Friday, February 22, 2008

What She Walks Into

Stage Mother was at a big event. The playwright who adapted the play from a book -- and the author of the book --- were both in town to attend tonight's performance of Almost To Freedom.

Festivities occupied the female side of the family all evening.

Truthfully, Stage Mother was glad to leave the boys behind. They are tiring. Even the big one.

So she and Scarlett arrive home, late.

They are weary, but in a good way. Spent. They have been immersed in Art. Rubbed elbows with the famous. There's a nice intellectual glow coming off Stage Mother, who had a damn fine discussion about semiotics (still alive for some of us!) while eating garlic cheese spread on a Ritz cracker.

Stage Mother wonders how her men spent their time? What high quality parenting happened in her wake?

Well. She was told to push that button and see.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Please, Don't Make Me

The Matron is unduly attentive to all things Body. She understands, profoundly, that good health is the gold ticket.

This wasn't always the case. As a Young Maiden, she inhaled. She tripped the light fantastic and this was not always in dance. Her body clicked and hummed like a fine machine and was the consistent (if highly problematic) object of the Male Gaze. When the party was over, she made babies with ease and speed.

But after baby number two, the Matron fell victim to various woes. More on this later. Suffice it to say she became enamored with preachers of health along the lines of Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra.

She became vigilant. Health fiend. She switched from bloody burgers to crisp tofu. She had a brief affair with macrobiotics. Most importantly, she took up Exercise.

To this day, the Matron has Rigid Routine: run 4 miles for 4 days, 1 day of yoga, run 4 miles for 4 days, day of rest. Repeat.

She does 50 sit-ups every morning.

She takes a handful of vitamins.

She even remembers her brain is a muscle and signed on to learn that fourth language (okay, her Mandarin Chinese is now non-existent but still sounds good, in theory!) just to keep that organ taut and ticking. Even the blog was quantified as so much creative juice---flex that hemisphere!

Her health is good. She gives her regime nary a glance or second thought, assured that she has all the bases covered -- that she is a rock star exercise fiend. She doesn't feel so much righteous as sated.

So this week, public radio told the Matron of Incredibly Important New Study proving that without regular Kegel exercises, she will without question face an advanced age of diapers and constant trickle. Have a baby or three, and unless you pump that muscle, you will order Depends online, in secret.

The radio report was full or urgency and instruction. Have a minute at a red light? Do those Kegels. Waiting for water to boil? Time to Kegel! In sum, any minute of repose and quiet can (should!) be used on Kegels. Talking to your mother-in-law on the phone? Tighten up, sister. Or else.

Why, it sounded so vital, the Matron is amazed that pee isn't running down her leg, right now.

But. Friends? Waiting for water to boil? The red light? The phone? When the Matron is paused at the steering wheel, her eyes begin to close and limbs relax because she is captive. She doesn't have to sweep a floor or carry a kid. She adores the singular task, the one in which the body can breath and settle.

The Kegel appears to be omnipresent, an endless demand. Why, the Matron should be improving that pelvic floor right now. One can type and tighten.

She wishes she hadn't turned on the radio.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Merrick

Merrick, today you are five! Your mother never thought she'd have children. There's evidence of this somewhere, a wedding video replete with martinis and cigarettes, in which she swears off children like fleas. Three months later? Pregnant. Once she had one, she knew she needed a bundle of children, a pack. Not that she necessarily enjoyed children so much. Just that your mother recognized her own intensity demanded distribution among many rather than laser-like focus on one.

Because of -- well, big busy beautiful Life with complications -- your conception was delayed until your mother saw the big 4-0 bearing down, fast. Later, your parents decided, for the first time, not to find out which gender was brewing.

But one night, your mother got up to use the bathroom for the 200 millionth time. She looked out the window. Brittle snow and a bright moon, a black northern night. And as she turned from the window, she knew you were a boy. She felt you.

When you finally arrived (9 lbs and 11 ounces of you!), we simply threw you into the mix. One of the pack. So there was a lot of this:

You proved to be durable, of flexible purpose.

Usurped from her place as the youngest, your sister observed: "Merrick's head looks like a big chunk of meatloaf. He's a meatloaf head."

Mama asked: "How do you feel about your baby brother?"

Scarlett: "I half love him and half hate him."

Mama: "Have you ever seen meatloaf?"

Scarlett: "I have now. Meatloaf Head."

Meatloaf Head, your big sister's Love Half soon swelled to a Love Whole.

But the name stuck. Meatloaf Head or MLH for short. You also received no small amount of affection from your big brother.

Those big kids touched the moon! Later bedtimes! Books they could read without Mama! The freedom to stand up and grab a glass! They could perform miracles like making Barney appear on the television, cut shapes from paper, and make Grandma's voice come through the telephone. Their powers were magical, enviable.

So there was also a whole lot of this:

You are all about catching up. Keeping up. But sweetie, you stand alone in your love for our puppies. Here you are with the regal Thurston. We miss you, gentle friend.

Your brothers and sisters came without the Zap Tingle Itch Ow! Skin with which you were born. Shorts? One pair will do, those with the perfectly worn elastic and tag long cut off. Shirt sleeves must fall 4 exacting inches below the shoulder with a neckline soft and pristine. You now need 20 minutes to put on your shoes because of that dreadful sock seam. The sock seam is Satan. And he hurts your skin.

You loved motorcycles early, and still do. You got your first ride on a real motorcycle when you were three (ssshhh! don't tell Child Protection!). It was just 5 miles an hour and one block long, but still--you had arrived.

Even though you scream "Don't say that!" when I do: you are my sweet baby. You know that book, Love You Forever? Every night I sneak into your room and stare. How lucky did I get ?

Last night I tried to read that book out loud to you and Scarlett. But I couldn't. I can never read that book without utter collapse. Last night was no exception, choking up -- sadness, love, happiness, the rub and roar of all this that is you, me, the great big family. When I couldn't continue, Scarlett took the book and said, "Let me read for you, Mama."

Then you asked me why I started crying even harder.

Merrick, you love weaponry, dogs and cats, stuffed animals and spicy rice and tofu. You are always good for a cuddle. You are a good friend and are lucky enough to share your brother's wicked sense of humor. If your Ninja Turtle Sword is on the third floor and you're in the basement, your legs will hurt and tummy churn and certainly, your Mama will retrieve it? You have a way with balls and sport, batting like a 10 year-old, making basket after basket and catching Daddy's hard balls.

You might be the one to support us.

Till then, we'll do the supporting and more. With joy. Happy birthday, babe.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gimme That Old Time Feminsim

Do you remember the Clinton political rally when someone yelled: "Iron my shirt!" How much outrage did that engender? More like chuckles.

What would've happened if someone shouted: "Shine my shoes" to Barack Obama?

John McCain was asked: "How are we going to beat that bitch?" He replied: "Good question."

Indeed. Waddya think of: "How are we going to beat that black bastard?"

These observations aren't mine. Find them here, in a perfect essay by Robin Morgan.

The Morgan article made me think about the righteous and justified broohaha over racial slurs directed at Tiger Woods. A radio DJ suggested Woods be lynched. That cost her a chunk of change, nearly her job, and generated lots of press.

The magazine Golfweek reported the event and (you have to wonder just what they're thinking sometimes?) decided to put a noose on the cover of their magazine, sort of to really drive home the whole Ku Klux Klan lynching atmosphere. Like a fine wine with dinner.

The editor got fired. Big Mess. Big Press. Outrage.

And totally justified. Hooray for outrage. Overt racism on cover of national magazine. Heads fall!! As they should

But reading Morgan's article, I can't wonder why those guys at Golfweek and beyond aren't up in arms over this:

More from the Boy

Stryker: "Why are you picking us up early from school, Mom?"

Me: "Because I was right here, running errands and didn't want to hang out and kill 20 minutes when I'm so behind and so stressed that I feel like either crying, screaming or throwing up."

Stryker: "HA! My master plan is finally working!"

Monday, February 18, 2008

That Boy

Transcript from the breakfast table, revealing boy's quick wit and ability to side step pretty much everything that comes out of the maternal mouth. Adolescence should be fun.

Me: "Stryker, you have to practice guitar before your friends come over."

Stryker: "Oh crap."

Me: "Remember, I asked you not to say that. Please don't."

Stryker: "Can I say the 'S' word then?"

Me: "Nope."

Stryker (with feeling): "Oh, feces!"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

That Boy

Today, someone told us that Merrick looks like Scarlett when her glasses are off. But Merrick also looks like Stryker when Stryker is wearing his glasses.

Stryker says: "See Mom, I told you. He's bi-sexual."