Archive for September, 2008

I Need

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2008 by Ms. Ex

Needs. We all have them. I certainly do, and my children do also, especially E. He has special needs, high needs, extra needs and superfluous needs. His needs buffet my body, my mind, my patience, and suck every bit of energy I might otherwise have had for things like, say, brushing my teeth.

Now, I know the adage about want vs. need, and some of the problem is one of being okay with “good enough” parenting. To survive, a child certainly needs some things – food, water, perhaps clothing and shelter, and even love.  Failure to thrive is a recorded illness, born of neglect.  Babies sometimes die from lack of touch, even when the rest of the necessities are provided for.

But what about those things that seep out from deep inside of us?  Those drives that we can hardly contain, let alone triumph over?  For instance, I need reassurance that I will not be abandoned.  I do not mean an occasional sweet-talk-lite comment about always loving me.  I mean concrete words expressing delusional certainty that nothing will ever cause separation.  In that same way, Ethan needs contact.  He needs skin on skin, no regard for personal space contact of the sort that will suck a person dry over the course of a very short time, like twenty minutes.  I am constantly covered with bruises and have developed an over-responsive flinch reflex, much like a victim of abuse (okay, so maybe that was already there, but still).  I do not think that I have that kind of reassurance to give, at least not without sacrificing mental and physical health.

All this to say, I might not always, or even usually, be the kind of mother I envisioned when I was in the planning and manufacturing stages of parenting.

I used to be one of those people.  You know them.  They look at you in the grocery store when your children have gone from Mogwai to Gremlin in six seconds.  They give you the glare, the one that tells you you are a compleat and utter failure (compleat because these looks, for whatever reason, are accompanied by a British accent maybe reminiscent of Jo the Super Nanny.  Or maybe that was just a dream…).  I have doled out that look many times from the comfort of my non-child-having state, or at least the first-child-is-so-good-I-don’t-see-what-the-big-deal-is state.  Then came number two.

Now, when I get that inevitable glare in the check out line, in the coffee shop, in the bookstore, the doctor’s office and the local pub – I look those idiots in the eye and say, “It’s hard to raise a leader.”


Not So Serious, After All

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2008 by Ms. Ex

For some reason, I was under the impression that I was meant to be some dark artist holed up in cafes and all-night-bring-your-own-bottle-basement-jazz joints, dreaming of Dean Moriarty and living in opioid peace.  Instead I exist as a comedy skit.

For one thing, I drive around with a coccyx on my dashboard.

Dear M,

I have your tailbone, I know you have been wondering where it was.  It fell out of the pelvis when I let little man E play with it in the car and he kept asking me, “Yes, but what KIND of ANIMAL is is from?”  Try as I might, he didn’t really get it that humans are animals.  I guess this is not surprising, since most adults don’t get it either.  Anyway, sorry I forgot to give it to you when I returned the knitted placenta, amniotic sac, baby doll and pelvis.  By the way, the ladies at the health fair thought the “unbiblical” cord was really cool.


This same M, who, thankfully, is nearly as addled as I am, was witness to my third child’s first steps.  In the psychiatrist’s waiting room.  It’s quite appropriate that this is where it should happen, as everything else about this child is normal and easy.  In fact, this often causes me to wonder if he might be, um, like – “slow” in some way, because how else would any child of mine smile so much?  I’m not exactly All Happy, All the Time. Anyway, M met me at my Psych office so I could plead my case for the kind of sleeping pill that doesn’t make you continue to sleep the entire next day, while still counteracting the antidepressants that make you stay up the entire next night.  While we sat there waiting forty minutes for my fifteen minute appointment, baby B decided he would take a couple of steps towards me.

Dear Baby B,

I always tell my friends that they will most assuredly mess up their children.  The trick is to give them interesting stories to tell their therapists when they are older.  I’m sorry your first steps were in my shrink’s waiting room, but think of the delicious irony when you share that with yours!

-Your Mama, number one fan of your gorgeous smile

Right now, I am visiting my own mother, who gave me plenty of good stories to tell,  and who is providing fodder as I write this. I can hardly wait to share.

To be continued…

City Knitter

Posted in Knitting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2008 by Ms. Ex

This is a rerun of a blog I wrote somewhere else in April of this year:

You know, I really hate shopping.  And crowds.  And actually, people.  I kind of hate people, too.  So you might wonder – what in the world do I find appealing about NYC?  I wonder that myself.
I spent today walking fast, trying to get places, trying to make everyone happy, knowing no one was.  It’s not like it used to be, I kept thinking.  It’s not a family-of-five kind of trip.
When the teenager was little, I used to take her into the city, just the two of us.  We lived up here, and we would go almost every weekend.  We went in for brunch to the Acme Cafe (“A Pretty Good Place to Eat”), wandered the overwhelming piles of books at The Strand, sipped coffee at Le Figaro’s Cafe – a place I learned of from a friend in a long-ago postcard.  She tagged along, not understanding that this was supposed to be my life.  I was supposed to go to college here, I planned to anyway. I was supposed to be young, hip.  Not someone’s mother, not just starting college at twenty-four.
The supposed-to-be’s were stacked up behind me like dominoes and I strained to keep them from running me over. Everywhere I went was a reminder.  I wanted so much to be a part of it all, to be someone.  And maybe I never would be.
But now I go and I see – these people try too hard.  Everywhere I hear the sounds of post-modernist angst, push the limits, be different.  With all the effort to be different comes a kind of sameness, a monotony of loudness, strangeness.  It’s enough to make a person ill, maybe even crazy.
I walked around today with my camera taking pictures of doors, signs, things that made me laugh.  I knitted on the bus with a baby asleep on my lap.  I looked foolish.  I didn’t care.  Does it matter?  I create, too.  I create smiles, small people, knitted things. I’m not cool, and I think people like me anyway.  I never imagined I would be this person, but I’m glad to have the city, once in a while, anyway, to remind me that I am.

Born to Be Difficult

Posted in Knitting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 14, 2008 by Ms. Ex
Socks in Progress

Socks in Progress

I think I might need some serious help.  I have decided to knit my first pair of socks, learn how to knit continental style, and do all of this on two circular needles.  At the same time.  Any of these things would be a great challenge in and of itself, but me?  I choose to do all three.

I haven’t been knitting lately, and we had a few cool days here in Virginia that put me in the mood for wool.  I broke out the longies for baby B, dressed the wee ones in long sleeves – I even got to wear a snuggly sweater.  Then I hit the stash.

There is a reason knitters call their supply of yarn “the stash” and anyone who knows what I am talking about surely doesn’t need it explained that drug users also call their supply – you guessed it – their stash.  I realized long ago that my yarn habit was filling an emotional void, meeting needs that weren’t getting met elsewhere.  Of course, now my needs are being met for the most part, so what do I do with all this wool?  I press on, folks.  After all, obssession is as much about discipline as it is about misdirected, maladaptive instinct, and I am nothing if not disciplined.

So the socks – a great quickie pattern from Knitty called Thuja, they use worsted weight yarn, which means super thick, springy socks that I cannot wait to get on my feet.  Okay, they are supposed to be for men, but I’m thinking I can live with them a little loose plus I knit pretty tightly.  Anything, ANYTHING, to avoid using sock yarn.  Isn’t that the definition of madness?  Sock yarn is like golf – everything is impossibly small and far, far away (in distance or time).

I have high hopes that these socks will be ready in time for fall, along with the shawl I started in July.  With any luck, I can even make myself a hat to cover the still-nearly-bald head before winter.

Nothing Routine About It

Posted in Motherhood with tags , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2008 by Ms. Ex

I recently read another mom’s blog post about morning routines. I started to respond, but after about 400 words, I thought I should exit graciously and perhaps use up cyber space on my blog to share my own super-duper-fabuloso *MORNING ROUTINE*. Here goes.

Specs: Mom, 15 year old girl E, 4 year old boy E, 13 month old boy B, Somewhere in the Twilight Zone, Southwest, VA:

I am going to make all you moms and dads feel like the Queens (and Kings) that you are. Alarm? I can no longer sleep past seven even though I don’t go to bed until midnight and still get awakened at least three times by one child or another, since I am at the advanced maternal age of 37 and have old people’s insomnia. I don’t work outside the home in the morning, so I only have to get anyone ready to leave the house on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when E man has preschool, and it’s usually not a problem, since I slept in the clothes I had on the previous day. I can just roll out the door and none of the other moms know because they didn’t see me the day before. Also, I don’t really get to brush my teeth, but no one at my son’s school is terribly friendly to the strange mom so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

I noticed that a lot of you have wet hair in the morning. I solved this problem by shaving my head. Since I never brushed it anyway, it really works out better for me aesthetically.

The four year old doesn’t eat anything except brown and white foods (can you say, “high needs”?) so breakfast, if I remember it, is usually waffles or some other carbolicious delight. And of course – coffee for me. I save time by making one large pot and pouring myself cups from it over the course of the next 2-3 days and reheating in the microwave. I find the flavor is best on day three.

While Mr. High Needs watches “his show” (whatever I can find that suits him at the moment) I nurse the baby into oblivion, since his suck emergencies seem to peak in the morning. While he happily depletes whatever is left in me after his all-night marathon, I answer email and deal with a nonprofit for which I (of all people!) am the treasurer.

When I finally glance at the clock and realize we have five minutes to get out the door and get to school, E will usually say something like, “I want to walk to school today, Mommy,” or, “I have to go poop.” Mamas, I *wish* he could read in there, because at least that half an hour he spends on the potty would be productive, educational time. Instead, we all go in there with him because he cannot be alone even for a minute. I bring a book and the baby and some toys, unless I decide to let baby B play in the cupboard under the sink with the opiates and antidepressants and the cleaning products, and this is where I get all my reading done. Thank you, Ariel Gore for being such a quick, fun read! For obvious reasons, I also love essayists like David Sedaris, since I can devour a few of them in the time it takes E to perform his morning ablutions.

I am thinking of homeschooling, mostly because I doubt we will ever be able to get out the door on time. At least at home, I won’t be in trouble for tardiness, and no one will ever know how long it’s been since I showered.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 12, 2008 by Ms. Ex

Eights are good because they are round and go on and on and they hold everything together.   Twos and fours are bad they feel fuzzy in your mouth and when they are put together they become especially bad.  Threes are good but the girl (who is like me) avoids them because they are red.  Sevens make me happy and calm.

Did I read that sentence correctly?  I’ll read it again.  No, I think I am remembering one of the words wrong, I’ll look once more.  I have it now – but no I need to make sure that word is the right one, just one more time I swear I will not turn the page back again after this last time.

My hands are sticky, I should wash them.  I don’t think I got it – they still feel sticky, coated with worldly grime.  I wash them again.  Maybe my towel is sticky, too.  I will wash them once more and use a new towel to dry them.  Now I am typing and they are getting that way again – maybe it’s my keyboard.  I have to wipe it off, clean it.  Now I’ve touched a cloth that was used to clean something and I must wash my hands again.

Baby B looks like he’s not breathing.  I should check to be sure.  I can’t hear him!  I’ll just be very still and lean down near him and listen, but no – I still can’t hear anything.  I look and look in the dim light but I can’t see anything moving, so I place my hand on his back to feel but the movement is absent, or else too subtle.  So no I shake him gently to get a response and then he is crying and I know he is alive.  This will happen three or four times each night.

The rhythm matches my steps as I walk, but there is something off, my cadence, or the accent is on the wrong beat.  I begin the tune again in my head and walk and try to make the steps match the words and the music but I can’t quite get it and I have to start over again.  Then, too late, I am at my destination and I must discreetly place my feet just so, walking in place until the beat has been satisfied and the beast sated.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 5, 2008 by Ms. Ex

I cannot remember,

all these years since,

any of the words we used.

I cannot recall the substance, the starts, the subjects.

Only the feelings, brought back to life in me now

familiar as water

as my own skin

as blood.

I remember the clouds roiling around us,

you holding my hair back as

everything spun out of control.

And I wish I could rise up and see you

from a distance,

as small and insignificant as myself.

I would be above –

able to calm the fear.

Instead, you are Prometheus



and unattainable.

Instead, you rise over me

and quell the very fire

you put in me.