Looking for Dad

Years ago, Father’s Day seemed to be mocking me. I had matured just enough to see that it was another holiday designed to sell more shit. My father had left when I was five and committed suicide later in his life. My stepfather was a mean and sometimes dangerous drunk, now also dead. I have never called anyone dad. It rolls off my tongue like a foreign word, unusual and exotic. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I’m not a perky ray of sunshine.  I am, however, a believer in… Read More

The Reluctant Soccer Mom

This is the first year that my daughter has played competitive soccer. Whatever her skills are, I discovered right away that I’m completely unqualified to be a soccer mom. A group of mothers were standing around talking about how they hoped the coaches were good this year and about the league and volunteering. After several minutes of this, I could barely control myself and blurted “I just hope my daughter has fun.” I got the oh lady, that is SO rec league look. I skulked away to talk to the team manager…. Read More

The Luxury and Cost of Empathy

I’ve written before about being a member of the “sandwich generation”, caring for a child and aging parent. It’s a flippant phrase thrown off to encompass and neatly categorize a myriad of emotions and actions. This week has rendered me battered and exhausted, sleepless and emotional. If there were any time for me to be anti-Zen, it’s now – as in, I’d rather not be in any more moments. I would like to daydream, write feckless fiction, doze off in a chair thinking of an island in Greece. My daughter experienced her… Read More

Misogyny of the Heart

It hit me like a ton of bricks. My daughter is becoming a girl. She’s always eschewed anything stereotypically feminine for that which is “cool” and rugged and associated with being a boy. She declared at four that she was a vegetarian and at seven that she was officially a tomboy. The transition to a developing body, to the social gymnastics of preteens and all the cultural expectations that come from being female have crept up on us.I was surprised at the fear and anger and sadness that washed over me when… Read More

Scrooge in 2015: The Everyday Path to Redemption

I sat in the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis last week, self-consciously wiping the tears off my face. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 1951 version with Alistair Sim or the 1992 Muppet version or a live version on stage, A Christmas Carol always has me sniffling by the time the third spirit arrives. I know what is coming. The break of day and redemption. This idea of redemption, not in an afterlife or by last minute acts of desperation, but in the present, is such a beautiful, gut-wrenching concept to me. And… Read More

Parenting: The Nostalgic Haze of Never-Really-Happened Days

WARNING: Extreme Defensiveness Ahead This morning I ran across another article jumping all over parents about over-scheduling, helmeting and seat-buckling their children. Already angered by the repetitious message that parents today suck, I decided to throw gas on the fire and read the comment section. Apparently, the best parents are the ones with the shortest memories and empathy-impairment. Let me tell you a story about the good ole’ days. Yes, I rode my bike, without a helmet, around town from the break of daylight until dinner time. Our family of 6 lived… Read More

A Walk on the Ired Side: Gender Rhetoric

It’s been hard to read the news and blogs this week. I’ve been sucked into reading comment sections full of vitriol and spite and rage – not far removed from the emotions that drove a man to kill 4 men and 2 women in California this week. It is only through blogging that I’ve become aware of all the hatred that thrives on this medium of spurious anonymity. I’ve seen the hashtag campaigns, I’ve read a lot of feminist and men’s rights blogs. The tactics, name-calling and dogma are right out of… Read More

Dear Daughter,

Let’s face it, this Mother’s Day gig is more for businesses than for your mom. Your mom would rather hang out at home than bustle elbow-to-elbow with corsages, pastel dresses and Waldorf salads. I don’t need this day, because being your mother is a privilege and a joy. I didn’t always think of parenting like this. I grew up believing it was drudgery, dirty hands, noisy squatters who were just bearable – little uncontrollable monsters who made life worse. Children were unending responsibility and to do lists. Maybe that’s why I waited… Read More

Stories from the Road: Walking with Ghosts

We visited the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, spending most of the day there. It was the last day of our two week August road trip and I was already done before we hit the front door. After being gobsmacked by the fees, tolls, tickets, taxes and tips that saturate Chicago, I just wanted to get home without having to give up my firstborn. And I’d already reached museum brain glaze after seeing 10 or 20 on the road. You’d think I’d be delighted, as a parent, by all the… Read More

Ordinary, Extraordinary People

She was optimistic, energetic, earnest and animated. Decision time. Do I say something funny, but sarcastic and possibly mean? Later, as I listened to her art presentation to a class of engaged elementary kids, something in me shifted slightly. My envy and inferiority and smugness dissipated and in its place, distilled and unfamiliar, was admiration. She was extraordinary and I had something to learn. It is a hard won battle with myself, to see outwardly optimistic people without the lens of cynicism. Something sadistic in me wants to cut them down to… Read More