Thursday, June 9, 2011


What parent doesn’t want the best of the best for their children? How do we strike balance between helping them achieve their goals while not imposing our own goals upon them? Expectations are normal and healthy; demands are not.

Today I am thinking about my teenaged daughter’s sexual health.

This has been on my mind for a long time but in the last few weeks, since she told me about her “new big brother,” I have been trying to find a way to talk to her about boys and what their intentions and expectations may or may not be.

This boy she met over Memorial Day Weekend while visiting a friend is 17 years old and had just

graduated from high school. Meadow is 14 and starting high school in the fall. This boy has already had at least one 14 year old girlfriend although I don’t know how intimate they were. Apparently he is moving away soon to go to college, which is a bit of a relief for me because I see this friendship progressing rapidly and I worry that it could grow into more than brotherly affection. I’ve been very forthcoming with my concerns while trying to remain calm and rational. Although it’s been difficult, I feel that I have done a good job of being open to listening.

I am painfully aware that Meadow is quickly approaching the age where she won’t be able to resist the primal urge of her loins, and she will either pursue a sexual relationship or will give into pressure from a boy that she likes. I know this is normal and we all go through it but I want to try and make sure she is prepared to do it safely, and on her terms. I was unable to take charge of my own adolescent sexuality and my adult relationships have suffered as a result.

I refuse to take the stance of abstinence. I think it’s cruel and unrealistic and I will not demand it of my children. Instead, I want to make it easy for them to obtain information and birth control.

I contacted Planned Parenthood today to ask for advice and information on how to introduce my

daughter to their services. They were incredibly warm and easy to talk to. The woman I spoke with confirmed that their services are confidential and if Meadow were to go to them for any reason, she would be helped without having to call her parents. The lady also suggested that I allow Meadow the responsibility to set the initial appointment.

Of course, I would like to be involved in Meadow’s sexual health—my field of knowledge is reproductive health, pregnancy, and childbirth—but I know that it can be uncomfortable to talk to your own parents about sex. So I will give her the reins to her own sexuality and not impose my own expectations and beliefs. She's a very smart young woman. She knows how to make good choices. I trust her.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Challenge

For several years now my dear husband, James has been listening to me complain about a menagerie of health issues ranging from being overweight to being a smoker. He's always telling me that he loves me the way I am but he will gladly support any steps I want to take to being happy with my physical and emotional self: his attitude is, "How can I help?"

Last week James presented me with a challenge. He told me that I can choose a health issue I want to address and he's making a bet that I can't complete my goal by the time we save up $1,000 in a special savings account.

I want to go to Barcelona for my 40th birthday, three years from now. I've been wanting to go for several years and I'm working toward making it a reality.

James wants s new guitar. Currently he owns two: a custom Epiphone and an Epiphone Les Paul. He wants a Gibson Les Paul.

Enter the challenge:
James and I have agreed to begin putting $25 from each pay check (for a total of $50 per pay day) into the savings account beginning this week. It will take 10 months to build that up to $1,000. In the same amount of time, I will be working towards losing 40 pounds.

If I make my goal, the $1,000 goes towards my Barcelona trip. If I don't make my goal, James gets a new guitar.

This will be diffcult. I LOVE fried foods and sweets and I would rather eat a bag of rocks than spend any time exercising.

Today for lunch I had a tuna sandwich, a small portion of red pepper/tomato soup, a small handful of sweet potato chips and for dessert, low-fat cottage cheese with diced peaches. Now I want a fucking donut. Or seven.

Let the games begin. Who are you rooting for?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mom's Maple

My friend (and guitar player in my band) gave me this Japanese Maple today. I decided to put it in a pot and train it.

It makes me think of my mom and her fight against Pancreatic Cancer. When I got out the wire and began shaping the branches, the heart just leapt out. I love you, Mama.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Zackary James Stilts

My first baby, 11 days old in 1991.

Parenting is the hardest job I've ever had. The pay is inconsistent and I'm on call twenty four hours a day. The scariest part is the unknown outcome: I have no idea if I will be successful and be promoted, and not a clue whether or not my kids will turn out to be responsible, successful adults.

So far, I have a 20 year old son, a 14 year old daughter, and a 12 year old son.

Zack, my 20 year old, is on his own now and wasn't raised by me. My aunt and uncle adopted him in 1993 when he was 2. Although he came back to me in his teen years, beginning with weekend visits at age 13, we were never really able to repair our relationship. Eventually, my aunt and uncle didn't know what to do with him anymore and he came to live with us when he was 16.
He was a rebellious boy with his own ideas of how he wanted to live. He didn't see what was wrong with partying all the time, nor what the point was with school. After running away several times, we decided to have him go to rehab. He completed his program there and came home with ideas of going to get his GED and finding a job.
Now, three years later, he still doesn't have his GED and he's never had a job. I hear from him occasionally, mostly to ask for help in whatever way but I haven't seen him in a couple of months and have only talked or texted with him a few times. I think about him every day but I know that he needs to find his own way in life. It hurts to see him making the same mistakes I and many of my friends have made, but I am confident that he will grow up and become a man one day.
At least he hasn't made me a grandmother. Yet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meadow Bliss

She was so cute! Such a roly-poly chub with a wispy tuft of white-blonde hair. I fought the good fight in so many ways to get her here.

I remember when she started to walk. I wasn't home. I was at work while she waited for me at my "foster" mom's house. Not long after that I commented, "I can't wait until she talks!"


And talk, she did. One of her first words was 'beer.' I can say that and laugh now because she's not using drugs or alcohol. When I first heard it I was torn with a range of emotion from mortification to glee that she was already challenging the status quo. I mean, who can say that the first coherent word she heard out of her daughter's mouth was beer?
I can.

Now Meadow is 14 and still expanding people's belief in what they think is 'normal.'

Now, Meadow is 14 and we fight like cats. A week doesn't go by without a spat. Not usually too serious; it typically ends with me telling her to keep her trap shut followed by a fight for the last word. Tonight was different. Tonight ended with the two of us clinging to one another in the kitchen, crying our eyes out and apologizing.

What is it about mothers and daughters that we have to fight? My favorite school of thought believes that we fight as she is beginning to assert herself in the world...become independent; that if we didn't fight, she wouldn't ever want to leave home. Wait, leave home? Eek!

Meadow doesn't seem to know how deeply I'm affected by these fights. Maybe I don't realize how they affect her. As the adult, I know it's my job to approach every situation calmly and with compassion. As an educated adult who has successfully completed the obstacle course of adolescence, I know that it's normal for my teenaged daughter to feel inexplicably irate at the smallest things. I know that she may be confused by what her compulsion drives her toward and what her heart knows is right.

I also know that we both act out.

It's the ultimate betrayal, right? That our daughters somehow find a way to grow up. They grow boobs and they become women. Primally, another female in the pack presents competition. But what's the competition here?

Lightbulb moment.

Am I jealous that my daughter might be more successful at being a teenager than I ever was? Am I worried that she just might fuck it up? I've actually never thought about that before. Holy shit.

I had a tough adolescence. I ended it at 16 with pregnancy. I was messing with boys much older than me and experimenting with drugs as early as 12.

Meadow, on the other hand, seems to be staying away from this path.
So it seems that, on one hand, I'm jealous that she is taking the right path; on the other, I'm worried that she'll end up doing these things.

Probably the biggest frustration for me is the attitude. I know, I know, it's what teenaged girls do best. Attitude is the new black, right? And hasn't she shown it all along? I mean, she is the girl that, at two years old, said to her preschool teacher, "Jah Rastafari! Don't oppress me!" And then she was busted at another preschool for dropping an F bomb in front of her teacher. Spirited child, indeed.

At the same time, her attitude is one of my favorite things about her. She'll never take any shit from anyone. Including me. Gulp.

Tonight I came home like Pavlov's dog. I was resisting conditioned response as much as I could. James told me around 3 this afternoon that Meadow's grades were slipping. I did some investigating on the school website and discovered at least 12 missing assignments, resulting in an F in at least one class. James was at practice when I got home.

I got through the dinner-making process, calmly talking to Meadow all along. Things escalated a little when the attitude kicked in. And then they escalated a little more. Then BOOM! I lost it. I shouted, no, I screamed at her. I threw her school planner across the room. I was yelling, using foul language, telling her that I was sick and tired of the attitude and the lack of concern over her grades. My tirade lasted about 20 minutes. It left Meadow in tears at the table. At one point she told me that I was scaring her.

I told her to go to her room. Neither of us ate any dinner.

Shaking, I went outside for a smoke before going into my room and collapsing in tears. I laid on my bed thinking about what I'd done. How I'd acted toward my daughter. What a horrible thing. I wanted to go hold her and tell her how very, very sorry I was that I'd blown up like that. But I waited. I was too ashamed. I still am.

After a while I got up and started cleaning the kitchen. Normally the kids are supposed to clean up after dinner but I think I was making a very weak attempt at apologizing for being a monster.

While I was unloading the dishwasher (Meadow's job), Meadow walked into the kitchen and offered to take over. I told her I would do it. She looked at me and told me she was going to go to bed. Then she walked over to give me a hug and I could no longer hold back the tears. They flowed out of us both like a tide of sorrow and forgiveness.

One of Meadow's preschool teachers once told me that you know some huge developmental milestone is swelling inside them when kids start really pushing your limits.

Maybe we're on the verge of something special.

Now, please, before you judge me...think about your own experiences. I've always done the best I could with what I had. We all get pushed past our limits sometimes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Morning

Two seals and a heron walk into a bar...

Oh, it's Monday. It's morning and I'm really wishing we had another day off. Just one more. In any case, I'm ready to greet the day with a cup of coffee and a smile.

The Dick and Janes had practice yesterday. I'm getting really excited about the songs we're writing. Hopefully we'll be ready to play a show or two this summer. We've been trying to practice twice a week for a few weeks now and we've averaged about one and a half and we've finished one song that's been hanging in the balance. Now there are two more. One that's been a little zygote of a song for probably a year and one that's pretty new. Be watching for shows this summer!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Free Association

Second book in a mediocre series
Trees always make the best eclipse accessory

Why Mother? My mom has had an incredible photograph of a full lunar eclipse framed and hanging in her living room for as long as I can remember. I think a friend of hers shot the photo in the 70s. Amazing.

I'm smiling today. I read a quote that I think we can all learn from:
"I have the right to be angry; but I do not have the right to be cruel."

Sometimes I go into judgment mode when I'm cranky and see something that I disagree with. My goal today is to walk away from those judgments when they creep into my mind.