Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas card I've never sent you

The stack of holiday cards is heavy in my hands. I butt them against the table—long end, short end, long end, short end–feeling their corners align in a satisfying way. My work is done: addresses checked, stamps stuck, return labels smoothed, flaps sealed.

But I don't have a card for you.

You and I became friends right before we had breasts and body images and boys. Right before pimples and periods. Right before it became stupid to spend an entire afternoon smashing up fruits and vegetables to concoct the perfect poolside drink. Right before it occurred to us that jumping off the side of your porch into the snow-covered bushes 15 feet below could be dangerous. Right before we realized we ought to keep our mouths shut about the tingle we got from spinning around and around on the tire swing.

And then you left. Right before we took the plunge into full-on adolescence. You took with you our secrets and our shorthand. And I had to start over, because we'd never really had anyone but each other.

***
I always look for you at Christmastime. Not that our holiday memories were oh-so-special. It's the cards. The work of corralling addresses. Of deciding whom to add and whom to prune off the list. Of pinpointing the last bit of news exchanged and then crafting an update.

You've never gotten a card from me, but you've always been on my mind.

I found you once in the nearly 30 years since you left. I tracked down your phone number and made a Hail Mary pass, never expecting you to return my call. When you did, I was so scared I had to shut the door to my office before picking up the handset. We talked for less than 20 minutes.

I cried after we hung up, because I realized we'd lost that glorious moment of knowing each other "right before." Right before you'd had a rough go of it. Right before you'd made decisions that didn't turn out the way you'd hoped. Right before you became rudderless, wild and damaged. Right before you went from being "my best friend growing up" to "this girl I used to know."

A few days after the call, the photo you promised to send me arrived. I wasn't surprised that your face was blurry.

***
These days, it would be easier than ever to locate you. It takes a lot less courage to ping your in-box than to place a call or commit pen to paper. But, I'm sorry, it's just been too long.

So I will simply wish you a happy holiday. I hope you are safe and warm. And sober. That you are surrounded by love. That your travels are safe. And that someday maybe our paths will cross again.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happiness is a warm tush

I stand before the "Giving Tree,"
eyes scanning the families' wish lists.
I'm transfixed by the humble requests:
Diapers; baby rattles; crafts for mom.
These are the ones I unpin
and stuff into my coat pockets.
"More," I decide. "They deserve more."
I shop for toys, games, magazines,
scanning the aisles for little goodies,
what I believe they should want.
But I'm not helping this way.
I think of what happiness means—
the simple pleasure of a cross-stitch;
a newborn making her first music;
a month of warm, dry bottoms.
I fill my cart with these.


For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Gift"

At bathtime, BIG's giving a performance.

"Babies aren't invited," she says to LITTLE,
who's watching the show with Daddy.

"I am not a baby," says LITTLE,
with Daddy acting as her spokesman.
(Sadly, we have become THOSE parents.)

With conviction (she's 31/2, after all),
BIG lobs an excellent, impromptu comeback:
"Yes, you are. You have a
big head and don't know words."

(I want to use that line,
next time someone pisses me off.
It helps that I'm an editor;
I'm always dealing with big-headed people
who do or don't know words.)

BIG has a way with words
and a sharp sense of humor
that would cut to the bone
if she weren't so damn sweet.
And I'm grateful for these moments—
gifts you can't get at Walmart.



For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dreams of Home

Home— will infect whatever you do.
—David Byrne, "Home"

I've got tangled dreams of home.
A jumble of yesterday and today.
The house is of my childhood,
The brown siding and blue shutters.
The maple tree up in front,
The oak tree down in back.
The rooms exactly as I remember:
The dance of light and dark,
The gewgaws and spices just so.
Mom and Dad are still together,
Grandma's alive and whole for now.
Often my girls are playing outside,
Though they've never visited this house
Sold long before they were born.
I go there in my sleep,
The muscle memory so easily familiar.
No need to concentrate on navigation.
Freeing me to worry the knots
Of conversations, emotions, impossible to unravel.
Each time I yearn for resolution,
But the dreams are always interrupted.
I'm confused a moment. Eyes focusing,
I see this home I've made
And am relieved to be here.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Friday, November 5, 2010

"So much change!"

She digs deep
in her pockets
full of bupkis.
Seeking a token,
she finds me.
She is relieved
and slightly uncomfortable.
"So much change!"
she says, expecting
me to sympathize.
"While I've got
you," she says,
"Let me ask:
When is Chanukah?"
She is audacious.
She is ignorant.
I'm not offended.
Not terribly, anyway.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trick or Treat

You who are gangly—all angles—
Playful, sweet, sarcastic, finding your way,
Beautiful Leopard, you are a treat!

You who are soft and squishy,
Round like Buddha, seemingly as wise,
Adorable Ballerina, you are a treat!

You who are filled with laughter,
A zest for life and the ironic,
Dear Soulmate, you are a treat.

I measure this Halloween against last.
It's a trick how time passes,
How we outgrow our costumes again.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two Little Things

Evenings are crushing us.

Get home. Wash hands. Possibly go potty. Eat dinner. Take asthma treatment. Get undressed. Possibly go potty. Get in the tub. Possibly go potty (sometimes in the tub). Get out. Slather on ointment/cream. Get in PJs. Eat dessert. Brush teeth. Go potty. Read books. Tally up good behavior. Possibly go potty. Go to sleep.

Woven through all that is cleaning up dinner, straightening up toys, organizing empty and full bottles, cleaning out the lunch box, putting away laundry. And, Oh, Taking Care of the Baby.

But last night—while a sinus headache and a wailing baby were in competition for tightest squeeze hold on my skull—you did two little things that saved us all.

"Mommy," you said, "I can get dressed and put my cream on by myself."

AND YOU DID.

Thank you, my sweet big girl, for growing up just a little bit last night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It seems like enough for now

Once I tried on a life
Of long, meandering bike rides,
Of hiking trails and wooden canoes—
But it wasn't mine to keep.

Once I tried on a life
Of riding subways through the city,
Of trolling museums and writing novels—
But it wasn't mine to keep.

Those lives were just on loan,
A free trial I didn't renew
When the romance, job or circumstance
They were attached to went away.

***
I have instead a solid life,
With long-term financing and positive returns. 
Not fanciful or free-spirited, but better.
It seems like enough for now.

I have instead a solid life,
Collapsing in front of the TV,
Sorting the tiniest socks and dresses.
It seems like enough for now.

This life I wouldn't have envisioned
Back when I'd been "life shopping"—
One of packing lunches, wiping noses,
Blowing kisses as I drive away.

***
The solid's starting to weather, though.
We spend precious breath on procedure,
Leaving few for flights of fancy—
It's not going to be enough.

The solid's starting to weather, though,
The fun we have is others'.
And unless we create our own,
It's not going to be enough.

I'm not saying shed this life.
It's really comfortable and soft.
We can add glitter and sparkle,
Blending the whimsy with the everyday.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Back to the Farm

There's this great farm not far from our house. They really do it up for fall. Wagon rides, pumpkin picking, an underground slide, animals to pet and feed, pig races, cider donuts, you name it. There is even a clown who makes kick-ass balloon animals.

Last year, hubby and I took BIG there. We were going to meet up with my sister, her husband and their daughter, who is BIG's best friend in the whole world.

Thank goodness we came in separate cars.

My little family never got to the clown who makes kick-ass balloon animals. Because BIG was misbehaving. So badly that we told her if she didn't pull herself together, we'd have to leave. She didn't, so we did.

Oh, it all sounds so level-headed and Child Psych 101 now, doesn't it? Yeah, I'm skipping the series of nuclear, batshit, off-her-nut meltdowns—both BIG's and mine—that led to us having to flee the farm without even saying goodbye to my sister and her family. BIG and I both sobbed the whole ride home.

***
There's this great farm not far from our house. They really do it up for fall. Wagon rides, pumpkin picking, an underground slide, animals to pet and feed, pig races, cider donuts, you name it. There is even a clown who makes kick-ass balloon animals.

Today, hubby and I took BIG (and now LITTLE) there. We were going to meet up with my sister (her husband was away) and their daughter, who is BIG's best friend in the whole world.

On the drive to the farm, hubby touched my shoulder and asked, "What's wrong? You seem tense." And it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I realized that, had we been on our own last year—just hubby, BIG and me—we would have given BIG pass for that initial bit of bad behavior, chalking it up to a missed nap or incomplete meal. We would have taken some time, sat under a tree, distracted her with the chance to pet a baby cow. Tickled her. Relaxed the rules a bit. And maybe, just maybe, things wouldn't have escalated. And we would not have had to flee the farm.

But my sister and her family had been there—just like they were going to be there today. They had been watching—most likely not judging—our spiral out of control. And as much as I would like to blame it on them, I realized that even before things went south that day, I had been on red alert. Hyper-aware. Of every. Single. Thing. BIG. Did. Said. Ate. Smelled. Touched. From the start, BIG hadn't stood a chance.

Today in the car, as hubby pointed out that my shoulders had crept up into my ears, I realized that I am always hyper-aware of BIG when we get together with my sister and her family. Maybe simply because she's my sister. Maybe because our parenting styles are so different. Our rules so different. Our kids so different and yet so close in age that it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing them. Of comparing us.

Certainly not because of anything my sister has done to me. Or, I hope, that I have done to her. As much as I hate the expression, it just is what it is.

So today I took a deep breath and said, "Fuck it." "Fuck them"—not in a bad, snarky way. But in a way that would allow me to try to be myself, to be the mom that I usually am to BIG and LITTLE. To let the kids get away with a little here and there. To get my shoulders out of my ears and drop the alert from red to yellow. Or at least orange.

And you know what? BIG and I both behaved so well, we got to do everything. Even visit the clown who makes kick-ass balloon animals. (She picked a Jack-o-lantern.) Better still, she had absolutely no recollection of what happened last year. And for that I am grateful.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Favorite Things

A good pen; a good book
Kermit the Frog; just-clean clothes
My kids' smiles; and their feet
Making my husband laugh out loud
Walking the beach; brunch on Sunday
Finishing something–anything; a lazy day.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To the mommy sitting next to me at ballet class:

Hi there. Yep, that's my kid. The one in the pink tights that don't exactly match her pink leotard.

(Seriously, how many shades of ballet pink are there?)

It looks like she's going to be partners with your daughter for this part of the class. There they go, galloping together across the room ... holding hands ... stumbling a bit ... oops! And down they go. It's only the second week, right?

By the way, I love your girl's curls. So sweet!

You can probably tell from the way my kid is giggling that she's a little shy. But once she gets to know someone, she's a good friend. She's really a lot of fun.

Kind of like me.

So, since the girls are going to be partners and all, I figured I'd introduce myself. Maybe we can sort of pair up, too. Especially since the rest of the families here seem to know each other so well already. They probably grew up together or met through their older children or they're related somehow.

I admit, I get intimidated by groups like that. It's one of my hang-ups.

Speaking of hanging up, have you been texting with somebody this whole time? Meanwhile I'm totally interrupting you. OMG, I'm so embarrassed. I must be the RUDEST PERSON ON EARTH.

Guess I might as well check my e-mail, too...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Worries

Bullying. Separation anxiety. Food strikes. Potty accidents. Exhaustion. Crying nonstop.

These are the things I worried about when I packed up the 3 1/2-year-old and 4-month old and shipped them off to school.

Would they make friends? Would they be able to keep up with the bigger kids? Would someone be generous with the hugs and kisses and comforts if they were sad? Would they find the potty OK? (Not so worried about that with the infant.) Would we be separated from each other by some sort of natural—or man-made—disaster? (Irrational? Hell yes, but a worry nonetheless.)

I did NOT know that I needed to worry about someone taking home Little's jacket, which was hanging on the hook beneath her cubby this morning and was nowhere to be found this afternoon.

Nor did I realize I needed to worry that Big would end up wearing home someone else's SOCKS and SHOES (???).

BOTH ON THE SAME DAY!

They don't teach you this in Parenting 101. Maybe I have to wait for the advanced class...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thankful

"Thanks for blessing everyone I love
and blessing everyone who loves me."
It's a prayer my dear friend
taught me about giving thanks—one
that I've said every day since.
Twelve words I'm thankful to share.

(I can't take credit for the blessing, but I count the woman who originally shared it with me as one of the blessings in my life!)


For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Friday, September 17, 2010

They don't even know I'm listening...

"Well hullo there, little one," the
3-year-old says to the 3-month-old, as
she rocks the baby's car seat.
A room away, I don't exist.
The baby grins, gurgles and coos.
Big girl says to little girl,
"My sweet sister, my dear one,
I'll love you forever and always,
no matter what." My heart soars—
They don't even know I'm listening.
She rocks the seat harder. "Careful!"
I warn. But we're all smiling.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Popsicle® Company Part Deux

Mad props to Bad Mommy, blogger supreme of Bad Mommy Moments, for writing the letter I've always wanted to write to the Popsicle® Company. I would add only one thing regarding item #3:

3) You absolutely must do something about those sh*tty-ass jokes you’re plastering all over your sticks.

P.S.: And check your damn spelling!

What has tree horns and gives milk? A cow driving a car.


TREE horns? Really?

Oh, wait...

The Popsicle® Company's based in Englewood, N.J.*, where "tree" is the accepted spelling of "three." (Just imagine the Commotion or Snooki or Tony Soprano or Joe Pesci saying it out loud, and you'll get it.)

My bad.

(*No offense to my good, GOOD friends in the Great State of New Jersey, where "Born to Run" really should have been the state song.)

Hatchlings

As a kid I used to pluck tent caterpillars off the low-hanging tree leaves as I walked home from the bus stop. Navigating the uneven sidewalks ("Step up, step down," I'd tell myself silently), I'd let the squishy little blue-and-black dudes ride on my Holly Hobbie lunchbox, destined for either an empty peanut butter jar with holes punched in the top or, better for them, relocation to our backyard. It's a memory I associate with brand-new clothes, pristine pens and notebooks, slightly crunchy leaves, crisp air—the start of school.

So yesterday, when I dropped Z off for her first day of school, I was as delighted to see this as she was:


"We're keeping an eye and an ear on them," the school director told me, pointing at the chrysalises (chrysali?) dangling from the top of the little tent by the front door. "If any more start to hatch today, we're going to round everybody up to come watch."

I imagined the herd of little-kid and big-kid feet pounding (OK, proceeding in an orderly fashion) down the hallways, and the chatter of children barely able to contain their excitement: "One's hatching!" "A new butterfly!" I envisioned them, gathered around the tent, hushed now, the little kids scooting up to the front of the crowd, craning their necks to watch.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and kissed my preschooler goodbye.

When I picked Z up at the end of the day, she told me all was still quiet in the chrysalis tent. But she did gather with the rest of the school to release one monarch butterfly who'd hatched over the weekend.

Pretty. Damn. Cool.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Let's Begin Now

Crinkle the cellophane
Crack the spine
Smell the sheet
Touch the type
Anticipate the journey
Cuddle down deep
Let's begin now.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Negotiator

Z drew her very first picture of a person the other day:



A family, actually. With eyes and noses and mouths and eyebrows (!!!). With legs and feet. And hands with fingers. (Sure the hands look a bit like dead spiders. But, c'mon! She's 3 1/2! I can't even draw hands!)

The ink was barely dry on paper when we clashed over the work of art. The Curator (Mommy) wanted the portrait to hang in perpetuity in the family gallery (dining room). Meanwhile the Artist wanted to give the piece to her best friend as a birthday present.

"I'll draw you another one tomorrow," the Artist finally declared, exasperated by my pleas, threats and bribes. Having "mastered" the art of figure drawing in one attempt, she could whip out dozens of them if needed. She wouldn't budge.

So the Curator called in the big guns: The Negotiator. A.K.A. the 3-month-old sitting on her lap.

Negotiator (voiced by Mommy): I really like your picture. 
   Artist: Thank you. It's for my friend.
Negotiator: I can't draw yet, but someday, I want you to teach me how.
   Artist: Sure I will!
Negotiator: But you know what would be really cool? If you let ME keep this picture so I can have the very first picture of a person you ever drew. Then I can use your picture (pointing her fist at the artist for emphasis) as a model for MY picture (pointing at herself).
   Artist (laughing): But—
Negotiator: No, wait! I really want to keep your picture, because then when I am old enough to draw MY first picture of a family, they can hang MY picture next to yours.
   Artist (laughing): But it's for—
Negotiator: No, don't answer yet!
   Artist (laughing): But—
Negotiator: Just sleep on it. Do you know what that means?
   Artist (uncertain): Yeah.
Negotiator: It means don't answer me tonight. Just tell me in the morning.
   Artist (exasperated again): OK, you can HAVE the picture. It's for you and Mommy and Daddy. And then I will help you draw your picture and we can keep them both. Mommy (looking at the curator earnestly), I'm going to let you, Daddy and E keep the picture. I'll draw another one for my friend tomorrow. 
Curator: Yay! That makes me happy, too! You are SO generous.

So now I'm on the hook if this thing ever gets lost, stolen, spilled on, torn, or otherwise f-ed up. And don't tell the Artists' Rights Society about any of this, or I'll get the Negotiator after you!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Transforming

The room is ready for you.
It's been ready for months, really.
It's me that hasn't been ready
at the end of every day.

I loved your body inside me.
And now you cuddle beside me.
True, that space created for you
is beautiful, yet so far away.

I'm sure you're not going to mind,
sweet, funny gumdrop that you are.
Which makes it so very hard,
I think, transforming ourselves this way.


For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Different Pack

It's hard to see her
Surrounded as she is
By her brood,
The way she used to surround herself
With books or sports or women
Or men.
The being surrounded is nothing new
Really.
It's not a shield.
It's company,
Just a different pack.
Though she's never before trusted anyone
Or anything
Like this.
With her life.
Nor has she been trusted
In this way
With theirs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Wait

Wait.
It can't be over
already.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Breast Best?

Is Breast Best?

The "funbags" ain't much fun anymore,
The tits are more like teats,
It's all about function over form,
But breast is best for me.

My nipples are shot to hell,
But the cuddling can't be beat
This little body snuggled into mine,
Breast really is best for me.


For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Swarm

We were at the children's museum, enjoying a snack of rubber watermelon slices, cookies and steak, when THEY arrived. The Swarm. Four children ages just-walking to old-enough-to-know-better, all of them related to one another. The collection of adults that belonged to them hovered just outside the Diner, where Z had established herself as head chef, hostess and thug/bill collector. (We had been the only family there for quite some time.) The Swarm mounted a swift and decisive coup—their adults so absorbed in each other that they didn't notice or didn't care.

The three girls and one boy made eye contact only with each other, the eldest giving orders. Her eyes cut Z with a look my daughter and I both interpreted as, "Don't even try to reclaim the pieces of your soup I'm now dismantling." I forced myself to stand back and see what happened. Z, easily three or four years younger than the leader, quietly moved out of the kitchen area and started playing with a dessert tray at a booth the two younger girls had taken over.

The leader followed her. "Um, excuse me," the girl said. "But I was using that." Z gave a shruggy whine, grabbed some brownies off the tray and moved back to the kitchen, where the boy was sucking on a plastic watermelon slice and wobbling everywhere Z wanted to be.

The collection of adults that belonged to The Swarm then entered the Diner and stuffed themselves into the booth, still talking only to each other, barely talking to the children. Oblivious. I felt trapped with E strapped to my body and my hubby off to the side, answering an e-mail from work. I couldn't even reach Z—The Swarm seemed to cover every exposed surface, breathe every molecule of air, possess every toy, even though they were only four kids with four adults in a space that could hold three times that number. I found myself wishing E were older, so we could form a protective Swarm of our own, a self-contained unit that could conquer a room the way we had been conquered.

I was about to suggest a retreat to the General Store or the Bank or the School when another mom and daughter bravely entered the Diner. The new little girl, her hair gathered into bouncy pigtails, quickly read the room and took up a position next to Z. Her mom gave me a friendly smile and ignored the ignorant family. She and I chatted a bit.

The arrival of bouncy-pigtail-girl and mom irritated The Swarm, which wasn't sure what to make of our burgeoning alliance. The collection of adults that belonged to them weren't any help, absorbed in each other as they were. I noticed that as more and more children entered the Diner—with more adults who were conscientious of their children's play—the influence of The Swarm subsided. And when we bumped into The Swarm and their adults hours later outside of Ben & Jerry's, their powers seemed diminished.

I've been intimidated by a lot of Swarms over the years. Those families that come off as impenetrable bubbles. Whose social calendars are full of each other. That seem to wield strength in numbers and shared languages and experiences. I remembered The Swarm we grew up across the street from, and I finally understood what my mom often said about them: "You become an outlaw, not an in-law, when you marry into that family."

Initially I was seduced by the power and confidence of The Swarm in the Diner. I saw the potential of my family as the seed for that kind of strength. But I quickly realized how unhealthy a Swarm is. To take over a space rather than blend into it, to see outsiders as the enemy rather than potential friends, to look only to each other for guidance and approval. At the end of the day, it's inbreeding.

I also realized that numbers alone are not what make a Swarm. I know plenty of large families that absorb others—us—into their Collectives. That easily share their language and experiences. And love. We may be only four: Z, E, hubby and me. But even if we grew to 24, I'd rather be part of a Collective than a Swarm any day.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This Much I Know Right Now

This Much I Know Right Now

Nobody beats my grandma's apple pie.
Nothing's prettier than my daughters laughing.
Nothing's prettier than my daughters sleeping.
I'm in love with my husband.
Clothing shouldn't be dry clean only.
Balancing motherhood and marriage is hard—
I can't even fathom balancing work.
My best friends are like sisters.
My sister's like a best friend.
Say yes, without guilt, to help.
"It's not that easy bein' green."
Toys should not beep or flash
(or at least should turn off).
Dancing to ABBA makes me happy.
Six-Word Fridays is like therapy.

This much I know right now.
This much I know—not much.
This much you probably know, too.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Potchy Tushy Incident

In case you've never had a Jewish grandmother or never known someone who does, a "potchy" on the "tushy" (or potch on the tush) is a swat on the behind. And a few weeks ago, Z got a potch on the tush.

I could use every bit of space in the blog-osphere to explain what happened and why. But this is all that matters:

1) The force of said potchy was comparable to that of brushing dirt off your pants (dusty dirt, not the ground-in kind); 

2) Hubby and I were at wits' end with Z's behavior, and the potchy was an act of desperation.

I do not want to say who actually carried out the deed. But that person, Parent A, believed it was the right thing to do at the time. A form of discipline to be used sparingly. Only in cases when behavior is deplorable. And only after attempts at time-outs and removal of beloved objects or activities have failed (as they had that day).

Meanwhile, Parent B went batshit. Absolutely batshit, unleashing a torrent of recriminations on Parent A. "How could you?" "I don't care if she's the devil incarnate, you do not lay hands on our child!" "You are starting a cycle of violence!" "What kind of example are you setting?" 

An argument over discipline ensued, barely out of earshot of the tushy in question. By the time hubby and I retreated to opposite corners of the house, still fuming, the day was shot. We both deserved a potchy tushy.

And what of Z? The bad behavior stopped immediately, though her parents' spectacular meltdown probably had more to do with it than the potchy. Other than that, she seemed unfazed, until a few weeks later, when she started hitting us (only us, thankfully) in moments of anger or frustration.


Like you didn't see THAT coming.

So the three of us sat down and agreed that there would be no more potchies on anybody's tushies. EVER. We apologized to Z. And we apologized to each other. Lesson learned.

That's not to say it won't happen again. The arguing in front of Z, that is. It's something we're both pretty good at. But we're also good at apologizing to each other in front of her. And at making sure she knows, and we know, that her daddy and I love each other, no matter what.

I learned another important lesson the day of the potchy moratorium—one about not dwelling on who was right and who was wrong. Because Parent B had every right to dance circles around Parent A and chant, "Told you so! Told you so! Toh-oh-oh-old you so!" But Parent B didn't—and won't. Lesson learned.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Double Stuf Temptation

Double Stuf Oreo(s), I Covet Thee...

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Perfection

I glance in the little mirror
Reflected in my rear-view mirror
And catch the little one's head
Turned a bit to the side,
Staring at her impossibly big sister
With awe, perhaps, or amusement.


For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

A Parent's Prayer

Please, get them off to bed.
Please, let them sleep all night.
If both those prayers are answered
We'll be closer to all right.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fear Factor

We're two days into our first vacation as a family of four. And danger is everywhere. The too-tight car seat straps that might suffocate 8-week-old E. The oh-my-god height of the top bunk Z may tumble from if she gets her wish to sleep there. The tourists zipping by too fast on roads too narrow while we all wait to cross the street. The suspicious scratches on Z's back that have to be the beginning of meningitis or cellulitis or some kind of -itis. The slippery rocks here. The broken fence there. The edges and ledges and prickly hedges.

And now we are outside our favorite restaurant, where we always walk along the water after dinner. And now I am busy worrying over everyone's safety instead of enjoying the joy of being together in a beautiful place. And now Z is screaming because she has slipped and skinned her knees. And now no one is standing near E's stroller and the brake isn't on. And now Z is dancing toward the edge of a dock. And now E is so serene—is she still breathing? And now, "Honey, grab her hand! She's going to fall in the water!" And now E looks kind of red—could it be sunburn? And now...

SPLAT!

My clothes and hair are wet. I scan the area, counting heads. There's Z. There's E. There's hubby, begging me to relax. There's our dear friend C. They are all safe.

I look up.

There is a bird.

A big, fat bird.

A seagull, actually.

And it is directly over my head.

Fucker.

***

Later, in the shower, the water pours over me. I know I am worrying over things I cannot control. My hormones are raging eight weeks postpartum. I'm physically and mentally exhausted from caring for a newborn, a preschooler, a hubby, two dogs and various friends and family. And we as a family are way out of our usual element and routine. So the volume knob of my worry, usually set to a whisper that I can acknowledge and then ignore, has been jacked up to "E-leven" (thank you, Spinal Tap).

Oh, I WANT to relax, as dear hubby is imploring me to do. I just can't right now, which is OK.

I'll find my chill eventually—as sure as shit from a seagull.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wearing Parenting on Our Sleeves

I loved this Friday post from The Elmo Wallpaper on throwing labels around. All this talk about how we parent got me thinking. It's just the seed of an idea, expressed in a this half-baked comment to Mama's post (someday I'll explore it more!):

I agree--enough with the labeling and judging already! HOWEVER, and this is just my opinion, one element missing from Jennifer Senior's story and the response to it is that SO MANY people are serving up their parenting for public scrutiny. From the proliferation of parenting blogs (I'm guilty of writing one, too) to the dozens of parenting TV shows ("reality" or otherwise), we seem to be wearing our parenting styles on our sleeves these days. Which has the positive effects of reminding us we're not alone in this crazy endeavor; gives us valuable advice for what to do--or not do--the next time OUR preschooler runs naked through the grocery store; and in general gives us a measuring stick to gauge our responses and reactions. But it also carries the unintended (and sometimes negative) consequence of setting us up to judge and be judged. Parenting seems to me a much more public enterprise these days, one no longer bounded by the circle of family, friends, and the occasional person in line at the store watching over our shoulders. As much as I agree--enough with the judging already--the reality is that we parents will need to grow thicker skins in this brave new world.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Feeling: Permissive

Feeling:

Permissive. On a simmering summer day.


For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

A Message from Beyond

Out of the blue the other day at breakfast, Z's pink, plastic Dora the Explorer cell phone rang. (Creepy.)

"Hullo," she answered. "Mommy, it's for you. It's Grandma Rosalie. She's DEAD."

Then Z skipped off happily, leaving me wondering when exactly my little blond philosopher had morphed into Carol Anne Freeling—and how soon she'd start talking to the little voices in the TV (more so than usual).

Grandma Rosalie, my grandma, is, in fact, dead. She died about three years ago, when Z was 3 months old. They met only once. Grandma held her in the crook of her good arm at the nursing home, and we took dozens of pictures. She died a few weeks later. We sobbed at her graveside while Z babbled happily in her stroller.

Then came the death of Jasmine, our 22-year-old cat, two summers after that. Between the tears I searched the Interweb, looking for advice on how to explain death to a toddler who was asking nonstop—and nonjudgmentally—"Where's Jasmine?" My hubby and I came up with: "Jasmine was very, very old. She got very, very sick, and her body broke. And because she was so very old and so very sick, the doctors couldn't fix her. So she died."

Cue sobbing: mine.

Then, in some weird "Groundhog Day" continuous loop, Z would skip off happily, only to ask the next day, "Where's Jasmine." We added bits and pieces to our explanation: "She's not coming back, sweetie." "She's just gone." And, in one exasperated moment, "She's in heaven."

Z, looking up from her game: "What's heaven?"

Hubby: "It's where G-d lives."

Me (whispering fiercely): "Don't open THAT can of worms."

Z: "What's G-d?"

Hubby: Silence.

Me: "Who wants ice cream?"

It took another year and the teeniest, passing mention in the book "Fancy Nancy: Poet Extraordinaire!" for Z to finally come to terms, in her way, with death. Nancy says: "My mom loves poems that tell a story. She read 'Annabel Lee' by Edgar Allan Poe to me. It's about a beautiful princess who has died and the guy who will go on loving her forever. The poem is so sad, it's tragic. Warning: I bet reading this poem will make you cry too."

"Princess" was the magic word that got Z's attention. "Sad" and "cry" added a layer of emotion to what previously had been a stated fact. In all our discussions with Z about dying and death, they're the two words we neglected to mention.

 Z doesn't talk about death too much, these days. But when she does, it never fails to take me by surprise. "Jasmine died," she might say forlornly, casting her eyes downward and off to some far away place. "She was very old, and her body broke. I'm so sad." It's the same thing when we look through family photo albums: "That's Grandma Rosalie. She died. I miss her." 

But then she inevitably skips off happily, leaving the dwelling to the grownups. It seems to me a healthy approach. One I hope she'll hang onto for a long time to come.

And I wouldn't be surprised if Grandma Rosalie IS communicating with Z from the great beyond via a tacky, pink plastic Dora the Explorer cell phone. She'd be glad that Z's not dwelling on her death. It's just her style. (And Z's.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Found: The New BP


Maybe it's some sick karmic joke.
Now that the baby is here,
Attached to me, literally and figuratively
All the time. (Yep, I'm nursing.)
So I can't go to movies
For that treat I love so—
Often even better than the movie.
I've found my whole world now
Smells. Like. Drippy. Salty-Sweet. Buttered. Popcorn.

For more Six Word Fridays–and to link up your own six words–check out MakingThingsUp.com!

Blogging Tied to Hormone Fluctuations

I've tried to launch Lily's Pad twice. There was one post in 2007, the year Z was born—a fair to middling blog manifesto. How sad. And a post in 2009, fraught and overemotional, about my miscarriage. How sad, but in a different sorta way.

So now E is here. She's 5 weeks old, in fact, sitting contentedly in her bouncy seat next to me making newborn grunts and gurgles as I type.

Could it be baby-related hormones that compel me to write?

More likely it's that E is fed and happy. Three-year-old Z is off at daycare. My man's at work. And the dogs are quiet. The house is quiet.

I. Can. Actually. Hear. Myself. Think.

Maybe I can make this blog thing work. At least until my maternity leave's over. Or the phone rings. Or the dogs bark. Or E starts crying. Or I decide to take a shower instead of sit at the computer trying to write a little bit each day.

E's crying.

She can wait.