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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Subsequents: When a Mother Loses Her Child

was a term I learned from my online searches the week after Aaron died. I guess it was an easier way of saying “having another child after losing a child.”

But there was something about this clinical-sounding label that lent a controversial tone to the chat rooms in the various bereaved parent sites.

I never weighed in on any of these conversations. I’m not the online chatting kind of person, frankly, which makes this site a bit ironic for me.

The issue of subsequents had a long response chain, with parents, mostly mothers, offering their perspectives on how they were preparing for (and worrying about) their next child, and on their process behind considering the “right amount of time” after their child’s death.

There were also practical considerations: what to do with their baby’s clothes, the crib, their fears, the statistics of having it happen again in the same family.

And then there were the naysayers. The ones who interrupted these discussions with haughty, holier than thou (can you hear my bias?) diatribes against their decision against having a “replacement child.” I wondered how families whose firstborns died from SIDS felt about that.

Part of the grieving process is coming to terms with your own changes as a mother, as a family, as a woman.

We were a family of five and then we weren’t. Not technically, anyway. Aaron still held his position in our family, and we loved to rehash the special moments with him: his perfectly timed grunts in church, the magical effects of “Yellow Submarine” that would stop his screams in his car seat.

We talked about how much we missed him, but we acknowledged this loss as a move to a different location, not as a removal from our family. Tyler, who was only three when his brother died, was Aaron’s ardent supporter and would quietly correct me with, “Mommy, you have two boys” when people asked about our family.

But Aaron’s memories didn’t count when we were in line for movie tickets or planning a family vacation. I couldn’t let go of the reality that we were supposed to be a family with three children gathered around the Christmas tree, driving to Disneyland, arguing in the grocery store about who could sit in the cart.

Call it zone defense, call it one man down, call it slightly out of control -- I was desperate to return. I felt like a fraudulent mother of two.

By Kimberley Kwok

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Friday, February 27, 2009


To-Do Birthday List Essential to a Child's & Parents' Success

1. Order carrot cake -- no nuts!
2. Potluck or make food?
3. Stop playing back the scene where I first see Emily, in the Intensive Care Nursery, just three days old, gray, and chemically paralyzed, every orifice filled with wires -- nurses and doctors rushing in. The floor was dingy, the room crowded and loud.
4. Figure out where to stash the dog during the party.
5. Add, “Sorry, kids or adults with colds, please stay home” to the invitations.
6. Cry for two minutes. Wish I could smoke.
7. Breathe in grief. Breathe out gratitude.
8. Decide about food. Making food occupies thoughts.
9. Jumpy house for kid guests?
10. Send first annual love letter to pediatric cardiologist.
11. Maybe Martha Stewart appetizers -- those freaky tiny ones like stuffed grapes?
12. Decide how much furniture to take out to make room for the party.
13. Soften not knowing when she will need the next operation or the next or the one after that.
14. Remember how much of a miracle it is to be able to celebrate this day.
15. Update Emily’s baby book. (Buy one first.)
16. Ask Caroline to play games with the older kids.
17. Assign unflaky friend to write down who gave which gifts.
18. Buy thank you notes -- 75-100.
19. Call hospital for where to donate gifts.
20. Have camera memories cleared -- video and still.
21. Emily: Cardiology appointment on Thursday at 1 p.m.
22. Remember the moms who don’t get to have their babies' birthdays.
23. Borrow extra tables.
24. Send cigars and single malt scotch to Emily’s surgeon; mark Post-Op only!!!
25. Breathe in. Speak kindly. Breathe out. Love generously.

by Avvy Mar

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Thursday, February 26, 2009


Date Night, Recession Style

I’ve been on maternity leave for the past four months with my second child, and if I happen to be lucky enough to have a conversation with an adult, all I want to talk about are the cops, drug dealers and heroin addicts of West Baltimore.  And I have never actually been to West Baltimore. 

With no Presidential election to follow, the news too depressing to watch and nothing else happening in my life outside of breastfeeding, diaper changing and about a thousand loads of laundry, I find myself living vicariously through a bunch of people who don’t technically exist.  When my daughter was an infant, it was Tony, Carmela, Chrissy and Ade.  Now it’s McNulty, Bunk, Omar, and Snoop.  The economy being what it is, my husband and I are not that motivated to drop fifty bucks or more on babysitting, only to spend another fifty on dinner and a movie that’s going to come out on Netflix in a couple months anyway.  Instead (thanks to Netflix) we spend our evenings burning through DVD episodes of the HBO series The Wire.  

The result is that we have become so immersed in the lives of the characters on the show, we discuss them as if they are family:  How is Omar going to unload the package he stole from Prop Joe?  Will Bubbles ever get caught snitching? Who’ll survive the turf war between the Barksdale and Stanfield crews?  Aside from what is needed on our next Costco run, these are the topics that dominate our conversations.  Sometimes I even manage to combine the two, giving our Costco exchanges a Wire-esque spin:  “Yo - don’t get none of them off brand diapers. Those bitches leak. A-ight?”

But now I’m getting nervous.  We are on the fifth and final season – with about enough episodes to last through two or three more weekends, max. 

Then what?

Economy be damned – I suppose we really do need to start shelling out some babysitting money.  Enjoy a dinner without spit up or sippy cups, order a couple glasses of wine and have a conversation about something other than our son’s explosive bowel movements and the take down of drug kingpin Stringer Bell. 

In the meantime, I hear that Weeds is pretty good…

By Shannon Matus-Takaoka

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Children Sleep Under the Cover of Night

It’s seven-fifteen and pitch black outside. We’ve had a long, busy day and we’re ready for the kids to go to bed.

“Time for bed,” my husband says. “It’s late.”

It’s actually still an hour before their usual bedtime, but our kids can’t tell time yet – at least not on our dining room clock with the Roman numerals, and they don’t think to look at the other clocks – so they don’t catch us in the lie.

In fact, they agree. My son says, “Yeah, it’s dark – it must be like midnight or something.”

My daughter says, “Whoa…”

My husband and I slowly nod our heads in unison and within fifteen minutes the kids’ teeth are brushed, their jammies are on, and they’re tucked in their beds.

So, I wonder, how long can we get away with crap like this? Will it come back to haunt us, like bad karma? Or, are we simply employing the Darwinian tools of parental survival?

What was I told as a child that I later figured out to be bogus? Did my aunt really see Santa flying over my rooftop when she arrived late one Christmas Eve? Didn’t that gorgeous wool coat my mother made for my cousin, Karen, the one she needed me to try on for the finishing touches, actually turn out to be my gift?

And wouldn’t a childhood habit of drinking coffee surely have stunted my growth? (Okay, the verdict’s still out on that one, but at least my pre-pubescent self was spared the jitters, the teeth stains and the stale breath of a forty-year-old.)

Yes, knowledge is power. And in this case, I’m lucky enough to be the one to possess it. Besides, some day, soon enough, my children will have it, too.

But for now, it’s eight o’clock, and through the door I hear the even breaths of my daughter and the snores of my son – sounds that provide me with the smug knowledge that once in a while it’s not so bad that they’re in the dark.

By Anjie Reynolds

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Witty, Wild and STILL Only a Child

It has been well documented that after a baby comes, a woman's brain cells go.

What has not been investigated -- but needs detective work--  is why is it as a child gets older, her sense of comprehension does not catch up.

Judging by the messy room, trying tantrums and inability to listen -- it seems to worsen.

Why is it when a child is supposed to be in bed at a very generous nine p.m., at eight fifty two she is saying, "But it's not nine, yet."

The concepts of getting into jammies, washing face and brushing teeth before nine have not figured into her math. Pity for she is already showing a propensity for numbers. Just not for the ones she does not like.

Maybe there is some secret childhood rite of selection going on. A progression for what she likes, such as eating copies amounts of chocolate, versus leaving a plate filled with vegetables, which she despises, behind.

My favorite is our pre-arranged agreement that when we go into a toy store we will ONLY buy a gift for the birthday boy, not the little girl who is giving the present. Agreement. Even a pinky promise! Every child knows those are never broken.

Mimi breaks them with regularity. "They're just fingers, mama," she points out, digits flared straight into the air.

In the Pokemon aisle, where the latest toys reside, a gift is selected for her friend. Then a tantrum ensues over why she can't have a tiny, "baby recession" toy. While  she is slowly grasping the basic economics of the recession, she's just not getting the real math behind it. But then -- who amongst us truly is? Perhaps she is just not the mathematical whiz I thought she might be. Or, she acquired my mother's and my sister's talents for manipulation. Sometimes I feel I have my mother above, my daughter below and my sister behind me, all three pulling my strings.

The other day I asked my my daughter for a favor. A favor! A mother is NEVER supposed to ask a child for that! Everyone knows it's the other way around. Without nearly a second passing between my request and her reply she said, "You left out a word and it starts with P and ends with E." 

"Please?" I guessed.

"OK, let's start from the beginning, starting with that special word."

I call it the Willig Wit. Willig was my mother's maiden name. My mother entered college at barely 16. I have no idea how bright my daughter will be. I do think genes are on her side.

Before she was born my husband asked, "Do you think our baby will be beautiful?"

"I said I didn't know if she was going to be beautiful, but with her Asian and Jewish genes, I thought she would be smart."

Right now it's hard to tell. She wants to be rock star but is torn between being a lead singer or one who sings lead and  also plays guitar.

"The guitar is a lot of work," she explains.

And she also wants to take care of animals, and be an artist.

I don't know what she will be, other than I hope she will be content. As well as clean her room, eat healthy, listen to what others have to say, and display good manners.

That includes saying please whenever it is appropriate.

By Dawn Yun

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Monday, February 23, 2009


The American Dream of Financial Freedom

As my father was packing up his car when he left the family, his parting wisdom was this: “Never become financially dependent on a man. Just look what it did to your mother."

My mother was residing at the time in a locked ward on seventy-hour hold for suicidal threats.

His words still haunt me today, 40 years old and financially dependent with two kids under five.

Today, my husband winced at the pile of Costco party supplies I just came home with.

"We already had plastic cups."

"They’re giant and red,” I say. “They’re too big for punch.”

He looks at me, I look at the floor. We both sigh, all contained hostility.

"We're not making enough to match what we spend. . . at all now,” he tells me.

I am ashamed and angry. I turned down a job working in the county jail because I realized I just couldn't work there once I felt the despair pour into me while walking among the locked units.

Somewhere, after having kids, my past armor has disappeared. But we are both angry at me for not taking that job, despite our verbal assurances to each other that it was the right decision.

We need money, and my private practice is not bringing in enough yet. Financial dependence and wanting my kids to have their mom and a great preschool is right, in my mind.

My guts differ.

We're going broke and I am panicked and embarrassed. I want to see it differently, that I should be supported for being available to my baby while she is small, but I harbor backlash beliefs that I should be bringing in the money that will take the stone partly off my husband's back and give me the self-esteem that seems to have escaped along with my six-pack abs and taut skin.

I remember my father's words and how I lived by them, aggressively independent and hard-working.

Terrified, really.

There is something to grow up here with, another perfect lesson in losing my position of invulnerability thanks to choosing children.

This tight-fisted nausea itself is where I need to stay for today, and hope for a little faith to open.

By Avvy Mar

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Saturday, February 21, 2009


Middle School is Going to Be VERY Different

On Friday, my husband and I toured the middle school our fifth-grade son will be attending next year.  I recognized parents I hadn’t seen in years, since our kids attended different elementary schools.   We had chatted at the playground as we pushed our babies in swings, or may be we had crossed paths at Mommy and Me Music Class.  All had larger waistlines and more wrinkled foreheads than I remembered.   

We listened politely to the middle-school principal.  She didn’t have the soft, sweet voice of an elementary school principal.  She told us how important it was to check our kids’ agenda every day, since our kids might lie to us as to whether they had homework or not.

I stopped listening. 

Walker would never lie to me.  I know Walker will never go near alcohol, or marijuana.  His cheeks will never grow rough whiskers, nor will his armpits stink.  My little boy has only been with me ten years and I’m not ready for him to change into a lying, odiferous youth who would rather hang out with other lying, odiferous males than me. 

I refocused once we started the tour.  We stopped by the gym first, where the eight graders were playing basketball.  Many of the kids seemed tall enough to touch the basketball hoop. Several of the girls were already one or two bra cup sizes beyond my chest.

We moved to sixth grade language arts class. I was relieved that the boys looked like kids, although the girls still looked like teenagers.  The principal asked the students what they liked about middle school.  One freckle-faced boy said he liked having several teachers and moving from class to class, because the day wasn’t so boring.  A girl with long-blond braids said she liked how she met so many new people from the other elementary schools. I asked the kids if they had any advice for us parents.  One brown- haired boy said to tell our kids to do their work, because now they had to get real As, Bs, and Cs: not 1s, 2s, and 3s. 

I gulped. 

I hoped my Walker’s somewhat laissez faire attitude towards homework wouldn’t result in a 2.0 grade point average.

That night, I read Greek myths to Walker.  He positioned his head in the crook of my arm.   I wonder how much longer he was going to do this.   I thought about asking him, but I didn’t want to make him aware that our nighttime ritual will be something he will outgrow. 

 That’s the one advantage I have in this growing up thing.  I know for certain he is going to change, but I don’t think he really believes it is going to happen.

By Beth Touchette

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Friday, February 20, 2009


Fear for the Unknown

A middle-aged woman with salt-and-pepper bobbed hair and a nylon jacket staggered to my apartment playground clutching her chest.

I ran across the lot to her, thinking she was having a heart attack. But in limited English and desperate body language, she conveyed she’d been mugged: her purse, grocery bags, and head scarf had just been stolen from her.

With my heart racing, I looked back at my girlfriends to make sure they were watching my children, and used my cell phone to call 911.

Wishing I could speak any foreign language at all, I tried to understand her English. At first I thought her son had robbed her, but eventually I figured out that by saying a "son" had grabbed her things from her – she’d actually meant "boy." From a swoop of her arm, I also figured out that the mugging happened just half a block up from the playground.

She was upset and shaken, pale with red around those soft brown eyes.

I touched her shoulders and clumsily attempted to embrace her. She sighed heavily. As the state trooper response center on the phone transferred me to the local sheriff, she sank to the cold ground holding her side, closing her eyes shut tight.

Kneeling next to her, I realized I didn’t know whether the thief had injured her or if this was just the body’s natural response to fear and vulnerability.

When the sheriff arrived five minutes later, he patiently phrased and re-phrased his questions to get accurate answers. She sadly shook her head “no” many times. No, she hadn't seen the thief – here she covered her head with her arms and cowered, showing us how she'd turned away from him when he assaulted her. And no, she didn’t have any ID – here she raised her hands, her eyes pleading with mine.

“No keys, no money, no phone!” she cried.

“Of course,” the sheriff had said softly. “They’re in the purse.”

In the end, a sheriff's car headed off in the direction the thief had fled (a fruitless gesture, to be sure), and the assisting officer said I was free to go. He'd take the woman to her apartment – just a hundred yards up the hill from mine – to find a relative who might speak more English, to interpret her Farsi.

This happened several months ago at eleven o’clock on a Tuesday morning. I haven’t seen the woman since, but I’ve thought a lot about her – essentially every time I leave my home, every time I look over my shoulder when I’m out alone or with my children. I’ve thought about crime, danger, fear, and loss. I’ve also thought about safety, protection, community, and love.

And, even though I haven’t seen her near the playground or out on a walk or at the store, I dare to hope that it’s not because she no longer comes out alone. Instead, I hope it’s because I simply don’t recognize her: a scarf on her head, a purse over her arm, and clear brown eyes without a trace of red around them.

By Anjie Reynolds

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Thursday, February 19, 2009


Too Much Homework, Not Enough Childhood

My eight-year old is clearly overwhelmed.

I sit in front of the computer listening to, and striving to maintain, some level of empathy for my daughter’s crying jag. But I realize that it’s the byproduct of a life-long collision course in self-discipline. She lies on her bed at once pouting and sobbing.

“I’d rather spend the whole day in bed than do this project!”

And how best do you respond to a third grader who bemoans the fact that she can’t spend her Sunday afternoon shopping with Dad because her first real research project is due in two days? You talk to her. You show her how. You convince her to take the reigns of her own self and break the task into smaller pieces. It’s fun! I used to LOVE homework!

But the yelling and lecture fail. She’s still in uncontrollable tears. I dig for the empathy. (Dig, dig, dig…)

I come from the ethic that you must be responsible and finish your work. Do it the right way, before having fun. And it wasn’t until the freedom of college that I had any sense of option about the matter. It is in this practical mode that I commit the heinous act of erasing a sentence at the end of her report so that she could write more and be factually correct.

She now comes completely unglued. I have to take a step back and be human, not Mom. Not a scholar. Do you remember third grade? After my family moved to Washington D.C., in the sixth grade, I clearly remember being overburdened by school. Arkansas elementary schools hadn’t even required a research project, but once I enrolled in a prep school, there were moments I went crazy from the pressure. The amount of work we’d cram into three to four hours every night seemed relentless.

The top mark, grade A, was rare to come by. B+s were more common. Mother helped me study until she gave it up for her own labors in law school. And I seemed to get the hang of things better once I became more familiar with the study process in general and less naïve about the teacher’s expectations.

I do remember Mom’s sense of empathy and compassion one night. She said, “Lauren, I don’t know how you’re going to get through all this!” Followed by, “You can do it. I know you can.” We had the first quarter of medieval history laid out on the dining room table and an exam the next day. It seems, in retrospect, as if she were saying the same doubt/little cheer to herself, the young, self-conscious wife of a newly-elected official.

My daughter, Lilia, and I popped some popcorn and eventually revisited the table where the project lay in all its vexatious glory. We came up with a plan for the next step and I apologized profusely for erasing her sentence.

Then I said, “You can do it. I know you can.”

By Lauren Cargill

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Great Video for Boys. On Second Thought, Ah, No.

I had a vivid dream years ago in which I was able to fly in my fish tank. Technically this would be swimming, I know, but it was different --  I could fly underwater.

According to a dream book I read years ago, flying symbolizes freedom from constraints. As for flying in airplanes, to me it means a new opportunity for travel and adventure. Of course, air transport is much different with two young sons. Gone are the days of watching a movie in its entirety, losing myself in a good book, or, one of my favorite past activities on a plane --  sleeping.

There are advantages, too. While you walk the aisles with your young ones, you get to meet all the child-friendly people on the plane, meanwhile finding out who would rather not have a toddler pat his lap to say hello. Actually, I'm always surprised how few in number the child-unfriendlies are.

In a few months we will board a plane to Sweden, where we'll do a house swap with a friend. Not only does this help out with the cost of traveling, but since we have kids around the same age, both families get to experience "new" toys! But just to be sure their favorite toys aren't left behind, my boys have already packed their mini backpacks for the trip. They get this planning ahead gene from their father, I'm pretty sure.

Speaking of Scandinavia, sons, and flying, a friend of mine recently sent me an e-mail titled, "The boy stuff us Moms go gray over." This video make me think back to my flying dream, and for a second, I wanted to join these dare-devil young guys jumping off cliffs in Norway and flying. Or at least I could go see them in action. But my next thought stopped me -- I don't want my boys to see this. I'd rather that they stick to jumpy houses with confined, padded floors and walls for now.
Here's the video, and happy flying:

By Kristy Lund

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


China, Get Your Adoption Shit Together

When you think about it – China has always been an anomaly.

A power-hungry, deeply insecure and insanely controlling government that actually cared enough about their parent-less children to give them to those who deeply longed to be their parents.

Not anymore.

Now the government is saying that with some sixty-five hundred Chinese children adopted annually, they are running out of babies and kids to give away.

In a nation of zillions, with a policy of one child per family and a government that favors boys over girls, not enough kids?

No, that’s not the real reason. The real reason is that the Chinese government only wants a certain type of person to adopt their children.

If you are under fifty, disease-free, make a certain amount of money, and, my very personal favorite, have only a certain amount of body fat -- then you can adopt from China.

No doubt that last requirement is to ensure that Chinese children are not given to parents who like junk food. That is a very important characteristic for a potential parent.

People who hope to become parents go through an enormous amount of pain, money and time trying to adopt. Given that it can take more than a year to get your papers in order, do a home study, wait, be approved, and then fly there to get your child – one has to REALLY want to be a parent.

I know so many people, married and single, who have adopted from China. When I see them with their children, it is hard to see them without.

They have enriched and made whole their children’s lives, as their children have done for them.

Today they would not be able to adopt their own children.

How insane.

By Dawn Yun

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Monday, February 16, 2009


Mother Defers Her Friends for Her Son's

“I’m not like THEM,” you complain to your husband as you head to your son’s game.  “I need some alone time.”

“Yeah,” he shrugs, checking his Home Depot list.  You refrain from asking why he’s doing this project now when you were hoping he’d handle baseball detail.  “Some people are better at deferring.”

You repeat this to yourself as you sit on the bleachers, trying to act like you’re following a play.  You say hi to some new parents, smile, ask them questions.  They answer minimally, eyes tracking the players, apparently fascinated by something.  They mention ref’s calls, sight rules of the game.  Then the woman turns back to her Sudoku while the guy inserts one iPod ear bud, leaving the other to dangle over his designer T-shirt.  He continues to survey the field, texting absent-mindedly. 

You wonder if this is some new etiquette, a way to say, “I’m not completely blowing you off  -- but leave me alone!”

You turn to your sewing bag, which you bring because it calms you; the steady click of your needles amidst the murmur of conversation and sporadic cheering.  You like the yarn’s nubby textures, the color variations.  You have no knitting talent; you only make scarf after scarf.  Or else you mend -- darn socks, patch your son’s jeans; try to make them look less frayed than your nerves. 

Occasionally, the Other Parents stop by, fingering the half-done thing in your hands.  “Mending socks, huh?”  They regard you as if you are quaint, like an Amish person or their grandmother who, long ago, did this same old-fashioned thing.  Little do they know, you use the needlework ploy to hide that you are a Suburban Mom Imposter.  To keep from screaming, “Is this really necessary?  Doesn’t anyone have a more original idea?” 

Out of respect for Sam, you forego that.  And this Sports Social Code already eludes you.  All you know is you’re supposed to spend precious weekends cooped up on these silver bleachers, surrounded by a chain-link fence.

You give up on these new parents and turn to the mom of Sam’s friend, whom you host for regular play dates.  “What are you guys up to this weekend?”

“Oh, we had dinner with the Orzo’s and played Charades ‘til 1:30!  The boys were rocking!”  She nods to her son who’s now huddled up in the outfield with the Orzo kid.

You smile at her in a pinched way.  You hate Charades and lately, you’re in your PJ’s by 9… so why do you feel like the only teenager not invited to the party? 

I am a misfit. 

Before Sam, you had plenty of interesting friends.  You still promise each other to grab a coffee, go for a run, but as Suburbia ensconces you, it’s less frequent.  You figure when Sam is older, you’ll reconnect with the people who make you laugh, read great books, ask you questions—who understand your code for belonging. 

To build Sam’s friendship circle, (you don’t want him without those party invitations), you choose this life where you’re sort of eccentric. 

Oh well. 

This scarf is now long enough for a very large person. 

Maybe you’ll sew a bunch together, donate it to that “Knitting for Peace” group who take prayer shawls to Pakistan.  Now there’s probably a group of cool, interesting people.

One of these days, maybe Sam will trade in his bat in favor of creating things.  You can blow this stand, go on adventures like you used to, show him there’s a big, wide world outside this field. 

In the meantime, if it’s for his happiness, you’ll hang with these oddballs. 

Until you can get back to your tribe, you’ll defer.

 By Mary Beth Marra

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Sunday, February 15, 2009


Recession Be Damned -- Kid Entrepreneurs Rule!

It began innocently.

“I feel like a smoothie,” my seven-year old announced when he came home from school. “A strawberry banana smoothie.” I happily oblige. I like whipping up something quick and nutritious.

“How about we have a smoothie stand?” he asked.

“Uh, we do not have that many bananas.” I am looking for excuses while trying to figure out how bad it would be to get involved in another messy afternoon project. I came from work and I am tired.

“The strawberry smoothies?”

Uh, I want to casually dismiss the idea. How? My grey matter refuses to come up with the solution. I need advice and call my husband. Before I get anywhere and get panicky when his extension doesn’t work six times in a row, my son drags a little table to the curb. I think what the heck! and proceed making smoothies.

By the time the little entrepreneur takes them out to the curb, my husband calls. “You called?” he asks.

“Yes, I need help. Carl is selling smoothies at the curb.”

“He does what?”

“He tries to sell smoothies at the curb.”

After a hearty laugh he tells me, “Don’t worry. He won’t sell anything.”

“How embarrassing!” I reply. I grew up in a family that looked down at the mercenary mindedness. We would give things away when it was assumed that someone needed them.

I hear Carl shouting, “Get your smoothies here!” I say bye to Markus and rush outside to take a picture of what might be another fleeting moment. He looks cute with an orange table and chartreuse chair and matching glasses. “Get your smoothies here!” he shouts and signals to cars.

I retreat inside. I hear him shouting for another ten minutes. He gets disappointed. No one buys smoothies. He comes inside.

“Did you think it will be easy?”

“Do you think they hear me in the cars?”

“I don’t know.”

I feel for him and make a mental note to buy lemonade at each lemonade stand I will ever encounter.

“Earning money is not easy,” I tell him. “Go and try again.” I’m afraid he will give up too easily.

I need not worry. He goes out and continues to shout. His voice echoes. I imagine the neighbors going crazy and running outside to buy the smoothies that are mentioned every other second.

I want to record the voice to have proof for his dad and go out again bumping into a neighborhood girl who comes by and buys two. “Don’t forget to bring the glasses back!” Carl is on the go. “Get your smoothies here! “ His voice bounces off the house across the road.

I think: ‘If they do not come, I might come out and buy the smoothies myself. Oh, that will be so wrong!’

I stand next to the gate and quietly observe him. Then it dawns on me that he will be alright. He’s got such drive. That moment I understand what the drive is. This guy has so much energy and he channels it into something that he wants to do and you just see this burst of energy that I wonder if I ever had it.

I understand that there are people who are simply more driven than others. I learn from this experience, as he does. The smoothies are gone within twenty minutes. We get to know a couple of neighborhood kids. This is awesome! Carl is bouncing off the walls in his usual manner.

“Next we will sell pizza,” he says.

By Dilyara Breyer

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Saturday, February 14, 2009


Tooth Fairy Gives Kids Money; Moms Get Memories

Shortly after my son lost his first tooth, he began asking what the tooth fairy did with the teeth she collected. His kindergarten mind grappled with how the tooth fairy made the money that she left under children’s pillows at night. Since I had no ready answers, I let him ponder.

That Halloween, our dentist offered to collect Halloween candy for the tooth fairy. Each child who turned over his trick-or-treat loot could choose a toy from the dentist’s toy box. After my son reluctantly parted with his colorful assortment of fun-sized candy bars, he smiled knowingly. In the car, he announced that the tooth fairy must sell the Halloween candy and use the profit to fund her nighttime pursuits.

“But what does she do with the teeth?” he asked.

The truth is that the teeth, at least his teeth, sit in a little box on my dresser.

I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with the teeth after stealthily snatching them from beneath his pillow, so I stashed the first one in the box until a better idea came along. That was six years ago. The box filled with pairs of upper and lower incisors, bicuspids, and molars. And now that my son has just one more baby tooth to loose, the box will soon hold a complete set of baby teeth -- save the one my son swallowed in the car when he was six.

Other moms I know simply toss their children’s teeth in the trash. But I couldn’t dispose of them so causally.

The teeth serve as proof of my son’s steady growth, more tangible than a photograph.

Those bits of bone are physical evidence that the adolescent, who has the same size foot as me, was once just a little tike with a single toothed, jack-o-lantern grin. Like tiny pearls stringing together my son’s childhood, these relics represent the transition from a five-year-old’s steadfast belief in the tooth fairy to an eleven-year-old’s willingness to consciously suspend disbelief for the sake of his younger sister.

For now the teeth will stay put. I don’t anticipate turning them over to their rightful owner any time soon. And as for my seven-year-old daughter, I don’t have the same dilemma.

While she’s fascinated with the idea of the tooth fairy, she refuses to place her baby teeth under her pillow. Instead, she lovingly stores them in a box on her dresser, right where they belong.

By Tina Bournazos

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Friday, February 13, 2009


My Son is ALL Boy

Asa is six and a half months old.  A boy in the house, amidst all of Adeline’s girliness.

Such a solid little person, in every sense.  Physically, he is dense.  Fruitcake dense.  Nearly off the charts in the percentiles the pediatricians give you.  If he’s in the 98th percentile for height and weight, what do the other two percent look like? 

When you pick him up, it’s a commitment.  Not like other kids, who you can carry and continue to buzz around, picking up toys, making lunch.  Holding Asa with one arm is sustainable for only a short period of time before your wrist begins to ache and your shoulder starts slumping forward in a way that can’t be healthy. 

He has this enormous head and cheeks so full that it’s hard to tell what shape his face really is beneath all that flesh.  I think the rule is that if you still have blue eyes by the time you’re twelve months old, they’re here to stay.  I hope Asa’s do, because they’re gorgeous.  They’re a deep blue, and I can’t stop dressing him in blue—navy, turquoise, azure… every shade of blue makes those twinkling eyes of his shine.  His eyes really do twinkle, Santa-style, when he smiles, and man can this kid smile. 

He is my cherub baby, here on earth to snuggle into me, chuckle his deep, earthy laugh, and flirt with the world.  Some babies favor mesmerizing ceiling fans, most are drawn to sparkling lights.  Mine lives for eye contact.  When we’re out and about in the world, he stares at strangers until they finally relent and look at him.  The moment they lock eyes with him, he grins crazily and jerks around in my arms in spasmodic joy.  It’s not so different from holding an excited puppy—a strong one, a lab maybe.  No poodle, this kid. 

So what will all of these qualities add up to in a few years’ time?  A jolly, people-oriented, lady-killing linebacker? 

I’m in no rush to find out—I like him just the way he is right now, though I’ll be grateful when he’s able to put his chubby legs to use and move under his own motor, saving what’s left of his mama’s back.

By Eliza Harding Turner

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Thursday, February 12, 2009


I'm an Artist -- PLEASE Let My Daughter Be Something Else

Whenever people tell me how artistic my four-year-old daughter, Olivia, is, I instinctively think, “Anything but that.”

Maybe during the Renaissance, when artists had patrons and kings commissioned portraits; cathedral ceilings were blank canvases, literally, and manor houses had wall space to spare. Or even during the WPA: Sure it was a Depression and everyone was hungry, but at least the government was keeping a handful of muralists and photographers gainfully employed.

But to be an artist today is to suffer.

No job security, no career ladder, no 401(k). While everyone else is socking away a retirement, the painter is scrimping to buy art supplies and the writer is saving for a laptop; the performer is maxing out his credit cards to take classes in singing or acting or dance.

Unless one is lucky enough to be born into a trust fund, or marry a rich and generous spouse, all artists face a future of too-small apartments, necessary day jobs and daily, unending compromise. Why would I wish that on anyone, much less the girl I love more than any other in the world?

I spent ten years in New York City chasing my own artistic dreams. I wanted to dance on Broadway or at least in regional theater and write the Great American Novel on the side.

Instead, I slept on fold-out sofas in other people’s living rooms and supported myself as a legal proofreader on the night shift; I walked everywhere to save on subway fare and discovered that you could eat cereal for months on end and still survive.

By the time I woke up, exhausted, at thirty, everyone else I knew was married and living in the suburbs, a baby in arms and another one on the way.

But Olivia is sensitive, and I see that.

“Look at the moon,” was her first full sentence, as she patted a spot beside her on our front steps and pointed to the sky. “See pink” she said as the sun was setting. Once I observed that a shade of blue crayon looked happy and she nodded as she rolled it between her palms. “There are so many blues that are sad.”

Olivia is adopted so she hasn’t inherited my genes. But she’s my daughter, with the soul of a poet.

By Jessica O’Dwyer

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Ya Got Two Kids Which Means. . .

**Watching two great movies at the same exact time. While you’re watching one, you’re missing the other.
**Giving each child half a mother.
**Shortchanging one almost all of the time.
**Putting the younger in the line of fire of an emotionally immature and unstable boss.
**Breaking up a tug of war over a favorite toy 12 times a day.
**Trying not to laugh when the little one ruins the older one’s elaborate tower of blocks and then looks at me and smiles.
**Consoling the little one when the older one tells him to "Go away!"
**Never having any time for yourself.
**Hearing them giggle every morning in the room they share.
**Satisfaction in knowing that they have each other.
**Being immersed in motherhood. One kid was dabbling.
**Crazy -- what were we thinking?
**Lucky -- we were thinking one of each would be nice.
**A family, one was an accessory.
**Holding them both in my arms and knowing I need nothing else.
**The little one adoring the older one.
**The older one adoring the little one, when it occurs to her.
**Seeing them smile at each other like they never do at anyone else.
**The older one teaching the little one how to play their new game.
**The older one reading to the little one.
**The little one watching every move the older one makes and trying to imitate her.
**The older one muscling in whenever the baby is getting attention and succeeding.
**Ganging up on Mom.
**A second chance to parent without nearly as much anxiety and paranoia.
**Watching the two of them run across the room to give each other a hug.
**Knowing that you love them both equally, but it was having your first that turned on a special light deep down inside you.
**The younger one keeping that flame going, when you think you have nothing more to give.
**Knowing that your second will never receive the massive amount and intense quality of attention that your first did, though you really, really try.
**Finally forgiving your own mother if you were a second child.

By Meeta Arcuri

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Mother Murders Her Annoying Cat

Binkley was a mean cat, the kind who lives forever out of spite.

When my husband mentioned in passing, “Binkley’s limping a little,” I did not expect a cat that dragged her leg bone behind her like a scavenged drumstick.

When the vet’s x-rays revealed a shattered leg in the hardest place to fix, I learned about feline osteoporosis. Binkley’s usual hop down from the bathroom counter would cost at least two thousands dollars, with no guarantees, not counting follow-up visits and medication.

The vet assured me I could pay on the installment plan.

“Absolutely not,” my husband responded. “She’s old, she’ll scratch us to a bloody pulp when we try to give her pills, and even if she makes it, what happens the next time she takes a drink from the sink? It’s time to put her down.”

Our youngest daughter, Ally, was easily persuaded. She was tired of fighting her way downstairs past Binkley’s claws every morning. I hesitated, but only out of guilt for my wish to be free of litter boxes and shredded pantyhose.

Emma, fourteen years old, was the lone hold out.

“I’ll pay for it!” she sobbed; surprisingly loyal to the cat I had to nag her to feed. “She shouldn’t have to die just because you don’t like her.”

Immobilized but far from terminal, Binkley purred between hisses as we debated her fate. The vote was three to one. Logic trumps passion, particularly when it holds the purse strings. Really, though, I agreed with Emma.

I remembered my own devastation when I was not quite her age. We had to give away our cats because my father’s allergies landed him in the intensive care unit for a week. He would have died had he tried to stick it out another day. Even so, the family joke was that it took twenty-four ballots to break the tie in my father’s favor.

With Binkley, no lives besides hers were at stake—just money and convenience. Still, spending thousands of dollars on a nasty, old cat seemed absurd. I admired Emma’s passion, though, and wondered where mine had gone. Did I misplace it somewhere among piles of bills and laundry? Maybe it was just another permanent casualty on the long and compromised road to maturity.

As the arguments and tears crescendoed through the weekend, I worried what lesson we’d be teaching our children. At the very least, I imagined that Emma might someday pull the plug on us at the nursing home because she had better ways to spend her time and money. This struck me as only fair.

I despised my husband for his unsympathetic resolve. He despised me for my waffling. “You’re just making it worse,” he accused me. Secretly, I knew he was right, and how relieved I’d soon feel if we put Binkley to sleep. On Monday, I called the vet.

Emma refused to go to school that morning until I promised to schedule the appointment for the late afternoon. When she came home, she gathered Binkley in her arms and barricaded herself in the bathroom.

“I won’t let you kill her,” Emma screamed.

But what could she do in the face of my treachery? Defeated, Emma relinquished her grasp a few minutes before the vet closed.

“I hate you!” she choked between sobs as I fled downstairs.

I eased Binkley into the cardboard carrier for one last trip.

I eased her out again onto a fluffy towel atop the stainless steel exam table. Votive candles glowed from two crystal orbs while Windham Hill played softly in the background. As Dr. Griffin slipped the needle through fur and skin, she assured me that she would make the same choice, too. Stroking Binkley as her feistiness drained away for good, I half let the music lull me into agreement.

“That wasn’t so bad,” I thought wearily on my way home from the vet. But as Lady MacBeth discovered, a murderess cannot long enjoy peace.

The garage door clattered open on what looked like a crime scene. Bikes lay helter-skelter on the cracked concrete. The trashcans were upended, their rank contents strewn from corner to corner. Drifts of kitty litter crunched underfoot. I slammed the door and sprinted upstairs.

“Emma? Where are you?” I beseeched the silent house.

I never should have left her alone. It was bad enough murdering Binkley—what had I done to my own daughter?

Under normal circumstances, Emma was a steady child, but her calm demeanor masked a fierce will. When I praised the drawing she brought home long ago from her second-grade art class, she took a pencil and scribbled out her masterpiece. It was ruined, but at least it was hers. Now, frantic about what destructive self-assertion I might discover beyond the trashed garage, I searched the house from top to bottom.

I found Emma at last, crumpled and crying in a corner of the basement. She let me hold her, and we rocked together for a very long time. I stroked her soft hair until her sobs drained away. I, too, felt bereft. Not so much for Binkley, but for the girl I no longer was who now inhabited my daughter. I admired Emma’s rage: I wished I still had her passion, her conviction, her noble heart.

We buried Binkley on the hill.

When we were finished, I said, “Let’s clean up the garage.”

By Lorrie Goldin 

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Monday, February 09, 2009


Mothers Sing the Most Rockin' Lullabies

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 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 Longsdale

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Sunday, February 08, 2009


Big Mama Gets "It" & Wants to Lose IT

I was sitting in a café with another woman having coffee when she told me she had something she wanted to share.

“I used to weigh twenty-five pounds more than I do now.  And I’ve kept it off ever since,” she said with a self-satisfied nod.

“R-e-a-l-l-y?” I said. “That’s, that’s great!”

Another time, in this same café, a younger woman who I was having coffee with said, “I lost twenty-five pounds on Weight Watchers. I’ve kept it off ever since.”

“R-e-a-l-l-y?” I replied. “That’s, that’s great!”

If one more woman shares her weight-loss success story with me ever again I’m going to tell her to, well, I’m afraid what I’m going to tell her.

I get the sharing. I appreciate the encouragement. But it’s not like I don’t know that I’m fat. I used the F word. Let me say it few more times; fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat.


I’m a big mama.

When my daughter lays on me she says there is more to love. She has also said hurtful things about my weight, which have led to long talks about accepting people for who they are, not what they look like.

My son has never said anything negative about my weight and has told me that it doesn’t matter. He has been heavy himself and is now thin. He claims that he doesn’t feel better or worse about himself. He feels the same.

I came by my weight gain honestly. First by having a baby when I was older. Then I lost the weight. Gained some back. Lost some more. I exercised like crazy. I took long, intense walks.

Then I was diagnosed with cancer, insanely volunteered for a clinical medical trial that nearly drove me insane. During the course of it I gained 40 pounds. One might think one of the doctors -- I’m being kind here, they were not doctors, they were researchers and I was not a patient, I was a research subject -- might have said something? No, they just gave me more medication to apply to my now larger body.

My blood pressure steadily increased over the 18-month long study. Twice, nurses jumped back at the high numbers. I said it was just nervous. Who wouldn’t be afraid when the outside of the building says, Advanced Cancer Care. Just that word.

The researchers never said anything about my high blood pressure, either. Gotta get results!

The study finally ended. Today I take a variety of medications. Some can cause weight gain. Last year I finally had long-put off foot surgery. I stupidly thought I would be up and about in a month. I slowly learned that it takes about a year to fully heal. But the original problem has led to other troubles. I sometimes fall. I fell two weeks ago outside the mall. Last week my ankle caved and l landed on my desk, papers flying, pain going wah-wah.

My husband pines for my former, thin self. He gently suggests that maybe, perhaps, um, if I just lost a little weight, my foot problems would disappear. My surgeon and physical therapists disagree. It would help, they say, but it’s not the cause.

The other day my nephew, Alex, in Chicago, asked how I was doing. Then he abruptly said, “Have you lost weight?” I was crushed. My sister asked when I was coming to visit. “Not for a while,” I said. I used the cold as an excuse.

That’s my last pretext. It IS time to lose weight. Today I began eating healthy. It’s not a diet. I won’t ever diet again. I tried Jenny Craig and actually gained weight on it. Can you imagine? And I didn’t even cheat! Basically I paid hundreds of dollars to get fatter (that word again!).

I’ve been a vegetarian, though an irresponsible one, for more than twenty-five years. I know how to eat well. I realize that Cheetos and Dreyer’s Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Cookie Dough ice cream do not count as vegetables. But, oh, are they ever delicious!

My exercise simply can no longer be at the same intensity as it once was. I can’t walk up or down hills. I’ll have to find flat areas. I will have to start at the gym with an exercise bicycle and see what else I can use. I tire easily. I know I will watch longingly as I see others exercising hard, while I do my “soft” routines.

My hope is that by eating healthy, not going near the scale, and exercising and walking as I can, I will be able to drop a few sizes.

Minorities and certain religions experience the greatest prejudice. I might also argue that it is the overweight that suffer, as well. They are ignored, made fun of, and pre-judged. As a formerly thin person, I can attest to this – because I am guilty of those things, too.

A few months from now, just as my son said about himself, I will still be the same person. Only I will be smaller. When people see me they won’t do so with fear. Afraid that if I gained weight, so might they. For some, nothing is more frightening. I’ve already experienced greater horrors.

For me, losing weight will mean meeting a simple goal: I want to be able to tuck.

By Dawn Yun

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Friday, February 06, 2009


Can't a Mother Get Some Sleep?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

My son was two years and nine months old, but we were still waking up every two hours. It was time to take control of my life.

Or at least my nights.

For a month, I acted out a no-night-nursing scenario with Mama and Baby kangaroo stuffed animals.

“And then the Mama kangaroo said, ‘No nursey at night. Baby kangaroo cried. Mama held him tight.”

But when my son continued to wake me up nearly every hour wanting to nurse, I decided it was time to stop playing with kangaroos and take action.

I wore a sundress to bed.

That way my son couldn’t lift up my shirt. He whimpered, asked for “nursey,” and I held him in my arms. I offered water, watered-down juice, milk. But he wanted books. We read fifty-three of them from one to four-thirty in the morning in the downstairs family room.

I’m now twenty days into this no-nursing, sundress-to-bed routine, and last night -- for the first time in two years and nine months -- he SLEPT from ten at night until five in the morning.

Unfortunately, now that my son's so well-rested -- he’s given up his nap.

By Ariana Amini

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Mommy's High-Wire Act: The Work/Family Balance

I’ve been working a lot lately and I’m not seeing my son enough. That bugs me. He’s only three. How can he be spending more time at preschool than at home? What kind of mother am I?

This is not the first time I question my work/family balance. Even when I’ve got the balance right, there are still days it gets thrown off, either because I’ve added to my work schedule (less time for family), our son is home sick unexpectedly (less time for work), or I just feel the need to spend more time with our son (no change in time, just want more of it).

Lately, I’ve added to my work schedule, so our son no longer stays home with me one full day a week. Instead, he’s in preschool full-time. Ack, I feel guilty just writing this—even though I know he’s happy there, loves it, and it’s a great place for him.  It’s not him I’m worried about, really; it’s me.

Will I have regret, I wonder, when he’s eight or nine and wants to spend all his free time with his friends instead? Will I think: I should have spent more time with him when he was three and wanted only to be with his parents?

Time does not run backwards, I know. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

The extra work I’m doing now is intended to help our family out in the future when I can then hopefully spend more time with our son. The situation is temporary. The trouble with living for the future, though, is this: you’re not living right now, which is where life happens, where memories get created.

So it comes back to balance again. I have to ask myself what will be more painful: cutting out some work and postponing important goals a little longer, or continuing to feel like I’m not seeing my son enough?

I resolve to pick my son up early from school at least one day a week so that we can play, regardless of my work crunch. Because those are the kind of memories (of my son and family) I want plastered all over my mind.

By Cindy Bailey

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Thursday, February 05, 2009


Good Neighbors Are Ones That Stay

I learn a lot about my inner landscape by mapping my endearingly out of proportion overreactions to other people’s behavior. I have the practiced calm exterior, but I boil and pitch with abandon in my head. This week, the object of undeserved wrath is the family across the street. They have two wonderful daughters my kids adore, just older than my girls in a way that will keep their status as cool forever.

Well, they have been spring cleaning way too much. They are sprucing up the front yard, power washing the exterior, making trips to Goodwill. From my vantage point across the cul-de-sac, it’s clear that they are doing these things with singular purpose and great efficiency.

Saturday, their older daughter spilled the beans, validating my dark fears. Rather than build the addition they had planned, they are probably opting to sell their house. We are being left by THE same-age kids on the street that fuse with my kids into a giggling feminine mob, roaming between houses, playing dress up, eating pizza, making a boring Sunday hilarious as they trade secrets and songs about butt cracks and poop.

I feel personally betrayed. How dare they make their own decisions and take away one cornerstone of my hometown, brotherly feeling that makes me love our block. How could they turn their backs on how I want things to be! So what if I absolutely agree it’s a better decision. They didn’t consult with us! My older daughter is going to be crushed. The younger one will, too. Okay, so she just started walking and mostly points at their house and drools, but I know she’ll feel abandoned, too. I graciously feel the pain for them. Now, my hello wave is tainted with bitterness. I become a petulant, sulking middle-schooler when I see them arrive home.

Hah! They’re probably meeting with another realtor, I say to myself. They’re going to find new neighbors. People with nicer houses, who effortlessly cook gourmet feasts with better backyard setups than ours and probably work with the blind after a long day at the brokerage firm.

Here I sit. . . the scorned neighbor.

When my daughter shrieked at me tonight about bedtime, “No, you need to do it MY way!!!” I act mature and consistent, but inside my head, she’d be amazed at how the same sentiment is thumping in my head too.

By Avvy Mar

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Daughter Does a Good Deed, So Does Mom

I sort the clothes into piles of colored and white.  I'm going to have to wash this stuff first before I pack it up.  What was this girl thinking?  That's the point  -- she wasn't thinking.  I mean how many sweaters, pairs of pants and T-shirts can one girl have?  She's got more clothes than her sister and I put together.

             I'm trying to make some order in my twenty-four year old daughter's bedroom.  I kick my way through the multi-colored array of shoes scattered around her floor.  Really, how many pairs of heels does one need?  Of course, I have only a couple of pairs myself.  

"You could use some heels, Mom," she once chided me. "Kind of update your look!"

            I just had no idea she had this much junk in her room.  But as I make my way through the piles I begin to understand what a risk my daughter has taken to leave all her material possessions behind to go on a nine-month fellowship to India to work with women and children for an NGO.

I notice the packing list on her bed: "No jeans or tight  clothing. Flat shoes only.  Clothing must be loose and cover the body."  My daughter's entire wardrobe would be classified, "INAPPROPRIATE!"  Forget the heels, clutch bags and tank tops!

            But once again she has left home and another mess for her old mom to clean up.  What was she thinking?  Well, it certainly wasn't about her room.  The last weeks she was home she was running around after work getting shots, passport photos and all sorts of stuff for insects and hot weather.

             I put a load of clothes into the washer. How can I be mad at a few piles of dirty clothes when she's mustered the courage to leave everything familiar behind (purses and all) to travel to a culture so different from her own?  What's important anyway?  Maybe I'm jealous.  Maybe I want her clothes. Her opportunities. Her courage. Then I realize I have enough clothes, enough opportunities, and occasionally enough courage. 

She's doing everything I would dream for her. She's following her passion.

            So, what's my problem? 

I just wish we could have cleaned this mess together. Then again, I'm finding some solace in folding her clothes and boxing up her things. It seems the more I fold, the less irritated I become. Finally, I just sit down exhausted next to a box and cry.

I'm going to miss her so much.

 By Marilee Stark

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Wishes & Dreams for a Mother

My wish for the blessed mothers:

Two days in a hotel.

Velvety sheets, gourmet room service.

A stack of books to inspire or distract. Ratio as desired: two trashy, 1 poetry, 1 heartbreaking.

Time to read.

Time to write.

No need for clothes with zippers.

Endless warm drinks.


Revelatory, vexing dreams.


The sound of an idea popping tenderly.




Relaxed, but swiftly flowing momentum rushing joyfully to your unique North Star.

By Avvy Mar

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Monday, February 02, 2009


Who Likes to Clean?

Growing up, I knew two things: My mother loved her four children. And she hated the ancillary jobs that came with raising us.

My mother detested housework and considered cooking an unpleasant necessity to be gotten over with as quickly as possible.

For Thanksgiving when I was thirteen, she presented a pre-cooked turkey roll she had purchased at the grocery store. My mother’s pride in finding a shortcut to the burden of preparing a holiday feast wasn’t diminished in the least by my father’s complaint that it didn’t look like any turkey he'd ever eaten. She placed the steaming tube of poultry concentrate on the table with a “tah-dah!” next to the cranberry sauce that still showed rings from the can from which it had emerged.

I never heard my mother call herself or any other woman a housewife. When someone else described her that way once her face turned stony. Later she hissed to us: “I am not married to my house.”

I'm not married to my house either. But unlike my mother, I work outside the home so I guess that technically spares me from the unfortunate title that often haunted her. Still, the house has to be cleaned and the meals made. And, like my mother, I detest housework and despise cooking.

It's a distressing dilemma because I want to raise my two sons in a spotless home and I enjoy as well as anyone a tasty, healthy meal. My husband helps, but frankly his standards are a little, well, relaxed.

So I clean. I wipe down the kitchen counters grudgingly and announce in sarcastic joy how much I LOVE spending Saturday mornings scrubbing toilets.

And I cook. But I disappoint even my own low expectations with my heartless creations. There are, after all, just so many crock pot concoctions you can pour over rice.

I wish there was someone to help. Someone beyond the cleaning service lady who visits a few hours a month for whom I have to pick up so much that I might as well do the scrubbing myself.
Someone different. Someone devoted. Someone who really LIKES to clean. Someone who considers cooking -- every meal, three times a day -- an opportunity for creative expression.
Someone like the woman we once assumed the housewife to be.

As far as I can see -- she doesn't exist. She didn't live within my mother and to tell the truth, I never missed that.

My mother was an artist, a painter and photographer. She traveled, too, and cared for orphans alongside Mother Theresa in India and took me on a safari in Kenya. She gave me gifts she might not have to give had she been the housewife of my fantasies. I, too, have gifts my family enjoys.

Still, every now and then, especially when faced with a bathroom floor that needs mopping and the knowledge that even the space behind the toilet has to be scrubbed, the fantasy returns. And I wish someone would give me one more gift.

The gift of my very own housewife.

By Laura-Lynne Powell

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