Friday, March 29, 2013

About Time I Got It.

I had a revelation the other day. I had just sent a message to my good friend, whose weight loss journey I greatly admire. She lost over 125 pounds with Weight Watchers and is now a WW leader. So amazing.

Anyhow, the message was this: "Took the kids to Culver for a shake and got myself a scoop of vanilla custard. Before I ate it I tracked it and it's EIGHT points. It's going in the freezer for my husband."

I mean, NO WAY I'm downing 8 points worth of frozen custard, right? The scoop was tiny, too. Instead, I went home and had 2 chocolate covered pretzels (5 points for 8 of them) and 2 spoonfuls of the kids' shake. And I felt good about it. I mean, right? Go me.

And then I remembered that I'd also turned down cherry cheesecake one of my staff brought into the office AND banana chocolate chip muffins. Pretty much, this was a golden day of self restraint.

And all that is good. It is. I am losing weight and so it's good to avoid those foods.

But then I realized something. Kind of like how what you hold your tongue about and DON'T say to people is really good. Like instead of telling this one guy that I think he sucks at his job, I bite my tongue. And I can congratulate myself inwardly for not speaking. But what matters more is this: what I DO say. Instead of patting my own back over keeping silent with complaints, I should be trying to find something positive and constructive to take its place. It's not what I DON'T do that ends up making the biggest impact. It's what I DO.

And so...with food. I should be proud that I skipped cheesecake, muffins, and frozen custard all in one day. But what my body knows is not the things I didn't eat, but the things I did.

Lightbulb moment, people. And it only took me 34 years on this earth. But I swear it made a difference. Since I had this epiphany (a rather dull one at that) I've seen things with different eyes. Because my body will NEVER KNOW that I skipped the frozen custard and cheesecake and muffins. Skipping those things won't be the key to losing the rest of this baby weight. It's what I DO eat that will make the difference.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let Him Be Right.

The first night Luca was home from the hospital, I thought I would lose my mind. Sleep deprived. Sore. Curled into a recliner with pillows and blankets and pacifiers and a baby whose red faced shrieked to me in rage, "You are fucking this up!"

She wouldn't latch. Hadn't nursed fully as far as I knew since the one time some strange nurse turned a bright light on over my hospital bed at some unearthly hour and man-handled my breast to get her attached. Here I was at home with no nurse and no bright light and no one who knew what to do and my baby would only cry. She cried and cried and her face was red and her arms were so skinny, my little bird, and I sobbed in that uncontrollable heaving way so many sleep-deprived and hormone-flooded new moms have experienced.

Through fat tears, my husband's face grew closer. His hands lifted and repositioned our new baby. He helped me latch her and gently rubbed at her chin to get her to suck and before I knew it my baby was eating. Eating, which meant she was not crying. Eating, which meant no more shriek to remind me I was clueless and a brief respite from feeling like a caged wild mama bear whose cub is on the other side of the gate begging me for help.

That moment where my husband stepped in and took control and knew just what to do to help didn't solve all our problems. Breastfeeding my daughter was one of the hardest things I ever did. And the big lesson it taught me that night is that sometimes, in parenting, my husband really is right.


There's a trend in the world of moms, to paint the men in our lives as less than us. Less capable. Less instinctual. Less smart. Less nurturing. Less skilled. Less of a parent.

We break them down into traits and characters. We tell ourselves and others that we're right and they are wrong. We tell them. We tell them in tears and in words, in passive aggressive behavior and in vitriolic words. We overstep them. We parent them because we seem to think they need it. As though we know better. As though by the virtue of being the mother we know; by virtue of being a man they can't possibly.


We forget the power of those hopeless moments of desperation, a crying baby with fat tears and strained lungs from crying. Those moments when we're lost in our primal mama bear moments and through tears we see the same hands that helped guide our baby here, into our arms, guiding us together. Rubbing a newborn baby chin and silencing the desperation with calm.


Out of the bath, wrapped in a warm blanket with wet hair and skin the color of apricots. Sitting on the bed, smoothing lotion over legs that keep growing, over toes with chipped polish and hands that now hold a pencil and expertly write her name and all the letters of the alphabet. We have these talks a lot, a routine we started when she was old enough to understand. This is yours, this body. This sacred land of soft skin and long eyelashes and feet that dance circles across my bedspread. Who is allowed to touch you? No one but me. Me and mommy and daddy, and only if you have to. Never if I say no. Who do you talk to if someone hurts you? Mommy. Or daddy. Grandma. A teacher. A police officer or a fireman.

"I have a scratch," she says, pointing. This body. This perfect little body folded into leggings and skirts and boots. Folded right now into a towel. This perfect little body over which I am smoothing lotion, lifting her wet hair to run my hands across her shoulders and down her arms. I freeze inside, but on the outside I am the calm in the storm.

A boy in her class. Lunchtime. A hand under the table and she moved away reflexively. A scratch and my brain feels on fire. She is five. He is too, or maybe six. I know enough. I know it's normal. I know that kids do these things and curiosity is the elixir of childhood. I know, also, of mugshots and headlines. Of children who are curious and grow to be men who steal innocence. Men who hurt. Who take childhood and twist it like an ugly nightmare. And this body. The same body that once unfolded from me like a lotus flower and slept on my chest heartbeat to heartbeat. My brain is on fire and it buzzes.

It's normal. It's probably harmless.

I will move her to another school. I will never let her leave my sight.

Instead: "Tell me what happened?"

A boy who touched her at lunch, from whom she pulled away. Told him not to do that. Told the teacher.

She did everything right, and sweet relief floods me, soaking through my veins. She did it right. She remembered our talks and she did it all the way we taught her.

We talk as the minutes pile up in the corner, going over what happened. Who he is. Does she sit by him in class? No. Did he get sent to the office? Yes. Is she ok? Yes.

She did everything right. We did everything right. He's five maybe. Maybe six. It's normal and it's still not ok.

Not to mama bear.


Before I tuck her into her bed, wrap her in a Tinkerbell blanket with another pink blanket on top, I ask her if she wants to tell her daddy. She does.

She tells her daddy. A window of rage in his eyes, which he shutters quickly. His hand, again, under her chin. This time he looks in her eyes, holding her face, and he says, "You did everything right. And if that (fucking son of a bitch no-good kid) boy touches you again, you don't just tell him no."

My brain. On fire again. Is he for real?

"If he does that again, you grab the back of his head, push it down toward your leg, and land your knee square against his nose."

He's for real.


She sleeps soundly. Her dreams, no doubt, of unicorns and fairies. She is safe. She is loved. She did everything right.

Downstairs, I approach the subject. I suggest calling her teacher. Making sure the boy isn't near her ever again in his natural-born life. Maybe he can be moved to another class? Maybe he can wear a straight jacket to keep his 'normal, curious' hands to his goddamned self? Maybe he's been expelled? I plan what to say next. What to do. How to be at work all day while simultaneously serving as her personal bodyguard and never leaving her alone with another boy ever again.

"She remembered," he tells me, "so you have to let it go. She did everything right, and if he touches her again she can knee him in the nose."

But I want to keep talking. I want to be sure she knows she did it right. It's not her fault. It's probably normal and probably benign and yet she can always say no. I wonder aloud at a meeting with the teacher. I wonder aloud at what more we need to talk about, to be sure she won't suffer some body-dysmorphic asexual side effect to the perv in kindergarten's actions. I wonder aloud and he stops me.

"You have to let it go. She's fine. She did it right and she will probably never bring it up again. If she does, you talk to her. You show her the best way to knee a guy in the nose. But until then, stop. Stop talking. Because it makes you feel better and you want to keep talking, but you talk and it makes it bigger and it grows until it's a Thing instead of just something that happened at school once and then she did everything right. Don't bring it up with her again. She talked to you now. She'll talk again if she needs to. Don't beat the subject to death to ease your own mind. For her sake, let it go."

And I listen. I listen because of the times I've wanted to be the nurterer and he knew the kids needed a "That sucks, but get over it" approach. I listen for the time I tried to talk to the kids about stranger danger and safety words and he interrupted and said, "If a stranger approaches, run. Yell and run and if you have to kick and punch. But first, you run." I listen because when the mama bear is in her cage and pacing and growling and wants to pull her cubs close but she can't because they are on the other side of the gate - - - those are the times papa bear teaches them how to climb the fence.


I am a flawed mother. A flawed wife. But I love them fiercely and so does he. And I am so thankful for a husband who changed diapers and helped his wife breastfeed and smooths lotion over those same limbs that used to be exclusively ours but are now exclusively theirs. Sometimes my heart loses to his instinct, and in those times I'm so grateful for the instinct of a loving dad to guide them.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Love Tanked.

Perched on the edge of our big new tub, yoga pants rolled above my knees, I stretch one leg across to the far side, smoothing shaving gel over my legs. I'm careful with the razor; the two little bodies in the water have to be kept safe. I shave quickly, the swick swick swick of the blade againt my leg barely audible over splashing and giggling from my companions. I am utilitarian in my mission: make the most of these minutes while the kids are safely occupied in the tub and save a few minutes later when I take my own shower. They are anything but: merchildren of a wild sea, soap-bubble ice cream cone makers, Cinderella wiping the walls clean so she can get to the Ball and meet the Prince.

I am the laziest mom in the world. I am the most clever. I am a failure at prioritizing myself. I am Mother Earth.

Little bodies, slick and with a film of white bubbles on kneecaps and shoulder blades and under their chins. They acquiesce, standing still long enough for me to tousle their hair dry and wrap them, burrito style, in towels. I turn and they make a break for it, climbing up onto my bed and jumping, giggles and somersaults and wet towels and clean teeth and toes.

We read books. Sometimes I am patient with the inumerable questions and interruptions, small hands pointing details of the illustrations out to me. Sometimes I am bone tired, refusing any attempts at plot dissection or character analysis of Curious George. I mean, for fuck's sake---it says right there in the first two sentences of every damn tale that the damn monkey is curious. Must we revisit this each time?

Potty. Blankets. Kisses. Maybe a song (Mother Earth), maybe not (lazy).

The days are long and the nights are short. Other times, not so much. I fall asleep on the couch or I don't. I stay up too late, reading in silence because if I don't get a slice of quiet time with no one watching stupid movies (I Am Number 4????) and no one asking me for a snack or a book or a craft or to discuss some bill we need to pay or requesting some marital relations I will short circuit in a matter of days. The tell tale signs will include irrational loss of temper, profanity under my breath, and a clear realization that I'm being a huge ass + a complete lack of giving a shit about it.

Then later, from a dreamless sleep, a creak in the hallway and the light thump-thump of steps. A warm body - so warm -  climbing up next to me. Without rising fully into consciousness my arm raises, scooping up the radiant warmth and swathing my baby in my own blankets. My baby. My sweetest, purest flesh of my flesh. Her: warm belly, long hair, long legs, feet intertwining instantly with my legs, morning breath all night long. Him: shaggy mop, cheeks so soft, hands finding my arm or my face or my neck, breath like honey and milk.

I may think about moving them. Kicking them out. Tough love. Independence. Space.

Fuck tough love.

Fuck independence.

And space? The warm bodies and soft skin. The tiny snores and toes tucked under my knees and wide, warm palm on my cheek. Breath in. Breath out. How can they invade my space, when they are so much a part of me.

I used to worry that I was doing it all wrong. My husband, that dear and kind man, remembers the manuscript of parenting, lackidaisically reminding me that we should kick them out of our bed. I might agree. I might invite him to be the one to crawl out of that cocoon of cuddles and walk tired, fuzzy kids back to own rooms. I might just not comment, the morning light peeking in the bathroom window and lighting their apricot cheeks in golds and roses.

Fuck doing it all wrong. The night hours - those darkest hours of the day when the stars are pulled over the earth in a silken blanket and dreams dance behind heavy lids. The night hours matter too. We all need our love tank filled. We all need closeness and space, tucked toes and a warm palm on your neck, morning and milk-honey breath. Circulating the air, sharing atoms and oxygen and breaths and blankets. The love tank is emptied by long days of work and school. Rushed dinners. Early bedtimes to quash bad moods. The love tank is filled with couch cuddle puddles and ice cream runs in our pajamas and bath time with warm water and bubbles. By nighttime cuddles in shared dream-space. I might be doing it all wrong. We all might. Fuck doing it all right.

In the morning, the bathroom tile will be cold and the coffee timer has only a 45% chance of being set. There will be breakfast to figure out. Lunch to pack with nothing appealing to include in it and the freezer packs unfrozen and still in the backpack. Clothes to select. Socks to hunt down and shoes to put on and hair to brush. Someone will be running late or too tired or hungry enough for three breakfasts when time scarcely allows for one. There will be school drop off and commuting to work and long days. There will be a day's end that comes at least an hour later than you'd planned and a rushed dinner that contains nothing organic and at least one thing microwaved. Fantasize about indulgent grocery store trips when the cart brims with leafy greens and fruits of all kinds and organic free range chicken and then the beep of the microwave will end this reverie as you remember that you're out of milk and don't have coffee creamer for tomorrow morning's caffeine rush.

There's no such thing as doing it all wrong. Doing it all right? Same thing. You just do. You dress and you bathe and you feed and you stress and you love and love and love until your brain is abuzz and your heart is hot pink infected with all that love. You pretend to be sleeping when the kids sneak into bed, surreptitiously curling a blanketed arm over them to wrap them in your love bubble. You hope for the best. You hope you're doing something right. You see in the glow of the alarm clock their long lashes and sleep-swollen lips and you remember a time when they were brand new and you spent hours just watching them sleep. You hope to god you're not doing it wrong.

There is no right. There is no wrong. There is only a love tank, ready to fill and be filled.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I've gone missing, and a lot has happened. The biggest news is that I am starting a new job tomorrow. After 6 years of throwing my heart into the same job, a perfect storm occured and I was offered an opportunity I couldn't pass up, so I jumped.

It was both exhilerating and terrifying. I stood in my boss's office just over 3 weeks ago and bawled telling her I'd been offered a new job, and here I sit one day before starting that job both thrilled and scared like crazy.

But before starting this new phase in my life I took all my PTO pay-out money and snuck my family away for 2 days at Disneyland and California Adventure. It was so worth it.

(Yes, my 5 and 3 yaer olds went on the Tower of Terror...and were champs. This was our second time. That's me on the far left in the middle row in green and black. Luca is next to me, burying her face in my arm, and Mo is next to her staring at her as she buries her face in my arm. Darrick is in the 4th seat over.)

Monday, September 3, 2012


This morning's crafty fun time involved a roll of butcher paper and my kids' first introduction to oil pastels.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I shit you not, this morning a commercial for laser hair removal made me cry. Not because I have an epic she-beard and I'm sensitive to the topic. Because of one little line in it, which I can't even remember word for word right now. But the gist was this:

Moms, need some time to yourself to recharge? Get laser hair removal.

And I found myself thinking, "If I could afford it, I'd totally get laser hair removal. JUST so I could have an hour of quiet that was all about me."

And then I cried.

And from the backseat, my carpool buddy said to me, "What's wrong mama? Why are you making that sad face?" and I was surprised because, truly, I thought for sure that I was hiding the tears. Stealth, silent, ninja tears like we moms get used to shedding. Tears that release that little bit of frustration or anger or sadness or just plain emotional overwhelmedness without alerting the mini-people that mama is seriously losing her shit.

I did the only thing you can do when caught mid ninja-cry. I played dumb, "What do you ask Luca? What face?"

And, in the rearview mirror, her eyes scrunched up empathetically, she nodded her head and tilted it to the side and said, "Oh mama, it's ok to be sad sometimes. We all get frustrated. I know you love me even when you're mad."

The ninja-cry dropped from its perch among the ceiling beams with a HEE-YAAAAAAAA! and became real tears.

Because I lost my patience.

Because I was running late, again.

Because the shoes we just bought her a month ago no longer fit.

Because I would consider a laser 3 cm from my face if it meant an hour of quiet and someone focusing only on making me happy.

"Is it because you're gonna be late for work again? It's ok, mama. Grandma can walk me to school. No one cares if you're late to Kindergarten."

Because she forgot her backpack at Grandma's yesterday and I got mad at her for forgetting.

Because I don't even want to GO to f-in' work.

Because I need a date night with my husband. Preferably one that involves sleeping in the next day.

Because I miss so much, every day.

So I made a decision right there. Late to work be damned, I was going to stop by grandma's for the orphaned backpack, park down the street, and walk my kid to school. I was going to tell her with my words ("Luca, I AM going to be late to work. But you matter more.") and my actions. I was going to hold her hand the whole way from our car to the playground, then watch her run free to give an excited hug to her best school friend. I was going to stand on the edge of the playground watching my kid be a kid and enjoying every second of it.

When the bell rang, I walked with her and two friends over to the morning line up spot. I listened to the girls giggle together and soaked it in. "I love Justin Bieber!" one of her friends announced. "Are you gonna make him fall in love and marry you????" the other girls asked back, in excited little-girl voices full of laughter. "YES!" proclaimed the Future Mrs. Bieber. And they giggled and held hands.

Behind me, as I stood there waiting, I heard one mom say to another, "I saw you the other day! In Scottsdale!" The second mom asked, "Do you work up there?" And the first mom replied, "Oh GOD no! I was on the way to my plastic surgeon!"

And in front of me, three girls slipped pink and purple and sparkle and pony backpacks on little shoulders, giggling together and holding hands. I watched them walk into school and I wish I could say I had some mom-moment epiphany about creating a world where by the time my kid's a mom herself there aren't moms talking about plastic surgery at kindergarten drop off.

She may not be the boss tha pays my bills, but she looks Boss in that outfit.

But I didn't. Because not every I-had-a-shitty-mom-morning event wraps up neat and tidy, cue audience applause. Because I walked to the car contemplating how I can save every dime between now and whenever and find a way to be home more. Because I imagined a conversation in which I don't cower at the idea of telling my boss I need more flexibility and more time with my kids. Because I need more time with my kids, but damn if I wouldn't let some technician super-analyze my momstache if it meant an hour, just for me.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin