The Story of Baby

You’d think, after three children, I’d have this mothering thing down pat a little better, and yet I continuously misjudge my youngest son. Experienced parents will agree with me here, but each child is just so different. And what works for one child may not work for another. And blah, blah, blah. … Excuses abound. …

But here’s how I misjudged my son most recently: It all involved three huge misconceptions: (1) that little boys don’t feel attached to toys anymore, (2) the forgotten power and reality of unconditional love, (3) the betrayal of a mother who is always supposed to have your back, and (4) the long-forgotten truism that little pitchers truly do have big ears. …

One night, a couple of years ago, when all my book club friends were over at my house, one friend plopped onto my couch and accidentally found herself perched upon the rubber carcass of what once had been a baby doll, but whose soft, hollow hands were missing. She pulled it out from under her. Startled, she took a closer look and peered at its misshapen little body, at it’s missing hands and toes, at the ballpoint pen marks over its torso. And then … She gasped.

“Oh, I know,” I said, sliding the dessert platter between the coffee cups on the coffee table. “That’s Baby. It’s Nathan’s. He’s had it almost since he was born.” Continue reading

Advice to the Young Me

There was a fun discussion on Twitter recently (begun, I believe, from @pattidigh, who has a great blog called 37 Days: What would you be doing today if you had only 37 days to live?). The discussion centered around “Advice to Young Me.” Everyone was tweeting the advice they would give to their 22-year-old selves.

The responses were fun: One woman said she’d tell herself to wear her bikini every day. Many said they’d recommend to take more chances. One person told her young self: “Making someone a mix-tape does not mean you will marry him …”

I thought about this for awhile and tried to think of what advice I’d give my 22-year-old self. Mostly I thought my 22-year-old self didn’t need as much advice as my 26-year-old self did. Because that’s when I became a parent and started to doubt everything I did. So my advice to my 26-year-old self would be this: “Don’t worry so much about parenting. You’re doing fine. …”

I wish I didn’t worry so much then. I wish I’d enjoyed more — but my joy often got trampled by the worry. 

I wish I’d worried less about the living room being messy and relished more the feeling of sitting in the glider rocker (amid the mess) and having an infant’s tiny arms bent across my chest, his or her little fingers in a fist against my collarbone. Continue reading

One of “Those” Days …

This morning it was one of “those” days.  You know the ones —  where everything seems to be going wrong, falling, slipping, clock not going off, jelly stain on your shirt button, and it’s not even 9 a.m.?

But this time it wasn’t me or Superman or one of the teens experiencing it.

It was our little guy, Nate.

“It’s going to be a terrible day,” he was saying to me, sighing deeply.

He’d forgotten his math worksheet and was nervous about not bringing it in completed today, then he forgot his present for his gift exchange and didn’t remember until he’d walked halfway to school already. Then his shoe laces were giving him trouble, so he kept stopping to retie them, and ended up snapping one at the quick — and he had P.E.

He finally called me, exasperated, on his cell phone:

“Mom? I forgot my present on the couch, and my shoe is broken, and I have P.E., and I’m walking home right now. I hope you’re there to give me ride, but if you’re not … [deep little-boy sigh] … I just don’t know what I’ll do …” Continue reading

‘Because I’ll Have To Buy Forks’ and Other Teen Worries

So my son has this little group of friends – very cool teens, girls and boys, all smart and funny and college-bound and trying to change the world and at the same time hoping they don’t have to.

I often get a glimpse of their world when my son tells me stories at the dinner table. He’ll tell a conversation they had at the lake, or something someone said when they went to a dance after the football game, or something someone said on a date. One of the lines that has stuck with me – because I found it so sweet and so profound at the same time – was from one of his female friends (we’ll call her “Shelby”).

As my son and Shelby and a handful of their other friends were sitting around on a picnic table, contemplating their futures, she said that maybe she wasn’t so ready to grow up: “Because we’ll have to go grocery shopping … and then … buy forks and stuff,” she reasoned. Continue reading

Learning Great Stories From People You Randomly Meet

He was tall and lean, his bald head dotted with age spots. But the way he moved – the way he rested back languidly in the patio chair – spoke of a youthfulness that belied his 80 years. Maybe it was a smoothness borne of decades of athleticism. Or maybe a military career. Something. …

He moved his hands to swat the pigeons away, and his long fingers gave away more of his story. Something involving wealth. Something involving elegance. Something involving shiny automobiles, perhaps. …

“You’re a cool chick,” he yelled to me across the patio.

The waitress walked away as I squinted back at him through the heat. I pulled my chair in and set my purse in an empty seat.


“You’re a cool chick,” he repeated. He smiled when he said it this time. He directed his oversized sunglasses more pointedly toward me, but maintained his languid pose, one elbow draped over the chair beside him. He motioned again with his hand toward the empty patio. “It’s hotter than blazes out here, but you’re sitting outside.”

I laughed politely. “Well, let’s see how long I last.”

The heat truly was oppressive. Over 100 degrees. Continue reading

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