Sunday, February 19, 2012


Today I met a friend at a mom-to-mom sale at a church near our old college campus.  For those of you who don't know, a mom-to-mom sale is a large indoor rummage sale devoted to mom and baby stuff.  The scene involves moms digging through carefully arranged piles of baby clothes looking for a diamond in the rough.  There are a couple of dads who typically hang back, sometimes with babies strapped to them or listlessly pushing a stroller back and forth containing a sleeping baby and re-used grocery bags filled with treasures.

My friend and I came from different directions but both drove past campus on our way to the sale.  Mid-way through the sale, my friend commented about how sentimental she got driving past campus.  I told her I had the same thoughts.  Neither one of us wants to erase what we have.  We love our lives, our husbands and our babies with every inch of ourselves, but we both concluded that it would be nice to have a do-over for college.  To make more of the time we were given- study abroad, be more deliberate about the classes that we took (like taking life-enriching courses as opposed to only those that weren't scheduled at 8am or on Fridays).

I am the first to admit that I didn't exactly make the most out of college.  By my junior year, all dreams of heading to NYC for a career in theatre had all but vanished as I decided to set my sights on more practical endeavors.  It took me over 3 years after I graduated to set foot onstage again and for 5 straight years I performed in over a dozen productions trying so hard to make up for lost time.  Theatre brought me so many gifts- confidence, friendships, a husband.  So it was with mixed feelings that I recently turned down an opportunity to audition for a play.  There are so many reasons why:

- I'm not feeling mentally prepared for the time commitment
- Jack needs me
- Baby weight issues
- I doubt I could memorize anything right now
- I go to bed by 9:30
- I just don't want to

That last one scares me the most.  Because when I strip away all of those other excuses which are all things for which I could find support, I just don't want to be involved in theatre right now and sometimes I worry that I might be losing this piece of myself.

And that leads me to my conversation this morning.  I close my eyes and imagine that I'm standing in a vast field.  I am calm.  The sky stretches out for miles and the only sound is the nearly imperceptible whistle of the wind through the grass.  That is life before a child.

I close my eyes, I imagine me in that same field.  It's quiet.  Too quiet.  My eyes dart all around and I'm running, faster, faster, calling out "Hello?  Where are you?  I can't see you!"  

I am tethered.  

I was tethered physically for 9 months and for 13 months since then, I've been emotionally tethered.  I have spent time away from Jack since he was born,  but not for any extended periods of time, save the 9 hours I spend at work each day.  And despite the unpleasantness of the word "tether", I don't feel harmed by it.  A tether is a cord, fixture or signal that anchors something movable to a reference point which may be fixed or moving.  Jack is my movable object right now and I am his reference point and sometimes I feel very fixed.  We are mostly weaned, which helps us both gain some independence.  Jack nurses like most adults drink booze- only nights and weekends...and some mornings, but only if it's been a rough night.

Yes, sometimes I feel very fixed, like a stake in the yard and he's a little puppy yapping and chasing squirrels all around me.

But sometimes...more often than not... I see things this way.

Somewhere high above Earth, there is a space anchor, or ballast.  Let's call it Nancy, and a spacecraft, let's call it the Captain Jack Rigel and they float up there, held together by a tether.  In space, there is a technique called momentum exchange tethering where a rotating tether will grab a spacecraft and then release it at a later time.  Doing this can transfer momentum and energy from the tether to and from the spacecraft with very little loss.  And every day the anchor, along with her handsome anchor husband, transfers energy through that tether awaiting the spacecraft's inevitable release.

It's lonely being a space anchor.  It doesn't leave you much time for theatre, hobbies, friends, good books, long showers, nail polish, exercise, movies or TV.  And yes, as glorious as the physics of it is, there is some energy loss.  But over time that spacecraft gains energy, altitude, momentum, and independence as it prepares to take off on a long journey.  It's all possible because of that anchor who gives up its freedom for a little while.  

I look at Jack.  Our tether is quite short right now.  Our galaxy consists of the thousand or so square feet of our little house on the corner of our street.  In years to come, the tether will grow longer and longer until he gains the momentum he needs to fly.

Yes, it's hard being tethered sometimes.  But if I remember to open my eyes to see what we have, I gaze at our little world, I see the tether stretching and, meanwhile, all around us...

we have the most glorious view of the stars.

See that brightest star?  The left foot of Orion?  That's Rigel.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Valentine's Day

The greatest love in Jack's life right now is bread.  He can take down 2 whole pieces in one sitting.  We'll all be at the dinner table and I'll try to feed him chicken and vegetables, but all he'll be doing is reaching that little arm over for the bread.  I've hidden the bread behind plates or under napkins in an attempt to get him to eat anything else first.  But my baby is a bloodhound and he just knows that there's bread lurking somewhere close.

Maybe it's because it's the first food he can pick up and eat all by himself.  He nibbles the crust and then the inside, back to the crust, back to the inside.  Last night he sat on my lap while eating some bread, laid his head down on my chest, bread in hand and just sighed- sublimely blissfully happy.  To little Jack, sliced bread is the greatest thing since...well, you get the idea.

So that's what Jack has fallen in love with lately.  I am amazed every day at his great capacity for love.  Bread, pillows, teddy bears, shoes- he falls in love with every magical new thing he discovers.

On Valentine's Day we were in urgent care for a suspected pink eye situation.  How perfect!  Pink eye on Valentine's Day!  But sitting in the pharmacy waiting for his prescription he smiled at everyone he saw.  As sick and tired as he was, it didn't stop him from enjoying every second of this moment while he was in it.  A woman looked at him and remarked "He's such a happy little guy, isn't he?"  I almost cried.  Not because I was tired and not because I have a very strong aversion to anything related to eye ailments and there Jack sat, smiling, while goop was strung across his eyelashes like spiderwebs.  No, not because of those things.  I almost started crying because telling a mom that her baby is happy is one of the nicest compliments you can pay her.  He's happy.  At an age where he is a reflection of his environment, the fact that he's happy means that we're making him happy.  He doesn't worry, he's not afraid, he's just happy.  And that makes me happy.

So to the mystery woman in the pharmacy who gave me such a sweet affirmation, to my baby whose festive pink eyes made him a goopy cupid and to Trevor, my Valentine for almost 7 years who brought me dinner that night, Happy Valentine's Day.  Valentine's Day is my most favorite holiday. I know I am in the minority on that. You will hear people complain a lot about this holiday. They'll say that it's a "Hallmark holiday" designed to get people to waste a lot of money on candy and flowers. If you find yourself single on Valentine's Day, you'll feel very conspicuous and it might even make you feel lonely. But I hope that you resist the urge to hate Valentine's Day because, the fact is, the planet Earth needs more reminders that Love is the cure for all that ails it.

Jack on his first Valentine's Day, 2/14/11

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I firmly believe that Pictionary and Charades are games that ruin friendships and destroy marriages*.  I like to avoid them at all cost.  But when I'm trapped in a couple's game night with Pictionary or Charades on the agenda, there is a moment that is guaranteed to happen every time.  The clock is running out and the person onstage is casting evil eyes at her partner as if to say "What the hell is wrong with you??  I know you know what this is, why aren't you guessing it?  Why did I marry such a dummy??"  But instead of trying a different approach, what does the person do?  She draws the same thing harder and faster or makes the exact same motions even more exaggerated!  Why do we do this?  Clearly this strategy isn't working.  Clearly our partner is an idiot confused.  But we refuse to give up on our original plan because it is beyond obvious to us that when we run in and out of the room blowing air out of our mouths, it means "Gone with the Wind"!!  And when you keep saying "Forrest Gump!  No, wait, "Air Force One!  No, oh, wait, it's not "Forrest Gump?", we want to to discontinue all communication with you for the rest of our lives.  If it wasn't the right answer the first time you guessed it, it won't magically be the right answer the 6th time you guess it!!

I don't understand why people choose to play these games, which is why it breaks my heart that I believe that Jack is trapped inside a never-ending game of Charades with completely moronic partners- me and Trevor.  

Last night, we were all hanging out in the basement.  I was holding Jack on the couch.  From out of nowhere something caught Jack's eye.

Ok, start the clock...Charades has begun. 

Jack starts pointing.
Nancy puts him down on the ground to play
Jack cries
Nancy picks him back up
Jack starts pointing
Nancy gives him an empty water bottle
Jack throws it on the ground
Nancy tries to tickle him
Jack cries
Nancy gives him some blocks to play with.
Jack throws them, cries, and then "go-go Gadget arms" toward the remote control on the couch and grabs it (his reach is breathtaking)
Nancy takes it away from him (our receiver is still messed up from some mystery button or combination of buttons he pushed 3 months ago)
Jack howls and arches his back which turns his face red
The clock runs out.
Nancy sighs, removes the batteries from the remote control and lets him win.

He was trying to get us to guess "remote control" and we guessed "water bottle", "tickle", and "blocks".  We are dummies.  And just like an exasperated Charades or Pictionary player, he exaggerates his motions, keeps to his strategy and when all else fails, just tries to cheat.  I know there are only a few hundred more rounds of this before we're all speaking the same language.  Dear.God.

So the next time you're playing Pictionary or Charades with your friends or spouse, remember that, for the most part, we are all just babies in adult bodies.  And dude, seriously?  If I was trying to get you to guess "Forrest Gump", I'd mime sitting on a park bench eating chocolates then playing ping pong.  


This is the look of pure and utter disdain and exasperation.  #charadefail

*Actually, Monopoly is the worst, but that doesn't fit the metaphor.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Going Viral

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called "Warriors, Every Last One" which went a little viral once it was posted on the Best for Babes Facebook page.  All of a sudden, women from Atlanta to Aruba were sharing my writing on their blogs and Facebook group pages.  I even tracked some traffic to an online knitting and crochet forum on the website  Jack's sweet little face was popping up all over the country as women shared my writing.

And that is pretty cool!

I started thinking of the image of a warrior and why that does or does not resonate with women.  I certainly didn't invent the concept, there are blogs and websites dedicated to this image of motherhood.  I started thinking of our standard definition of the word "warrior" and I found 2.

1)  a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier

Our standard definition of warrior.  But I don't consider myself engaged or experienced in warfare and I like to consider myself a champion of peace.  So I can understand if that definition of warrior turns you off.  In the words of Yoda:  

“Oh! Great warrior!  Wars not make one great!”

So true, that is.

But then I found this definition:

2) a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness.  

I thought about the kind of mother that I want to be.  Do you remember the scene in Dumbo where Mama Jumbo defends her baby against the taunts and bullying of the circus crowd?  Seeing her baby in danger, she leaps to his rescue, risking her own safety to ensure his.  Vigor, courage, aggressive?  Yes, yes, yes.  I read a beautiful article hailing Mama Jumbo as one of the Best Moms ever:
The circus workers think that Mrs. Jumbo has gone crazy and lock her up lest she injure anyone else. Dumbo is separated from his mother and left unshielded from the unrelenting attacks. But, showing the fortifying effects of a mother's strong love in his heart, he turns what others see as his greatest weakness into his greatest strength and uses his ears to fly. The metaphor is apt: a supportive mother can give her child wings.
I thought about the Warrior pose in yoga.  Both legs extended, one knee bent for balance, arms outstetched to the horizon before you and behind you or pointed upward to the sky, to God.  It is a stance of power that grounds you to the earth, but pulls you to the sky.  It reveals determination and optimism.  I want to be that kind of mama.

Perhaps I should explain what drove me to the warrior image in the first place.  The morning after a lightning fast labor and delivery, my family was gathered in the recovery room as Trevor retold the events of the night before.  "I've never seen Nancy like that.  She was like a solider going to battle."

You should know that Words of Affirmation is my love language, so hearing this description of the night's events was such a powerful testament to my husband's love for me and his admiration of what I had accomplished (with his help of course).  It also got me thinking.  Pregnancy had been very hard on me.  I fell very ill during my last month and had suffered migraines, nausea, and horrible water retention throughout.  When Trevor compared me to a soldier, all of a sudden I looked at my poor, broken body with new eyes.  

I had battle scars.  I had physical evidence of my vigor, courage, and aggressiveness in carrying this baby, delivering him naturally, and feeding him from my own body even when we struggled for so long.  I started thinking of how quickly I almost abandoned my desires because things got a little uncomfortable.  I wanted women to draw upon their own strength, their own warrior, whatever she looks like for them.  Not every woman has a Trevor to affirm them like I do.  So if they don't, I wanted to memorialize my experience in writing so I never forget how powerful I am and maybe someone else might remember too.

In a testament to the expanding image of the "mama warrior", this Google image comes up: 

So stay tuned.  This won't be the last you hear about Mama Warriors...

Oh To Be a Baby!

For Jack.  Your mama is envious at all you get to do~

I want to be a baby.
I want to smash food into my face like it's my job.
I want to be blissfully ignorant about calories and fat and that pink stuff they're calling
Chicken McNuggets.

But I know too much.
I know about sodium and trans fats and that chicken, under no circumstances, should ever be pink!

I want to pick a doctor because she has the best magazines in her waiting room.
Glossy, shiny ones with none of the good articles ripped out.
Just give me a lollipop and a Hello Kitty Band-Aid when I'm through.

But somewhere along the line I learned that you need to stay in your network
that all copays are not created equal
and that around age 13, they only give you the beige Band-Aid

I want to take a huge box of crayons and draw all over my wall
I want to prove that I'm a prodigy by intentionally picking "Goldenrod" over just plain yellow
and "Cornflower" over just plain blue
I want to dig those crayons into the wall like a gardener digs her hands into the earth

But have you ever tried to wash crayon off of a wall?
It's hard to justify the wall art when there are perfectly good notepads lying around.

I want to scream and cry and swing my little fists when I get upset
But my fists have gotten bigger as I've gotten older
and I know that they can do damage now, so best not to swing them around.

There's no turning back
I can't un-know what I know.
I don't want to be a baby
But sometimes, yes sometimes...

I just want to forget how to be an adult.