind him gaining independence: I just hope the hugs last forever.

By Jennifer O’Shaughnessy


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, January 25, 2008



Five minutes before we dash out the door to catch the school bus to kindergarten, my daughter, Olivia, announces that she wants me to stop eating crust.

“Grandma said crust makes your hair curly,” she says.

“If only it were that simple,” I say, scavenging through the pile of shoes at the back door for her left sneaker. “I would stop eating crust this instant.” My curly, frizzy, untamed mop for a hairdo has been the bane of my existence my entire life.

“But I don’t want you to have curly hair,” Olivia says. She crosses her arms. “I want you to have straight hair. Like mine. So you need to stop eating crust.”

I stand up and look at her closely. So that’s what we’re talking about: Olivia wants me to look like her. Olivia’s hair is straight, mine is curly. Olivia’s eyes are black, mine are blue. Olivia’s skin is dark brown, mine is white. Nobody ever says to Olivia, the way they still say to me when I’m with my mother, “You two look exactly alike.”

Nobody ever will.

We have three minutes. “I wish I had hair like yours,” I tell her. “It’s black and shiny and thick. You could be a hair model.”

Olivia furrows her forehead. I’m missing the point.

I exhale deeply, one eye on the clock. “Instead of talking about ways we’re different, let’s talk about ways we’re the same.”

“OK,” she says in a small voice.

I tap my index finger on my cheek to show I’m thinking. “Mmm.” I snap my fingers. “I know! We’re both girls. We both love Daddy and Mateo. You were born in Guatemala. I lived in Guatemala.”

“We both hate being cold,” Olivia says. “Simon is our favorite on American Idol.”

“See? Now you’re talking.”

I uncover her left sneaker and kneel to slip it on her foot. “We’re both part of the same family, forever and ever.” I zip up her jacket. “We both have one minute before we miss the school bus.”
We rush out the door. “I’m not making any promises,” I say as the bus rolls into view. I bend to kiss her good-bye. “But if it will make you feel better, I’ll stop eating crust.”

The bus door opens and Olivia hops aboard. I can see she’s smiling.

By Jessica O’Dwyer


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Surf Therapy

When life gets rocky in our household on weekends we head to the beach. Before the snapping, fussing or whining escalates, we wisely load up the car with beach towels, the old flowery sheet that we use as a picnic blanket, requisite sand toys, snacks, and our huge long-haired pup.

And off we go.

The drive to one of the local beaches we’re lucky to reach within the hour is long and windy, but just short enough for books and the sights to distract from too many “are we there yet?” inquiries.

“Look! Water!” one of the kids will inevitably call out as we draw near. All eyes crane to see and eager smiles replace concerned frowns and tense jaws.

It doesn’t matter whether the sun’s beating down or the wind’s chilling foggy skies. What matters is that we are at the beach!

Little bodies start scampering toward the sand before weaving back at the reminder to come help carry something! Toes dig into thick, shifting grains. Lungs fill with cool sea air. Minds relax to the rhythmic roar of the surf.

The flowery sheet is dutifully pinned down with flip-flops and more towels, but mostly abandoned as the kids bound toward the surf and start digging in the heavy, wet sand with us parents following not far behind. Giggles erupt as the foamy surf flirts with little feet. The loud crash of the tide and rhythmic surge of the waves complement quiet contemplation and focused castle building.

I observe my oldest daughter dancing in and out of the surf, sheer joy across her beaming face. My brow relaxes as it hasn’t in many days and I give thanks.

I look over at my restless four-year old and find him immersed in creating a cityscape with waterways. His body crawls about his creation changing and correcting mounds of sand. He raises his head and exclaims, “Look!” I smile and nod back.

Our youngest chases the seagulls that swoop up to the skies at her approach, only to land a few yards away. Up again they ascend to her shrieks of delight. She lurches her body ahead ready to conquer another resting flock. The perfect repetitive task for a diligent two-year old.

Brett drags a long strand of seaweed toward us. At its end is our dog furiously trying to usurp it. Duke spots the seagulls and joins Grace’s charge.

And once again peace is reclaimed and perspective restored.

By Maija Threlkeld


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Taking My Figure Into My Own Hands

It came one afternoon, like so many times before.

Innocent-looking-enough, this clothes catalog arrived with the rest of the mail. But today was not like other days. To begin, my brain was starting to leave the hormonal fog of having my son eight months prior.

Life was beginning to resume some sort of order that sleeping five hours straight (not more) at night affords you. But my body was still predictably soft and squishy. The births of my children had each left hallmark weight, on top of the weight that had slowly crept on post-wedding diet.

I stood in the kitchen, staring at the catalog, about to have to make dinner, realizing swim suit season was coming, and generally not in a good mood with how I was looking or feeling.

I won’t name the catalog, but let’s just say that every cover seemed to have wafer-thin sixteen-year-olds in stylish bikinis, looking like they were about to return to their beach houses in the Hamptons with their other yuppie-yet-fashionably-messy-friends.

I’d purchased from the catalog and store before, but I never looked like that in their clothes. And then it hit me -- I’m supporting them! I’m supporting this company making the rest of us women feel bad about our pouches, thighs, and uneven complexions.

I decided to funnel my anger, and call the catalog company directly and give them a piece of my mind. I was proud of myself as I called the order number.

I am a post-pregnancy woman, hear me roar!

I had an idea of the talk I was going to give them -- and it was beautiful. And then she answers. Call me intuitive, but I could tell by her voice that it wasn’t the girl on the cover of the magazine.

In fact, this woman sounded nice, and although I couldn’t see her, I could tell she had a normal figure. Then it dawned on me -- it wasn’t the customer service representative making the model choices, it was someone much higher on the org chart.

Instead of going off to release my own pent-up-anger, I simply said that I wanted to cancel my catalog.

OK, she said, very nicely, and took down my information. No trying to talk me into keeping it, or tempting me with special offers. The whole thing was feeling very anti-climatic.

Then she asked, “May I ask why you are canceling your catalog?”

My chance had arrived!

“Yes,” I replied. “Because I don’t look like your models.”

She laughed and said, “I understand completely.” I felt a bond with this woman. We said good-bye and I hung up the phone, feeling empowered because I had delivered my message, but had not unloaded my own issues onto someone who didn’t deserve them.

By Kristy Lund


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Old Friend

The clinical medical trial I was in for a year and a half, 18 months, 540 nights (not to mention monthly and bi-monthly visits) – was finally over.

It was the holidays and I was not going back East to visit family because I can’t handle the cold. But I missed my roots.

Spontaneously, I thought of a friend who I heard had moved nearby. In the summer she had invited me through Evite to a party at her new house, but I had a friend visiting from out-of-state who didn’t want to go so we ended up not.

The next day I sent an e-mail of apology. She wrote that there were so many people there we probably wouldn’t have had much time to talk.

In junior high and high school we had similar friends, yet were not ones ourselves. We ended up going to the same college, driving cross country and becoming best friends. I had befriended a professor, purely platonic, and invited him to get to know my roommates and I got to know his. My dream was to take a boat ride down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

One day the professor called, but instead of talking to me, he asked to speak to my friend. He invited her to take that trip down the Colorado River. I was shocked. Shocked that he could be so brazen, and hurt that she would say yes, since he obviously liked her and she said they could never be more than friends. She just wanted the trip.

One night I borrowed her car and at the top of my lungs was singing The Talking Heads, “Take Me to the River,” when I hit another car. Her car while still drivable, but for insurance purposes, was totaled.

I had given her money toward that car, it was in her name, and after the accident she demanded more. Unlike her, I had put myself through college. I sold the majority of my possessions and gave her the money.

When I left college to live with a boyfriend in California, I said goodbye to everyone, but her.

Our relationship was never the same.

In October, I wrote an article for “Marin Magazine” about my health situation and the insanity of trying to find a good doctor, let alone getting one to make a correct diagnosis.

The holidays were approaching and for some reason, I thought of this friend. I wondered if she had read the piece. If so, why hadn't she contacted me? One of the things cancer has given me is a total lack of fear. I have nothing to lose.

I called and said, “So it’s not a suburban legend. You actually do live in Marin.”

There was a long silence, then she said, “Dawn, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you. I read that article. Are you okay?”

I was stunned. She had read it but had neither e-mailed nor called me.

We talked some more, she was going away and we agreed to get together when she returned.

Last Saturday I went to her home. She lives exactly six minutes from me. The next day I e-mailed her and thanked her for a lovely time, but I said I had to ask her something.

I wrote: ”I know you said you read about me. That you were concerned. I need to know. Were you ever going to e-mail me or call me, or were you too overwhelmed? I’d just like to know.”

To her credit, she e-mailed back quickly and said that she tried to find my e-mail but could only find an old one. (It hadn’t changed from the summer’s Evite invitation.) Though she said she knew that wasn’t a good excuse since I was easy to find. She said, “believe it or not, my guilt caused my inaction.” She said she guessed it was “a flaw in my character.” She said of course she felt bad that I made the first call, but she was glad that I did.

I thought, I could leave this e-mail hanging or I can reply. I thanked her for her honesty and said it couldn’t have been an easy e-mail to write. I also said that we have had our ups and downs since college. I did thank her for a lovely card that she sent after my mother died. And I would always remember the gesture.

But I can’t forget that she read that article I wrote, that was so bare, honest and vulnerable, and did not contact me. If the situation were reversed, I would have been on the phone in a second.

Character flaw? More like lack of character. I don’t think I’ll be contacting her again. It’s not so much that I can’t forgive, but that I can’t forget. And this episode is so representative of her. She is someone who has led an extremely easy life. She has no idea what real hardship involves.

I feel sorry for her because when it hits –and it will -- it will come down hard. But I do know this: when it does, I will be there for her.

I just can’t deal with her now.

By Dawn Yun


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, January 21, 2008


My Moment of Darkness

My daughter’s shrieks pierced through my consciousness as I opened my eyes and slowly, painfully sat up in bed. My husband woke, too, as if in a daze and automatically turned on the bedside lamp.

Mechanically, he picked up the screaming baby and placed her into my tired arms. I looked down at the red, angry face of my six-day old daughter, her accusing tear-filled eyes, little fists punching through the blankets, and I cried. Stupidly, I just looked at her and cried, too.

“Well, are you going to feed her?” my husband asked.

“I don’t know,” I sobbed. “I just want to sleep! Please! I just want to sleep!”

My husband sat looking at me, feeling helpless. Our daughter’s shrieks were getting angrier, but my tears kept flowing.

I was so tired, so very tired. I hurt all over. My C-section had left me temporarily handicapped and feeling sorry for myself. All I wanted was to be able to lie in bed for one night and sleep. All I wanted was a few hours of rest and quiet. Was that too much to ask? Was I being a horrible mother? Must I rouse my tired, battered body up every hour and a half to satisfy my daughter’s own selfish desires?

Maybe I wasn’t meant for this.

Oh God, why doesn’t she just shut up! Just the thought of her little sucking mouth latching unto my raw, painful nipples made me cringe. I looked at my husband, flopped down on the bed, his body screaming his exhaustion, his eyes drooping closed, their own silent defiance to this seeming chaos that had overtaken our lives. I thought of going out into the streets and handing her off to the first passersby. The thought was tempting.

Oh, I was a terrible mother.

I looked down at my baby again. Her little button nose. Her full, pink lips now contorted with rage. She hiccupped and I smiled. She was mine.

“It’s OK, sweetheart,” I cooed. “It’s OK.”

Un-strapping my bra, I coaxed her searching mouth to my nipples. Bracing myself, I waited for the searing pain that was to follow. She latched, sighed, and sucked noisily. In a couple of minutes, the pain was gone and I gazed adoringly as my baby nourished herself from my body.

I am going to be a good mother.

By Inga Wahle


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Driver's Ed

From my perch a discreet distance away, I watch the car pull into the DMV lot. There are no additional dents and scratches, which bodes well. The road test guy, Ed, emerges jauntily from the passenger’s side. I stroll over to the curb, prepared to exchange high-fives with my daughter in celebration of her new status as a member of the driving elite.

She is crumpled over the steering wheel sobbing.

I never imagined she would fail.

Even when Ally could barely see over the steering wheel, you could tell she would be the best driver in the family. Other kids on family vacations crave beach time or roller coasters or T-rex skeletons. Not Ally. Her favorite aspect of any trip was when we let her loose behind the wheel in empty parking lots. At age fourteen she could flawlessly and quickly maneuver the car up a narrow, winding hill -- in reverse.

By the time Ally was old enough to get her permit, I was such a blasé instructor that I had to remind myself not to do crossword puzzles while she racked up her fifty hours of parent-taught lessons. She was a natural, so I just relaxed and went along for the ride.

Now I can’t believe she’s flunked. Maybe we were too cocky, and the punishment for our hubris will be an extended sentence of chauffeuring and low-insurance rates. I can handle that. Fortified, I reach through the window to comfort my still-hysterical daughter.

“N-n-n-o-o, I-I-I p-passed,” she manages to gasp between sobs. “He was just so MEAN!!!”

Ally recounts how Ed berated her, challenging every move with sarcasm and derision. It took everything she had not to break down in front of him, or accidentally ram the front passenger side into a lamppost.

Instantly, I am ready to storm the DMV office, demanding Ed’s ouster. How dare he humiliate and abuse my daughter like this? Clearly, he should not be allowed around children.

“Let’s go talk to somebody about it,” I suggest. She shakes her head furiously.

Once again, I am precariously balanced on that tightrope parents so often tread. Does Ally need an impassioned advocate or a shoulder to cry on? If I say nothing, am I complicit with an adult bully? Or am I just one of those helicopter parents, always hovering, ready to swoop down and rescue her from feeling bad?

Then I remember that from toddlerhood on, Ally could detect the slightest tone of maternal exasperation at fifty paces. A raised eyebrow could trigger a meltdown. By her sensitive standards, my lifetime rate of reportable offenses is much higher than Ed’s in all his sadistic glory could ever dream of.

“Maybe they purposefully try to rattle you to make sure you can withstand pressure,” I muse. “Plus, you’re bound to be pretty anxious anyway just taking the test.”

NO! He’s just mean! Everybody says so! Even my driving instructor warned me about him.”

I had chatted with Ed briefly while signing the pre-test forms.

“Must be fun driving around with sixteen-year-olds all day. I don’t envy you,” I’d said.

“Oh, it’s people of all ages,” Ed replied. “Just yesterday I had to take a license away from an eighty-year-old.”

So he wasn’t an ogre. Just an overworked, underpaid guy trying to protect the public’s safety. If I were in Ed’s shoes, I’d be in jail or an asylum after just one day.

I reconsider whether or not this helicopter parent needs to start spinning her rotors. Maybe my daughter just needs someone to hear her out, not a rescue mission.

“Are you ready to go in now? I ask Ally. We walk into the DMV.

“There you are!” beams the guy behind the counter. “We were beginning to worry about you. Congratulations! Wait . . . are you crying?”

“No,” Ally shrugs. Then she fills out the rest of the paperwork.

Big girls DO cry. Then they dry their tears, hit the gas, and drive off, leaving me and Ed in the dust.

By Lorrie Goldin


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Almost Home

You know what annoys me?

Preschool pick ups that end up taking more than an hour.

My daughter’s preschool is five minutes from my house. Five minutes. But last night went like this -- I show up at school a little after five p.m. and my daughter spots me, all smiles, runs over for her usual hug.

And then the games begin.

She doesn’t want to put on her jacket even though it’s cold and rainy outside, and since I have decided that it is irresponsible to let her get her way all the time, we embark on a round of strenuous negotiations until she agrees to put it on.

The Writers Guild of America has nothing on her.

In return, I have been charged with finding the bead bracelet that she made in school last week and is now obsessed with, which is about two inches long and could be anywhere. Thankfully, it turns up after a relatively brief search -- after looking in her cubby and poking through the many boxes and shelves and buckets in the Ladybug room, she has remembered that it is actually in her coat pocket.

I grab all the artwork that needs to go home, her lunchbox, the bracelet, and pull out the school notices that have been folded into threes and placed in my “parent pocket.” We head out to the parking lot with our gear, and I have to wait to open the gate until she agrees to hold my hand, since that’s the rule.

More negotiations ensue. Once that’s settled, I open the car and she immediately hops into the front seat, announcing that she’s going to drive. Further negotiations reach an impasse. I pry her from the steering wheel, wrestle her into her car seat and breathe.

Ok. . . we are on our way home. We pull up in front of our house, I hop out, open the back door and see that she has stripped off her shoes and socks and thrown them on the floor. No matter, I will just carry her. I grab her lunchbox, the artwork, and… something is definitely missing. What is missing? My purse.

“Aw, shit.” I mutter, hoping immediately that she did not hear that, though I am sure she will now be sharing that sentiment with her classmates at school tomorrow.

We pull into the preschool parking lot, put on shoes and socks, return to the Ladybug room and find my purse on the floor. (What is it about motherhood that seems to trigger a kind of early dementia?) Arriving back at our house a little after six, I carry my barefoot daughter inside. (Her shoes and socks, ripped off in the car for the second time this evening will have to wait until tomorrow.)


Ah, and we get to do it all over again in the morning. . .

By Shannon Matus-Takaoka


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, January 18, 2008


Cheap Party

What to do for Brian’s fifth birthday party? I didn’t want to spend a dime on it because the neighborhood kids cared nothing for bowling or swimming. They wanted to run around and have a good time. I decided to make an old-fashioned birthday party, a la the 1960’s.

First, I enthusiastically suggested to Brian that we put together some fun, surprise activities, and he got excited about the word, “surprise.” I told him he could invite as many people as he wanted that were his new age, so he invited one little boy from preschool, and four close friends from our neighborhood.

When the day came, I’d prepared a schedule to last no more than two hours, because I knew I’d be ready for them all to go home by that point.

The fiveboys arrived around the same time and went immediately to the backyard to play on the swing set, slide down the rickety slide, and climb the eucalyptus tree with the bent trunk.

The established rope with a large knot already set the tone for adventure, because the boys could line up behind ‘the leader,’ swing off the rope onto the bank and scramble back up for another turn. This activity prepared them for the GAMES!

After they played around about fifteen minutes, I could sense the need for something new, so I pulled out a high-backed dining room chair and turned it backward, so a boy could lean over the top of it -- the name of the game being “Drop the Clothespin into the Glass Milk Bottle.”

Each boy tried to precisely drop the clothespin into the bottle, which made a satisfying clunk when they hit the target. They liked this game so much they went around twice. Winners received immediate “cash prizes” which were fake hundred dollar bills I’d picked up at the toy store.

Soon we were ready for cake and presents, and each child loved watching Brian open and interact with his gifts. Brian felt like the star because of the attention, and he loved having his friends participate in the opening ceremony. The candlelit cake appeared as we sang “Happy Birthday,” and I scooped copious amounts of ice cream onto their plates, which the boys ate while sitting in the living room looking out into the yard.

Onto the main event!

I’d moved the garden hose into an obstacle course arrangement of figure eights, straight lines, looped over plastic buckets, with the broom straight across the finish line. Like a gun, I yelled, “Ready, set, go!” and each boy ran the gauntlet as fast as their five-year-old feet would carry them. Both hands raised high in the air as each one crossed the broom, heroes for an instant, as they received their "cash."

The money meant nothing to them. The adventure was everything. All six boys rose to the cheap challenges and the only thing it cost me was a trip to the toy store for some very cool ‘party bag’ prizes and some very large faux cash.

Brian tells me that was his coolest birthday party ever. Better than the fancy expensive ones we did from time to time. He and his friends still laugh about the obstacle course, and love their memories of that simple, but fun day.

By Pru Starr


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Slippery Soapbox

We’ve just stepped out of the movie “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” the high-pitched Christmas song ringing in our ears and still giggling about their various pratfalls, my daughter asks, “What was your favorite part, Mom?”

Without a beat I say, “When they realized that even though home has rules and it’s not fun all the time and though you can’t eat all the candy you want and buy any toy you want, it’s still the place they want to be because that is where they are most loved.”

Yup, I really said all that.

I was still droning on by the time we reached our car. She, of course, had stopped paying attention to me back at the mall.

I had lost her at hello.

Why do I always do that? All she asked was a simple question and I sucked all the fun out of it. Why couldn’t I have just picked some random moment of inappropriate bodily function sounds and gone with that?

Lately it seems I’m using every chance I get to ram some high moral issue/significant life lesson/meaningful sermon about our values, down her throat. I get on my soapbox and begin to churn out some momentous edict and she tunes me out.

My lecturing may be because she’s at an age where more and more she has to weigh the right and wrong of things and make her own decisions, independent of me. She is older and spends more hours of the day out of the house than in, more time away from me.

She hasn’t given me reason to worry, but she’s out there. . . what if?

I’m nostalgic for those simple lessons of just a few years ago like, “share with your friends” or “remember, everyone gets a turn.”

Now everything seems weightier.

“Have a little faith,” says my Dad. And I know by ‘faith’ he means in the upbringing we're giving her, the examples we've set.

So this is my new year’s resolution: I am going to step off my soapbox. I’m going to close my eyes, take a leap of faith and hope to God to land on solid ground.

Next time she asks my answer will be, “when he farted” or “when Simon ate Theodore’s poop.”

Maybe then we'll connect.

By Tania Malik


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, January 16, 2008



My daughter and I were at Starbucks. While I was picking up our drinks at the bar, a pretty young woman sitting nearby looked up from her laptop and smiled at me.

“Does your daughter go to school with those girls?” she asked.

She meant the two sisters who, along with their mother -- a chic, model-thin blonde –- we'd briefly shared a table. Phoebe had invited herself to join the older sister, a fellow kindergartner from her school. They’re in different classes but sometimes play together at recess.

I explained this to the woman and asked if she knew them.

“My daughter went to the same preschool with them,” she replied.

I mumbled something about that being nice and headed back to Phoebe. Minutes later, the woman approached our table.

“I know this sounds weird,” she said. “But don’t ever let your daughter have a play date at their house.”

“Really?” I answered lamely.

“My daughter used to be best friends with Amy*. Something really bad happened to her at their house.”

“Oh. . . wow. I’m so sorry.”

The woman apologized for bothering us and went back to her table.

My head was spinning. Was she talking about the same “something really bad” I was thinking of? Or was it just my warped brain, always ready to concoct the worst possible scenario?

For once, I was glad when Phoebe wandered over to the display shelves to re-arrange the coffee mugs. I walked over to the woman.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but I need to know a little more about what happened.”

Certain that the answer would be “no,” I asked in a whisper if her daughter had been molested.

I felt sick to my stomach as she slowly nodded. She couldn’t go into more detail, she explained, because she was still in the process of taking legal action against Amy’s father.

“My daughter’s not the same little girl,” she said softly.

As a mother, discovering that my child was molested in the home of a trusted friend is one of the most horrific situations I can imagine. I’m grateful this woman had the courage to say something to me, a complete stranger.

Yet, at the same time, I feel sorry for the mother of the sisters, too. We’d had a pleasant conversation. Like the other woman, she looked like any of the other dozens of attractive young moms I see daily at school, the park or Starbucks.

Maybe I’m naïve, but I want to believe that she hadn’t known what was going on under her own roof. Or maybe I’m just in denial about her inability to confront reality.

My gut tells me the woman’s story is true. But the fact is, I don’t know her or Amy’s mother. I talked to each of them for less than ten minutes.

What I do know is that whatever did or didn’t happen, two families are suffering. And the lives of three innocent little girls will likely be scarred forever.

By Dorothy O’Donnell

*Amy is a fictional name.


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Nina's iPod

It took me six months to take her tiny red iPod out of the case. It took me another three months to listen to her music. At first it seemed wrong, like snooping. Like the time, years ago, I opened a notebook she’d forgotten and read words not intended for me.

She was the one with real musical talent, even though I, the older sister, took piano lessons first. Before she could play award-winning concertos, we played “Chopsticks” – duet style – with loud and overindulgent improvisations. We were two sisters, one brunette and one blond, sharing a piano bench, fingers dancing together.

Nina’s been dead for almost ten months now. Yet, sometimes, when my fingers skim over her iPod’s playlist, she chooses a song for me, her musical tastes deeper and more eccentric than my own.

Something happens to me when I hear these unfamiliar songs. I fade away and then, together, Nina and I slip away, allowing the music to improvise our stories, and our emotions free to swirl along.

Maybe it is only my memory of Nina that allows her to be there. But, still she is there.

Today, my fingers stopped on an Ani DeFranco song I had never heard. The melancholy notes wash over me. The room is thick with loss, regret -- and something else I can’t name.

I listen again, to the lyrics this time. Slowly, the meaning changes. It isn’t regret that I didn’t spend more time with my sister while she was alive: it is gratitude for the time we had together.

This shift has to be Nina’s doing because I don’t have that kind of inner peace. Or maybe it’s because I’ve discovered a way to spend time with my sister again, dancing our fingers together over her iPod.

By Maya Creedman


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, January 14, 2008


Celebrity Gossip

My latest obsession is celebrity gossip. I have always been interested in famous people and have been known to pick the longest line in the supermarket in order to read the latest people magazine. I also arrive early for my regular dental cleanings, and for my monthly pedicures I gather a stack of trash that last till the final coat dries.

It is not a coincidence that all of these excursions are without my children. The childless errands are a break but the gossip itself is a total escape from my reality. Well, most people’s reality. I find the world of the rich and famous irresistible and almost hypnotic.

But now I have discovered the ultimate distraction and I do not need to go to the supermarket or have my teeth cleaned. Celebrity gossip Websites. I have several sites that I check first thing in the morning and they succeed in grounding me in a way that the “real” news does not.

I argue that these diversions are the ultimate in self-help; they really do make me feel better about myself. When I read about Britney Spears’ latest antics I feel like the best mother ever. When I read about famous marital breakups I am thankful for my own loyal and loving husband. When I see some scary plastic surgery, I am grateful that I still look young for my age.

These sites are also my absolute favorite form of procrastination. When I am stuck on something and staring at my screen I quickly check out what Perez Hilton has to say. When I start to ponder the name of a particular actor and what he has been in lately, I click over to IMDB. Before I know it fifteen minutes have gone by and I remind myself I have work to do.

I now use it as a treat for myself for completing a task. As soon as I balance my checkbook I can look. Just one more load of laundry and then I can see what is happening.

It is tricky because if I look too often it is not as special or exciting. But if I wait too long, I find myself reading about a couple who has just broken up before I knew that they were even together!

By Cathy Burke


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Prayers Answered

When my son celebrated his 13th birthday a few months ago, his birthmother, the teenager who gave him his life and then gave him to me, sent him a CD with her favorite song.

The band was Rascal Flatts and the song she wanted to share so badly that she had written all the lyrics down for him was, “My Wish.”

One line goes, "My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to ... I hope you never look back, but you never forget, all the ones who love you in the place you left."

Kim allowed me to become a mother and I'll never stop being grateful for that. But she didn't stop being a mother just because she gave her baby to someone else to raise. She has continued to love the boy we both adore without ever making me feel less his mother by doing so.

I'll never stop being grateful for that, either.

A few months ago, Christopher suffered a sudden, serious illness. While I was at his side at the hospital for five days, my husband alerted family and friends. I didn't know it at the time but Kim e-mailed constantly begging for news. She worried frantically and yet there was nothing she could do but pray.

My son did recover and in the days following his return home I read over the cards and e-mails that had been sent to support our family. The ones that touched me the most, though, were from Kim, who along with her husband and parents had researched the strange disease -- a severe allergic reaction called Stevens Johnson Syndrome -- that had attacked my son.

Her last note came after she had learned his condition had improved. She wrote mother to mother: "Our prayers have been answered."

She was right; the prayers of both our families had been answered. What she didn't know though was that my own prayer had been answered years before when I met her, a terrified teenager who became pregnant the night she lost her virginity.

They were answered when Kim trusted me to become her son's mother. And they've been answered every day since as she continues to be a loving force in my family's life.

By Laura-Lynne Powell


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, January 12, 2008



It’s Christmas morning aftermath at our home. Scraps of wrapping paper thrown about. Dry nettles. Bits of ribbon and white tissue paper crunching under our socked feet. It’s a general mess, as it’s supposed to be.

Bing Crosby’s crooning a holiday hit on the stereo and the kids are milling about enjoying new toys. Brett’s off hunting for more batteries.

I pour my third cup of well-deserved strong coffee having stayed up till the wee hours helping Santa interspersed with my quarterly check-ins reminding our eight-year old to go to sleep.

“She wants to stay up for Santa,” I whispered worriedly at 12:45 a.m. to her Dad. He smiled back. “Of course she does. She’s a kid.” Duh. It’s Christmas after all.

By noon we bundle in warm jackets to walk the dog to the local park. The sky is gloriously clear, the air crisp. A winter sun beams down.

We pass a neighbor who has similar-aged children. Their tree is spread across their curb. Already?

“It was getting brittle,” its owner explains on his way back to the house. So is ours but it’s Christmas day! I imagine the ornaments wrapped in labeled boxes and counters cleared of festive decoration, while their children watch nearby.

What’s a few more brittle nettles?

The year’s full of schedules and rules. The build-up to Christmas can be a marathon all of its own. But on Christmas day we linger. We linger in all of its decadent, unstructured glory. Lounging about reading new books and exploring new games. Watching the “Rudolph” DVD with our two-year old for the hundredth time.

The alarm clock will soon wake us again and once again demands will mount. But for now we linger.

We return from our walk and retreat back into the afterglow that is our reminder of a joyful Christmas amid the wrapping paper scraps and empty boxes. And we linger.

By Maija Threlkeld


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, January 11, 2008


A Loving Act

Gramps is dying. My mom called last night to give me the most recent news. After months of dramatic decline, her father is back in the hospital and it now looks as if he’ll never return to the life he once knew.

My Gram, after 65 years of marriage, has had to make a heartbreaking decision: “I hope you’re not going to hate me,” she whispers to my mom on the phone. Gramps is back in the hospital with a lung infection after his food has been going down the wrong passageway, and, given the other complications of his health, the only way to sustain him now would be to use a feeding tube. “I’ve decided he should not have the tube,” she says, her voice breaking.

My mother’s been thinking about Gramps’ suffering for months now. “This is a loving act, Mom,” she chokes out. “You’re honoring his life.”

Thankfully, my mother’s siblings agree. Besides, this is in keeping with Gramps’ living will – which no extreme measures are taken to keep him alive should his body start to shut down.

Like this.

She’s honoring the life of the family man, the soldier, the salesman, the roofer (even into his eighties, much to Gram’s chagrin), and the boy who was forced to leave home at twelve to live on the banks of the Snake River. She’s honoring the life of the man known for the stories he would tell as long and meandering as that river.

So, tomorrow I fly two states away and return the next day, hopefully with my goodbyes rightly said. I bring with me images of a tire swing in the carport, whittling on the porch with our pocket knives, and waiting for fish to bite in a little boat in the middle of a lake on a black night.

I also bring knowledge of a body now small, morphine for pain, and an uncharacteristic inability to speak. Because Gramps, after all, is dying.

By Anjie Reynolds


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, January 10, 2008



Exactly sixteen minutes after our power went out, my three-year old was rocking out to the “Star Wars” soundtrack on my husband’s iPod. Banjo music twanged at top volume from the baby’s new Learn and Groove music table.

My husband rummaged through the pile of batteries and emergency gear covering the dining room table. At that point, I should have realized that losing our electricity wouldn’t be all candles and snuggles in front of the fire.

Still, I couldn’t quite shake the idea that this power outage could be a mini vacation. After all, I couldn’t cook meals or do laundry. Instead, we could build cities made of blocks, and play cards, charades and read books by candlelight. If the storm eased up, maybe we could even do a little puddle stomping.

It didn’t work out that way. My husband spent most of his time hauling out buckets of water from under our house while I tried to keep the kids occupied. I think he enjoyed donning his headlamp and descending to the dank bowels of our house like a coal miner.

The baby was up many times each night, protesting his four layers of pajamas. And getting up at five a.m. with the kids was even more unappealing without lights, heat and coffee.

We ate crackers and peanut butter wearing our winter jackets. The baby cried over his cold dinner of pureed green beans and rice. I discovered that changing diapers by candlelight with a three-year-old “helper” was downright dangerous. After that, I embraced my husband’s assortment of flashlights, LED lights, and headlamps and put the candles away. I found myself looking forward to doing laundry when our power came back.

I thought three days without power would have stifled my love of candlelight forever. But, it didn’t. Now, I’m planning a mini vacation night, where we’ll do it my way. We’ll eat take-out on paper plates by candlelight. Then we’ll play charades, drink hot cocoa and read books in front of the fireplace. There won’t be any electronic gadgets. Best of all, we can turn the lights on if diapers need changing.

By Maya Creedman


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Joe Clarke

My middle child is all metal.

He is a rock god!

He’s 12.

Last night was his second session at Cotillion and he learned the Fox Trot. He’s quick to point out that foxes don’t trot, in case you’re curious. Cotillion teaches formal dance steps and social etiquette that my kids can’t possibly learn at home.

I was a non-Cotillion kid when I was in middle school, mostly because my mother was in her rejection of the establishment phase circa 1976. Of course, it was ALL the other kids talked about at school the next day – the horror of dancing together in fancy clothes. But they were grinning like idiots and I knew I was missing out.

My guy, who lives in his black Slayer T-shirt and baggy jeans with ringlets down to his shoulders, cleans up good for Cotillion. He had been planning his Cotillion attire for two years, since his older brother was forced to attend.

His attitude was much more cooperative, provided that I allowed him to wear a camouflage tux with a top hat. Sadly, we never found one. In a navy blazer and khakis -- he’s still all metal.

A rock god.

James Hetfield in a suit is still James Hetfield. Last night they learned the art of proper introduction. When changing dance partners, one introduces himself with a first and last name. The instructor gave an example: “Rather than ‘I’m Joe,’ say instead, ‘I’m Joe Clarke.’” Each time he changed dance partners and was paired with a girl from his school, my son introduced himself, “I’m Joe Clark.”

Bingo! The girls laughed. There’s more to Cotillion than the Fox Trot.

Cotillion rocks!

By Mary Allison Tierney


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, January 08, 2008



My son loves to hear me sing lullabies.

“Sing to me, Mommy,” his sleepy voice pleads as I sit on his bed, stroking his head. I start my trio of songs, almost carrying a tune.

My singing voice is horrible. I can’t hear when I’m off key. I love music so I don’t think I’m tone deaf, but something’s missing in how I hear the notes. What comes out of my mouth does not at all match what I hear in my head. But Nick loves my lullabies.

Nick loves me.

My husband never heard me sing before we had Nick. I don’t sing along in the car, not even in the shower. But right after Nick was born, I started singing aloud to him. He’d be snug in my arms, nursing, and I’d sing.

I felt my mother singing through me when the Irish standard, "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral," came out of my mouth. My shyness, my embarrassment about my voice, doesn’t matter if it’s what Nick needs. I’ll do whatever I need to take care of my boy, to make him feel safe and secure.

Nick has helped me find so many spaces in myself that I thought were closed or I didn’t know existed. My boy has helped me find my voice and my joy.

I hope my unconditional love of him will help him grow as much as his love nourishes me.

By Marianne Lonsdale


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, January 07, 2008



I've always been a worrier, but lately, it has been worse. I saw my parents over the holiday and realized that they are getting old. My dad can barely hear in his right ear, and he had a troubling angiogram. I'm truly dreading the day-to-day aspects of my life when they get ill, and my throat tightens when I think what life will be like when they are gone.

I dread certain hours of my job teaching high school science. Most of my classes are great, but one of my physiology classes has so much energy, it explodes throughout the room, literally. One day, I thought it would be nice for them to build a clay model of the neuron. They thought it would be more fun to throw the clay on the ceiling.

When I meet with the parents of my problem high school students, I dread the day my own sweet seven- and nine-year olds fall into the abyss of adolescence. The teenager parents have a resigned look to their eyes, and often, as they promise me to talk with their child, again, their voice has a tremor of hopelessness. Even if my kids don't misbehave in class during high school, I know they will break away from me. I'm dreading the day my nine-year son stops coming by our bed in the morning for a good morning kiss.

Our house is another ticking time bomb. We have galvanized steel pipes that break into tiny rusty pieces, clogging our faucets, one by one. Our shower pipe broke apart this fall. I'm waiting for a major collapse, which will probably happen when we are out of town.

Despite my plumbing, and electrical anxiety, our family decided to drive down to San Diego this Christmas. As we barreled towards Highway 5, I prayed we would not encounter the infamous winter valley fog that occasionally leads to ninety-five car pile-ups. When I wasn't worried about accidents, our house, pets, or getting lost, I dreaded seeing my strange physiology class again.

We made it to Sea World, and my son, Walker, wanted to do the Atlantis Ride. The ride is a combination log flume and rollercoaster, with some real black and white dolphins and indecipherable dialogue thrown in. Our boat ascended up the metal rails. My heart was beating wildly. I lifted my arms so I could cuddle Walker. He scooted away. We reached the top, and it was too late to tuck my arms in, or even lift them up. I couldn't get into my usual amusement park cower. I faced the descent with chest out and my heart forward. The world slipped below me, and I felt like I was flying. We plunged, and I felt every moment of it. Then, the water engulfed our boat. I didn't care. I let out a whoop of delight.

I walked with my arms slightly outstretched the rest of the day. I felt renewed, like my old strength had come back. Terrifying things are going to happen to me, I know, but there is no point in dreading them. It is far better to meet them head-on as they arrive, and enjoy every moment in between.

By Beth Touchette-Laughlin


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Sunday, January 06, 2008



“Another reason to hate New Year’s Eve,” I remarked to my husband as the negotiations got under way.

Our sixteen-year-old daughter planned to go to a “small” party—only her drama class of thirty kids was invited--hosted by a girl we had never heard of who lived beyond cell phone range. Or apparently beyond the range of anything but ESP, since there was no land line either.

“Find out the number and then we’ll see.”

The wailing commenced.

“You’re ruining my life! Why can’t you just trust me? Basically, you’re teaching me to lie -- if I said I was going to hang out at Jessica’s, you wouldn’t care. This isn’t the ‘70s, you know!!”

Unsure whether or not to take solace in that last observation; we stood our ground, which was hard to do while also attempting to not fall over laughing.

Our daughter’s big concession was that she would find out the phone number, but only if we promised not to call.

“Can we call you at midnight to wish you a happy new year?” I asked, which set off a fresh wave of hysteria.

(Later my husband suggested that injecting humor was not as helpful as I might hope.)

The negotiations continued, with neither side budging from the positions of (a) calling the parents and (b) dying of mortification if any parents were called.

Then, amid the tears, she shrieked, “I know that in twenty years I’ll look back and see that you were just watching out for me, but right now I’m a teenager.”


Still, that display of perspective helped us worry a bit less.

The party never materialized. Apparently lots of similar conversations were taking place between beleaguered parents and their outraged offspring.

Our daughter spent New Year’s Eve hanging out at Jessica’s. Or so she tells us.

By Lorrie Goldin


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Time to Begin

My office was once my sanctuary.

It was pristine. Every paper in it's place. I knew just where to reach to get exactly what I wanted.

Now when I reach for something -- I have no idea what I will get. Nor, do I really want to know.

At one point I shared my office with my stepson and my daughter. Now my stepson has his own computer and desk in his room. That leaves Mimi downstairs in my office, er, make that HER office.

I want it back.

I need order. I need a lack of things. There are simply too many items in my office now. Too much of the something/anything syndrome that I am desperate to break this year. Hence, I have enrolled my daughter in Master Kim's Taekwondo class twice a week.

There are many rules. A rebel by nature myself -- I have learned to love rules for my children. I love that they have to bow before entering the workout area. I adore that they have to bend at the waist and say "sir," or "'mam" when seeing an adult male or female.

I can't believe that I dig it, but I do.

And then there are all sorts of rules about listening to parents, keeping one's room clean and being obedient. I realize these are akin to a foreign language to the children, especially Mimi, but she knows if she wants to earn different color belts -- the highest status symbols in karate! -- then she must learn the rules and her daily forms or moves.

Tomorrow I have asked, actually informed, my husband that he must spend the ENTIRE day (none of this half day or worse -- a few hours stuff) with the children so I can clean my office.

Master Kim may have his rules, but I have mine, too.

To start the new year writing exactly the way I want -- I need minimalism. A clear desk save for my new black, Macbook computer. Then the only other thing I want to see is the blank page of the computer screen and my words that will fill it.

By Dawn Yun


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, January 04, 2008



I am getting my first grader a cell phone.

Before you throw your hands up and scream in horror, I am doing this because of the absolute, cold terror that I experienced when she didn’t get off her school bus the other day.

It turns out she was busy talking to her friend – explaining how important she is in the grand scheme of things or something to that effect, and didn’t notice the stop. When she realized she had missed it, she promptly and calmly told the driver, who being a sub that day, did not know to immediately inform the school so they could let me know.

So there I was at the stop, certainly not behaving as calm as my child was at that very moment, calling the school, waiting while they contacted the transport department and checked with her teacher.

It may have been only five minutes or ten or was it twenty? All I know is that I had no idea where my child was. By the time the school called back to say she would be dropped off once the bus circled back from its last stop, my legs felt like jelly and I could not feel my extremities.

That’s when I realized if she had had a cell phone, I could have called her immediately. I would not have had to take this side trip to hell and back.

When we got home, I fed her cake and ice cream to make myself feel better and got onto the Internet. I did some quick, thorough research into all the ‘kid friendly’ phones on the market and hit the buy button.

Is it unseemly for so young a child to have a cell phone? Am I wrong to make use of the technology out there? For now though, I have some peace of mind.

By Tania Malik


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, January 03, 2008



Motherhood is not a glamorous job and all too often lacks the recognition and respect it deserves.

Luckily, my mother rarely concerned herself with what others thought of her, but she did get tired. And she did wish she had some time to herself, maybe even time for a self-indulgent manicure.

When it got really bad, she would exclaim, “I’ve had it up to here” pointing almost to the top of her forehead. We never thought she would point to the very top of her head, although I believe it did happen once when she spontaneously left for a weekend in Aspen by herself.

My father had to come home from work early, and we were all a little concerned about her. Apparently she went for bike rides and enjoyed the outdoors, probably ordered room service or dined at an expensive restaurant without children fighting or dishes to do.

‘She’s finally gone crazy,’ we thought. But now as a mother I think -- good for her! It was about the sanest thing she could have done. I have taken my mother’s advice and have made arrangements so that one day a week, I have a day off. Usually I fill it with chores that I did not have time to do during the week.

I can hear my mother on the phone, asking me what I’m doing on my day off and when I give her the list of errands, her silence speaks disapproval.

“Maybe you could get your nails done, or do something for yourself,” she says. ‘If I have time,’ I think. Whenever I make a trip to visit my parents, my mother always gives me her nail appointment and offers to baby-sit my daughter, Samantha. I tell her I like to get my nails done by her manicurist because she gives the best pedicures, but we both know it isn’t about my nails.

By Rebecca Elegant


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Pre-Preganancy Friends

My old friends and little sisters are thinking about getting pregnant.

I am mother to a three-year-old boy.

They are getting Ph.D.’s, attending law school, and going to the gym. They are very busy. I am playing with motorcycle guys, building train villages, and possibly taking a shower.

I am also very busy.

To them, days are about productivity – how many articles did I read, how long was my run, how far did I get?

To me, days flow best without too heavy of an agenda – reading the same picture book to my son over and over again, exploring local lakes without a need to complete the loop.

I can’t wait for them to cross over into Planet Motherhood. How I want them to navigate this path with me, to make up missions of the day and invent quirky Halloween costumes. I hope I will still be in a nearby orbit when they have newborns and my son starts preschool, or maybe I will even be starting all over again with them.

It feels as if I’m in high school, and they are just beginning middle school. But if I wait long enough, maybe we can all be in college together.

By Ariana Amini


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


New Beginnings

It comes the same time annually.

The new year.

Each is filled with promise, hope, new beginnings.

What makes each year so special is all of the above.

Everything is fresh, new and possible.

It really is a time where you can make life changes; both simple and pronounced.

Two thousand and eight is THE year. Why not? The possibilities are endless, and with a bit of time alone, some thought and words on paper -- ANYTHING can happen.

Best of all -- it will.

By Dawn Yun


StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble This Post Add to Technorati Favorites

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?