Tag

motherhood

How to teach boys not to be rapists

I love this article. It astonishes me, especially in this current climate of Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly and Bill Cosby and Louis CK and Donald Trump and…well. I don’t need to keep going, do I? Anyway, it astonishes me that people don’t see where sexually inappropriate behavior starts. It starts in PRESCHOOL. When little boys learn that it’s okay to use their bodies to do something to the bodies of other children (girls OR boys) that other children do not want, it’s the perfect set-up for them to grow up to be sexually inappropriate. When my oldest, who is six, wants to hug his toddler brother and his brother doesn’t want it, I never, ever say to the toddler, “Oh, be nice. Your brother just wants to hug you.” Instead, it’s an opportunity for me to teach my oldest that when someone says no with their words and/or their bodies, he must back off. I can offer to hug him, or he can go hug his dad. And sometimes, the lesson is: no one wants a hug right now. You might have to wait for one later. And my toddler gets to practice already too. He has befriended a…

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Bread Loaf in Sicily

It’s been almost a month since I arrived in Erice for Bread Loaf in Sicily. I wish my pictures could somehow encapsulate the magic that was our conference and this special place. I wasn’t terribly excited about this place before I left; the photos on the Bread Loaf site all looked very, well, brown. I love the rest of Italy, with its lush, verdant landscapes, and this seemed so unattractive. I’m glad I allowed myself to trust the Bread Loaf name; it did not disappoint. Erice is a small, medieval town almost 2500 feet above sea level. Each morning, I woke up to the stunning view above, and I felt myself unwind and go still inside every time I took in that view. It was a balm for my soul. The town is very quiet. There’s little traffic, and only the soft sound of the wind accompanied me on my walks. We were in the clouds every day–they floated past my head, and once I had the delightful experience of getting caught in the rain while in the clouds. It was completely different from any rain I’ve ever felt! The conference itself was intense and wonderful and enlightening. I felt energized to…

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Why I don’t write about my children

Right now, the most commonly-asked question I get from people–besides “What do you write?”–is whether or not I write about my children. This could be due to the fact that I spend a lot of time around other mothers. My children are very young (almost 5 and 18 months), so our days are spent doing preschool runs and making play dates. But still, I find it interesting that this question comes up so often. There’s even been a bit of a nasty twist to the tone when a person or two have asked this question, raising their eyebrows and laughing as if I can get some sort of revenge on my kids by writing about them. I don’t write about my children. Other than very minor anecdotes in an otherwise larger story, I’ve chosen to exclude them from my writing. And this is not an accident. Years ago, when I was in college as an older student (I went back to finish my bachelor’s degree when I was 30), I had a wonderful professor who taught creative non-fiction and also published essays. Shannon Lakanen gave a reading one night at my college while I was taking one of her classes. Her essay…

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Damn the baby-holders, full speed ahead

I was talking with a friend recently about baby-holders: the people who show up after you give birth and want to do nothing but hold your baby. Oh, did we have a good and bitter laugh about them! She had gotten into an online discussion, voicing her opinion that it was perfectly acceptable for new parents to put a sign on their front door that said, essentially, “Our baby is sleeping and we are resting. Feel free to leave food and we’ll call when we’re ready to see you.” Apparently some people were having a fit about this, because they considered this sign and this behavior “rude.” And it brought back a LOT of memories for me. When I had my first son, we had so. Many. Visitors. It was a nonstop stream of people for a solid four or five months. My oldest was not an easy baby. He screamed a lot. Like all night long, unless he was walked in a loop through our kitchen, living room and sun room; walking in that loop was the only thing that soothed him. I tried to nurse him and couldn’t because it was horribly painful–I didn’t find out until he was…

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Oh, the places we’ll go

I camped a lot as a kid. My parents started us off tent camping as babies (can you imagine?), but when I was ten or eleven, they bought a pop-up camper. We went everywhere with that thing bopping along behind my dad’s truck. We drove up and down the length of New England, all the way up to Maine and down to Key Largo (from Toledo) multiple times, to the Outer Banks, to northern Michigan. My mother planned all our trips, and recently told me that they often set out with only a few hundred dollars and a destination in mind. We found some of the most lovely campgrounds, and saw a good bit of the country this way. My fondest memories of my childhood all come from our camping trips. My husband and I bought an RV a couple months ago, and I am so excited that we now we get to continue that tradition with our own children. The first trip–only an hour and a half away–wasn’t easy. It was 90 degrees, a thousand percent humidity, and the campground was in a rather bare state park with nothing fun for the kids to do. The baby had a…

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The fire drill of life

Life is getting in the way of writing lately. This past week alone, we’ve dealt with or are dealing with the following: buying a new couch (the old one has a broken frame, and the baby has peed on it too many times to count), the babysitter quitting with less than a week’s notice, hiring and training a new babysitter, made reservations for our rental apartment in Italy, our dishwasher catching on fire and necessitating a call to the fire department at 10:30 at night, my National Piano Guild auditions the morning after the dishwasher fire, and hiring a new housecleaner. Each of those events involved a constellation of their own mini-events (for example, once we discovered that the dishwasher was the source of the fire, then we had to turn the power off in the kitchen for a day. Then we had to take the dishwasher out of the wall and try to find out exactly where it was burning. Once we found the loose rubber gasket that rubbed against the heating element and caught fire, we had to take it out, then put the dishwasher back, then run it to make sure nothing was leaking and nothing else would…

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Wooden spoon survivor

I’ve seen this image floating around on Facebook lately. Whenever anyone shares this, it’s in the vein of, “Haha, isn’t this hilarious?” and “Yep, I survived, and look at how GREAT I am because of it!” As if they belong to some private and wonderful club. I don’t find it funny at all. I find it repugnant. Many of my published essays center around the topic of my childhood, specifically my mother’s rage and how it manifested in abuse. My mother and I have shared a long and rocky road in our relationship, but I’m proud to say we’ve come to a good place, and I’ve forgiven her for my childhood (thanks in no small part to my own entree into motherhood. It’s a real humbling experience, folks). I understand now why she did what she did; she couldn’t help it, she didn’t know better, and she was a mere child when she got pregnant with me at seventeen. (Seventeen!) She knows all about my writing and was bighearted enough to tell me she understood that it was my story to tell. How lucky am I, that she has given me this gift? Still, it should not be a surprise…

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