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, April 30, 2009


No, Not THAT F Word

I almost said the “F” word in front of my daughter this afternoon. Not the four-letter one that ends in a “k” -- though that one does slip out occasionally. I’m talking about “F-A-T.” It’s how I felt when I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in the Banana Republic window.

I’m not, really. I can honestly say that my body image in my 40s is better than it’s ever been -- usually. I’ve accepted that I will not be a waif or tall and willowy in this lifetime. And on most days, I appreciate my athletic build and strength. But after a week out of town spent eating too much and not exercising enough, I’d gained a couple of pounds. And the old “I’m fat” tape started playing in my head.

I barely stopped myself from saying the words out loud. But one of my missions as a mother is to avoid contaminating my daughter with the negative body image I -- and most women I know -- have struggled with. So even when I’m feeling a tad pudgy, I try not to criticize my body in front of her.

She’s not yet five. But she’s already taking note of diet commercials and messages from the media that thin is good.

“Mama, did you know that there’s medicine that can help you lose weight?” she told me the other day, almost as amazed as when she discovered “Curious George” on KQED.

And when I picked her up from preschool last week she announced that “me and Isabel are going on a diet so we can get small enough to live in a flower.”

Talking about living in a flower is cute. Talking about losing weight at her age is scary.

She thinks dieting is a game. But I know what it’s like to obsess about weight and to measure one’s self-worth according to what a scale says at a young age. And I know that now girls start down that path even earlier.

Helping my daughter cultivate a healthy body image in our society will be an uphill battle. But at least if she grows up hearing me say “I’m strong” instead of “I’m fat,” she may have a chance.

By Dorothy O’Donnell

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Mai Tai Mommy

I will never, ever go on vacation again. Normally, I find myself saying this after carting my three kids under five years old to Boston and back on the red-eye that stops through Denver to switch planes. HELL ON WHEELS – or wings, in this case.

But this time, I will never, ever go on vacation again because I left my household of three kids, one giant yellow lab, one German student, one wide-eyed husband and many unwelcome vermin in the basement – and went ALONE on vacation with another mom.

Yes, ALONE. No children. Solo. Single. Alone.

“What???” you scream at me. “Why, that sounds like BLISS, freedom, peace!!!”

And it was. Four nights and five days of Hilton Waikiki heaven. Palm trees, SPF 45, gorgeous, trashy magazines. What’s Britney up to these days???

And we relaxed – hard. We wiggled our toes. We flipped from front to back. We took 20 minutes to slowly, slowly tiptoe our way into the medicinal Hawaiian waters.

No splashing. No whining. No “Mommmmmmmmmy!”

No responsibility for the frying of small parts of tiny ears, backs, noses and butt cracks. No up at 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 5:30 a.m., ready to play. No peanut butter and jelly encrusted with sand fingerprints on my new, sassy bathing suit.

It was a strong Mai Tai away from a Calgon moment.

“So why won’t you ever, never do it again?” you ask, scratching your Mommy head?

Because – simply – I came home.

I came home a relaxed noodle – a slippery shell of the “chop-chop-chop,” on-time, driven, schedule-schedule-scheduled Mommy of old. I came home a non-supermom. I came home a peaceful, mumbling, relaxed idiot – shocked at the level of chaos that I’d become so used to, and unable to jump right back into the diaper/playdate/mommy-wheres-my-other-sock fire.

So I made a vow to my husband as I wept in the shower after day two of being back. “I will never, ever go on vacation again!” I sobbed.

Well, until next year, at least – Mai Tai’s here I come!!!

By Annie B. Yearout

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


How to Find a Place of Comfort When Your Kids Drive You Insane

It’s 7:55 a.m. I’ve made breakfast, changed the toddler’s diaper and clothes, consumed one cup of coffee, made and packed lunches, and am waiting for the outcome of one of two classic getting-to-school-scenarios: 1) everything moves according to plan; 2) nothing moves according to plan.

I stand by the front door, open it, glance at my watch. “It’s time to leave!” I announce hopefully, trying not to betray the mounting tension, doubt and anxiety the last five minutes at home often produces on school days.

The third grader arrives. She has spent the last fifteen minutes wrapping her forearm in toilet paper, held together like a cast with scotch tape, because she “hurt it falling out of bed.” The voice inside my head, disbelieving, scornfully asks, “What IS it with you?” I would never have gotten away with this kind of plea for attention.

And then the first-grader: she appears, this time, with hair and teeth unbrushed, socks and shoes not even found, her breakfast half-eaten, some still on her face. “Mommy, I brought this especially for you,” she says in a tender, meaningful voice, as if to say, I Love You With All My Heart and there is NOTHING else that matters, especially school.

“How S-w-e-e-t,” I manage to get out while I glance at my watch and evil-eye the plastic sparkle ring that she’s offering me perched atop a bed pillow. Time ticks, toddler begins to run amok. The internal voice again, louder, “I asked you to brush your hair and get your shoes four times already and you never listen and now it’s time to leave and we’ll probably be LATE.” Thanks, I say. It’s time for school. Time to GET IN THE CAR, I say. Do you UNDERSTAND?

Then the toddler comes in the house and throws a handful of dirt from the potted plant on the Persian runner, like an offering of the worst kind, straight at my feet. I begin to assume the look of a crazed and rabid dog.

Recently, I put an old, paint-peeling Adirondack chair on our front porch. It is my official time-out spot. I go there almost every morning to remember how to breathe.

Breathe, write, breathe, write….

by Lauren Cargill

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Monday, April 27, 2009


Takeout Preserves Family Life

Some afternoons when I drive my car into the garage after taking my daughter to swimming, ballet or acting class, the last thing I want to do is cook.

Usually, boiling water seems like climbing Mount Everest. But since we’re not in the income bracket to afford a cook, or a Sherpa, or even delivery -- I fall back on takeout.

Takeout is to me what a housecleaner is to other, neater, more obsessive women: a luxury that keeps me from going insane.

It has become a want that is now a need. It truly is a service that prevents me from appearing on Snapped, the lovely TV show that “focuses on average women, who snap and kill or arrange for their husbands to be killed.”

But getting takeout isn’t as easy a decision as it seems.

First, there’s the expense. Truly, it would make more sense to just boil water and throw some noodles in it. But, hey, often boiling water is just too much work. And a hit man or woman can be so expensive.

But in family life there is no easy answer.

For you see I have to decide what takeout to get, call and order, and then go get it. Sometimes this involves descending into negotiations between my daughter, my husband and me that would make an ambassador squirm.

For there isn’t one, all wonderful, all-knowing takeout place. Oh, no, in our family there are different types of takeout. There is takeout my daughter will eat, also known as fast food. This includes burritos.

Then there is adult takeout. That is takeout from my favorite Indian restaurant. It is takeout my daughter will eat, if I starve her a bit. It is takeout my husband and I love.

Best of all, it is takeout that will last two days if I order extra. The only downside is the cost.

But as I remind my husband between bites of garlic naan, it’s cheaper than a divorce, or the alternative. And, as my daughter squirms, I remind her that if she just eats one more bite of chicken, I’ll get her the Pokemon cards she desires.

See, I know how to keep my family happy.

By Georgie Craig

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Saturday, April 25, 2009


A Mother's Reward is Her Daughter's Self-Confidence

“Its going to be so funny when everyone notices how long my hair has gotten!” chuckled my four-year-old daughter, looking at herself in her mirror, basking in self-love.

Preparing for another birthday party, negotiating wardrobe, how much of my make-up I’ll let her wear, we arrived at my daughter’s certainty about what the true focus of the party would be.

“Dominic’s mom, Karson’s mom,” she went on “they will ALL be so amazed by my hair!”

I stared at her, my little center of the universe. I almost reminded her that people will be thinking other things also, but stopped myself. We have hopped off the developmental ski lift and reached the highest summit of narcissism at just the right time. It changes on its own if all goes well. Leave her alone, I tell myself, the world will be knocking her off it soon and often.

What is the good mother response? Join her in it? Say nothing? Move to another topic? “They'll be happy to see you. We haven’t seen them since last year,” I say, attempting to go with it. She is fluffing her hair and gazing in the mirror. “Um, hm. . .” she says.

I wonder about myself at her age and my anxiety over her confident self-celebration. My mother was in the trenches of her long depression, spreading despair throughout the house when I was small. I can remember feeling exuberant and confident. I tried to share it with her.

“It will be OK, Mom,” I remember saying to her on one occasion when I was about my daughter’s age.

Her eyes looked huge and black. “No, it will never be OK,” she said and I felt myself fall into those black pools and believed her fully.

Today, looking at my daughter now touching up her Cinderella lip gloss, I feel my grateful moment for the day.

This is that paycheck that I get as a mother, knowing I’ve cut the cord to that particular maternal inheritance of short-circuited confidence and negativism that I know my mother and her mother received. My daughter’s sun will not be clouded over to the best of my ability.

We go to the birthday party and several moms who haven’t seen us in a while all say the same thing to my child: “Maya, I can’t believe how long your hair has gotten!”

I’m going to put a bonus in their next paycheck.

By Avvy Mar

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Friday, April 24, 2009


Daddy's Home And Mommy Needs a Break

I’m a mom who’s ready for school to start up again. Not elementary school -- dental school. My husband’s on break for a week before he starts quarter number five of his twelve-quarter program.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that he gets to hang up his shirt and tie and spend some time with us -- especially since during the school year I’m relentlessly on duty at home while he’s relentlessly on duty at school or studying.

During this break, we’ve been able to do some meaningful activities together; camping at the ocean, riding bikes along the bay, cutting out paper coconut trees in our son’s kindergarten class, drinking homemade lattes on the sunny porch.

He’s gotten to do some meaningful activities for himself, too; tuning our bikes (which I had no idea needed tuning), organizing his tool box (which of course was spread out for several days over said sunny porch), and surfing the Web a lot in his underwear.

But when our kids pulled off their shirts and pants on Saturday to run around the house in their underwear yelling, "I'm Daddy! I'm Daddy!" I felt we’d all seen enough of him for a while.

I found myself eyeing that shirt and tie, happily looking forward to another kind of break.

By Anjie Reynolds

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Thursday, April 23, 2009


Supportive Words from the Mother of a Soon-to-Be Jock

My son Jack may be a savant. Don’t immediately think “Rain Man”; think more Madden. Jack is four and a half and has an extreme fascination with football.

I can’t figure out the connection. Both of his parents are well versed in the sport and are fans to a certain level (somewhere less than face painting) but we certainly haven’t had any time or energy to devote to building our own knowledge of the sport, let alone creating a prodigy.

He can recite scores -- both as they happen, as well as some that happened months ago. He knows the names and purposes of all positions, both offense and defense. He has favorite players, jerseys of favorite players, names of favorite players, great plays of favorite players, all colors of teams, all names of teams, all mascots.

Perhaps my personal favorite is his desire to go to Tom Brady’s house and get tips on how to play football. Who am I to squash this dream? I would like to go to Tom Brady’s house and get tips on. . . . 

My job is to see his dreams happen, even if they seem impossible.

Jack really does have a unique talent. He knows the difference between college and pro teams and games on television. He can count to any score and knows the value of every point scored. He has three team’s regalia complete with jersey, pants and helmet, and wears the helmet when catching a touchdown pass at the end of the living room.

It would be one thing if he couldn’t catch or throw a ball, but he seems versed in doing that as well.

My younger son has realized that opposition is hopeless. His “No hootball game” has turned to “watch ponies” or “watch Patwiots.” He gets bored in the first minute or two, but Jack will watch for hours if we let him. He reenacts plays in the living room complete with straight arm, jukes and tackles. I know that some people see the violence, but I see the passion, with proper protective gear.

He asked me six months ago when he could play football. I didn’t know, so I went to the Internet to look up how old he would have to be to play. I told him he could play when he turned seven. So, every day he asks me how long until he turns seven? Every day I answer.

Yesterday he asked if I would watch him play when he turns seven. I said that I would be there every game. He said, “No, on T.V.?” In his world, he was already playing in the N.F.L.

Childhood is a blessing in dreaming big. 

Parenting is hoping that they can achieve every one of those dreams.

By Jennifer O’Shaughnessy

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009


A Soft Moment Leads a Mother to Her Life's Work

Swinging my three-year-old son between us, my sister and I walked up the narrow paths of Sorich Park through a forest of Eucalyptus trees toward Mount Tamalpais Cemetery.

We passed a bearded man on our way. “Clear day,” he said. “I thought it would be muddy, but it’s a beautiful day.” The man looked familiar. After the man passed, my son asked, “Was that Baba?”

“No,” I said. “He had a beard like Baba’s. But Baba died.”

“Baba died?”


“Like Goldie?” Goldie was our goldfish.

“Yes, like Goldie.”

“They put him underneath the ground like Goldie?”

My sister grimaced.


We heard a distant sawing sound, then a crash. We looked up through the forest, where men were cutting fragile Eucalyptus trees. Once towering trees collapsed. Below us, a family held a funeral amidst the falling trees.

My son sang, “Skip, skip, skip to my Lou. Skip to my Lou, my darlin,’” as he bounded toward “Baba’s bench.” He wiped the dew off of the black granite with his sweater sleeve. I sat him next to the engraved name of my father.

“Tina, sit next to me,” my son called to my sister. So they sat sandwiched on the driest section of the granite. My son asked, “Do you want to read a story?”

This time we had not brought any books, so I said, “Why don’t we tell you a story about Baba.”

My son nodded.

“Baba and Nana used to swing us up into the air on blankets. And we would laugh and laugh. Baba loved to make you laugh when you were a baby. And he held you tight.”

My son felt the gold letters on the edge of the bench that read: When a child is delighted in, she finds herself delightful.

My sister turned to me. “Dad would be so proud of you.” She pointed to my son, “Just look at him. He is delighted in.”

“Thanks, Christina.” She commended me the same way my father would have when he was alive. And, all of a sudden, I realized that my son was my life’s work. The rest was just peripheral.

By Ariana Amini

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Volunteer for Brainless Tasks and Find Nirvana

I never feel more stupid than when I volunteer in my daughter’s kindergarten class.

Her teacher snaps out instructions. My job, I think, is to help the kids draw three pictures that describe their weekend and then write a one-sentence summation.

I’m supposed to help my daughter, Mimi, her friend, Anni, a boy, David, and a girl, Samantha.

“This way!” I say. Mimi goes the other way, as does giggling Anni, while David heads straight to his seat, as does Samantha.

“Mimi! Anni,” I admonish. The giggling girls slowly come over. “Okay, let’s draw!” David sketches, as does Samantha. That leaves the other two, who do not.

“How are things going?” asks the teacher.

Obviously, not well.

“Mimi and Anni, start drawing please,” she says. “We’re running behind.”

Running behind? I look around at the other parent-volunteers. Paul and his students look extremely absorbed. He seems to display quiet authority.

I can try that. Not that I get the chance. Somewhere between looking up and looking down, another parent-volunteer swoops in and takes over teaching David and Samantha.

Is this a parent-volunteer-student steal? Is somebody saying I can’t handle teaching four children at once, which I obviously can not, but still. . . And why take those two? The easy ones. Why not my daughter and her friend? The challenging duo.

“Good work!” the parent-volunteer-student stealer says proudly to David and Samantha, as they continue to draw. She smiles at me.

After much cajoling, my two remaining little students finally draw their pictures and write a sentence.

“Can you stay for a few minutes?” the teacher asks.

She leads me to a table in the back upon which sits several sheets of black construction paper, a white pencil and scissors. She holds up a circle.

“I need you to make twelve of these.” She draws a circle in the air with her finger. “Think you can do it?”

I look nervously from paper to pencil to scissors and finally nod. “I think I can.”

I carefully lay my pre-cut sample against the very edge of the paper and trace. I leave an inch of space between and then draw another circle and repeat the pattern. I precisely cut, taking deep breaths along the way.

“Your daughter is smart,” says another parent-volunteer who approaches my table.

I protectively cover my circles with my hands, fearful she may take them.

“Your daughter does her work. She’s just taking advantage of you because you’re here.”

“Oh!” I shriek. “I was really worried because I thought she couldn’t draw. I thought she couldn’t write. . .”

I suddenly stop externalizing my internal insecurities. I don’t even know this mother. “Thank you!” I say displaying all my teeth. 

The woman gives me a small, knowing smile back.

I return to my circle cutting.

Sometimes, the most mindless tasks can provide the greatest peace of mind.

By Dawn Yun

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Monday, April 20, 2009


You Never Know What Will Come Next

I returned home from a Writing Mamas Salon to my daughter hugging my leg and my husband telling me that his mother could not be reached by phone.

Bad feeling.

It reminded me of when we couldn't reach my aunt on the phone. She lived in Brooklyn, I was in California, one sister was in Chicago and the other in Connecticut. My cousin and I had given the super of my aunt's building some money to keep an eye on her. I told my sister in Connecticut not to drive to New York. I'd phone the super instead. I said if anything happened to my aunt, do not send her to Coney Island Hospital. It is where my uncle had passed away, mainly from laying on a gurney in the hospital's corridors for hours unattended. The super sent my aunt away in another ambulance to another hospital. She had a massive stroke.

Tonight my sister-in-law, Pat, went to check on my mother-in-law, Polly. She found her on the floor, unable to move. An ambulance came and brought her to the hospital. A major stroke, too. My husband left as soon as I came home.

A little over a month ago my father died. Less than a year ago my brother-in-law did. When I had to break the news to my husband I said, "I don't know if you're mom will last the year." He stared at the floor. The news of his younger brother's passing too unbelievable to be real. "I know," he said with quiet understanding and sadness.

I can't say what will happen. My aunt lasted a few weeks in the hospital. She was ready to go. When she said she was, as much as I loved and adored her, I wanted this for her, too. 

I don't know what will happen to my mother-in-law.  The decline in her health since her son's death has been astounding. I think she's ready. 

We're all living to die and most of us are dying to live. But for some, like my aunt, and I believe my mother-in-law, a lesser quality of life isn't one worth living. It's just too hard. And they are too good for such harshness to come at the end of their lives, precisely, when they are least able to fight.

However it turns out, I hope her suffering is minor. She is well loved. Most of her family was with her on Saturday before this happened. When her time comes, I hope it is painless and fast. Such a good person deserves as much.

By Dawn Yun

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Sunday, April 19, 2009


Reality TV Addicted Mom Fesses Up

I admit it. I’m a fan. Or an addict.

As I watched Jason, the formerly dumped dad, finally pick his whisper of a bride-to-be on a Monday night on ABC, twirling and twirling her gowned figure around and around, as only a short man can do with an itty-bitty woman, I thought, grabbing a tissue, sniffle, True Love!

But then, at the Most Shocking After The Rose Ceremony Ever on Planet Earth, where we’re supposed to finally meet, live, and have kids, the happy couple who’d been twirling and twirling and pulling the moon into an alternate orbit -- the bomb drops. Jason doesn’t really love his ex-Dallas Cowboys cheerleader sprite. He wants the other one. The one he dumped. Flat. On. Her. Incredulous. Face.

If you don’t watch the show, let me lay it out for you. Single, unlucky in love dad goes on a date with twenty-five women. He gets to play with all the women however much he wants – kiss, tickle, tempt them with his shirtless body, take helicopter rides and laugh – ha ha! – for the countless cameras that surround their every move. And then politely dump them by not handing them a rose. Dating under a microscope is the appropriate cliché, ‘cept this microscope has twenty bazillion fans (addicts) who just can’t get enough of poor Jason’s quest for love.

This season, according to Chris, the well coiffed and patiently disgusted host of the show, Jason’s journey has drawn more viewers than ever. And I can see why. To add to the drama/trauma, we viewers all already knew and held a stake in Jason’s fortune as we had all watched him fail at finding love on last season’s Bachelorette. The one with the Greek gal we all had girl-crushes on. Deanna. You see, Deanna dumped Jason last minute, and chose the completely inappropriate snowboard dude instead.

A nation wept.

Of course, to make the soap opera circle complete, (and feel free to skip this paragraph if your kid needs a diaper change or Ed McMahon is at the front door) back to this season, the same Deanna flies all the way to New Zealand where Jason is about to propose to his itty-bitty slut, I mean, fiancée, while unhappy Deanna confesses that she made a BIG mistake last season and wants Jason back!

Can it get any better than this? Reality TV soap opera at its best!

Confused? Head a-twirl? Good. Because isn’t that what love is, confusing? Dizzying? And that is what has drawn so many (educated!) suckers like me into this orgasmic, minefield of drama played out for us on Monday nights. This isn’t a sappy, happy story of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy marries girl happily ever after. This is the 2009 version of how love really works (uh, sorry, Shakespeare), and Jason’s angst and complete bungling of making the “right” choice for his small family reminds me of some of my friends and acquaintances who have recently made their own tough, love choices and are leaving their marriages and relationships even after ten plus years and three point two children.

Fortunately or unfortunately for them, my friends don’t have helicopters whisking them and their kids on date nights or long-stem, red roses determining their fate. But their world is twirling, around and around, as I watch and hope that their new, single-mom ride is smoother than the bumpy, public one our sweet Jason, Bachelor Dad, has chosen to take. And, hopefully, I will watch them and engage with compassion and empathetic angst on a different level than I do with my guilt-ridden Bachelor addiction.

By Annie Yearout

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Saturday, April 18, 2009


Oy Vey! Matzoh in the White House

There is a Jewish holiday called Purim that was celebrated just last month. It’s the story of a Jewish Queen, Esther, who with the help of her beloved uncle Mordechai saved the Jews from being slaughtered at the hands of the evil Haman who had a position of power in the government of King Ahashverus, Esther’s new husband. Esther was ordered to marry him after his first wife Vashti refused to dance naked for his friends. Traditional interpretations say that he beheaded her, but the more modern story is that she left him to go to med school. The story ends by Esther throwing a party for her husband and after making sure he’s had a few drinks tells him of Haman’s awful plans. The King is quite smitten with his beautiful Jewish wife and the story ends well for the Jews. Haman is killed and Mordechai is given a role in the government! 

Anyone who is familiar with the plight of the Jews knows that this story is a fantasy. The end tells of the possibility of what could happen if things went well and good won out over evil. Recently something occurred in our own American government that gives hope that fantasy does sometimes become reality.

There was a Seder in the White House!  A Seder is the ritual meal that commemorates the Jewish festival of Passover; the retelling of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt and slavery. This was the first time that an American president and his family took part in a Jewish ceremony in the home of our leader. As the story appeared in the papers and various on line sites, rumors of a Jewish cousin appeared! Michelle Obama has a cousin who converted to Judaism and became a rabbi! This is so exciting that every sentence might have to end with an exclamation point!

It is not new to have Jews taking part in American government. The combination of having an African-American president and the observance of Judaism as part of that government that has been so closed to diversity and tolerance for the past eight years, leaves me feeling that we may actually have a visionary in power who may actually create a more loving and tolerant nation that reduces suffering and oppression for all of it’s citizens.

My fantasy is this: When my children have children and we are having our annual Seder, I will be able to include in the retelling of history, of a new president who came into office when the country was at its lowest point in decades. I will be able to explain to them that is was not always that the U.S. did not start wars without reason, and that it was not always that there was no hunger in our land, or that everyone had healthcare.  I look forward to telling my grandchildren that the blessed world they will live in was created by grassroots organizations and hard working people who believed that their fantasies could become reality.


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Friday, April 17, 2009


A Mother's Friendship Will Last Forever

“Shoot me if it comes to that,” I make my husband promise every time I visit Maggie. If his response is any indication, I suspect he’ll oblige.

“He must be a saint,” shudders my husband as I describe Maggie’s decline and her husband Peter’s ministrations.

His horror foreshadows the treatment I’m in for when our lives move from better to worse, the inevitable trajectory all wedding vows portend. I ought to feel alarmed, but I know exactly what he means. I feel the same way. When the saints go marching in, my husband and I will knock each other over running for the exits. Or the guns.

I wonder if Peter contemplates the same thing.

When I met Maggie thirty years ago, she had an elegant steel-gray chignon and a cultivated British accent that made her ribald wit all the more delicious. She and Peter had survived wartime London, his family’s death-camp incineration, and a sister’s suicide. I wonder if they will survive Alzheimer’s.

Today’s visit has been particularly grim. When Peter tries to help put on her socks, Maggie recoils in fear. Maybe she wonders why this strange man is swooping down on her. Peter explains that I am taking her on a walk, so she must wear socks to protect her feet. Because her hearing is going almost as fast as her mind, he raises his voice. She dissolves into tears, perhaps frightened by this shouting stranger. Peter retreats to the next room. His shoulders heave up and down in silent weeping.

I hug Maggie back into some kind of composure until Peter can regain his. He shows me the Kleenex, the sunglasses, the hat he has tucked safely into her purse next to the socks. He makes sure I understand that the twenty-dollar bill is so Maggie can treat this time. Trading off who buys the cappuccinos is one of her few remaining claims on dignity.

Suddenly, Maggie’s face clears. I ask if she would like to put on her socks now. “Of course!” she answers disdainfully, mystified by all the fuss. Maggie bends over like the girlish tennis champ she once was, neatly pulling on her crew socks. She offers a papery cheek to Peter, who kisses her and tells her he loves her. Peter and I confer about time, calibrating how long his respite will be. Then we are off.

“Do you know that man?” Maggie asks as we head down toward the bay.

“Yes,” I tell her, as I do every time. “He is your husband and you have three children together. He is a good man.”

“Is he?” she remarks dubiously.

Maggie searches for lost phrases to tell me about Peter’s temper and the many people who break into the house, invisible to all but her. She wishes they would leave her alone. One of the women seems to be having an affair with the man who used to be her husband. Vaguely uneasy, I wonder if she is referring to me because I have defended the man who frightens her.

“Your mind is playing tricks on you again,” I say. 

But is it? Maybe Peter mistreats her while the rest of us admire what a rock he is. How do I know what really goes on? I can barely stand to be there two hours a month without fantasies of mercy killings. He is there always, a stalwart man whose heartbreak and frustration simmer just below the surface. It doesn’t take much to drive a person from decency to desperation. Even my own father—the most mild-mannered and generous of men—once stood over my bedridden, demented grandmother with a pillow. What if my mother had not opened the door when she did?

I half-listen to Maggie’s halting stream of consciousness. When she fumbles with the door lock to unroll the window, I curse myself for bringing the car without the automatic controls. Some time ago Peter told me that Maggie had tried to throw herself out of the car when he was driving. Was she confused, psychotic, or lucidly suicidal? It might have been the sanest calculation imaginable. She’s never tried again.

As Maggie alternately weeps, then brightens, in the front seat beside me now, I wonder if I should call their son again, or if I will know when it is time to alert Adult Protective Services. But nothing is really different in this monotonous descent into hell except that I have deigned to pay a call.

The salt air soothes us both. Maggie grew up in a fishing village, and each bayside stroll returns her to herself with the calming tides of home. Her stride is brisk and steady even though she cannot grasp my words or find her own. I take Maggie’s elbow in a companionable gesture, a little out of fear that she might veer suddenly into the water, but mostly out of gladness that at least I can do this.

Maggie and I finish our walk and go for cappuccinos. She offers a string of garbled syllables to the waitress, who is patient and kind and somehow able to divine a wish for extra foam.

I deliver Maggie back home before heading to work. She is too proud to let me see her up the front steps, and always insists that I just drive off. So I feign a need to use her bathroom to make sure she is safe. Only as a gracious hostess with a favor to bestow can she bear to let me linger.

“She always seems in better spirits after she sees you,” Peter tells me. “Thank you.”

His gratitude intensifies my guilt. I have done so little, and I have done it with a divided heart at that. For I want nothing more than to run. Maybe then I can escape the specter of my own decline I see mirrored in her crumbling dignity. I want to join the legions of Maggie’s friends who can no longer bear to call or visit.

I want to, but I can’t.

Just like Peter. Just like all the ordinary people who want to run from heartbreak, but don’t. Perhaps this is what makes a saint. Perhaps my husband will not shoot me, but will find the grace to help me with my socks.

I might even do the same for him.

By Lorrie Goldin

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Thursday, April 16, 2009


Is There a Difference Between Animals and Children?

The fact that we have just plunked down an insane amount of money for a dog bed (for a creature who would be just as happy sleeping on old towels) is testament to how much in love we have fallen with our new family member from the Humane Society.

And this is probably old news to other dog owners, but I am surprised at the parallels I keep drawing between my child’s and my dog’s behavior:
***Like my daughter so poetically put it - “Mom you’re all about poop… first you used to wipe my butt, now you’re picking up Deuce’s poop.”
***I have to repeat myself to make myself heard.
***You discipline them for something, then turn around an hour later and they are doing the same thing.
***I have to regularly stop them from putting inappropriate stuff in their mouth.
***They never shut the door behind them.
***They never pick up after themselves. Dog toys, kid stuff – they’re everywhere.
***They’re constantly underfoot. I turn around and one or the other is nipping at my heels.
***They seek my approval and then are disdainful of my reaction.
***I have to make sure they “go” before bedtime.
***They want treats at the wrong time.
***They always want to get into bed with us and then hog up all the space.

And though I have to keep reminding my daughter that he is not the brother she always wanted – “You are my child.” I keep saying about him, “I am his owner.”

But then I look deep into those wise brown eyes and can’t help but be convinced that like our children are meant just for us, aren’t our pooches?

By Tania Malik

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Not a Jock as a Kid But is One as a Dad

My husband sits in the row ahead of me, with the other Dads, at Little League night at the ballpark. He’s one of the guys, his Oakland A’s hat moving up and down as he roots for the home team.

Michael never played sports as a kid.

Felt like an outsider, like he didn’t know how to fit in with the sporty guys. He hung out with the juvenile delinquents, but didn’t really fit in with them, either. He’d call both groups boneheads and wonder if he’d ever find his own tribe.

Then he had a son.

He didn’t know his son would be his entry ticket. Nick’s not so sporty either but he wants to fit in with the boys.

So Michael helps him.

He’s been an assistant baseball coach for two seasons. A certified coach. Often scared he’ll be found out. That the other guys will figure out that he does not know what the hell he’s doing.

Tonight Michael is a jock.

Sitting shoulder to shoulder, talking baseball, yelling to the players on the field. Being parents has brought us into so many groups that we would not have been a part of otherwise. My eyes fill with tears as I watch my husband truly fitting.

There are so many benefits to parenting that are not obvious or expected.

By Marianne Lonsdale

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Chocolate: The Drug That Makes ALL Problems Disappear

It started with five overdraft fees of thirty-three dollars each. I pleaded with customer service to remove the charges. 

Nope, wouldn’t do it. What?

Customer service has almost always let me slide. Let me talk to your manager. Nope, those are charges for checks drawn with insufficient funds. But, I’ve been a loyal customer for fifteen years! I'm going through a divorce. I’m not used to shuffling money around accounts. I'm asking for your help. . . 



Then I stare at the balances on the computer screen. three-hundred sixty dollars, three-hundred and twelve dollars and twelve dollars and two cents.

I am not certain when and how much my soon-to-be ex-husband will transfer to our joint account. There’s the MORTGAGE and HOME EQUITY LOAN bills due in a few weeks. It may take months to find a reasonable job. I have no choice -- I must e-mail my father and beg for money.

At this point, I am crying so hard, the muscles in my face have begun to seize up. I try to think of a friend that I could call to calm me down, but I think I have worn them all down. Not so much that they don’t care about me anymore, but I better not push it. 

The muscles in my face squeeze tighter.

I ask myself -- what are you going to do? I could have taken a walk, which would have helped. I could have taken a bath, which might have been beneficial I could have called a person from the Al-Anon program, which would have been a positive move.


Suddenly, the solution occurred to me: CHOCOLATE. 

If I jumped into the car right now and race down to Rainbow Grocery, I could buy several bars of Dagoba Chocolate (, and be on my way to pick up my kids right after.

A voice from somewhere deep within said, 'Don’t you think that’s a bit wasteful?' My own voiced reasoned, 'But, I am getting groceries for the family, too.'

A conversation with self ensued.

Like what?

Well, fruit.

Can’t you get that cheaper down the street?

We need yogurt.

You have some in the fridge.

Oh, fuck it. Get the hell out of my way. I’m going! 

TWELVE bars of Dagoba chocolate, of the Conacado 73% cacao sort. 

Already. . . I can feel life getting better.

By Vicki Inglis

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Monday, April 13, 2009


A Stranger's Note of Love and Grief Reminds a Mother Of What She Has

I was on a walk the other day, my every step pounding frustration into the pavement.

“How am I supposed to get this all done,” I whined to myself. It was a typical mother’s complaint towards the end of a typically busy week. How am I supposed to keep the house clean, the refrigerator filled, the children supervised?

I work outside the home. I’m active at my church and volunteer at my children’s school. I help out neighbors and friends who need me. There just isn’t enough time for it all.

Shouldn’t my husband be doing more? Shouldn’t my children be more appreciative? With every step my anger towards the people I loved most grew.

My daily walk led me to a tiny grove of redwoods. I plopped onto a wooden bench built a year ago in memory of an elderly neighbor who had died. I noticed a pot of flowers had been placed next to the bench. A card was tucked within clusters of tiny orange blossoms. I reached for it, a moment’s distraction from the building tension inside my head.

“My Darling,” the note began. The handwriting was jerky, that of an elderly author who had long since lost the smooth stroke of youth. I was reading a love letter, I surmised, left to the woman memorialized by the bench.

“Now, I am but a moth – burnt by the moon. I am lost without you.” I gasped, caught off guard by the plaintive tribute. I was eavesdropping on a stranger’s grief but felt compelled to keep reading. “I will always love what you have loved,” the note continued. The signature read only: “Forever + ever.”

I imagined the author and his love in earlier times. Had they met when they were young like my husband and I? Had they walked these very streets, sometimes hand-in-hand; at other times alone and angry as I had on this day? Had he witnessed her decline? Whispered goodbye in her ear?

I returned the note to its place between the flowers realizing the tribute to lost love was also a tribute to what I had now: A happy marriage to the love of my life, two beautiful children I adore and a cheerful home in a welcoming community.

The note was also a reminder that what I have now won’t always be mine. I will lose my loved ones one day or they will lose me. It’s the way of things, inevitable. So how was I spending this precious morning? Angry that my sons hadn’t emptied the dishwasher? Complaining that my husband took me for granted?

I resumed my walk feeling solemn and softened by my peek into a stranger’s life. I felt grateful, too, appreciative of the lesson he had taught. Live today. Love today. It’s all I have.

I decided to cut short my walk and turned toward home. I had kids to hug and a husband to kiss.

By Laura-Lynne Powell

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Sunday, April 12, 2009


A Mama's Voice Says "Clean": Her Other Voice Says, "Ah, No."

Lately I am noticing a sharp decline in the quality of my evening house clean-up. I’m slipping.

My mental and emotional state is intimately linked to my environment. The amount of mess, number of items stacked in little piles, the general stickiness rating of most toddler-height surfaces, increases my agitation as they increase throughout the day or week.

A bottle of 409, a paring knife and a Magic Eraser duly applied after the family is asleep has often returned me to homeostasis and feelings of peace before I move onto writing, reading, consuming celebrity gossip, or e-mailing my friends.

I accepted somewhere in my third year of marriage that my lovable, dependable husband’s tragic flaw, being a premier level slob, was probably never going to change. The house would be as clean as I care to keep it. I was free to choose whether to work with that or make myself miserable. I chose shalom in the home for all our sakes.

And I was successful. . . as long as we only had one child.

Then came my second daughter. As the workload increased, my motivation has slowed. Increasingly, over the past months, I fall onto the couch with a novel, or e-mail my friends and discuss adult and big questions. Often, the dishwasher isn’t running, clothes and food is strewn about, and I go to bed without cleaning any of it.

Frankly, my house is sometimes pretty grubby when I wake up.

I am starting to hear from my own imperfect voice in this matter. I want that “room of one’s own” after the family circus of the day, where I can be alone with my yet unthought ideas and scrambled feelings.

I need more interior room and have started to buy it with the price of organization and cleanliness. My voice is lurching out, messy and unfocused, but worth it. My imaginary weaving together of a tidy, inviting home and a growing space in my own mind is slipping away. My resolve to beat back the forces of entropy is failing, but feels shameful rather than freeing.

Messy, this sorting out a mother’s priorities, hoping to be able to do more than is possible.

By Avvy Mar

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A Mom Dances When She Has Time to Herself

I’m home alone for six days while my husband and son ski in Lake Tahoe!!!

Six days. 

Count em, six! I do happy dances all over the house several times a day.

I got so excited at their leaving. Starting the day before, I had this excited buzz. I hadn’t felt this type of enthusiasm since when. . . it’s a familiar feeling. . . geez, it’s how I used to feel before a date with my husband, well, before we were married. 

Ugh, that’s kinda creepy that his leaving gives me the kind of buzz that his arriving used to do.

I watch most of Season Two of Grey’s Anatomy on DVD. I don’t cook. I write. I organize my son’s room. I exercise every day. I play my music loud and dance from room to room. I sleep until eight a.m. instead of six a.m.

My big sister is coming for a sleepover tonight. The girl talk will flow along with the wine.

I cry a lot, too. Not big sobs, just a few tears several times a day. I am filled with gratitude at my luck  – my husband, our son, our home, how easy loving each other is. My life is better than I ever expected it to be. I wipe the tears away. I still miss them even as I dance with joy.

My son calls early this morning. 

He wants to make sure that it’s OK to call me. Of course, I tell him. 

I return to dancing. Not dirty dancing. Guilty dancing. I do miss my family. Still, I dance.

By Marianne Lonsdale

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Friday, April 10, 2009


A Mother Who Never Has Time to Write Creates Time to Procrastinate

It’s time to write. 

To schedule interviews. 

To work on my book proposal. 

The kids are in preschool, though I’ll be picking them up early since Lucas is getting over a cold.  Still, I have two fruitful hours left to work.

I check my e-mail.

Nothing urgent. No excuse to linger.

I must check Facebook and become a fan of Seventh Generation and Oprah.  I read others’ status updates.  Then I update my own account about how my son convinced me to buy fluorescent blue-colored Peeps. But even Facebook, which can usually suck hours out of a day, takes just a few minutes. 

I call my husband. 

I’d spoken with his mom the day before, and I’d forgotten to tell him that they can’t see the Disneyland pictures on their digital picture frame, oh and that LEGOLAND in Denmark is open every day when we’ll be visiting in May.

My husband, ever the efficient engineer who rarely procrastinates, is working, so he responds, “OK.” The entire conversation takes less than a minute.

Damn it!

None of my normally reliable stalling techniques are working today. Now I have the actual time to be a real-life productive writer.

But what do I write? An article? My book? A blog. A personal update? That's fast and efficient. But where? Facebook? MySpace? Twitter? 

Sigh. . .

It's not easy being a writer today.

By Kristy Lund

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Thursday, April 09, 2009


A Scary Word Comes Between a Family

I had just returned from our first writing salon of the year. I listened to Jay complain about the unfairness of algebra homework, while Mimi held onto my leg as I tried to walk down the hall.

She asked if she could sit in my lap and I said of course. Mimi hesitated, than leapt onto me. I wondered why she thought before acting.

Mimi felt heavier. I tried to put my chin above her head, but it didn’t fit.

Something was odd. Something was different.

As I put my arms around her, I realized what it was -- she had physically outgrown me.
There was a gap between us. A distance apart.

Almost nine months earlier, nearly the time it takes to give birth, I labored with the delivery of a very different kind of announcement: I was told I had cancer. Just that word. . . 

I had no idea how unbelievable it would all become. How sitting still for even a few minutes would be a major accomplishment. How senior moments would became EVERY moment. How much I would change.

There were times I would lose it and my husband and children would just stare because they were not used to seeing me this way.

Early on, during a three-month wait for a definite diagnosis, in my mind I journeyed to my own funeral. It was difficult for me to look at my family because then I would have to consider that possibility.

Now I know it’s in an early stage, but the disease is chronic and unusual. There is no net.

For some two-hundred nights I have applied a topical chemotherapy drug that smells like a bomb and is derived from one. I’m in a clinical trial, so the experimental agent comes in a yellow and black bag that looks like police tape, and my bathroom hutch resembles a crime scene.

Each tube of medication is plastered with warning labels.

In psychedelic pink: Caution: CYTOTOXIC DRUG. Dispose of properly.

In neon yellow: CAUTION: New drug limited by Federal Law to investigational use.

In bright orange: HIGH ALERT MEDICINE.

I feel like a spotlight is on me and a helicopter hovering above.

But then seriousness sets in. I know my situation has affected my children emotionally. My son will come into my daughter’s room while I stare off into middle distances that are never far enough away. “You’re OK, right?”

Mimi will move toward me but then face away with her back. She reminds me of a pissed-off cat. She wants to love, but she is afraid.  Mimi has asked me not to die.

Today, when my husband dropped me off at the Cancer Center, my daughter began to cry as hard as the rain outside pounded. “Wait!” I pleaded to the valet. “I need to hug my daughter.” I felt her hot tears mingle with my own. Her body was warm and enveloped me as we clung tightly. 

I promised Mimi repeatedly that everything will be alright.

I believe in those words. I have children. I must.

By Dawn Yun

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009


A Jewey Jew Celebrates Passover HER Way

Tonight we had the funky California Seder. We gathered two other families for a very abridged reading of the story of Passover: one mean Pharaoh, some plagues, and then a walk through the desert. We played “Let My People Go,” the board game.

It had small plastic accessories that captured the mood. My favorite: a man cut out of bubble wrap represented boils. We lit one aromatherapy candle. My daughter enjoyed the little party and dutifully took a bite of horseradish in remembrance of people who have been enslaved. But 

I still think she does not know that she is Jewish.

I worry that our holidays as fun facsimile of religion is so ultra-light it seems like another version of Halloween. A gimmick, some funny food and a costume if we’re lucky. Once again, bad mommy has reared her head. My lack of resolve with my very Orthodox background has shown up in my consistent forgetting to teach my children that they are Jewish.

Now, I am an East Coast Jewish girl, daughter of a mom from Flatbush Avenue through and through. I am neurotic, talk too much and consider any headache fair warning of an imminent aneurysm. But it is a culture, rich and old and idiosyncratic that I feel a part of, not the group of holidays and face it, odd laws.

Old ladies from Miami arriving at my Bat Mitzvah in bright red lipstick, smelling like Chanel No.5 and hugging me with crushing love and Yiddish expressions, that is the true religion I feel in my bones.

The Old Testament God? I’ve had a hard relationship with him from the start. And Passover is a great example of my rather embarrassed feelings about this Jewish God that I can’t quite see selling my daughters on.

Look no further than those plagues. An escalating level of rage and bloodthirstiness to creepy proportions? Turning water to blood, covering people with boils and lice? This is not my definition of divine design! When people treat you poorly, stand back and watch the vengeful bloodbath roar down the street, sweetheart. Don’t worry, if life is hard, at least you’re backed by a moody, wrathful capricious force you can count on to help you… or not.

I will keep up my attempt to pass on Judaism to my kids. I am a card-carrying member of people who fight to the end for the freedom to be who they are, who can make a life out of a barren desert and a holiday around forgiving yourself once a year for falling short. But I wish for my kids to know a life without revenge, without having to feel better than somebody to know who you are, and without violence.

Amen and Happy Passover!

By Avvy Mar

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009


The Teased Gene Passed Painfully Down

My daughter came home from school today and used a word that made my blood run cold. No it wasn’t THAT word. 

It was the terrible “T” word. 

“I didn’t like school today, Mommy. A girl in my class teased me.” Miranda looked up at me with clear blue eyes, a slight ripple in her forehead indicating a thoughtful frown line would be engraved there someday. It looked like that day was coming sooner than I thought was possible.

I gripped the kitchen counter, resisting the impulse to grab Miranda’s sweater and say, “Who was that bitch? I’ll kill her for you.” Instead, I quietly and calmly asked, “What did she say?”

“She didn’t want to play with me. I asked her and she said, 'No.' It hurt my feelings.”

“Did you tell her?” I asked, trying to understand why some worthless lump of a child wouldn’t want to play with my sparkling, beautiful baby.

"No. She’d just be meaner to me if I told her. Can I have a cookie now, Mommy? Can I watch Pokemon?”

Miranda’s attention span had allowed her to move on. Unlike me, who gave her a cookie, turned on Pokemon, returned to the kitchen, and began crying as memories of childhood meanness paraded in my head.

“Georgie, porgie, pudden and pie. You want to kiss this guy?” I was walking along the playground’s edge as Robert danced in front of me, just out of reach of my leg. I knew better than to respond. To respond invited more taunting. I just kept walking.

“Hey George, did you come from the jungle, do you swing from trees?” My name was full of teasing possibilities that both genders of my classmates loved to use.

“Mommy, mommy? Pokemon’s over now. What’s for dinner?” The angelic voice called me back across the vastness of time.

I kept walking. Though the terrain had been rough at times, it had brought me here to a wonderful husband and a beautiful daughter.

“Honey, if someone keeps teasing you, let’s talk to the teacher about it.”

“Okay,” Miranda said. “But what’s for dinner?”

By Georgie Dennison

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Monday, April 06, 2009


Life's Most Important Lessons Come from Children

It is flu season, again. My son, Jack, is as sick as he has ever been in all of his four and a half years. Not as intense as when he had RSV as a baby, but in his older age, he fooled me into expecting that every sickness lasts only one day and that none of them confine him to the couch. This is day five of the fever that is burning up his energy and still has him prone.

Sometimes a retired-by-motherhood scientist has more information about disease than the average mom should know. I naively entered the science profession with the hope of minimizing suffering and ultimately reaching the holy grail of defeating a disease; eradicating it from the population. When my kids are sick, I keep going to bad places in my mind discovered in my ex-profession, like pneumonia, drug resistant bacteria, cancer, cancer, cancer. . . 

At my first job in the Bay Area, I signed up to volunteer at the hospital, reading books to children in the ICU. They were the helpless ones from birth to seventeen who had very serious diseases and were forced to stay in a sterilized environment every day. I thought that I would be able to go to their room and smile and read and talk and help them feel not so alone.

I would go to the cupboard where the books were stored and select the ones I wanted to read that day. Then, I would scrub my hands until they were raw, put on a mask over my mouth, and go to their room and give them the choice of selections and read the story.

The first day, in all of my peppy optimism, I went to Darlene’s room. I was warned before I started the program not to ask the names of the patients, not to get too attached, but I asked her name because that is what you do when you meet someone with whom you exchange names. Darlene was a chatty eight-year old and I entered the room with her talking excitedly to the nurse about ghosts. I was a bit surprised that she was speaking about ghosts while fighting to live, but when I later left the room the nurse explained that Darlene was talking about her “phantom” leg; the fact that she still felt her leg even though it was lost to cancer.

I was taken aback that someone so young could speak so candidly about such a topic, without remorse. I figured that she didn’t understand, but was quickly corrected when she explained the whole process how her brain is tricked and that she would get used to it. This was my first insight into the resilience of children. Their viewpoint on life is not mired by all the what-ifs; this is what it is what it is and they deal with it -- often with a smile on their face.

It broke my heart. I felt sad for her, even though she didn’t seem sad herself. I was so mixed up seeing all of those smiling kids who were so sick. It forced me to see life differently. Darlene picked a story that I had never read about -- Humphrey the lost whale. It is a story about beating the odds, surviving when all odds are against you, accepting help when you can, and fighting like crazy to live.

It was a story about Darlene.

Her parents passed me in the hall and thanked me for coming and brightening her day which seemed pretty enlightened to me already. I didn’t seem to do anything for her, but I learned a lot about myself and how tormented I was that bad things do happen to good people, young people, innocent people, all people; and how the young take it so well.

The next week I had a story I thought Darlene would enjoy and went to her room to read it to her. A little boy was in her bed. I know that people don’t check out of that ward healthy in a week. I greeted the little boy, bald from treatment, but smiling. I read him the story, but I did not get his name.

Although I think of Darlene every so often, I had never thought of her parents, until I had kids. My son has heard the story of Humphrey probably a hundred times by now. I am on my fifth day still waiting for his fever to break and he is still smiling at me. I feel sad and helpless and I wonder how Darlene’s parents survived. I hope that my son has incorporated the characteristics of Humphrey and Darlene into his life so that he may always be ready to fight the impossible.

By Jennifer O’Shaughnessy

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Sunday, April 05, 2009


A New Yet Old Kind of Divorce

I’ve been separated from my ex-husband for five years this month, and have been divorced for almost four years now. Though it’s gotten easier, I’ve adjusted for the most part -- there is still a part of me that lives in inquiry and wonders; was it the right thing to do?

Though I didn’t have a choice -- my husband had an affair while on a three-week business trip to India and left me upon his return when our second son was three-months old -- I still wonder.

We had a good marriage, though people may question my judgment after hearing how it ended. We had a deep love and connection, we liked the same things, we understood each other, we had two children. I suppose there was always this fissure within him, unseen and beneath the surface, which unexpectedly shifted from increased pressure and caused an earthquake in our lives. 

Who really knows?

We still see each other almost everyday to exchange the kids. We talk on the phone daily. We parent, plan and schedule together. He knows me better than most people. When I first saw the HBO series “Big Love,” about a polygamous family in Utah, I thought – 'this is not so unlike divorced families today,' as outrageous as that sounds.

Divorced couples with families no longer sleep together (usually), but they often continue to share an intimate life. Sometimes I wonder if we’re so close to this relatively new familial configuration that we don’t see how closely related to more primitive family systems it may be.

As far-out as that sounds, my divorce still makes me wonder. What if we were still married? What if we (he) had honored our commitment? Would our children be better off? Would we have found our way back to each other? Is there a better way?

The die is cast, and I am finally allowing myself to sink into acceptance. 

Still, I wonder.

By Lisa Nave

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Saturday, April 04, 2009



I have met Robert red motorcycle guy, no gloves, silver helmet; I have met motorcycle guy at the Chevron; purple motorcyle French father at the art store; and guy in the parking lot who told us about motorcycles racing up hills.

I have never ridden a motorcycle. Nor do I want to.

My 2 ½-year old son can hear a motorcycle from the other side of the freeway and he has a keen sense for when an empty motorcycle will have “a guy on it and put helmet on, then do one kick.”

My son’s FBI scanning ability allows him to identify helmet color, headlights, body color, and gender in a matter of seconds. My favorite ID is, “Woman, woman on that one,” or “Guy and a woman.”

At the zoo, while his best friend yells, “Giraffe! Giraffe!” my son eyes the Suzuki in the parking lot. “Red motorcycle! Silver helmet on it!”

I’ve decided to make the most of my son’s obsession, and we’ve taken to interviewing motorcycle guys at gas stations and parking lots. I ask, “When did you get your first motorcycle?” For most, it was age 15, but they wanted one since they were 4.

My friends tell me to worry, but why not fulfill my son’s need to follow motorcycles and the guys on them? To him, motorcycles are magical, intimate, distinct. He can see the face of the rider rather than the faceless tinted windows of a car.

My husband I joke that we should follow a Harley pack for our next road trip. My son’s concentration to study motorcycles, to know them, to spot them is fierce. His body jolts as he announces his discovery. “Motorcycle! Red! Yellow helmet! Not mitts! Woman on it!”

And though I don’t want him to ride one, I want him to follow them because for now, they are his passion.

Postscript: Now he’s moved onto an affinity for musicals, such as “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Sound of Music.” One minute motorcycles, the next dancing with umbrellas and raindrops on roses.

By Ariana Amini

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Friday, April 03, 2009


Why Mothers Should Take Xanax Before Their Next Play Dates

Play dates make me nervous. I’m thinking about asking my doctor for anti-anxiety meds before I go on the next one.

It wasn’t always this way.

My daughter has been having play dates for awhile but before kindergarten they were limited to a close group of preschool friends. These were friends whose houses could be counted on to be messy and not very stylish. Now that I’ve made it to kindergarten, my daughter’s play dates have expanded to people I know very little and who have a sense of style.

It’s a bit nerve wracking.

Growing up, I only had one good friend who lived at the end of my street. That was it. The kids at my school lived in a different neighborhood and my parents both worked. So, there was no after-school playing with kids in my class.

When the bell rang, I would pick up my lunch and walk home, alone. Then, when I got home, I would call my friend down the street and hope that she was home.

Those were my play dates.

Now my daughter has play dates every week. So far it’s been fun, but often times I notice that I compare myself with the mom I’m sitting across from. I wonder, gosh how much younger is she than me? How does she keep her house so clean? Wow, her daughter has much better toys. Wow, her daughter has better manners than mine. Boy, am I a loser or what? Can I ever have this woman over to my house? Shit, I’ll just have to move or maybe I can rent a single friend’s house for the day? What a minute, do I have any single friends left, much less one who is neat and has a sense of style?

All of these thoughts go through my head as I’m nodding my part of the conversation. Usually, I bring some snack for my daughter. She and I have allergies. But, sometimes, my chocolate chip cookies are looked upon suspiciously. I think it’s the sugar. I know I should bring fruit, but I like the cookies, too!

So, my resolution this month is to just go to the play dates with as little judgment as possible. Oh, and maybe I’ll put on a bit of makeup before I go. That may give my self- esteem a needed boost as I ponder how clean their kitchen floor is.

By Georgie Craig

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Thursday, April 02, 2009


Dude, If You Want to Rock Go to a Cotillion

My middle child is all metal. He is a rock god. He’s twelve.

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. Metallica's 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.”

 The girls laughed.

There’s more to Cotillion than the Fox Trot. 

Dude, Cotillion rocks!

By Mary Allison Tierney

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009


The Absolutely Inconceivable, Unimaginable. . .

You would never believe what happened today.  

Nobody would. 

It's. . . it's. . . just too much for words.


When do we ever run out of words?

The Writing Mamas

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