Posts Tagged ‘Mothering’


Good morning, K-Mart Shoppers. I see that I have not visited you here for quite some time. I have much to share, but each time that I plan to log on and do so, I realize that I’ve failed to mention a few sort-of major things that are going on and so I log back off, failing to post anything. First and foremost, it would appear that I am having a baby. According to medical professionals, this baby will be a boy. According to my pregnancy app, this boy will make an appearance in or around 58 days from today. As I waddle about, fretting over the big stuff and the small stuff, it occasionally hits me that these medical professionals and that pregnancy app may actually not be a part of some grand conspiracy. It may actually be true that I’m having a baby. This is, all at once, incredible and exciting and breathtaking. It’s also terrifying and grey hair-producing and exhausting. What it isn’t is miraculous, or at least not any more so than any conception, gestation or birth. I can have babies. The proof is in the messy-haired blonde I just peeked at, snoring softly, Abby Cadabby tucked under her arm. I can also lose babies. Unfortunately, we all can. But it isn’t more than what it is. Or at least this is what I will tell you that I believe. I don’t know if it is my largely-Irish DNA or the fact that I was born under the sign of Virgo (or the fact that I used to play truly insane amounts of Tetris), but for me, things must make sense. The puzzle pieces must fit in order to weave a cohesive story. In terms of this one, this Who Gets To Have a Baby and When and How Much Grief Must Be Endured In the Process, I am waving the white flag. This one doesn’t make sense and it never will. One trip to any grocery store in America will shatter your belief that only seemingly “worthy” people get to parent. I read an essay² this morning, written by a mother who was stuck in limbo as her daughter endured diagnostic test after diagnostic test, and this is how it ended:

This is not the other shoe dropping. It is not tragic irony or doom or punishment for our interpretive failures. It is life, with loss woven into its very fabric. That’s just what there is.

So, I’m still here. And I’ll try to visit more often. In part because I really need to talk to you about Heelys and the fact that they are, surely and truly, going to be the death of what makes this country great endurable. So, I’ll see you soon.


¹ I’m hoping my baby doesn’t look quite this terrified/appalled/aghast.

² “Lumpy” – Catherine Newman

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Captain Feathersword

My daughter had a little Halloween party at her preschool today and she was so excited about it that she could hardly sleep last night.  She got to wear a costume to school and the parents came to the last half hour and joined the kids for a little buffet (My contribution sucked, but that’s neither here nor there.  I brought string cheese.  Another mom brought string cheese that looked like dismembered fingers.  DAMN!).  This is the first year that she has had any opinion about her costume and unfortunately the opinion has been changing every few days since early September.  I thought we had settled on The Cat in The Hat but this morning she insisted on wearing the Captain Feathersword costume that we bought for her 6-year old boy cousin to potentially wear to the Wiggles concert last summer.  It’s too big and it’s sort of boyish but she really, really wanted to wear it and she did look pretty darn cute.  When I got to school I saw that the other little girls were dressed in little girl costumes: a princess, a mermaid, and a kitty cat witch.  I left feeling a little sad that my kid didn’t want to be something cute and girly.  I have no interest in perpetuating the gender stereotypes and forcing her into a box and I can’t stand Barbies and Disney princess obsessions but I can count on one hand how many times I have been able to get her hair into a ponytail.  And all of those little plastic, Goody barrettes?  The yellow ducks, the red bows, etc…  Nope.  But she’s her and I love her.  A lot.

So as I was pondering this hair tragedy and the bizarre little peanut to whom I gave birth, I came across this photo online:

noah cyrus

This is little 9-year old Noah Cyrus, Miley’s sister.

Ahoy there, me hearties.  After seeing this, that polyester Captain Feathersword costume looks more beautiful to me than any zillion dollar couture gown in the entire world.  Rock on, Junior Feathersword.  In 6 years, and in 16 years, you will not be wearing a dress this short.  Not under my roof.

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Vigeland Tantrum

My child was a big drooler.  I kept an extra shirt in my purse until about 3 months ago.  And she’s 3 1/2.  When I realized that the same shirt had been in my purse for about 6 weeks and was covered in lint and other bottom-of-purse debris, I switched it out for an extra pair of pants because we were in the midst of potty training by that point.  Those same pants remained for several months and I eventually took them out during one of my intensive purse-cleaning sessions.  That move may have been slightly premature…

We went to the park on Sunday.  And I would like to make a confession here: I do not enjoy going to the park.  I really and truly would like to be a mother who enjoys the park but I am not.  Parks are full of germs, weird kids (and even weirder parents), pot-smoking teenagers and wood chips.  I hate wood chips.  They stick to my clothes, they get into my flip-flops and they seem an ideal environment to step on an uncapped hypodermic syringe.  Hate ’em.  So I try to avoid trips to the park.  But sometimes (while high on coffee) I say, “Maybe we’ll go to the park later!”   And because elephants and 3-year olds never forget, I find myself, several hours later, picking wood chips off of my sweater while I sniff the air and scan the bushes for the teenager with the 7-Up can pipe.  The trip always ends in tears or injury (or both) and I always leave saying, “Never again…”

But on Sunday we did go to the park.  And here’s how it went down:  It was sunny when we arrived but became cloudy and frigidly cold within moments of our arrival.  A foreshadowing of what was to come?  Perhaps.  My daughter went down the slide about 87 times and then some really strange, older boys arrived on the scene.  I tried to get her interested in the swings but she was interested in the strange, older boys.  Great.  I watched her like a hawk as she went up the ladder and down the slide and then suddenly she stopped.  Right as the words, “Oh, no!  I’m goin’ pee-pee!” were coming out of her mouth, I saw the horseshoe of urine darkening her pants.  Damn!  I removed her from the play structure and brought her into the creepy, concrete bathroom.  It was then that I remembered my reckless decision to remove the spare pants from my purse.  Oh, well.  I’ll just carry her, naked-bottomed, to the car.  I’ll crank the heat, put my jacket on her lap and get her home.  Oh, no, no, no.  The pants were removed and then she took off like a shot for the play structure.  Apparently she thought she might be able to continue playing, sans pants.  And she stuck to her naked guns on this for quite some time.  I had to drag her out of the park, kicking and screaming, past the weird kids and a very disturbing Vietnam vet who materialized out of the bushes to see what the fuss was about.  Once I got her into the car I tried to explain that it wasn’t anybody’s fault and that it was really too bad but that she didn’t make it to the bathroom in time and we needed to leave.  Through huge sobs and gasping for air she managed, “But I was really close to making it in time and I want to play for 5 more minutes!”  I wanted very, very badly to say, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, Kid.”  But I didn’t think it would help the situation very much so I resisted the urge.

So once again, spare pants are collecting lint on the bottom of my purse and once again, I am swearing off of parks.  Like the plague that I know them to be.

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I’m confused.  How in the name of Greg/Sam, Anthony, Murray, and Jeff has my child been exposed to the likes of Raffi without my consent or knowledge?  Prior to this week I was vaguely aware of Raffi’s existence but did not know anything about him.  I had heard of the song, “Baby Beluga” but did not know the tune nor did I care to.  Imagine my surprise when my kid picks up a Raffi concert DVD at the library and says, “Let’s get this ‘Waffy’ movie, Mom!”.  I added it to our pile of goods and didn’t think much of it until last night when she asked to watch it.  I put the DVD on and went back to my magazine.  Sweet Jesus!  What the hell is going on here?  I can appreciate that the music is positive and soothing but all of the children in the crowd seem to be drugged and why in God’s name are they all wearing pinafores and/or suspenders?  Is this the 1980s or the 1880s?

I decided to do some research.  Okay fine, I Googled him while eating an english muffin…  He appears to be a doe-eyed Armenian man with a penchant for using a banana as a telephone.  And the kids eat it up with a spoon!  I had seen his picture before but I think I had mistaken him for the prop comic Gallagher.  Without the hair, there is a resemblance.  And I think they both wear black, pleated pants.  So in that way, he also resembles Paula Poundstone.  Which would be Strike Two for Raffi.  If anybody’s keeping track, the Banana Phone was Strike One.

So, I still don’t know how the hell my daughter knew about Raffi if I didn’t.  We spend all of our time together and she only started Preschool last week.  My sister suggested that there may have been some playground peer pressure at work and that Raffi is only the beginning.  That terrifies me.  If Raffi is the gateway drug to Hannah Montana, please bogart that Banana Phone.  If you see me or mine on the playground, don’t pass it over to us.  We don’t want a hit.

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Driving in the car today my daughter said, “Ya…  Ya… Unibrow starts with a Y!  Like YOU!”

Note to self: Time for an eyebrow appointment…

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My 3-year old gets two M&Ms when she goes “poo poo” on the potty.  I realize that there are divergent opinions on rewarding children with treats and that this practice, in the minds of some, may lead down a road of overindulgence, a life of crime and dental cavities but this is the life we have chosen.  So there.  But here’s the thing…  I’ve been starting to suspect that my dear little angel, the fruit of my womb, has been pulling one over on me.  I think she may be saving her goods and only letting out a bit at a time in an effort to collect more M&Ms over the course of the day.  While I admire her craftiness, I am at once terrified…


Stella Marrs

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yhst-19693165039429_2067_6863169When my daughter was around 18 months old she became obsessed with the book, There was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. I had never put much thought into the book or its theme but after reading it 30 times a day for several weeks I began to. And I didn’t like it. What bothered me more than the actual contents of the book (although those are disturbing) was the fact that it bothered me at all. Parents, caregivers and educators all over the world had been reading this book to children for the better part of a decade and had probably even had a good time doing it. But here I was, hiding the book beneath a couch cushion in hopes that my daughter would lose interest. When that didn’t work, it went beneath the actual couch and then finally to the Goodwill. What was my problem? For one thing, there are exactly zero elderly people who are a regular part of my daughter’s life. I really didn’t think that this madwoman should be her first introduction into their world- apparently a world where eating insects, house pets and farm animals is par for the course. And quite frankly, I didn’t want to start answering questions about death.

Well, I had forgotten all about this incident until this week when we checked out a new batch of books from the library. I was very pleased to see that one of the books that my daughter chose was Henny Penny (also known as Chicken Little), the story of the hen who believes the sky is falling and sets off with a gang of pals to tell the king about it. Ah, an old classic from my youth! Now we’re talkin’! Dora who? The Wiggles what? Diego where? We got home and settled in to read our new books and all was going swimmingly until we got to page 27. Before I knew what hit me, I had read the following:

“From that day to this Turkey Lurkey, Goosey Loosey, Duckey Lucky, Cocky Locky, and Henny Penny have never been seen again. And the King has never been told the sky is falling. But…  Foxy Loxy and Mrs. Foxy Loxy and their seven little foxes still remember the fine feast they had that day.”

Um, that is NOT the Henny Penny I remember from my youth. I looked at my daughter, whose mouth was agape, and tried to change the subject: “Hey! Let’s read Olivia!”  “Why did the foxes eat all of those birdies?”  “I don’t think they did, Honey. Do you want to read another book?”  “No, I think they did…”  Damn!

It’s not that I want to shield her from the world forever. But she’s only 3. She has a whole lifetime of cruel discoveries ahead of her. I’d like for reading time to be fun, relaxing and educational. It doesn’t have to be all fairies and teddy bears, but for now I’d prefer that none of the main characters consume one another during the course of the book. And that goes for both fowl-eating foxes and equine-eating grandmothers.


By the way, I see that Banned Books Week is coming up next month. I would like to nominate Henny Penny and There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. Oh, that’s not what Banned Books Week is all about? Foiled again…

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“Geez!  Get a room, you two!  Right here at the park?!”

I looked around, expecting to see a young couple making out on a blanket in the field behind me.  Nope.  Not in the woods above the swings and slides, either.  It was then I realized that the man was referring to a mother who was sitting on a private bench, on a hill overlooking the play structure.  She was quietly nursing her sleeping newborn while her toddler played several yards away, breathing in the last gasps of a glorious summer evening.  And also the secondhand smoke of the outraged man’s Marlboro Red.

“I stood up and laughed

Thought it was a joke

That’s the way the world goes ’round.”  -John Prine


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BoywithQuestion_FullThree-year-olds are wonderful.  Their minds are like little sponges and each new day offers endless opportunities for learning, adventure and fun.  They are loving, independent, hilarious, and smart as whips.  They are also inquisitive.  Here is an example of a typical conversation that I might have on a car ride with my daughter:

“Mommy, is your dress brown?”

“Yes, it is.”


“I just felt like wearing a brown dress today.”

“But, why?”

“Well, I like the color brown and thought this would be a nice thing to wear today.”


“Um, different people like to wear different things and this is what I chose today.”


“Maybe we should have some Quiet Time for a little while.”

Even the very sweetest exchange can be shot dead in its tracks:

“Mommy, do you love me?”

“Of course I love you!”


“Because you’re my sweet girl.”


“I guess you were just made that way.”


“I’m not sure.  I guess Mommy just got lucky.”

“Why did you get lucky?”

“I guess I just did.  That’s all.”

“But why?”

“Do you wanna watch The Berenstain Bears?”

Yep, 3-year-olds are indeed wonderful.  And I will miss this stage terribly when Averi is four and more interested in her preschool friends than in asking me questions about everything on Earth.  But for the love of God,  the CIA could take a few pointers from my 3-year old when it comes to torturous interrogation tactics.  Waterboarding?  Sleep deprivation?  Ha!  Make them drive a Volvo around for a few hours with a 3-year old strapped into the back and I guarantee you their subjects will crack under the pressure.  You don’t need to ask any mother of a 3-year old, “Why?”

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Oh, the life of a 3-year old: Sleep, pick nose, eat, pick nose, eat boogers, puzzles, kvetch, sleep, read, pick nose, eat boogers, kvetch, rinse and repeat…  The nose-picking has reached an almost alarming level as of late and no amount of reminding, chiding, harassing or PLEADING seem to have any effect whatsoever.  I’ve been told that it is peer pressure that eventually does the trick, that I should ignore it and she will outgrow it.  Maybe I’ll give this a try.  Or maybe not.  Because have I mentioned that she is also wiping the finds which she does not deem edible ON ME?

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