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Showing posts from 2016

Thanks for All of It

It’s been some time now that I’ve associated the idea of midlife crisis with the end of the “I can be anything and do anything” opportunities and optimism of younger years when most everything in life is still at least a theoretical possibility. I now reflect that a contributing factor to whatever sort of midlife ennui is experienced may also be associated with the unnerving awareness that the morning when I wake up and sense I am fully equipped to handle whatever this day brings may not come. Only a decade ago, I was aspirational that I could follow a plan and get things in order based on an underlying paradigm that there was a certain age at which, if one tried hard enough, one arrived at the place of knowing how life worked. Even five years ago, I still believed that I could learn enough, improve enough, practice enough to really get the hang of living life and at least master most of the basics – leaving myself open, of course, for new adventures. The idea that I would someday a…

We Need More Words for Mother

It’s one of those grade school lessons – the Eskimos have 50 words for snow because it’s a central part of their landscape and because it comes in so many variations and forms. We continental folk see snow, and hail and sleet, but those are different. Really, if it’s white and it floats from the sky when it’s cold, we call it snow. We need more words for mother. The biological parties to the family of origin are a male and female, father and mother. Relationally, that is the most familiar form. But we know by now that many, many children experience other forms of parenting – either in addition to or in place of the biological dad and mom. Our vocabulary remains severely limited in describing and capturing the many varieties of parenting. We add a prefix to the words mother and father but the initial connotation is not that of a close and loving relationship, it’s more scary person than safe parent. Somehow we understand the language labeling children and grandparents, aunts and uncl…

That Kind of Hell

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“I wouldn’t wish that hell on anybody,” confides the woman seated to my left at Tony Starlight’s Christmas show. We are strangers at a charity event and she is winding up the story about her daughter being a stepmother, not knowing that I am a stepmom. What kind of hell is it that she wouldn’t wish? The hell of knowing that if my husband ever decides he doesn’t want me, these children are lost to me, too. It’s the hell of having my sister, absorbed in her divorce proceedings, tell me that she knows her soon to be ex-husband will probably have a girlfriend or wife again, but she can’t stand the thought of another woman pretending to mother her child. It’s the hell of knowing that the only reason I’m present in this role, in the lives of my children, is because of a broken union. The hell of going to pick up our oldest boy from high school for a doctor appointment and being refused at the main office because I’m not an “authorized person.” Maybe the stereotypical snippy lady working the co…

Mommy’s on a HIGH Again

Though the cycle of disengagement and suffocation follow a mysterious pattern, the rise and fall of Mommy’s presence is forcefully obvious. In the high moments she inserts herself into the life of Little One with the neediness of a child at Toys R Us stomping her feet in the aisle and screaming, “I want! I want! I want!” In the low moments, her abandonment is radio silence. Lately, Mommy has been an overbearing presence. The schedule is for Little One to alternate weeks between Dad’s and Mom’s house. Mom’s week usually equates to two or three nights spent at Mom’s. But, coming out of a longish absence – 15 days or so of incommunicado and invisibility – Mommy initiated two “sleepovers” at her house during Dad’s week and then took an extra week to get back one of the weeks she missed, except Dad can take you to soccer practices and your games and I won’t be able to come get you until 8pm tonight. Mommy slipped and fell in the house while carrying groceries in (which she hates to do), la…

Barren Woman

I pray to the patron saint of barren women, St. Anthony of Padua. He is also the patron saint of lost things and amputees. What can he provide? I should be paying homage to the patron saint of the fecund, whoever she may be. Barren women, whether by choice, circumstance, or biology (his or hers), are an anomaly. Giving birth is, understandably, the default. “Why don’t you have children?” is a question somewhat dangerous, fairly personal, but mostly reasonable to ask someone with whom there is any bit of a close connection, maybe even without it if the setting is right. “Why do you have children?” is unequivocally gauche. Societally, we all understand that is an obnoxious, gasp inducing, scorn deserving question to which the only dignified reply is a gracious sip of your cocktail and a discreet cast of your gaze at some vague fixture across the room. “Why don’t you have children?” Better hope the answer is biological, or better yet, “Oh, I hope to!” Biological works if it is clearly too …

Decal Life

Sticker on the back of a suburban Chevy Suburban: “I Wanna Be Barbie. That Bitch Has Everything”