who's the mommy around here anyway?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I encountered the Flylady site while browsing some other blogs. I was very, very impressed. Then, after I was finished being impressed, I realized how very, very not for me it was. Apologies to any Flylady adherents, I think it's a great thing. It just happened to inspire some very bad poetry.


Two vacuums, a steam cleaner,
An iron and all’s well
I have all the equipment
Still I bitch and yell

Dust bunnies here
Dog hair there
Dirty clothes pile up
Six feet in the air

I’d sweep and I’d clean
And get it all done
I just need a plan
Even though it’s no fun

So I looked to the lady
She’s just so damned fly
She has all the answers
Thought I’d give her a try

And it’s tough to admit
Organization’s not my thing
And I abandoned before I started
Didn't give fly a fling

I survey my domain
Messy it may be
But at least I’m at peace
And not OCD

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Whe it rains it pours. Lizzie lost her job, and then a few days later, her boyfriend broke up with her. This was her first adult relationship, her first love. She's devastated. I went to visit her in the college town where she lives, a few hours away. She's hovering somewhere between hurt and anger. I took her to the mall and bought her a new pocketbook and a new lipstick, and a few other minor things, then took her out to dinner before taking her home. We talked about life, hugged, held hands and laughed some. She became sad before I left, admitting that the worst times were when the night came. Everything's always worst after dark and that's when I had to leave her.

I remember my first love. I was twenty, and it ended abruptly, tearing my heart into tiny, little irretrievable pieces, much like it had gone through a paper shredder. It was a long time till I felt whole again. Looking back, I gained this perspective. You enter your first serious love affair with an open and unguarded heart. You expect the best of your lover, and never expect to be hurt. Then, when and if it ends badly, the hurt is endless. After you recover, you're capable of building a wall around your emotions. Not an impenetrable, unscalable wall, but a wall that protects you from the kind of hurt that will bring you prostrate once again. You now know how to guard yourself, and though you can be hurt, you can never, ever be hurt to the same depth again. I tried explaining that to Liz, but I realize that this might just be my own take on things, and Liz, who's so much more open, whose feelings are so much more 'out there' than my own ever were, might never learn to guard herself and might always be capable of falling victim to the same kind of excruciatingly deep hurt. I hope not.

Liz and ex-beau live in close proximity. He's supposed to be moving away soon, but I suggested that she needs to be prepared for certain possibilities, such as him not moving away, or him finding another girlfriend. I asked her what she'd do if he turned up with another girl, and her response involved violence and possible jail time. I pleaded with her not to do anything that would involve me having to post bail. We just left things at that.

Oh the heartbreak you take on when you decide to bear children. Contemplating motherhood, I didn't get past imagining how good it would feel to hold the tiny body of my baby in my arms as I sat in the pristine white rocking chair my own mother had purchased for me. If I knew then what I know now, I'd have taken the same course, but maybe I'd have been better prepared to handle my child's pain. I'd at least have stockpiled the phone numbers of some good therapists.

On the Shore (collaboration)

More than ten years ago I found myself discovering the on-line world of chat rooms. A random conversation brought me an email containing a short story which the writer asked me to read and consider for critique. I haven't a clue how to critique, so instead I wrote an answering short story, and the following is what I wrote. That began a months long acquaintance with a new friend, and I wrote a total of 4 short stories during that time. I'd never tried my hand at fiction before. My online friend, and his wife, were encouraging, and without them I'd never have spent any time at all trying to write anything. I owe them a debt of gratitude. This is one of two stories we wrote together on the same theme, a nautical reunion. This is my favorite. Given my daughter's recent heartbreak, I think it's sort of apropos. Thanks to Garp44.

On the Shore

I do not find it easy to wait. Distances seem forever and absences only make my heart grow forgetful. How do you remember the feel of an embrace or the warmth of a kiss? Still I find myself here on this island, waiting, waiting... watching the horizon, unsure. The light fades as the sun sinks lower and with it sets my spirit, for I do not believe that the long awaited moment will arrive. And yet, I remember my first kiss, so long ago and in a place so much like this. The sky was black but the moon shone on us brightly, and for me night became blazing day, noon in the desert. The sounds of the surf were loud, almost as loud as my heartbeat as he bridged the short but endless distance between us to brush my lips with his.

Since then I have believed in a special magic which can occur only near the ocean's shore, with the wind in my hair, the sound of the waves in my ears, and the salty taste of sea spray on my lips. Here, where water meets land, might dreams come true. Though the years have exposed magic as illusion, and dreams as a disguise for heartbreak, I find myself returning again and again to the memory of that first kiss, yearning for the innocent fulfillment of mysteries not yet understood and promises not yet broken.

There have been many kisses since the first but few so dearly anticipated as the one for which I now wait. I pace along the beach with urgent reason as I scan the waters, like a captain's wife on her widow's walk. The distance at sea is measured in knots and on land in miles and I imagine that Time at sea is also different. Perhaps on the ocean a month is just a month, exact and precise, defined by the movement of the stars in the infinite dark of the sky, but left behind on land a month stretches into a year, or two years, or a lifetime of wondering when he will return. The ache in me takes on a physical shape. I touch and caress it in the dark and wonder if he feels this in his dreams, or has an answering ache that will bring him back to me once again.

Today my mind tricks me as I see a tiny piece of ghostly white approaching my sheltering island cove. I watch breathless and anticipating. It moves swiftly and unerringly, skimming the waves as though they were slippery glass. The ghostliness of the vision recedes as the vessel floats closer and I see that I am neither dreaming nor imagining. The wind has picked up and I feel the tension in the sails as I feel it in myself. I sense the firm and steady hand of a sailor who knows well his ship and his way, and his woman. The craft and I are one as we navigate toward our pre-appointed destination. I am gliding, floating toward the waves as they reach out and pull me into their blue and white foam. My captain dives, moving with powerful grace, abandoning his ship, making his choice, answering his call.

I am held hostage by the land as he is indentured to the sea, but love or passion, the fire which binds us close over great distances and brings us together time and again, is the irresistible force which meets the immovableable object and causes the earth to shake, and the tides to ebb and flow.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Slow Cooked Blues

Ode to a Slow Cooker

Crock pot, oh crock pot
I do love you so
You feed my whole family
Without you it’s all sloppy joe

No pots and no pans
No mess and no fuss
Our nutrition you’ve saved
No fast food for us

So here’s to my slow cooker
I do not regret
Converting you from planter
For meals we’re now set

Now that a reversal in financial fortunes has caused me to convert my mostly figurehead role of domestic princess into the more active role of chief cook and maid, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to cook meals on a somewhat regular basis. Husband and youngest child find themselves in the unenviable positions of having to eat said meals, so they think their positions are somewhat worse off than mine. To that end, I’ve discovered that my crock pot is useful for soooo much more than just holding the outgoing mail.

My crock pot, together with the “Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook” have become my best friends. They’ve been in my house for a long time but I don’t know how I managed to get along without using them for so many years. Just throw the required ingredients into the crock and voila, hours later, dinner! No dirty pots, no dirty oven, and there’s nary a bad recipe in the book! I would venture to say that without these two items, and throw in my food processor because there’s no way this domestic princess is ever going to cry over chopped onions, my family would be eating on the cheap at Burger King every night, nutrition be damned, I’ve got fingernails to preserve.

I have friends who can whip up a nutritious and delicious meal from the most rudimentary ingredients. If they had beer and tomatoes in their fridge, somehow by dinnertime they’d turn it into a three course gourmet feast. I think the ability to cook well’s a God given talent, and while God gave me many talents, I must have been waiting in the wrong line when he gave out cooking. If I don’t have a recipe book, I can cook three things: scrambled eggs, spaghetti with bottled tomato sauce and meatloaf, and the meatloaf’s if-fy.

I like watching The Learning Channel and they have a program, Take Home Chef. I’ve only watched it start to finish once, because the things they cook are way too ambitious for me, and of course I really do think that the yummiest thing on that show is the chef himself and let’s not go that way, but cooking really is an art. I take my hat off to all the artists out there. My family will have to be content with other people’s slow-cooked hall of fame recipes. I’ll shed a tear of regret into my crock pot for all those never-to-be-cooked gourmet meals as I plop together all tonight’s ingredients, and then I’ll get back to knitting, something I’m good at, because I just made the swap of the century. I traded a pair of my hand-knitted socks for a week’s worth of my friend’s home cooked meals. Take that, TLC!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Lizzie, my soon to be 19 year old who went away to college last fall and liked it so much that she hasn't come home yet for more than a week-end, got herself a part-time job. She really liked that job, and was counting on it to help support herself through the school year, as she has decided to live off-campus, and gotten herself a room in a house where her friends live.

Yesterday, the unthinkable happened, and she was fired. She is just beside herself. Her self-esteem's been crushed and she thinks the world's coming to an end. She cried for hours to her dad and me, on the cell phone. Ordinarily, I'd be complaining about the cell phone minutes, but yes, this was a crisis of great proportions. This crisis was so enormous, that husband actually admitted to having been fired from a job or two himself, an admission of imperfection that one doesn't normally get from him. He was being fully supportive. How I love That Man!

Lizzie reads this and frequently leaves comments. She's a decent, caring, sweet soul and she's hurting. I hurt for her. If you are here and reading this, I invite you to share any story you may have of workplace trauma. We all have them. Liz gave me her permission to do this. I'm going to start her off with a story of my very first job as an RN. Liz, I hope you appreciate this level of sharing. See comments for my story.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Domestic Dysfunction

My husband and I have been nominated for induction into the Domestically Dysfunctional Hall of Fame. To celebrate this event, I’ve written a little poem:

Your house is a mess,
The neighbors protest!

Your lawn’s out of shape
They stare, point and gape.

Your garage needs a cleaning,
Take a look, get our meaning!

Elected to the Hall of Shame,
Your names they will proclaim!

We’ve spent 21 years working hard to earn this honor. We’ve been nominated in a number of categories.

Household Appliances
Husband has been nominated in the category of household appliances, specifically for his lack of knowledge that we have any. He doesn’t know that we have a dishwasher, as evidenced by the dirty dishes, cups, glasses, silverware, etc., I keep finding in the sink after he uses them. The dishwasher is located right next to the kitchen sink, a standard arrangement as far as I can tell, but he still hasn’t found it, and we’ve lived in this particular house for 19 years. He couldn’t find the dishwasher in our last home either. It was in the same place, right next to the kitchen sink. Maybe I should have it moved so it would be easier for him to spot.
I’d say that he also cannot find the washing machine, but I know this to be untrue. It’s right next to his brand new gas-powered boiler. What he cannot find is the button that turns the washing machine on. Or maybe he cannot find the laundry detergent. Or maybe he cannot find the fabric softener. Or maybe he cannot find the bleach. Or maybe he cannot find any of his dirty clothes that he threw in the dirty clothes hamper!!! I know you're thinking that I should be glad he's at least not throwing his dirty clothes on the floor, and you're right, but all-in-all, wouldn't you agree that this is a well-deserved nomination?

Culinary Arts
I have been nominated for my contributions to the culinary arts. For years my contributions in this area consisted of, but were not necessarily limited to, speed-dialing every restaurant in a 5 mile radius of our home (sometimes I went out of my way and dialed long distance). There are many, many restaurants near my home. We have Chinese restaurants, Italian restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Jewish delicatessens, seafood restaurants, steakhouses and diners, all within delivery distance. For years I was able to feed my family on ‘Dial-Up’ and without dirtying a single pot. I never told husband, however. To this day not only does he think I make a mean Arroz con Pollo, but he’d be willing to bet that my Veal Marsala compares with that of some of the finest Italian restaurants around. And he’d be right.

This nomination came as a result of considerable effort. We have many lovely plants in our home, all of them silk. That’s because I’ve managed to kill all the live ones, including the plants that are practically kill-proof, like cactus and lucky bamboo and chia pets. My black thumb has become a point of pride for me. Anytime my husband’s been ill and hospitalized, and unfortunately those times have been plenty, I just wait for the get well plants to come rolling in. Husband and the kids make bets on just how long it will take till the leaves start to wither and turn brown, and I try to hide the dead carcass on the back patio. My greatest success so far has been the dead indoor tree. I babied it and nursed it until it gave up its last leaf. Now it sits with its bare, dead branches in a pot in the backyard. My mother-in-law suggested I paint and decorate it with ribbon as a monument to my 100th kill.

I don't know where the Hall of Fame for Domestic Dysfunction is located, but I’m sure that while on the way there, husband'll get lost (no sense of direction) and I’ll refuse to ask for directions (just plain no sense). I’m willing to bet there are dysfunctional categories for those, too!

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Woman of Faith

I spent 28 years working as an RN. Most of that time was spent as a practicing operating room nurse. I've had many experiences that touched my heart. I've been posting about my family, because they say write about what you know, and maybe this isn't the place for this, but nursing is the other thing that I know. I wrote this story a few years ago. If you choose to read it, keep in mind that it is fiction. It is based on actual events, but only loosely, and any names used have been changed.

A Woman of Faith

A woman of faith has no need of fear because she knows that this life is but a stepping-stone to the next and greater life. The woman laying on the stretcher outside of the operating room knew this, and had a true belief that God would save her, and if not her mortal body, then her immortal soul. Still she couldn’t shake her fear. She feared the unknown answer sought by the surgeon who would soon perform her surgery, she feared going to sleep under anesthesia and ultimately, she feared death. Carmen knew that her fear of mortality was at odds with her faith, and this she acknowledged to herself with a wry and sad inner smile.

The nurse approached Carmen and introduced herself. She asked a few questions, inquired after Carmen’s comfort and then excused herself and turned toward the operating room. The nurse looked back at her patient as she pushed open the operating room door, and noted that Carmen appeared tired and frightened, but just then Carmen turned her head and smiled, and the nurse saw not fear and exhaustion, but serenity and an inner light which caused the care giver to take comfort from the patient.

Inside the operating room the scrub nurse, Dana, tended to her instruments, the only noise in the room the jarring clank of metal hitting metal as she arranged the surgical instruments, placing everything into its prescribed place so that it could be reached without hesitation or delay. Dana sang quietly to herself as she worked, a hymn perhaps, with the name Jesus the only intelligible word. Dana was also a woman of faith, and she brought her faith to work with her every day. She offered it to patients and co-workers alike, a precious gift that could be accepted or not as the intended recipient wished. Dana’s faith transformed each ordinary day into an extraordinary and joyous tribute to God. Dana and the nurse acknowledged each other and the nurse, a long-time friend and colleague, teased Dana good-naturedly about her off-key and somewhat flat singing voice. Dana laughed and invited the other woman to join her in praising the Lord. The nurse, who wasn’t a Christian, declined with a fond smile, and the two women returned to their work, counting the items laid out on the sterile surgical table. The anesthesiologist and surgeon poked their heads into the room to see if all was ready and asked if they could bring the patient in. Both women nodded, the door opened and Carmen was wheeled in on her stretcher.

The stretcher stopped beside the operating table, and the patient slid from one bed to the other. Carmen lifted her head and looked around, and seeing the drabness of the green-tiled room, the reflected overhead light glinting off steel and glass, felt her heart grow heavy. She lowered her head to the bed but kept her eyes open and stared at the ceiling, wondering how any good could occur in such a dismal and cheerless place. She felt the nurse place a strap across her legs, and obeyed the doctor who asked her to place her arms onto the padded arm-boards that stuck out at sharp right angles on either side of the operating table. She felt her arms being strapped down, and although she heard voices reassuring her that everything was routine, and all was being done for her safety, she could feel panic form as a knot in her belly, and could feel it sprout cold tentacles that spread through her torso and into her limbs. Unable to move, scarcely able to breathe, she pictured herself strapped to the OR bed as Jesus was nailed to the cross. She felt herself to be a martyr, not to faith, but to her own life, and to her faithless husband who, after numerous infidelities, had brought home to her the unwelcome gift of AIDS. He had passed on, leaving her the painful task of explaining to their children why Daddy had gone to God, and why she might soon join him in Heaven. Her children had cursed their father, and then cursed her for continuing to love him, looking in her for an echo of the anger they felt, disappointed when they couldn’t find it. She didn’t know how to explain to them that without their father, that particular man, they wouldn’t exist, and to her that was everything. No regrets, she refused to look back with regret. Carmen lifted her chin and forced herself to breathe deeply, pushing panic and self-pity into a hidden place and calling silently upon the Lord as she did so, looking to him for courage and strength.

This is when Dana turned to look at the patient and, stepping away from her table and instruments, she approached Carmen as if sensing her need. Dana removed her sterile gown and asked the patient if she would like to pray with her. Carmen responded quietly and simply and without hesitation, “Yes.” The two women began to pray out loud and I, the nurse, who had seen Dana pray with patients before, felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck as the two women turned their spoken prayer into song. Dana began first in her small, thin voice, and Carmen, eyes closed now, quickly joined her. Carmen’s voice was a wonderful surprise, deep, melodious and rich, thick and sweet as golden honey, and this is when the miracle occurred.

Watching the women, I saw their songs become opaque and take on shape as they left their mouths, Dana’s voice a delicate green-leafed vine, and Carmen’s a jumbled profusion of brightly colored roses. The vine and roses moved toward each other and met in the center of the room where they climbed toward the ceiling, an operatic bouquet of prayer and flower. The voices floated overhead, reaching the far corners of the room where they descended and covered the dull, antiseptic walls with the splendor of unshaken belief and then, reaching bottom, swirled round and round, carpeting the floor, reaching out to the astonished care givers who witnessed, in open-mouthed wonder and amazement, the unfolding marvel of faith.

The two singing women seemed unaware of the lush beauty they were creating. I put my hand up to pluck a hanging blood red flower and just then the music stopped, the prayer ended. The flowers and vines the women had created disappeared with the fading echo of their voices, and I drew my hand back, empty. I felt the loss as a hollow reverberation in the center of my being, like a dream whose perfection is forever lost upon awakening. We witnesses to the miracle were left wondering if our minds had played tricks on us, but I can still remember the faint hint of perfume in the air. We shook our heads as though to clear away the cobwebs that had grown over our consciousnesses, but I didn’t want to lose or discredit what I had just seen; I wanted to carry it away with me, and remember and believe in it for always. I thought, in the brief moment of extreme clarity that followed, that miracles must happen around me every day, but I don’t see them because I don’t know how to look for them. Perhaps my eyes are closed to that which my mind does not fully accept, and that is the possibility that an omnipresent God is there with us every day, regardless of our faith or lack of it.

Maybe we are all God’s children whether we believe or not, and perhaps we can also be divided into two groups, those of us who live our lives searching for meaning, and those of us who live our lives with faith. Seekers after the meaning of life look in vain for an answer they will never have, while those who live with faith do not need to ask for life’s meaning because the certainty of God’s love makes the answer unimportant.

Carmen’s physical life may not have been saved on that day, but I believe her spirit was saved and in a state of grace, her place at God’s side assured. One day she will be one of His angels and will raise her voice in mystical song to lift the hearts of the sick and weary. I will listen for her.

I also believe that there’s a special place in Heaven for all those who, like Dana, are able to give of their own spirituality, who sing of their faith in voices both large and small, voices God loves, because it isn’t the size of the song that matters, but the size of the heart that sings it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mom, you're not fat...

I’m 5’4 ½” and I used to weigh 195 lbs. I went clothes shopping with my daughters one day.

Me, depressed, looking at myself in mirror while trying on clothes: “I’m so fat.”

Liz: “You’re not fat.”

Laura echoes: “Mom, you’re not fat.”

Less depressed now. Isn’t it great, being seen through your children’s loving eyes!

Me: “I feel fat.”

Liz: “Mom, you’re not fat, you’re just obese.”

Uh oh.

Me: “And that’s supposed to make me feel better how?”

Liz: “You know. You’re not that fat.”

Me: Non verbal communication here. I think I non-verbally said, "WTF".

Liz: “I went shopping with Ex-boyfriend, and he always said the same thing. He said that he was fat and I told him, ‘Oh, Ex-boyfriend, you’re not fat, you’re just obese.’ What’s wrong with that?”

Me: “Liz, do you know what ‘obese’ means?

Liz: “Well, duh, it means a little overweight.”

Me: On the one hand, I just wanted to stop right there because at 195 lbs, well it should be obvious why I wanted to stop, but on the other hand, I felt that I had a parental obligation to lift the veil of ignorance from my daughter’s eyes. “Liz, obese means really, really fat.”

Liz: “Oh"…. sigh …. another sigh …."Do you think that’s why he broke up with me?"

Me: “No, honey, not possible. Could you hand me that other tent, excuse me, dress to try on?”

Liz and Laura together, exasperatedly, in two part harmony: “Mom, you’re not fat.”

Me: “Right, just obese.” ...Sigh.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Last Muttsy

For years, my youngest daughter, Laura, sucked her thumb. She was one of those babies who just naturally found her thumb as an infant and discovered the joys of sucking on it till it was raw, calloused, and sometimes infected. I tried replacing her thumb with a pacifier, but to no avail. She knew the difference, spit the pacifier out and promptly replaced it with her left thumb. Somewhere along the line she developed a habit to help her fall sleep. She'd pull her own hair out, a few strands at a time, roll it up into a ball, and then as she'd suck her thumb, she'd rub her nose with the hairball she'd made. Laura now had a deformed thumb, and a bunch of bald spots on her head. She was a real looker.

My husband owned a store, and had a stuffed animal section in his store. Almost every day he'd bring home a new stuffed animal for one or both girls, so their rooms looked like fanciful menageries with brightly colored animals wherever you looked. One of the animals, was a 3 foot long floppy dog, with a big head and long floppy ears, floppy tail, soft and cuddly and pink. It's name was Muttsy, and it became Laura's favorite. Laura and the Mutt were inseparable. Wherever you found one, you found the other, and heaven help you if they became separated. The Mutt flew on airplanes with us and took car trips with us, Laura carrying him (her?) around slung over her shoulder like a mother would carry a precious infant (if that infant were 3 feet long and had no skeleton).

I took the kids to Las Vegas to visit my parents who had semi-retired there. After seeing Laura, my mother decided that the way to deal with Laura and her hair was to cut it off and so that's what we did. And she was absolutely right. I returned home with Laura's hair-pulling problem solved, and new hope that she'd grow up a normal well-adjusted young woman, and maybe even get married and have a family of her own one day.

I wonder what was going on in Laura's 2 year old brain after her hair had been cut, when she reached up to her head and found she couldn't get a good handful? She never cried, she never whined, she never lost any sleep....but suddenly I began finding little pink and sometimes white fuzzballs all over the floor, and I didn't know what they were or where they were coming from. One day, I happened to spy Muttsy's underside as she carried him around in his accustomed place on her shoulder. The Mutt had a huge bald spot on his belly with a small hole in his fabric and I, genius that I am, was finally able to put two and two together and get three and a half. Laura was pulling Muttsy's fur and stuffing out in lieu of her own hair. I was impressed by her resourcefulness. I was impressed by the size of Muttsy's bald spot. Hell, I was just impressed!

To date, we're on Muttsy #3. Laura, now 15, no longer pulls his hair out or sucks her thumb, but she still sleeps with him over her pillow, right under her head, and stresses over whether or not she should take him along on family vacations. I've told her it's ok to take him in the car, but not on a plane. I can't imagine the grief if, packed in a suitcase, he somehow ended up on the wrong plane and didn't manage to make it to our destination and back. Because I've told Laura, this is definitely the last Mutt. And this time I mean it!

Menopausal Momma

Did I mention that I'm in menopause? My gyne told me that you're into menopause when you have gone a full year without your period. I'm just a few months past that point and I don't mind telling you that not having your period isn't half bad!

I wrote my very own little menopause song, bear with me here as I clear my throat, ahem, ahem: (Mom, you might want to stop reading here and skip the song!)

The Menopause Song

(sung to the tune of No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Teachers, etc, etc...)

No more tampons, no more pads
No more unplanned baby scares

Oh more personal lube, oh more hairy skin
Oh more whiskers on my chinny, chin, chin

Now there's hot flashes, now there's night sweats
Now with my husband there's unprotected sex, sex, sex

I'm kind of stuck there. Really it's not so bad. Menopause I mean, not the song. I'm really liking the whole no period thing, 'cause I used to get mine at the worst possible times. Special plans - got my period. Going on vacation - got my period. Visiting my parents in Florida - always got my period, even if I'd just had it and wasn't due to get it for another three weeks. Never really understood that one

Seriously, menopause, is like the ultimate female wake-up call. It makes me aware that I'm at the irrevocable end of a certain phase of mommyhood. I am no longer fertile. Babies are in my past and not in my future. If I have another maternal yearning, I'll just have to be satisfied with getting a puppy. (I realize that there's adoption and foster parenting, but at this point I don't think I would consider them, for multiple reasons.)

Also with menopause comes a certain awareness. I'm aware, as never before, of the fragility of life, of the passing of it, that the way I've come is a way I will never go again. I no longer feel invulnerable or immortal. I've read about time's arrow. Time goes in one direction only and marches from the past straight on into the future. Time doesn't go in reverse and you can't get it back.

How to explain this next part? I'm ready for my own future. Not the one that involves my family, but the one that belongs solely to me, with children and husband as adjuncts. I know, what a wretched, selfish woman I am. Even as I write this I'm sitting next to Laura, helping her import songs onto her iPod, watching her play on her gameboy, and my heart overflows with love for her. Three more years and she'll be leaving for college and I'll regret that we didn't have more time together, to cuddle, to giggle, to share. I'll be ready to eat these words. Don't get me wrong, my children are the greatest sustained passion of my life. But just for right now, I have a yearning to fly, and solo. While I still can. Forgive me. It must be the hormones.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Den of Iniquity

When we renovated our house, we re-did the basement so that our then 15 yr. old, Lizzie, could live in it and use it as her own (sort-of) apartment. It had it's own entrance via the side door, bathroom complete with shower, bedroom and living room. We furnished the bedroom, and in the living room put a tv with cable, dvd player and new stereo along with some large pillows and bean bag chairs for seating. I wanted Lizzie to have the privacy that I thought every teen coveted (I'd coveted it when I was a teen). I wanted her to feel comfortable inviting her friends over to chill in our basement (see, I'm down, I know the lingo!). In other words, I wanted to know where she was and what she was doing at all times. Really, it wasn't for her, it was for ME! I know that now. My reasoning was that if she's in my house, under my roof, she couldn't possibly get into trouble, could she?

Apologies to Lizzie, 'cause I know she's going to complain that I've gotten the facts wrong, but this is how I remember it.

There was a gathering in my basement. Not a party, just a gathering. Must have been 15 or so teenagers, from 13 up to 17 years of age. It smelled just like a locker room down there. Being the cool parent that I am, and trusting my daughter implicitly as I did, I checked on them once, and left them to their devices. They were in and out of the house till all hours of the morning, but I went to sleep. I knew all these kids, I wasn't worried. I was an idiot. What was I thinking!!!!

Somehow the next day, I found out there had been drinking going on. Horrors! Drinking of alcohol! Not my alcohol! I don't have any alcohol, but after learning about this, I sure needed some! The kids had brought their own beer in (right, I'm with you, where'd they get it from?). I tried explaining to Liz about how it was my house and I was reponsible for what went on in it, but she didn't get it. She told me that it was OK that they were drinking in the house, as long as she, Liz, didn't participate. Furthermore, she didn't even go with them to the park when they went out to get high. OMG!!! Was she kidding!!! Now I definitely needed a beer so I could wash down a Xanax! All this in my house while I so innocently and trustingly left my daughter in charge and went to sleep! We went back and forth, but she didn't get it, and I had to ground her for life + 20 years and ban certain individuals from the premises, FROM THAT MOMENT ON AND FOREVER!!!

Things cooled down, even though Lizzie still didn't understand why she should be held responsible for what went on in her home, and life went on as usual. A few weeks went by and I received my cable bill. It was a little higher than normal. I perused the bill and came to the very bottom, an itemized list of extra charges, and there it was. Three Adult Channel movie rentals, all with the same date as the now infamous drug and alcohol fest. How did I know these x-rated charges weren't mine and my husband's you ask? Because we don't rent our porn from that particular station. Apparently, I had hosted a full-fledged basement bacchanalia. Two xanax and a bottle of white zinfandel later, I was ready to deal. To Lizzie, this was again, "NO BIG DEAL, MOM." After all, it was so in-the-past, like 3 weeks ago, ancient history.

Tears were shed and grounding was extended for another life + 20 year stretch, sentences to run consecutively, not concurrently. Friends were again banned and when they were allowed back in, I made sure to check on them frequently, oh you can bet I did. Did Liz finally get the point? I'm not sure she did. Teenagers are an unknowable, inscrutable and illogical law unto themselves. But I learned something invaluable. Always keep a bottle of wine and a good tranquilizer safely hidden, but within easy reach. You never know when you'll need them.

Do husbands understand?

Do husbands understand? This could be the question of the century? of the millennium? and it could apply to any aspect of marriage or child-rearing, but I just had this one thing in mind.

I sit at the computer and blog, or read the blogs of others and sometimes I just laugh myself silly. One particular post was so hilarious that I shared it with my husband. He laughed out loud, but then he asked how I could spend so much time (translation - any time at all) online. He asked what could possess women to share so much personal information about ourselves with virtual strangers. How to explain..... Hmmmm........

I tried to make a start, but by then he'd lost interest because his favorite sports talk show was on. In order to regain his interest I'd have had to strip naked, swing from a chandelier, offer to have wild monkey sex with him while, yes, allowing him to leave the TV on. I don't have any problem sharing this episode with virtual strangers. After all, there's no chance he'll ever read this!

So if there are any visitors, what do you think? What drives us? Do the significant others in your lives understand? Do they read what you write? Do they care?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mother's Guilt

Someone once told me that a teenager's attitude towards her parents can be described with this one quote, attributable to whom I do not know, but here it is,
"I hate you, now take me to the mall!"

Laura is in a band. She's into music big-time. Her all- girl band, "Fat-free Milk" has 2 guitarists, one bassist, and their new-found drummer, who lives 40 minutes, and 3 parkways, away.

Today's their first practice. I told Laura that I wasn't going to commit myself to the 40 minute drive. I'm just not that kind of mother. The bassist's mother, however, is that kind of mother and is driving them to their destination. The other guitarist's mother might be that kind of mother, and is picking them up, but she had to be in the area anyway, or so she says. Laura now hates me and compares me unfavorably with the other mothers. So here I am, as usual, with:
Mother's Guilt

"Mother's Guilt" is the guilt that just doesn't end. Am I doing too much, or not enough? Do I give too much or not enough? Am I stifling my child or am I encouraging independent and creative exploration while keeping her safe? AM I CAUSING HER IRREPARABLE DAMAGE AND WILL SHE HATE ME FOREVER? AAARRRRGGGG...

One day, when they are grown, I will apologize to my daughters for the mistakes I made as a parent, and for the hurts I caused them. I will apologize because I think it's the right thing to do. I will ask for their forgiveness. I will apologize as my mother once apologized to me, and hope that they will accept my apology as I accepted my own mom's apology, with the knowledge that she/I did the best she/I could with the gifts and abilities she/I had.

Each successive generation benefits from the mistakes of preceding generations, and parenting skills improve (IMHO). It can be as simple as looking at what your mom did, like threatening you with the hairbrush on your tender rear-end when you misbehaved, and deciding that you'll handle things differently, with time-out instead of corporal punishment. Research is done, books are written, Mommy and Me groups are formed, and we have the opportunity to do better for our kids. Yes, change happens. Yes, progress is made. And yet, and yet, we still make mistakes, we still manage to hurt our most precious charges, however unintentionally, and we still manage to end up carrying around way too much doubt and guilt. Will we never get it right?

How is it that our children somehow survive our deficient parenting to grow up and enter society in a (mostly) productive way and not as convicted felons? I'm sure I'll never know. I'm also sure that, with all my parental power, I may not even have anything to do with it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Out, damned spot!

In the grocery store the magazines on display at the checkout aisles should be kept out of view of small children. Brand new tiny readers can see the headlines on the latest issue of Cosmopolitan entitiled, "95 Sex Tricks To Drive Him Crazy," which they then practice their phoenetic skills on, to the embarassment of moms who are then forced to stand there and try to redirect their attention to Golden Books with Big Bird on the cover.

I was standing at the checkout with a cart full of groceries patienty waiting my turn. My 3 year old, Laura, was in the seat of the cart. Her sister, Lizzie, 7, was wandering the aisles as I called her to come over to me. She was meandering from checkout to checkout, looking at the magazines. I thought she was safe. Suddenly I hear her, 4 aisles down, call to me. "Mommy?" she called, with a question in her voice.

"Yes, honey?" I responded, clueless.

"Mommy," she called, loud now, looking at the magazine rack in front of her, "what's a G-spot?"

I paused, mouth open, speechless. I looked around to notice that my daughter had the attention of every person at every checkout in the entire store, including the cashiers, who had stopped cashiering.

"Honey, why don't you come over here and mommy will tell you."

She was no fool. She looked at me. She knew she had me in one of those, I've got mommy just where I want her moments, and she was going to make the most of it. She started to dance. She started to sing, a made-up off-key melody, at the top of her voice, "Mommy what's a G-spot, Mommy what's a G-spot, ..." and on and on and on.

I looked down at my sweet little Laura, sitting in the grocery cart. I looked into her innocent brown eyes as she opened her mouth to mimic her sister, "Momma what's a G-spot, Momma what's....." you get the picture.

I thought the whole store was going to break into song, like a bad Broadway musical! I put a fake smile on my face and strode past the staring customers, pulled Lizzie to me, walked her to my cart and stuffed a donut in her mouth. Silence at last!

Years later, the girls and I were in the car and I told them this story. Lizzie was now 18 and Laura 14. They were hysterical with laughter. The laughter died down slowly and in the silence that followed, I heard Laura ask, "Mommy, what's a G-spot?”

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Caveat Emptor!

I was just reading a blog where the blogger was contemplating giving her kids away, versus selling them on Ebay. Haven't we all had this fantasy from time to time? Now get real. You're just kidding yourself if you think you're going to get any money from selling your kids on Ebay. If you don't want them, what makes you think anybody else will? Everybody knows that parents only give away the troublemakers. Nobody, and I mean nobody, wants a used problem child. They only want new, unused babies.

If we didn't have the smarts to sell them at birth, when they were all little and cute and had some value on the open market, then we're pretty much stuck with them, right? But this got me thinking. There's got to be something we can do with them? Something that'll get them out of our hair and our homes... something useful, profitable, that will create a meaningful experience for all involved? And then it hit me like a bolt of spit-up from a bottle-fed. A Rent-someone-else's-kid service!

That's right! It could be marketed to all those couples out there contemplating parenthood. Try it for a few weeks, and don't worry, it's not permanent, this one you can give back, unlike the one you give birth to! (Just ask your Rent-a-Kid's mom!) They could get a feel for the real thing, instead of just having to use their imaginations which probably stop at what it's like to hold that 8 pound precious bundle of joy. They'll get a fully grown teen, or pre-teen to contend with, and really come to know the joys of parenthood, because, let's face it, it's only a few short months between birth and the time the little bundle of joy takes his first tiny toddler steps and tells off mom and dad in his sweet little tiny toddler voice. After that it's years of torture and abuse, and gimme this and I want that!

It'd be like a reverse baby-sitting job. You'd get someone to take your kids off your hands, and they'd have to pay you for the privilege of doing so. Your own children will come home with a new appreciation for your parenting skills after spending time with mommy and daddy wannabees. For parents, there's just no down side.

However, once the word is out that parenthood is no walk in the park, and all these would be moms and dads give their Rent-a-Kids back, I'm not sure I'd hold out too much hope for the future of the human race.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Foul ball!

I'm not really that crazy about baseball, but I figured way back when I was young and in love, that I needed to share some of my husband's interests. I picked baseball. It was a fateful pick. In the spring and summer months, I am a baseball widow, which is much worse than being a football widow since there are so many more baseball than football games.

Marc has season tickets to his favorite team, thanks to me. I once worked with the girl who was married to the man who's head of ticket sales for the team. Long after the girl retired and became a SAHM, Marc would call the ticket office and throw her name around as he tried to improve his seats. This worked for a very long time, much longer than you might think, and I hope she never found out about it. Thanks to this shameless tactic we now have great seats. Lots of foul balls come our way, but we've never caught one, though a ball bounced off a chair once and hit my daughter in the face. She thought it was great, and came home and proudly showed me the bruise that caused her to make a visit to the stadium's medical office where she was tended to by the stadium nurse, who, in one of those "isn't this a small world," moments, turned out to be her elementary school nurse.

Next time I was in my daughter's school, the nurse suggested I might want to invest in a catcher's mask for my daughter, "just in case," she tried to catch another foul ball with her face.