Dear Dad,

Dear Dad, I’ve never lived in this world without a dad before. I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet and I’m not sure I want to. All I want to do is call you to talk, but I don’t think they bother with phones or even language where you are. We’ve talked almost every day for the past couple years and the only way I can hear your voice now is to call your phone number to listen to the outgoing message. Yes, I’ve done that. I cannot find you’re your voice anywhere else. And oh, what a voice it was. “An authoritatively resounding baritone voice” is how your friend labeled it in your obituary (he did a really nice job – you would have liked it). It was indeed that. But to me it was just my father’s voice. The same voice that told me to hug my teddy bear tighter when I was sad and missed you. The same voice that told me “well, Dear, it looks like you’ve made something that resembles a mistake” when I got my son a cat because I wanted one, even though he is terribly allergic. The same voice that could […] Read More

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones, But Facebook Can Kill Me

Shy, dorky, pre-teen me was somehow able to befriend the most popular girl in our seventh-grade class. Fantastic! A new friend and a rocket launcher to popularity, right? No, not so much. In reality, my new BFF was a cunning sociopath who schooled me in the ways of deceit, manipulation, tweaked emotional control over another and just plain ol’ meanness. In a thank-god-I-never-have-to-do-that-again way, I remember this time of my life with disbelief, not only because of the terrible things my friend did to me, but also because of the ways I turned on her. I did things that are really not part of my DNA. I don’t have spite in my bones, but I was spiteful. Middle school is a confusing time for kids. Maturing so quickly, kids have little understanding of what is going on and very few tools to deal with the gaps between problems, emotions, desires and reality. So much of the angst from being woefully ill-equipped to take part in the more grown-up world kids spy ahead turns into things like bullying, manipulation, exclusion and depression. Luckily, mean girls in my middle school era were only equipped with land lines, analog writing devices and face-to-face bitchiness. […] Read More

The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are the last to go.

Santa Clause is definitely under suspicion, but the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are hangin’ tough. Last year I saved the Easter Bunny by pointing to a regular bunny hopping across the yard after an Easter egg hunt and proclaiming “there he is!!” This year, the Tooth Fairy came into question, but I saved her, too. Here is a letter my son received from the Tooth Fairy after he left her a note asking if she was real and would she please tell him because he really wanted to know. Oh, how I will miss them when they depart his world. Dear Boy With The Missing Tooth, Kids always ask if I am real, but I never ask them if they are real. I know it is curious that I only come under cover of dark, but this is just because I am afraid of the sunlight. I also travel at night because then no one wants to capture me and put me in a cage. I like to be free. I also really like teeth. You may wonder why I collect them. If you saw my house you would know exactly why. I live in a big beautiful castle made out […] Read More

Girl Meets Boy: Ten Things My Son Taught Me About Raising Boys

Boys. They were some of my favorite friends when I was a little girl. Then, as I got older, I thought they were mean and smelly. Later, I changed my mind, had crushes on them and, ultimately, married the grown man version. Now, I’m a mother of a boy. Having never actually been a boy myself, I am at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to understanding the care and feeding of a little boy. I’ve relied on books, friends, observation, guesswork, and my son to teach me that being elbowed in the nose is actually a sign of affection, or that my romantic idea of baking gingerbread cookies together is really just a freeway to frustration, and maybe even some hollering. (If you didn’t know, flour is a very fun substance in its many forms and has endless enticing applications beyond baking). I’ve been a daughter, girlfriend, competitor, co-worker, boss, friend and wife, but it took mothering a son to really see the differences between males and females. As a tomboy with an even more tomboyish mom, I used to think boys and girls had different personality traits only because parents and society raised them in line with traditional […] Read More

Time Warp

Yesterday held some odd convergence of time for me. While I was enjoying every spectacular moment of the present day, the past sidled up next to me. I became the middle of the Oreo cookie, with today on one side and years of history on the other. Seventeen years ago, at this time of year, I was dizzied by the tectonic shifts I was making in my life. I left people I loved, a job I loved and a city I called home to move to the far end of a dead-end dirt road in the rural mountains of Colorado. What I hadn’t realized then was that I was moving into a rare, tight-knit community of amazing people all enjoying a small corner of paradise together. In the time I have been here, people have gotten married and divorced. Babies (lots of them) have been born and grown taller than their parents. People have moved in, moved away, been moved to change, or departed the planet entirely. Businesses have shuttered and new ones built. Jobs have changed. Fences have been built up by neighbors and torn down by herds of elk and blustery winters. Houses have burnt down, been built […] Read More

The Balance Between Protection and Independence

When I was six I befriended a homeless man. I met him on a park bench next to my house and thought he was the greatest person ever. I visited him often and tried to convince my father to let me take things to the man on the bench. Food, money, house plants, it didn’t matter; I just wanted to give. Now, you may be thinking Who lets their daughter be friends with a bum? I trust my father had good reasons, namely that it was a different day and kids had a lot more freedom to explore their world. Plus, as he tells me now, I always showed a keen interest in the homeless and the ultra-wealthy. Bums and limos were kinda my thing, I guess. As long as I was safe, who was he to corral me into a hermetic environment? My friend the homeless man was kind and patient. He let me prattle on about whatever spilled out of my mouth. In response to the many questions I asked him, he provided simple answers. Unfortunately for both of us, each answer only fed my curiosity more. In my little mind, I couldn’t figure out what it meant to […] Read More

The Trap We Set For Ourselves

Perhaps it’s just me and the books and articles I’ve been reading or my current role in our family, but it seems that questions of feminism are everywhere. The gist of what I keep hearing is this. First, women were oppressed by the trapping mentality that their roles as dutiful wives and perfect homemakers were equivalent to being righteous and acceptable women. If they worked or rocked the boat in some way, they were judged. Then, women found liberation and subsequently careers, activism, divorce, sexual freedom and self-actualization. Because of this, the notion and shape of families changed. Today, we are questioning what feminism means because women are in a double bind. Some say the idea that mothers can do it all (career, family, self- actualization) is in and of itself just a new type of trap for women. Working mothers everywhere are feeling worn thin by the demands of their hectic lives and feelings of guilt or inadequacy. After all, who the hell can simultaneously charge ahead in their rewarding career, be a perfectly involved mother, run a Martha-Stewart-like home, appear beautiful and fit, and still have time to please everyone else in their lives? No one can, but […] Read More

Lists My Kid Ate

Before I became a mother, there were lots of things mothers were supposed to do and not do. Being a non-parent, of course I knew everything about how parenting was done. I had a long idealistic list of I-will-always-do-this and an even longer, more self-righteous list of I-will-never-do-that. Case closed. I can go home now knowing that I have set the world straight. But then I became a mom and the lists were either dissolved with spit up or digested by my baby because I was never able to find them again. You know, just for reference. Now I slink back into the reaches of my memory, like a dog who’s been caught eating the trash, and try to recreate the items on these terrible lists. My child will never watch TV or videos. Instead, we will read or do crafts. Ha! That was before I was with my child 24/7 and a 10-minute break became a life saver. Better a video viewing than a mommy who loses her shit, right? I will never stoop to all that kid food crap, like boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs. What was I thinking? That I should just starve my child? For […] Read More

Coming Home

If you were to look at me, you would notice that nothing about me says mother. You may notice that I am sitting in the neonatal ICU with a four-and-a-half pound baby in my arms, but my stomach is flat, I am not leaking milk and my nether regions are just fine, thank you. I have a dazed look of confusion on my face, complemented by a worried brow. I look more like a lost deer peering into oncoming headlights than a surefooted mother, led by instinct and bonding. The day before, my husband and I had gotten the call. “Your baby’s been born, come to the hospital to meet him!” Welcome to motherhood. No pregnancy hormones. No ten months to slowly easy into the idea of what it means to be a mommy to the being growing inside of me. Just one phone call and, BOOM, suddenly a mother. Walking into the hospital to meet our son, I felt like an imposter – a poser. During the time we had been in the process of adoption, I had images in my mind of what it would be like to lovingly hold our new baby for the first time and who I would […] Read More