Tag Archives: motherhood

Almost 12. Already.

at the end of 11 years old.

at the end of 11 years old.


At the end of 11 years old part two.

At the end of 11 years old part two.


Next week, well, to be precise, in just a few days, my daughter turns 12. I am, as I always am around this time of year, a puddle of feelings. Friday is, unbelievably, the 10th anniversary of my father’s death– a loss that seems very long ago and still fresh and not quite believable to me.

Last year, right after my daughter turned 11, I wrote that 11 was going to be a big year. And I was right, it has been a big year in outward ways that signal bigger kinds of changes too. My daughter grew tall and filled out. She is now taller than D, her former babysitter and our close friend. She is tall as or taller than my partner, taller than most other girls in her class. For this particular daughter– as a girl in an urban setting with her own particular interests and strengths and struggles and understandings of the world, 11 has held many milestones besides height. She is different and consequently I have shifted and am still shifting and adjusting my expectations and my understanding of who my daughter is. Not as a person really, but as a person in the developmental scheme of things.

Over this past year she became not only willing but sometimes anxious to run out of the car while I double parked to pick up something from the store, the dry cleaners, carry out food, etc. Last summer she and her friend made lemonade and baked cookies and collected a small TV table and some folding chairs as well as her working toy cash register– and went out on one of the most oppressively hot days of the year and set up a lemonde stand/ mini-bakery. Without my partner or me. She and a particular friend of hers have loved going the two blocks to play, without an adult in tow, at the toddler park that she practically grew up in. We have some rules related to safety and she carries a cell phone, but she plays in that park on her own. That fact represents for me the two threads of where we are right now. Young enough to want to play in that park, old enough to go without me.

This past set of changes are bittersweet and thrilling and unknown. Watching her change before my eyes is touching and deep and then raises all kinds of question marks about my own future and identity. For now, I’m very much a mom, but it is very different from before. I’m a little off balance in a way similar to but so different from the off-balance of having a new baby in the family.

As a mom I think strategically. But it’s no longer about those infancy questions about how I’ll get a shower or feed myself, or the toddler questions about how I will get some time to myself but quite the opposite. I see certain struggles of hers and I figure, I now only have about xx years (still figuring out how many) to really get in there with her and have some influence. But now she and I and she and my partner share jokes, confidences. And now, 12 nipping at our heels.

The other night, she grew sullen and upset about something between us. I had some real attention and I sat her down and said, warmly, openly– tell me, tell me about all the disappointments (in me– and related to what we were talking about)– “I want to hear all of it”, I said. And I meant it. She had a kind of loosely knit set of things, and she talked to me for real and I listened. She has been a child who always wanted me very near, who complained if I wasn’t near enough. But the other night among her complaints she said, “…and I want more priveleges, like going home after school alone…”

She had never walked to or from school without an adult, nor ever wanted to do so– but she suddenly felt constrained and injured by the lack of this. So yesterday she walked home from school with her friends and spent an hour and a half alone with two other 11 year old girls, before the first adult walked through the door. And today she rode a city bus across town with her friend to go to the friend’s house before her mom came home from work. Ready or not she’ll be 12 on Monday. And I cannot imagine, and I can– whatever will come next.

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The gym, the f-word and the mama

For me as a mother, besides fighting against racism and sexism, besides homework, besides working with her school on issues large and small, besides cleaning and keeping food in the house–there is my own body.  I know a number of mothers who go to yoga and zumba classes and my sister gets up at a ridiculous hour to go to boot camp.  I do none of it so far.  I do know for many of us women/ mothers– there is a real battle to even get keeping our physical selves in good shape– onto the to-do list.  What I’m trying to say is women’s health is a feminist issue and I am slowly coming to realize that this is an important frontier in my busy, all-female household.

Over the Passover holiday I asked my sister, who was part of the out-of-town Pesach team, to go with me to the gym– where I’d gone exactly once since I started my job in February 2012.  My sister has been very into exercise in the past year or two.  She goes to boot camp and doesn’t do her thing at a gym– she doesn’t even like gyms, but for me, she obliged.  We made several trips to the gym.  That routine fell off the map after she left but will be back on again starting this weekend when I meet with my new trainer.  I am trying to bring some semblance of regular exercise, strength and flexibility back into my life.  I want to be in better shape, I really want to be stronger and much more flexible and I want to model being a woman who does this and who enjoys it– for my daughter and the other young girls in my life.  I want to take better care of my own female body.  For me.

So the other day, I called the male general manager of my gym to clear up something about a few personal training sessions that I bought but haven’t used.  He was very nice, much nicer than the last general manager I had dealt with at that gym.

After we got clarity about personal training sessions I said, “By the way, I’m a woman, I’ve been a gym member for two years now and I really want some of your regular groups and classes centered on people over 45– for strength and stretching and cardio.  I don’t need to be only with people in their 40s and 50s and 60s– but I’m tired of being the only one over 45 in a sea of 20’s and 30’s.”  He still sounded interested and courteous and he said ,  “There’s a class on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:30 a.m. called, ‘Aging with Elegance'”.  We were on the phone so he didn’t see me wince and roll my eyes.  I think I also actually snorted a little.

In his defense, he sounded like he knew this wasn’t really going to fly when the sentence started out of his mouth but he didn’t have anything else.  I decided I would set aside sarcasm and try to educate him.  He seemed attentive and earnest and was being nice to me.  He had only just begun to seem to me the littlest bit condescending but maybe he didn’t make up the name of the ‘Aging with Elegance’ class.

I said, “Look–I am sort of out of shape, and I could use to shed some weight but I want to give you a picture of where I am in terms of my physical activity level.”  I wasn’t defensive– what do I have to defend?   I said– “I have an 11- year-old daughter and she weighs about 110 and I play-wrestle her often.”  I went on.  “Also, I live on the fourth floor of a walk-up with no elevator (really the 3rd floor, but we park and enter in the basement)– therefore, I carry ridiculous amounts of groceries and laundry; I carry small and not-so-small pieces of furniture of all kinds; cases of seltzer water, potting soil and other things up and down three flights of stairs about every day.  But I’m not a 28-year-old who pumps iron four days a week or runs marathons.”  With that I heard him wince a little and felt him listen with renewed respect.

I paused so he could digest all this.  I closed with, “And one other thing is this.  I work a very full-time job for our legislature and I am definitely not ever available at 9:30 a.m. on weekday mornings.”  I could tell he was embarrassed by the class he had offered and he said he’d think about it and talk to some of their early morning teachers.  He meant he would try to figure out something that might  work for laundry-grocery-trash-hauling-wrestling- moms like me.  Obviously I don’t know where this will go– so we’ll see.  In the meantime I’m heading off to see Trish, my new trainer, on Saturday.  She just had a baby I hear, so she will either be a little on the stiff, sore, exhausted side herself– or she’ll be a remarkable female specimen capable of having a baby and returning to spinning class that same afternoon.  Either way, I hope we’ll like each other and once in a while I’ll write about my progress on this– another feminist project.

Adoption, this day, 11 years ago

I’ve been in a tough place again around work and the amount of time it keeps me tied up and away from my daughter, her friends, her school, our time together.  I miss my partner a great deal– we are ships passing in the night lately, and I miss that precious time of sitting at the dining room table, hot weather or cold weather, writing. Writing.  My partner had hand surgery to repair that broken finger two weeks ago and we are at four weeks of her being unable to drive, shower on her own, do dishes, send an email.  We’re both tired.  There is some kind of grief right at the surface.

But even so, this is a special day.  Joy.  Love.  Satisfaction. Hope.  The sense that some things are very, very right in the world and in my world.  I’ve started, but not finished, a post about my daughter turning 11 and about her birthday itself, which happened on May 20. I will finish.

But this is my day in a certain way.  It’s hers too, but it’s mine for real. I have written more about our beginnings before. It’s the day we flew to her hometown in Texas, arrived in 106 degree heat 11 years ago and met her, and took her home to our temporary-hotel-room-home, and became the mothers of a 12-day old baby girl.  That was what I wanted.  Right then and there and still now, she is who I wanted.  I remember it as “welcome home, baby girl”  and also it was like a big welcome home for me– she made my home and my place in the world bigger, more solid.

So to my beloved, hilarious, beautiful, brilliant, funny, loving and lively N., I say this.  Your two moms lives were pretty great and full of love and interesting people and things to do way before you came along.  We had a good life together.  But our lives and our home and our days and nights have only been exponentially better because you were born and came to us– because we know you and love you and get to be with you so much.  I love you and I love your other mom and I do love the close-in people (near and far) who are the village that has surrounded us with you right at the center of things.  Just where you and every young person deserve to be.

Then. May 24, 2001–at four days old, this was the day we learned about N. and the first picture we saw.

Then. But a little later. She became undeniably, unmistakably our daughter when we saw this picture, taken four days before we met. She needed a family and we needed a daughter. May 28, 2001.

And now.  Today.  At school and across the table from me.  The two of us working together.

I was glad to get out of work early enough to get to hang with her at school, then take her home. Shy. Just a little. June 1, 2012.

Working, writing great messages in invisible ink.