Why Moms Have Eyes in the Back of Their Heads

Photo by Gabriela Pinto, flickr

Photo by Gabriela Pinto, flickr

Sam and I have been locked in an argument about my parenting skills. You see, he thinks that I do not have eyes in the back of my head. And I know that I do.

He is pretty convinced that he is right. He tells me, “Mama, you only have eyes in the front,” and pokes his little fingers at my eyeballs for emphasis. “But look,” I respond, “look right behind all this hair in the back of my head. My eyes are right there. That’s why mamas have long hair.” He digs around in my curls, parts my hair this way and that, just to be sure. “No mama, you are being a clown,” he tells me, laughing.

Despite the physical evidence and his conviction, he does bring up the topic quite often — especially when he is doing something he is not supposed to behind my back. That’s how I know I need to turn around to make sure he is not eating a bug, or drawing on the walls, or stuffing toast in his ears. “You see, I do have eyes in the back, I caught you!” I tell him and suddenly, shaken in his belief, he needs to start digging around in my hair again.

I often think about how true it is that when we become parents, we end up saying things that we swore we would never, ever utter to our own children. My mom used to drive me crazy with “I see and know everything because I have eyes in the back of my head,” mostly because it was really true. By the time I walked the one block between my school and our apartment, my mom would know about that C on my geography test and that walking directly home involved a quick stop at the ice cream shop. It was infuriating to think that somehow, I was always watched by some secret neighborhood system of innocent-looking old ladies and shopkeepers who were really my mom’s spies.


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Mash, Mash

mashI can’t remember the last time I wrote fiction. But this one just sort of happened, like writing tends to happen — out of nowhere, without warning. So enjoy it and vote for it! Because writing is great, but winning is also great!

Are Those Hearts?

She knew she was in trouble the moment she tried on the sheer, wine-colored blouse at the store. “Hearts, for Christ’s sake! Hearts!” she murmured as she tugged at the hem, the collar, the sleeves.

Tiny, pink hearts.

She wasn’t entirely on top of things when it came to fashion. But she could see that the shirt fit perfectly. It draped over her soft shape, resting on her hips like a pair of warm hands. She stared in the mirror and stuck out her tongue at her reflection. “You are thirty-fucking-eight years old. Pull it together.”

She wore the shirt the morning after, when an entire day stretched in front of them, lazy, promising. She wore a jacket and a scarf against the cool air and drizzle, but felt the soft fabric against her skin all day as they drove through early morning fog and walked on cobblestoned, ancient streets, like tourists.

She tried to decide whether it was OK to hold his hand. She remembered how his hands used to fit hers. They were small hands for a man, but so perfect against her palm, just the right amount of space between his fingers for hers, his thumb resting on top of her hand, his elbow curving into hers as they walked. But that was ages ago.

Would they still fit like that?

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By DaMongMan/ Flickr

By DaMongMan/ Flickr

I could sort of make out the outlines of the tattoo on my husband’s arm on the small photo on my phone. He took it in front of our bathroom mirror, holding up his right forearm in front of his face. I had to turn my head to the side to see that there were sun rays and a sword and a heart—some Masonic symbols that I don’t understand and perhaps I am not even allowed to understand. The tattoo stretched from wrist to elbow and wrapped all the way around his arm.

When we got married thirteen years ago, Drew did not have a single tattoo. I don’t think we ever talked about his desire to have one. Now he has four, with a fifth one in the plans. The first ones were modest, easily covered up by shirts and forgotten. I was away on a business trip this time and I knew that it was “tattoo day,” but the size and scope of this latest ink caught me off guard. I scanned myself for a reaction: how am I supposed to feel when my spouse turns from a baby-faced, soft-haired man into a bald, tattooed dude? I know how his mother feels about his tattoos and, when I think about my own sweet, soft-skinned baby boy getting inked when he is older, I completely sympathize with her. But Drew is not my child—he is my husband. So I should be supportive, right? I want to be—and I am—but I can’t help but stop for a moment to acknowledge the unease in the pit of my stomach. Is it the tattoo itself that makes me pause? Or the change that the tattoo signifies? Does it signify a change? How do I know?

The rest of the story is on Full Grown People.