A Mom’s Guilty Secret: I Don’t Miss My Daughter

imagesIt’s confession time. 

My 11 year old daughter’s been at camp, 100 miles away, for nearly a week, and I DON’T MISS HER. 

Well, maybe I should rephrase that.  I miss HER.  But I don’t miss the drama she creates on a daily basis.  I don’t miss the way she fights with her sister.  I don’t miss the backtalk, the disrespect, the stomping and door slamming, the defiance.  It’s been downright peaceful around here since last Monday. 

And it’s been quite nice to spend a little one on one time with my 10 year old daughter.  We’ve been swimming, taking walks, reading together.  She’s happily showing me her magic tricks, with no one around to spoil the magic and say the trick is ‘stupid’.  I suspect she doesn’t miss her sister much either. 

When I’m trying to sleep at night, I worry about her.  I wish I could call to make sure she’s all right, but of course in this case, no news is good news.  But I still worry.  Is it chilly at night?  Does she have warm enough clothes?  Is she drinking enough water (last year she got dehydrated at camp)?  Wearing sunscreen and chapstick (last year her lips cracked and bled)?  Is she eating (she’s underweight and last year lost 5 lbs at camp)? 

And I can’t wait to see her in a few days.  I can’t wait to hear her stories, listen to all the songs she’s learned, hear about all her adventures.  I can’t wait to see her come off the bus, happy and smiling and missing me.  I hope she has a new appreciation for home and family, for clean clothes and warm beds and sleeping in, but most of all for the people who love her.  And I hope that appreciation lasts a little longer than the 20 minute ride home.

Review: Ten Year Nap by Meg Woltzer

wolitzerbook_200Meg Wolitzer’s Ten Year Nap attempts to get at the universality of being a stay-at-home mom, with the title referring to the ten years that one of the main characters, Amy Lamb, a New York lawyer before she became a mom, has been at home with her son.   

Caution to those who are so far intrigued… this is no light-hearted chick lit.  It is a dense, slow read, with all the appropriate angst and immoderation of stereotypical New Yorkers.   That is the frustrating part of the novel.   But, (and this is a BIG BUT), if you can handle the complex writing and the whiney New York women, then you are in for some amazing and deeply felt insight into the human mommy heart (full disclosure:  I am a stay at home mom, with a former career, so the novel spoke personally to me on that level ).   

In reading this book, I have to imagine that Wolitzer’s words will somehow speak to almost every mom out there.  There are amazingly poignant passages:  a mom’s attachment to a newborn baby and how she couldn’t put her infant in day care, another mom’s flashback to her helpless preemie twins and her protectiveness even as they are older and healthy, the identity crisis of not knowing how to answer what it is that “you do.”   There are happy and unhappy marriages, and moms who are content to stay at home and those who are antsy and unsatisfied.   One of the friends has moved to the suburbs, some have a tough time making ends meet in the city, and one is very wealthy.  One of the four moms, who had some fertility problems and adopted a baby from Russia, struggles with her choices and seems to ignore her daughter’s signs of special needs.   Interwoven into the larger story are smaller chapters, flashbacks into the lives of other moms in past and present generations.   

Perhaps my only real negative with this book is that despite the fact that I, as the reader, was inside these characters’ heads, I still didn’t connect with them.  I knew their names, their former occupations, how they felt about their kids and spouses, how they grew up, etc.  But, somehow, (and I am not sure why) I walked away not feeling intimate with these women.   Maybe it was because I didn’t like most of these moms, and some I actually hated.  Maybe the darkish tone of the novel only gave me insight into their angst, and not their joys. 

But, what the novel does well is gives you a heaping spoonful of mommy-hood.  My guess is that many will find it slow and whiney.  For someone like me, who often misses my career life, I found such truth in some of the passage that I have to be glad I spent the extra time and energy to read this novel.   

This book was reviewed by my book club buddy, Elaine.  Thanks, Elaine! 

Reviewer Bio:  Elaine Legere is a stay-at-home mommy and part-time marketing consultant, after years of working for Disney, Palm (aka Palm Pilot), Los Angeles Times, and Details Magazine.  She received her BA at UCLA in English Literature and an MBA from University of Colorado. She is an avid reader, loves movies, and all things outdoors.

If You Feed Them, They Will Come

Put three kids in a dinghy in Newport Harbor with a couple of stale hot dog buns, and every pelican, seagull, and duck within a 2 mile radius shows up!  Pretty soon the seals arrive too. 

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The Film

The paper came home with the fourth grade girls yesterday- the one that says they’ll soon be watching “the film”.

“Mom!  You have to sign this!  We’re going to see a film about growing up and I can’t watch it unless you sign!”  She is excited, of course.  

My 4th grader is immature physically and in every other way.  She watches Spongebob, reads Goosebumps, and believes in the toothfairy.  She is blissfully unaware of fallopian tubes and sperm and fertilized eggs.

On the one occasion I tried to discuss menstruation with her, she did not want to hear it.  She knows a little bit about it from an American Girl Book her sister has shared, but not in great detail.  She’s in denial (just like her mother) and would prefer not to know.

My little girl is 10 years and 4 months old.  Aunt Flo came to visit me for the first time at 11 years and 2 months, the summer after 5th grade.  I was at Girl Scout camp and truly thought I must be dying.  I knew nothing.  I hid my messy underwear in my duffle bag and didn’t tell anyone.  My mother made that lovely discovery when I got home from camp.  We never talked about it, but some ‘supplies’ magically found their way to my bathroom.  I remember she also handed me a book called Growing UP a couple days later, with lots of information about a woman’s cycle, and a single paragraph about intercourse.  I read that paragraph in horror and fascination, checking the dictionary for unfamiliar terms, and discussing it with a neighbor girl who was equally horrified and fascinated.  

I can’t keep my daughter from growing up, but I can spare her the fear and embarrassment of not knowing what is going on when the time comes.  I just didn’t think the time would come so soon.  She may not want to hear it, at least not from me, but she definitely wants to know what’s in this mysterious film that only the girls in her class get to watch (no boys allowed!).  And I’ll take her along to pick out the products she’ll need and answer all her questions.  

At least she won’t ever have to wear a sanitary belt.  Raise your hand if you don’t know what I’m talking about (go ahead, make me feel reeeeeeally old!).

Sunday Salon: Scenes from a Stay-cation

With the kids on spring break this week, I didn’t get a whole lot of reading done.  I reviewed one book (Shanghai Girls) and read another one (Foreign Tongue– not yet reviewed), but that was it.

I did, however, have a blast with my girls!  We couldn’t go away (dad had to work) but it’s easy to have a stay-cation when you live in the LA area!  

Along with swimming at a friend’s pool, riding bikes, seeing the Hannah Montana movie, having a sleepover, and dinner with cousins, we did some tourist-y stuff.  On Thursday we went to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, explored the shops around the Kodak Theatre and did some people watching in Hollywood, had lunch at Johnny Rockets, and had churros on Olvera Street.  Then yesterday we went to the planetarium at Griffith Park, watched my brother (an AV guy) work on a Capital One commercial downtown with the vikings (“What’s in YOUR wallet?”), and took in the sights at the Santa Monica Pier.  We had a great time, as you can see from the pictures!

Back to reality- school and work- tomorrow, but we made some nice memories..

 

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Jokesters

L:  Mom, you’re smart.  You’ll be able to get this.  It’s a 6th grade joke.

Me:  Ok.

L:  Take the F out of way.

Me: (thinking for a sec).  There IS no F in way.  (The lightbulb comes on) Hey!  Wait a minute!

L & K: Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!  Get it?  Get it?  Say it again!

Me:  You got me!

 

Later that same day…

Uncle Bill:  Here’s a joke for you.. what’s brown and rhymes with “snoop”?

Me:  Aside from the obvious?

Uncle Bill:  Aside from the obvious.

The girls:  Poop!  Poop!  Mom, you’re so dumb.  It’s poop!

Me:  It’s not poop!  He just said it wasn’t the obvious answer!

The girls:  Oh.

Me:  I don’t know.  What’s brown and rhymes with “snoop”?

Uncle Bill:  Dr. Dre.

Me and Uncle Bill:  Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!

The girls:  (blank stares, shrugged shoulders)  That doesn’t even make sense.

Me:  Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog are rappers.  They rap together.

The girls:  So?  Dre and Snoop still don’t rhyme.  Now if his name was “Droop”..  

Me:  No, the raps rhyme.  It’s a play on words.

The girls:  Oh.  But why is that funny?  Poop is funnier.  You and Uncle Bill have a weird sense of humor.

Bedtime Conversation

K:  Tickle me, Mom!

Me: { tickle, tickle }

K: (suddenly serious) Mom, if I ever get cancer, I want the kind Cade and Collin’s dad has.

Me: Oooooooookaaaaaaaaay

K:  I’m not saying I want to have cancer, but if I had to have it, I think he has the best kind.

Me:  Why is that, honey?

K:  Because he has the kind that tickles.

Me:  He does?  How do you know it tickles?  Did the boys tell you that?

K:  No, they didn’t say anything, but I heard you talking to Daddy.

Me: (suddenly understanding, and laughing too hard to breathe)  Oh, honey!  You’ll never get that kind of cancer!  (laughing, wiping tears..)

K:  MOM!  Stop laughing at me!  It’s not funny!  Lots of people get cancer!  What are you laughing about??? (getting angry)

Me:  Sweetie, you misheard me.  I didn’t say Mr. Stewart has cancer that tickles.  I said he has testicular cancer.  Cancer of the testicles.  Girls don’t get that kind.

K:  Why not?  (kinda mad)

Me:  Because girls don’t have testicles.  Only boys do.

K:  Well, that’s not fair!  I’m going to bed!  (stomps off)

Sunday Salon – 4/5/09

img_2438Good Morning!  I hope everyone is feeling refreshed and relaxed today!

We woke up to a whole lot of soggy toilet paper on our lawn this morning.  Even my car in the driveway was wrapped in TP.  This is the second night in a row.. paybacks, I suppose, for my kids’ antics of a couple of nights ago when they did the same thing to their friends.  They’re excited and are calling and texting their friends to see who did this.  No one is ‘fessing up.

img_2436We had a mid life-wake up call this week.  On Thursday, my husband, a big strong man who thinks he’s still in his 20s but is really twice that, had sudden chest pain.  He said it felt like a lightning bolt through his chest and into his back that lasted for 10-15 seconds, then after that what felt like a sore muscle in his back.  I was out doing my daily 4 mile walk with a friend when it happened, but when I came home he was standing there, pale and scared.  My first thought was ‘heart attack’.  I said- we better go to the hospital, and he said- I don’t have time!  I have too much to do! But I insisted, so off we went.  

At the hospital they took him immediately (now THAT was a first!), put him on oxygen, took all his vitals, drew blood, did an EKG.  They take chest pain very seriously.  Over the course of 6 hours in the ER he had 2 EKGs, a chest x-ray, 3 blood draws, and a stress test, and it was determined that he did not have a heart attack (whew!  dodged a bullet!).  They said the problem appears to be muscular-skeletal in nature- his heart and lungs are fine. I asked if it could be a muscle pull, because the day before he had been lifting and moving furniture into his new office.  I said to my husband (in front of the doctor), “Maybe you’re a little too old to be lifting heavy oak desks, what do you think?” and he just gave me a look, like- mind your bizness, woman.  

Seriously, though- he doesn’t get enough sleep, eats crappy food, doesn’t exercise, works long hours, and is constantly stressed.  That’s a recipe for disaster at his age. I do the best I can but I can’t force him to act like an adult and take care of himself. I hope this episode will be the catalyst for him to at least think about a healthier lifestyle.  I’m not sure, though, since he’s been working in San Diego all weekend.  I can’t monitor if he’s eating, sleeping, etc. when he’s not even here!  I do know that he and a couple of the guys went out for a big steak dinner at 8 pm last night, and I’m sure cocktails were included, so..  no major changes yet. Fingers crossed for next week.

So.. reading.  Let’s see.  I finished The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady this week for an upcoming TLC tour stop.  It’s a top-notch short story collection.  Then I started Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.  I love her writing.  LOVE it.  I love being wrapped up in the little worlds her books create.  I can’t wait to see her at the LA Times Festival of Books.  She’s on a fiction panel on Saturday called Window on the World, along with authors Vanina Marsot, Muriel Barbery, and Jonathan Rabb.  

I’m also reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone aloud to my youngest.  This child drives me crazy..  her AR reading level is the 2nd highest in her fourth grade class, yet she insists on reading the Magic Treehouse series and Katie Kazoo books.. way beneath her level.  She doesn’t like to read- to her it is a big chore, so she goes for whatever is easy.  Her teacher requires 20 minutes of reading a day as part of their homework and she wants the students to get 50 AR points by the end of the year, but the books my daughter reads are one and two points each, so she’s not even close to her 50 points.  The Harry Potter books are 12 points each but she didn’t think she’d like them- she thought they’d be too hard (almost anything is going to be harder than what she’s been reading).  I’m reading the first one to her in the hopes that she’ll get hooked, and so far it seems to be working.  I overheard her very animatedly telling my mother about the mail delivery system with the owls in HP so I guess she’s becoming interested.  

OH!  I have winners to announce!  I almost forgot!  The second winner of The Blue Notebook is Zibilee from Raging Bibliomania– congratulations!  And the (long overdue) winner of Hope’s Boy is Ti of Book Chatter and Other Stuff- congratulations!   (Ti’s in Palm Springs this weekend so she’s probably a little too busy to care about winning a book.)

Well that’s it for me.  What are you reading this week?

The Sunday Salon

tssbadge3It’s Sunday! Wonderful Sunday! I hope everybody had a good week.

Today my family is preparing to ship our oldest off to 6th grade camp in the mountains for a week. She is super excited. I’ve been giving the Sharpie a workout, writing her name on everything (“Does everything I own have to have my images-12name on it?” “According to your teacher, yes.”) Her biggest concern is that she won’t like the food and that she’ll be hungry, and I worry about that too since she is underweight to begin with and extremely picky. I told her she will just have to eat whatever is offered or go without. I’ve tried to adapt that rule at home but usually I cave in and let her eat something other than what the rest of us are having, just to get some calories in her. Yes, I’ve created a (finicky) monster. Maybe this week at camp will change that.

images3My book club meets today here at my house. I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon cleaning, and today I will spend a good chunk of my morning making chicken enchiladas for later. Sheri will be mixing up the margaritas (she claims to be a pro!) and then we’ll sit down to discuss Sarah’s Key. We’re sending the kids (hers and mine) and my husband across the street to another book club member’s house so the guys can watch March Madness while our kids babysit my neighbor’s 4 year old twins.

During my clean up for book club I had to move my pile of books waiting to be read and reviewed. NOT my huge TBR pile of books without deadlines, but the ones that I have committed to reviewing. I did some quick mental calculations (3 times 4, carry the 1… where the hell is my calculator???) and found that I need to read about 4,800 pages before the end of April. That doesn’t include my book for book club, to be discussed on the first Sunday in May, another 300+ pages. So that’s about 128 pages of reading daily. The problem is, I secret-keeperaverage about 50 ppd (pages per day), with occasional gusts of up to 200 ppd. But some days I don’t have time (or I’m too tired) to read at all. I think I need to start saying no to the review books for a while, before I crack under the pressure!

I signed a new client this week- Paul Harris and his book, The Secret Keeper, will be on tour with TLC beginning mid-May. I hadn’t heard about this book before, but it sounds really exciting!

This week I finished Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson (still need to write the review) and got about 2/3rds of the way through The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson. I hope to finish that tonight, unless Sheri is reeeeeeally good at mixing margaritas.

Enjoy your Sunday! What are you reading this week?

Spinning on my Hamster Wheel

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like a hamster in a wheel- busybusybusy but not getting a whole lot done?  That has been my day.  I look at my to-do list and realize I can’t completely cross off anything on it.  What the heck have I been doing since I woke up 8 hours ago (in the pitch black darkness at 6:15 am)?

Well, let’s see.  I read a few blog posts, woke up the kids, got them ready for school, made them french toast, pleaded with them to hurry up and eat, said goodbye to the hub and kids and hustled them out the door.  Checked in with my gym partner who is sick and can’t meet me.  That’s fine since I am getting over a cold myself.  

Next I ran the vacuum to suck up all the dog hair from our golden retriever, who is a shedding machine.  Then I folded up the towels in the dryer, moved kids’ clothes from washer to dryer, and started a load of hub’s clothes.  After that I emptied the dishwasher and cleaned up the mess from breakfast. Got sick of doing KP so I left the pots in the sink and took a break.  Scanned my email inbox.  Answered a couple emails that couldn’t wait.  Made my bed (but not the kids’ beds), took a shower- realized I’d left the clean towels downstairs, so dripped out to the hallway to the linen closet for a towel. Dried my hair, got dressed, etc. Sat down to pay bills at the computer but answered a few more emails first, and fixed a page on the TLC website.  I purposely avoided Facebook, Twitter, and my blog stats.  

Feeling pretty good about not getting too sidetracked, I got through the first 5 or 6 bills without breaking a sweat.  Things were going well until I opened up the bill from Southern California Edison and nearly had a heart attack- it was more than triple what it was last month!  And we’ve been actively trying to conserve energy!  Certain there was some mistake, I spent 15 minutes on hold (hanging up clothes from the dryer while I waited), then trudged outside to read my meter for the customer service person.   It was a meter-reader error (whew!), so I went back to finish paying bills but my session had timed out, and I hadn’t submitted all the bills I had paid, so I had to start completely over.  Grrrr.

Before I finished my bill paying the school called.  “Youngest daughter is sick, can you come get her?”  Grabbing my keys, I left and didn’t realize until I got there that once again, I didn’t submit the payments, and my online banking session would time out before I got back, and I’d have to do it all again- right after taking my little girl’s temperature, fixing her some lunch, setting her up on the couch with the remote control and a blankie and a box of Kleenex and a glass of water.  Finally sitting down to the computer, I answered a few more emails and paid the bills a 3rd time (and actually submitted them).  

Which brings us up to now.   Just realized I forgot to start dinner in the crockpot and kicking myself over it.   

Older daughter gets out of school in 15 minutes.  I’ll have to rouse Miss Sickypants and drag her with me while I run her sister to the library for a book she needs for school.  We’ll also stop at the pharmacy for some children’s Motrin, and the post office to mail off Raych’s Bookcharming.com prize that she won from me a couple weeks ago (sowwy). It’s always a joy to have a whiny sick child along on errands!  After that we will be embroiled in homework, and before long I’ll be staring into the frig wondering what the heck to make for dinner.  Then I’ll cook it, serve it, and clean up from it.  And tomorrow I’ll do it all over again.

What didn’t get done:

2 book reviews 

recruiting for the tours I’m coordinating

the dog missed her walk

the kids’ beds are unmade

my laundry (kids’ and hub’s are done but still need to be put away)

pots and pans are still in the sink

 

Hope your day has been more productive than mine!