Who says what?

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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

True Confessions

I've got myself absolutely convinced that if I could only admit all of my darkest most wild secrets on my blog, I'd have a huge blog readership.

But then I'd have to go and make some secrets, something I'm entirely too tired for.

What else makes a good blog? I should probably be selling things, ad space and fancy products for new mothers.

Actually, I am selling something. It's called THIS LITTLE MOMMY STAYED HOME, and even if you don't like the title, you'll love the book. And despite the fact that the book is a funny, quick, mommy lit book, it was a labor of love that I hope will be a gift to new mothers everywhere (the way Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions was for me).

Oh, I did think of something else I could sell. One of my yoga students makes these amazing herbal teas. Moonrise Medicinals is her little tea company, and everything from the teas to the packaging is lovely. You can choose your teas from her website and put in on order through her email, as the orders don't yet go through the website. I'm drinking tea like a junky these days with the cold weather and to stave off colds. She is also another mother with the goddess mother energy shinning all around her. Part of my tribe.

Just think, if you bought everything I'm selling today, you could read a book and drink some tea. How relaxing. You could also pat yourself on the back for helping to stimulate the economy. Now isn't blogging wonderful advertisement?

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Ethical Writer

I've just finished another book where (it seems to me) the writer kills off a character in order to keep the story line rolling or even as a last ditch attempt to revive a saggy plot. Now, I'm no critic of plots. I stink at them and do much better with character, but it seems a little low-down to me to go and kill someone off just to sell a novel. Especially when that character is the only person in the book who has a child. Why kill the mother?

I'm sure no one will agree with me. I'm not worried about that or interested in agreement. I just want to state for the record that I believe there ought to be an ethics to novel writing. It's one thing to write a history or a biography or a historical novel where you've got to throw in a few gory details for accuracy's sake, it's quite another to invent an entire fiction of tragedy and despair.

Pardon me but isn't the world full of enough sorrow without having to make it up?

As for me, if I want to be discouraged, I'll read the newspaper.

I think of novels in the old fashioned way. As entertainment. And while it may shock some to know this, most of the great American novelist where trying to entertain. They didn't write in archaic, dated English to confound the minds of high schoolers forced to read their novels. They wrote for their contemporaries, telling stories of contemporary life. Call me old fashioned, I find the gratuity unnecessary.

We're a nation of rubber neckers. Should we pride ourselves on this?

Whether we like it or not, what we see and what we read are equal to what we eat. We digest the stuff. It comes into us and for better or worse becomes a part of being (albeit sometimes in a very small way).

I've said to people, and not in complete irony, that if I wanted to write the great American novel I would have had to kill off more of my characters, add some abuse, neglect and rape, and a good dose of injustice. Can we at least hanker after the easier parts of our world as we do the harder? They are just as true, as far as I can see.

So no one is going to go out and make an ethics of novel writing--anymore than the broadcasting stations are going to take the garbage off the television that does no one any good--in any way. (And I'm not saying I don't watch garbage. I do. Just garbage without fictitious death, destruction, cruelty and despair.) But perhaps in this Prozac nation we may take a little more care with our own selves, just as we do with how we treat our bodies. After all, we want to think ourselves into a better world, don't we? Not hang out with the poltergeists of our historic mistakes. Right?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hide and Seek with Sass

My daughter's current obsession is hide and seek. She is so devoted to this game that she constantly plays it. If I'm holding her, she'll cover her eyes and press into my chest--pretending to hide, of course--and then demand that I count to ten and find her. The second her little feet hit the floor, she is off to hide somewhere, anywhere, including in plain sight.

In addition to her own hiding antics, she insists that "Mama hide." Sometimes I get sneaky and run off to a real hiding place behind the sofa or under the table, but often, suffering from exhausted mom syndrome (did I mention she is getting all four of her canine teeth and is therefore waking up once or twice a night as well as rising earlier and ditching her nap? Because really, I should mention that), I play Lazy-Mama-Hide and Seek. (You're welcome to borrow it.)

Here's what it consists of: rolling into a ball on the floor and covering your eyes. That's pretty much it. I find it truly relaxing.

Now when I try and find my daughter, I always act as though I can't see her--even though I always do--and when it's finally time to "honestly" find her, I'll say something like, "I see a little foot!" Or "I see a pink jacket!" Or "I see some one's little back." I have, apparently, been an excellent teacher of this game. My daughter found me the other day, curled up about two feet from where she was standing, next to the ottoman on the floor. She walked right over to me and said: "I see a big bum!"

Now, this is her standard line whenever she finds me hiding. Not that my bum is so big...it's just so mcuh bigger than hers. Of course.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Retreat and Renewal

I was enjoying a look-through my Kripalu catalog the other day.

Weekend getaways for health and sanity...yoga intensives...massages and wholesome food. And, yes, I was looking rather longingly at the photographs of joyful, stress-free, smiley people living the deep spiritual life in communion with...themselves, and oh wouldn't it be nice to just go off, on the spur of the moment, and have a weekend trip.

And then I realized, how silly of me! I have my own little rest and renewal retreats EVERY SINGLE DAY. I get to go to the bathroom. And shut the door. And look at a catalog. For somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes. It's a Mother's Retreat. Icing on the cake is the fact that it's free.

So how can I be complaining or envying the yoga-spandex clad, kale eating, rosy-cheeked, kirtan-chanting, people in those pictures?

Except on the days when my children insist of being in the bathroom with me while I take my little mini-retreat from the world. On those days I can complain.

Friday, January 15, 2010


While I'm not one to blog true confessions, I have a tendency, in life as well as blogging, to say or write what's true for me. Once, when telling a friend that I felt like sometimes I don't even like my child, my friend said: "Wow. You are sooo honest." Does that mean other mothers feel this way but don't say it? Why hide under that rock? To me that's some dirty laundry that needs an airing out.

We're very human in this house. Sometimes embarrassingly so. I wish that I had a better handle on running a house. Playing with the children I've got down, and washing them and dressing them, and I'm even pretty good at the laundry, but I seldom feel I have shifted into Donna Reed mode and accomplished a great deal with the organization of the house. Not to say that the house is a disaster; I think this is a reflection of my inner state of mind--in other words, the amount of purpose and effort I put into those activities, whereas some things, for example yoga and teaching yoga, feel to me completely effortless.

So I am not ashamed to confess I am a Mama who needs help. I love to read books. Currently on my Mama bookshelf I've got: Everyday Blessings, Positive Discipline, and Your Highly Sensitive Child.

Some Mama web resources I like: the feminist breeder, mommy-is-rock-n-roll, Parenting Unplugged Radio, the new homemaker, to name just a very few.

And mostly I spend as much time as possible talking to my other mother friends without whom I would be a great disaster. It's not simply, "I get by with a little help from my friends," it's "what would life be without help from our friends?"

Now I am going to go play solitaire on the Nintendo instead of cleaning my house.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Accidental Escargot

One of the things I do, with great effort, is cook. And cook healthy meals for my family. They return the favor by refusing to eat what I've spent a good hour preparing in the kitchen. Or my children do anyway.

I don't come by cooking naturally. My mother never cared for it, so I'm entirely self-taught, and while I've always wanted children and a big family, it never dawned on me just how much cooking would be involved. I've actually become much better at it; what I can't manage is to enjoy it more.

At any rate, I did slave away at another healthy meal with a different source of protein (which I strive for each night, not so easy given the vegetarian limitations and the fact that the children will not eat lentils, the baby won't eat tofu, we're off the "fake" stuff ever since someone told me it's got estrogen and messes with little boys' systems--which may well not be true but once you've got something in your head...it's hard to get out--), including a lovely, green head of broccoli with peas, and a noodle dish.

After one helping, I piled on another plate and sat down to eat, dodging flying noodles, screams for yogurt, and spilled milk, when I noticed a snail, sans shell, on my plate. I suppose this makes it a slug, but it was more snail like with its twin tentacles and white, nub of a nose. For a moment, I prayed it was simply a mushroom from the sauce. But no, it was the real thing. And that was the end of dinner for me. (No, it did not come earlier when the preschooler regurgitated his broccoli into a tidy, green pile on his plate on account of eating too quickly. If I could not endure such events, I would never eat. Or I would never eat with my children. Which, come to think of it, is a really civilized idea.)

As a follow up to this spectacular meal, my son, who recently received a monster truck as a gift, told me, while driving the enormous thing over my torso while we sat in the rocking chair together, "Mama, my truck is soooo big it can even zoom over your nipples."

It's the little things that count, isn't it?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Nature vs....What?

Well, there goes another piece of useful knowledge gained in my many years of women's studies and through my generally progressive education. Biology is destiny. Or, at least, most of the time.

But it all beings with the current fashion crises in our household. Not my fashion, of course, as I have none, but that of my daughter. No outerwear can be worn that does not display flowers. This means, that despite the 20 degree weather, she will not wear her winter coat and boots. She will kick, scream, flail and be impossible to dress. (This is not a metaphor. It is literally not possible to dress her in this state. The other day, once outside, she kicked her boots off while lying in the snow and having a tantrum.)

My dear daughter. Her first word was Mama. Her second word? Shoe.

She is so unrelenting, this fashionista of femininity.

She is also obsessed with dolls, just as I was as a child. In fact, her obsession is so thick that while playing at the sink tonight with water and measuring cups--no baby dolls anywhere to be seen--she lay open the cleaning cloth on the counter and declared: "My baby sleep here." It was a blanket. For the baby doll.

She'll be a good mother. Always thinking of her children even when they're not around.

Which reminds me. Shouldn't I do something better with my free time than blog about my children?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Top Ten Thing I Ought to Be Doing When I'm Doing Something Else

10. Cleaning
9. Exercising
8. Meditating
7. Praying for world peace
6. Spending one-on-one time with my children
5. Writing a novel
4. Writing a novel that will win the Pulitzer
3. Volunteering
2. Laundry
1. Not worrying about what I ought to be doing

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And a New Year to All

Well, it is a new year, and wonderful one at that. It just might be the most peaceful time in history. (Think about THAT.)

Or, at least, it is somewhere. Here at my house, my daughter has morphed into a koala and she is absolutely certain I am a branch. I haven't been able to peel her off of me for days, this on account of a terrible cold. When I put her down, she loses it completely in a fit of heart-wrenching sobs. This would be fine if I had stronger arm muscles. Luckily, she's changing all that.

I, like many in the civilized universe, made a New Year's resolution. Which I promptly forgot. I think it had something to do with writing more letters. I think letters deserve a come-back, as do horse-drawn carriages. (What better way to stave off global-warming?)

In fact, if I can pick a bone, (and why not, it's my blog that nobody reads, I can write whatever I want and if it's really bad, I can delete later on. Wow. The internet is amazing.), why do people send holiday cards without a personal message of any kind? Now, I love you if you sent me one at all, but not even one little word written in ink? That's like sending a Hallmark card without writing even your NAME in it. We really shouldn't let Hallmark do all the work for us or our loving, writing brains will atrophy.

Perhaps you'll join me in a new year of letter writing. Or, if you like, you can just tell me your new year's resolution with a comment. At least then we will be interacting. I love interacting. It's an improvement on acting in every way.

Now back to my one-armed life (toddler in the other arm). Wish me biceps.