Reading the names at Sandy Hook

December 16, 2012

Sunday morning. Reading the names of the children and their caretakers killed — such lovely, traditional names, which somehow makes it worse: Charlotte, Olivia, Josephine, Madeleine, Benjamin, Noah and, of course, Grace — reminds me of the days and weeks after 9/11, when I made a pledge to read each and every one of the Portraits of Grief published by the New York Times. I could never know those people, or the pain their families were feeling, but I felt I could somehow help to bear witness by really concentrating, for just a few moments, on the details of their lives.

I wish someone could do the same for these first graders — because while the list of what they’ve “done” would be short, by six their  personalities are fully, even fiercely, formed. How much could you tell, and in such detail, about your first grader  – her love of that one particular fleece hoodie, her insistence on the right markers in the right order, his unyielding opinion on this PBS show versus that one, his multi-step, multi-hour bedtime routine. The kernels of the people they would have become would be right there in plain sight.

Instead, all we have are their names. Instead of reading and remembering their lives, all we can do is read and imagine their futures.

 

George Jetson or Fred Flintstone?

April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day, friends. Before I even had kids, one of my favorite bumper stickers ever was the one with a picture of our beautiful blue planet and the words “Love your mother.” Of course, once you become a mom, it’s all doubly wonderful and funny — love ME, love my planet, babies.

But truly I do believe being a parent is a huge motivator to think more about the health of our planet, and of all of us spinning on it together.

To that end, I was super-flattered to have **one sentence** of my writing included in a new book, out to coincide with Earth Day, called Honeycomb Kids: Big Picture Parenting for a changing world…and to change the world. Check it out.

And because I know you’re just dying to know what the **one** sentence was, here ’tis, in context:

But there are looming threats to this ideal world, and if we don’t factor them into our parenting, we’re parenting in a vacuum. Writing in Brain,Child Magazine, Tracey [sic] Mayor summed up parenting in a changing world well when she asked, “What if we’re raising our kids to succeed in a George Jetson kind of world, but they wind up living more like Fred Flintstone?” 

That’s it! Go love your mother today <3

In praise of the five-minute mommy nap

December 4, 2011

Tis the season of trying to cram too much living into too little time and space. Some years, we here at the Mommy Prayers candy-cane crunching headquarters cook and shop and decorate and entertain like mad fools. Other years, we declare ourselves to be having a soulful/non-consumerist/relaxed holiday, and wind up exactly as frantic and exhausted (soulfulness, we’ve discovered, takes energy. Who knew?)

All this, of course, is a cue for the youngest among us to immediately begin fighting every bedtime and, inexplicably, waking up before dawn on some of the darkest mornings of the year. Over at the lovely Standing in the Shadows blog, Sarah Buttenwieser’s preschooler arose at 4:45 one recent morn, leaving her in a state she oh-so-accurately described as being groggily wide awake — too tired to think straight, too wired to go back to sleep. A dangerous fugue, especially this time of year, as you could easily emerge from the fog to find you’ve inadvertently purchased some toxic toy or another.

The solution, of course, is one of the most blessed gifts every bestowed upon humanity — the afternoon nap. No, not for your kids, for you, exhausted parent. True, between cookie-baking and tree-decorating and Charlie Brown-watching and catalog-ordering, your chances of getting that nap are low. But it’s a magical season. A mom can dream, can’t she? Or, perhaps, pray:

Prayer for My Five-Minute Nap

Dear God, I cannot go on. It is four in the afternoon, my morning caffeine high is long gone, and I have hours and hours to go before I manage to get to bed. I am quite certain I could crash to the floor this instant and sleep like a rock for a week. I cannot read one more syllable of Owl Babies to my little  monkey chattering here beside me. I cannot even lift my hand to turn the page. Five minutes, God, and I’ll be a new woman. Please and amen. 

In defense of the corn-maze mom

October 16, 2011

Here at Mommy Prayers headquarters and cider-donut repository, every day feels like a maze of one sort or another, so I feel compelled to come to the defense of the hapless family currently being ridiculed nationwide for calling 911 to be rescued from a corn maze. (Punchline: They were only 25 feet from the entrance, ba-da-dum.)

They’re catching especial hatred for having a three-week-old infant with them, with comments along the lines of “who brings a newborn to a corn maze at dusk?” and “those people should not be allowed to procreate,” etc. etc.

It’s not till you read that they also have a preschooler that the story makes more sense — and boy, did it bring back some baaaaad memories.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dio Mio — Mommy Prayers in Italian?

June 4, 2011

Here at the Mommy Prayers world headquarters and pizza capricciosa takeout bar, we are wiping away tears of joy with one hand and pouring a small glass of prosecco with the other: Le Preghiere delle Mamme has arrived.

That’s right, gente, Mommy Prayers has been translated to Italian. I could not be happier. No, wait, I could be happier. I could be happier if I were reading Le Preghiere delle Mamme on a balcony of Le Sirenuse in Positano. Then I could not be happier.

But even stuck in the under-dusted Mommy Prayers home office from hell, I’m still pretty happy. Mr. Mommy Prayers and I, back when he was only my intended and I was years away from being anyone’s mommy, spent six glorious months in Italy, the memory of which will sustain us both till the day we die.

We were broke, parceling out our small savings 10,000 lire at a time, living in a series of studio sublets (Florence, Rome, Positano, Trevi, Venice) — and absolutely, positively drunk in love with Italy and the Italiani.

Even in our non-childed state, it was a wonder to see how enraptured Italians are with children — theirs, strangers’, any child, any nationality, any time day or night. I will never forget finishing up a lovely and modest dinner one night at 10:30 or so, only to have a family of 15, including toddlers and a babe-in-arms, pile in and take over the joint. (The joke here, if you have not had the fortune of traveling in Italy, is that only foreigners eat before, say, 11 at night. Early bird is 9:30, 10 p.m., maybe.)

Immediately a waiter swept up the baby, to nobody’s consternation, and showed him off  to every other table in the place one by one, before disappearing with him behind the swinging double-doors of the kitchen. That mother ate an entire, dizzyingly delicious meal with not one care for her baby and not one peep out of the little ragazzo.

It’s standard operating procedure in Italy — babies are from heaven, welcomed everywhere at any hour, as much a part of life as al dente pasta, beautiful tailoring, and the Pope.

So the thought of those mothers, those parents, reading Mommy Prayers Italian-style? What can I say? Dio mio.

Mother’s Day, Cancelled

May 7, 2011

When the phone rang the other day at Mommy Prayers world headquarters, we picked it right up — something that happens less and less frequently with that tired old land-line. But caller ID was telling us it was mom, our matriarch, the glue that holds us all together (mostly with stuffed shells and too much dessert) — still working at 74, always ready to show up to a grandchild’s saxophone recital, forever gifting us with dish towels and tote bags.

Ma. How we love her.

She said, “Let’s not get together on Mother’s Day.”

Really?

“Don’t send me anything either.”

Ouch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tina Fey Loves Mommy Prayers! (kinda) (maybe) (sorta)

April 29, 2011

Here at the Mommy Prayers Hulu-watching headquarters, we love us some Tina Fey — and yes, we’re entirely aware that statement is hardly putting a stake in the ground. I mean, what woman under the age of — oh, hell any age — doesn’t love Tina? She’s the falling-apart-yet-somehow-completely-together everywoman we all wish we were.

So it comes as zero surprise that on top of raising a child, writing, producing and starring in a hit TV comedy, playing Sarah Palin much better than SP can, and doing all the other stuff she does (Oprah!), Tina wrote a book. And that book shot up to No. 1. Again, no shocker.

What’s surprising, in the loveliest kind of way, is that Queen Tina loved Mommy Prayers so much that she wrote one of her own — Prayer for a Daughter.

Doesn’t that sound exactly like an entry from Mommy Prayers, only for the next generation? (An idea, by the way, that only about 900 people have suggested to me for a Mommy Prayers sequel.) Such a touching homage. Imagine the depths of my gratitude knowing that Tina Fey is aping my book.

Except, of course, she’s not. At least, I have no reason to think she’s ever seen Mommy Prayers in her life. I cannot tell a lie: if someone less famous did this, I’d be the teensiest bit put out — like, holla, girl, get your own ideas for parenting humor, I got this one covered already.

But it’s Tina Fey and that makes it all different. So I’ll just sit here quietly, with my little book, and bask in the reflected glow of All That Is Tina. You know what they say, Great minds think alike!

It’s not the snow, it’s the %$#* snowsuit

February 10, 2011

My kids have not gone to school in more than a week. They were dismissed early last Wednesday in a snowstorm, and the schools haven’t been open since. The administration keeps telling us they’re shoveling the schools’ roofs…with a single teaspoon, apparently. You may begin feeling sorry for me now.

But not that sorry — because I remember what it’s like when every day is a “snow day” — when you’re stuck in the house with a baby or a toddler or a preschooler, or two or three or four, and there isn’t any school to go to and it just will not stop snowing.

My best girlfriend and I used to laugh at the moms of older kids who’d complain about the endlessness of February school vacation — we’d be like, “Suck it up, whiners, do you forget that this is our lives — figuring out fun and cheap things to fill up day after day after day of frigid temps and ice-covered sidewalks?” Read the rest of this entry »

Prayer for December 26, the real mother’s day

December 26, 2010

It’s Boxing day, friends! December 26, the Day After the Big Day (if you celebrate Christmas, of course), the very most favorite day of the year here at the Mommy Prayers packaging warehouse and leftover sweets hut.

I’d write something witty, but I’m headed to the couch with a box of bonbons and a pile of books and lady mags. The house looks like a small tornado swept through, but I will be doing no cleaning, cooking or parenting today beyond the minimum necessary to comply with local and state regulations. Other than to offer up Prayer for December 26:

Dear God, Do these religious holidays exhaust you as much as they exhaust us? Are you a mess after Ramadan or in need of a day in bed after Rosh Hashanah? Because it’s December 26, I am utterly beat, and our house looks like a bomb went off in every room.

I’m not complaining, Lord — the Christmas season is just so much magical with children. Playing Santa…singing the old, beautiful Christmas carols with them…watching their eyes widen when we talk about how a baby saved the whole world…

And yet, there is endless cooking and cleaning and shopping and wrapping and mailing and making sure everyone we’ve ever met receives our family photo card, which took me four hours at the computer to get perfect. And there are family dynamics to navigate, already tricky but made far trickier with grandkids in the mix.

Now it’s over, God, for this year at least. I’m feeling deeply grateful, and deeply spent. Thank you for the Christmas season, and thank you that it only comes once a year. Amen.

 

 

Nearly naked Barbie and other stealth toys

December 22, 2010

The shopping is winding down here at the Mommy Prayers strip mall as we coast into the really fun part of the holiday, the part where we eat and drink and wrap presents in joyful secrecy only to watch them get unceremoniously — nay, even violently — unwrapped a few hours later. Oh what fun.

Then there are the presents you didn’t wrap — the ones your parents, or your in-laws, or your brother, or your spouse’s best friend from grade school, have generously bought and brought for your babies. Think of them as little landmines that can blow up your entire year of careful parenting in one big sparkling shower of inappropriateness.

I’m talking about Grammy giving Nearly Naked Barbie (so pink and pretty!) to your preschool daughter, Uncle toting an ultra-violent (and ultra-plastic) Nerf machine gun for a four-year-old, or your stylin’ and child-free best friend wrapping up black skinny jeans for your little girl who still has a toddler tummy, long may it pudge out over the top of her modest and comfy sweatpants.

‘Tis the season when those closest to you seem to feel all bets are off — your annoying parenting rules are there to be broken with gifts your kids will luvvvvvv and you will haaaaate for all of 2011.

For you, and for them, we offer up some choice excerpts from Prayer for Barbie:

Dear God, well, here she is in all her ponytailed plastic glory, Barbie herself. She of the freakish 36-18-33 body measurements and the Malibu tan and the 10,000 pink accessories sold separately, including tiny stiletto heels that get sucked up by the vacuum in no time flat.

The doll I swore would never darken our doorstep is inside, unpackaged, and currently having her Hot Tub Party House play set assembled, all thanks to my in-laws. So much for that moratorium.

God, I know this is only the beginning of a long struggle with toxic popular culture. Please give me the patience to endure these fads without over-reacting, and please give me the wisdom to know when I should react.

Also the foresight not to vacuum up those expensive accessories. Amen.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.