Tag Archives: non-bio mom

“Mama. Take This. It’s a boogie.”

Be Here Now on SidewalkThe road to parenthood is often long.  No matter who you are or who you are married to (or whether or not you are married/partnered with anyone), getting pregnant is not a guarantee.

We live on a college campus.  The other day, a student who is probably 21 or 22, walked by with her big pregnant belly.  I took a deep breath as she passed, trying to stuff the envy deeper down.  But I am envious.  I hate it, but I am.

I have always had visions of Thanksgivings when I am 60.  Our myriad of children and their significant others around the table.  When I was 25, it seemed like a fact; there was no question.  But life just isn’t that easy sometimes. Miscarriage happens. Negative pregnancy tests happen…and happen and happen.  Adoptions fall through.  Shit happens.

I try really hard not to get stuck in that place of being too aware of these challenges.  I try to focus on our one amazing boy and remind myself that he is enough, regardless.  It isn’t always easy, but inevitably, my boy does something that brings me back around.  When he says to me, “Mama.  Take this.  It’s a boogie,”  I do so without hesitation, because he really is the love of my life (other than S, of course) and he makes everything better.  So, with or without another positive pregnancy test, I will take his boogie willingly because sometimes, that is enough.





I have been thinking a lot about what I want to teach my son.  I want to teach him to be a compassionate man who stands up for what he believes in, even if it is uncomfortable.  Part of his education comes from exposure to different people and situations, so tonight, despite S and me being fairly exhausted, we packed up the kid and the crazy dog and headed downtown.  We joined an estimated 10,000 other people to raise our voices in unison in opposition to the archaic laws being passed by North Carolina legislators in Raleigh. (http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/05/3083774/moral-monday-protests-heading.html ,  https://twitter.com/asheville/status/364517682424471552)

I used to be a lot more political.  When I had a shaved head and wore really baggy jeans (so baggy, my college soccer coach and one of my teammates each got in a leg…at the same time), I would scream loud and pump my fist for whatever cause I was supporting.  As my hair grew out and my pants shrank, I still showed-up, but was maybe not as loud as I once was.  Now, half the time I don’t know what I am wearing or the state of my hair, I show-up and observe.  I am not often holding a sign, or speaking out.  I am just there.

Brining M to these events is sometimes
nerve-wracking.  There were a LOT of people today.  Dogs and strollers and big signs to dodge.  Counter protestors to make the blood boil.  It was hot and loud and…really important.  M might not know exactly what is going on, but he sees all kind of people coming together to support and uplift and to inspire change.  That is why we take him.

Part of the legacy I will leave for my son is the belief that people, together, can change the world.  It has happened again and again.  So, even when we are tired and grumpy and whatever else, we still show up for our neighbors and ourselves.


Hocus Pocus

imagesI made a decision the moment I looked into my son’s eyes to never lie to him.  We talk about where meat comes from and what it means to die.  We don’t do Santa Claus and won’t do the Tooth Fairy.  I know that may sound harsh.  That’s just the way it is.  (Don’t worry: He finds magic in lots of other places!)

What I haven’t decided is if making-up stories counts as lying?  I think not?  Here is the situation:  A few nights ago we three were deep into battle over flossing and brushing M’s teeth.  He was yelping and covering his mouth with both hands anytime one of us came near.  Exhausted, we watched as M darted for the door only to find S’s foot holding it closed.  He didn’t notice her foot and just kept tugging at the door, getting frustrated and then, finally, giving up.

At that moment, it dawned on me (maybe on S…but let’s pretend it was me for the sake of the story): Here is a golden opportunity to change to game.  So, I/we told him that the door had a magic spell on it and wouldn’t open until he flossed, brushed and said the magic words, ‘hocus, pocus, open the door-us’.

Can you guess what happened next?  You are right!  It fucking worked!  Four nights running, we have not battled over his oral hygiene.  There have been no battle of wills.  If it looks like one is coming down the pike, we just invoke the magic spell and ta-da!

I realize that this story may have us crossing very close to lying territory.  That part I am not so keen on.  The lack of battles?  Well, that I love.



imgres-2As my son was falling asleep tonight, green bouncy ball in one hand, he started whispering something to me.  There was just enough light in the room for me to recognize the white of his teeth as he smiled. “jaja-jo” was what I heard.  I asked him to repeat.  It came across the same.  “Once more?” I asked knowing I was now pulling him farther from sleep.  “Cujo,” he said loudly with a bigger smile.

“That’s what you call our dog.  Why do you call him that?”
“I’ll tell you when you are bigger.”

Their tiny brains are amazing.  He sits there watching the light disappear outside his windows, running through the events of the day.  Eyes wide open, his breathing deepens as he remembers walks or play dates or, perhaps, when I needed a few minutes alone and gently escorted him to his room for my ten kid-free minutes.

Despite this being my least favorite time of year (humidity+heat=VERY unhappy Betsy), we have been rather busy.  New adventures, new friends.  All of these new things and he thinks about ‘Cujo’ right before he falls asleep.  While their brains are amazing, they are also quite strange.



As my son is going to sleep at night, he traces the lines of my face or pats my arm or touches my elbow. I love these moments. I know that they go against the ultimate goal of him sleeping, but I can’t help myself. His touch is so light and sweet, it melts me. I pretend to be asleep, but really I am so deeply in love with that boy that it is overwhelming in these moments. When the room is dark and he is touching my nose or my eyelids, there is no question about our biology or him wanting Ima more. There are no monsters in the closet or kids who say mean things. There are no teenagers being gunned down or people dying in wars. None of that exists. It is just me and him, the love between a parent and a child. I have needed that lately.

I was talking about the news with a friend earlier this week. She talked about how, a while back, she had to disconnect from the news in order to protect her sanity. Sometimes I think this is what I need to do also. I think the accessibility of information makes me a distracted parent. I might think about Trayvon Martin or Cory Montieth or whatever sad headline flashes across my screen when I should be focusing on my son.

So, when it is my night to put M to bed, the tracing reminds me to be fully present. No screens, no sounds. Just breathing and being together. Connected in a really special way.


Rain, rain. Go away?

It has rained every day except one for as long as I can remember. The rivers are swollen. Everything outside that is not metal is covered in mildew. Serotonin levels are on a fast decline. You get the picture.

Today, the sun was out for most of the day (after a rain shower this morning, of course). My boy and I had a nice berry-hunting kind of walk this morning before the depth of the humidity really set it. When it is 90% humidity and 85 degrees, the only think I want is for the rain to come, soaking us and our clothes for some momentary relief. It is only then, when you want it to come, that the clouds part and the brilliant rays you thought you were longing for beat down on you like moist fire. It is an all together unpleasant experience.

You may be asking yourself, “What does that have to do with parenting?” Well, it translated into spending as much of the day as possible sleeping in the direct path of a window air conditioner or at someone’s house who has central air. This weather makes me really grumpy. My boy seems to be unfazed by any changes in weather. He wants to hike in the rain, walk naked in the snow, wear fleece pants in June. It is all the same to him. Me, I want to crawl in bed and stay there until the leaves start to change colors. At the end of today, I feel d-o-n-e. Done. My boy was quite pleasant today. We had some lovely company. All I can think about is getting this post up and going to sleep in the hopes that tomorrow might bring 50% humidity and 65 degrees. I know that is a pipe dream and that come February I will be saying that I can’t wait for the heat of summer. But tonight, I can wait. I can wait a long, long time until it is this gross outside again.


Close Your Eyes

M is a bright child.  Yes, I realize most parents would say this about their own kids.  He has been potty trained since 20 months, knows his ABCs and the location of several states on a map.  He is curious and asks a lot of questions and doesn’t forget a thing.  He does not, however, know how to close his eyes when prompted.

We have this sweet book about various animals closing their eyes and going to sleep.  When it comes time for each animal to close its eyes, M contorts his face only reaching partial closer despite the tremendous effort.  His nose travels north, his cheeks follow suit actually causing his lower eyelids to migrate, more like when you are a little constipated or dropping stuff off at the landfill.

We have shown him 10,000 times how to relax one’s face and how to gently allow your upper lid to touch the lower.  It was quite comical for a long time, but now I have decided that is the reason he continues to take an hour to fall asleep.  If he could only learn to close his eyes, it would take ten minutes.  Ten lovely, calm, reflective minutes.  Instead, his inability to close his eyes has caused countless nights of chaos.

So, tomorrow we are going to practice again.  I will softly coax his eyelids together with the palm of my hand again and again until he gets it.  When he gets it (because he will), then he will go to bed easy…by 8:00…and sleep until 7:00…and not make a peep in between.