Category “Family Matters”


Posted in: Family Matters

We go through our lives, being the people we are, acting the way we act, generally oblivious about the truest things about ourselves.  We know if we’re outgoing or intelligent or prone to spilling things.  But few of us know – really know – if we’re impatient or biting or inherently kind.  You know who does know all of these things about us?

Our mothers.

We like to pretend that we’re “real” around other people.  If you’re anything like me, “real” in this context means about half as horrible as you actually are.

When Husband sees me in the morning, I’ve usually been awake for at least an hour and consumed two oversized mugs of coffee.  I hear him wake up and am ready – with a smile! – when he appears.  I am friendly.  I ask how he slept.  I offer to pour his coffee.  I have the occasional crabby morning, but usually I’m in a much better mood than he is (I have two settings on my morning dial:  asleep and awake.  Husband has four:  asleep, lying-in-bed-but-no-longer-asleep, walking-around-but-not-yet-awake, and awake.  The first three are not his friendly place.)

When I’m at my parents house, Mom is always up before I am.  She’s in the kitchen, drinking black coffee and working a crossword puzzle, when I stomp down the back stairs.  (Yes, if left to my own devices, I would stomp around for a good twenty minutes every morning.  I’d do it in my own house if we didn’t have hardwood floors that rattle when I do it.  Or a husband who prefers not to be woken up every morning by what feels like an earthquake.  See how we behavior modify for others?).  When I arrive in the kitchen, I’m sullen and crabby.  How’d you sleep? she’ll ask.  Fine, I’ll mutter.  Then I’ll stomp around some more.

She’s the only person I’m like this with.  With Husband, college roommates, even Sister, I make the effort to be bright and sunny first thing in the morning.  Not with Mom.  Mom gets dark and stormy.  And stompy.

I’ve thought a lot about this over the years, wondering why I’m such a crab with my mom and so nice to everyone else.  It’s not just mornings, either.  If I forget something (which is often), or misplace something (even more often), or spill something on whatever white piece of clothing I’m wearing (every time), Mom gets the brunt of my annoyance, usually in the form of:  “It’s FINE, Mom.  I’ll deal with it.”  And then she promptly comes up with whatever I’ve forgotten/finds whatever I’ve lost/removes whatever I’ve spilled with one swipe of her deft hand.

I’m doing what we do in blogland.  I’m using my particular experience to make a general statement about how we treat our moms.  But the generality breaks down when I add this key detail:  my mom is a Perfect Mom.  Yes, it’s Mothers Day, and yes, this is what daughters do on Mothers Day, they inflate their moms’ egos to make up for all the horrible things they did during their teenage years.  But in this case, it’s more than just Mothers’ Day puffery.  My mom is, quite literally, a Perfect Mom.  I venture to say that there are people with perfectly wonderful mothers who know mine and would agree with me (don’t worry, I won’t force you to do it publicly).

My mom isn’t the doesn’t-even-seem-like-a-mom-at-all mom.  And she’s not the hard-charging-career-woman-who-managed-to-juggle-it-all mom, or the Sally-Field-on-Brothers-And-Sisters/I-spend-my-days-making-roast-chicken-and-gardening-and-obsessing-over-my-children mom, either.  She’s a woman who’s smart and capable and talented and beautiful who spent a good chunk of her 30s and 40s being a mom.  Not just “staying home with the kids,” but really and truly, being a mom.  Cultivating my interests.  Encouraging my dreams.  Showing up (usually with a snack) at every swim meet and softball game and talent show.  Defending me when the gossip train came charging through.  Learning the lyrics to an Ace of Base song so we could sing it on the drive to school every morning.  When nobody wanted me in their Girl Scout troop (long story), Mom started a new one, which quickly became the coolest in town (yay Troop 1485!)  She made my eighth grade dance dress when I couldn’t find one I liked.  She edited my college application essays.  She helped me study for the Bar Exam (she was more prepared than I was, and she’s never taken a single law school class).  She planned my wedding without the help of a wedding planner.  She spent hours googling “breast engorgement” when my boobs were so big after Lil Mil was born that I quite literally thought they’d explode.

She was always there, no matter where “there” was.  And from a very young age, I knew – like I knew the sky was blue – that she was on my side.

Oh, she annoyed the crap out of me sometimes, and I her.  We’re different more than we’re the same.  But I have loved her fiercely since I was small, and I never wished for anyone other than her.  I trusted her and she never let me down.  Not once.

Meanwhile, I stomped around the house and left my bed unmade and rolled my eyes and forgot to say thank you most of the time.

Why?  Why does my Perfect Mom get the worst of me when she deserves the best?  Why does she have to deal with my impatience and sarcasm and early morning moodiness, while everyone else gets the more likable person I make a concerted effort to be?  Like I said, I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately.  And I think I’ve come up with the answer.  Or part of it, anyway.

I never tried to earn her love, because I always knew I had it.  No matter what.

Happy Birthday, Baby

Dear Baby,

Has it really been a year?

Has it only been a year?

It’s funny to me now, how worried I was about your arrival.  Little did I know that the first year of your life would be the very best of mine.  I have a feeling, sweet girl, that it’s only going to get better from here.

Happy Birthday, Baby.



P.S. – in honor of Lil Mil’s first birthday (and the fact that, in the year since her birth, I wrote a novel and sold my first TV show!), starting tomorrow, I’m going to re-post some of my Embrace the Detour favorites.  If a particular post stuck with you and you’d like to see it again, let me know.


I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Exactly a year ago, on Thanksgiving 2009, I revealed my super secret “creative project” to my family.  Up until that day, Embrace the Detour was just a figment of my imagination.  Yes, I owned the domain name and yes, I had paid someone to design the site (back then, I knew exactly nothing about HTML and the ins and outs of WordPress), but since no one knew about ETD, I could pretend it didn’t exist.

But I didn’t want to.  Not back then, anyway.  Shot through with third trimester pregnancy hormones, I was raring to go.  I didn’t want to wait until Lil Mil arrived.  Eager to convince myself (and everyone else) that I COULD DO THIS! I started working on my first post (which, I’ll admit, took me over a week to write).

While certainly supportive, my family had mixed feelings about this creative project of mine.  Husband in particular was lukewarm.  He was excited that I was excited, but at the same time, he was worried that I was taking on too much.

I was.

Of course at the time I didn’t realize that.  I honestly believed that I could write — and finish! — a novel in the first three months of my baby’s life, and I said as much on my Because page.  Believe me, if I’d known how incredibly hard the undertaking would prove to be, I never would’ve made such a grand (and public) pronouncement.

Thank God I didn’t know.

By the time I realized what I’d signed up for, it was too late.  There were too many people watching and, even more than that, too many people telling me to give up.  It was too much, they said.

They were right, of course, but I refused to accept that.  So I kept at it.  Kept juggling.  Kept struggling.  Kept writing.

Three months turned into 100 days.  My definition of “draft” morphed into something more manageable.  My blog posts became less frequent.

But I kept at it.  Kept juggling.  Kept struggling.  Kept writing.

And today, one year after this blog was born and 10 months and 8 days after my baby was born, I have a completed novel to show for it.  And!  On top of that, I have something unexpected.  A community.  This community.  Friends!  Not the fake, we-met-over-the-Internet kind, but the real, live, we-met-over-the-Internet kind.  Friends like Rachel of MWF Seeking BFF (who I met in person two weeks ago and am now obsessed with.  Rachel, if I move to Chicago can I please be your BFF?)

Thank God for unrealistic expectations.  Thank God for this blog and the book that came out of it.  Thank God for the baby who’s made all the juggling and struggling worthwhile.  Thank God for the boy who is juggling and struggling with me, holding my hand while I do it.

And thank God for you, my friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

While You Were Out

Any day now, Lil Mil will take her first steps.  Someone will be there to see it. 

It won’t be me.

Yes, I’m being pessimistic, but I’m also going with the odds.  During the week, I see my daughter for about two hours every morning.  Sometimes less.  On the weekends, I’m with her all day, but we’re usually out doing stuff, so she doesn’t spend much time on her feet.  It’s during the week, while I’m at work and she’s with S (the part-time babysitter who became our full-time nanny when we yanked Lil Mil out of daycare – see what you missed while I was away?) that she prances around the house, holding on to her wooden pushtoy, hamming it up for the applause she’s come to expect (if she doesn’t get it, she’ll plop down and clap for herself).

Most weeks, there’s at least a chance I’d be there to  witness those monumental first steps.  But this week, Lil Mil is with Mom and Dad for the week (mine, not hers), which means that if she decides to walk in the next six days, I will most certainly miss it.

Is it horrible that I’m willing my daughter not to walk just because I want to be there when she does?

I’m Back.

I’ve been gone for awhile.  Too long.

Has it really been more than two months since my last post?  Apparently so.  The date stamp don’t lie.

What have I been doing with myself?  Working.  And…

Nope.  Just working.

I’m not gonna lie.  I do not wear a wild and happy grin most of the time.  I wear it sometimes — like weekend mornings and the exceedingly rare weekday evenings when I manage to get home from work before Lil Mil goes to bed — but the rest of the time I wear the glazed half-smile (and by “half” I mean “totally fake”) of a person who is going through the motions.  A person who spends the bulk of her day sitting bleary-eyed in front of a computer screen (a PC!  Ick!), staring at a contract that needs drafting or an email that needs crafting, wondering what the amazing creature she used to spend every second with is doing.  Without her. 

Don’t get me wrong – I am happy.  Wildly happy, in fact.  My daughter is a giggly ball of curiousity who laughs more than she cries.  My husband is an even better version of the completely awesome man I married 5 years ago next week.  I’m working on a TV project that I’m exceptionally excited about.  I’m shopping a novel I’m genuinely proud of.  

The problem isn’t that I don’t like where I am or what I’m doing.  The problem is that I don’t have the time or mental space to notice where I am or what I’m doing.  I’m always either wholly occupied by work or wholly occupied by the desire to be somewhere other than work.  And when I’m not at work, I’m working my way through my laughably long to-do list.  I’ve given into the momentum of my life, letting it push me along.  I’ve started drifting through my days, letting each day bleed into the next, not keeping track or taking note of milestones big or small. 

No more.

Starting today, I’m back.  Back to blogging, yes, but more than that, back to noticing.  To reflecting.  To relishing.  To cherishing.

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