Friday, July 30, 2010


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.

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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...


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.



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


Permissive. On a simmering summer day.

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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.

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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.