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?”

“Nope.”

“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.)

II.

“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?”

III.

(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.)

Good.”

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

20130716-193349.jpg

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.

But…..

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.”

Seriously.

———————————————————————————————–

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.

Combine.

Enjoy.

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.”

“Houses.”

“Now an adverb.”

“Quickly.”

“A part of the body.”

“Taint.”

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…

The Murraying Kind

I don’t think this is my daughter’s first time around.

Although she’s only 3 in this life, I’m pretty sure she’s had a crack or two at this planet, previously.

If I had to guess when her last life here on Earth took place?  I’ d say somewhere in the 1950s.

Because she has the soul of the Perfect Housewife.

She’s been able to crack eggs, one-handed with no shell bits in the bowl, since she was one and a half.  Last year, she asked for her own vacuum cleaner. (I didn’t think she was serious.  She was.)  Her grandmother called me while The Girl was at her house, asking when we’d baked pies.   I laughed out loud.  (We don’t make pies, we buy them.)  She went on to explain that The Girl was using an old-fashioned, crank-handled apple peeler.

(Image from here.)

With no help.  And no instructions.

I had no explanation.

The Girl is never without a baby doll, who she is potty training and diapering and burping, and no she can’t just leave them and come have lunch because she is responsible for them, duh.

And when she’s not taking care of her babies, or cooking, or cleaning,

she’s playing Marrying.  (Which, in her own particular dialect, comes out sounding more like “Murraying”.)

I do not understand.

I have never, ever pitched marriage to her as a plan.  I’m not against marriage, per se.  I just don’t see it as a destination.  But I think she does.

She finds weddings fascinating.

She marries everything to everything else.

Barbie & Ken get married.

Her spoon and her fork get married.

When left with nothing else, she’ll even marry crayons.  (Can you imagine Blue talking about the wedding night to his blushing bride, Red? “Oh, I am gonna color you so hard.  You won’t be able to tell where the Blue starts and the Red ends.  When we get done there’s just gonna be a big puddle of purple left, you dig?  Aw, yeaaah!”  Anyway…)

We had a moment, tonight.  To be by ourselves and talk.

I asked her why she wanted to get married.

She just smiled.

I asked how old she thought she should be, when the deal goes down.

“How old were you?”

I told her I was 23, and that was too young.  She nodded, agreed.

“Are you going to marry a man or a woman?”

She laughs, looks at me like I’m slow.  She will marry a boy, she says, because she will want to have babies.  I start to explain that families with 2 moms can have babies, and families with 2 dads can have….but she senses this explanation is going to be bigger than she has patience for, so she tells me she will have 2 babies.  One will be named Tito, the other Apple.  (P.S., the boy is Apple.)  And she tells me that one day Tito and Apple will have babies, and that she will be their grandma, and….

I interrupt.  “You know, you don’t just get married.  You have to be married.  And when you get married, you promise you will stay married.   For your whole life.”

She tells me she knows that, stops just short of rolling her eyes at me.

And she tells me that’s why she is going to marry a nice boy, so she will like him for her whole life.

“What would a nice boy be like?”

According to The Girl, a nice boy will kiss you on the forehead and buy you fries and pick up the babies when they cry and open the car door for you.

(Image from here.)

She’s not entirely wrong, you know.  She’s kind of got a lot of the elements figured out, already, at the age of 3.

Nearly as figured out as I did at the age of 23.

Yes Santa Claus, There is a Virginia. And She Believes, a Little.

(Image from here.)

Have I ever told you that Ginny is actually short for Virginia?

When I was a kid, Virginia seemed like a big, long name, and a neighbour suggested shortening it to Ginny, and it stuck.

There are some tough names to have this time of year.

Holly.  Carol.  Noel.

Virginia has its moments, too.

People who relentlessly remind me that “Yes, there is a Santa Claus.”  Then laugh, like they’re the first person to ever say that to me.  (Wankers.)

(If you’re not sure what the hell I’m talking about, read this explanation of the tale of Virginia and her doubts.)

As a kid, I don’t remember ever believing in Santa Claus.

Really.

My parents just never made a big swinging deal out of it, and I was an extremely logical kid.  Who snooped.  And figured it out.

So sometimes it can be hard to buy into the whole ethos.

My blog friend Mark was talking about how necessary, in the face of evil and evil-mongers, it is to remember that people are, essentially, good.

Which at this time of year, when we are supposed to be at our best, and we rarely are, it can be tough to remember.  Or even recognize the good.

But I have.

I saw the good this week, over and over.

I saw it in the homeless woman, who came to my door, hoping to earn money by shovelling my walk.  And the smile never left her face, even as my husband told her we couldn’t pay her, we don’t keep cash in the house.  Then she handed him the mail that the mailwoman had deposited in the snow leading up to my house, rather than the mail slot, giving me the Christmas card from a beloved relative that would have been lost to the elements otherwise.

I saw it in The Girl.  Who used all the wisdom and goodness in her heart to come to me at bedtime last night, unprompted, to tell me that if Santa is out of Easy Bake Ovens (an item she’s been requesting daily for two months), that it would be OK, it wouldn’t matter.

I saw it in the man who stopped traffic in a busy street, ignoring honks and rude gestures, to help a disabled man back up onto his feet, from the icy cross walk where he’d fallen into the path of oncoming cars.  And I saw it in the people who realized what was going on, and quickly banded together to make sure no traffic got through while this rescue effort took place.

The good is there.  We just have to keep looking for it.

Merry Christmas, everyone.