August 9, 2007
October 4, 2006
I’ve been reluctant to type anything lately because all I can muster is pure crap. I often find myself thinking in the form of a telegram, so of course that’s what tends to come out here. It’s depressing to discover that one can lose her ability to think real thoughts if unpracticed. Hey – the brain really is a muscle – who knew? Not me, because mine has atrophied. So, what’s happened while I’ve been gone…
Mimi lost ANOTHER tooth. She has to go to the hospital on friday for a series of tests (unrelated to the missing teeth) and I am prepared for them to tell me that she is pre-menopausal. She’s just rebelious enough to do that to me.
Wixi is hitting baseballs over the fence (well, our fence) and at least 10 times a day relays to me proudly that he is in fact NOT going to say goddammit anymore when he doesn’t.
This is good news because I taught my first Sunday school class last week and I was terrified that he would burst in and drop a GD bomb – thereby proving beyond any doubt that I am indeed a terrible fraud.
September 21, 2006
…hugging your child even when it is painful.
September 17, 2006
A couple weeks ago, Mimi mentioned to her father and me that she had a loose tooth. We didn’t believe her, so she jiggled it with her tongue – “See?”
“Don’t do that,” snapped her father. “Don’t ever wiggle it again.” Then he turned to me, “This isn’t supposed to happen until like fifth grade, right?”
“At least fifth,” I agreed.
But Mimi insisted that most of the other kids in her kindergarten class had already lost a tooth.
“Nope. Too soon,” we answered in unison.
Then we stuck our fingers in our ears and squeezed our eyes shut – lalalalalalala. We can’t hear you. You’ll be five forever. You’ll stay tiny and wear little socks and fly like supergirl until we’re old and senile and don’t know any better. Starting kindergarten AND losing your first tooth in two weeks time – what’s your hurry cutetoot?
September 13, 2006
In praise of the employee at the Wendy’s drive-through window who brought me to tears with exemplary customer service
There aren’t many people that have the opportunity to screw up my day like that of a fast food employee when I’m in a hurry. If I’m not racing somewhere to pick up a kid or drop off a kid or to pick up some groceries or to drop off the dog, then I at least want to get back to my office with enough time to enjoy my biggie size box o’ trans fat.
There are only two fast food venues near my office and they’ve long been a source of frustration for me. I simply won’t go to the Taco Bell because it’s drive-through line is bordered by the building on one side and a tall brick wall on the other. If it’s taking way too long to make my bean burrito no onions then I have no recourse. The last time I went I suffered a panic attack and very nearly had to abandon my car. The alternative is Wendys – insufferably slow, but at least I was free to bail. Still, I’ll never forget the time they asked me to pull up to wait for mimi’s nuggets and then forgot about me. I waited 20 minutes with a screaming 1.5 year old. I didn’t want to park and go in because there was no way I was taking her out of that seat. I didn’t want to drive around and wait in line at the drive through because I ALREADY DID THAT. I didn’t want to just drive away because I had already paid. I didn’t want to start honking madly because, though I was pissed OFF – I don’t like looking like one of those crazed mothers who is pissed OFF that her baby is not going to get her nuggets. So, I called information, got the number, watched the teenage manager answer the phone and make faces to the other uniformed teenagers – trying to convey that he was being cussed out by some crazy lady who’s baby didn’t get her nuggets. I think he pooped a little when I said “I’m watching you!”
Free coupons aside, I didn’t go back there for awhile. Then about a year ago, Wendys hired a very capable woman. It’s not an exageration to say that this woman has changed my life. I don’t know how she does it but I barely have time to decide what I want before I’m at the mic and then almost never get a chance to get my money out before she’s handing me my stuff. With a smile. And a “How are ya?!” The first time I experienced this miracle I cried. Literal tears. I thought maybe it was just a fluke, but when I went back the next day? Same thing. Only faster. And friendlier. A few months later I saw the regional manager dude who’s in charge of a bunch of franchises around here and I told him about her. I thanked him for finding her and tried to convey to him what it means to me to not have to sit for 40 minutes behind an old beater chugging exhaust fumes into my window and ruining my appetite. My husband had to drag me away from him.
I went back yesterday after a long time trying to avoid The Frosty. I knew she was there even before I saw her. This line is going too fast, I thought. Surely she should be promoted by now. After my glowing recommendation? WTF?
Secretly though, I was glad. After she gave me my food I told her how much I truly appreciate her. She looked a bit embarrased but ultimately thankful. Again with the tears. And damn those fries were good.
September 11, 2006
“Sing America first, and then God Bless America after that and then This Land is My Land for the end,” instructs my 5 year-old-daughter, Mimi. Then my cheek gets a kiss, and her pillow gets a punch before she rolls away from me to disappear under the covers.
This bedtime ritual is almost identical to the one I share with her 2 year-old-brother, except for one difference – the playlist. Wixi is more likely to ask, “Sing Sunshine, mommy.” He’s also become accustomed to Casey and Clementine – two favorites from my own childhood. Mimi knows these songs too. I sang them to her even before she was born. In fact, I so loved the songs of my childhood that as a girl I dreamed of the day I would share them with my children to comfort them or lull them to sleep as my mother had done for me.
Oh my darlin’ Oh my darlin’ Oh my darlin’ Clementine, you are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.
When I asked my mom why she chose such melancholy songs for my childhood soundtrack she said she hadn’t given it much thought at the time. Those were the songs she grew up with and she thought they had a good rhythm for rocking. In the first few months of Mimi’s life, I continued that tradition in the quiet dark of her room, humming and rocking and singing – soothing myself as much as the baby.
Ruby lips above the water, blowing bubbles soft and fine
Tried to help her, couldn’t save her, dreadful sorry Clementine
I was terrified of being a new mother and so unsure of myself. Feelings of incompetence and failure threatened to overwhelm me when nursing didn’t come naturally to us. Mimi wasn’t gaining weight and my husband had to feed her like a kitten from a Dixie cup. While her tiny tongue lapped at the milk, I sat helpless and wondered – what kind of mother can’t even feed her own baby?
My confidence plummeted. I was disgusted that I had ever thought myself worthy of caring for an infant. Negative thoughts ballooned in my head until I could think of nothing but my inadequacies. Every outfit I pulled from the drawer was potentially the outfit in which I would see her last. I was sure I would leave her in the grocery cart or forget her sleeping in the backseat of the car. Every photo became the one I would give to the police or see on the back of a milk carton. I had visions a neck-breaking fall down the stairs; heard the sound of screeching, crunching metal whenever I pulled out in traffic, smelled the smoke of the fire that would surely break-out if I were to ever let down my guard. The only way to squeeze out the debilitating disquietude was to sing.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
These songs of my childhood helped me feel connected to my mother, who was close in proximity, yet not fully understanding my struggle. The songs reassured me that I was doing something right – I was giving my child this gift of family tradition and ritual.
Casey would waltz with the strawberry blonde and the band played on.
He’d glide ‘cross the floor with the girl he adored and the band played on.
By the time Mimi was three months old, she began to seem less fragile in my arms. I was finally able to climb out of my anxiety and see the joy in becoming her mother.
But my reprieve did not last long.
September 11th 2001, on a tiny television in my office, I watched the twin towers fall. All my hard-won confidence came crashing down along with them. I knew that even in the relative safety of our mid-western town, our lives had changed forever. In the days following the attacks, my hands and feet tingled with anxiety and my lips were completely numb. I had come to terms with needing to protect my daughter from illness, bad influence and my own ineptitude – but suicidal terrorists? Again, I was helpless.
The only thing that gave me comfort was going back to that place in my mother’s arms. But this time, without really thinking about it, I began to whisper a new kind of lullaby at the edge of my baby’s ear.
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
Somehow it gave me hope to speak these words out loud. Though I wasn’t at ground zero clearing debris, maybe my singing was serving a purpose, however small. In some way I was doing my part to heal the country and myself and promise a safe and happy life for my daughter.
Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain
For purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plains
Eventually, we developed our own ritual of watching the news with the sound turned off. I held her, fed her and rocked her – always singing softly and willing the people of our country to come together and bring peace for our children.
America, America, God shed his grace on thee and
Crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea
Two days after the attacks, we went to a gathering at our city’s minor league baseball field to grieve for the victims and to show support for the country. Through tears, the crowd sang the national anthem and strangers held tight to one another as if they’d been friends for years.
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
The next day, in our local paper I was surprised to find a large photo of Mimi curled up in my arms with her face against my chest and my lips pressed to her forehead. I was holding a small American flag, which was peeking in from the right side of the frame. I clipped the photo from the paper and reluctantly tucked it into her baby book. I’ve realized that no matter how desperately I want to control my daughter’s destiny – I simply can’t. I can comfort her and try to protect her, but her life is already framed in a way that I never imagined or planned.
The songs from her childhood are not melancholy like mine, but they are beautiful, passionate, and grand – a lot like Mimi. And a lot like America, too. Still, my daughter lives in a country far different from the one I’ve known. Sometimes I worry that our post 9/11 nation is trapped in the early stages of motherhood – so vigilant, so anxious, so protective of her brood that five years later we are having trouble getting past the fear. In my heart I understand this too well. I understand the need to hold on tight and let no one in. The stakes are at their highest. But one thing I’ve learned from my daughter is that the best way to encourage her faith in herself is to loosen my grip and just sing.
Originally uploaded by yamama.
I’ve never been so proud in my life. My little kindergarten girl. You’re off.
September 2, 2006
I am seriously about ready to lose my shit. Thank god I have this blog to distract me from slitting my wrists with the plastic edge of the mousetrap packaging. It doesn’t say so on the directions, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m supposed to do with it after the trap fails miserably and I’m left with no other choice. Since the mouse is unable to be ousted – I must go. Don’t they give the astronauts some kind of poison pill to swallow in case they get attacked my aliens or something? Wait. It gets better.
Not only am I hosting Stuart Little himself, but a sparrow heard about the party and decided to drop in on us as well. While I was busy spreading yet MORE mouse traps throughout the house, the kids stared yelling about a bird flying over the couch. I came running in and managed to scooch him out onto the screened porch. Just as I thought I had him headed to the open door, the dog barked and the kids yelled and the birdy switched directions and flew at neck breaking speed right smack into the window. I looked back at the kids as they watched birdy fall straight down the the floor, legs straight up in the air. “Is he DEAD?” They screamed. “I don’t KNOW! Where the HELL is your father – we have wildlife invading our home!” I yelled. Only, I know where the hell he is. He’s watching FOOTBALL on a 50″ flat screen with a beer in one hand and I don’t know what in the other – certainly not a nasty sticky mouse trap or a dead bird. No. That’s what I’m holding. Exept the bird isn’t REALLY dead. It was just PLAYING dead so me and my dog and my children would just leave it the hell alone. I know this because I left it on the porch for my husband as penance for his fine day of beer and football – and now it’s up and chirping and flying around terrorizing my children. Mimi thinks we should take it to a special hospital for birds because, isn’t it mean to let a bird with a broken neck fly around in our screened porch? Yes, yes it is. However, I can’t be worrying about that right now because the mouse is taking a bath in the dog’s water dish.
August 28, 2006
Revenge? Really? I was foolishly unaware of your grudge-holding capabilites. Perhaps if I had stayed awake in church while my father was delivering his sermons from the Lay pulpit, I would have learned of your sneaky ways. Perhaps if I had continued going to church at all, instead of staying home to watch Abbott and Costello reruns, I would be more prepared for what lies ahead. Seriously, is this your doing? How else could I possibly have agreed to teach Sunday school this fall?
Would it help if I said I was sorry, and that Abbott and Costello were so not even funny?
Me. Teaching sunday school. Bahaaahhaaaa. Blasphemous indeed.
August 25, 2006
The other day I read a Dear Abbey type column in the paper. A woman was writing in to say that she’s fed up with the behavior of her son. I immediately tuned in because, I too, am fed up with my son and his head-butting ways.
Then I lost interest because her son is an adult and I only like stories having to do with children and how to
force teach them to obey listen carefully so they will do exactly as I say until I am dead and gone grow up to make safe, appropriate choices in life.
But, I was on the toilet and didn’t want to get off. It’s not my fault I’m efficient – my husband takes 45 minutes in there – I figure 20 minutes is believable for me and my digestive system. So, I kept reading.
This woman is peeved because her son and daughter-in-law only talk about themselves. Incessantly. They talk about the kids, the dog, the house, their jobs, blah blah blobbity blah. Again, I was intrigued. This couple sounds suspicously familiar – like I know them ve-ry intimately. I skipped ahead to try and decode the identity of the sender because, damn. I think it’s my mother-in-law. If it isn’t, it should be, because – oh my god are we guilty of this.
K. watches the kids two days a week at our house and this woman is a saint. She has 5 kids, 12 grandkids, 1 great-grandkid and a husband with a golf
obsession problem habit hobby. She is the friendliest, kindest, sweetest lady EVER. We’ve lived in this neighborhood 8 years and I’m still meeting neighbors who ask me – “Who are you and what are you doing with those kids? They belong to K. Where is K? How are the bunions on her right foot? Please tell her that my husband’s stones passed without surgery, she’ll be so pleased to know.” And she WILL actually be pleased – and relieved.
Occasionally, I’ll ask my husband, “How could we not KNOW she has bunions?” Or, like this past Friday when I discovered we’d missed her birthday, I asked – “What kind of son ARE you?” And then he’s forced to reply – “Didn’t you just forget to call your mother on the day of her SURGERY?” Oh. Well. I guess if you’re gonna count that – WE BOTH SUCK ASS.
I hearby pledge to get over myself.
Incidentally, this blog is not helping.