Snapshot: By the general store

He’s slouched in a red adirondack chair, mirrored sunglasses banded over his black bandana. Gray ponytail draped over his shoulder. Denim shirt, jeans, black biker boots with silver buckles. He looks like he’s sleeping but he laughs when the hummingbirds descend on the feeder, flitting like children.

My five-year old has a third eye

Last week, my son signed up for the summer reading program at the library. The library provided a thoughtful prize: a third-eye tattoo. My son loves his. He put it on immediately and has been religiously careful not to wash it off.

I have to admit that I don’t know much about the third eye. My Google search revealed that the third eye offers perception beyond ordinary sight, and that it leads to a higher state of consciousness in which images have spiritual or psychological significance. But how does one get a third eye, aside from a kiddie tattoo from the library? Do we all have a dormant third eye, or is it a special gift? I think that I need to do some more reading on the subject.

In any case, my son has been asking about his third eye. I’ve tried to be honest without giving him too much information, you know? He’s only five, and I don’t think he’s ready to grapple with the full question of paranormal reality. So I told him that his third eye will let him see his Mom-Mom in heaven. He likes that a lot.

On the way to school today he told me that Mom-Mom is doing great in heaven and she is happy to see us. That made me smile. I’m glad for the link to the afterlife. Right after that, he licked my arm and then ran ahead to do his new happy dance, in which he sticks out his butt and wiggles it around while shaking his arms behind him.

There is nothing quite like a five-year-old boy.

One-thing Thursday

I did something new yesterday. Well, not really new; I used to do it all the time before a few months ago.

Yesterday, I did only one thing at a time. I didn’t multitask. While I did something, I tried to focus my mind on what I was doing. I did not stop to check my email. I did not go on Twitter. I did not grab my phone mid-sentence to Google something. I stopped at the grocery store, played with my boys, visited my friends. We had lunch together. I drove home, listening to the radio, and had a nice conversation with my 5-year old. I thought about why I’m blogging, what blogging is adding to my life. I thought about what blogging is taking away from my life.

All that time, I did not write any posts. During my baby’s nap, I exercised and read a book. In the late afternoon, I dropped the boys at my neighbor’s and spent girl time with my daughter. We talked about our upcoming trip and we laughed together at her 7-year-old humor. We bought fabric together for me to sew her some things.

Still, I did not check my email or text anyone. I focused on the present moment. And you know what? I felt clearer than I have in several weeks. I know that there are several projects that I want to complete over the next couple of months, and it’s going to take more of these kind of days for me to be able to do that. I love blogging, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I just need to do one thing at a time.

I think this is going to be my new thing: One-thing Thursday. Will you join me?

I have a new Twitter friend

What do you call a friend on Twitter? I’m new to this, so I’m not sure. Is it a Twitterer?  A Tweetie? I have no idea. But I have one.

It’s a guy, and that’s a little bit of a problem for Geoff. But he’s dealing. This Twitter friend, Mr. P, he is a flirt. Which is nice for me, bad for Geoff. But he’s also got a few things in common with me. He’s a parent. He’s a writer. He’s a blogger. He’s going through some changes, too. So I feel like we have some common ground.

When you’re trying to reinvent yourself, you need someone to stamp their approval on you, to validate the new you. Now, this is a totally new concept to me. I’ve always  tried to avoid seeking approval from others. It usually leaves me wanting more. It makes me feel never quite good enough. I don’t expect a lot of compliments, and I can live with the knowledge that you might not agree with me, or even like me. But for some reason, I suddenly find myself needing to hear that I’m doing this right. Maybe that’s an effect of blogging, or it’s simply reflective of the change I’ve gone through lately. My identity is in flux and I seem have lost my own approval stamp.

Since Mr. P is just a Twitter friend, and because there’s no threat of running into him around the corner, I can be really honest in ways that I can’t with others. Well, honest up to 140 characters, anyway. And he’s pretty supportive for someone whom I don’t really know. He doesn’t judge, doesn’t make me feel like a freak for wanting to be different. It’s nice to have a Twitter groupie. You ought to give it a try.


She made her way ahead of me on the path, leading the dog on her leash, in her quiet way. Earlier in the day she had been angry and still tired from a bad night’s rest. Now, settled, she wandered among the scrub and flowers pulling the lazy dog down the grassy path. She stops to watch the hawks circling overhead. She, like me, was being herself, a beautiful, messy-haired seven-year old.

Before I became a mom, I thought that I would want to teach my daughter everything that I know. I mistakenly believed that I needed to learn a certain amount before I would be able to raise her the right way, as if there is even a right way to be a mom. Now that motherhood is my reality, I find myself wanting more to just stand back and watch to see what she becomes.

How to be a sexy mom

I know that I just gave you a confession, but I have something else to admit. I like to let a little bit of my bra show. Sometimes I choose a shade darker than my shirt, or a pattern that peeks through the fabric. Sometimes the lacy edge peeks out from my neckline. It just makes me feel a little bit racy, a little bad, if you know what I mean. Now, you know I’m a mom. Most of the time I am dragging three kids around, from here to there, to school, to piano lessons, to swimming. I often have my one-year old on my arm. More often than not, my hands are sticky from someone’s snack. And that feeling can be annihilating.

But when I know that I caught Geoff’s eye on his way out the door to work, or I feel a guy’s eyes on me (I know, I should be ashamed, I’m married!) I feel a little more alive, a little more me. It helps me get through these mommy years in one piece. It reminds me that being a sexy girl was what got me into this mess in the first place, and that I will one day return to what I was—more or less—a sexy woman with nice clean hands.

Do other moms do this? I definitely haven’t noticed any bits of lace peeking out. But I say go for it! Moms, do your hair and wear your date night shoes on regular days too. Go shopping, alone, for yourself. It feels great.

I do have one friend who tried my advice. She religiously wears sweats. Recently she confided that she did some lingerie shopping, and that she’s been wearing her sexy bras and panties under her sweats. Her husband loves it, and I hear she’s been reaping the benefits.

So, guys, when you see us moms, in our sweats, hair in ponytails, tugging flocks of kids along by the arms, well, you ought to look more closely. Things are not always as they appear. Sometimes, they are a lot more interesting.

On rubber ducks and secrets

Sometimes when I really like something, I keep it a secret. Do you ever do that?

It’s always tempting to brag when you find the newest great thing – the new shop with delicious bread, the new book that I just finished, the cutest pair of new sandals. Part of me just wants to share, with everyone in my path, how excited I am, how lucky I feel. Sometimes I want to spark an interesting conversation, sometimes I just want to feel generous.

But here’s the thing. Once you share the greatest new thing, once you make your opinion known, people will take your advice. They will check out that new shop. They will download the book on their Kindles. And in a week or two, you will hear from some other acquaintance that they just LOVE this new shop around the corner. You will overhear on the train that so-and-so can’t tear herself away from your favorite book.

Will you feel glad to brighten someone’s day? Maybe. If you are a saint.

Me? I feel a little disappointed. A lot less special. My secret is out. The thing is, I really like having a secret. I like to know without a doubt that I see something in a special way. While everyone else runs into the grocery store to grab a loaf of bread before dinner, I know that the best baguette is on offer at that little shop around the corner from the Y. If I just run in with the boys after swim class, we can pick up our bread while we grab some donuts for a snack. Two birds with one stone. And there will still be time to wander by the rose garden on the way home.

Why does keeping things a secret make them more special to me? Am I weird that way? Perhaps. But I just read this article in The Wall Street Journal, about the Hong Kong rubber duck installation. In case you haven’t heard about it, a 50-foot yellow duck is calling Victoria Harbor home for a while. Hundred of thousands of visitors have flocked to see the bird. Is the artist proud? Well, yes. And no. “On one hand,” the artist, Florentijn Hofman, commented, “I felt very happy, and thought, wow, so many people are coming to see it. But on the other hand, I thought, how can you really see the duck now? Can you really get it?”

It’s true. If your view of the duck is so obscured by the back of other people’s heads, by their iPhones up in the air, blocking your view of its beak, can you ever truly experience the duck? To experience something authentically, you need to sneak up on it, early in the morning or last thing at night. Perhaps during the day while everyone else is too busy to notice. You need to be alone, unencumbered by friends or children. You must be stealthy and silent. You approach on tiptoe, hiding behind the closest building or bench. You peer out over the water and get the clearest view of the huge yellow duck, its orange beak, its cheerful eyes. You notice how it juxtaposes itself against the staid buildings, how it bobs and floats happily in the bay, how the sun streams off of its yellow back and air-filled wings. You know it’s just a toy, a silly thing, but for one instant you see it as it really is, and you are filled with happiness.

A room of her own

Her room is a wreck. She’s hopeless at organization. Her five-year-old brother is neat and tidy, but her floor is strewed with laundry — dirty and clean — toys, books, and the occasional pencil.

Her walls are yellow with a woodland scene stenciled overtop, my creation. A post-it love note I wrote her a few weeks back hangs on the ceiling above her lofted bed. Her favorite stuffed friend, Duck, lies among her twisted blankets.

Late afternoon sun pours in through the windows, brightening the already cheerful room. On her desk lies her recent draft of a poem about baby chicks.

The room reeks of wild girl. It’s an animal scent with a hint of sweetness.

She’s seven and a half now, no longer just a little girl, certainly not a big kid. She’s busy inventing herself day by day, and she is just so careful about it. You’d be impressed. She chooses the most interesting friends with whom to align herself — her best friend with orange hair, and her one with yellow hair who makes her 3-D art each day, her friend Vincent who teaches her the ways of zombies, the quiet girl who is a vegetarian.

My daughter, she teaches me how to be curious, how to be cautious, how to be patient, and how to be joyful. I am so grateful for her.


P.S. Don’t worry, I picked up her room before bed.