I have an idea: Let’s stop telling women how to give birth

by renegademama

I recently read an article cleverly titled “You should get an epidural” (I know, I know I should have stopped there) that told a story about some “natural birther” who was rude to the writer in a grocery store. Apparently she asked the writer – WHILST STANDING IN A CHECKOUT LINE – how she planned on giving birth then shamed her for wanting an epidural. This is almost unbelievable in its fucked-upedness (yeah that’s a word).

Who the hell would do that? I’d like some stranger to ask me when I was visibly pregnant “how I planned on giving birth.” I’d be like, “On your face, asshole,” and leave.

But that’s irrelevant. The point here is that in response to her outrage at being told how she should give birth, she wrote an article telling women how they should give birth.

Because this is how we do in the interwebz.

Why god WHY?

She implies that women who want unmedicated birth are trying to “win” something and attempts to discredit the real and valid reasons people opt for unmedicated births by bolstering the benefits of epidural and invalidating the “science” stating that epidurals “slow down labor” with the words “but I’ve talked to a few doctors who say it speeds it up!”


Can we all please stop making shit up at random and calling it “evidence?”

Yes, that includes you, lady on the internet who declared that not leaving the placenta attached until it falls off on its own is an act of “violence.”

Yes, I read that. I read an actual human writing those actual words. I can only imagine how fun she is at dinner parties:

Non-Violent Placenta lady: “Oh! You just had a baby. What, pray tell, did you do with the placenta?”

Normal person: “Well I cut the cord and the doctor like, took it away.”

Aghast and appalled, Non-Violent Placenta Lady breaks down weeping right there next to the triple-cream brie.

I have an idea: Somewhere between one must let the placenta fall off untouched in soft moonlight and a choir of angels and FUCK THESE ANTI-EPIDURAL MARTYRDOM WANNABE HEROES is the land of Not Being a Dick.

Also known as, informing yourself and doing what is best for you and your baby and body and family.

Also known as, not caring how strangers birth their babies.

Also known as: Not being a dick.

Always, we’re back there. It’s like Oz. All roads lead to it.

This seems so reasonable, and yet, the nonsense prevails. We pick and choose data and statistics and studies. And we all know how I feel about those. We strategically ignore and omit and focus on this information over that information to prove our points and back our game.

There are valid and real and intelligent reasons to opt FOR and AGAINST epidurals.

And yet, rather than treating both options as sound decisions, there are actual people CRUSADING for and against the use of epidurals. Straight up ON A MISSION. People arguing that all women should have medication. People arguing that all women should have homebirths. To me, they’re all missing the fucking point.

Everybody keeps talking about women’s empowerment by demanding women do things THEIR way.

Am I the only one who sees a problem here?


Look, I gave birth four times, each time without an epidural and twice at home. Yes, I wanted a birth without an epidural, and yes, I wanted that adamantly, for myself. Not for you. I truly could not care less how you have your baby. In fact I can’t really think of anything that affects me less than how strangers have their babies.

I wanted births without epidurals because I am a control freak and wanted as much power over my body as physically possible. I wanted to move freely and birth how I wanted. I was MORE afraid of losing that power than I was of the pain of childbirth. Of course I do not looooooooove the pain, and I certainly didn’t “dance my baby out” (some hippie suggested I do that), and I may or may not have wanted to kick (gently! I love you!) my midwife on account of her infinitely soothing voice, but I was not really concerned about the pain.

Not because I am a martyr. Not because I believe Eve must be punished for her sins. Not because I’m anti-feminist and not because I hate doctors and not because I think YOU should do it. That’s just my preference.

Wait. Seriously, stop calling me a fucking martyr. I am not a martyr. Martyrs are heroes. I am not a hero. What am I fighting for? WOMEN ACROSS THE LAND?

Stop. There is nothing “heroic” about my choice. I was not particularly brave and I was not impressive and I was not trying to “prove a point” and I am not anti-epidural.

Which brings me to my next point: Having an epidural is not cowardly, unnatural, or un-“womanly” (whatever the fuck that means). In the past, I have used the term “natural” to describe “unmedicated.” I don’t do that anymore. It’s a loaded term. I apologize for not realizing that sooner. (On that, the writer of the article and I agree.)

To me, we’re all brave. And I don’t mean that in some cute woo-woo way. I mean it truthfully: We face a thing we are a little (or a lot) afraid of. All of us have grown up in a culture of fear surrounding childbirth. How that manifests in each of us will be unique, but universally, we face the unknown. Whether through surgery or birth at home or in a hospital, we face something infinitely new, with stakes higher than anything we’ve ever faced. And we have no choice. We walk in. We handle it.

That is bravery.

I felt safest with the littlest intervention as possible.

We get to define that for ourselves.

All this shit-slinging about choices is nothing more than self-righteousness masquerading as “helpfulness.” It’s not about other women. It’s not about new moms. It’s about THEMSELVES. It’s about their own damn choices. It’s about pretentiousness and insecurity.

Fun fact: People secure in their choices do not feel compelled to run around screaming how other people should be like them.

Oh, and BTW. If you’ve never had a child: Shut the hell up with your demands on my vagina/uterus/offspring. No, really. Shut the actual fuck up. Nobody cares.

I see people who made choices like mine treating women who get epidurals or planned caesareans as some sort of strange subspecies that barely loves their children let alone possesses the spiritual depth necessary to raise them. They act as if Ina May Gaskin is THE GODDESS of motherhood and we all must embrace her or die alone in parental wasteland.

Perhaps I’m overshooting the mark a tiny bit, but seriously.

You know what? Yes. I believe our maternal healthcare system is pretty fucked, and I believe it needs to change. But that will not happen by running around spewing orgasmic birth as The Only Way.

We have one job. We know what it is.


You know what I want? Women to have equal access to information and education to make informed choices that work for them. I want women to have doctors and midwives who explain the pros and cons of choices openly and honestly, treating women like they have brains in addition to vaginas. (I know, revolutionary.) I want women to be treated like humans, not cute little pets. I want women to be respected, validated, and heard. I want women to be the central player in the birth of their babies.

I want women to have POWER, however they define it.



We’re all warriors here. We can own that.


let’s be real: it’s all about the fucking newborn breath. omg newborns. I NEED ANOTHER BABY.

A letter to James Baldwin because I have some questions about the love thing

by renegademama

Dear James,

You’re dead, but I’m going to write to you anyway, because I’m lost as hell and I have a few questions about your love theory.

In 1962, you wrote a letter to your nephew because he was “born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity” that he was a “worthless human being” and James it’s 2016 now, and this week, I’ve listened to and read the words of black mothers talking about their sons, because they were born into a country that has “destroyed and is destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and does not know it and does not want to know it.”

They asked us to know it.

They asked us to know it, but I think we won’t.

In 1962 you told your nephew it’s because white people “don’t know he exists” because they “cannot see” and here’s what I want to know, Mr. Baldwin, how do we make people see?

You talked of the conditions in Harlem, 1962, and how white people said: “No! This is not true! How bitter you are!” and “You exaggerate” and now in 2016 they say “ALL LIVES MATTER” and “if he weren’t a criminal he wouldn’t be dead” and they bring up traffic violations to justify the killing of a school cafeteria manager, who was reaching for his wallet, as instructed, with a toddler in the backseat of a car.

He bled and died anyway.

In 1962 you wrote that on the day your nephew was born, his family “trembled” because “it looked bad that day” (for black people in America) and you said, “We have not stopped trembling yet,” and James, in 2016, they have not stopped trembling yet.

The mothers and fathers and grandfathers and uncles and aunts have not stopped trembling and James I want to know when all people who look like me will care more about the trembling.


Because I thought when people with love and hearts and souls are shown facts and shown the suffering of people, James, that they will see because they are human and even though they don’t HAVE to care, they will.

Because they are human.

But James, I think I’m wrong.

In 1962, you told your nephew, “You were born where you were born, and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason.”

And that was Harlem. And he was expected to “make peace with mediocrity” and was told where to go and how to act and how to be and that’s still here, in 2016, in the narratives surrounding “inner city ghettos” and “black on black crime,” and it’s here through the prison pipeline and racial profiling and economic inequality and the media. Yet it seems almost nobody looks to explore what we’ve done to create, reinforce and secure the failure of people trying to survive in a place “intended for them to perish.”

Intended for them to perish.

They’re still perishing, James.


You wrote of “inhumanity and fear” and that’s what I see when I look around at most of my white brothers and sisters and I don’t know if I want to scream or ignore them or get on my knees and beg them, and that’s why I’m writing to you.

You said we are “trapped in a history which [we] do not understand; and until [we] understand it…cannot be released from it,” but they teach and nobody listens.

People don’t BELIEVE what they’re hearing. Why?

“They have had to believe for so many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men.” This is true. I know this because I grew up white. I know what it feels like to learn from unidentified sources, from the air you breathe, from something, somehow, some way, that your race is just a little better but you are for sure not racist because “racist” is slurs and not hiring someone because of the color of their skin and you would never do that! You have black friends.

And if people would just act like “normal (white) people,” everything would be fine for them.

And the people “set down in Harlem,” you see, they don’t act white. And so they don’t count. They don’t matter.

And when people insist they matter, white people don’t have to see. They don’t have to listen. They don’t even have to be vaguely curious. They sit back with a sigh and a “fuck you” and they don’t even hear, James.

This is my worry. This is my worry with your love theory.


I feel the silence in my bones of the people around me and the ones doing mental gymnastics to justify police brutality and I wonder if they know in their guts they’re wrong.

You say many “know better” but “find it difficult to act on what they know” because “to act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity.”

Of course they know better. I’m done pretending they don’t. They know. But it’s easier to PRETEND than admit you’re wrong, especially when all that power is at stake.

I knew better when I learned I had been lied to. When we know better, we do better, right? Isn’t that the way it works?


Most of the time, I see no way in.


“Try to imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to find the sun shining and all the stars aflame…[it] is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality. Well, the black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations.”

And in 2016 I want to ask you, is this what it feels like? Is this the shaking of the foundations and the dislodging of a star until it comes crashing to our side? Is this it, James?

Because I’m not so sure, and I don’t feel much hope, and you say that love will fix it but I’m not sure, because what good is love if the recipient feels it as VIOLENCE?

An attack on their personhood.

A violation of who they are.

I want to tell them they’re better than this, James. I want to beg them. I want to punch them in their faces.



You say “these men are your brothers—your lost, younger brothers… and…that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.”

I wonder if that’s so, James. I wonder if we will ALL ever cease fleeing from reality. I wonder if we need them anyway. I wonder if anything will change, other than some of us dying out, to become stars fixed forever on the wrong side of history.

James you promise there’s a transformative love, a powerful one, a love that shakes foundations and sets stars aflame, but it’s hard to believe such power exists.

I’m kinda tired of “love.” I hear a lot about it but don’t see much action. I’m tired of anything that doesn’t make us USE OUR ACTUAL BODIES to dismantle our place, a place that was never actually ours, a place that was stolen, ripped off, burned and murdered for.

You say love IS what makes our feet move.

You say this is how you make change, and you said do not be afraid. I know you weren’t talking to me. I’m not black and I’m not your nephew.

But I am afraid.

Because I wonder when all white people will feel this pain as their pain and this perishing as their perishing and stand up and set the stars aflame themselves, shake the earth themselves, become an immovable pillar in the fight for the moment when, as you say, the “dungeon shook, and the chains fell off.”

So I’ll keep fighting, in love, I guess.

And hope to god you’re right.


Note to fellow white people interested in dismantling white supremacy: ALL THE LOVE IN THE FUCKING WORLD IS USELESS IF IT’S NOT BACKED BY ACTION.

We know what to do. “Be an accomplice, not an ally.” The time for talking and feeling super bad at dinner is over. It’s time to move our bodies and use our voices to join the new Civil Rights Movement. Suggestions to begin are here, here, and here

37 Comments | Posted in politics | July 11, 2016

Small pink vaginal speaker for in utero musical education. Because the world hates women.

by renegademama

They make some seriously ridiculous “parenting” products, but I have recently come across the winner of every WTF IS HAPPENING award ever made.

Behold, the speaker you stick up your vagina so your baby has direct and uninterrupted access to music from your iPhone.

Go ahead. I’ll wait. Let that one register.

And no, no I am not making this up. You think I could make this shit up? I could not. Ever. Why?


And that it why I would never attempt to convince a pregnant woman that she needs to spend $137 on a speaker to put up her vag.

Direct quote from website: “Babypod is a small intravaginal device that stimulates neural development in unborn babies through music. Scientific studies show that it encourages communication and vocalization in babies before birth through the music streamed. Babypod gives them their first musical and learning experience.”

Ladies, it is no longer good enough for you to play music in the room or car or even buy some other music-making device to hold next to your belly. Oh, no. What you need is TO ENCOURAGE COMMUNICATION IN YOUR UNBORN YOUNG BY STICKING A SPEAKER IN YOUR BODY.

And playing music.

How does this even work? I mean, first of all obviously the woman in question has to get the thing up there somehow. Have the makers of this gem ever been pregnant? DO THEY KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO REACH YOUR VAGINA WHEN YOU CAN’T SEE YOUR TOES?

Maybe a partner is supposed to help. Okay, sure. That makes sense. That sounds amazing: “Hey honey, when you get a moment could you put this speaker up my vagina? Purely non-sexual though. Totally educational. Great. Thanks. Have a nice day.”


Maybe they figure think it should be done early in the pregnancy. But, does a fetus even have ears that early?

I hate everything.

I’m not sure what’s worse: the idea that they really think we should “encourage vocalization” in a baby before she’s left the womb, or the idea that holding a speaker up to your belly is no longer good enough.

I seriously viewed the womb-music-activity thing as the pinnacle of Shit Mothers Apparently Do That I Would Never Pull Together. I used to look at those womb music CDs and be like “No for real do women actually do that?”

Frankly, the idea that we need to play symphonies for in utero offspring strikes me as a bit excessive.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It clearly does no harm, and maybe even some good, but it seems like a big, big extra to me, like THE MOST EXTRA. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t consume soda and processed foods or brie or salami (so basically just die) and get exercise and take prenatals and make all your appointments and do kegels and gain 20-25 pounds only (which is fucking impossible, assholes) and spend lots of time nurturing your marriage and other kids and sleep a lot and take lovely professional photos and…


Cool. Okay. I failed.

Although, gotta level with ya, I had four kids and I didn’t play Bach string quartets for any of them and yet they appear to be thriving. Right down the barrel of “functioning like a motherfucker.” That’s my family! And never once did I hold any gadget up to my belly to “provide a first musical learning experience.” WHY?

Because I’m not totally convinced fetuses need learning experiences.

Perhaps we should also read them the alphabet, a bit of Foucault, and have them watch the history channel.

Oh my god we could play Netflix through the vag speaker and MAKE THEM LEARN HISTORY.

I’m sorry. But please. Come on. Pleeeeasseeee somebody work with me here.


The last thing I want to do as a pregnant woman is stick one more thing up my vagina. Midwife hands, those metal death things OBs use, and um, ahem, et cetera, perhaps we could NOT add to the list of things going in or out of that area. OMG. Ew. I feel weird.

Who washes the speaker after?

And now I’m going to throw up.


I did play a lot of Grateful Dead though. I bet that’s why they all like tie-dye and swaying.

Pink vag speakers for all!

Nobody, ever.


This is not our job.



I have an excellent attitude when I’m pregnant and would for sure be interested in a small plastic item in my vagina.



Join me for the last Write Anyway writing workshop of 2016.

Tuesdays at 10am PST, October.

I promise we won’t talk about vaginas. That is a lie. I cannot actually promise that.

I am a mother, not a shadow of my former self, and I will not apologize

by renegademama

We have got to talk. We have got to talk about the way motherhood is so often depicted as this sanctimonious martyrdom of hell in which formerly interesting and intellectual humans are reduced to snot and cereal.

This is the situation, partly. There are phases, particularly when children are in their infancy, when life seems to become nothing more than poop and milk and laundry peppered with zombie exhaustion, existential crises, and a lurking notion of “wtf has my life become?” (Clearly hyperbole remains intact, however.)

And there was absolutely a part of me that mourned my old self after I had my first child. I knew I would never be wholly the same, attached as I was, suddenly and irrevocably, to another human being. I could never walk away. I could never not be “mother.”

And that is heavy.

But it wasn’t the end. Motherhood is not the end of me and it never has been. I thought it was for a minute there, but I was wrong. My kids didn’t erase me. My kids didn’t turn me into a shadow of my former self. Yeah, I’m not out drinking fifths of Jack Daniels in Barcelona in my crop-top and mini-skirt, but ummmmmm, I’m also 37. Many of choose to change it up a bit around age 30. My husband and I aren’t frequenting bars and shooting pool in between shots we bought for our best friend Charlie who we met 10 minutes ago, but we’re also kinda old and tired and Netflix is calling.

We could still be doing this, but we aren’t, because our lives and values have changed, partly because we have kids, partly because we don’t find that stuff super fulfilling anymore (was it ever?). Also I’m an alcoholic but I digress.

The point is that motherhood was not the end of my personality, character, or identity. It wasn’t the end of my intellect and creativity and sarcasm. I still say fuck. I still like my music. I still like sex. I like movies and politics and critical theory. I like debating shit with people. I like getting fired up and thinking about things, and I like my husband. As a friend and as a lover. I like going places with him. I like to flirt with him. I like to swim in rivers and camp and write the shit out of things.

Even when my days are diapers and my nights are nursing, even when we haven’t had sex in way too long, even when my waking hours are finding shoes and washing dishes, even when kid voices drown out all the things forever, I AM STILL IN HERE.

Do not for a second erase me.

I like my friends who don’t have kids. I like my friends who have kids. I like going on girls’ trips and watching them get naked in hot tubs and smoke weed.

What is wrong with that? Nothing.

And there’s nothing wrong with women making other choices. SAHM, working mom, by choice or force, whatever. And maybe life has become a seemingly endless cycle of mundane tasks. We’ve all been there. But to me, that seems temporary, and I am sick and TIRED of this narrative that motherhood requires erasure of the self. Who the hell came up with this anyway?

And why isn’t it assumed that men disappear as individuals when they become dads? I don’t see too many men apologizing for becoming devoted and loving fathers. In fact, pretty sure we CONGRATULATE THE CRAP out of them for that sort of thing.


What I see is a bunch of fiercely powerful, badass humans – whether they are “stay at home moms” or not. I see artists: writers, painters, directors, knitters and bakers. I see pissed off feminists and fierce advocates for gender creativity. I see women of color fighting for the lives of their sons and daughters and I see doctors, lawyers, yogis and fat women in bikinis, sexy as hell and owning all 40 years of their beauty. Every motherfucking inch of it.

I see home-schoolers and friends and homemakers and executives. I see women creating businesses from their crafts and talents and heart, rockin’ PTA meetings and preschool events and women leading children on their paths to whoever they were meant to become: fighters and lovers and truth-sayers and storytellers. I see wickedly funny women who call out bullshit faster than you can say “Caillou is the spawn of Satan.”

And yet, they write us like we’re nothing. They write us like we’re sad little shells. They write us like we NEED TO BE APOLOGIZING TO OUR HUSBANDS FOR NOT MEETING THEIR NEEDS PERFECTLY.

Hey, the 1950s called. They totally want their rhetoric back.

Lemme tell ya something: WE GET TO DEFINE MOTHERHOOD HOWEVER THE FUCK WE WANT. And we get to do so unapologetically and locked in solidarity with all the other mamas out there who are like SURE I’M WIPING YOUR ASS ALL DAY BUT I DON’T LOVE IT and I’M IN HERE SOMEWHERE ASSHOLES.

And that’s the thing, really: I don’t buy that we’re gone. I don’t buy that we are really gone. I don’t buy that we curl up to the size of a sippy cup and wait for the years to pass.

We are powerful as we ever were, and I, for one, will never let you forget it.

And if you feel erased, mama, check it out: I see you. What you are, what you once were, and what you are still.

This is motherhood.

This is us.

We get to own it.


Do you ever wonder what your kids will remember?

by renegademama

I am often the mom who forgets whatever it is I was supposed to do. The activity. The paperwork. The change in regular scheduling. The thing the kid was supposed to bring to school: a stuffed animal, for example.

This is not because I’m a “hot mess mom.” I don’t even know exactly what that means, but I am not a mess. I just suck at this.

I’m not flighty or air-headed, bouncing around all WHAT IS HAPPENING WHERE AM I OMGGGGGGG. My feet are on the ground, but I struggle, that’s for sure, and I forget a lot of things.

In my defense, there are a lot of fucking things to remember. Why are there so many things to remember?

And sometimes my tiny mistakes seem to quadruple in frequency and I find myself buried beneath a sense of my own failure, though I know I’m not really failing my children, my community, or myself.

I’m not a mess. But I’ll never be the mom who is uniformly on top of her game. I put things in my calendar then forget to check my calendar. I RSVP then forget the next day. Of course, I’m also working hard on my writing career. But even when I was a stay-at-home-mom, I gotta level with ya, sometimes all this kid shit STILL wasn’t first on my list of Critically Important Things, and I don’t feel guilty about that. Does that make me evil? A bad mother? No, it does not.

It makes me imperfect, and me.


Lately I’ve been struggling again with serious insomnia. It’s been five years now, but last week it went batshit and decided it would obliterate all sleep except for about 3 hours each night. I was crumbling. I woke with pain across my eyes and cheekbones in a zombie-like fog that wore off around 3pm, only to be replaced by a frantic exhaustion that I knew would never be soothed.

And my god is it heavy.

And so, I was messing up a lot. Forgetting a lot. Showing up late. Barely making it to this or that. And yet, at the same time, I’m writing my book and a screenplay and this blog and running writing workshops.

But I’m not a mess. I’m not in the air.

I am fucking tired though. And I sorta suck at this.


I volunteer in Georgia’s kindergarten on June 5 because it’s the last chance I’ll get this year. I volunteer for a last time even though I only did it two other times this year, and planned on doing it so many more times. I feel sad I didn’t do it more. Every week, there was more work, more sick kids, more sick me, and I didn’t do it like I planned I would.

I scramble to sign up for one last day and wonder where our year went. I get there and watch her on the floor, legs crossed, on her circle, looking up at her teacher. I try to burn the image into my mind. She turns around and waves, “Hi, mama!” she says under her breath, her little kindergarten fist and blonde head. Sitting there I remember our little co-op preschool, the way she always wanted to play “Sneaky Snacky Squirrel.” I remember how annoying those kids were.

I glance at my phone and wonder if I’ll have time to finish that writing project.

I’m grateful I get to go to her classroom at all, volunteer at all. When I worked in an office, I don’t think I even knew parents were allowed to volunteer in classrooms.

The next day, she’s supposed to bring a stuffed animal to school. We arrive on campus and I’m happy we’re not late. As soon as we pull up, I see one of her classmates with a stuffed animal. I put my hand on George’s shoulder and ask, “Oh no, honey, today is the day you’re supposed to bring a stuffed animal!”

Her face sinks, “Yes.” They are going to create a habitat for them, out of boxes. That even sounds fun to me. She told me about it the day before. How could I forget? God damnit. I WAS JUST HERE TALKING ABOUT IT WITH THE TEACHER WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

“Maybe we have one in the car,” I say, figuring what are the chances we don’t have a fucking stuffed animal in this giant SUV full of every other item known by humankind.

But of course, we happened to do our bi-annual cleaning just a few days before. I’m kidding. We totally clean tri-annually.

There’s nothing. I can’t believe it. I look down at her and imagine saying, “Sorry, my love, but you’ll just have to not have one.” I imagine her sitting there without one. I tell myself it’s not a big deal. I KNOW it’s not that big of a deal, but in that moment in front of that school and child, I couldn’t take one more tiny failure. I felt my voice cracking. The exhaustion of my life seemed to plant itself across my shoulders and heart: Every irritated time I snapped or yelled at them, returning moments later to apologize, explain I acted badly. Every missed birthday party and every time they’ve been the kid whose mom forgot. I knew I had been blowing it lately, and I was so tired, I almost cried right there in the damn parking lot. I knew I was making a big deal out of this, but I didn’t care. I refused to do it again.

“Go to class, George, and I’ll be right back with a stuffed animal. I promise.”

She beamed. I promised again and my lip may have quivered. I patted her head and felt remarkably pathetic.

My plan was to race to the grocery store down the road and hope for the best. It’s one of those fancy stores that sells triple-cream brie and bamboo cutting boards and homemade bread, but I was thinking maybe they’d have something in the balloon section.

They didn’t. I paced the store wondering what the fuck I was going to do. The baby aisle had a giraffe rattle. I considered it. Nope. I couldn’t. Too baby-ish. She’d get made fun of. But now I really couldn’t give up. I promised the kid, but I was running out of time. I decided I’d get a cup of coffee and race to Target, but I didn’t know if I’d even be back to her in time to do the activity.

As I was getting my coffee, I happened to glance down the aisle that leads to the back of the store, and on the clearance rack, happened to see the fuzzy top of some sort of stuffed animal. I think I actually said, “Oh thank god” out loud.

When I got there, I realized they were the leftover Mother’s Day bears. One said “I love you mom.” I considered it since she can’t read anyway. The other one didn’t say anything but was the most hideous shade of hot pink I’d ever seen in my life. Who the fuck makes a fluorescent pink bear with a rose? It was awful. Truly hideous.

But I knew it would work, and I bought it. It was $4.11.


When I peeked my head in the door, Georgia happened to be sitting at a table right near me. Her face burst into dimples when she saw me, and morphed into full on ecstasy when I held the pink bear out to her. “I LOVE IT!”

She hugged it. She showed her teacher. She was damn near bouncing.

As I left, I smiled, and thought, “Well, it was supposed to be a zoo animal of some sort – since it was a lesson on habitat – but George got a neon pink bear with a rose, and damn was she happy. You did good, Janelle.”


I felt restored by the slightly pathetic act. It was my tiny revolution, my refusal to give up. We do our best for our kids, and sometimes our best is a clearance-rack pink bear 30 minutes late.

I wonder if my kids will remember the pink bear or if they’ll remember the birthday party I forgot.

I think they’ll remember the bear.

They’ll remember all the clearance-rack bears you give them, too, the face of a mother who keeps showing up, even if she’s not just right, and it’s almost too late. They’ll remember the mother who even removed the tags before she handed it to her.

I see you out there, doing the best with what you have, every damn day, and watching the kids race past, while you wonder if it’s enough and what they’ll remember.

They’ll remember the bear.

It’s us who have to learn that it’s enough.

I think we can do that too, if we watch them closely, and learn. Love is love is love. Even in tardy fluorescent pink.




37 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | June 16, 2016