Bad Hostess

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging, Boredom, Parenting, Working World, Writing | 9 Comments »

I think I forgot how to write. But maybe if I just start doing it again it’ll all come back to me.

You see, for a while—this fall and winter—I had a freelance job that paid me money. Like a big girl! And I showered every day and drove on highways during the trafficky times and went to lots of meetings. One day I was even the last parent to pick up my kid from preschool. (Although, blessedly, she said, “Don’t worry, Mom. I think it’s cool.”)

I had forgotten so much of this life. When two parents are working and there’s milk in the refrigerator it’s a freaking MIRACLE. Wheat Thins can become the main course in a working parents’ family dinner because, hey, they’re wheat. And one can quickly adopt a European “wear it twice before washing” attitude about laundry.

My circadian rhythms were out of whack too. I started using an alarm clock again—sometimes even waking up BEFORE THE CHILDREN. And I don’t want to brag here, but a few times at the end of a long work day I managed to stay up past 8:30. That’s a solid 30 minutes of Me Time after the kids went to sleep.

I did NOT however maintain my consistent workout and daily green-juice-drinkin’ routine. But I did replace that with a rigorous I’m-stressed-so-I’ll-treat-myself diet that included the M&Ms, potato chips, and candy-like granola bars that the agency I was working at kept on hand. In my three months of office work if my FitBit could’ve talked to me I’m sure it would’ve just laughed.

The thing is, my gig wasn’t even full time. I was cruising in mid-morning after dropping the kids at school and darting out early some days to chauffeur them to ballet and the horse ranch. Then we’d swing by the grocery store at 6PM in a mad dash to forage for food. So I guess when I think of it that way it was really more like I was doing two jobs (but only getting paid for one).

And let it be known my volunteer commitments didn’t lag. I still ran the school’s monthly coffee party (vintage tablecloths, home-baked muffins, ‘n all), kept Room One’s parents abreast of upcoming field trips, and hit up unsuspecting families to donate to the school—all while typing emails on my phone and taking conference calls in the short-stalled girls’ bathroom.

I spent plenty of time at my office too. I perfected the art of tossing carseats on our front porch on days that I knew might go sideways. If I sensed a meeting would run late I’d text a slew of sitters in the hopes that one was free to zip by our house, grab the boosters, and careen over to the kids’ two schools in time to lay claim to them before after-care ended and CPS was called.

It was like playing with fire—not knowing if my client presentation would sink or swim, while concurrently wondering whether my girls would be busking on the sidewalk for dinner money by the time I got over the bridge to fetch them.

If this sounds like a stressful, miserable existence, you might surprised to hear—now that the project I was on is over—how desperately I miss it. How muchly much muchly I was energized by every over-scheduled minute.  And how, dare I say it, during that time I appreciated every moment with my children and engaged with them wholeheartedly, unlike these days when I sometimes go to the bathroom just to hide from them.

Here’s a shout out to the Grass Is Always Greener Working Mother Club. I’m here to tell you how incredibly boring it is to have a fully-stocked pantry and fridge. Clothing that’s clean—and folded—and put away—for the whole family. And a fresh filter in the water purifer. My typical tower of store returns—various things we didn’t need, that didn’t fit, or were found to be faulty or broken—is non-existent now, which I tragically see as distressing since it means that I have no errands to run.

I mean this is how bad it’s gotten: We don’t have A SINGLE OVERDUE LIBRARY BOOK.

I think what I miss is the stress of having something challenging in front of me, and having to think, hustle, work away at it and finally conquer it. Try as I do I’m not getting deep satisfaction from having discovered new lunch items Paige is willing to eat at school. (Sliced turkey is a contender over the poppy seed bagels we used to pack every day. Huzzah!) Nor am I smug with satisfaction because I’ve read several novels, gotten back on the elliptical regularly, joined the coconut water craze, or finally tended to our front porch ferns that had experienced a savage two-month drought that I’d cruelly imposed upon them.

They are, unsurprisingly, not springing back to life. Yet.

And to show you just how freaking bored and on top of the homefront shit I am, I even pulled out my scrapbooking box. Kill me now! I have made a total of nine—count ‘em NINE—scrapbook pages in my life. (All frickin’ works of art, mind you.) They include me pregnant, Kate as a newborn, Kate’s first Christmas, and a road trip we took when she was like 5 months old. Someday when we are decrepit and infirmed, Mark and I will reflect on those four events, without so much as one photo of Paige to jolt our addled Alzheimer’s brains into remembering that we did in fact have a second child.

Despite how very little attention I’ve given to the housewifely art of scrapbooking (far less than I’ve ever bestowed upon our ferns) I appear at one point to have spent roughly $2,000 on every possible scalloped-edged photo cutter, colorful adhesive-backed letter, patterned background paper, and floral sticker. Really, I could pay for two semesters at Harvard with the money I spent on that crafty crap.

Anyway, because she was home sick but wasn’t really sick (long story) I got Kate to make two scrapbook pages. Then I tucked it all away for another six years. With enough neglect, all that stuff will start looking vintage. Maybe then I’ll think it’s cool and want to do something with it.

In the meantime I’m trying to remember what I used to do before my freelance project left me so stressfully, blissfully over-occupied. And I think the answer was: blog.

So here I am. I’m back.

I feel kinda like I left my own party to go to a movie or something. And now I’m sneaking back in, shamefacedly trying to hide my Raisinets. I have no idea if anyone’s even still here. And if there are people here they’re either mad at me for being such a crappy host, or are expecting me to do something really dazzling and entertaining to make up for my absence.

Trust me, if I could find that thing, I’d be doing it right now.


Vulnerability 101

Posted: December 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Clothing, Housewife Fashion Tips, Husbandry, Misc Neuroses, Style, Working World | 10 Comments »

We do more than drink wine in my book club. We also eat. And talk about our kids. And sure, there’s some book talk too.

Last time we met our conversation led to my friend Margot mentioning Brene Brown’s 2010 TED Talk, which she’d just seen on YouTube. It’s worth watching if you haven’t checked it out.

Margot was telling us how Brene’s research is centered around shame, vulnerability, and imperfection. If I’m getting this right, she says that being vulnerable—something a lot of people tend to think of as negative—actually allows you to make human connections. And it turns out that human connections are what bring us joy. A surprising, and very cool, cycle.

So I started a new freelance gig a few weeks back. (Hence my shameful blog neglect. Apologies if you’ve been forced to read a good book during my hiatus.) I’m doing some client relationship management for a creative agency in San Francisco. And even though I know a couple folks there, I’ve never worked with anyone on the team I’m on. So I’m in that mode where I’m hyper-aware of the first impressions I make. You know, sharpening my pencils and brushing my teeth even more than usual.

Now, creative workplaces present a special kind of fashion quandary. As the new freelancer you want to look professional and polished, but nearly everyone in the office has jeans on. Over-dressing is downright dorkish. Under-dressing can come off as cavalier—especially if you’re in a management role. So for my first day, I attempted to strike the right balance. As I left the house the girls and Mark gave me a thumbs up. I had on wool pants, boots, a white long-sleeved t-shirt, and a chunky necklace. As I dashed out the door I grabbed a cardigan.

As my first meeting started, the project manager launched into an overview of the work we’d be doing. She mentioned that Sam—another employee at the agency—had been invited to join us, but she wasn’t sure if he was going to make it.

About 10 minutes in, this Sam guy arrives. He slides into a seat at the conference table, smiles, and holds out his hand to introduce himself. He’s in a hoodie, but it’s probably cashmere. He’s got on jeans and some huge watch that’s sporty and probably pretty schmancy. He’s clearly clearly cracked the clothing code of the place, and for that alone I am humbled.

After a brief pause before launching back into our agenda I asked, “So, Sam, what do you do here?”

“Brand strategy,” he said brightly. And then he added more quietly, “And, I’m also the founder.”

Yes, boys and girls, I asked the president of the company I’m working at what he does. As if he was like, the Latte Boy or something.

By gum, I was off to a good start.

I got home later that afternoon feeling excited about my new gig. The agency folks were smart, the client was cutting edge. There were cute dogs and good snacks in the office.

The Husband was in the kitchen. He’d been working from home. He looked up from the sandwich he was assembling and said, “Hey! How was your meeting? Your sweater’s on inside-out.”

I looked down in a panic. Two bright white tags emerged from the waist of my chocolate brown cardigan. Ridiculous. Why do they even need those Care Instruction tags anyway? For God sakes, don’t people know how to manage wool at this point?

As Mark sliced his sandwich in two he said, “You’ll get the hang of this work thing soon, honey.”

I dashed to the bathroom mirror and twisted to see my back, hoping my hair covered the label at the top of the sweater. But OF COURSE IT DIDN’T. It was sticking out proudly just below my hairline.

I also saw that the exposed seams were jagged and thready-looking. I mean, Helen Keller would have noticed this sweater was on inside-out.

I could only hope that I distracted the meeting attendees from my madwoman fashion stylings by asking the president what he did at the company. I mean, if I was lucky one of my humiliating faux-pas might have overshadowed the other one.

In bed that night I whispered to Mark in the dark, “Do you think I should tell them I was recently struck by lightning? Maybe that could explain the sweater thing at least.”

Last weekend we went to a weird fun performance called Mummenschanz with Lily and her fam. In the endless concession line at intermission I stood behind a heavyset woman and her young daughter. As the three tones rang out indicating our break was ending—as was our hope of getting a snack—I noticed the mom in front of us had her long, tan cardigan on inside-out. I didn’t know her, but in that spinach-in-your-teeth way of the sisterhood of woman, I felt it was my duty to tap her on the arm and quietly point it out.

“Oh God,” she harrumphed, as she peeled her sweater off to turn it around. “Thank you.”

“Trust me,” I said as I took Kate’s hand to head back to our seats. “I’ve been there.”

What I really wanted to say was, “I too am seeking joy by making myself vulnerable! The clothing trick is only one of my moves.” But I thought there was a good chance she’d have no idea what I was talking about.


You Won’t Find Me Here Today

Posted: May 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging, Friends and Strangers, Other Mothers, Working World | 3 Comments »

I first learned about Katrina from an email. I was freelancing at the design agency where she used to work, and an all-office spam went out praising her brilliance and linking to a story she’d written for The Huffington Post.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I read blogs on company time (ahem—where are YOU right now?). But that day it seemed like a team player thing to do.

And man, was I happy I did. The story was intense. And smart. And incredibly thought provoking.

It recounted the nervous breakdown Katrina had as a working mother in a high-profile job. And it raised some serious questions about the sorry state of working motherhood in America.

After that, whenever anyone at the agency mentioned Katrina my ears perked up.

Then I met her at a kiddie Christmas party where our girls were gluing fistfuls of glitter onto styrofoam balls and speedballing on sugar cookies. And we stood in the kitchen for an hour talking like old college roommates. For all that she’s immensely smart, she’s also wonderfully real.

My mother would say, “She’s good people.” (Actually, my mother never used that expression, but I think it’s apt and I didn’t want to be responsible for saying it myself.)

Katrina writes an excellent blog called Working Moms Break. It seems silly to send you there today since you’ll find a guest post by me. But after you read that, you can read all of HER wonderful posts, and start following her interesting important work on working mothers. Some day when she writes a best-selling book I’ll be able to say, “I knew you when our kids snorted glitter together.”

Oh, and my post there is called Mommy See, Mommy Do. It’s about some recent developments in my work life, and my motherhood.

I hope you love it.


My Jewish Mother

Posted: March 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Extended Family, Friends and Strangers, Other Mothers, Parenting, Working World | No Comments »

Did I ever tell you how I stalked a woman once?

It was back when Mark and I were looking for schools for Kate. And a school we applied to was hosting a conference where authors, experts, and teachers were lecturing and running workshops. It was all about parenting.

The event fell on a Saturday, a few weeks before we’d be finding out whether or not Kate got into the school. Even though anyone could attend the day’s program—and hundreds of amped up, achievement-hungry Bay Area parents did—Mark and I set out all spiffed up and eager to make a good impression if, by chance, we’d have the good fortune of bumping into the Admissions Director at the continental breakfast buffet.

But minutes into the keynote, given by the handsome, cleft-chinned author of Nurture Shock, we were fully engrossed in the topic at hand. Our ulterior motive of showcasing what great members of the school community we’d make had all but melted away. (Though God knows I could have summoned it back in a snap had I bumped into the school’s French teacher in the bathroom.)

We attended a tepidly interesting session on teaching your kids to read, wandered through the Redwood-tree-lined playground, and made our way into a workshop on temperament being given by a nurse-turned-radio-show-host. It was five minutes into her presentation (I’d admittedly lingered at the coffee urn, scanning for school officials), but we slid into two seats at the back of the room.

The woman at the podium, Nurse Rona as she called herself, was talking about temperament. That some people are “intense” by nature, and some less so. Fairly basic stuff we’re all aware of, but she was talking about family dynamics and how our individual temperaments play a role in how we operate as families.

We got hand-outs that listed a long series of scenarios and gave some kind of 1-through-10  reaction rating for each one.

The good nurse asked us to think of one of our children, and fill out the worksheet based on how he or she would react to the different situations. Mark and I did this together, circling something with a number 10 answer for Kate, then circling a number 3 for Mark. We went through each question and answered for ourselves and the girls, even though Paige was only two at the time.

What was amazing was how easy it was to do. We were having a little laugh as we’d whisper “Paige” and then both be pointing frantically with our pencils to the same answer on the spectrum.  Other things Mark would circle about five times while mouthing “you” at me. It was really simple—and actually quite fun—to map our little family all out.

And at the end of the exercise a distinct pattern arose. It was clear that Kate and I have, well… intense personalities. (Duh.) Mark and Paige? They’re on the more mellow side.

This is not rocket science, people. I mean, I guess we’d both realized this on some level, but we hadn’t really thought much about it, ya know? We’d just been so busy with the day-to-day grind of parenting, that we’d never really stepped back to take note of this now-fairly-obvious thing. And now that this came into focus, the nurse was giving us all this smart advice about how we could handle various situations in our family life based on this information.

It was a huge aha moment. It made me realize why, when given a chance to divide the kids up to run errands, Mark gravitated towards taking Kate, and I did the same with Paige. Call it opposites attracting, or personality load-balancing, but there’s just a reason why those groupings tended to form naturally. Even long after the time when I needed to be with Paige for breastfeeding purposes.

I was fascinated. This revealed so much about my growing-up family too. I finally understood why people said one of my sisters and my mom were so much alike—a comment that always confused me since the two of them seemed to clash more often than get along.

So later, in line at the salad bar when I saw Nurse Rona, I made my move.

“Amazing workshop,” I gushed, throwing some mixed greens on my plate I had no intention of eating.  And I went on to overshare all my take-aways from her workshop. It was like I was wedging in a free quick therapy session while blindly piling croutons onto my plate.

Anyway, after that weekend I couldn’t help thinking about that woman and her work. She was a nurse who’d spent decades in hospitals and taught various kinds of parenting courses. I tuned into her radio show the next Sunday morning. I went to her website. And then one day while the girls were napping, I decided to send her an email.

I told her I loved her presentation. Reminded her we chatted at the salad and cold-cuts buffet. Told her all about my media background and recent foray into little more than “nose and butt wiping” for my kids. But that her work was so compelling I was wondering—Did she need a research assistant? A ghost writer? Someone to bring her coffee during her radio show?

I hit send and figured I’d never hear back. Or that she’d think I was mad.

I was deep deep into my stay-at-home mom life. This email was liking tossing a crumpled note over a tall stone wall into the world of the working set. A world that had once been incredibly familiar, but had grown distant and even a bit mysterious. I had dim flickering memories of the place, but could only imagine how vastly it had changed since I’d been there. And it seemed absurd to imagine that someone on that side would want to communicate with someone on my side.

I didn’t expect to hear back from her. But it was thrilling nonetheless attempting to make contact. In fact, after so much at-home childcare time, it was exciting to even feel a rumbling of professional curiosity still lurking in my bones.

I was passionate about motherhood, and had lost interest in my former career. But maybe I could do work that was related to parenting. Chocolate and peanut butter together!

Anyway, it turns out I did hear back from Nurse Rona. The same day even. A lovely and encouraging note, along with an invitation to lunch. “Do you have childcare?” she asked. “If not, I can come to you and talk around the kids.”


Lunch-time Rona was just as fascinating as lecturing Rona. We talked all about her work and my pre-mama career. I heard about her kids and grandchildren and I gushed about Kate and Paige. She told me about the constant funding struggles with her non-profit and keeping Childhood Matters, her radio show, on the air. She promised to read my blog.

There wasn’t any immediate need for my help, but she was at the beginning of a book project and various other endeavors. Who knew what we might be able to collaborate on?

She invited me to an event at her non-profit. I called into her show a few times. I’d see her at farmer’s markets, or we’d grab a cup of tea. She ran a workshop out of my living room. Her daughter started babysitting for my children. In short, over the course of the past couple years we became friends.

I’ve even appeared on her show as a guest a couple times. Once with the author of a book about the importance of family dinners, and once with a family therapist talking about babyproofing your marriage.

And she may not know it—or maybe it’s blatantly plain to see—but she’s become one of the mothers I’ve adopted. You know, I do this now since my mom is gone. “Borrow” other peoples’ mamas for practical or emotional purposes, or just for fun. It’s like I’m hand-picking the village that it takes to raise me, still at age 44.

Rona is so warm and wise, and with a great California sensibility that’s enlightened but not too far out hippie-dippy. Who wouldn’t want her as a mama?

Last Sunday, after more than nine years of bringing great thought-provoking information to parents, Rona’s excellent radio show Childhood Matters went off the air. They finally lost their perpetual funding tug o’ war, and decided to put their remaining resources into their Spanish-language parenting show Nuestros Ninos.

It’s bittersweet for sure, but this change hardly leaves Rona sitting around eating bon bons. She’s got her book project underway, podcasts with Christine Carter (author of my new favorite book, Raising Happiness), workshops, coaching—you name it. You just can’t keep this woman away from work that helps families.

After more than nine years of waking up at the crack of dawn to get to the recording studio, this Sunday Rona will get to sleep in. I hope, for her sake, it’s delicious.

And the way I see it, she needs all the rest she can get. I’m not the only mama out there who’s  eager for whatever wisdom she’ll continue to share, be it by radio, book, or lecture. I’m just lucky to be one of the few who’s also got her cell phone number.

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Make New Friends but Keep the Old

Posted: April 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: City Livin', Eating Out, Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Working World | 7 Comments »

I know I’ve mentioned I have a new job. But I’ve failed to report even bigger news: I have a new husband!

A work husband that is.

And he’s dazzling—smart, funny, handsome. And 100% dyed-in-the-wool-Prada-pants GAY.

I know, I know, I’m gushing. But I’m telling you, no more than three minutes into meeting each other—an introduction where sparks of sass and sarcasm blazed off us like an electrical fire—we were in luv.

The next morning he sashayed past my desk to announce that he’d confessed his feelings for me to his partner. “I told him,” he said conspiratorially, “that I have a new BFF.”

Oooooh!” I squealed, clapping my hands and beaming. “I told Mark about you too!”

On my second day of work he analyzed our astrological charts at lunch (we’re compatible), and we discovered our birthdays are two weeks apart. We were even born the same year!

We’ve continued this way for days now: “You love neutral tones with a dash of orange as an accent color?!” I bellowed in disbelief. “Me TOO!”

We’ve discussed our yoga preferences (His: “Original Recipe” Hatha, Mine: Power Vinyasa ) and our current efforts to get bikini-ready for summer. And he’s managed to assess nearly every piece of clothing I’ve worn, rubbing the fabric between his fingers, raising an eyebrow then muttering his approval.

By next week we should be belting out duets and performing elaborately choreographed dance moves through the office. We’ll outshine Travolta and Olivia Newton John. I just know it.

I’m planning to consummate our union at his fabulous beach house. It’s off some island or other near Seattle. I picture myself poised on 900-thread-count sheets—blissfully alone, of course. I’ll do snow angels in the bed, soaking up the unbridled thrill of a weekend away from the kids, while he and his lawyer-cum-yoga-instructor partner slavishly cook for me and deliver mimosas and Vanity Fair magazines to what I can only imagine is a lavish guest suite. (The guest house is still under construction.)

It’s like a dream. A fabulous, exhilarating dream in which we spend lunches at the cafe at his gym ogling the hot guys working out.

The other day, while outlining the guest list for his birthday par-tay—old friends from high school, former co-workers, his San Francisco set—he pointed out matter-of-factly, “I collect people.”

And when Mark got an email last week, inviting him to a dinner in the city, I couldn’t help but think of just that.

One of the bennies of Mark’s job is that he gets to meet some pretty cool, accomplished folks. Well, I mean, I see that as a benefit since I like people. But Mark? Well, not so much. He’s kinda like those dogs people apologize for at parks ’cause they don’t like other dogs.

Now, I don’t want to imply my hubbie’s some social nitwit. He’s just discerning about who he’ll make an effort for. His attitude: He’s already got five friends. Why’d he ever need more? And while Mark’s not taking resumes for new friends, I go through life chatting up baristas while they steam my milk, and wanting to invite Jehovah’s Witnesses in for lunch.

But sometimes, someone Mark meets penetrates his Cone of Social Reluctance. And recently, this happened.

The New Friend is someone Mark’s interviewed and hung out with for work. The dude’s a crazy-accomplished genius. He seems to have the Midas touch with everything he does. And he’s done just about everything.

And whatever, so they’ve kinda become friends. It’s not like they go bowling every Wednesday, or have slumber parties and braid each others’ hair. But they’ve hung out a few times now for no work-related purpose.

It’s not so terribly strange, even considering Mark’s inclination to keep his friend count low. The thing that’s gets me about this new alliance is—well, it’s kinda embarrassing to admit—I mean, what’s weird about it is that the guy is rich. But not like rich by any mortal standards. Like, stratospherically mind-bogglingly loaded.

So, when this chap came to town recently (he lives up north) his assistant contacted Mark. Would he like to get together for dinner? New Friend was traveling for work and his wife wasn’t with him. So he and Mark and a another of the guy’s pals from San Fran grabbed some grub.

You know, 15 or so courses.

Then last week Mark gets another call. The assistant asks again about dinner. And this time I’m welcomed along. It turns out we’re going out with a couple other folks, and one of them who’s a chef picked some divey Korean joint as our venue. Because, hey, what’s more fun than slumming with a gazillionaire?

Aside from his immense genius, and a guess that he probably wouldn’t have holes in his shoes, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I don’t mean to get all Us Magazine “Just Like Us” about it. (Look! He wears sunglasses outdoors! Wow! He covers his mouth when he coughs!) But to be honest, for the first fifteen minutes or so, I was TOTALLY like that.

The thing is, the guy is totally normal.

It was like any other night you’d spend in a dumpy Richmond café eating gut-cleansing kimchi with friends in your own tax bracket.

And sure, there were things that came up—the  mention of a dinner with Jane Fonda and Ted Turner—that weren’t the typical conversational grist my homies and I bandy about at the taqueria. (“Oh that JANE…” I chortled, slapping my thigh. “She IS that way after a couple Pisco Sours, isn’t she?”) There was a mention of Stephen Hawking liking really spicy Indian food. And an anecdote about a dinner he’d had at an inn in Montana or somewhere. The place was so remote (How remote was it?) that he still had to drive for an hour after the plane landed. Pause. “And I have my own plane!”

Weirdly, none of this came off as snooty or name-droppy. Just the opposite, in fact. The guy was totally comfortable with who he was (even if I wasn’t at first). He was tellin’ it like it was from his side of the tracks.

I mean, why pretend to fly Continental?

At one point, we got on the topic of Mark’s exploits in bread baking. I mentioned that one recipe he’d been struggling with produced loaves like pancakes. (Though I think I actually said “limp breast implants.”) This fast became a opportunity for the group to razz Mark on his inability to “get a rise” out of his dough. And quickly deteriorated to jokes about him “getting it up.”

Yeah, so not so much pretense at our table.

In fact, my favorite thing was how super-brilliant New Friend is, yet how often he says “fuck.” It turns out he says “fuck” a lot. (I’m going to remember how cool I thought this was when I make my gazillions. “What a fuckin’ nightmare,” I’ll confide to my chauffeur. “My new jet is totally fucked!”)

After dinner he asked us about how he could get a taxi. Most San Franciscans would agree that the best way to get a cab is to go to New York. So instead of making the guy wait, we offered to drop him at his hotel. This required us to remove a car seat from the back of our beater Subaru. And to wipe away some Cheerios. And to toss a pile of Captain Underpants books and a mermaid-shaped Barbie in the trunk. While smiling sheepishly over our shoulders.

“Ah, you’ve got kids!” I said a bit too loudly, scraping a withered fruit roll-up into the gutter. When what I was really conveying was, “Remember? This is what most family cars are like.” (I did resist bursting into the chorus of “What Do the Simple Folk Do.”)

We wove our way through the drizzly, dark city to The Ritz Carlton. And saying our goodbyes, he bid Mark a last word of luck getting his dough up, then grabbed the door handle once, then twice, finally leaning into the door with his shoulder. Fail.

“Ah yeah,” I said realizing what was happening. “That’d be the child lock.” And I hopped out to come around and release him.


As Mark turned the car out of the hotel lot and headed us home to Oakland, he put his hand on my leg and asked his typical end-of-the-evening question, “You have fun?”

And, trying vaguely to remember what I’d thought the night would be like, I said, “Yeah. I did.”

Then I smiled. Man, this’ll make a nice little story for my work hubbie.

And speaking of him—Happy happy birthday, darlin’! I cannot WAIT to hear about every last detail of your weekend over a quinoa salad at the gym. xoxoxo!


Guest Blogger: Paigey

Posted: April 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Preschool, Working World | 4 Comments »

So I started a new job today.

Well—for now at least—it’s a part-time freelance thang. But I’m working in an office! In San Francisco! With other grown-ups!

I’m just like a big girl.

The gig is with a website for mamas. In fact, it’s called So check it out, sister.

More on the work scene later. Right now I’m just fearful that actual paid employment could interfere with my ability to blog on a regular basis. But thankfully, I have back-up. In the form of a three-year-old. Specifically, my three-year-old.

Yes, today, for the first time in the esteemed five-year history of motherload, we have a guest blogger: Paigey.

Her post below, is actually a story she told to her preschool class. Paige has an eccentric yet wonderful teacher who carries around one of those geeky mini tape recorders to capture the cute crap the kids say. So this story—which she regaled upon the class at lunch recently—was captured verbatim.

And I don’t want to get all braggish, but the story just appeared in her classroom’s email newsletter. This is a publication that goes out to ALL the Huckleberry Room families. Which is something like 16 in all. So yes, Paige has been published. (Are you listening, Harvard?!)

Without further blather, I give you an original tale told by Miss Paige.

There’s a big giant pink castle with two princesses, who were both moms. And their child. And the cows went out, and picked flowers for their mom. And then they went back in and they were so happy. And then a farmer came in. And then, um, the farmer he…the end.

And they had good manners. And then the good manners said ‘Hey, what’s that game?’  And then they went walking along the bed. Walking along on its head.

Chapter One: “The Dragon.” The dragon was sleeping in his cave. The people were sleeping in their bed, too. And it was night and the dragon waked up and she was named Lindsey. She was the girl. She flied in the air and goed to her friend’s house. She said “Hi, friends, I’m named Lindsey.” She flew off to her grandma’s house.

Chapter Two: “The Guy.” The guy was sleeping in his coat. And they were stunning. Then there was a dragon coming. Then he closed his door. And then he went back to his house to take a (?).

Chapter One. “The Bird.” The bird was in her cage. And then the cave fox walked along with his… and then he was walking…”

And just like that, on the second Chapter One (which I find very innovative, don’t you?) the tale suddenly ends. Perhaps it’s Paige’s wish that we determine the outcome of it all ourselves—the fox, the bird, the lesbian princess moms, and let’s not forget the flower-picking cow or “the guy.”

A special hearty thank you to the masterful Paigey Wigs for graciously stepping in today as guest blogger. Now that I’m working again it’s reassuring knowing there’s someone else out there helping me carry the load.

As they say, it takes a village.


It’s Rocket Science

Posted: January 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Career Confusion, Friends and Strangers, Housewife Superhero, Kate's Friends, Kindergarten, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate, Other Mothers, Working World | 4 Comments »

Kate was all hopped up at dinner. “Evan’s mom?” she said, in her sing-songy California-girl lilt. “So she came to school today? And she talked about her work? And she makes ROBOTS. And then? She sends them into OUTER-SPACE.”

“Oh. Really?” I said casually, ladling cooked carrots onto her plate, as if I’d sent a couple robots to outer-space myself that afternoon.

“And this one robot? Called Spirit?,” she continued breathlessly. “Well, it got STUCK on a planet. Up on THE MOON.”

“Actually it was Mars,” Mark corrected. (Smart aleck.)

“Oh yeah, Mars,” Kate went on. “So it got stuck there. Stuck!” Pause for dramatic effect, arms straight, palms down on the table.

“And so then?” she forged on, “Evan’s mom? She showed us pictures of all these robots she’s worked on. And then? We got to draw pictures of them and MAKE CARDS FOR SPIRIT.”

Now, drawing is Kate’s default no-fail super happy activity. And creating greeting cards is her knee-jerk response to nearly any emotional experience or moderately-noteworthy event.

A friend’s pet hamster dies? “I’m going to make a really special card,” she’ll say somberly. Paige’s preschool teacher sprains his ankle. “Please get my markers,” she’ll ask, like a doctor requesting a scalpel. “I have a card to make.” They’re out of the paper towels I like at the grocery store. “Maybe I should make the store owner a card, Mom? Do you think so?”

Aside from the things life tosses our way, there are the standard calendar holidays—St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Flag Day, Canadian Thanksgiving, Administrative Assistant’s Day. There are opportunities year-round that Kate seizes on to send her hand-drawn greetings out the world. It’s hard work, but she’s game for the challenge.

She’ll be the Intergalactic President and Creative Grand Poobah of Hallmark some day. Mark my words.

So anyway, Evan’s mom. As if the whole robot thing, and the space thing wasn’t mind-explodingly cool enough, the fact that there was also a heart-wrenching story to go with it all—Spirit’s tragic demise, inextricably stuck in martian soil—that was the ultimate piece de resistance for Kate.

She had never recounted a story from school with such gusto, detail, and emotion. And at the end of it, to think that the teacher uttered the words, “Let’s make cards.” It’s a wonder Kate didn’t implode with glee.

Now, not to be a sourpuss, but I couldn’t help but hear this story without thinking, how the hell does any other parent go into the classroom and follow that lead?

I can just picture Kate announcing proudly to her classmates, “My mom is coming in today to talk about being… a housewife!”

Imagine the shockwaves of excitement that would blast through the classroom. The kids will lunge at Kate, peppering her with a million frenetic questions. “Do you think she’ll tell us about doing laundry? Clipping coupons? Mopping up spills?”

At the end of my presentation, for the emotional finale, I can have the kids draw pictures of Paigey’s yellow pants. The ones that, despite my valiant efforts, I couldn’t get the grape juice stains out of.

We had to throw away those beloved pants. We shall miss them.

A friend is going through the all-consuming gut-wrenching private school application process we went through last year. We were chatting about the assessment part. For incoming kindergarteners it’s not so much an ‘interview’ as it is an ‘observed playdate’ with other kids.

Or, at least, that’s how they spin it. Because they certainly do lob questions at the kids while they’re playing. But since the parents are corralled off in another room, you don’t know exactly what they’re asking, or how your twerp is responding. Unless, of course, you interrogate them like a mad-woman once you get home. Like I did.

It turned out that almost every school asked the kids what their parents do.

“So what did you SAY?” I beseeched Kate. “What DOES Daddy do?”

“He’s an editor at Wired.  Um, Wired magazine.” she said, picking at a string on her sweater.

“YES!” Mark and I high-fived over her head.

“They asked what you do too, Mama,” Kate said looking up.

I stopped my mini she-got-an-answer-right dance and asked, “They did? And what did you say?”

“Writes a book,” she said quietly.

“NICE!” I bellowed, stabbing the air with my fist. (At the time, I had a now-neglected book proposal in the works.)

So, the gods were with me. Not only did Kate come up with the right answers (without coaching, no less!), she also dodged the whole host of unsavory housewifely duties she could have reported as my primary life’s undertaking. She could easily have said I “empty the dishwasher,” “cook hot dogs,” or “yell at us to hurry up.”

The truth is, what Kate thinks about what I do—or what I know about—has been the subject of past neurotic freak-outs. Mild freak-outs, mind you. But freak-outs nonetheless.

But I shouldn’t pin it all on Kate. Because it’s really ME who struggles with answering the simple question, “What do you do?”

It’s not that I don’t know the answer. I do, but it’s kind of a messy hodge-podge.

I’m a mom. A stay-at-home mom—sometimes. Because I sometimes manage projects for a web-design agency. Oh, and I blog. Though I hate the term mommy blogger. And do a little bit of freelance writing too. (Or, as Mark put it the other day, I’m a ‘write-tress.’ Which sounds a little too close to ‘waitress’ for my liking, but I still love the hilarious girlification of ‘writer.’ Girlification of any term is always good.)

So I know the answer. But aside from it being annoyingly discursive, I never like hearing what it is I’m saying. Or maybe I don’t like what I think it says about me. What it elicits in the minds of the people I’m talking to.

Instead, I want to tell people I’m a robotics engineer at NASA.

Is that so wrong?

Mark and I took the subway into SF for a holiday party at “the agency where I sometimes freelance.” We were both playing with our iPhones waiting for the train, and I asked him what his upcoming work travel looked like. To which he responded, “I’m in New York next week taping The Today Show, in Vegas for the first week of January, and then in March I’m back to Switzerland.”

Now, I don’t begrudge my husband his excellent career. He is so wicked super good at what he does, and he’s worked hard to do the cool things he gets to do. But hearing about all his upcoming fabulousless sent me into a what-am-I-doing-with-my-life spiral. By the time we got off the train I was dragging my knuckles on the ground in a woe-is-me funk.

Waaaaah! I might be taking the brilliant Motherboard story How To Act Like A Baby a little to much to heart. But—I want to stay in the new Wynn hotel! I want a fresh stamp in my passport! I want to schmooze with Matt Lauer in the green room!

What’s weird is, a few weeks earlier I heard from a old co-worker. Nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. Told me about an executive job opening at a super hot design agency. Hooked me up with his friend, who was all interested in getting me in for an interview.

Cool, right?

But then I stalled. I was supposed to send my resume, but days went by and I couldn’t muster the effort. It was such a fabulous role in such a uber-hip place—something I’d have clawed at like a rabid racoon a few years ago—but I just didn’t have it in me. So I ended up emailing the guy and saying the timing just wasn’t right.

I want the thrill and sexiness and intellectual stimulation of work. I want the cocktail party cool-job bragging rights. I want the paycheck. Hell, I want the wardrobe.

But I don’t want the endless droning conference calls, or the late nights assembling PowerPoint presentations. And I certainly don’t want the 50 hours a week away from my family. Because, despite the self-esteem flogging my current life sometimes serves up, I want to be with my kids as much as I can.

Call it old-school, but it’s just what feels right to me now.

Every time an old woman in the grocery store looks at the girls then says to me, “It goes by fast!” I practically tear up and hug her and say, “I know! I know! Paigey is already almost three years old! And she’s my baby!”

Anyway, I decided to email Space Robot Mom. I mean, I barely know the woman, but that never stops me. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a poor role model for the “don’t talk to strangers” rule.

I told her how thrilled Kate was with her presentation. How interesting and super cool her work sounds. And how she’s definitely set the bar high for the mere-mortal parents of the other kids in Room 2. I told her I had a good laugh with some SAHM friends about the presentations we could do about our “jobs.”

I hit Send. Then I decided I was insane.

What the hell was I thinking? I’d have to withstand years of seeing this woman at school events with her giving me a WTF raised-eyebrow look. “Ah yes,” she’d think looking at me pityingly, “It’s that sad-sack housewife who was so bitter about my high-power career. WhatEV.”

But you know what? Here’s the crazy thing. She emailed me back almost right away. And she was SO COOL. I guess this woman is just so comprehensively cool that even my rantish mad-woman emails can’t make her flinch.

She was thrilled that Kate was inspired by her talk. She loves getting girls fired up about science and math. She apparently LOLed at my self-deprecation about my life as a domestic galley slave. She even said she was envious of MY life, on accounta I get to spend lots of time with the kidlings and she still struggles with the work-family balance.

A rocket scientist, jealous of me!

Then get this. She said, “Maybe after the holidays we can have a playdate or get coffee some time.”

How cool is that? I send her a deranged email putting my gigantic inferiority complex on display, and she wants to hang out! I think I’m going to like this chick.

I can’t wait to tell all the moms at the playground that I hang with the NASA set.


Gratuitous Gratitude

Posted: November 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Bad Mom Moves, Holidays, Miss Kate, Moods, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Parenting, Sisters, Working World | 9 Comments »

The cold weather this time of year always makes me grateful.

There’s something about it getting dark early and being all chilly out. I love the evenings. The freshly-bathed girls are snuggled up, safely asleep in their beds. I’m on the couch under an afghan, toe-to-toe with Mark. He’s peering into his laptop, or telling me how a meeting went. Or we’re submitting to some IQ-sapping TV show.

It’s cold outside, but it’s warm in here. Our cupboards are packed with food. Our closets full of clothing. Our beds hold sleeping children, nearly perfect in their unconscious states.

There’s nothing swanky or indulgent about our set-up. No rare art on the walls or luxury cars in the garage. But we are healthy. We are here. We are blessed.

Since the cold set in a couple weeks ago I’ve spent evenings this way, awash in deep contentment. Sometimes I’m nearly giddy with our riches, with all that we have.

But my Seasonal Excess Gratitude Disorder isn’t something I’ve passed on to my children. Just the opposite, in fact. Lately they seem steadfastly stuck on grumbling disquietude, making blatant displays of their lack of appreciation.

Like on Sunday. I took Kate to see a matinee of what turned out to be a really charming, well-acted play called Cinderella, Enchanted. It was one of those adult-performed kid-attended productions where little girls come gussied up in princess attire. But it was Berkeley, so it wasn’t too sickening. You know, the kids wore Birkenstocks under their frocks, and were doused in patchouli.

Afterward, game for more feel-good family fun, we went to an old-timey ice cream shop. We ate linner (as opposed to brunch), and Kate and her friend ordered ice cream for dessert.

It was a lovely day. What kindly, well-mannered child wouldn’t appreciate that her mother blew off her favorite yoga class to spend the day catering to her every childhood want?

Not mine.

We stopped to rent a movie en route home. At one of those places that’s still actually a building where live (albeit socially-inept) people work, and where there are ceiling-high shelves of actual DVDs that you look at and pick out and carry home with you. It doesn’t involve The Internets at all!

And in that same old world vein, they have those candy dispensers. The ones where for a quarter you get a sweaty palm-ful of Skittles or those hard sour candies that’re shaped like little bananas and other fruits.

Kate saw these machines and wrapped herself around one like a rabid koala bear. I looked over my shoulder from the New Releases to give her a definitive, “No, Kate.” At which point she hunkered down like some protesting hippie setting up house in the branches of a soon-to-be-chopped tree. Had I not pried each of her fingers one-by-one off the glass candy-filled containers, she’d likely still be there, trying to gnaw her way through to the sugar.

“Two minutes ago you ate a bowl of rainbow sherbet THE SIZE OF YOUR HEAD!” I growled as I dragged her by the arm through the parking lot. “And I took you to a Cinderella play! Most kids stayed home and played with Legos today. And now you’re begging me for CANDY? And acting like life is unbearable because I said no?”


Mark noticed this with Kate lately too. After running errands with her he cornered me in the kitchen. “What’s up with her and all the begging? My God, there were even things at Office Depot she wanted me to buy.”

And let’s not get started on the Halloween candy. Negotiations for it begin AT BREAKFAST. “I ate all my oatmeal, Mama. Can I have just one lollipop?”

If Mark and I weren’t such candy addicts we’d have tossed out that crap a week ago.

The thing is, especially with candy, I know the siren’s call of drug-like sugar is hard for kids to resist. But sometimes even while they’re eating something they’re already asking for more. Is it too much to want a brief moment of appreciation? Even from a two- and five-year-old?

Sure, we have some instances of unexpected gratitude. Kate will look up at me from dinner, eyes shining and say, “Mama, this is so delicious. Thank you!” Or Paigey will snug up to me after I’ve read her a book and say, “Fank you, Mama for read book. I yuv you, Mama.”

It’s sweet and sincere and makes me think all the time I spend like Sisyphus, rolling a boulder uphill while calling over my shoulder, “What’s the magic word? What do you say when someone gives you something? Wash your hands after you pee!”—maybe some of it actually IS getting through to them.

But then yesterday I did what working mothers across the stratosphere do daily—busted ass out of the office to take the kids to gymnastics. This felt especially foreign and hellacious since I work freelance and intermittently. I’m unused to fleeing the office, jetting to two schools for pick-ups, struggling to pull leotards onto the kids in the parents’ waiting area, then foisting them towards their classes with a head-throbbing wave.

But like some rain-averse dog, Kate put on her breaks. She was unfoistable. I scuttled her towards her already-underway class and she started shaking her head, lip quivering, and muttering, “No.”

“NO?” I whispered in her ear, trying to keep my expression neutral for any onlookers. “What do you mean, NO?” The veins in my left temple throbbed, taking my headache up a level like a jagged peak on the yellow graphs on those aspirin bottles.

Well, no, it turned out, meant no. No class. No, I’m not going. Unh-uh. Just not in the mood.

And since I couldn’t imagine any way to force this to happen, though God knows my brain was racing to figure one out, I relented.

Fine,” I hissed. “You sit over there and watch your sister.”

Then Little Miss Monkey-See Monkey-Do Paigey Wigs (her new official title), decided after ten minutes of participation that she was also not going to take her class. Apparently the sight of Kate sitting on the sidelines picking through the uneaten remains in her lunchbox was more enviable an activity than Paige could bear to witness.

And so, with my sister in tow who was visiting from SoCal (and no doubt thanking God that she has dogs not kids), we left. Fifteen minutes after blasting past old women in crosswalks to get there on time.

And. I. Was. Furious.

I shoved shoes on those little leotarded girls and said to them in no uncertain terms, “Daddy works hard to pay for these classes. This is a special thing you are lucky to be able to do. And if we go through all the trouble to get here and you refuse to go, you… you… you WILL NEVER TAKE ANOTHER CLASS AGAIN!”

This, it turns out, was the most rational thing I could think of to say. Nice, huh? I’m sure there was some other way—nearly any other way, really—to have handled it better. But that was all I had in the moment.

I especially like the attempted guilt trip about Mark’s work. “Your Daddy’s risking his life in a coal mine right now so you girls can learn to walk on a balance beam!”

Keep it classy, Bruno.

Ah well, one more place I’ve likely been put on some Mommy Dearest watch list. Hell, it was the last class of the session anyway. Besides, per my impassioned threat, my girls will never take another class ANYWHERE ELSE AGAIN. So, who’s to worry?

I have had the thought that some of this recent whiny, tired, begging, miserable behavior has been brought about by, of all things, the one-hour time change. It seems silly that one hour could take such a crippling toll on the behavior of my children. But when they’re playing they’re whining for dinner. At dinner they’re ready for bed.

And when they are supposed to be sitting back and savoring all that is good and wonderful and blessed in our lives, they are asking for more. Or different. Or, none at all.

The holiday season is not quite upon us. I have a little time to sort this out so when we arrive in North Carolina where we’ll spend time with Mark’s extended family, we’ll all be aglow in the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

But just in case it doesn’t come together in the happy heartfelt way I’d like, I keep returning to this one thought. Wouldn’t it be nice if—instead of just making you feel sleepy—tryptophan also made you grateful?


Postcard from San Francisco

Posted: May 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Bad Mom Moves, Career Confusion, Working World | 1 Comment »

I’ve recently ventured to an exotic land. And not just once. I’ve been back there day after day, for weeks now.

The thing is, this place is separated from my usual stomping grounds by only a narrow waterway and a small island. But despite its close proximity, it seems like worlds—light years even—apart from the life I’ve come to know.

But I’m alone in my aloneness here. Which is to say, there are throngs of people in this new realm. Hoards of humanity who exude an overwhelming sense of comfort in this still-strange-to-me environment.

There actually was a time when I was at home in this place. But it’s like looking at a lock of hair in your baby book. You can’t imagine that that curly, naturally-blond lock was ever really part of you. It seems impossible that This You and That You are the same person.

Anyway, it’s struck me as odd that in all the time that I’ve been away, these other folks have still been there. It’s like five years ago some director yelled, “CUT!” to me and moved me onto a totally different set, but all these other chumps are still in that same place, acting out that same scene.

And for them it ain’t so fresh any more. They clearly lack my new-girl sense of wonder about the place. Like, they seem un-phased by the Walk signs that on select intersections allow people to traverse the street not just from one corner across to the next, but diagonally as well. It’s pedestrian mayhem! And for some reason, it’s dorkishly delightful to me.

There are other strange, noteworthy things. For one, there are no kids around. Not a single playground, toy store, or abandoned binky on the sidewalk. And I haven’t seen any of those Koala fold-down changing tables in the bathrooms. For that matter, I haven’t wiped a single nose (other than my own, that is), and thus far no one has bellowed to me from behind a bathroom door that they need my help wiping their—well, you get the idea.

It’s all just so different.

And my beloved—nay, ONCE beloved—iPhone, trusty telephonic companion that it used to be, has utterly seized up in this new place. Its inability to work is infuriating if only because sometimes, at the least expected moments, it does decide to function. This intermittent success factor gives me desperate irrational hope that if I endeavor to use it to do something as outrageous as making a phone call, it may possibly perform that simple act. After so long hearing others disparage their iPhones and not understanding why, well, I now understand. I want to shout from the rooftops about my allegiance to them in their hatred. In fact, I’ll have to shout to them, seeing as I’m shit-out-of-luck at making phone calls.

The place I’m talking about is, of course, San Francisco. Downtown, or the Financial District as it’s known (even though that’s a somewhat alienating term to those of us who work there, but not in the finance sector). I’m there because, after a more than two-year maternal hiatus, Mama’s taken on a bit o’ freelance work.

Yep, that’s me. Bacon. Pan. Frying up. Bringing home.

After being away for so long I’m trying to play it cool, but I can’t help but feel sometimes like I just got thawed out after a cryogenic experiment. All the donut shops have been replaced by those tart yogurt franchises, and there are compost cans in office kitchens now. And while fiddling with my iPhone paperweight on the subway, I discovered the BART train now provides wi-fi. I can access the Internets while hurtling through a tunnel underground! It is a brave new age, people.

Though all the changes aren’t for the better. A new disease appears to be sweeping through offices. It’s striking young and old, and leaving otherwise productive workplaces decimated. This “Social Networking Addiction” was not considered problematic in my stay-at-home mom realm. But I’ve gotten the sense that playing multiple concurrent games of Scrabble on Facebook, or obsessively Tweeting mundane life details like “Just peed and it smelled like asparagus,” is looked down upon in the workplace.

Go figure.

The last time I worked it was personal phone calls that were discouraged at the office. As far as I can tell, in the Email Age office phones never even ring any more. (And God knows our iPhones don’t.) If the building catches fire, I’m guessing an email will be sent out to alert folks to evacuate.

I mean, I don’t want to make myself out as a total dinosaur. There’s plenty in the workin’ world that’s still familiar to me. Sparring over limited conference room space. Publicly berating meeting latecomers. The Office Manager’s frustrated reminders that the fridge will be cleaned out on Friday afternoon. And let’s not forget the mixed blessing of sitting next to the woman with the candy bowl. This is the timeless stuff of office life. There’s comfort in knowing it will never go away.

At times it’s been so natural being back in my old workaday skin, I’ve found myself talking about “data points,” “knowledge transfer,” and “taking conversations offline.” It’s gross and shameful when that language creeps up on you, but worse when you use it at home. I’ve mistakenly slipped into Work Speak with Kate and Paige recently, and they just ran past me squealing, then tore into the cupboard looking for strawberry snack bars. Like I hadn’t said a thing.


The Then World and the Now World, or whatever combination of the two it is I’m living in now, don’t need to meld seamlessly. In fact, it’s probably better that I set my expectations around the likelihood that when my client spills his coffee I’ll have a baby wipe on hand to mop it up. (Or maybe even a diaper to really do some absorbin’.) And someday while Paige is sitting on my lap as I work from home, it’s inevitable that she’ll hit Send, and her own gibberish type will go out at the end of my attempted-professional email.

As long as I don’t start having daily status meetings with the kids, or hassle them about the amount of billable hours they’ve worked, I think I’ll be okay.

1 Comment »

Mama Bunny in the Hizouse

Posted: July 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Bargains, Books, Discoveries, Miss Kate, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Working World | 4 Comments »

Should I be concerned that inanimate objects appear to be speaking to me?

I mean, you’d think I should be, but the thing is, everything they’re telling me is so damn encouraging—so just-what-I’m-wantin’-to-hear—how could I turn a deaf ear to it? Why, they’re all but tapping me on the shoulder bellowing, “YO! Bruno!

So here’s the thing. We got this bunny book for Kate at a yard sale. And I know what you’re thinking. That I’ve got to stop imagining the universe is communicating with me through my yard sale loot.

But we’re reading this book the other day. And it’s wrapped in cellophane, clearly some library rip-off that some folks had the audacity to sell to me for 25 cents. And I had the poor taste to buy.

So this book, which I only feel half-bad about owning since I’m bound to mistakenly return it to the library one day anyway—it’s a real cute old-timey book. Great illustrations of bunnies all dressed up in Victorian-era clothes.

But I admit that when I first cracked it, despite the lovely pictures, I was hesitant to read it to Kate. Based on there being a lot of words. This tends to not be an issue with my own books, but with the read-aloud kids ones, I mean—honestly? I’m usually just trying to meet my two-books-before-bedtime quota in the fastest way possible.

Admit it. If you’ve got a kid, you’ve done this yourself. Maybe even skipped a sentence or page or two, before the twerp got wise enough to call you on it.

But this day, knowing Kate wasn’t going to nap anyway, it seemed like I’d get the most horizontal time and snuggles myself by reading a long book. And, as it turned out, some of the pages were text text text, but others had really big space-taking-up pictures.

So the book explains that there isn’t just one Easter Bunny. What single cotton-tailed beast could deliver the world’s Easter baskets in one night? There are, it turns out, five. And when one of them gets too long in the tooth (couldn’t resist that), they call a meeting of all the world’s bunnies and pick a replacement.

So this one country bunny, our protagonist, as a kid she used to say she’d be an Easter Bunny one day. And, being rag-tag country stock, folks mocked her.

Then, like many a hapless country lass—especially one of her well, breed—she took up with some fellow and “much to her surprise” had, get this, twenty-one baby bunnies.

Next page: Her dream of Easter Bunny careerdom is shot to shit. I mean, she has TWENTY-ONE babies to tend. Twenty might be doable. But twenty-one?!

And if the fact that she “stopped thinking about hopping over the world with lovely eggs for little boys and girls” while she changed what one can only imagine were GAZILLIONS of diapers—if burying her dream wasn’t heart-wrenching enough, then some male bunnies come onto the scene and say, “Leave Easter eggs to great big men bunnies like us.”

At this point, I’m clutching the book white-knuckled and wild-eyed. “DOWN WITH THE WHITE MALE OPPRESSOR BUNNIES!” I’m screaming, causing Kate to recoil from me, fearful and confused.

“Let’s here it for working Mama bunnies!” I bellow. “We CAN have it all, sisters!!!!”

So then, I’m pawing my way through the now tear-stained pages, heart racing, while Kate likely stares at me in abject terror. Though by this point I’ve frankly all but forgotten she’s in the room. That I’m ostensibly reading to her.

What happens, you ask? Does the Mama bunny rise up?

Well, blessedly, thankfully, she just waits a while until her bunnies mature some. Then she comes before the Grand Bunny Dude who picks the replacement Easter Bunnies. And where at first he doesn’t even consider her (misogynist), she manages to eventually get his attention and he comes to see that Mama has Got. It. Going. On.

And, yes. She gets the job.

Honestly, at this point I was quite wrung out. I mean, I was thrilled, relieved, and well, really a whole host of emotions. But what lingered with me longest, what I was thinking about as I closed Kate’s door and set Paigey down in her crib, was a calm and certain feeling of readiness.

I sat down at my desk and sent out a few emails, asking around about nannies. It seems this Mama bunny is finally ready to get back into the game.