Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Today while I was typing I made so many typos that I finally called Lilly in to the room to test me for a stroke. “Hey, when I smile do both sides of my mouth go up?” Yes she confirmed. “Tell me to raise my arms.” She gave the command and I raised both my arms. I hoped. Yes, she nodded, I really did raise both arms.
Whew! Part of the reason I worry I might be having a stroke is because my mind does seem to be going a bit. I think it’s because I’m in the “foggy years” of pre/menopause. At least I hope that’s what’s going on because if this is permanent it sucks.
My friend, umm, what’s her name, uh we went to high school and I saw her last summer. Her name starts with an A and she used to live on Eight Mile and she had to miss our Halloween party senior year because she had an emergency appendectomy and she dated Bob K., you know, umm her name is, umm, Andrea. That’s it. Andrea. I saw her for a mini-reunion last summer and she was telling us that she takes some pretty strong medication for arthritis with some unpleasant side-effects. She went to her doctor and said, “Hey this medicine is making my hair fall out and I can’t remember words for you know, stuff.”
The doctor nodded and said, “Well the medicine can make your hair fall out but it doesn’t give you problems with word retrieval. That’s your age. Studies show this peaks for women between about 49 and 51.”
What a relief. Along with the typos and the forgetfulness and the word retrieval this stuff can get worrisome. I’m happy to blame it on a phase that will pass.
For some reason I have a lot of trouble with the word “pantry”. I say to the kids, “Can you put this peanut butter in the um, you know it’s like a shed but it has food,” and finally one of them rolls his or her eyes and says, “Pantry, mom, pantry. You know this, you can do it,” they say like they’re trying to rehab a stroke victim, which I am not, as I proved earlier. Is that burned toast I smell?
I was talking about all this with my church lady friends today as we cleaned the kitchen after serving the Glenview clergy luncheon. (I totally just dropped that in there so you would be somewhat impressed with my goodness.) Anyhoo, I mentioned this word retrieval thing to my friends who are all around my age and my friend, umm, her name is, well it starts with an L and she lives over on that street next to mine and she got her MBA at Wharton. Now wait a minute, how is it I can remember she got her MBA at Wharton and I can’t remember her name is Laura when I want to? Well she mentioned that she heard this word retrieval thing is worst with those words that mean, umm, they mean something like a person, place, or thing,
“Noun?” I supplied.
“Yeah, that’s it.”
So how weird is that? I mean we never forget the word “it” or “run” or “serendipitous” but just try to remember “pantry” or the name of someone I’ve known for years and forget it.
In the meantime when I run into you at Dominick’s and it’s clear I don’t remember your name (and you apparently can’t remember mine, thank God) please don’t be offended. I DO remember that we were in book club together and that one time you brought the most awesome artichoke dip and your husband is kind of hot and works in advertising though I heard he was laid off and your kids are big jocks and you live over on the other side of town in that really nice house and you added the kitchen on a few years back and it’s got a great granite island and when Lilly was sick you brought us chicken and rice (can I have the recipe?) and once when we made Margaritas you forgot to put the top on the blender and it blew all over my kitchen.
I remember all of this.
I just can’t remember your name.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


"I saw you and Jeff going for a walk the other day, holding hands so cute," Coffee Friend 2 says, almost accusingly.

I am confused so I say, "Don't you and your husband hold hands when you go for a walk?"

"It would NEVER occur to me," she says emphatically.

Hmm. This is very funny to me as she is Italian and she and her hubby are big huggers and her husband even kisses the men he greets on the cheek but they don't hold hands?

So in my late 40's I noticed for the first time that not all couples hold hands. Weird. In my family everyone holds hands. Married couples, parents and children, young siblings.

Lately my hand has been getting held less though. First Grace and now Lilly have announced they are too old to hold my hand in public. Atticus--well I don't think I've held his hand since he was 3.

I understand of course. You can't very well go to your sixth grade conference holding your mommy's hand but still, after reaching for a child's hand for sixteen years and always finding one it's a bit unnerving to reach out and grab only air.

Today in the van on the way to school I asked Lilly for a stealth hand-hold. She complied but only after making sure the angle of our arms would not give us away to any casual observer driving by.

Is this what parenthood is ultimately about? Forming incredibly tight attachments and bonds the first ten years and then learning to untangle them and let go for the next 50?

When I dropped her at the school door she turned her face in my direction. I no longer expect a kiss goodbye but at least she looked at me and smiled and thanked me for the ride. This is more than I get from my two high-schoolers. I notice they are nearly out the door before the van comes to rest, eager to start their day in their own world, shouting goodbye over their shoulders.

Which is all just how it should be and though we grieve all endings I am left in a lovely place, where this all began. Holding Jeff's hand.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


The thing about trying to be an old-school, kids-should-not-be-the-center-of-our-universe,and-they-should-suffer-the-consequences-of-their-decisions, and-learn-to-be-self-sufficient parent is that sometimes other parents simply cannot allow it. Often when I have made a purposeful decision to allow my child to learn a lesson or take a more difficult path other parents mis-read the situation as a one-time error of omission on my part. But it's not. See, what they think is my accidental ineptitude is my deliberate neglect.

As an example, I like to allow my son to walk to and from his friends' home. To you this might seem like child endangerment but to me I think a 15-year-old who shaves can walk around the neighborhood. Even in the dark. But every time I arrange for him to do so, someone offers him a ride (to clarify, I mean someone he knows--if it were a stranger then my entire premise would be faulty).

Or the time he left his bike out on garbage day when he was in the first grade despite many warnings and it got picked up (fairly) by the scrap scavengers. When I told him I would not replace the bike a neighbor got wind of the story and dug out an old one for him from her garage. And when he wanted a new PS-Game-X-Thingy and I told him he'd have to wait until his birthday the mother of his friend bought him one thinking I could not afford one. She made an excuse, "I bought this for a friend and he didn't want it" but it was still in the package so I don't think so.

People, these are teachable moments. Work with me!

This kindness and generosity extends not only to the children around here but the parents as well. I never bring a camera (much less a camcorder) to school events. This is because I want to enjoy the event then capture it in my memory. That and the realization that no one, not even you, wants to see photos (much less videos) of your kids at school events. Sorry to inform you of this truth but not even the grandparents (especially the grandparents) wants to suffer through this crap despite anything they may have said to the contrary. In fact, not even the kid at the event wants to see the photos or the videos. No, not once has one of my kids said, "Hey Mom, do you have a nice clear shot of me playing the clarinet in the fourth grade winter concert?" And I am fairly sure that no kid has ever come home from college and said, "Mom, can I borrow the video of me in the fifth-grade play, I want to show it to all the guys in the dorm." So, while I attend all my children's events, I do not record them for history. But this for some reason, makes other moms very uncomfortable. On more than one occasion a very nice, and well meaning mom has leaned over and said, "I see you forgot the camera. That happened to me once," then snapped pictures of my kids and emailed them to me. I am not making that up.

And I just remembered the time when I was snack mom for a soccer game and had not had a chance to get to the store. Screw it, I thought. The little rats can go a whole hour without fruit roll-ups and granola bars. But when I got to the game and ran into a friend from the neighborhood and told her what was going on she blanched. No, she could not allow this. She got on her bike and rode home for granola bars and juice boxes. She did this not because she felt the little tykes on the field needed snacks, no, she did this to save me. (In hindsight it was a good thing too because I don't even know what the social consequences of "failure to bring snack when you're snack mom" are--I've never seen it in 16 years.)

I believe someone once said (maybe it was me) that when it comes to parenting anyone who does more than you do is obsessive and anyone who does less is neglectful.

So please don't think I'm neglectful--I'm deliberately doing less.

That sounded a lot better in my head than it looks on paper