Archives for category: Motherhood

It’s been over a year since we left the steamy, summer stoops of Fort Greene, Brooklyn to settle here in small town Brookline, Massachusetts.

That summer we left, we made the most of the fleeting remainder of our days in the Big Apple, spending money we didn’t have on meals in East Village bottegas and drinks overlooking the High Line.

On one such night, traveling home from a drunken trip down memory lane where hubby and I trolled Avenue A, privately reminiscing about my carefree twenties … mojitos every night, fridge bare but for takeout, cavorting with Latin men … we stopped for  frozen yogurt from my favorite hole-in-the-wall hot-dog/magazine/fro-yo emporium run by an adorable, toothless Polish man  and then hailed a cab home on the Bowery.

Here's the place

Here’s the place

Here's the Polish man. He's showing me his citizenship papers.

Here’s my beloved Polish purveyor of fro-yo. He’s showing me his citizenship papers.

Know the Bowery? Formerly occupied by flophouses, it’s now populated by trendy hotels and dominated by a giant contemporary art museum. Still, it retains its gritty origins, especially inching downtown to Brooklyn Bridge, where we were headed.

I stepped into the cab, and I have no idea how this happened but in closing the cab door, my arm brushed against my ear and my diamond earring flew off my earlobe and onto the street.

I stopped traffic — yes, like an aggressive traffic cop who’s had too much to drink– and desperately scanned the shiny turfed road for the earring I’d worn every day for so many years. Made by my mother for me from  a cocktail ring my Great Auntie Suzanne — a chic Frenchwoman who frolicked with Fernand Leger in the lavander-scented French countryside as a young girl — had left me in her will.

And now I was searching for the diamond on the gritty streets of downtown New York. And wouldn’t you know — I actually found the earring back?

But light turned green and I couldn’t stop the roar of cars impatient to arrive at their next stop — club, bar, rumpled bed.

My diamond? Not to be found. Blending in with the glittering rock embedded in the asphalt, it was indistiguishable. Maybe a flophouse holdout would find it, cash it in, heralding a brighter future.

I remained remarkably calm, as hubby noted. I knew from leaving New York once before, that it takes things from you when you leave. As if taunting you, saying, “See what’ll happen to you when you leave your dreams of glittering success behind? Don’t be a fool. Stay.”

The last time I’d left New York — to go study writing in Maine — on moving day, I stepped on a nail,  got pulled over by the cops and sacrificed my debit card to an angry ATM machine. But then, leaving New York also brought me my husband, who lived in Boston, allowing our knowing-each other to blossom at not such a long distance. And hence … my children … my life today.

Life began again.

So what if New York took my diamond? Big deal.

Because guess what I got in return?

A cozy new home we can actually afford. Oodles of fleece. Smart wool socks. Peace of mind. Good schools. I know … yadda yadda yadda … it all sounds so boring to my former, New York party-girl self. But today, it matters.

I may not have this:

A blurry Chrysler building -- my favorite NYC landmark

A blurry Chrysler building — my favorite NYC landmark

But I’ve got this:

Post-nemo snowman with the kiddies -- rivals the Chrysler any day, don't you think?

Post-nemo snowman with the kiddies — rivals the Chrysler any day, don’t you think?

I know diamonds are a girl’s best friend and all, but I really would rather have fleece. At least here in Brookline. At this stage of my life. It’s soft. It’s cozy. Forgiving. It won’t fall out of my ear. And what better way to stay warm, than to wrap up in a fleece blanket, snug in bed with your loved ones?

[Never mind that they’re nagging you to watch Yo Gabba Gabba or asking for their 10th glass of milk … hush now, hush now … let’s go with the fleece imagery…]

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On the eve of Sandy, I gather you here for a cozy fireside story.

Remember Rapunzel? How she lets down her golden braid so the Prince can climb it and rescue her from solitary confinement in her hilltop tower?

There are many such fairy tales of women sitting and waiting to be saved by a dashing suitor. Cinderella’s glass slipper whisks her from the clutches of her evil Stepmother to her new life as Princess (and in those days, summer holidays in France weren’t likely to be captured on film by roving paparazzi. Lucky her.) Sleeping Beauty was woken from a hundred year’s sleep (and, what would today, constitute a contemporary art installation) from another kind Sir.

But Rapunzel. It was her hair that saved her. That thick, lustrous hair that could take the weight of a grown man without her screaming out “Get down, you Fucker!”

How I wish I had that hair. Perhaps all women do. Unfortunately, my hair tends to be thicker on my legs than it is on my head. I recently, when taking the train to work, stood next to an older woman with obvious alopecia on her head. “That’ll never happen to me,” I said to myself, gazing at her scalp with a mixture of empathy and judgement.

Yes. Judgment. I tend to get judgey on the morning train. Thrust up against all those commuters with their dorky backpacks and circa 1980s pagers as they travel to their Brookline clinics. I know they are probably saving the world through cancer research, but can’t they at least drop the backpack and give me a little more breathing room?

But the universe has a funny way of teaching you a lesson just as you think you’ve got things nailed.

After all, after years of waxing, shaving and laser treatments on my body … as well as conditioning treatments and hairdresser-tips on how to maximize my natural curls so I don’t leave the house looking like Diana Ross … I thought I had this hair thing down. Keep it off the body, keep it ON the head.

And then, I went to the gym. And after my shower, while I put on some moisturizer under the mirrors that are lit far better than our bathroom mirror at home … I saw it.

The 3 strands of hair, dangling from a single source, like a maypole. Or a braid in waiting.

Only the strands weren’t coming from my head.

They were coming from under the right side of my jawline.

And I jest not when I say that these hairs were almost 3 inches long.

Horrified, I pulled them out instantly. How could I have not seen this?

And had people been staring at these hairs, just as I’d been staring at the balding woman on the train, thinking “Geez, does she not know?”

Or, “Poor woman, she must have some condition.”

Or, “Perhaps it’s a cultural thing.”

I mean, there’s facial hair that’s pretty bad — like hairs sprouting out of moles and grey moustaches sported by ancient old ladies — but this? This?

Unlike Rapunzel, there is no Prince on my horizon. Just my darling children, hubby and neglected cat. Perhaps if I’d let the hairs grow to their natural end, they would have trailed down to the ground, and I might have been rescued by some traveling hair removal expert who’d zap me with her laser gun.

But one thing I know is this. I will never, never, judge another for their facial hair. Even a pretty girl with a dark hair growing unceremoniously from her chin.  Though I might do her a favor and tell her to pluck it.

Has it been so very long since I posted last?

Oy vey. I shall be donning a hair shirt in due course.

Don’t they sell these at Prada?

As if I don’t feel bad enough.

Every day, I’ve said to myself, “Dude. Write a post.” And as time has elapsed, that sinking feeling that always accompanies the nagging tasks I don’t wind up accomplishing, reared its ugly head. Causing more procrastination. And unrealistic expectations. Like, “Gee…If I haven’t posted in so very long, this next post better be BRILLIANT.”

Sigh.

In truth, I have some very good excuses for my absence.

I started a new job — albeit part-time — writing for a very cool non-profit. Which has, in turn, led to greater sanity in my home life. Instead of growling at the thought of making dinner AGAIN, I’m now quite happy to be chained to the stove, seeing as how I get to spend two whole days with adults. Absence from the kiddies does make the heart grow fonder after all.

And, August was busy busy. I went to BlogHer. And spend quite a bit of time at the wonderful Institute of Contemporary Art, working on a project for them.

We had a beautiful family sojourn in Maine, my all-time favorite State:

Sunsets on a spring-fed lake

And spent late August/early September getting the kiddilies ready  for the new school year (hurrah!).

Anyway, my peeps, it’s good to be back, and I do promise to try to post more often. After all, it’s not just for you that I polish my writing chops. It’s for me too. It’s fun. And if it’s fun, I need to keep at it!

Ta ta for now…

It’s been a week reminiscent of Biblical times.

We’ve been visited by angry, man-eating insects, had run-ins with flying fur balls, and been struck with near pestilence.

Let’s work backwards, shall we?

Last Friday, my daughter’s daycare provider sent an email to parents with the announcement that several children had come down with the COXSACKIE virus, that it was highly contagious, and to check our kids for fever and blisters.

Sure enough, when I arrived home after a day working, I checked little B’s temperature. 102. And when I peered in her throat with a flashlight (a minor victory in itself), I spied several dreaded pustules of blisterdom.

“Coxsackie?” my mother yelped, when I told her about B’s latest affliction. “Sounds like something you pick up in a whore house.”

Not quite.

In fact, Coxsackie is named for its location of origin. The disease was first discovered in Coxsackie, New York, in 1947.

Remind me never to visit.

Photo courtesy: virology.ws

It resembles foot and mouth disease, and in severe cases, can cause dehydration and excessive blistering. Luckily, Miss B’s case was mild, though we still canceled a trip to the wilds of Vermont in case she developed the full-blown plague. Which she didn’t. Phew.

Though days later, on Monday, while hiking with the boychild at Chase Woodlands, a Trustees of Reservations site, we had a run-in with a man-eating insect. Though ticks aren’t formally defined as man-eating insects, I think they should be, because they bloody well burrow into your skin and suck your blood, and if that isn’t man-eating, then I don’t know what is.

Upon entering the hike, we saw a sign that basically said, “Beware: Tick area.” Eager to hike, we put our fears aside and sprayed ourselves copiously with anti-bug juice before setting off.  Through terrain that was very grassy.

So of course, what did the boychild pick up, upon post-hike bug check?

Image courtesy of Texas A & M University

You guessed it. A tick.

The little fucker.

Luckily, it hadn’t embedded itself in my son’s tender skin yet — I managed to remove it with the edge of a key right as it was burrowing it’s evil little head into the back of his leg.

Lyme Disease terrifies me. Living in the Northeast, I feel like we live under constant threat, much like the pervasive presence of global warming and Monsanto. Ach. Another thing to worry about!

Not to mention bees! Those cute, stripey insects who are supposedly becoming extinct, thus threatening the existence of our entire food chain!

Yesterday, my sweet little girl, back at daycare with the other pestilence survivors, got stung by one of these endangered, honey-making fur balls.

I know you’re cute and all, but stay away from my daughter!

Still, my little B was a total trooper. And no anaphylactic shock, thank Christ.

[An aside: I say the word Christ much too much. I am not a particularly religious person, so don’t know why I’m prone to taking the Lord’s name in vain. The boychild is always commenting on how frequently I utter the words “Jesus Christ”, like a madman in heat. Must stop.]

And little did I know that the remedy for a bee sting is…wait for it…meat tenderizer.

Courtesy of mccormick.com

Yes, this relic of the 50s, when mixed with water into a paste, is apparently fantastic at removing venom from bee stings.

Who knew? I certainly didn’t, but am imminently grateful that the incredible woman who run’s my daughter’s daycare, does.

You know, it amazes me what we mums and dads can experience in a week. We take on the plague, remove man-eating insects, and tend to our wounded children.

And though I’m always initially freaked out by this kind of encounter with sickness/creatures who harm us — I come through the other end stronger, more grateful for my children and their patience with my I’m-learning-to-be-Florence-Nightingale ways, and just plain thankful for  their overall good health.

How ’bout you? Any encounters with sickness or woodland creatures so far this week?

My mother often tells me how rebellious I was. Like I need her to tell me. My adolescence was spent trying to thwart her every disciplinary tactic. I did not — and still don’t — like being told what to do. I didn’t go quite as far as the “Live fast, die young” motto, but I liked to think I was close.

I’m a Taurus. We’re notoriously stubborn. But I think it goes deeper than that. I’m just hard-wired to resist authority.

Over the years, I’ve mellowed. Growing up hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve learned to accept that parking tickets have to be paid and bosses appeased.

Becoming a mother has been a huge part of this growing “up”. I’m often humbled by the task of raising children, as it brings me to a place beneath fire and brimstone to just being open.

The boychild, now 6, has inherited my inner rebel. He’s been telling me for years now that he wants to be “the boss of me.” Tonight, while reading The Little Prince to him in bed, he repeatedly asked me what the word “authority” means.

Thankfully, he listens to me when I attempt to steer him in the appropriate direction. Because discipline, at this point, is still primarily about behavior that’s “socially acceptable.”

As in, please don’t whip out your diddly bits out in public. Please try not to pick your boogers and eat them. Try sitting down at the table to eat your dinner.

It’s strange, at times, to be “the authority” figure in my child’s life. I’m more comfortable in the realm of play than doling out disciplinary tactics, especially as I haven’t got that seemingly natural knack French women possess of keeping children “in their place.”

And while my son’s rebellious cravings sometimes scare me, it also puts a smile on my face. I recognize his independent spirit. I admire it. I hope he can channel it to some greater creative good. And it reminds me of my younger, more fiery self.

There’s not much in my immediate universe to successfully rebel against any more, unfortunately. Sure, I can advocate for reform in areas of the broader political and social landscape — I’m always signing petitions against those evil overlords Monsanto, for instance — but standing up for what I believe in doesn’t quite invoke the same pleasure that my 15-year-old self took in slamming a door in my mothers’ face.

Where, oh where, can I stage rebellion today, and not be either locked up or shunned by my local community?

Don’t laugh, but it occurred to me while writing this post, that after my recent mini-rant about twitter parties, perhaps my rebellion lies within the walls of social media. Has anyone actually staged a twitter sit-in? Or a twitter strike? Forced the tweeting masses to go on a twitter holiday?

Oy. The idea bores and intrigues me at the same time. I just have this thing about twitter that I’m resisting conquering. What is it? Am I just a lazy technophobe? Do I secretly want to use twitter but don’t know how, thus presenting a hearty defense mechanism to the world? Or does some elemental part of me deeply resist the reduction of thought into sound bites?

Probably all of the above.

Please share your thoughts on rebellion and authority with me, while I drum up some more worthy strategies for mid-life rebellion.