Saturday, September 08, 2007

Metamorphosis and the Illusion of Control

A week ago while cleaning my basil harvest I found a monarch caterpillar chrysalis. Just dangling on the stalk in its perfect jade green splendor, laced neatly with a glimmering golden thread. It was just THERE when I looked. Nothing prepared me for it. I have looked on the underside of every milkweed plant waiting for a glimpse and never found one. Here at the bottom of a heavy pile of basil that was crammed into a tote bag on my kitchen floor for days is this fabulous, impossibly smooth miracle. I put it in a jar and wait.

Only a few days before, my daughter (just barely five years old) gets two loose teeth. Front and center just where they should be. They wiggle and wiggle. She wobbles and twists them. One is ready to go for sure. I knowingly dispense the requisite firm cinnamon raisin bagel and-- it is free! A perfect window to poke her finger into. Sophia puts her tooth in a plastic, hot pink "tooth treasure trove" for safe keeping forever. Why give something like that away to a fairy?

I peek at the chrysalis. No changes. How can that be when my world is moving beneath my feet?
My daughter brings her tooth in for show and tell on the first day of....kindergarten. Kindergarten!

Now this post is all about metamorphosis so it bears mentioning that not so long ago the word school made her crumble in a weeping heap. She was homeschooling and that was that. Only- it wasn't. Over the spring and summer there was an unmistakable metamorphosis. She came slowly into bloom.... We took little steps, carefully looking at the path at first until by summer's end ...she took great running leaps and bounds with her eyes straight out on the horizon gleaming. And she burst into her power and it was amazing.

And then she held a bagel in one hand and said.."MOM?" and showed me that tooth.

The day I dropped her at school I stumbled home back past the crossing guard blinded by tears (sorry Loomis Street crossing guard). I started a four hour cleaning/grieving jag that got me through most of the time intact. I thought,"Do I really have to do this again tomorrow?.. The next day and the next I went to work after dropping her. It distracted me but the pain was still there.

The chrysalis is in the kitchen I am waiting for the case to slowly become transparent and for that which is hidden to appear. I know that in every part of my life, in its right time, this does happen...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

When will he ever wipe his own butt!?

Anyone else out there with this problem? My five-year-old still calls me in to the bathroom to wipe his butt after his business is done, and I am just not in the mood anymore. I try all the encouraging, "You can do it yourself, you're a big boy" stuff, and he ends up sitting there whining "Mommmmmeeee! I can't do it. I really need you to come wipe my butt." Over and over, I have no repreive, until I go wipe this little person's poopy behind. Do other kids this age do this, or are they all wiping peacefully in self-sufficient bliss? I feel I am doomed to wipe his butt forever!

Finding me

originally written 8/1/05

What am I doing?
I am a mama of two boys now.
Is this my life now?
Chunky spit ups -
mustard stained diapers
screams and cries of toddler angst
Am I really writing about toddler angst?
What do these kids have to pine over?

My bottom has finally stopped hurting and bleeding.
It was a glorious day when I could stop wearing the torpedo sized maxi pads. Speaking of torpedoes let me tell you about these boobs I now have. 24 hour milk store open for business – non stop supply.

This morning I had to drop my 3 ½ (not 3 as he would tell you) son at preschool. After the baby spit milk chunks all over the car as we were pulling out of the driveway, after a full clothing change and diaper change we made it to the preschool at 9:30. I was secretly looking forward to dropping him off and venturing downtown to my first mama group at Radio Bean coffee shop on Winooski Ave. He of course being 3 ½ (not 3) had other plans. He resisted, begged, pleaded, cried and pulled my leg to take him home. After being told by his teachers and the director that it was best for me to just leave I ran to my car and cried my eyes out. What a horrible mother I thought to myself. How could I just leave my child while all I craved was a cup of decaf, women who understand and a chance to feel “normal” for one hour.

None of that mattered now though as I sat in my car crying about how I had scarred my son for life. Then my cell phone rang and it was the director of the preschool calling to tell me Enzo was fine and in fact was smiling and playing minutes after I had left.

Ahh . . . the life of a 3 ½ (not 3) year old.

Normal? Who was I kidding? Going to a hip coffee shop is no longer normal. I am a mama of two boys now.

This is my new norm.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I need a housemate

I need a housemate and I am terrified. Why? I have a five-year-old. Should I be concerned for his safety, a stranger in our home? Concerned about infringing on the space of a housemate with all the power struggles and tantrums? I have no idea how to get through this one. But I am posting here to see if anyone needs a room in a lovely three-bedroom Montpelier apartment. Or if anyone knows of know how it goes. So, here is my offer: $500 a month for a private bedroom, heat, parking, trash removal included, in a spacious, convenient to town, Montpelier apartment. Must be kid-frienldy and non-smoking. Oh, and we have a cat. Thanks mamas.
Inquiries can call me: 223-1802

Friday, June 29, 2007

Summer of Dad

When my daughter was about 18 months and I was deep in the mama haze a well meaning friend gently assured me that it would get easier. She said that around two years old most kids make a shift from all- mama-all- the -time to being smitten with Dad. Daddy becomes the fave for baths, food, etc... Well my daughter didn't do that until she turned five -- but now she has done it with a bang. That's why this is the Summer of Dad!

My husbands work schedule changes in the summer months giving him more daytime at home. So this summer- swim lessons with Dad! Fishing ( and catching something everytime she drops her line!)-- with Dad! Creemees? daddy daddy daddy..

Each night that I am at work they go off on a major adventure. It has only been two weeks but we have crossed a bridge here. So, imagine my surprise when in talking to me she says,"Dad- oh I mean, Mom..." WHAT!? For five years she calls dad by the wrong name, screams for me when she gets hurt, prefers my method of cutting sandwiches and delivering various and sundry snack items...

Are we approaching some delicate balance? I mean I still do all the bedtimes and cant use the bathroom alone BUT....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I watched you sleep
fingers falling from your mouth
face surrendering in reverie
peaceful, jaw slack
like I had seen so many times
so long ago
when we slept together
so often
but now I catch only glimpses
of my past teeny baby
your dad carried you to the house
you sunk into his chest
his chin, the crook of his neck
just like you did then
we melt, sigh, remember
waiting for the next time
we can watch you sleep
like this.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fifth Birthday

Fifth Birthday

I have never baked a cake at midnight before.
Sifting flour and cocoa, knowing you sleep in my bed upstairs
Exhausted eyes finally grew heavy .
We didn't brush your teeth or hair.
I will be up until quarter of two tonight, cleaning.

Every year further from that night
when low thunder and summer rain guided you into the world.

Further from the wonder and disbelief at hearing birdsong
from behind the shaded windows
having no sense of time or space
amazed that hours had passed
and found the bluish first light of dawn

Further every year from my belly
post partum
heavy and exquisitely soft
marked by silvery fish scales
and shadowed in plum,
my breasts weeping milk.

I have long since surrendered to the of each passing moment

Grieving, celebrating, grieving,
the everything of our days.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pretty Pretty Pirates and More Snow

The brutal two week marathon of respiratory distress is a memory. We were so sick that Equinox is a blur- although the fairies came and it was lovely..Since then we look at the crabapple tree in the back yard, shivering , alive with goldfinches and watch snow fall. Right now Sophia is coloring mandalas and watching the flakes drift down quickly and silently.

At almost five years old she is not in a princess phase but a pirate one...Her speech liberally sprinkled with "methinks". She created an amazing pirate treasure chest out of cardboard and filled it up with construction paper coins-- "the gold doubloons of the pirate queen."Wearing an eyepatch she flips around on my (totally neglected) yoga mat as a "pirate gymnast". Honestly sometimes I hide the eyepatch so she doesnt freak out her vision...

Yesterday in our traditional approach to grasping at springtime it was chalk art time. I stood with the sun at my back, hands in my pockets with my shoulders scrunched up. Sophia stared at my shadow for a moment and then grabbed a stick of chalk and began to trace. I watched her hand move the chalk across the pavement tracing a perfect silouhette. I could see the darkness of my shadow filling up the space inside the white glow of chalk. Somehow I felt very dark in that space, very dark inside for a moment. Then she had me step away and she added a face. I felt lighter.

"It's Egyptian," she explained and began to embellish with pink, yellow, and blue until it was a perfect likeness of a jewelled sarcophagus. So I added Anubis ( I am better at cats than dogs though) and an anhk. Now all of that is under a lacy blanket of snow. Another one of those moments where only a tracing a color is left behind. Like so many mama moments...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sick, Sicker, Sickest

Caring for a sick child is hard. Caring for an energized, happy, healthy kid when you are sick is harder. Then when you are getting sicker, their fever sets in. Over 15 hours at 102 degrees or more. Up to 103.5 a few hours ago. That's the sickest.
And suckiest.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Early Childhood Legislative Day

Friday, March 16, 2007
Capital Plaza Hotel and Vermont State House

Join parents, early childhood practitioners and policymakers in advancing 2007 early childhood legislative priorities through a day of legislative updates, advocacy speakers, a rally, legislative lunch and work sessions.

Can’t join for the day?

Consider attending the work session hosted by Mama Says Action, Kids Are Priority One, Voices for Vermont's Children, and Building Bright Futures State Council and Parent Committee from 1:15 – 3:00 at the Capital Plaza Hotel.

Participants will view the film, “The Motherhood Manifesto,” identifying critical parent and family needs, including paid family leave, quality school programs, accessible and affordable childcare. A facilitated discussion will identify current education and policy opportunities and design actions steps to spur positive change.

For questions or to RSVP for the work session, contact Kelly Ault at or 223-1080.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Rites and Rituals of Mothering

A few years ago I did a mama writing workshop and just found the notes-
Here they are:

Mama Writes: Journaling Through the Rites and Rituals of Mothering

With Linda Pruitt

The rites of mothering begin with pregnancy and birth. The rituals of mothering begin as you lift your baby to your breast, as you startle awake for the very first time to your tiny infant’s cry and they continue into grandmotherhood.

Opening Rites for this workshop: The Matrilineal Map

Start with the sentence, “I am (name here), daughter of (your mother’s name), daughter of (your grandmother’s name), daughter of (your great grandmother’s name). Go back as far as you can. Use only the first and middle names of these women. When you have finished, and have read through slowly, jot down your first emotions and thoughts about the list. How far back were you able to trace? How do you feel about that?

Why write?

Free writing allows us to get a deeper perspective, a reflective flow going. Free writing is about constant motion, chaos almost, but this motion is where spirit and thought take tangible form. My guess is that as a mama you freewrite in your head all day long. Without the space of the page our thoughts get lost, pushed aside. Persistent ones resurface sometimes getting the attention they deserve, often not. Whenever you are “stuck “ in a freewriting exercise I want you to repeatedly write the word “mama” or “mother”. Use it as a mantra and scrawl it so many times, so quickly that it loses shape and meaning. Then let your pen re create that meaning.

If you hit a place in your writing that is hard to work through take a deep breath, straighten your spine, feel the energy rising up from the base of your back through your shoulders and down into your arm and writing hand. Look at that hand and tell it that it is alright to continue, that it is helping you gain access to a place you may be reluctant to go, but that you trust your hand and heart to lead on.

Here are some freewriting prompts to get you going:

Write about the Rites and Rituals of your mothering experience.

Write your response to the following passage:

The mother-daughter relationship is at the headwaters of every woman’s health.” Dr. Christiane Northrup

What were the conscious/spoken and unconscious/unspoken messages you received from your mother about being a mother?

What do you remember most about your mother from your childhood? What do you think your child will remember about you? What do you hope they will remember?

Two Questions From Hip Mama Founder Ariel Gore:

What do I feel I have “Sacrificed” for my current work/family/lifestyle?

In what way do I feel like I am juggling dissonant parts of my life? Which of these balls can I set down?

Write a Mother’s Prayer.

Write a letter (to remain unsent or to shared) to any of the following: yourself in five years, your mother, your grandmother, or your child.

What are the cultural, social, creative, spiritual, sexual, political aspects of my mama identity?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Completely and Utterly Blogworthy

Whoa. Solstice came and went. Now we are near the end of February and we have placed our Fedco seed order in ravenous anticipation of fecundity and sunlight.

Tonight I registered my daughter for Kindergarten.

The ease with which I type these words does not begin to reflect the YEARS of anguish over this moment. Yet, about two months ago I had a mama awakening and it was beatific indeed.

I have always known that my little buddy was "A Number One Homeschool Poster Child". You know the drill -- cosleeping, nursing, and so on. She has never had childcare/preschool and indeed is only away from my side when I work my library gig on nights and Saturdays. Suffice it to say that we are a package deal. I was in gut-roiling torment ( and I do not say this lightly) about what would happen when years down the road she was of age for Kindergarten. I thought that I could just gently give positive school vibes while staying somehow non chalant about the inner monologue of dread. I didn't want to pawn all my public school baggage onto her and color her genuine experience as a separate entity.

But as time passed my sweetest buddy was so articulate and so grounded in her feelings about homeschooling( Laura Ingalls Wilder actually introduced the phrase to her) that we started a serious two way street conversation about the topic and I am planning to homeschool as long as she wants to , while taking advantage of the great Union School programming as we choose..

My beatific mama moment came when I called the school principal to discuss this. I was 100% ready to take it to the mat. I was going in swinging, ready to deflect all anti-homeschool sentiment, fight for my parental rights, and whip out my proposed curricula pronto. I was amped to rave about five full days of school per week for a five year old as totally insane and dig my heels in. Imagine my surprise, my sheer disbelief when the principal congratulated me on the choices I have made and said that we could certainly work together somehow. Then in investigating the homeschooling laws for Vermont I discovered that children do not have to be enrolling in a course of study until they are SIX years old!

And so I walked into the school office and filled in line by line name , address, and phone over and over. I stood in a kind of profound posture of peace. And I remembered saying to Sophia, went the word school made her dissolve into bitter tears the other day, that she has her whole life to learn wonderful things. And that's so frigin true.