Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So You Photoshopped My Zit?

Recently, while searching in vain for an attractive picture of myself for use in book publicity, I came upon the sudden and shocking realization that THERE ARE NO GOOD PICTURES OF ME. There are only good pictures of my children. Another lesson of motherhood learned.

In the meantime, I had the opportunity to be offended by all the awful shots of me worshipping my beautiful babies and looking, generally speaking here, like a heroin addict going through withdrawal. You know the look: bleary eyes, blotchy skin, usually wearing pajamas.

My husband did find a few photos of me he liked. One he took a particular shine to he decided belonged on our holiday card. The only trouble? The not-so-adorable-as-my-daughter zit on my left cheek all but jumping out of the photograph and looking the beholder straight in the eye. Honestly, I could barely see my daughter. All I could see was my zit.

Enter modern technology. "I can Photoshop your zit right out of the picture," my husband said. Really? In an instant could I really be transformed into a woman with flawless skin? Could he also do some work with my dry post-partem hair, or perhaps touch up my now shimmery, silver stretch marks? Could he take away the hint of a double chin, or maybe sketch in a pair of diamond earrings? (If he's not going to buy them, this seems the least he could do.)

And so, goodbye zit. All our friends and family got the holiday card with the Photoshopped zit and the perfect mother. (Actually, my hair did look really bad and no one bothered to fix it.) This, then, is my gripe against technology, and for that matter against facebook and blogs and every other form of communication that can lie. Or if not lie, present only what we want presented.

I'm not saying I'm ugly. I'm just saying I look awfully human most of the time. Of course, I'm best live and in person. My children don't mind. They love me. They love my zit. After all, we're one and the same.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Why does my poop go plop, Mama?"

This is a stumper, quite honestly. When lovely Ellias, at 2.5 years old, posed this question to me, quite seriously of course, while sitting on the potty, I realized, and not for the first time, that I simply do not have sufficient training for this job.

Sure, I went to Smith College, the prestigious woman's institution that Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan graduated from.
And sure, I got a graduate degree from Yale--in religion no less.
I've also received training as a yoga teacher, and that has to do with bodies, doesn't it?

But nothing could have prepared me for the mental physics of motherhood.

Why does poop go plop? "It has to come a distance before it hits the water," I explained to my son, longing for Daddy to be there. He's a chemical engineer, surely they cover this topic in engineering classes.

Ultimately, humbled, I had to give up. The mysteries of the universe are too vast for me. The knowledge required of mothers is too great. We must be able to cook, clean, and be kind. We must be able to wipe little bums, rock screamers through the wee hours, and live without sleep ourselves. We must be able to decipher toddler language, baby-babbles, and the subtle nuances that distinguish one type of cry from another. We must educate, instill moral character, lead by example, act with compassion, model the proper way of dealing with emotions (like anger--and that means no temper tantrums, mommies), and answer all inquiries into the inexplicable nature of poop itself.

What education could possibly prepare me for this?

There is only one answer. It's Internship at the Motherhood University for me. Perhaps in my next life as a mother, I will know all the answers. In the meantime, I will do the only thing I can: "Why does your poop go plop, honey? Can you tell Mama?"

(And P.S. You ought to be able to comment now. After many long, frustrating attempts, I think I have enabled the comments. So, for goodness sake, make it worthwhile!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Since someone has to clean my house

I'll do it. No one else has volunteered. I should say, no one else over the age of three, as Ellias loves to clean the house, he just has his own cleaning rules (that essentially prevent the actual cleaning of anything.)

I, on the other hand, learned the domestic arts under the wise guidance of an artist mother. I would like to share some of my more helpful little hints here. You can call them Mama's Guide to the Domestic Arts.

1. When the Christmas tree is decorated in cobwebs, it's a good time to take it down. (As I did, today.) You needn't remove the cobwebs. This will save you a tremendous amount of time.

2. You can use the time you save to gather toys up and put them where they belong. Where they will promptly be removed. This can't be called cleaning. It can, however, be called exercise. All that stretching and bending over! Now you can save time by not going to the gym and use it to:

3. Save the baby from choking on small bits of fuzz, yarn, dirt, and food. YOU may not be cleaning the floor, but SHE is, the good girl, already well on her way to becoming an excellent wife. When you pick the fuzz out of her hand (to much protest screaming), thank her. She really didn't have to do your sweeping for you, and yet, she has.

4. Watch a lot of HGTV. This will help you to realize all the potential your home has--that could be realized if anyone had the time, energy or desire. In the meantime, it is just very nice to rest on the couch.

5. Get a dog. He'll mop the kitchen floor with his tongue after every family meal. Something worth it's weight in fur, I'm certain.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Miss You

Well, it is lonely being a stay-at-home mother. Unless you're lucky enough to be living next door to your best friend, know all your neighbors, and have your mother and your mother-in-law in town, your home, despite the chaos of children, can seem quite empty sometimes.

But then that's why we have computers, right?! Google never sleeps. Emails are so warm and fuzzy. A good blog is just like having lunch together...isn't it?

When I head out with Ellias in the morning, after Adeline is down for her morning nap, we play. He likes to serve up pancakes made of snow. Or play baseball with a basketball and a stick. Or sweep the driveway with my car's ice-brush.

I stand outside and listen to the quiet. Believe me, I love quiet. But some days, I don't want to feel that I live in the middle of Indiana on a farm where our nearest neighbors are ten miles away. I don't live on a farm. Isn't anyone else home during the day? Don't they want to come out and play?

And yes, Alanis Morisette, I get that it's ironic to blog about how disconnected we all are because of technology--from the washing machine to the computer, each new item leaves us less dependent on one another.

Well, I'm not afraid to say it. I need you. I miss you. Come visit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Blog sounds like a disease. "Oh," she says over coffee. "It's awful. He's got the blog again. The doctor's just don't know what to do."

Or a Dr. Seuss character. "And as the Bloggers marched through Bloggville, no person dared move, for the Bloggly, Blinging, Bloppers, from the Bloggers squishy shoes, rang out in harmonious rhythm to a blop-diddly groove."

And why blog, anyway? As one comic put it: never have so many people written so many words to be read by so few people.

The top five reasons for a blogophobic mama like me, who swore she would never blog, to blog:

1) To force my kind, indulgent family and friends to suffer through reading endless diary entries filled with the tedious, repetitive details of child raising. (Thanks, Mom! I knew you'd love this!)
2) To recreate the deep insecurities from middle school by constantly worrying how many "followers" I have. (Really, I've missed those years of perseverating on my popularity.)
3) To shamelessly promote my hilarious, witty, unbelievably smart, frank, funny, essentially perfect novel THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME. (It's not published yet, but hey, you can still buy it from Amazon. Right now.)
4) I don't have enough to do. My children basically take care of themselves. Two-and-a-half and nine months are truly the easiest ages.
5) Because I want to be important, famous and well-read. Like every other blogger in the blogosphere.

Actually, if you keep reading this, I do promise to--one day--write something very deep, very moving. The earth will shake. And if not that, at least your computer.