MomBrain is on hiatus for a wee little while, figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up. If your life is too bleak without my sunny influence, you can also find me:
In the Seattle PI
On Marjo Studios
Q: When is the last day of school not really the last day of school?
A: When the morning is reserved for a bowling party, and the afternoon for a swimming party.
Q: When does MomBrain begin to eye the sharp objects?
A: Right about the time the black-light disco ball starts swirling and the kids yank their pants down to check out their glow-in-the-dark undies.
Q: When is a swimming pool not a swimming pool?
A: When it has 38 third graders in it. Then it’s a giant warm bathtub where the P is not missing from POOL and you most certainly will TOO take a shower before you get dressed, Little Guy.
Q: What will MomBrain eat for dinner?
A: Eat? Surely you mean drink?
If you have actually seen MomBrain in the flesh, then you know I am not one of those extremely cool 20-something dude-moms snowboarding with her kids and sporting a nose stud. Alas, I am not nearly that young, hip, or energetic. Also snowboarders scare me.
What I am is most kindly — or at least euphemistically — worded by the big red words on the chart my OB carried into each appointment with me while I was pregnant: Advanced Maternal Age. Those big red words still feel like a hot embarrassment, my very own scarlet letters, as if I had sinned by getting pregnant when a smart woman my age would be helping her teenagers with their college applications. But in fact, my pregnancy was a triumph, my own personal miracle. After eight years of failed infertility treatments, I had somehow become pregnant the old fashioned way — despite the many reasons my body couldn’t get pregnant, and despite my “advanced maternal age.” It was mind-blowing, like waking up one morning and speaking fluent French when I’d never uttered so much as an ooh la la.
That force of nature was so much bigger and more powerful than me. So it’s hard not to believe in destiny, that I was fated to be the older mother of a single child. Does it make me ungrateful that I question it? That I still mourn for the second child I never had, the child that destiny never intended for me? All these years later, I still have trouble looking at the empty fourth chair at dinner; sitting in an awkward threesome at a square restaurant table; looking in the rearview mirror at my son, alone in the too-wide back seat. My family is not complete. And yet it is.
In which MomBrain plods through an unexpected snow day and contemplates an island of nothingness.
Taking a cue from the surprisingly twitter-esque This Woman’s Work:
What the Little Guy is doing right now: Playing with two neighbor boys, racing around the house in his karate belt looking for markers and scissors (I’m afraid to ask).
What the Big Guy is doing right now: Talking on his cell phone to a Japanese colleague who doesn’t speak fluent English, speaking slowly and clearly, trying to sound professional even with the screams in the background.
What Kitty is doing right now: Are you kidding? Hiding, probably under the big bed.
What MomBrain is doing right now: Listening to the boys, in case of blood or tears. Thinking about all the grand ideas I have for essays, and feeling too tired to even begin. Thinking about the books piled on my nightstand, but too tired to read. Thinking about the cluttered closet, the mountain of laundry, the dishwasher that needs unloading, but feeling too tired to do any of it. Thinking about the 4830 emails in my Inbox, but feeling too tired to open any of it. Thinking about the 32 self-portraits drawn by the Little Guy’s classmates that I promised to scan, but feeling too tired to push the On button. Reminding myself that if I eat the dark chocolate in the pantry I will feel even more tired. considering a cup of tea. wishing for a nap. realizing i have stopped using capital letters, but feeling too tired to fix them.
In which MomBrain descends into the fiery pit and emerges as a bird of a whole nuther feather …
I have been blogging as MomBrain since 2003, embarrassing my family with some success and myself with even more. But it’s time for MomBrain to write about something else. For one thing, I’m finally emerging from the Baby Blur of those first six years. The total immersion experience of early motherhood is nearly over, and I’m beyond ready to reclaim my old life. For another, the Little Guy is now the Medium Guy, and I need to respect his growing self-awareness. I mean, it’s one thing to write about your toddler’s constipated bathroom antics. But when your baby is big enough to wear your socks, it’s time to redraw the boundaries of what you say in public. Besides, he can read now.
All this to say that while MomBrain will continue, you’ll be reading less about the Little Guy and maybe a little more about … um … I don’t know yet. But the winds of change, they are a-blowin’ …
Today’s Skippy Moment is brought to you by Laurie Mika, whose tile mosaics make me breathe deeply and yelp at the same time.
Here at MomBrain HQ we are weeping bittersweet tears as the Little Guy marks another milestone in his short life. Tonight, in a battle of wills over homework, he ran away. He grabbed his backpack and his Halloween costume and made a beeline for the neighbor’s house, where two Lego-loving boys live. So I did what any shocked and confused mother would do — I shut the door behind him and spied through an upstairs window. The neighbors weren’t home, so he sat in the front yard and waited. I waited. He waited. I waited.
God bless the Big Guy, who’s not all that good at waiting. He grabbed the car keys and loudly suggested that — since we didn’t have to cook dinner for the Little Guy — he and I should just go out to eat at the Little Guy’s favorite sushi restaurant. Before you could say sashimi he was in the back seat, buckling up and hoping for kappa maki. A happy family reunion followed, and then, when we returned home … we did homework.
It’s hard being seven.
MomBrain has ended the summer on a high note. And I do mean a high note, of the ELA variety that any crossword maven knows. Camping in the wilds of Mazama, needing to pee so badly she feared embarrassing herself, but surrounded in the dead of night by howling coyotes, she did the only thing she could do: burst from the tent and made a break for the porta-potty, waving two flashlights and screaming like a banshee. And indeed, MomBrain did look too big and scary for any little coyote to eat, and so she managed to pee safely. She did not, however, escape embarrassing herself, having become the live entertainment for her fellow campers.
But summer is over, and we are now safely back in the wilds of Seattle. The tent is smushed forlornly into its sack. Our tans are fading, and our feet are becoming reaquainted with shoes. The Little Guy is back in school, and the morning air has a chill to it. Can it be? Did summer really go by that fast? Are the holidays truly just around the corner? Already?
I am a college-educated, Jane Austen-loving, NPR-listening, SUV-driving mom. In short, I’m a grown-up; what’s more, I’ve been a grown-up for a very long time. (Don’t ask.) But I am also the doting aunt to four teenage girls. Far from delicate hot-house flowers, they are full of attitude, smart and smart-alecky, gorgeous, poised to launch their size-4 selves into the world and aiming to make a crater-sized impact. So when I had a chance to read and review Maximum Ride 3, I let go of my grown-up sense and sensibilities and put on my auntie-colored reading glasses. Would I like the book? That wasn’t the question. Would my nieces like it? Oh boy howdy, would they ever.
“Maximum Ride” — Max for short — is the name of the book’s heroine, a 14-year-old girl with the fate of the world in her hands and a pair of 13-foot wings on her shoulders. Genetically engineered to be two-percent bird (I know – stay with me here), she escapes from the lab where she was raised and, leading a flock of other bird-kids, sets out to save the world from the scientists who created them (one might even say fathered them). All the big adolescent-angst themes are here: rebellion against the adults who created you, feeling tragically misunderstood, forsaking the family you were born into while proclaiming your deepest love and allegiance to your peers. Throw in a little kissing and a fair amount of violence against robots, and you have the perfect book for tweens and early teens … and aunties who are recovering Buffy fans. (I admit it! I liked it! I loved it! Go Max!!! Spread those wings and FLY GIRL!!!!! (Ahem … pausing to compose myself…)
More than anything, James Patterson drives home a belief that every teenager should hold dear: Kids working together can make a difference in the world.
This, to me, is the single best thing about this book. Will Maximum Ride get kids excited about reading? Absolutely. More than that, though, I hope it gets them excited about their own strength, and the power they have to save the world from the sorry mess we grown-ups are leaving behind. To fight evil, love what is good, and kick some butt in the process.
Sunday morning, and I jerk awake thinking Lawsy it’s hot for six a.m.! Look at the clock, and it’s 9:30. Sun is shining through the windows, the house is empty and a note is waiting on the kitchen counter: We’re at IHOP! We might go to the Science Center after! We’ll be home by noon! The coffee is made, the Sunday paper untouched, and the Big Guy has just won my heart again.
The Big Guy has been having the same dream for seven years, in which he and I are strolling happily through an alley in Venice, bathed in golden light. The Little Guy is part of our family but isn’t born yet, and we are happily exploring new territory, together. Well, even MomBrain can interpret that dream, and it’s a recurring reminder of how lucky I am that the Big Guy enjoys our adventures into the uncharted terrain of parenthood.
But. (And it’s a Big But.) I’m thinking this dream has changed lately, with the Big Guy speeding through the canals of Venice in his motorboat. And this motor, she is loud. One might even say it sounds like a man snoring. In bed. Next to his insomniac wife. Who is beginning to hallucinate from fatigue and may even be approaching psychosis, keeping a mental tally of all the sharp objects in the house and moving to the couch before she can act on it. Not that I would …