Wish you were here

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, July 2012 ~~

I’ve been coming to the Big Apple, Scott McLean’s oceanfront house in Pawleys Island, SC, since I was about 12.

There isn’t any central heat or air. All the windows and doors are open, but it’s hot in the morning because of the land breeze. And because biscuits are baking. But soon the oven will be turned off and the wind will turn, too, and start blowing in from the sea. The hammock on the second floor screened-in porch is the coolest spot this time of day. The kids go there to practice for the annual talent show. They have got talent, and much of it involves skewering the adults with spot-on impressions. Continue reading

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Gurl Par-tay

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, June 2012 ~~

We’ve got a house full of girls. It’s a small house, too, so Caleb is seriously outnumbered. The prevailing odors around here are that of nail polish remover, Britney Spear’s “Fantasy” perfume, fruity gum, microwave popcorn, Veet®, and Bath & Body Works “Be Enchanted” lotion. Our television has played countless hours of Dance MomsToddlers in Tiaras, and Say Yes to the Dress, but Caleb has to set his alarm for 2 a.m. if he wants to catch an episode of River Monsters. Laundry baskets overflow with bras and thongs. Sanitary items fill the bathroom cabinets. The majority of accessories and linens and miscellany are pink. Or lilac. Continue reading

A name is a name

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, June 2012 ~~

If anyone had told me when my beautiful babies were placed in my trembling, greedy arms that I would one day address them as Balls, Brake, and Tob, I would have been indignant at best.

Language fascinates me to no end, and I love the idea of a group collectively deciding that this bedcover made of stitched-together fabric scraps is a “quilt,” and that feathered, beaked creature is a “bird.” Naming is a fascinating process, and the fact that I could bring people into the world and christen them with a moniker of my choosing was absolutely thrilling. Continue reading

In the good ol’ summertime

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, April 2012 ~~

As a mother, I choose my battles very, very carefully. I’m a lover, not a fighter, so when I make a stand what I am saying is, “This is the hill I will die on; I hope you brought provisions.” This happens maybe two or three times a year, max.

One such time was when I decided that Bailey was too old to have an idle summer. At 15, she was really too young to have a paying job, especially in the economic turbulence of 2010 where college educated adults were applying for the same jobs she was. And she was not interested in the super cool internship opening I found for her in the Great Dismal Swamp. Continue reading

I live in a zoo

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, March 2012 ~~

I’ve always had cats. At least 11, by my count, until I found myself catless in 2006. After a time I honestly thought it would ever be that way.

But then my children’s stepmother witnessed a man flinging eight tiny kittens and their skeletal mother into the woods near their house. She rescued them, with Blake’s help, and found homes for all. I took the calico. Oh, and I also took the momcat. I often find that cats just sort of come out from the trees and into one’s life – a karmic thing – but my past experiences were laced with a little more mystery and subtlety than this time around, which involved Blake and Caleb sending me countless kitten pix messages and “PLEEEEASE!!!” texts. Continue reading

Paper trail

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, March 2012 ~~

Look, people. Yes, you. Teachers, coaches, team moms, program coordinators… everyone I depend on as my “village.” When you give my kids a form for me to sign, three things are supposed to happen: They hand it to me. I sign it. They turn it back in to you. On time. It’s hard enough for someone with one kid, but I’ve got three, and let me just tell you it’s a miracle in my family if your slip of paper completes the full circle.

Guess what doesn’t happen? Reading. They’re pushing a pen into my hand, panicking about “late for the bus,” and my coffee isn’t getting any hotter. I’ve got to assume you read it before handing it out, and my kid read it before deciding that he or she did, indeed, wish for me to sign it. I’m busy. Look! Cats doing funny things on Facebook. Continue reading

My daughter and I walked in to a bar

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, February 2012 ~~

I took my 14-year-old daughter to a local Italian restaurant,  411 West, for dinner. We sat at the bar. I always sit at the bar. She wore mascara and lip gloss but wasn’t rocking the glamourpuss thing. The charming bartender handed us both the wine list, making eye contact with both of us while chatting about the selections.

I’m sure he would’ve carded her if she’d tried to order, say, a glass of Chianti, but she stuck with water. She was sitting up a little bit straighter, though, and whispered that I might have ruined things when I called her, “Sweetie.” Like she did me any good when she called me, “Mommy.” Continue reading

Eau de vie

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, June 2009 ~~

Have you seen the mom song on YouTube? “Momsense.” Comedian Anita Renfroe has set “everything a mother says in one 24-hour period” to the music of the William Tell Overture. It’s hilarious. My kids played it for me, of course. I’m not especially YouTube literate yet.

She’s got the old standards: “Did you wash behind your ears? Don’t make me come down there! If all your friends jumped off a cliff would you jump too?” And she’s definitely got the twenty-first century momisms down: “No texting at the table. No more computer time tonight. Your iPod’s my iPod if you don’t listen up.” The children thought it was gloriously funny. But they were a bit puzzled by the presumed universality of the lyrics. Momsense is not exactly a precise replication of the mom in our house. Continue reading

She’s with the band

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, April 2009 ~~

Sometimes I feel like I am surely the only person in Carrboro without any musical aspirations. I’m not in a band. I’ve never been in a band. I’ve never even been “with” the band. I did have a crush on one of the guys in the Monday Mood back in the day at Chapel Hill High, if that counts for anything.

I don’t write songs. I can’t even begin to read music. I think the last time I played an instrument was when Ms. Cantrell taught us to play Greensleeves on the recorder at Seawell Elementary School, circa 1979. Ms. Cantrell is now teaching music to my two youngest children. At Carrboro Elementary. But I digress. Continue reading