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6 May

Stories I’ve Only Told My Mom

I think that Mother’s Day is as good a time as any to break out the heavy emotional artillery, don’t you?

I can’t say that I regret having had an abortion, but I also can’t say that I don’t. It’s complicated. Its complicatedness sometimes hurts my heart. Which is precisely why people talk about the emotional consequences of abortion. Because many women find, like I did, that their hearts hurt. Because many women struggle to figure out how to reconcile the complicated tension between regret and not-regret and find that they’re unable, and because many women do so while bearing their children, their wanted children, in arms.

27 Apr

Sacrifice And The Mom

At the closing keynote session at the Mom 2.0 Summit the other week they showed a promotional clip for Oprah’s new network. In it, Oprah made a few remarks about why she never had children. “I realized that I didn’t want to make the sacrifice,” she said, “and motherhood is about sacrifice.”

Ugh, I thought. Sacrifice. I like the word sacrifice about as much as I like the word ‘goatspit’, which is to say, not at all. The word ‘sacrifice’ makes me think of ancient Spartan war rituals and that one Indiana Jones movie where that they tore out people’s hearts and flung them into pits of fire, which, sure, is maybe an appropriate analogy for parenthood some days, but still.

20 Apr

All The Things You Said, You Said

I almost never do this, pull narrative from the comment section of this site and present it alongside my own narrative, because that just seems so meta, although maybe I should, because it’s not like I don’t get meta – that whole last post was about as meta as it gets – and anyway so much of the commentary that you all contribute here is just so ridiculously smart, so I really should just get over myself and my conviction that I’m the lone storyteller here and that it’s not a good blog week if I don’t post a picture of my babies and just let you guys do more of the talking. Because, seriously:

15 Apr

The Beauty Of Heartbreak

A few weeks ago at SXSW in Austin, Texas, the lovely Karen Walrond sat me down and asked me a few questions about heartbreak. Not about the sad and the terrible and the woe-is-me of heartbreak, but about the beauty of heartbreak. And it was a wonderful and, I think, important conversation, because there is beauty in heartbreak, such that it’s actually misleading to call that exercising of the heart a break. The heart never really breaks. It pulls and stretches and moves and expands, and that movement can hurt terribly, but it’s not a movement toward breaking. The heart is not bone or ceramic or glass, Debbie Harry’s assertions notwithstanding. The heart, as I’ve said before, is a muscle. Its movements are extraordinary, even when they hurt. I needed to remind myself of that.

21 Feb

Coloring Between The Lines

There are things that one knows about one’s self, and things that one doesn’t. I know, for example, that words make me happy and that I love my children and that I can, when I try, be very funny, and that I am introverted (yes, really) and that I am good at philosophy and at making soup and that I love the smell of lilacs. I know, too, that I am prone to anxiety and depression, but that I am able to cope with these with the help of the love and support of my family and by writing and with a certain quantity of pharmaceuticals. What I don’t know is how big a role my proneness to anxiety and depression plays on the stage of my psyche – whether it is a starring role or a bit part, whether its strutting and fretting defines the production in some critical way or is just a nuance, just theatrical flair – and whether, or the extent to which, it shapes who I am. What I also don’t know: how much it effects how my children regard me, and how they will remember me.

14 Jan

Thomas Kinkade Never Painted iPads

Here are some things that Jasper and Emilia love: crayons, art paper, paints, marshmallows, bubble wrap, trains, books, the iPhone, the iPad, video cameras, regular cameras, Toady, me, Kyle, the cats, skateboards, anything Disney, Scotch tape, cardboard boxes, stickers, the piano, and cookies. Only cookies with chocolate, though. They know their baked goods.

Why they love these things, I don’t know. I’ve never really thought to ask that question, except in regards to Toady, who is so unusual (and whose continued existence Kyle interrogates daily: ‘can we get rid of him, PLEASE?) that his very presence demands that variations on that question – why are you here? what need or want are you fulfilling? – be asked of him, constantly. (Notice that I fall so naturally into calling Toady a ‘him.’ This is disturbing.) The presence of, and my children’s preference for, all those other things goes unquestioned, I suppose because those preferences don’t read as unusual. Who doesn’t love the iPhone? Crayons? Cookies? I mean, really? So, no, I never asked.

20 Dec

Bring Us Goodness And Light

I love Christmas. I love it with the fiery heat of a blazing winter fire and a million twinkling fairy lights. I love the sparkle and the twinkle and the plum pudding and the eggnog and the tinsel and the gift wrap and the stockings and the carols and the hymns and the stories, all the stories, every single one, from the manger to the magi to old St. Nicholas to the Grinch (spare me the pieties about not telling tales to children. A childhood without the magic of stories, woven so brilliantly as to obscure the lines between fact and fiction, make-believe and make-of-that-what-you-will, is no childhood at all, in my opinion.) I love it, all of it, the snow-globe perfection of it, the gentle sheen of protective glass over perfect, brilliant moments in time, the way that it can just take one such moment – a moment in which the crackle of the fire makes you feel perfectly, contentedly warm; the flash of belief in a child’s eyes when you tell her that the jingling of bells that she hears is the music of flying reindeer; the fleeting frost-kiss that is a snowflake landing on your cheek – and make that moment expand almost infinitely and make you forget that outside the snow globe, life’s storms come pelt hail and bend your umbrella and soak your mitts.

29 Nov

Through A Glass, Brightly

My mother always told me that I was beautiful. “You are a beautiful, beautiful girl, sweetie,” she would say, and I would reply – with much eye-rolling and heavy sighing – “you’re my mother. You have to say that.”

I knew that I wasn’t beautiful, not in the way that princesses in fairy tales or fashion models or the older, made-up girls who worked the cosmetic counter at Eatons were beautiful. I was tall and awkward and gangly, which, yes, I know, is exactly the way that girls who go on to become fashion models and perfume-spritzers describe themselves, but I really was tall and awkward and gangly and also frizzy of hair – hair that I insisted, after seeing the movie Pretty In Pink, upon dyeing red, which did not help its texture – and prominent of nose and so I am not being coyly self-deprecating when I say that I believed, that I knew, that I was not beautiful. My mother wasn’t lying to me, but she was, I knew, viewing me through mother-colored glasses, which as we all know are constructed with tempered and tinted glass and glazed with sparkles and stardust. Of course she couldn’t see what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I was looking at myself with clear and critical eyes. She was looking at me with love.