Category Archives: Mom

Conversations With a 7 Year Old (Temporary) Only Child

I .

“Mom, what’s a bachelor party?”

“It’s a party that men have before their wedding, one last night to go out and get crazy before they’re married.”

“Do they take their girlfriends?”

“No, it’s usually just their guy friends.”

“That’s no fair that girls don’t get a party!”

“Oh no, if girls want to, they can have a bachelorette party. Same idea, just all girls.”

“No boys?”


“So you just go out with your own kind? All girls or all guys?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

(2 minutes of silence)

“Mom, I think those parties are really smart.”

“How come?”

“I think it’s a good idea to go out one last night, and figure out for sure if you’re gay or not.”

(More silence,while I try to unravel where that went off the rails.)


“How was daycare today?”

(Big sigh) “Pretty much torture.”

“Oh, really? Which was worse? The jumpy castle, or the mini-golf? How dare those sadists put you though this? This clearly contravenes the United Nations Convention Against Torture! HAS ANYONE CALLED THE UN??!???”

“Mom, do you ever get tired of your own drama?”


(We tried to go to a movie. Their Internet was borked, so no credit cards, the cash confused the hell out of the teenage cashiers, and the theatre’s Fro Yo stand was down. Screw that. We improvised by hitting Marble Slab instead.)

“What do you want, kiddo?”

“Chocolate. Large. With peanut butter cups and smarties and sprinkles and peppermint patties.”

“Sounds messy…..”

(Fixes me with the iciest, most laser-like glare on which I have ever been on the receiving end.)


(Turns back to detachedly supervising the mix-in process.)


Dear Kids,

Dear Kids,

First, let me start by saying that if you’re not adults, stop reading.  This letter is for future-you, because now-you should be outside playing or drawing a picture or something innocent and child-like and awesome.

Over 16?  Good.  You can keep reading.

This past year has been the craziest one of our lives.  I thought that title belonged to the first year I became a mother.  But instead it  belongs to this, the year that the word mother, for me, was joined by a qualifier – Single.

I’ve watched enough TV to know what single mothers are supposed to be about.

Single moms are supposed to be plucky and struggle financially and tend toward the trashy and never let a man in, and say dammit a lot.

Kids, the problem is, all of that described me a year ago.  Before I broke up with your dad.

This year has been brutally hard.  There were moments I was pretty sure would end me.  When we were all still living in the same house, even after the declaration had been made, and I would look at you, and I would look at your dad, and the tears would stream down my face as I would ask him “How can we really be doing this?”

When you came to me, son, in the early days, seeing your parents’ tear-streaked faces, and your dad waking up on the couch, and you said “Tell me what’s going on here, and don’t lie.” And I told you.  And you told me you didn’t want to live with either one of us and that were both jerks. (Which made me kind of happy because I thought that was just about the healthiest damn thing you could have possibly said, and maybe, maybe, you’d make it out of this OK.)

When you, my baby girl, cried silently, waving at your dad as he left to go back to his house, and your little voice whispered “I just miss him so much.”  And when you told me, without a hint of manipulation, that you just love him more, right now, that you still love me, you just love him more, and I had to smile and say that was alright, and that you can love who you want, as much as you want, and my stomach threatened to heave with the disappointment of it all.

When I fooled myself into thinking that this divorce was about your dad & I, that we were covering all the bases, and you, Boy Child, were hesitant to invite friends over to your mom’s new place, because, in your words, “My friends don’t all know that I’m divorced.”

When I wasn’t even-tempered, and I wasn’t mad at you, and you got yelled at, and didn’t get the attention you deserved, and needed even more.  And you just took it, and didn’t fight back or tell me I wasn’t being fair.  Which made me feel unbelievably worse.

Yeah.  There were some pretty ugly moments this year.


Oh babies, there was some awesomeness.

Raising you, enjoying you, being with you, without the spectre of a really bad relationship hovering over the whole thing, poisoning it all.

Watching a community not just talk the talk, but truly walk the walk, as nearly everyone we knew stepped up, and buttressed us, and made this year possible.  You have some beyond amazing people in your life, kids.  Neighbors, a school, a community, friends, that shone all over us when things were wicked dark.

And your dad & I.  Hitting our own personal rock-bottoms.  And now, almost exactly a year later, being able to surface, look around, and realize we’re both on the way to Happy.  And being the parents we wanted to be for you.

I adore you.  Thank you just for being.

Love, Mom

Do You Think Mia Hamm’s Mom Ever Had This Moment?

The Girl had her very first soccer game last night.

She ran.  A lot.  She made contact with the ball once,  maybe twice.  She sat on a blanket with her team.  She shook hands at the end of the game.

And I was proud of my baby girl.

But it had nothing to do with soccer.

Because while I can appreciate that she is learning new skills, learning how to relate to others, learning how to be part of a team, I have to admit, all things sports-related leave me feeling a little “meh”.

No, the pride was all inspired off the field.

Just before half-time, The Girl seems a little off.  She’s looking around, maybe dancing a little.  And I walk back in my mind, to when I was running around the house, trying to feed supper to two excited kids, get them into soccer gear, and remember the damn water bottles.  I remember telling her to make sure she went to the bathroom before we left.

But I don’t remember her doing it.

Uh oh.

At first, I try to convince her that she’ll be able to hold it.  She’s not buying it.

I scan the area.  All the adjacent buildings; the school, the community hall, the rink shack, all closed.  We don’t know anyone who lives within a block of the place.  And I’m not taking her all the way home.

As I try my hardest not to curse her for not being a born a boy (because damn, I really love that about raising a boy), I panic and weigh my options.

We have no other choice.

We find a relatively dense bunch of pine trees, walk between them.  And I tell her how this is going to go down.

Watch out for your soccer shorts.  And your shoes.  And try to balance.  And try not to get it on yourself.  And be quick so no one sees this.

She was unconvinced.  This kind of went against everything I had ever taught her about etiquette, bathroom or otherwise.  But she’s always up for a challenge.  And she REALLY had to go.

Copping a successful squat?  Really damn hard.

Getting it right on your first try?  Genius.

Not one drop on those shorts, not one stray trail down the leg, not one wet shoe lace.

She can score goals all damn season.  And I could not be as proud as I was last night.

Good job, kiddo.

For my friend, whose afternoon was maybe not so awesome.

Parenting is a tricky business.

The group of mothers I’ve come up with, we’re all negotiating a curve, these days.

A time when “parent” becomes less a noun, more a verb.

The first 5 years or so are consumed with busy work.  Just keeping them alive is a measure of success.  Then, they’re potty trained and walking and spending more time at school than at home.  We breathe a little easier, maybe.  Sure, the drudgery is still there.  Clean this, cook that, sign this, don’t forget that.    But we relax.

Then all of a sudden, we realize there are emotional needs to be considered, now, too.  Not just the ones we can control anymore, either.  Do our kids have friends?  Are they heading toward being decent people?  Which lessons are actually sticking, which ones discarded like snotty kleenex?

Worse yet?  The feeling that even now, at the embryonic ages of 6 or 7, doors are closing.  Opportunities are passing.

That we have the potential to actually fail the little buggers.

I have this friend.  She is amazing at this job.

All my mom friends have strengths.  Wonderful, awesome, breathtaking skills with their children.

But this one….

She listens to me, to any of us, bemoan the trials of this job.  She agrees, wholeheartedly and honestly, that this job is so fecking hard.

The difference, as far as I can see, is that when I go home, and sometimes do a half-assed job, letting myself off the hook because god dammit, I am tired,

she doesn’t.

She goes home and she does the work.  She stays engaged and interested, and makes sure her kids know they are respected and enjoyed.  She draws on bottomless wells of patience.

Even though it would be easier to open a bag of Oreos and call it a snack, she’s there with apple slices, and yet I have never once felt like she threw even a smidgen of judgement my way as I wiped those Oreo crumbs off my kids’ faces.  She is laying out craft supplies, when the path of least resistance would be the Cartoon Network.  She has raised kids who ask for things like bat costumes and magic capes, while other kids (mine) list off toys according to manufacturer, verbatim from the commercial on which they saw them.

She would never point out that she does the right thing.  She just does it.

Which is why my chest hurt when I listened to her, today.  A deadline passed.  Instructions were vague.    Her child would miss out.

And it was because of her.

(Well, that’s her story.  I could argue for days that the lack of clarity was on someone else’s part, and that it was all politics, but it wouldn’t change anything, so I won’t.)

In a year, this incident won’t even matter.  In a week, even, it will be a whole lot less important.

But today, it made my friend cry.

The idea that she’d let her kid down was just too much.  And the fact that it was too much for her was too much for me.

“I’m doing my best” may be a mantra we use, to soothe ourselves, to justify our actions, to buy ourselves peace of mind.

Friend?  You’re not just doing your best.  You’re doing well.  Very, very well.

A Mother’s Tears

I look about a hundred years old, tonight.

My eyes are exhausted.

Literal tablespoons of tears fell from them.

It’s not what you think.

I spent a good part of tonight laughing.  Laughing until I couldn’t breathe, until I was actually scared that this was how I was going out of this world.  And then I laughed some more.

I’m sure that one day, when The Boy is older, he will want to be funny.  He will try to get laughs.  And I probably will laugh.  But right now, when he’s not even trying?

Oh holy shit.

We’re discussing tomorrow’s Show & Share, for school.  His teacher asks the class to bring in an item that begins with a specific letter.  They’ve been working their way through the alphabet, and they’re up to “O”.

He’s mulling over his options.  We have no owls.  Oil can be messy.  He thinks for a bit.

Then he asks me, “Mom?  Can I have an empty jar?”

“But it’s not ‘J’ week, it’s ‘O’ week,” I try to tell him.

“I know.  I’m taking an ‘Odor’.  I need a jar to fart in.”



If you’re ever pissed off, tired, sad, at wit’s end, here’s what you need to do:

Grab some Mad Libs.

Find a six-year-old boy.



I go over the basic concept with The Boy, nerdily excited to explain nouns and verbs and adjectives.

He’s getting the hang of it.

He’s starting to rattle off words, as soon as I ask for them.

“Give me a plural noun.”


“Now an adverb.”


“A part of the body.”


Yep.  That’s the first body part that came to my baby boy’s mind.  The taint.  Which, unlike many 6 year olds, he has a word for.

I could defend my skills as a parent.  I could make excuses as to where and how he may have heard that word.

But my eyes and stomach muscles are tired.

So instead, for the first time anywhere in the world, The Boy’s First Mad Lib.  Enjoy!

When you go to the beach, you must take along a big blanket, a thermos bottle full of fruit juice, lots of suntan goo, and a couple of folding chairs.  Then you put on your socks so you can get a beautiful red to last you all summer.  You also should have a big hat to keep the sun off your taint.  You can also bring a short lunch, such as hard-boiled houses, a few lion sandwiches with mustard, and some bottles of goofy cola.  If you remember all of the above and get a place near a clean lifeguard, you can sunbathe quickly all day.

I am, as you can imagine, incredibly proud.  So proud it would bring a tear to my eye.  If I had any left…