Who says what?

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

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Life Among the Savages

Is it just me, or does spending time with young children have an awful lot in common with a trip to the zoo?

Sure, the animals are beautiful--and strange. It's fun to look at them. When they're in a cage.

But you don't really want them eating at your table, or defecating in your living room.

My beautiful, perfect children. Oh, how I love them. And, in order to do, oh, I'd say, anything, I need to cajole, manipulate, threaten, persuade, sing a song, and, quite often, do a little jig. Who knew civilizing a person took so much effort?

But they are very sweet when they're asleep. In their cages.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

It didn't begin so badly. I woke up, alive. That's always good.

But then, when the kids were with the babysitter, Ellias, pushing his sister in an umbrella stroller, let go. And she landed, lips first, in the back of a truck. Blood. Crying. Fat lip, as you can see. It made me sick with sadness. As far as I'm concerned, she should never be hurt. Ever.
And then, Ellias, who loves to come to the bathroom with me, got a new mantra. "Mama," he said. "You have a hairy gina."
Well. I guess, technically, this is true. It's not like I'm bald, and since becoming a mother I've given up my adult modeling career and no longer shave little heart emblems into my pubic hair (I trust that you won't believe this), but still. Still. Hairy gina is just not very appealing. It makes it seem so...hairy. Like a muppet. Or a monster. Or a hamster.
Thankfully, that was Friday. And today is going much better. No blood. No mention of the nether regions. Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Your Mama a Romance Junkie?

I, for one, am not. However, I just happened to pick up a novel that turns out to be a quasi-romance. Despite it's rather predictable plot and foolish drama, I am caught up. While the cat is furiously attempting to push his way into my hands (he'd like me to toss the book aside and devote myself entirely to petting him), and the baby, in some far distant room begins to awake, and the dishes sit waiting hopefully to be stacked in the dishwasher, I read:

I fell in love, though I shouldn't have. I knew it could only lead to disaster, but I still felt an animal hunger for her that I couldn't supress. It kept me up at night. Occasionally, I felt like I had a fever. I was sick with wanting her. Yet there was no reason for it. I hardly knew her. She walked into the party, I saw her face, and I loved her; it was that simple. She would never have me. But if I had her? I would bury myself in her. I would bury myself inside her.

Well, no real man has ever had those thoughts. That's why fiction is so fantastic. And, of course, I'm rooting for our hero; I want him to get the girl. I want them to have their burning, fabulous, soul-drenching love fest--and then? Well, then, the book is over, and the kitchen waits.

I think of the excellent children's book Is Your Mama a Llama? Ellias remembers it and we haven't had it out from the library in a year. I am not a llama. (Just noticing this). But, occasionally, I do seem to remember that I am not just a mother.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Will You be My Valentine?

In an ironic turn of events, I received only one (1) Valentine's Day card.

From my mother.

I'm not complaining. I love her too. She's been my Valentine for more years than I care to remember. My best cheerleader, champion, Queen of Optimism. If someone I had a crush on didn't like me, she would invariably say: "He's just jealous of you, honey. That's all."

Hmmm. I inspired a lot of jealousy in middle school. A lot.

But let's not forget that I am a mother now also, which means I retroactively forgive my mother for every bad thing she's ever done on account of finally understanding that our children are actually our emotional classrooms, a.k.a. the place we learn anger management. (Or in some cases, don't learn anger management.)

Whatever else may be true, I shall send Valentine's cards to my dear children. When no one else steps up to the plate, I will. When adolescence falls upon them like the bubonic plague, I will still testify to their utter appeal.

So, thanks, Mom. And thanks for the heart shaped box of chocolates. It's really nice to feel loved.

(And in a follow up to my ultimate Valentine's Day wish list, I DID get a Margarita.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Full Mommy

My husband asked me, and quite sincerely I know, what I wanted for Valentine's day. "Really," he said. "What do you want?" I'm sure he was looking for reality here, like, "Oh, honey, a nice box of chocolates." Or "some pretty flowers?" Valentine's, after all, is all about issuing the standard love fair, cards, treats, maybe a dinner out, kisses, candies.

I, actually, have a slightly different wish list.

First, I would like to sleep in. Past seven a.m. I'm thinking maybe nine would be nice. Then I'd like to go to a yoga class. After that, eat a breakfast I don't cook and don't clean up. I'd like a massage--that lasts a few hours (and I don't mean erotic. Give me deep tissue!). Post-massage, I'd like a nap. Then, perhaps, when I wake up, I'll be willing to accept a few tokens, the requisite card, the daisies, the heart-shaped box of chocolates.

I want only to spend time with my children when they are happy. I don't want to wash out any poopy cloth diapers. I want the house picked up by someone other than me. For that matter, I want it cleaned, top to bottom. In the evening, I want dinner out. I want a margarita. I want a big, fat piece of chocolate cake. I don't want to have to worry about the children while I'm eating. I want all guilt to be removed. All calories also.

At home, I want the clock to turn backwards so I still have several hours of time in which to read, in a pair of new, cottony-soft, silky-feeling, fleecy-warm pajamas. And maybe play a few games with the hubby. I want to fall asleep easily. I want to sleep without waking up. I don't want to have a single anxious thought. And for that matter, no orphans anywhere. I want everyone to have a mother. A nice mother. Who buys them a cheesy Valentine's day card. And while we're at it, peace in the Middle East. And the Central South. And the bottom North. And the Upper West.

Hey, it is Valentine's Day. And didn't he ask me what I wanted?

Honey? Are you listening?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pigs Fly

Recently, I saw the loveliest pair of small, bright pink pigs flying over my house. What could possibly warrant the occasion for such a thrilling sight?

Chocolate no longer excites me.

But please, before you judge me, before you rule me out as a friend, before you click off to another blog, let me explain myself. It seems I have actually eaten so much chocolate, on such a regular basis, that it doesn't do for me what it once could do. It's become so regular in my diet, I relate to it much the same way I relate to bread. No longer does it tempt me, delight me, fulfill me in all kinds of ways. It has become, quite simply, another food group.

The only other times in my life when chocolate has been relegated to such a lowly status? When falling in love. Love, especially the wickedly whimsical part where you fall, satisfies as deeply as chocolate. Or maybe I should say, it churns up the same inner waves of lustful desire. Inside of that falling, nothing fills your hunger but your beloved. You long to see that one face, the only face. You wake up in the middle of the night, it is your first thought. To be near the beloved is to change the whole chemical make-up of the body. Heart pounds, heart aches, just to be close enough to smell someone, enchanted, of course, by their mere existence. Let alone the unsurpassed moment where skin touches skin, lips to lips.

Mother-love is not unlike romantic love. An urgent, earnest longing to be in the company of one's children, longing for them when you are away, the feeling of fullness, wholeness, completion that comes at the sight of their perfect, unbearably beautiful faces. In fact, nothing but that kind of love can make things appear so effortlessly beautiful. I am lucky to know this love. (Though it comes with it's own cost--as does romantic love, of course. In the case of mother-love, guilt and impassioned worry are only two of the negative side-effects.)

Still, I eat chocolate.

But the thrill is gone. Perhaps I am in love.

Or, perhaps, I have simply eaten too much of a good thing.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Like every other reasonable person on the planet, I love Oprah. She is a modern day goddess, of which we have far too few. For some, she has outpaced God in both power and petition-granting magic. Beyond all that--her ability to make a book a bestseller, sell anything, bring an audience to it's knees with applause--she is quite lovely. Oh, and obsessed with being fat.

Last month, I almost fell over in the grocery store when I noticed that Oprah had, in fact, put someone other than herself on the cover of her magazine. On second glance, I realized this was not so. Now, instead of one Oprah, there were two. A before and after picture, only in reverse. The thin Oprah of before, the plumper Oprah of, well, of now.

Why do I care about Oprah? Because I have a daughter. I am raising a girl in a skinny girl world, and woe onto her. There have already been comments that it's appropriate for her to be thinner than her brother (who was a hugely fat baby) because she is, you know, a girl.

Come on, people! Have we entered the new millennium? Oprah is gorgeous. She's got a school in Africa, a dynasty in the US. She has more genius in her little finger than I've got in my whole left brain. Why, oh why, is she still obsessed with the size of her thighs? Okay, it's fine not to be so overweight that you have ginormous health problems, but a little plumpo never hurt anyone. And as far as I know, yo-yo dieting is worse for you than carrying 15 extra pounds your whole life.

Oprah just needs to realize what we all already know. We don't care how much she weighs. We love her fat. We love her as she is. Her power, her beauty and might cannot be altered, mitigated, or damaged by the size of her body. (Oh, poor body, all it goes through in a day!) Oprah, Oprah, do it for our daughters! Love yourself as much as we love you, and then leave well enough alone.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Please Forgive Me, Jodi Picoult

If you'd like to be depressed--and who wouldn't be?! it's all the rage--go see the movie Revolutionary Road. I mean, why do all the women in all the great books and movies have to go and KILL themselves. Come on, Sylvia Plath, get your head out of the oven and do something fun. Dear Anne Sexton, put down the cigarette and the bourbon and go skiing! Poor neurotic, undervalued, over-gifted, women stuffed into the small box of wifehood/motherhood/ womanhood. You need to get some perspective! Stop taking yourselves so damn seriously. Really, honey, it ain't that bad.

In fact, it could be much, much worse. You could be a character in one of Jodi Picoult's novels. Or Stephen King's, or any other of the countless best-sellers, the kind readers race through, can't put down, ignore their children to read. These books are about tragedies. Death. Death. More death. Torture. Despair. Loss. Dead kids. Dead lovers. Dead spouses. Weird dead things. Court trials. Heartbreaks. Heartaches.

And we call it entertainment!

Okay, let's all get a grip on ourselves. A collective grip. A tear-jerker is great. A movie about the holocaust is...educational, but I don't really feel like eating popcorn while I watch it! We can't get away from violence, homicide, suicide, disease, and every other terrible, horrible, no-good-very-bad-thing that is constantly printed in the newspaper, published as novels, filmed for movies and watched for--I hope you're sitting down--fun. For fun! What's so fun about death?

Meanwhile, comic writers like me, labor in vain. I won't ever be taken seriously. I shan't win a prize. I am too unserious to be considered serious. Would that I would just pop my head into an oven and keep it there. Then, I might win the Pulitzer. Posthumously of course.

But life is way more fun than death. And laughter feels a hell of a lot better than gut-wrenching sorrow. And isn't life hard enough without paying to watch other people suffer? Call me a Pollyanna. I don't care. I'm not going to write about serial tragedies, horrific events, molested children. I'm going to be silly.

And it's going to make me pretty damn happy.