Aw, hipster dads. How much do we love them?

October 11, 2010

The Mommy Prayers traveling road show is back at home base after a couple of forays out into the wide world, a thrill indeed for a crew that sometimes counts grocery shopping as the big field trip for the week.

Brain,Child goes to Chicago's Women and Children First bookstore

First up, Chicago, where the wonderful Brain,Child team, windy city edition, filled the iconic Women and Children First bookstore to overflowing. Hearts and flowers to all who showed up to listen and to read – among  them Beth Kohl, Sara Levine, B.E. Pinkham, and Gale Renee Walden. (And is it shallow of me to note how stylish the mamas of Chicago are? Something told me we weren’t in Boston anymore — there wasn’t a Birkenstock or clog to be spied in the crowd.)

Best of all, some of the writers brought their husbands along, always a happy occurrence in our pro-Dad book. We nodded in all-too-painful recognition when Molly McNett and her man Dan Libman co-read a funny back-and-forth piece on fighting for quality time when both partners work from home.

And we nodded just as hard at Sharla Stewart’s gentle lamentation on how an equal-partners relationship can look and feel awfully 1950’s when mom winds up staying home and dad goes off to make the donuts every day. Been there, done that, sister.

Read the rest of this entry »

The tetchiness of bringing home Baby No. 2

August 20, 2010

We’ve been thinking second-child thoughts all week here at the Mommy Prayers summer shack — primarily because firstborn’s been away in the White Mountains all week, which makes us realize we have a second child, and, furthermore, the kid is good company.

But also because a friend has just had her second baby, which brought back memories of those ticklish early days trying to get the older kid to not just not-kill the baby, but actually like it and welcome it into the family. Hellish.

Nobody captures that tetchy emotional dance better than Catherine Newman in Waiting for Birdy — have you read it? Best new-parenting memoir since Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions. (that’s not my original thought — some lovely blurber said it on the cover of Catherine’s book before I did. But I agree.)

She’s just so spot on about those first hours and days, hiding the precious newborn — which, after all, you worked a long and hard time to conceive, gestate and birth and would now like to cuddle with publicly — from his or her sibling.

In the hospital, Newman hears her three-year-old Ben coming down the hall: “I scrambled to get the baby into her little crib, the way you might, say, hide a bong in the closet, and shoo the smoke out with your hand. Baby? There’s no baby.”

Exactly. The second-born (and third, and fourth, and…) is your little forbidden secret. For awhile anyway.

Those same emotions inspired Prayer for Bringing Our Second Baby Home:

Dear God,

Hoo boy. This is the tough part — well, the emergency C-section was tough, too, but this is tough in a different way. Here we are, walking through the door with beautiful Baby No. 2, and the look on her big brother’s face is enough to make me call for another round of postpartum drugs.

Oh, we’ve talked this all through, but no amount of words can change what’s just happened. He used to be the center of the universe, now he’s just a star — a very very bright star, but now only one of a pair.

As the joke goes, you’d be upset too, if your husband told you he loved you so much he wanted another wife “just like you!”

The van that de-sands: If only this were true…

July 18, 2010

The Mommy Prayers summer outpost (i.e., our same old house, only now with 70% more wet towels moldering the place up) is under siege from the season — ants, compost that’s decomposing a bit too enthusiastically, endless laundry as the heat wave causes us all to change t-shirts six times a day… Don’t get me wrong, I love love love summer, but I can’t be the only one thinking, whoever wrote that song about “summertime and the livin’ is easy” probably didn’t have kids.*

What we all really need? This: a van that de-sands. And that’s not even mentioning the frosty cocktail for mama:


(From the Summer 2002 issue of Brain,Child Magazine, for all you archivists out there.)

* actually the lyricist was DuBose Heyward and I just spent a long Google-y time trying to figure out if he did have kids, because the Mommy Prayers copy desk is nothing if not scrupulous about accuracy. We turned up nothin’. If you know, let me know!

What’s worse than a loaded swim diaper?

June 30, 2010

The Mommy Prayers summer crew packed its bags last week for a too-short trip to Martha’s Vineyard, one of the most magical places on God’s green earth. It was our first time away since our, er, quirky trip to North Dakota, which was fascinating and elucidating but a bit too much work to be called a vacation. 

Once we made it off the ferry, Mr. Mommy Prayers and I snuck off to the beach (it’s kind of famous, actually) to reminisce about all the crazy and beautiful times we’d had on M.V. pre-kids, while the very much present-tense children stayed behind at the Inn to watch World Cup Soccer. 

As we talked and read dug our toes in the sand, we were well aware of the envious looks – or perhaps the better word is murderous –being cast our way by parents with tiny offspring in full-blown meltdown mode.

To which I can only retort: Been there, O parents, done that! 

There’s only one thing more hideous that trying to get a toddler to leave the beach willingly, and that’s trying to get a toddler in a loaded swim diaper to leave the beach willingly. 

Oh wait, there is one thing worse — when the swim diaper’s gone missing entirely (from Prayer at the Beach):

Dear God, our baby is naked, utterly caked with sand, and screaming bloody murder because we’ve told her it’s time to go…

She’s swallowed at least a half-gallon of sea water, stomped on every sand castle within a hundred yards of our blanket, stripped off her swim diaper, and peed in front of a large family from some Scandinavian country (think tiny Speedos and white-white skin)… 

Please, Lord, if you could somehow help us get to our car with our sanity intact, I promise the next time we’re craving a little sun, we’ll stay home next to the blow-up kiddie pool.


Prayer for Breathing. Thinking of Henry.

June 10, 2010

We try to keep things light n’ breezy here at the Mommy Prayers nerve center – after all, Mommy Prayers is a humor book – but sometimes the wind blows from a different direction.   

So it did last week as a vast legion of online followers, me included, sent prayers and thoughts to longtime mother-blogger Katie Granju, whose 19-year-old son Henry, her beautiful boy as she calls him (and he was beautiful), succumbed to the horrific brain injuries he received as the result of a beating.

I don’t know Katie, other than in the online sense, and there’s nothing more to say that hasn’t already been said in the pages and pages of comments on her blog and Facebook page and Twitterfeed, but I would like to humbly offer this up in Henry’s memory:  

Most of us — thankfully, thankfully — cannot know what it feels like to lose a child, but we all know where the feeling begins. From the moment our babies are born, what we want most for them is to Just. Keep. Breathing. And that never goes away, no matter how old or bold or strong they become.

To honor that universal fear of loss that connects us all, here’s an excerpt from Prayer for Breathing

Dear God,

I know I’m being irrational, but I’m obsessed with the thought that my baby is going to stop breathing any second.

His lungs must be the size of a butterfly’s wing, his heart is like a hummingbird’s, his chest with its impossibly slight ups and downs… 

The package is tiny, but I have to admit, so far it’s worked perfectly. It’s just…will it still work perfectly if I crawl back to my own bed for half a night’s sleep?

I need to hand off the controls to you, God, and go off-duty for a few hours here. Please keep my babe’s miniature mechanics working while I’m gone. Please keep those tiny lungs pumping.

Thanks, and Amen.

Hot mamas, cool talk, fried cole slaw

May 27, 2010

The Mommy Prayers welcome wagon is finally putting itself into park and turning off the key, which is a tortured way of saying my house, which was temporarily clean both upstairs and down to receive guests, is back to its usual state (that is, a mess, upstairs and down).

The guests were Stephanie Wilkinson and Jennifer Niesslein, co-founders of Brain,Child Magazine, BFFs and business partners, and my friends, even though I hadn’t before met Jennifer in the flesh, and that’s after +/- ten years of working together.

We dined sublime (at the staggeringly delicious Via Matta) and otherwise (at the iconic North Shore tourist joint Woodman’s, where the fried clam was invented and everything, including the cole slaw, comes from the Fry-o-lator); we chatted it up with the neo-nerd-God Fake Steve Jobs (the ex-B.F. of one of us, ain’t saying who) and his lovely wife, who is not in any way fake; and we tore about like chickens with our heads off getting ready for our big Sunday shindig.

Which was amazing. Vital. Vigorous. Boiling hot. Fifty people – including two guy people (thanks, men!) – packed into the steamy yet pleasing fourth-floor digs at Grub Street writing center to hear a red-hot roster of mamas talk about writing and parenthood.

Thank you thank you thank you Nell Beram, Sarah Buttenwieser, Karen Dempsey, Catherine Newman, Katherine Ozment, Norah Piehl, Robin Schoenthaler, Audrey Schulman and Patricia Stacey.

Just as I do when I write/edit/proof or just curl up and read any issue of Brain,Child, I laughed (Catherine), I cried (Katherine), and I ate too many brownies.

At least they weren’t fried.

Boston-area party for smart(-mouthed) mamas

May 20, 2010

Did you know? Mommy Prayers had its debut on the back humor page of the fabulous, multiple-award-winning, psychofunkadelic Brain,Child, proudly subtitled, The Magazine for Thinking Mothers (we like Thinking Dads too, but that was going to make things too long, so we stuck with the moms). 

The original conceit was three prayers – Prayer Before the Grocery Store, Prayer at Preschool Pickup, and Prayer before Sex.

From that, all kinds of good things happened, most notably agent + publisher, and I’m far from the only Brain,Child contributor to have found very good luck in taking the smaller-but-deeply-more-excellent path to publishing.

 So imagine the breadth, depth, and color saturation of my joy when I tell you Brain,Child ‘s editors are heading north (from Va.) in the next 48 hours for a Boston Party! Read the rest of this entry »

Ham. Pineapple. Mother’s Day. What more did you want?

May 7, 2010

The Mommy Prayers pit crew is down for the count, crumpled to the floor (well, to be precise, the couch) by a weekend and then a bunch of weekdays of book-launch festivities that included some awesome family n’ friends connections and re-connections, more than a few high-end sweets, and a little cocktail we called the Missing Binkie that incorporates a clear liquid I haven’t been able to consume in quantity since college days (damn you B.B. King at the State Theater).

Thank the Lord some of my cohorts in crime are still able to ingest in typical volumes. Me, I stuck with the squished grapes of the white variety. Lovely as always.

There are way too many people to thank for the book-launch highs, but in particular, the Mommy Prayers matriarch, 72 and still kickin’ it, really delivered by dragging a significant number of her nursing co-workers to the book signing to really send our little tome out into the world in good style.

(Have I mentioned how much I adore “old nurses,” as she freely refers to herself and her lady buddies? Topic for another day: Why nurses rule.) Read the rest of this entry »

Shy children and other stressy social stuff

April 20, 2010

Lots of social-type drama with Firstborn this past weekend. If you think a) boys don’t get drama-ful and b) it gets any easier as they get older, you’d be wrong and wrong again, O sisters.

But don’t worry, it’s never any more emotional and wrenching as that first time you took your precious babe to playgroup and he or she was the only one hanging back or, worse, plastered onto your calf the entire time. To mark that, a few stanzas from “Prayer for My Shy Child”:

Dear Lord, other kids aren’t staring at the toe of their shoe, thumb in mouth, hanging onto their Mama’s knees for dear life.

You get a special kind of knife-y feeling to the heart when you watch your child at the playground, or at preschool, or on the outside looking in on a rowdy scrum of toddlers, and you wonder, “Is my kid okay? Will s/he ever have friends?”  Read the rest of this entry »

Working from home: The good, the bad and the chubby

April 13, 2010

Today is book publication day – whee! You’ll be relieved to know Mommy Prayers is now officially available from your favorite book vendors, physical or virtual.  

To mark the moment, Mr. Mommy Prayers had flowers sent – always a brilliant plan, darling – and I brought them right upstairs and wedged them on a postcard-sized space on my desk that was mysteriously clutter-free, so my “office” is now a (spare bed)Room with a View.

This seems like as good a time as any to salute the virtues (and pitfalls) of working from home, something I’ve been doing since just before my older son was born, back in another century.

Pluses: No need for Spanx, pencil skirts or an “accessories wardrobe”; flexible schedule permits attendance at midday elementary school recorder concerts; folding laundry while on speakerphone conference calls; always-there availability for kids & dog. 

Minuses: No way to justify Nordstrom purchases, not even off the sale rack; always-open kitchen; too-chatty neighbors; lack of centralized IT support for crappy, dying laptop; always-there availability for kids & dog.  Read the rest of this entry »