Saturday, December 24, 2011

The hardest to learn was the least complicated

Jeffrey's parents are in town for the holidays. It's been nice. You know how nothing unites like a common enemy? Well, I've discovered, it's the same with a common target of affection. I love how much they love Abbott. Plus, I get a ton done while they're here.

They read the paper every day, cover to cover. But the industry being what it is, those papers are getting thin. So the other day I thought I would point out the other reading materials in the house, including the magazine that I edit. That's not as glamorous as it sounds, but it does have my picture in it, and that's the kind of thing parents like, you know? So I thought about showing them. But as I went to do it, my throat caught. What was I doing? That's not my mom. She's gone. That night, when I told Jeffrey about it, I just cried and cried.

This happens to me every year, some epiphany that I miss my mom. It usually starts out with inexplicable heightened emotion (last week I cried along to 3 songs, including one by Whitney Houston. Whitney. Houston.). Then it keeps building and building until it reveals itself forcefully. Always with tears.

But why does it always come as a surprise? I have what is usually a pretty good memory. It's like with the Indian restaurant down the street. They serve water in these metal cups that keep it really cold and free of errant flavors. And every time I go there I think to myself, hey, these cups are awesome. You know what? We really should get some for our house. And then I say that, and someone always says, we have this conversation every single time. But to me, it's new every time. It's like I'm the HM of freaking metal cups and missing my mom.

Every year, after I figure it out, I start to feel better. And I finally did tell Jeffrey's parents about the mags in the house. Jeffrey was in the room at the time and pointed out the one I edit. I was OK with that; a friend had told me the perfect thing the night before:

They don't have to be your parents to be proud of you.

Thanks, Lauren.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Truth is

I've been thinking a lot about the truth and honesty lately. And I've come up with a good news/bad news scenario about it. The good news: no one is entitled to honesty from yourself but yourself. Bad news: You owe yourself the truth. And that's hard to take sometimes.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

... And for those of you here for an Abbott update

He's turning into such a little boy. He doesn't even look like a baby anymore. I know that's strange to say, since he's obviously a baby, but there was something about the way he waved goodbye to me today that was just so boyish. Like, peace, mom, see ya later. It's a little bit heartbreaking.

It's so fascinating to watch him learn and process things. Yesterday, I believed he would never learn how to back down the stairs; he had stranded himself on the landing hundreds of times. But then he did it. He never ceases to amaze me.

Here are some recent pics. He loves the piano ... and cameras.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I keep forgetting that forgetting is not forgiving

So I'm in a new job, getting to know people, letting them get to know me. And you know me, so you know that can be somewhat unpredictable.

One guy has become an unexpected partner in crime. It's not a boy-girl kind of thing; we just agree on surprising things, given our wildly divergent world views. We work together well and we get a lot done. It's great. The other day we had an exchange about the state of the economy and he messaged me, "Enjoy your weekend, Brain. -Pinky"

Innocent, right? It scared the shit out of me.

It made me wonder if one day he would become sexually aggressive with me, like someone else I had trusted. And to say sexually aggressive doesn't seem quite right; What I can say is that I trusted him, and he used sex aggressively. He, too, was a partner in crime with whom I had accomplished so much. And he was battling alcoholism at the time, and a disintegrating home life. And I was another woman, probably trying to gang up on him.

This was several years ago. I don't see him or talk to him anymore. The last I heard, he was sober. At that time, I considered getting back in contact. I thought I had forgiven him. Surprise! I haven't. And it's holding no one back but me.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


I know that my emotions are heightened right now, but I have to say, I'm extremely jealous of parents who don't find the task utterly terrifying.

That's all.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Most people who know me know that I went home to take care of my mom in what turned out to be the last six months of her life. I didn't know that at the time, of course. I always thought it was a bridging measure, and we talked about her moving out here with me when she was better. Anyway.

I quit my job and moved home to do it, but two of my sisters, already living there, helped a lot. At the time, I saw it as a continuing pattern of my family; the girls always did all the housework, and the boys didn't. We girls worked our ways through school with side jobs, but the boys didn't. A lot more was expected of us. And it's not an uncommon situation. I read while I was home that 80 percent of the people who take care of a family member who is sick are women.

So I was full of 23 years of rage and fresh grief when my brother said, "You know, if I could have one more day with her, I'd quit my job and move home." This infuriated me. In my mind, I always respond, "You could have. You just didn't."

But just today, just about 20 minutes ago, I finally understood. I was single, no attachments, barely even a tax return when I moved home. The brother who said that had a wife and two kids at that time. He had other responsibilities.

I can't stand it when people say that everything changes when you have a kid. It couldn't be more obvious, and I hate that kind of banality. But I also can't escape it. What I realized tonight is that what had changed for him was the definition of family. And eight months ago it changed for me.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sorry I've disappeared

Abbott is sick. So although I just started a new job and we're closing on a house in a week, it's the only thing on my mind. Is there anything else?

Saturday, February 05, 2011


My parents were pretty much bare-wall people when I was growing up. No pictures, no paintings, nothing. Except for Jesus. In every room, there was Jesus. On little wooden crosses, in glow-in-the-dark, or just with a soulful look. All of which scared the heck out of me, of course.

Many years later, just one other thing made the cut: our college degrees. To my great shock, my dad actually framed them all and hung them in the living room. It makes sense when I think about it now; it was much more of an accomplishment for my parents than it was for us kids. They came here from a war-torn country with nothing in their hands but us. And with their guidance and hard-ass parenting, all of us graduated from college. Most of us, though not this black sheep, even got post-graduate degrees. It was a big deal. They deserved to feel really good about it.

So for a couple decades it was just Jesus and the degrees. Until one day, the two came into conflict.

My mom's cancer had gotten really bad, and she was spending most of her days  in a bed out in the living room, just staring and thinking. After months of this she announced that the degrees were coming down. They showed too much pride, she said. And pride was a great sin in the eyes of the lord. She didn't say it, but I think she thought she was paying for that sin.

I think about that a lot. This week, Abbott started crawling. When we mentioned that to the doctor a couple days later, she thought about it and said, "Oh. He's advanced!" She had already commented on how curious he was, as I tried to stifle a beam. Our other pediatrician said when he was two weeks old that he would do things early. And I sort of think he might be a genius because he has already learned how to High 5.

Of course, I love him immeasurably. And I can't help but be proud of him. But I do wonder -- when I post a picture on Facebook or tell a story about him -- if it's too much.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Peek-a-boo you

Today I was playing with Abbott on the floor, using his burp rag to cover his face lightly and then pulling it off and saying, "Boo!" We've played it this way maybe 3 times in his life. And it usually ends after the second or third reveal, when he grabs the rag and starts chewing the heck out of it. But today he took it and clumped it up over his face. And then he just left it there. I said to Jeffrey, "Boy, this tells me that he is not ready for a blanket in the bed." See, I'm safety oriented. So I didn't move it off his face when he did it. I wanted him to learn how to clear occlusions for himself. But I was confused, why wasn't he moving this from his face? It's light, and he's a strong kid. I just watched, confused at his obvious lack of survival skills, as the seconds ticked on.

Suddenly, Jeffrey said, "Boo!" And Abbott pulled it off his face and giggled. *He* was playing a game with us. He put it back up on his face, and we said "Boo!" again, and he pulled it back down off his face and giggled.

At our first birthing class, our instructor asked us all what we were most looking forward to. Most people said something fuzzy, like holding their baby or feeding her. I didn't know what to say; off the top, I blurted, getting to know his sense of humor. I didn't really know what that meant, of course. Today I got a glimpse. I cannot wait for more.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One thing I've learned

When you're going in to check on your baby, don't bring the monitor with you. The feedback is on the level of a Who concert.

Just a free tip.

OK, then.