by Tanya Ward Goodman
Way back in college, when I was a theatre major, one of my class assignments was to become an animal. I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo and observed the penguins. Imagining that my feet attached directly to my hips, I cultivated the “penguin walk.” I stood contemplatively with one wing held out from my side. I blinked and turned my head. At my professor’s behest, I aspired to “be penguin.”
Now, I should say that, in college, I was a nervous person. I took small, fast steps and was prone to daydreaming. It is very possible that you might have caught me, standing with one arm held out from my side, blinking in the sun with only my thoughts to keep me company. It is very possible that I was slightly penguin-like to begin with. Perhaps we all have a little penguin inside us, but we also have a little lion or crocodile or condor.
My acting professor applauded my penguin and I was happy. For our next assignment, I was to be Blanche Du Bois from “Streetcar Named Desire.” I filled my mind with the fluttering of moth wings and silk handkerchiefs, I looked into the mirror and made my eyes into deep pools of sadness and lost hope. I wore a filmy, pink dress and carried a box of letters from my ex-boyfriend hoping that the residual regret on the page might rise up like a fine dust around my body on the stage.
“You’re still a penguin,” my professor said. “Isn’t she a penguin?”
When we transformed ourselves into characters based on inanimate objects, my “tube of oil paint” was also dubbed “penguin.” “Guest at a wedding,” was “the penguin near the punch bowl.” It seemed that when she looked at me, my professor wore black and white goggles. And, after a time, when I looked at myself, so did I. It was hard to slow my quick pace, my words came in quick bursts or not at all and on stage I retreated deeper and deeper into a kind of blinking trance.
At the end of the year, I transferred out of her class and changed my major. I had found that I enjoyed writing just as much as acting and, in my writing classes, no one ever accused me of penguin prose.
I think of all this now, because I am the parent of two growing children. My son is athletic and strong. His legs are meaty with muscle and he rarely speaks when he can shout. Other parents comment on his outsized energy and his sturdy body. He’s been compared to a bull in a china shop, the Tasmanian Devil and a force of nature. “Fearless,” these parents say. And sometimes “brute.”
My boy named our dog, “Grace.” He is afraid to go upstairs in the dark and is sometimes so filled with his own nervous energy that he chews a hole in his shirt. As much as he pounds on his sister, he always compliments her outfit when she comes to the breakfast table. He can be so quiet and light on his feet that he can observe a lizard from an inch away. He is strong and fast and wild and kind and gentle and frightened. He is cheetah and kitten.
It is almost impossible to resist categorizing people. It helps to look out across a crowded school auditorium or classroom or workplace and see “chatty,” “angry,” “friendly,” “sturdy,” “reliable.” But these simple categories don’t do justice to the whole person. In the case of my theatre professor, I saw her as “crazy” and “harsh,” but she was in the middle of a divorce and so she was also sad and disappointed and heartbroken. Under different circumstances, she might have been warm and compassionate.
I want my children to understand that they can be angry, but that doesn’t make them an angry person. They can be strong in one area and weak in another. I want them to grow without limits and without definition into their best selves.
By: Danny Thomas
here I am…
sitting on the end of the bed
with a pile of laundry
over my computer.
Everything is looming right now;
Jennifer and I
are occupying the land of loom…
it seems to happen with us a lot.
are we those people…
with the drama,
and the constant crises?
all of us are.
the last six days,
have been intense.
How many parenting and family blogs have that line in them?
How self reflective can I be in one blog?
I started my new job full time.
I haven’t had a full time job in ten years…
The whole time Jen was in grad-school
we got by with me
being a home maker
and bringing in a little extra dough for
beer and wine and whatever recreation..
and food stamps.
I am not one of those people who claims to have put my spouse through
I have very much been in
that’s a big shift.
But that is only one aspect
of our intense week…
all three children
got a stomach flu.
And it lasted for the entire week in ‘Zilla’s poor little belly…
Another reminder how they are all unique,
not just in how they look
with the world…
but even down to their chemistry
and how their guts work…
that the same flu
can sit with one kid for 4 days
and be through the system of the other two
over the course of 36 hours.
But that’s a blog for a different day.
So that’s two aspects…
and a third
it’s the last week of school for Jen
stuff like that…
my point is
We. Made. It
We made it through the week,
and here we are, enjoying the weekend.
We had a great,
special adventure yesterday
celebrating free comic book day.
And we watched a movie together…
And we are
who loves each other,
and who eats well…
gets sick together too
and props each other up
these big shifts in life…
who guide each other
through the looming future.
And sometimes it takes the crucible of hard times,
or the catalyst of big changes
to see that
or be reminded of it.
We are a team
and we do well together
more often than we fail
and that’s worth noting.
It’s worth celebrating.
As a matter of fact,
as often as possible.
I have talked about this blog
being a vessel of positive
that when I started writing it
I made a conscious decision
to use this as a place to
Knowing that there are plenty of trolls on the internet,
and more than enough depressing pessimism.
I am not always jolly
and I don’t always write about easy stuff,
or good feelings…
but I think we can
lead an examined life
that is also a positive one
and that is a goal,
vision of mine…
That my better self
has a sense of humor
about being self-critical
and can be gentle about being critical of others…
and knows it’s necessary,
but also knows…
there is a way
to do it
and a way to reflect
that is helping us to know
we are okay
as much as it helping us
to be our better selves…
I was inspired and reminded of my
commitment to optimism
when I read this blog by Steve Wiens….
I am inspired to start
patting my parent self on the back
I hope you join me.
we are both students of theatre
so that has to be a factor
on some levels,
like many arts,
if you’re doing it right
is a vocation
in my music
and my writing
I work at playing too
and I play at working…
I was in the kitchen…
cleaning the thing
which we can’t decide
whether to call
a griddle or a skillet
so we call it a skiddle…
I was cleaning that
and I heard Jennifer say to the girls.
“You guys are working really well together…
you are playing nice.”
to the older girls
who were playing some math games
on the iPad.
I am just grateful that
I have partnered with
and get to co-parent
who, like me,
sees these things; “work” and “play”
as intertwined or symbiotic, if not actually one and the same…
who takes playing seriously and sees the fun in work.
Not long after Maya was born
I was talking with an acquaintance,
a guy who modeled at the art gallery where I worked.
(I got to meet some interesting characters in that job!)
I was talking about the idea that as much as I had wanted to be a dad
for nigh on 10 years
and that as much as we had prepared
by reading books
and watching movies
and talking to parents
our minds were still blown…
by becoming parents
and the responsibility…
the work of parenting
was particularly mind-blowing
in that it is work… it is Work.
but it is different than any other kind of work
i’ll ever do.
and the difference is ineffable
here I am trying to eff the ineffable…
but these are the places
my mind occupies
when I sit down
or maybe I should say
these are the things
that occupy my mind…
It is a unique work, and a work that relates to art making
in that it is creative
and born out of love,
at least under the best circumstances.
it is a work that most of us who do it
we feel obliged to or inspired to
It is a unique kind of
not free of resentment
but an commitment that comes with a tender reward
that can only marginally be expressed by the joy I feel watching the flicker of an eyelash and last final sigh before the rhythmic breathing of deep sleep settles in… or the ecstasy on the face of a mudcovered child… or the profound fear of watching a ball roll down the driveway, child in tow… knowing that I can’t get there in time and hoping that my voice does the trick… and the relief I feel when it does.
back to the story…
I was talking to this guy
who was not a parent…
But definitely was a dude
with an interesting perspective
a model, working on a degree
in ecology… sustainability in particular…
our previous conversations had ranged from
Carlos Castaneda, to Kurt Vonnegut…
and Pink Floyd to Complexity Theory…
This was in Eugene, Oregon, mind you,
a place where chances are high that your bartender has a PhD in Physics…
or is high on psilocybin…
So this shaggy, brainy male model and I were having a conversation on parenting and he recommended a book to me… the book was The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff…
A book not originally intended as a parenting book… but over time was adopted as one…
Many, many ideas from the book resonated with me, and as I have mentioned in the past, I don’t believe any book or author is a panacea, there is no magic recipe for any family, relationship or person… however… there are certainly lessons to be gleaned and important ideas to share and think about in so much of what is floating around…
So, of the many ideas that struck a chord with me – one of the prominent ones that applies to the ideas bouncing around in my brain today – is the notion that these indigenous tribes that Jean Liedloff spent time with had no concept of a distinction between work and play… they all just did what they could, with the faith that everyone was making a valid and significant contribution…
I should probably go look up that section of the book,
I may be characterizing it incorrectly
but it was something along the lines of they had no separate words for work or play…
We don’t live among the tribes of the Yequana Indians in the jungles of South America, so the reality is we can’t exactly mirror their lifestyle… but there certainly are lessons to be learned, and that knowledge can inform how we approach our work, and our play, and the work/play of raising kids.
By: Ann Brown
So, what’s new? Not much.
Oh wait. Right. Robin got his driver’s license suspended.
It’s not what you think, and I know that you are thinking DUI.
Robin was nabbed for speeding. And running a red light. And for totally being a dick to me when I was in a bad mood a few months ago and just needed to be left alone. Well, okay, he wasn’t pulled over for that, specifically, but I felt the police officer who gave him the speeding ticket should know what I go through. So I told him.
You’d think that a person who had his license taken away would be the contrite one in the car, right? And you’d think that person would refrain from giving helpful driving tips to the person who is giving up her valuable time to schlep him around town, and who has pretty much made her way in the driving world for, oh, forty years without his helpful tips and suggestions such as, “when you accelerate, you want to blah blah blah…”.
I can’t tell you how his sentences end because by then I am usually looking for the closest bridge from which to launch us both into the Willamette. The man cannot shut the fuck up about my driving.
The other week, after I did not accept his helpful suggestions on parallel parking, and after he pointed out that he is pretty much an expert in parallel parking and really, in all aspects of driving, possibly all aspects of life, and I pointed out that one of us who is not an expert still has a valid driver’s license and one of us who is an expert needs to have me drive him to Safeway because he is out of Preparation H wipes, and he pointed out that speeding and running red lights are not evidence of being a bad driver whereas my acceleration technique is a major red flag about my road skills, and, really, about my ability to navigate the world at all, and then I pointed out that I hate him and I have been faking my orgasms, he said indignantly to me, “I am going to get a new driver!”
And he looked at me as though he had just told me he was going to get a new wife. Which shook me about as much as if he said he was going to get a new driver.
And then I slammed on the brakes because I was about to run a red light and we both stopped fighting due to our instantaneous commitment to whiplashes while saving the Trenta iced tea I had just gotten from Starbucks, which was the topic of the helpful tip Robin had been giving me (“TWO dollars? For iced tea??? This is why we have no retirement savings”) right before the parallel parking thing happened.
Only there wasn’t really a red light. I just wanted to slam on the brakes. I like to fuck with him.
By Ann Brown
I hate this kind of shit. As if I don’t have enough to worry about already.
According to an article in Huffpo, by the age of 50, women should know how to do all the things listed below. This, of course, is complete bullshit; all a woman needs to know by age 50 is the adage, “you choose your face or your ass”, which means you can be thin (i.e. choose your ass) but your face will look gaunt and creepy and small children will run from you, or you can choose your face (eat all your want and grow your ass the size of Texas) and be gorgeous.
And by 59 (in a few weeks), all a woman needs to know is that even if she cannot see it, there is a whisker growing out of her face somewhere that is, like, four feet long and thick as a Sequoia. A whisker that was not there yesterday but is most certainly there today.
Huffpo, however, has a different list.
And therefore, below, my rebuttal:
Say “no” without feeling guilty – Yeah, um, unless you are Jewish. I even feel guilty when I say “yes”.
Book their own travel – do they mean make dozens of reservations on Alaska Airlines until the code letters you get spell out something that is a good harbinger and means the plane won’t go down? Then, yes. I do that.
Say “I’m sorry” and mean it – I totally mean it. On the surface. Where it counts.
Get around in a foreign country – Well that’s just stupid. Nobody needs to go to a foreign country anymore. Not when there is the Travel Channel. And legalized weed.
Mix at least a few classic cocktails – and by “classic”, do they mean drink tequila straight from the bottle while looking at photos of themselves when they were young and happy? Then, yes.
Make themselves and their own needs a priority – I feel I excel at this. I asked Robin if he thought I was too much of a martyr, always thinking of others, and if I need to make myself more of a priority and he laughed so hard he coughed up a tooth.
Defend themselves against an attacker with at least one signature self-defense move – I have one signature move. It’s a kind of pelvis sway and shimmy thing I learned in the 70′s at Disco Disco. You should see how fast men run away when I do it now.
Carve a turkey – I only carve it if the CPR didn’t work.
Choose their own wine – Easy. The one that’s open. And closest to me so I don’t have to sit up. Or roll over.
Examine their own breasts – Well, now, this can be problematic. What with my fifty-nine year old eyes being so near-sighted and my breasts being so much further away from my face than they used to be, a lot of visual acuity is lost. So I generally just ask random strangers to examine them for me. Sometimes I add my signature move.
Graciously accept a compliment – Yeah, okay. When I fucking GET one, I’ll let you know how graciously I will accept it.
Flip their own breaker – if that is a euphemism for masturbating, I am not going to answer.
Plunge a toilet – Hah. That would be a really gross euphemism for masturbating.
Walk away from a situation or relationship when it’s not working – No problem. Ask the myriad personal trainers, nutritionists, therapists and leg-waxers in my wake.
Say what they really want in bed – Easy: SLEEP. And, every once in a while, some privacy to, um, flip my breaker.
Apply makeup without a mirror – I can do better than that. I can apply make up WITH a mirror but make it look as if I applied it WITHOUT a mirror.
Ask for a raise – Yes. Wait, without offering sex first? Then, no.
Unclog a drain – yet another euphemism? Well, that one kinda makes sense.
Tell which direction they are facing – Don’t need a compass to tell me I am going to Hell. In a handbasket.
Make small talk with just about anyone
Know when to reveal personal information — and when not to – I consider revealing personal information and small talk to be indistinguishable from each other and essential at cocktails parties. You open a conversation with, “yikes. I did not expect to be faking orgasms this late into my marriage”, and you are pretty much guaranteed to be left alone. Score.
Paint a room – Please. I did that at five. Only without my parent’s permission. And with crayons.
Buy the right-sized bra -I am still saving up to buy the right size boobs.
Beautifully wrap a present – see above, about the bra.
Reach out to an old friend – who is falling? Yes, I would totally do that.
Show love with actions and not just words – Eeeeew. WORDS? Yuck.
Put together a real retirement strategy – You’re reading it.
Look good in a photo – Fuck you.
By Danny Thomas
I sat in the nursery
holding the baby
for what felt like
the fifteenth hour in a row
it was the morning nap…
but I had spent all night in the
and her poor, sore, teething mouth…
getting her down
for the morning nap
had been a relatively painless endeavor
probably due to
but I was still feeling peevish
and my body was awkwardly cocked
in some rutty position
for fear of waking
it was late morning
and I was watching the sunlight travel across the walls
in my distracted slumbering state…
and I noticed that
when we rearranged the room,
moving the crib and dresser
so that the heater
could actually heat the room,
we left the pictures
as they were…
it looked off.
just a little odd,
out of balance…
and I thought
well we need to change that.
and that led to a whole
storm of thoughts
about how our instinct
or our reflex, rather…
is to look at things
and think about how they
rather than to
how they are
and accept it.
my life should be like this.
my house should be like that.
my job should be like so.
those people should be this way.
these people should be that way.
this table should not be swathed in sticky.
there should be a flat surface in my house not covered with stuff.
and this is the
default we seem to have as a culture,
that I seem to have
as an individual…
especially when things are
that if we change it
in just the right way
it will be better
never be uncomfortable again…
will go away.
and the oven will clean themselves
the piles of papers
accumulated from school bags
and the mailbox
will be neatly tucked away
and dining room
will look like
pages from architectural digest
or better homes and gardens.
if I can just pin
the perfect solution
just one more idea
it will all fall into place.
if we can just make a little more money
if we just had a few more square feet
if I just had a little more time
maybe if we try the couch over here…
if I change to this other laundry soap
this other anti-depressant
maybe if I change my lifestyle
give up that vice
just change my diet
if I change how I sleep
I’ll feel so much better.
there are books and blogs
and pin after pin after pin…
there are gurus and psychics
doctors and financial planners…
self-helpers of every stripe
many with the best intentions…
some a little more dubious
helping people change.
make that little change…
we are bent on changing things.
and I am far from an expert
but I am starting to think
that there is no special formula
no guide to life
no pill, product, or prophet
that is going to make this mess go away
that is going to relieve the moments of frustration…
with six easy steps or less
determining your goal
and routing a plan
step by step
to achieve that goal
is also treacherous
and at least partially misguided
and here is why…
there is this feeling that to navigate life
what you need is something like a tidal calendar…
but if life is like the tides…
if we are in a life that flows like the tide…
we are, if we are lucky, a stone, but more likely, a grain of sand
getting tossed in the chaos of each wave
more like a grain of sand, anyway, than a fisherman or sailor.
I’m hoping that I have enough of an idea of who I am
in my little grain-of-sand-y soul
to float through those entropic waves
and try to find the patterns
or at the very least some of the joy
without losing myself.
in the last three weeks
I have sold a house that is 1500 miles away
been hired to begin a full-time, stay-at-home, telecommuter job
given notice at my current job
learned that my wife has secured a tenure-eligible position at the college…
maybe you can see why I feel
like a stone
getting tossed around…
some things must change
and we must change some things
I think maybe…
some things are going to happen
no matter what we do
I guess Reinhold Niebuhr put it best
in The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference…
By Sheana Ochoa
Recently, I picked up a book on the subject of biography. I’ve been writing a biography on Stella Adler, the first lady of modern day acting, for over a decade and was reminded how men have by and large been the writer’s of history (history). As far back as Xenophon writing about Socrates, men write about the lives of great men, although more recently women have also begun writing about the lives of great men. With too few exceptions, if a woman is the subject of a biography, she is usually the great man’s wife or love interest, not an achiever in her own right. The woman I’m writing about was a pioneer in her industry. Her story is about a woman’s insatiable search for knowledge at the cost of raising a child and building a home. Up to her death, she felt she was a failure because of her inability to create a “home.” She, just as much as I, was limited by the patriarchic structure of her era, the one that judges a woman with power outside of housewifery as threatening, unwomanly.
I am a feminist. Exactly what that means in 2013 is ambiguous. I was born in the 70s, which is when the women’s movement occurred, and as a young woman out in the work force in the early 90s I don’t recall any discrimination directed toward me personally, but then again I wasn’t working in areas dominated by men such as Film Direction, Piloting, or Engineering. However, today with women’s earning power lower than men’s (77 cents to the dollar), no one can argue life is equal between the sexes in 21st century America.
When I observe my nieces, who grew up in the new millennium, I see some progress. They seem to be color blind, which correlates with the historic presidential turn out for Obama by our youth. My nieces are not as progressive in the field of women’s equality as they are in racial equality, though interestingly, they are up to speed with gay rights. This leads me to believe that women’s rights are being undermined by an insidious, unrelenting patriarchy perpetuated by the media. A woman president? I don’t see that happening any time soon.
When I had my son, it was the moment when the doctor told me “it’s a boy” that the child growing inside of me became a human being as opposed to a nonentity. It would have been the same if he had announced it was a girl. It had a gender and therefore an identity.
I had actually wanted a girl, and thought I would have a girl, so I had to readjust my expectations the way one might be counting on eating a juicy steak for dinner, but ends up having sushi instead. It isn’t a matter of better than, just a readjustment. Crucially, when I thought I was having a girl, I did not research rearing my child. Once I learned I was having a boy, I went directly to the bookstore to find books on how to raise a boy, revealing the level of brainwashing of which I’ve unknowingly been the product. Also, I have to admit; it made me happy that this boy would have my last name as I was not married at the time, and that he would carry on the Ochoa lineage. In retrospect, my satisfaction with him having my name was another example of how I’ve been brainwashed to believe my father’s name is more important that my mother’s.
Here I must excerpt from Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon’s pamphlet, written in 1854, “Married Women and the Law”:
“A man and wife are one person in the law; the wife loses all her rights as a single woman . . . A woman’s body belongs to her husband; she is in his custody, and he can enforce his right by writ of habeas corpus. What was her personal property before marriage, such as money in hand, money in the bank, jewels, household goods, clothes, etc., becomes absolutely her husband’s, and he may assign or dispose of them at his pleasure whether he and his wife live together or not. The legal custody of the children belongs to the father. During the life-time of a sane father, the mother has no rights over her children, except a limited power over infants, and the father may take them from her and dispose of them as he thinks fit.”
Though these laws no longer apply, the rights of women today could be looked upon as having transformed immensely, but on closer examination, societal views of women are far from revolutionary. A woman with power, as I mentioned above, is viewed as a threat, and yet a man with power is viewed as commonplace. How far have we really come, and do women in heterosexual relationships realize the history of that institution which asks them to change their name to that of their husbands, obliterating their identity?
When I did marry, I hyphenated my name, which was a concession. I didn’t want to change my name, or the identity I had had for almost 40 years of living. I didn’t change my name, but I did alter it. At the time, I was thinking something along the lines of “I waited until I was almost 40 to marry. It’s a big commitment and I should at least take on his name to some degree as a symbol of my commitment.” What boloney. As if a name is going to save a marriage. News flash: If two people turn out to be unhappily married, a last name ain’t going to save it.
Now that I’m entering my 40s, I know what kind of a feminist I am: I believe in human rights. And for that I must take a stand. I have spent my life thinking I’m not a feminist of the bra-burning variety, but I didn’t have a model for an alternative. I didn’t want to be labeled angry or strident (whereas a man with convictions is seen as “strong” and “assertive”). But taking a stand does require a certain amount of motivation. Anger can be a good motivator, but so can compassion and tolerance of our differences.
We women have a long way to go. We can begin by writing more narratives, new “histories” of others and ourselves where women hold a position of power. When we are called bitchy or shrill or dykes, we know we’re getting somewhere.
Visit Sheana’s blog on Stella Adler’s Biography Here.
By Ann Brown
Yeah, I know. I haven’t blogged in a while. It’s not just that I’ve been busy; it’s that it takes so much effort to just get one thing done, you know? The universe puts out one obstacle after another.
One morning, for instance, I wake up and say to myself, “I am going to blog today.”
But first I have to brush my teeth because I heard on Dr. Oz a few months ago that nighttime tooth bacteria can cause heart attacks. I think. Or world war. I’m not sure but either way, I’m not taking chances. So I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth and I see that my Sonicare toothbrush hasn’t been recharged because I threw out the charger thing last week when I saw how funky it was all crusted with old toothpaste and shit and I didn’t have time to clean it because I was already late for my physical therapy appointment. Which I canceled on my way there, anyway, because the air pressure tire light came on in my car and I got nervous. So I went straight to the Toyota place, rolled down my window and handed them four hundred dollars. So I wouldn’t feel nervous anymore.
I still need a toothbrush. I go to the downstairs bathroom to look for one and I pause momentarily to enjoy the colorful tile work that I first thought made it look like the bathrooms at Baja Fresh, but now I love it. Which reminds me, I have a coupon for Baja Fresh. Unless I threw it out. Maybe I threw it out. I walk into the den and check out the den trash. It’s not there, but the den trash is pretty full of tangerine peels which smell fabu at first but super funky after a few days. I decide to collect the downstairs trash to take out on my way back upstairs. AFter I find a toothbrush. So I can brush my teeth. So I don’t have a heart attack. Or start a world war. I’m not sure. And then, so I can sit down and blog.
In the den, I see Robin’s computer is open to Facebook.
And I remember that I probably should send Robin a Facebook friend request. Because I unfriended him during the last fight we had. Which, btw, is just about the greatest thing you can do when your husband pisses you the fuck off. UNFRIEND! Click. I wanted to show him just how pissed off I was. Also, I was worried he would write something unflattering on my wall like, “I can fit my entire body into your underpants. And Phila, too. And also my boat.” And he’d post a photo of it or something.
I was so fucking mad at Robin.
Frankly, I wish there had been an UNMARRY button to click. There’s something Zuckerberg didn’t think of. Although he’s only been married about a year, right? Give him another decade, he’ll be staying up nights inventing ways to piss off his spouse.
You know what would be amazing? An UN-BLOW JOB button. Perfect, right? For those times when you regret having given your husband a blow job the night before because this morning he is such an asshole. Hah! I UNblow job you. Click!
My exhilaration at having unfriended Robin was decreased only slightly by the fact that he hasn’t even noticed.
And now the fight is over and we are real life friends again so I should probably take back my unfriending him. Only – and here’s the drag – I have to send him a new friend request in order to do so.
Uh-oh. I didn’t think about that when I cavalierly knocked him off my wall. I don’t want to have to ask him to friend me again. I would lose all my power if I had to do that. And then I wouldn’t be the winner. It would be a tie. Damn.
And, what if he rejects my request? Then HE would win. Ack. That won’t do.
I sit down on the den couch to consider my options. I fall asleep.
I wake up and say to myself, “I am going to blog today.”
But first, I better brush my teeth.
By Danny Thomas
It’s St. Patrick’s Day…
We keep trying to make family traditions
for St. Patrick’s Day,
none of them stick.
In my head
it was always
a big deal with my family
We certainly always
ate a special meal.
If not corned beef and cabbage,
then something related.
Sometimes we went to see a film
an irish film
at some art house theatre.
My mom loves foreign films.
And art films.
We went to a lot of independent films
at art house theatres
when I was growing up.
It sometimes depresses me
when our holidays
do not jive with
the holidays I remember growing up.
and St Patricks Day…
I just need to give it time…
let the traditions develop…
let the family grow…
and create relationships…
with each other…
and with other families…
and those traditions will take
it takes work,
and decisive thinking,
on the part of the family,
to create the traditions.
It takes some effort.
And right now
is aimed at other things in our lives.
But there is time…
I keep coming back to this idea,
to this notion
of the difference
how we imagine things to be…
how we hope for them to be…
and the reality that they become.
This thought; that we have an ideal
or an expectation,
and sometimes the world matches it
if we’re lucky,
the world falls drastically short of our expectation.
Does it fall short,
or is it just different
than what we expected?
And wouldn’t it be worse,
to get everything you expect,
and know every bump down the road,
than rolling with
the ups and downs?
As much as it seems nice to have everything in place all the time,
the dreary monotony,
would be relentless.
I am more inclined
to find a way
my rattling cage.
My dad’s birthday is on Thursday.
it’s the first one
since he died.
The thing that
makes me most sad
is not that he doesn’t
get to have another birthday
(he was tired of them 10 years ago)
or even that I don’t get to wish him another happy birthday.
The thing that makes me saddest
is thinking about my mom
who, by default of her partnership,
and the traditions built in around
has had something to do
on March 21st
for the last 50 years
I wish we could be together this
I wish my brother could be there too…
All of us.
But this is another one of those bumps in the road.
This is one of those ways things are different than we expect…
this is one of the ways things change.
And embracing change
the stuff that
with the same
that brings us
By Natalie A. Sullivan
My son is eleven months now. I was rifling through some paperwork today, and I found this. It was written when he was 3 ½ months old:
A friend recommended her. She only stands about 5 foot 4, but she is the firm root of my newfound sanity. I’ve been caring full-time for my son since he was born three and a half months ago. My beloved husband was home with us for the first three weeks before returning to his high-stress, long-houred job to become the sole supporter for his newly expanded family. How could I justify a part-time nanny? I don’t have a job and the only place I really want to go is to bed. Besides, being a mother is what I have always wanted.
About a week ago, I realized that being without my son feels foreign, even uncomfortable to me. On the rare occasion that I am running errands without him, I find myself racing to get back to him. I’m the one who knows what his every cry means. I’m the one who responds to his every beck and call. I’m also the one who is losing a little bit of my mind! A lot earlier, I had realized that my son also feels “uncomfortable” without me. He rarely wants to be put down during the day and naps more soundly and far longer on my chest than he will nap in his crib or anywhere else. During those ten minutes here and there when he agrees to be put down, he tolerates the offense longer if he can at least see me nearby. Yes, my son and I are co-dependent. This is where the nanny comes in. I may pay her $25 so I can go to a $10 yoga class, but …it is what it is. I look forward to the day when I can walk out of the house and feel free to visit a bookstore or catch a drink with a long-lost girlfriend. Whatever the cost, it sounds like a great deal to me.
Update: The nanny came a few times while I was home and my son screamed the whole time, so I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house. As a result, I thanked her wholeheartedly and decided that neither he nor I was ready for a nanny.
As I looked further into my stack of paper, I also found this. It was written when our son was seven months old, and I titled it “Wanderlust”:
It’s official. I’m bored. There, I’ve said it. I fluctuate between feeling honest and feeling horrible about it, but it’s true. I am bored out of my mind at being home 24 hours a day. Even writing it makes me feel bad, so you can imagine how I feel just knowing that it’s really how I feel. All those years we wished for a child. The year we lost our first one. And now, just over nine months after bringing our son home, I’m saying it: I’m tired of being a full-time stay-at-home mom. I have friends who would sell their souls to be able to be home full-time with their kids. So, I feel guilty.
I thought motherhood would be perfect. Don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful. Our son is wonderful. Motherhood is wonderful. It’s just that I still crave to do things other than take care of him 24 hours a day. I’ve been home full-time without outside help for nine months. Our son is a delightful kid with a bundle of energy and an easy smile. He’s a busy little guy, both at home and when we’re out. And opinionated? For a guy who can’t talk yet, he takes the cake.
I’m thankful to have been home all this time. Otherwise, I might not have seen our son delight over playing with the blanket from the couch. I might not know that he has a penchant for chewing the corner of the carpet. I might not be aware that licking the remote control is like eating a Three Musketeers bar to our son. But for the past couple months, I’ve realized (once again) that it’s time to get some help.
If I’m wise, I’ll take my cues from our son. I think he’s bored with me too. We visited a day care last week. I was still nursing a little mommy guilt at the thought of putting him in day care one day a week so that I could have a break. And then, something amazing happened. Seeing the little babies in the day care, my son screamed with delight, wiggled to get down out of my protective arms, and beat on the glass between him and his new friends like a madman trying to break into an insane asylum.
Update: A couple weeks later, our son went to day care for the first time, and, as expected, he screamed and cried for the first hour. I walked the streets outside the day care, half not knowing what to do with myself and half expecting a call to come and pick up my inconsolable child. But then as I was hanging my head over a hot bowl of soup nearby, I got an email with pictures of our son smiling and playing with the toys. I ventured a few blocks further away. By the time I picked him up four hours later, our boy was laughing and bouncing on his teacher’s lap. He was fed. He was clean. He was rested. He was happy. When he saw me, he attempted a little whine, but then sort of shrugged his little shoulders as if to say, “Aw, never mind. The gig is up!” On our way home, my son swung happily from my chest with his little mind, I imagine, replaying the excitement of the day. As for me, I had in my possession a report card that told me what he ate, how many minutes he slept, and exactly what had come out of his little body that day! Whatever they pay his day care teachers, that day, it felt like it could never be enough!! Our son went to day care three times, each time with increasing success. So much so that we put ourselves on the waiting list for part-time enrollment, and I began to dream of all the things that I have needed or wanted to do for the past several months.
Our son turned 11 months old this past week. One day later, I got a call from his day care center. A spot has opened up, and our son can now come to day care two days a week. Immediately after the call, I scooped up our son and lifted him into the air. I smiled. I danced. I called his father at work and sang my own version of “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse. “Christian’s going to day care and I say ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!”’ But once the dust settled and I caught my breath, my mind began to flood with doubts, fears, concern, and, yes, my old nemesis- guilt.
Starting in April, the same week that marks our son’s first birthday and my one year as a full-time stay-at-home mom, he will start day care twice a week. It will cost us more than I can probably make working two days a week, but I’m convinced that it will be good…for both of us. Despite my realization that the time is right for us to take this big step, as I fed our son a bottle and rocked him to sleep, I wrapped both of my arms around him and held him even closer to my chest.