Writing with Sam

DSC_0017It was a throwaway assignment. The teacher even told the kids that they didn’t have to complete it over winter break if they didn’t feel like it. And so that left me to decide whether I thought it was worth the hassle, the haggle, the headache of getting my kindergartener to sit down and write in his journal.

Each page the teacher sent home had a title—Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Family Time—with a cheerful drawing at the top, a space for the kids to draw, then solid and dotted lines on the rest of the page to guide upper- and lower-case letters.

Sam had just started to write by himself a few weeks earlier. I caught him sounding out words—slow and drawn-out like an old record player—as he was drawing and labeling a diagram of the Titanic.

Somehow I was always excited about or expecting reading to come first, to be the first big, thrilling achievement. Writing was sort of subsidiary, right before math.

I have no idea why I thought that.

Read the rest of the essay on Literary Mama

A Year of Revisiting Old Loves

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It is so easy to get into a rut. The toenail clipping, burping, morning-breath kind of rut of busy days and exhausted evenings. The no-sex rut, the no-talking rut, the not-holding-hands rut follow quickly behind. It doesn’t take long to get there—not as long as you’d like to think.

I am sort of baffled by this. I married for love. I married for great sex. For friendship. For a deep connection. We were mature and intelligent and in love. Isn’t that all you need?

But now it all seems muddled and not so easy. I feel like it’s unfair, because I can’t even put a finger on that nagging feeling between us. It’s everything. It’s nothing. I remember that sweet tingle, the antsy anticipation, the burning lust.  But now love just feels like a promise we made a long, long time ago that we’ll stick with this, even when it’s so, so hard. And it’s hard on most days.

So we work at it, because that’s what we are supposed to do—and because we want to. I buy the lingerie and wear makeup and we schedule date nights. But it all feels forced and not like the real thing. So we settle into that feeling—that the real thing will never be ours again. And I start to wonder: would it be different with someone else? With the young men I knew way back when? Are they still sweet and caring and romantic? Are they still funny and horny?  Am I? Or is it inevitable that we are all tired and comfortable and settled into life with soft bellies and graying hair?

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It is a bit of a joke between us. Drew likes to tease me about “my men”—all of the former lovers I still stay in touch with and talk to on a regular basis. I have to admit—I ask a lot from my husband to understand and tolerate these connections. I didn’t end up marrying these men, but I easily could have. Time and circumstances made these relationships fizzle and go from romantic affairs to occasional friendships.

But still, there’s something there. Love doesn’t just disappear into thin air. It doesn’t just leave the heart on command—that’s not how it works. Little bits and pieces of love linger. What do you do with that love when you are only supposed to be in love with one person?

Read the full essay on The Manifest-Station

Now That I’m a Mother, I Want Things

Monika Olszewska / iStock

Monika Olszewska / iStock

I never really wanted anything in life.

Not really, not passionately. Maybe I wanted a new Barbie doll when I was a child, or wanted to stay up later to watch TV, or wanted to skip school, or stay out longer with my boyfriend. I “wanted” to be a stewardess and an Egyptologist, but only with a child’s understanding of what those things are. But I never really felt a drive to be something. I was never drawn to a profession, or a certain kind of life, or felt a calling. I wanted things that were easy, that weren’t risky, that didn’t call any attention to me.

I used to drive my mother crazy by saying “it doesn’t matter” or “whatever” to everything: where I went to college, what I studied, where we went for dinner, where I got married, the color of the napkins at the wedding reception. “It all matters,” she would say, and I would just roll my eyes. Saying “it doesn’t matter” made me look cool, easy, flexible, I thought. And I was, sure. But I also allowed decisions to be made for me—by life, by circumstances, by the people around me. I moved, gave up graduate school, bought cars and houses with that attitude, and while they all sort of worked out in the end, my cool indifference made me feel powerless.

And then I had a baby. I hate to admit it, but initially even that decision was sort of “meh” for me. I don’t remember an overwhelming urge to become a mother—it just seemed like the next logical thing to do.

Read the full story on Scary Mommy