October 2010

Posted by Duff

You know how they tell you, when you’re expecting your first child, that if you’re not a natural, you’ll get good at changing diapers or diffusing meltdowns or refereeing slap fights? Well, that’s true. You have no other choice.

What they don’t tell you is how good you’ll get at doing whatever odd thing it is that your specific child requires. Like:

  • Pinning a thrashing, alternately gasping and screeching child against your chest so a pediatrician can use a tuning fork to scrape wax from his tiny ears to then check for ear infections.  One day, you may learn to do this without sweating. After 50+ ear checks, I still haven’t found the right deoderant.
  • Remembering to advise your own Dervish to grasp the cuffs of her shirt BEFORE putting on her jacket, so she can avoid thrashing, screeching and sweating.
  • Understanding that everyone likes their hot dogs, like their coffee, served in a way only they can determine.
  • Determining which child can tolerate quitter socks and which child requires tagless, non-restrictive clothing, EXCEPT for quitter socks. Sigh.
  • Removing all items from a night-lit room that may cause wee-hour misinterpretation in the manner of all things boogey, frog-eyed, or insect.

That said, each of these rarely-awarded skills is worth, in the chronicle of parenting, more than a Mercedes. I encourage all of us to keep track of them–because, when you’re late for work or an appointment or tired or so worn down by their necessity you can’t appreciate them, these are the things that are easy to forget but make your children as precious as their fingerprints.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to forget a one of them.

Go write them down. Please. I’ll wait here.


By AVM and Fitz

After months of trying to squeeze some meaningful blogging into a routine that becomes more hectic by the second, we’re saddened to tell you that we’ve decided to move on from My Mom Genes.  We truly appreciate the support that you’ve shown us since the beginning, and have enjoyed sharing our evolution as parents with you. We’ll miss reading your comments and laughing over our shared experiences, and hope that you continue to enjoy every blissful, harrowing, hilarious, and thoughtful moment with your kids.  We’ve loved being part of your lives.
We wish Duff nothing but the best as she continues My Mom Genes on her own, and look forward to the stories she’ll share with all of us.
Thanks for everything.

AVM and Fitzy

Posted by Duff

1.  Yesterday, I pulled up to our house with a witchy-turned-passed-out Dervish in the backseat and settled in for a few minutes of uninterrupted reading.  My husband, who had driven the car earlier in the day to run errands, appeared at the drivers’ side window and asked, “Can you hand me that trachea?”

“Trachea?” I assumed it was a not-so-funny term for something he would have picked up at the hardware store.

“The cow trachea,” he said. “In the bag, on the seat next to you.”

It was a dog treat for the neighbor’s dog. I still haven’t gotten over the scheeves from that interaction, because he SHOWED it to me. You don’t want to see one. You also don’t want to hear it crunched, like I did, this morning. At this rate, I’m going vegetarian by my 40th birthday. Except for scallops. With bacon.

2. I was quoted $45,000 for replacement windows.  This, while since the sales presentation (which had been cleverly labelled a free estimate) had been going on for three hours, I made a peanut butter sandwich and canned soup (BOGO, btw) for lunch. Apparently, dude hasn’t heard about the ongoing economic issues that leave a growing percentage of us feeling lucky we have homes that have reduced in value so much over the last three years that we can’t afford to refinance them at the now-fantastic lending rates.  Also, he didn’t notice that he parked beside my 10-year-old rollerskate. 

3. When I finished laughing, I brought the kids to our neighborhood Halloween parade and afterparty. The Dervish went as a witch, Atticus went as teething toddler in a bad mood from which most movie warlocks would recoil. So I asked the dear boy, the jewel of my eye, who seems to love me more than his own fist in his mouth: “Little Bear, what is it that I can do? What would make you happy? (I had tried all manner of drinks and snacks and hugs and kisses and songs and diversions and yet he persisted with a low-grade, distant foghorn wail amid a beautiful day and fabulous party.)

And the little so-and-so looked me full in the face, with my very own eyes, if not larger versions, and said: “Daddy.”

Posted by Duff

Whether you read poetry or not, I promise this is worth it, and likely, relevant. If not today, another day. I’m serious. Too serious, in fact.

We Who Are Your Closest Friends
by Phillip Lopate

We who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting,
as a group,
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
discontent and
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift.
Your analyst is
in on it,
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband;
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us.
In announcing our
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves.
But since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community
of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center,
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your disastrous personality
then for the good of the collective.

Are you laughing yet? Smiling, at least? Try, if you need to, substituting “closest friends” with”children” or “co-workers” or anyone on whom you hang your ego’s hat.

I’ll be lightening up over here. Feel free to join me. =)

Posted by Duff

As I sit between writing projects (I promise, anyone who is counting on me to be who I say I am, I’m mentally outlining, which is how the 80,000+-word devils burst into tentative life), I have had enough mental energy to miss work. Not my former job, exactly, because we all know that for many people, liking one’s job is considered a luxury and for me, it’s imperative. What I have been missing  is the idea of working outside my home to the point where I thought about working for less than daycare costs.  Essentially, paying to work.

Because I have basic needs:

1. I have to pee. And without someone on my lap, which was never a problem at the office.  Except that one time.

2. I’m hungry and want to eat before I turn into a demon. How I miss the days of being able to close my office door and tear into a bucket of ribs like a drunken frat boy. (Actually, I never did that. But the option was nice).

3. I miss dressing up. There’s a reason why we don’t dress up at home. No dry cleaning is powerful enough to handle what goes on in the inner sanctum pre-kindergarten.

Oh well. There are tradeoffs. Like I get to see my kids at their best time of day, pre-lunch, rather than what continues to be an arcade-like pandemonium post-4pm, even when they haven’t waited all day to see me. And I get to be outside a lot more, which rocked during the spring and summer, but will cause me to suit up like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in about three weeks.

And the books. Have I mentioned the books? The mental energy to read when I have a moment? I have read more books in the last month than I read in the four years I was a working mom. Which tells me that I need to get a job reading books, sweet bliss that it is. I am 321 books behind on my reading list, which can only grow as the days pass.

But seriously, I really, really would like to pee by myself.

Posted by Fitz

This morning, CNN announced that Robert G. Edwards won the Nobel Prize for medicine.   Dr. Edwards is known as the “father of the test tube baby”: he is credited for pioneering in vitro fertilization and delivering the first baby conceived through IVF on July 25, 1978.  He is credited for the birth of over four million babies, although it’s too difficult to measure the sheer happiness that he has brought to at least as many sets of parents.

My husband and I are one of those sets of parents whose lives have been so profoundly impacted by Dr. Edwards.  My two beautiful girls are just a tiny part of his life’s work, but they are a huge part of mine.  So on this special day, I congratulate Dr. Edwards and thank him for having the foresight, the perseverence, and the intelligence to make IVF a possibility for families like ours.  The Nobel Prize is well deserved.