Archive for the ‘On being a mom’ Category

I love seeing how my kids’ answers to these questions have changed from time to time.

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?

K: I love you.
A: Be polite.

2. What makes Mommy happy?
K: Being with us.
A: Getting chocolate from Wendy.

3. What makes Mommy sad?
K: Us being sad.
A: Being away from us for long increments of time.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
K: Tickles me until I go pee.
A: “Behhhhd.”

5. What was Mommy like as a child?
K: Old compared to her brother.
A: Like me.

6. How old is Mommy?
K: 42
A: 42

7. How tall is Mommy?
K: 5 feet
A: 5 feet 4 inches

8. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?
K: Spend time with her family.
A: Go to Maine.

9. What does Mommy do when you’re not around?
K: Drink wine.
A: Book club.

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
K: Running for president.
A: Singing.

11. What is Mommy really good at?
K: Loving people.
A: Acting.

12. What is Mommy not very good at?
K: Giving Katie dessert every day.
A: I don’t know.

13. What does Mommy do for her job?
K: She does Congress.
A: Works on the budget for Congress, I think.

14. What is Mommy’s favorite food?
K: Pumpkin soup.
A: Belgian chocolate.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
K: She takes care of her younger brother.
A: She argues her point.

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
K: Snoopy.
A: Minnie Mouse.

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
K: Snuggle and I read to her.
A: Go on trips..

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
K: We’re related.
A: We could be identical twins.

19. How are you and Mommy different?
K: Mommy’s eyes are greener and I’m not married. I know that’s a pretty bad answer but its the only thing I could come up with.
A: I have a squishy nose and mom doesn’t.

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
K: It’s in your eyes and your heart.
A: She tells me every day.

21. Where is Mommy’s favorite place to go?
K: Maine.
A: Home.


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I am a writer who lost her muse. I am muse-less. In need of Muse.

I have spent the last several weeks looking forward to getting back to writing again. Writing for me, not writing for work — which I have been doing nonstop, to the point where it has sucked my life force away. On my blog, no one cares about whether I use Chicago style or not, or whether my comma usage is up to par, or whether I use words on the Naughty List [all of which appear in Webster’s, for the record.]

So when I finally found time to write, I have…nothing to say? Not possible. Me, who cannot shut up, ever, has nothing to say? How is this possible?

I look at my list of Blogs I Heart for inspiration. Nothing. I think about the days and weeks of “bloggable moments” — I know I had them but I can’t remember what they were. Ugh. Uninspired.

And then it occurs to me that he most inspired person I know lately is my daughter. What inspired her?  A tragic house and barn fire that we witnessed last Saturday. What did she do with her inspiration? She wrote a poem.  She is all of 7 and her way of processing scary shit is POETRY.  Awesome.

For background, here’s what happened…

On Saturday night we were at our friends’ house a few towns over for dinner. Just before dinner, the guys look out the window and say — about the house across the street —  “ummmmmmm, that house is on FIRE!”  HUGE flames were everywhere — I call 911, we instruct the kids to stay inside with the dogs, and the 4 adults ran across the street to see what was going on…the barn was totally engulfed in flames and it was moving to the house, quickly. The owners weren’t home but the guy who rents the back apartment had just come back from dinner with his two pre-teen kids… the kids were hysterical; we took them back to my girlfriend’s house to calm down and watch Harry Potter with our kids.  We went back across the street to help move cars out of the driveway, get the dogs to safety, move propane tanks and other things that could explode, save a baby goat, etc.  I attempt to move a dump truck.  [Go ahead, take a moment and picture that…and yes, I was as clueless as you’d think a suburban kid from Long Island would be. But I moved the stick shift car without stalling out.] It was a big deal (the fire – not me driving stick shift) —  very scary and lasted about 4 hours. There were easily 10-15 fire trucks from all of the surrounding towns in the Mutual Aid District. No one was hurt…most of the animals made it out of the house and barn  — they lost 2 goats but the cows, 2 dogs, and 1 baby goat made it. Half the house was saved but the barn and the back half of the house — including the poor renter’s apartment — were lost.

I’ve never seen anything like it — it was surreal, movie-like. The kids were fantastic and they are all processing through it in their own ways.  Katie had trouble sleeping that night and came into our room for the rest of the night, which she hardly ever does anymore.  The next night she had a nightmare but she says she can’t remember what it was about.

Her class has been doing a poetry unit since last week. I picked her up from school on Monday and she told me she wrote a new poem. She recited it for me in the car.


Blazing hot fire
Burning up my barn.
Run away, run away.
Burning up my house.
Run to the neighbors
Until it’s all out.

She made up new poems off the cuff all the way home, about the most random of objects — whatever we drove past on the way home, she was Miss Slam Poet of the Century. Trucks and Ducks (yeah, I was concerned for a minute for where that one was headed;) icy lakes and glittery rocks; barns; puppies…they just flew out of her, effortlessly.

I guess you find inspiration in the simplest of places.

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Perfect Moments

Yes, yes, I said I’d do Perfect Moment Tuesdays and it’s Wednesday. Bygones.

The Perfect Moment Project was started by two women who, after bitching and complaining about the state of the world and their lives, began thinking about moments when everything seemed right. When everything was peaceful. When there was clarity and mindfulness. My cousin Jessica is doing a version of this on Facebook – each day she updates her status with something for which she is thankful.

My Perfect Moment this week came today when, amid the morning before-school chaos, Bug handed me a homemade envelope. It had a fancy picture of…something unidentifiable on it. It was all taped up. She insisted I open it Right. Now. I set it aside to pour some coffee first. MOMMY! Here. Read.  She had opened it for me and inside was a homemade card addressed to Mommy, Daddy, and Anya. And inside the card, written in 6 year old phonetic chicken scratch, were the words to Annie’s Song. Annie’s Song is one of Our Songs. I’ve sung it to her since the day she was born, and of all three of Our Songs, it is her favorite. After giving her that song most nights for the last 6 years, she found a way to give it back to me.


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Dear Santa,

Please please please please can I have Harry Potter 4? I’m his biggest fan. I know what his name is! It’s Daniel. Like my dad. If no one sees you my little cousin Jake will cry, because everybody likes Santa. Everyone would have a sad Christmas. Some people are already decorated, like a lot of people. Like all the people in the world. Everybody already has their Christmas trees. No one will set a fire in the fireplace on Christmas because if you come down then you’d get your bottom burnt.

Can you deliver every present to every child every Christmas? What do you elves look like? Do your reindeer need coats? How many? Can you send me a picture of them?

Do you deliver presents to animals if they’ve been good? Do you drop fish upon the lakes so bigger fish can eat them? How pretty is the moon when you fly by it? Would you send me a picture? Can you eat it? Is it really cheese or is it just moon with a lot of water in it? I would like to know.

Thank you Santa. I was just wondering those questions.

Love, Katie

ps:  Just in case you were wondering, my family members are Jackie, Daniel, ANYA.

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That I can still buy Christmas presents for my kids right in front of their faces and they don’t notice…or realize. I’m not sure which.

That the 10 year old was excited to find and hide the stupid Tinkerbell movie from the 5 year old. And that she is still innocent enough to not understand why she can’t hide it under her coat in the middle of BJs.

That I can still carry the 5 year old into the house when she falls asleep in the car.

That they still think it’s fun to hang out with mom and dad.

That they think it’s fun and not sad that I play PS3 with them.

That the 5 year old doesn’t yet remember which finger “is the bad finger.”

That given the choice of TV shows to watch, they will pick something on Animal Planet, The Food Network, or Discovery Channel.

That they still believe in Santa.

That the 10 year old thinks Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the best movie ever made.

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The girls put on a 60-minute variety show for us tonight. They sang, danced, and made up skits. During that hour, inbetween laughing at their antics, I was struck by how much their own people they are, and how proud of them I am for it.  At 5 and 10, my daughters have already learned what it took me well into adulthood to learn — be yourself, love yourself, express yourself, and who cares what anyone else thinks.

My 10 year old LOVES her glasses. And she should –  they look way cool on her. When I was her age, I *hated* my glasses and couldn’t wait to get rid of them. She is so full of personality and not at all afraid to let it show. When I was her age, I wanted nothing more than to be invisible behind my book. She does not apologize for who she is; I didn’t know who I was until I was 30. This amazing small person, who looks so much like me it takes my breath away, can entertain herself for hours by building fairy houses, drawing, reading, building forts, cooking, or writing stories. She is happy to be with people, or to just be. She finds contententment within herself, and does what she wants, when she wants to.

My 5 year old is at a crossroads between baby and big girl, and depending on her mood she can be either. Her favorite place is sprawled in my lap, thumb stuck between her rosebud lips. She’s a mama’s girl like I never was. She is totally fearless, living like there is no tomorrow. This little girl is larger than life. She surrounds a room with herself, willing you to see her. She is both a pleaser and an adventurer. She can charm the socks off you before you know what hit you. She possesses an independence  that, if she can hold onto it, will take her far.

My daughters are all these things that I was not when I was their age. I fought hard for these things as an adult; they efforlessly draw on a deep, seemingly unending sense of self. They will grow up to be what they want to be, not what I want them to be. They are this way because I remind myself each day to let them be who they are instead of my idea of who they should be.

And that is the greatest gift I can give them.

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A and I were at the fabric store yesterday picking up some fleece to make a birthday present for a friend of hers. One of the reasons I think A was initially drawn to Maggie is that, like A, Maggie is not a girly-girl. No pink, no flowers, no bows and ribbons, no Jonas Brothers or Hannah Montana. A’s interests are simple and old fashioned and outdoorsy — animals, stuffed animals, skiing, swimming, hiking, camping, fishing (K, on the other hand, was clearly switched at birth. That child is all baby-dolls, dresses, and all hues of pink.)

“Maggie likes sports, Mom. And her favorite colors are orange, blue, and green.” So we look at fabric for Maggie’s blanket. I look at patterns I’d pick out for A; funky stripes in red, orange and brown;  polka dots; animals; snow. We carefully consider the wall of fleece; A rubs her face on bolt after bolt of fuzzy softness, passing quickly over anything that has a speck of pink in it. At the end of the row she says “this one, mama, this one,” tugging at a bolt of royal blue fleece with basketballs, footballs and soccer balls on it.  OK. Off we go to pick a coordinating solid fleece for the reverse side of the blanket. We find, we cut, we pay, we leave.  Awesome.

Except for the little voice in my head that piped up, upon first being presented with the blue fleece with balls on it, “really, that one? that’s a boy’s pattern!” 

WTF??  Where the hell did that little voice come from? We work hard to raise the girls without narrow-minded, limiting gender stereotypes. We teach them — and strongly believe — that they can be anything they want to be if they work hard and set their minds to it; that no doors are automatically closed to them for any reason. I believe so strongly in this it’s one of the reasons I left the Catholic church many years ago. We practice what we preach because it’s just the way we live. So why the little voice? Why was that the FIRST thing that came to mind? I’m saddened by that little voice. Yes, I carried the day in the end – my daughter has no idea that thought crossed my mind. Still – I’m pissed. When I was a little girl thoughts like that often translated into actions. I suppose it’s progress of some sort that I only thought it an didn’t act it or say it.  But when will that kind of thinking become uncommon — even for people who supposedly “know better?”

 ps:  The blanket came out great, in case you were wondering. How cute is this?

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