We live amongst the tumbleweeds of dog hair in our old house in New Orleans. We are (in order of size) Adam, Jackson, Janice, Sam Pickles, Margot and Cosmo Felix.  

The Girl Herself


Mother's Day

I got to spend yesterday with my daughter. This is the thought that kept coming back to me yesterday -- I am here, with Margot. What a gift.

It was a happy day. Adam brought us to a great little Chinese restaurant he found that has a special Chinese menu if you ask for it. Oh, the pork buns! We took naps, biked to the French Quarter, and took the ferry across the river just for the sake of the ride.  Before bed we watched the end of Annie, and danced together to "I Don't Need Anything but You."

I carried my friend Amy with me all day. I miss her all the time, especially during the happy times, knowing how good she always was at soaking up the joys life has to offer. On a good day, I can always feel how happy she would have been to be there too. 

Today I came across this website that's a resource for moms who have terminal illness, who know they will be leaving their children behind. I wish this had existed when Amy was sick. I wish, too, that I had thought to say what the site's founder says in her essay:




If you are the mom, and you are dying, there is just no handbook...One thing I learned: the relationship remains, and no matter what happens next, the mother is always the Mom. 

 Happy Mother's Day, Amy. What a wonderful mom you are. 


A Beachy Good Time

Since Margot came along, we've been trying to spend as much time as humanly possible at the beach. A lot of New Orleanians turn their noses at the nearby Gulf beaches, where the water is still a bit brown from...the river? Sure, the river. But Adam and I both come from landlocked states, and to us a beach is a beach! The sand is soft and sugary, the water is warm, calm and shallow and best of all, we can get there in under an hour.

Last summer we set out the goal of going to the beach every weekend. We definitely didn't quite achieve this, but it meant we were there regularly, for sure. Part of our strategy is to keep the trunk loaded with our beach gear all summer long. We travel heavy, but it is totally worth it once we're there. Here's what we bring:

1. A canopy tent for shade

2. Two lounge chairs

2. A beach bucket filled with toys, towels, sunscreen, suits, kites* etc

3. Cooler stocked with treats. 

The cooler we restock for each trip, of course. Snacks and water are essential. It always takes a couple of trips to lug all this crap to our chosen spot, and we're thinking about downsizing to smaller, lighter chairs, but for us it is just perfect and we all always having an amazing time. 

*Oh, and this year we've gotten a little obsessed with kites. Yesterday we had one attached to our tent flying the whole time we were there, plus we finally mastered our new stunt kite, which is super duper fun to fly when the wind is good. 


Candles Blown on Two

We've still got a week to go, but as far as Margot is concerned, she is already "two years old." We had a great time this weekend with a house full of toddlers. I always think we don't know many people with babies, but clearly that's just not the case. It was a happy day. 


Wherein I consider beating up a first grader. 

Margot is almost two. Which seems old, I know. In our tiny world -- the one where she used to not be able to roll over or even open her eyes that often -- Margot is so grown up. She dances and sings and is loaded with strong opinions. Just the other day while I myself was singing a little song, she took my face in her hands and with a grave seriousness told me, "No Mommy. Don't Do That." 

You forget, then, that they are still so small and unbroken. 

It all came crashing down to earth for me yesterday at the birthday party of one of the awesomest seven year olds of all time. I cannot yet imagine Margot at age seven, the things she will have seen and experienced by then, and how they will have shaped her. Seven is old, is what I am saying. And seven can be mean. 

This was the scene: The birthday girl and her friend (we'll call her T.) are squatting at a puddle, digging in the mud. Margot, my sweet, social, confident little girl, toddles up to them and says, "Hey guys! What're you doing?"

OK. Let's break this down a little bit. "Hey guys!" when uttered by one tiny girl in askance of two olders ones, without even the slightest worry of potential rejection, turns out to be the most heartbreaking phrase in the English language. Even before the girls had a chance to respond, I was wincing -- that little, hopeful, "Hey guys!" seems like such a risky move to hardened old folks like me.

The "What are you doing?" hurt, too. Margot asks Adam and I this question constantly. "What're you doing mommy?" "I'm reading you a book." To which she responds: "What're you doing mommy?"  It's hardly even a question, more just a declaration of her presence, or a way she's figured out to connect with us. She asks, we answer. It's a good system. Hearing her present this tic to the seven year olds, I knew she was approaching them as she approaches us: with the assumption that a friend is on the other side. 

So again: "Hey guys! What're you doing?"

And the little girl T says: "Uh. Waiting for you to move?" Crappy, sarcastic, mean. 

Now, in reality just a second flashed by. But in that moment, I hated that little girl. With everything inside of me, I hated her. A day later, I can see her as a whole person -- I'm sure is probably very sweet in her own way, or is super damaged by her terrible parents, or has a mean older brother, or is just going through a bratty phase or whatever. But for that breath, I had hate in my heart. 

I like to think of myself as a relatively even-keeled parent -- I don't think Margot is special, per se, or better than any other kid. She's special to me, obviously, but she's just a person who deserves to be treated with respect and kindness and all that good stuff, just like everybody else. I think what I learned in that moment, though, is that there is no such thing as an even-keeled parent. At the end of the day, I am her defender and if you mess with her, I will mess you up.

I mean, sort of. I didn't do or say anything to T. I still don't know what, exactly, would have been the ideal move coming from me, the grown up. Thankfully, the birthday girl stepped in. She responded reflexively to T's "Waiting for you to move," with a scrunch of her face and said, "No we aren't! Here you go Margot," and handed my little one a shovel.

Margot seemed to come away unscathed, though of course we'll never really know. I, on the other hand, am scathed, decidedly so. I can't believe this is just the beginning, that likely there are other people who will be mean to her, make her feel bad about herself, or doubt her mind, or make her feel small. I know she will survive all of this, changed, but alive and hopefully stronger. But me? Oh, it's gonna be a long road, y'all. 



Personal Injury Brain Flop

A little while back over at Dr. Frankenbaby, there was some talk of something called "brain flop." All you parents out there know exactly what this means. I sometimes less generously refer to it as "being stupid." Or, "my toddler is so picky, the only food she ever wants to eat is my BRAINSSSS." 

Recently I've been experiencing brain flop more in the physical realm. In my previous life, I was a dancer -- never possessed of anything resembling an unearthly grace, but always able to make it though an open doorway unscathed. I had no idea that was a gift, an era, something I would look back on wistfully. Oh, the halcyon days of my un-clumsy youth. 

These days I feel like I have to give walking my full attention in order to stay safe. Of course, I don't. I just bump into walls and door frames...all the time. And if I am holding Margot, I bump her into walls and door frames -- and shelf corners and cabinet doors and plenty of other pointy things. It isn't pretty for either of us. 

But the worst -- what I am hoping will be the game changer that gets me walking straight again -- was the other day when I leaned over to pick up a laundry basket, and with zero hesitation, slammed by forehead into the hardwood edge of the wainscotting in our hallway. Adam was out of the house and for a second I really thought I might pass out. I heard birds tweeting in my ears, saw stars in my eyes, and felt panic deep down in my gut thinking about the damage that being alone with her unconscious mama for untold hours would do to Margot's psyche. 

We survived...this time. But if anyone has any tips on how to be less of an idiot, I'm all ears. And thumbs. And two left feet.