I used to be one of those moms who dreaded the teenage years. I’d joke that when my daughters hit adolescence I’d willingly hand over all parenting duties to my husband. As a former camp counselor and 7th grade religious school teacher, I figured he had the chops to handle it. I, on the other hand, was scared of screwing up. I had no credentials other than having once been a teenage girl myself. Disparaging comments like “If you think she’s a handful now, just wait until she’s a teenager!” from older parents who saw me toting around two little girls and then three, didn’t help. I was convinced that parenting teen girls would be a fraught, confusing experience that would drain my confidence, try my patience and basically freak me out.
Love floats up from the sifted flour, clings to the raw sugar, pierces through the sharp scent of pure vanilla extract. Affection oozes out of every egg, dropping from cracked shells, wobbling and waiting. There is a deep abiding love in the softened butter, the kind that comes from grass fed cows grazing on verdant hills. It gleams in the quick whip and whir of the beaters, spinning fast and faster until the batter smoothes out. Love smears itself across their sweet faces, ranging from little girl to almost grown, tongues lapping molded plastic spatulas, fingers leaving tracks inside the scraped out bowl. Continue reading “A Birthday Cake Shaped Space”→
There was the time I tried to exit motherhood, so hell bent on finishing it up, distancing myself from who I’d become as the bearer of children. I was immersed in diapers and shit and dribble, inundated with milestones and firsts and the hot tears of frustration and exhaustion and a joy so intense it sliced through my fingers when I tried to hold on to it, leaving me bleeding and raw and open. Too open. I’m afraid of that, of openness, of vulnerability and the whole truth, nothing but the truth. Continue reading “Reclaiming All My Pieces, Motherhood Included”→
In the beginning we shared space, my body reshaping itself around you cell by cell. I shared the rhythm of my heartbeat willing yours to grow strong and keep time. We shared blood and breath and all the cravings: Texas toast at 2 a.m., oranges by the sack full, ounce upon ounce of thick, juicy steak. We shared a bed five ways, you and me and daddy and the cats, me sleeping on my side, you nestled in my stomach wedged between a pile of pillows. We plodded up the hills of San Francisco weeks before your birth, swaying with each slow step, stopping for each sharp intake of not-enough breath, moving on with each grateful exhale. Continue reading “Holding On To What We Share”→
The clock creeps up on 5 p.m. The sky hangs gray and wintry outside the window. I’m sitting at my mirrored desk in the small alcove of my bedroom. When my older daughter needed her own room two years ago, I ceded my office to her, although it was never really an office. Work went on there, yes, but not officey work. More like creative and contemplative work, wondering work, the work of collecting and sifting and building; quiet work, whirling-words-in-my-head work and then when I needed and wanted, the fraught and delicious work of writing.
Now everything that is mine and meaningful from that room sits atop this desk, in the single drawer, pinned to the large cushioned board hanging on the wall. I am tap, tap, tapping on the keyboard, desperate to use my words, see them appear on the screen, before I have to go downstairs to make dinner. My three girls are endlessly hungry from 4 p.m. on. I have learned to serve dinner early, but that means a few minutes less for me, words flying. Continue reading “Letting Go, Creating Space and Wondering What’s For Dinner”→
The Little One wakes in the middle of the night. “Mama, I’m scared,” she says. She is pressed to the side of my bed, her face inches from mine. I can just make out her tousled outline in the gloom. She is clutching her Elephant Lovey, wide-awake, restless, needing. I am sluggish and groggy, but not entirely asleep.
This is the fourth night out of the last five she’s come padding down the hallway before daylight. After the second night, my body reset itself to match her wonky circadian rhythm and I stir just seconds before I hear her door open. Each night before I click my light off, I plead to whatever divine power is in charge of slumber: “Please let her stay in her bed tonight.” My prayer is for me as much as it is for her. Once again my petition has been denied. Continue reading “Lists and Prayers”→