Mothers and New Years Eve

01.1.12

We were at two New Years Eve parties last night. One for the New York New Year and one for Los Angeles. Both parties were mother parties, both in very different ways.

The first party was hosted by my friend Lisa. She celebrates a New York New Years Eve. This is the only way to celebrate New Years Eve if you’re in Los Angeles and don’t want to get a babysitter. People started arriving at 6, at 9 we watched the ball drop, kissed our spouses, kissed our kids, kissed a friend and had the option to be home and be tucked into bed by 10. Just after the New York Midnight the Lisa’s kids performed a rock concert. It was a party hosted by a mother that embraced families and wanted her kids to have a community around them.

By ten we were home, Alexander and Mr. G were done for the night, but I’d received this email from my mom.

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Who doesn’t want to show up for a party when their mom has hired a good tarot card reader? You’d have to be crazy to miss that.

Jane and I left our house just after 10 and kissed Mr. G and Alexander one last time in 2011. Twenty minutes later I’m walking into my Mom’s living room and I open the front door right into Laura. Laura who was our family’s first friend, Laura who still smiles the same as in 1973 and whose speech pattern remains exactly the same. Laura who I see every ten years or so and even without frequency I’d still feel free to show up at her doorstep.

Laura is one of the mothers. There are other mothers there too. There’s Nadia’s mom who has been firmly entrenched in my life for 39.5 of my 41 years, and Stephan’s Mom who is a newcomer at just 39 of those years, there’s Patty who went camping with us and who spoke perfect Spanish which enchanted me at age 7 and made the most perfect needlepoints for my children when they were born.

I held my daughter’s hand and walked into a cocoon of mothers who have loved our whole family for three and four decades. I left their warmth only to visit with Davina and have the first two cards as the Ace and Queen of Pentacles. She told me a story about a double boiler and low flames with great results. She told me that my husband supported me and was my greatest fan and that I’d had incredible opportunities come my way workwise and I needed to stop passing them up. She said it’s not normal to forego so many opportunities. “Write a book”, She said. “I will.” I replied and this time I think I mean it.

The food was spectacular as it came from one of my favorite restaurants (which is of course a husband and wife team) and the table linen was a gift from Mama Lucy.

At the real midnight I kissed my daughter and then my mother and then a room full of mothers who have always loved me and who I have always loved back.

What Makes a Mommy Blogger Famous?

09.6.11

Post BlogHer I’ve been following up with new folks I met and some who I was happy to reconnect with. I’m having tons of conversations with gobs of people about mom blogging and the micro community known as the Mom Blogosphere.

Conversations are awkward and they always begin with the tenative use of the term Mom Blogger or Mommy Blogger. Then whoever it is I’m talking with shyly asks me if that’s the appropriate term to use. “Yes it is,” I tell them, “That’s the term you use when you’re talking about the Mom Bloggers. When you’re talking to the Mom Bloggers be sure to call them bloggers, publishers or Moms Who Blog. Do not call them Mom Bloggers to their face.” I then go on to explain to them that yes, I am a Mom Blogger, and no, I don’t give a flying fuck what you call me. Please just make sure you call me.

Typically at this point there’s a sigh of relief and start asking what makes a Mom Blogger famous. Lots of stuff I guess… I try to not answer this one because it’s totally unanswerable. Mom Bloggers are NOT famous. I mean Heather Armstrong and Rhee Drummond are famous in a total D List sort of way. But let’s be frank, more people recognize Kathy Griffin and her new face than the most “famous” Mommy Bloggers.

Now I’ve put these folks at ease. Probably twenty minutes into this sort of conversation is where I admit that blogging is silly, that bloggers take themselves too seriously but By Gawd big business would be crazy to ignore the social stream the real questions begin.

“Sometimes people say that Mom Bloggers get famous because of tragedy.” This is typically whispered, because you know, I won’t repeat whispered words, right?

Right now about 55 people are flipping the fuck out thinking that I’m telling their secrets. Stop. Don’t panic, 54 other people whispered the same sentence to me. No one knows it was you. More importantly 372 other people thought about having the conversation, they just weren’t as tacky as you and I.

Yes, sometimes Mom Bloggers get famous because of tragedy. Certainly Dooce is known for getting fired because of her blog and for her struggles with Post Partum Depression. Casey Mullins is known for her battles with depression and later with infertility. Anissa Mayhew has blogged her way through parenting a child with cancer and two strokes of her own.

When you search for Moosh In Indy you see what she has overcome, depression, IVF, Infertility

What folks outside Mom Blogging don’t really understand is that it isn’t victimhood that makes these women famous. It’s their resilience. Dooce (Heather Armstrong) got fired for her blog and then turned it into a career that sustains both herself and her husband. Casey talks about her battles with depression candidly and other women feel a little less alone, a little less frightened. Anissa is sharing her recovery with the world. If I were in a similar situation Anissa is who I would look to for support and understanding.

It’s not just Mom Bloggers who discuss their ailments, tragedies and bumps in the road. Drew Olanoff had the entire twitterverse blaming his cancer. IHadCancer.com is a community that exists to support folks with and recovering from cancer. DiabetesMine.com is a fabulous resource for folks with diabetes.

Mom Bloggers love a heroine. We want to cheer each other on through our victories and celebrate. Maybe because Mom Bloggers are busy talking about our kids and our homes, the rest of the world feels free to mock us a little. I understand that from the outside it’s easy for folks to whisper, “She’s only famous because her baby died.” That’s just not it. She’s famous because she lived to see another day.

A Letter to My Son on His 10th Birthday

07.27.11

Dear Sweet Alexander,

Ten years ago I was terrified that I didn’t have enough love to go around. I was so afraid of becoming your mother that I thought I’d have to love Jane less in order to love you more.

I was so very wrong. In your first minutes of life you taught us all that we were a family. You see before you came on the scene Daddy and I were a couple with a kid. You were our glue. You grounded us and made us a family. Three of us shared love for you, three of us were nervous that we wouldn’t quite  be enough but we loved you with our whole hearts from the moment you first appeared. You taught a lot of people about love Alexander. You were powerful in your first few minutes.

Tomorrow you’ll be ten. You’re my baby and there will be no more babies in this house after you.

I love your brain. I love when you take complex equations and narrow them down to their essence. I love being able to share science with you and have you understand it with minimal explanation. I love watching you solve problems. I’ve never told you that you’re smarter than other people. I think you probably know that, and I hope you will never be arrogant.

One of your best assets is your tenacity. It’s not easy to hit a baseball at 50 MPH, and it’s certainly not easy when you’re only looking out of one eye. I’m so proud of you for working extra hard at it so that you can get the job done. I’m thrilled that you’re starting vision therapy and that you are the one who wants to do the work. It’s good to be smart, Alexander, but it’s great to be a hard worker.

Every time you say “please”, “thank you” and “bless you” my heart soars. The world will treat you kindly when you have good manners. I know it’s not easy holding doors open, but you’re a boy, and soon you’ll be a man and it’s important to me that you are a gentleman.

Sometimes you ask me questions I can’t answer and we find the answers together. Your curiosity coupled with intelligence is what will change the world. Please remember, my son, that it’s more important to be good than it is to be first.

When you laugh I feel like I might burst, it’s like the sun shines ten times brighter and the joy is bouncing off of us all. I can’t imagine any joy greater than being your mother.

Someday Alexander you will have  a second child, and you’ll learn that a parent’s heart is built to grow.

Love,
Mom

 

Motherhood and Tummy Tucks

06.9.11

Recently the world had a collective tantrum when a mother pretended to us all that she was injecting Botox into the face of her eight year old daughter. There was the anticipated media frenzy as well as a full-fledged social media firestorm condemning the mother, condemning the pageant culture and calling for law enforcement to protect the child.

It was the reaction everyone expected. Children should not have Botox. End of story.

There are things that we do as adults that children cannot or should not do. We drink alcohol, we smoke cigarettes, we get Botox, Restalyne and Juviderm. Some people get tattoos, others spend a good amount of money removing them. We pierce our ears and we pierce our faces. There are implants to enlarge breasts, hips, buttocks, and penises. Vaginal rejuvenation is a popular surgery, though I remain puzzled by it.

When I was 27, newly married and trying to get pregnant I stopped smoking, I quit drinking soda, coffee and most processed food. I ate and drank only organic and I felt good about the decisions. My children were both born healthy and had a robust first years.

As the children separated from me physically I gave them organic baby foods, used nontoxic cleansers , guarded their sleep time and slathered them in sunscreen. I wanted to give my children the best possible chance to be physically well. At the same time I was sucking down coffee, sneaking cigarettes and never getting enough sleep.

I love my children. We love our children and we protect them. If only we could love ourselves.

At 35 I started noticing that my eyes looked a little tired and I started hearing women refer to “marionette lines” around the mouth. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw someone 35 looking back at me. I looked at my girlfriends and they looked refreshed.

Two years later they didn’t look just refreshed, they looked startled and fluffy faced. I’m not really sure how to explain what happens to a woman’s lips when they’re overly puffed up. It changes her face and as she loses clear definition of her philtrum (Cupid’s Bow) she begins to look ape like and distorted. At the same time she looks more and more like actresses of a certain age, and since they are celebrated for their beauty, this must be beautiful. We believe.

Now at 41 my phone rings. Not once or twice but a half dozen times my girlfriends call, they are planning tummy tucks and breast lifts. I suggest a really expensive bra and a girdle, but they talk about how having children ruined them and that they want to wear a bikini again. I suggest kindly that a full life can be had without wearing a bikini or that they should wear one anyhow. No one cares what we look like, we just think they do. No one listens to me and they make appointments to carve up their perfectly unbroken bodies.

Reaching utter exasperation I finally risk it all with a friend. One evening at night I let loose and lecture her. “I need you to do me a favor and go to your daughter’s bedroom. I want you to look at her while she sleeps in her bed and imagine now that while she is sleeping a doctor will cut a line around her midsection, discarding her belly button and then he’ll pull her loose skin up like a pair of pants and sew it all back together.”

She gasped. I continued, “Everything you do to your body your daughter will do to hers. Every time you disfigure yourself at the doctor’s office your daughter is watching. Does she look imperfect to you? Does she need to be fixed?” And then I went on to tell her that she was perfect and beautiful and valuable and that she needn’t hack her body to bits.

A year later she got the surgery.

This is What Women Do

05.19.11