Tonight Ella returns from a weeklong trip to Paris with my parents, their bat mitzvah gift to her. Before she left, I wanted to write her a going away card and hide it in her suitcase for her to discover on her first night in the City of Lights. Something meaningful and rife with insight. Words of revelation offering shining life lessons.
“Don’t just look out across the Seine; look deep down into it. Catch a glimpse of yourself as you are right in that moment. This is you in Paris.” Continue reading →
Last Thursday, I woke to ants swarming the dog bowl and marching triumphantly along my kitchen counters, down the wall and across the hall into the family room. One can of Raid (I know it’s toxic; don’t judge), endless expletives and a marathon cleaning session later, they were mostly dead and disposed of. They reappeared Friday when one of my kids left their lunchbox on the floor of the entryway. More swarming and spraying and cleaning. That afternoon when I watered our drought-abused flowers, I discovered them in droves on the deck. I strode purposefully back into the house and called Bill, the pest exterminator guy.
“It’s the heat,” said Bill. “Drives them indoors.” It had been in the 90s almost all week. The heat drove everyone indoors. After three hours with nary an ant sighting, I relaxed a little. Josh fixed us gin and tonics. We sat down for a fight-free dinner, a rarity for my three girls on a Friday night. Unfortunately the calm didn’t last long. Continue reading →
I often end up conflicted about summer. In June I’m like a wide-eyed toddler about to chomp down on her first lollipop, all excited and can’t wait and finally! By mid-August I’m more like a disgruntled teenager who just wants to be alone.
The first two months of summer brought visits with old friends, a trip to Disneyland with Lilah, time on the East coast at the sea and then the lake and a weekend away for me at a writing retreat with the most marvelous people. Once home, I reluctantly agreed to let Ella and Ruby stay home and do nothing the last two weeks of summer vacation. They bickered and didn’t make their beds and wanted to be carted to this friend’s house and that movie and this mall. Without meaning to, I morphed from The Laid Back Mom Who Digs Summer into The Mom Who Can’t Wait For School To Start Because My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy. Continue reading →
“Mama?” says Lilah. “When is my birthday party going to be?”
My newly minted four-year-old looks at me slightly confused but with full confidence that I will have just the right answer to this question. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Her actual birthday was more than two weeks ago deep in the heart of the summer. We celebrated with extended family during a beach vacation, but I haven’t planned a proper birthday party for her, the one with all her friends, a big cake and a surprise visit from a favorite princess. The one she’s been talking about all summer. Continue reading →
This morning you come prancing into our bedroom like you always do at 7 a.m. We are on the east coast instead of our usual west, yet your little body has quickly adjusted to its typical circadian rhythm: no matter what time you go to bed – and there have been some late nights because we are with cousins, because we are on vacation and the steady light of summer doesn’t fade away at bedtime – you still wake at the same hour.
“It’s my birthday! I’m four!” you announce and I smile in my half sleep even though I’m tired tired tired because I went to bed late hoping against hope that maybe just maybe you’ll sleep in. Don’t four-year-olds sometimes sleep in? Nope, of course not, what was I thinking? You are only four – wow, I can’t believe you’re four! – and there is no stopping you in the morning. Continue reading →
There are points in time when my kids are my life. They are what I’m doing all the time. When they were babies and then little people, this was certainly the case and for the most part, I gave myself over to motherhood. I didn’t always like it, resented it some days, wanted to run and hide some days, but I was always there with them. Accessible.
Now, with my youngest turning four in a few weeks and my two older ones 10 and 13, I occasionally find myself with more than an arm’s length between me and them. I delight in it, that taste of wholeness and freedom and self-ness. Then, just like that, there’s one in my lap, one calling me from her room, one who wants to play gin rummy. I snuggle them, heed the call, say yes to the game because I know it won’t last forever. Still, I long for myself, even as I dive into motherhood for those minutes and hours, days and years.
I made my way across our backyard and walked over the imaginary line separating our house and the neighbor’s. We didn’t have fences or hedges between our houses, just flowerbeds and grass. I headed through their yard, past the metal swing set all the neighborhood kids clamored for a turn on and down the slight ditch to the next house over. The east coast summer sun glinted through the trees. It wouldn’t be dark for a few more hours.
I knocked timidly on the back door, my heart beating hard. This was my very first night as a babysitter and my first real job, as in being paid to do a task outside of my own house. I’d earned a few dollars here and there helping my dad garden or doing extra chores around the house for my mom, but this was me on my own earning “real” money. Continue reading →