(Not remotely) hot online action!

Every once in a while, you get a swift kick to the head to let you know you’re not the same person you were at an earlier time in your life.

On a recent Friday night, I was up late working on an AnnArbor.com article about an event that happened earlier that evening, and an IM chat began with a guy I knew in college. This in itself didn’t phase me, because he seemed to be a night owl, and we’d exchanged occasional late-night small talk (How was your Christmas? Have you been to this restaurant? Did you see the Michigan game? blah blah blah) via IM a few times previously.

But on this one night, after some typical chit-chat, he wrote, “Can I ask you something personal?”


“Are you bi?”

This is the moment where I should have sniffed out precisely where this was going. And a younger version of myself probably would have. But no matter how educated or semi-worldly we are, marriage and parenthood inevitably jettisons us into a completely different mind-space than that of our sex-obsessed, twentysomething selves.

So here was my first thought when I saw this man’s question about being bi (and I’m not kidding): “Oh, my God. He’s developed an attraction for men, and he’s confused by it. He’s politically conservative, so the only person he can talk to about this or trust is someone he hasn’t seen in 18 years.” So I take the question at face value, thinking I’m empathizing with him, and write, “No, but I once had a crush on a close female friend in grad school.”

“Did you have sex with her?”

Oh, no, I thought. Something already happened between him and another man, and he doesn’t know how to process it, or what to do, what it means. So I wrote,

“No. I imagined it occasionally, but if I was ever actually faced with the situation, I’m honestly not sure how I would have reacted.”

He wrote, “You miss the point.” (He didn’t know the half of it.) But this baffled me. Here I was, trying to be honest and help him. What else could I do?

Then he wrote, “Do you remember my wife?”

I wrote that I did, and then I thought, Oh, I’ve misunderstood and read this all wrong. Maybe this guy’s wife was having an affair with a woman, and he’s just learned of it? (By my own calculations, I’ve since determined that I had just fallen off a turnip truck the previous day.) Continue reading

Wait. Did Mommy just get a time out?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that when I pick Lily up at daycare, I’m there to stay until they close at 6 p.m., usually. Why? Because as the Norm Peterson of her daycare center, Lily’s generally not done playing in that space with her friends when I arrive, and she wants me to join in.

About one month ago, Lily was getting very into physical play with us. Joe would lie down on the floor and hold her up above him, making her fly, flipping her upside down, etc. So when I was with her at daycare in the early evening, sitting on the floor, she made it clear she wanted to fly.

Without thinking about it much, I lay on my back and struggled to lift her, not very successfully. (She’s more than 30 lbs. at this point!) But Lily was still game, and I did my best to lift her up, as Lily giggled.

When I couldn’t do anymore, I put Lily down on the floor, and an older girl came up and said, “I want to fly.”

Oh. Hmmm. Should have seen this coming, right?

“I don’t think I can, kiddo. I can barely lift Lily, and you’re bigger than she is.”

Then the main teacher intervened, looking the girl in the eye and intoning, with seriousness, “That’s not appropriate for the classroom, OK? That’s for home.”

Oops. GARFUNKEL!! (Wouldn’t that be a great fake curse word? We’re going to have to look for more of those – but that’s a whole other post.) Continue reading

Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

My wonderful sister-in-law (and partner in new-mom neuroses) Emily was recently on her own while taking care of Lily’s cousin, Abby (only 13 days Lily’s junior), for a week, thanks Emily’s husband’s work-travel obligations.

Since I anxiously accepted every invitation I got when Joe traveled to Germany for work, I asked Emily if she wanted to come over for dinner and let the girls play one evening. Joe wasn’t going to be home that night, anyway, so I thought Emily and I would keep each other company. 

Despite the fact that Emily was in the tougher situation that week, she offered to stop by Panera with Abby to pick up dinner for all of us. They arrived, and Lily was thrilled – at first, about Abby; and then, after we gathered at the table and ate dinner, about Emily.

For after Lily urged me to let her down from her highchair, she walked around the table to Emily, who held Abby in her lap to feed her. Lily wanted to get up on Emily’s lap, too. I offered Lily my lap, but she was insistent about sitting with Emily – and to her credit, Emily managed to juggle both girls, though logistically difficult.

When we were all finished, the girls flitted about the house for a few minutes, and I suggested we walk them down to the library so they had a bit more of an open space to play in. While locking up the house, Lily spotted Emily carrying Abby, and Lily ran to her, saying “Up! Up!” 

“Lily, I can carry you,” I said. And she firmly pushed me away with her small hands. “No, Mommy. No.” She reached desperately toward her Aunt Emily. “Up! Emi-me, up!” She started to cry.

Now, I thought, I know how Joe feels when Lily shoves him away and favors me. How horrible to be rejected by this little person you created and for whom you would give up your own life.

Emily – feeling, I’m sure, that mixture of happiness that comes from being the object of a child’s intense desire, and guilt and embarrassment and awkwardness out of empathy for my temporary status of “the unwanted” – brought Abby down to the sidewalk, took both her and Lily’s hands, and ran toward the library, while I straggled behind, staring at the darkening sky, trying to reason with myself.

It doesn’t mean anything, I thought. And out loud, I said, “Parenting is nothing if not humbling.”

Emily agreed, and we went inside, where both girls continued to flock around Emily and want her attentions. I was like an ugly girl along for the ride on a group date or something. So pathetic. Continue reading

My hobo tendencies, and other true mommy confessions

Confession #1: Call me gross. Call me disgusting. But I just can’t get that worked up about food that’s fallen on the floor.

I have a toddler in my house, for God’s sake. If I threw out every bit of food that’s dropped on the floor, our cupboards would be perpetually bare.

Now, admittedly, we’re talking about the floors of my house, not an airport’s public restroom or something. And we’re also talking about toddler food like goldfish crackers and graham crackers – I’m not sitting around licking spilled yogurt up from the linoleum or anything. I’m just following the five second rule when it makes sense to do so.

I know, I know. I’m in danger of having my mommy card rescinded for saying such things. And yes, I’d certainly prefer that Lily ate food that hasn’t fallen on the floor. But in a way, I feel this demonstrates a kind of advanced evolution in my parenting life. Usually parents lower their standards about dropped food and binkies when they have multiple children and can’t possibly get that worked up about such things. I’m already to that point. So here we are. Continue reading

Three little words (or, How did I end up with an adolescent toddler?)

Clearly, the downside of socialization for little ones – in Lily’s case, daycare – is that they’re just as likely to pick up ugly behaviors and words from other kids as they are positive ones, and they lack the capacity to discern any difference.

I hadn’t even considered this before, because nothing all that troubling had arisen thus far. But then, last Tuesday, I got quite the slap in the face.

A parent picking up her child at Lily’s daycare – an acquaintance and owner of our awesome local bakery, the Sunflour Bakehaus – told me that her husband was going to be part of a Dr. Seuss birthday party event that night at the library that’s down the street from our house. Lily loves the library generally, and wants to go there all the time – we often go straight from daycare to the library for a while – so I thought I’d get her home, get her some dinner, and we’d go to the party.

But since she’d heard us saying the word “library” at daycare, she’d clearly expected to go directly there. So as I turned her stroller into the driveway, her whole body reached down the street, toward the library, and she began crying and saying “Bee-bee” (her version of “library”). I told her, “We’re going to go, but first, we have to get some dinner.”

I get the front door open while she cries and tries to wrest herself from the stroller, and I wheel her in. She’s still going strong, so I settle myself in front of her with a blank expression, girding myself to ride out the tantrum with calm.

And then, through the tears and the red face and the snot and the gasping, she says something that sounds disturbingly like, “I hate you!” Continue reading