Mother Love Not Required: a guest post by friend and author, Felicia Sullivan

The author with her estranged mother, Brooklyn NY, 1980

We face one another picking apart our chicken cutlet parmesans. While my mother complains about the thieving coked-up whores in her diner, I assemble piles of mozzarella cheese -- eyes transfixed on the clock. I keep time; will it to pass by. It's 1996 and my mother and I sit through one of our semi-annual lunches, which consist of filler talk with minor variations. We dine in Long Island cafés rife with stale breadbaskets and tepid beef. Today, while my mother prattles on, it never occurs to her to ask about me, about my life, rather she talks about herself, how my stepfather and me ruined her life, how she's desperate to escape. Sometimes I think we do this, the lunches, simply to see how long we can endure one another. Whether she can break me.

Giggling, my mother reveals that she's leaving us for another man, one she met in a bar -- he's taking her to Disneyland! Disneyland! -- and could I not call her for six months, make that a year, because she's concerned that I would inevitably wreck her happiness. You always do. In the same breath, my mother tells me, Oh, the sex. You wouldn't believe. I start to shake because my mother is leaving us for a man and mouse ears. I look up at my mother, watch her scrape her teeth with her fork, slurp the last dregs of her piña colada, and I writhe. I hate her. I hate you.

Nine months later, on the eve of my college graduation, my mother calls me, hysterical. The man who bought her mouse ears tried to strangle her. She's been fired, living on white bread, and can still see the marks his hands left on her neck.

Could we take her back? Could life be the way it was? I pause, wondering if it's possible to drown standing up. I want to be the dutiful daughter, the one who loves beyond repair. But I think about the way it was: the woman who never allowed me trespass to my real father, a mother who stole my childhood from me. I remember the years of neglect, rage and abuse, her decade-long cocaine addiction, the fear of angering her and the terror of wondering whether she would get even in my sleep, and the countless times she told me I wasn't worth her labor. I wasn't worth anything at all.

I told my mother that she made it impossible for me to love her. Her response was a cold fuck you.

A decade later at a party in a bar that resembles a cavern, someone asks me about the book I've written. I give broad strokes, don't bother with the details, but I say that it's a book about my relationship with my abusive, drug addict mother, and how love is not unconditional. That having a family for the sake of having one, no matter how painful the familial binds, is not the healthiest decision. That day in the spring of 1997, my mother asked me to make a choice -- between her and my mental health -- and the decision suddenly became so easy. I chose me.

After I say all of this, the person replies, "How could you not love your mother? How could you not want to find her? She is your mother, after all."

I close my eyes; it's as if I had been miming the whole time for this was not the first time someone has asked me this question and it won't be the last.

We live in a culture where parents routinely disinherit their children from marrying out of their faith, social standing, race and sexual orientation. When a friend from my high school came out, her parents changed all the locks, banned her from their home and excluded her from family gatherings; they haven't spoken in eight years. And while this is all heartbreaking, the stuff movies are made from, it's a practice routinely accepted. In response, we shake our heads and lament about the unfortunate situation. However how unfortunate, parents aren't shamed by their decision to disown their children, and it is typically up to the child to reconcile the family.

In our culture where mothers are sacrosanct, it is the ultimate taboo to sever ties with the woman who bore and raised you (save the rare cases of celebrity parents and enablers because while they are real people, they don't seem very real to us like our friends and neighbors), so while I understand how someone would question my decision to end my relationship with my mother, it doesn't make it any less frustrating and difficult to answer. In the 10 years since my mother and I have parted ways, while I long for the idea of a mother -- a mentor, a role model, a learned woman who serves as my career and life guide, a best friend, a blanket that offers comfort -- my mother was none of these things, and I have developed my own familial construct: a life inhabited by strong, supportive, loving people who couldn't imagine their lives without me in it (and vice versa).

But perhaps I should have answered with these questions instead: Why does love need to be unconditional? Why is a family member granted an unlimited supply of get-out-of-jail-free cards while friends and partners endure our fissures, breakups and divorces? Why is their only one definition of family?

What I should have said is this: What is your decision won't necessarily be


Felicia Sullivan is the author of The Sky Isn't Visible From Here, a poignant memoir of a childhood overwhelmed by addiction and instability, and the coming of age of a young woman trying desperately to dig her way out of the perilous, emotional debris left behind by a mother who was anything but. Order from Amazon, here.

Why Is Today Unlike Any Other Day?

Because today, for the very first time, Archer didn't cry when I dropped him off at preschool. He didn't frown or hold onto me for dear-life. Instead he let go of my hand when we reached the door and went running away from me, to his classmates.

"Bye, bye," I said, in shock.

Any minute, I thought, he would turn and run back. But he didn't.

"Looks like the tough days are behind you," the school director said, patting my back.

I waved once more. "See you soon!" I said.

"Ba-bye, Mommy!"

Archer flashed me a smile as I slipped out the door.

And when I went to pick him up this afternoon, he was still smiling.


Mom Sings the Blues, Son Learns his Instruments

Blues #2: Archer's teenage-like sleep habits. The day I finally need him to wake up at an early hour is the day he finally decides he wants to sleep in... Sometimes even past 10:00am. Crazy times.

Blues #3: Healthcare can be a real asshole fuckface: Please go here and read about a very important benefit concert happening next week (at the Glass House in Pomona, see below flier) for a very good cause. Please come out (if you can) and support an awesome dude. All proceeds go to Tony. Also The Glass House is great venue and the bands playing the benefit are super fun. Ch-check it:

Also, as promised (in the title of the post) here is an extremely long video of Archer learning his instruments. He says "guitar" really well and although "violin" needs some work, "harp" and "flute" sound pretty close. Makin' big progress up in hizzah. Go, Archer go!

For all you awesome folks who have inquired about book-tour-like things, I should be launching an author website in the coming weeks and will hopefully have a bit of a tour schedule then as well. What I know for now: Book Soup in L.A. (launch party), April 5th and Elliott Bay Bookstore in Seattle, April 26th.

Also a mighty congrats to my fab ladyfriend, Charlotte who just gave birth to her second beautiful boy. Welcome to the world, Elliott Simon!

Now if you'll please excuse us, we're off to a much-anticipated theatrical performance of Point Break. (I'm not kidding.) There is a good chance this will be the greatest night of my life.

Hal and Archer: stageside @ Echoplex

Stay classy, Blogisphere.


L.A. Story

We were best friends for a while. He trained me at my old job. We clicked instantly. He was a writer, too. An LA native with screenwriting aspirations. We spent afternoons at the coffee shop together, typing away on twin iMacs. We read each other’s work. My novel(s) in progress, his script(s), critiquing one another and rooting each other on. Then one day I got a boyfriend. And he got a girlfriend and all at once we stopped seeing each other regularly. It’s the sad reality that (straight) friends of the opposite sex can’t really be best friends anymore, not when there are significant others in the mix. It wasn’t the first time I lost a best friend to a girlfriend. It wasn’t the first time I stopped being a best friend when I had a boyfriend. It’s just kind of what happens.

We talked once in a while, running into each other on occasion, usually accidentally as two old friends often do. We had lunch just after Archer was born and then kept tabs on each other over the past couple of years. I got married and then he did. Then last year, around the same time, we sold our first manuscripts. We called each other to offer congratulations. My friend had just met and subsequently teamed up with his comedic hero... It was like if Henry Miller had been alive and asked me to partner up on a project. Or Anais Nin… I was thrilled for him. In awe.

Today as I was writing at Insomnia, my old friend walked into the coffee shop. He looked the same as last time we’d ran into one another, except older, more confident. We hugged. He was with his new partner who he introduced to me casually.

“Nice to meet you, Ricky,” I said and then, “I’ll leave you guys alone. Just wanted to say hi.”

I went to sit down at my table, our backs to one another. I tried to write but I couldn’t. My hands were shaking. I don’t know if it was the nostalgic sadness of seeing him again after so long, or the excitement of seeing him with his new partner (a little of both I’m sure) but I was suddenly so overcome with emotion I had to step outside.

Some say success happens overnight. But it isn’t true. Success is what happens when people work hard, all day and through the night and keep going. My friend didn’t have overnight success. I know this because I was around the years he was working, pushing himself, reading and learning and working odd-jobs to afford to write; long before he became one half of the project that will surely make him a star.

I just hope he knows that even though so much has changed, I’m still behind him (as I was quite literally today) still seated at the corner table of the café we used to meet for all-nighters years ago.

Paths cross in life and then pull away in different directions, but somehow, it seems they always come back together, overlapping if only for a moment, a reminder that friends can inspire one another even after they lose touch.

Today I most definitely feel inspired. Thank you, Matty.


Mitt Romney as Michael Scott?

Mitt Romney as "the Republican presidential nominee hopeful":

Steve Carell as "Michael Scott" of NBC's The Office:

And speaking of politics, Liz of Mom-101 wrote a very important political post, re
quired reading as far as I'm concerned.


Full Circle and Three Years Ago

Three years ago Hal and I were married. In the Little White Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada, the notorious pit-stop for celebrity weddings that were over before they began and to be honest, for a while I believed we were just as doomed. If you would have told me this time last year that we'd still be together for our three-year-anniversary I would have shrugged, cried for a good ten minutes and then said "Nah."

our especially classy e-wedding announcement: copyright Jan. 22, 2005

No one gets married thinking they're going to break-up, obviously. But no one marries thinking, "Shit, bitch! This is going to be the most fucked-up, insane, difficult thing ever!" And it is. Marriage is seriously tough. And the fact that I can look at Hal and he can look at me and we can even crack a smile at each after three years, I think, is miraculous.

We barely knew each other when we got married (dating for a mere eight months) but there was something about being twenty-five weeks pregnant that caused us to overlook all that. We had made the ultimate commitment to each other, already, deciding to have a baby. Might as well score a vacation weekend and some eweddingbands dot com to make it official...

Our ups and downs were the typical ups and downs of any couple saddled with a newborn during the so-called honeymoon months, or should I say any couple saddled with a newborn at all. The fact that people have children as a relationship bandaid is pure insanity to me. There is nothing more wearing on a marriage or any kind of coupling than a stranger asleep on a pillow between you.

When I was working on my book, this time last year, Hal and I were enduring an especially rough patch. We were on the verge of breakupsville, choosing marital therapy as our last resort. Our happiness together seemed hopeless for a week... a month, a while. I spent a lot of time down south at my parent's. We spent weekends away from one another to "think"...

Meanwhile I was trying to remember happier times, so that I, if for no other reason could write about them in my book. A lot of what I was writing was in real time, during a time when we were barely speaking... A confusing and difficult task. I wanted to be honest. But I also so desperately wanted to be happy. I wanted to write about love and what it felt like to be in a family of my own. A family I wanted to come home to.

Days after the book was finished, Hal and I shared an especially poignant moment together, a diamond in the rough-patch so to speak, so (naturally) I wrote about it, a perfect epilogue, I thought for the end of my book. The epilogue merged with the rest of the manuscript and in the second draft, became the ending, an ending I didn't realize at the time would become the beginning... to this: Our love-story 2.0.

Whether it was an accident or a subconscious choice, I had written, in a way our happy ending. A happy ending to a story I thought was mine.

But It wasn't my story. It never was, I soon realized. It was our story from my point-of-view.

A lot of our issues stemmed from our different ways of seeing things; marriage, life, work, everything else. I have a hard time looking at life through any one's eyes but my own. I have always been the center of my own universe, something I have been forced to face and then fess-up to as a wife, a mother, someone with responsibilities beyond herself. Myself. No one has held up a mirror to my flaws quite like my husband has and living with that reflection can make things tumultuous. But also, and most importantly, helpful. I am a better person, now. I've grown up. I'm growing up. We both are. Helping each other change for the better without sacrificing the parts of ourselves that we know make us great. And that's really what it's all about.

When Hal and I first met we were work partners, writing a pilot together that we never finished. Maybe because we didn't have a story, then. But we do now. We have our story, a story that has inspired us to work together again. A story we can tell from experience and then see what happens... Because that's all anyone can ever do: see what happens. In a marriage or creative venture, or any kind of partnership.

Our creative team took three and half years to make possible. And in that time we created a beautiful child together, got married, then engaged and in the last few months, really fell in love... and not in the Honeymoon kind of googly-eyed love we felt at the beginning. In the real, holy-shit, I know you! kind of love.

Celebrating our friend's engagement party, two shiny-happy freaks.

This week we will put the finishing touches on our pilot and whether or not anything happens with it beyond our living room is beside the point. Whether we stay together for a hundred years or die tragically in a Morrissey-esque double-decker bus-accident. No one knows what's going to happen. But I can say this, I've never been happier in my marriage. I've never been more in love. And that's fucking rad.

The fact that in six-months two whack-jobs could go from barely living together to being an unstoppable force to be reckoned with is beyond anything I would have ever predicted or expected or hoped for.

I don't know about happily ever after, but I do know about being happy. Right now. That's all we can ask out of love. And marriage. For the good times to outweigh the bad. For the love to break through the clouds in sunny rays, for the rainbows to appear with some patience. Mmmmmmm yeah... Patience....


Down But Not Out

Archer Sagebrush's week off...

Well, hello again. I realize its been a whole week since I've posted, here and not to worry, everything's kosher up in this bitch. I guess I just figured since Archer was out of comish I'd take this opportunity to be out of comish, too. What, with all the sleeping we've been doing lately. Not to mention the fact that since everyone I know is out of work including my husband (thanks a lot, writer's strike) it's hard not to be social right now. And a little depressed. And angry.

LA's no Baghdad, let's be clear, but there is some serious messed-up shit going on in these here parts. A lot of people I know are royally effed right about now and will continue to be for what looks like many more months (July, they're saying?)... Pretty soon I'm going to have to go back to writing porn copy like I did in the old days to help keep this boat afloat. (Yeah, right. Like I could get any kind of writing gig with 17298173891783 writers refreshing Craigslist for non-WGA work every five seconds.)

Regardless, we're still hangin' in. Archer's up and about, eating once again, back to his chipper adorable self, taking his meds like a champ (Only two more days of pink stuff! Wooo!) and for whatever reason talking up a storm. He went back to school Friday, which ended up being a disaster. (I would not recommend sending your child on a field trip on their third day of preschool, especially if you have agreed to chaperone. Talk about a clingfest. Oy to the vey, son!)

Anyway! This here ramble-fest was just me popping my head back in here to say wassup and let the people know we're still alive.

Also. Your comments on my last post? Incredible. Your stories... just... wow. Really empowering stuff, all of you. Thank you so much for sharing such intimate, emotionally complex moments in your lives. I think it's so-so important for us to continue (as a female community) to bring voice to choice. Honesty is power, people. And don't you know it.


Right to Choose... to Have the Baby

One of the more thought-provoking op-ed pieces I have read in some time was today's "Sex and the Teenage Girl" written by Caitlin Flanagan. The piece starts with mention of Juno, a film Flanagan refers to as a "fairy tale" (this post isn't about Juno, I promise) because of it's happily ever after ending (I saw the ending as "life goes on" rather than "happily ever after" but that's just me) before going into a bit about Jamie Lynn Spears and the harsh reality of teen pregnancy-- Two issues I have been meaning to address, and in Jamie Lynn Spears' case, speak up in her defense.

Even the much-discussed pregnancy of 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears reveals the rudely unfair toll that a few minutes of pleasure can exact on a girl. The very fact that the gossip magazines are still debating the identity of the father proves again that the burden of sex is the woman’s to bear. He has a chance to maintain his privacy, but if she becomes pregnant by mistake, soon all the world will know.

How soon the world forgets the virgin image Jamie Lynn's sister once had. Britney's virginity was a large part of what made her a star. She was the "good girl" in the Catholic School Girl costume in Baby One More Time. Her virginity was as fake as her sister's sexual activity is obvious. And there's something almost... (dare I say)... biblical about that.

Britney's "virginity" was nothing but a sales-pitch to young girls. A fallacy used to manipulate little girls into following in her footsteps and we all know where that lead. If Britney's virgin image made her a role model then what harm can her sister's pregnancy really do?

I started having sex in High School, as did the majority of my friends. Some started earlier. Some waited until college. Was I "ready" to have sex? Yes. It wasn't something I stumbled into blindly. I had a boyfriend who I totally dug and he dug me. I wasn't irresponsible or erratic. (Not at first.) I took my sexuality very seriously. I had friends in high school who did get pregnant. Two of whom had babies. Others who did not. All young women exercising their choice. Choices made with their boyfriends. With their parents. The "best" choice for each of them at the time.

Since starting this blog, I have been asked and several times assumed to be "pro-life" because I chose not to have an abortion. Strange, right? Or maybe not. ... Because what young woman in her right mind would actually have the baby?

For the record, just because a woman chooses not to have an abortion doesn't mean she doesn't support a woman's right to have one.

A couple years ago I went with a friend to see Ben Folds play at The Wiltern. I had just given birth to Archer and my friend had recently terminated a very unwanted pregnancy. That night Ben Folds performed "Brick" a poignant song about his experience taking his girlfriend to get an abortion. I'm feeling more alone than I ever have before. The song was played back to back with a song Folds wrote about his son called "Still Fighting It". And I can tell you about today/ And how I picked you up and everything changed.

My friend and I sat side by side in the theater, sobbing for two completely different reasons, and then upon realizing the other one was crying, we proceeded to sob even more heavily for each other. It was one of the most poignant moments of sisterhood I have ever experienced and one I will never forget. Two friends side by side, unplanned pregnancies and the outcomes of choice. We were both glad we made the decisions we did, of course, but that didn't change the monumental difficulty of having to make such choices, the changes in our lives, in ourselves.

Any woman who has been pregnant without planning to be knows what I'm talking about. I've written about it ad nauseam. Mainly because every day another woman or girl finds my blog by searching "unplanned pregnancy" or "i'm pregnant. what do i do" or the most heartbreaking, "thirteen years old. I'm pregnant. Help".... talk about a six-word memoir.

I want to open my arms to every one of them. I want them to know that what they are going through is complicated and personal and life-changing no matter the decision. I want them to know that they're not alone. Not even close.

Many sixteen-year old girls are sexually active. And maybe, there's a pregnant girl out there right now or thousands feeling less alone seeing someone as exposed as Jamie Lynn pregnant. And there's something to be said for that, I think. It can be a relief to know there are people out there wrestling with the same choices.

Pregnancy robs a teenager of her girlhood. This stark fact is one reason girls used to be so carefully guarded and protected — in a system that at once limited their horizons and safeguarded them from devastating consequences.

Could it be that "devastating consequences" aren't always so devastating? There are happy endings contrary to what Caitlin Flanagan had to say.

I didn't make a mistake having my baby. And my friend didn't make a mistake not having hers. The right choice for me may not be the right choice for you and the right choice for you may not be the right choice for me and the right choice for Jamie Lynn Spears may be the wrong choice for you and your family but come on, now. Let's all have some respect for people's procreational choices.

No, I wasn't sixteen when I chose to be a mother but what if I was? Let us not forget that "a woman's right to choose" also means a woman's right to choose to be a mother.

It is of utmost importance for us as a society to hold up our fellow women and girls as they deal with such difficult choices. We have great potential as women to offer support, to tell our stories, to relate. To hold each other's hands across the armrest of the concert hall and not let go.


Top Ten Reasons Why Ear Infections Suck My Pen 15

1. They are painful and therefor painfully unfair (104 degree fevers for three-days straight is just awful and sad.)

2. No one in the house gets any sleep for days, which leads to fatigue and soon a household of grumps and sick mommies. For the third time in six weeks, I'm sick again. Which is insane because I'm a rather healthy individual. (Hal wanted me to add that when I'm sick I lose my voice, which he loves because I cannot talk. Real nice, Hal.)

3. Injecting a child's mouth with a large syringe of pink stuff three times a day for ten days is by far the most torturous thing I have ever done to anybody.

4. Somehow, by default I have been appointed the official shoot-Archer-up-with-drugs-in-his throat person. I get to watch my poor son cry and flail as I pin him down and force him to take his medicine. (Once again, thanks Hal.)

5. Trying to imagine how your son's ear could become (in less than a week!) "ravaged by pussy-goop."

6. Typing "ravaged" and "pussy" in the same sentence and then realizing that might not read properly. (I mean "pus" as in the yellow goopy... never mind.)

7. Getting the church-giggles after re-reading #5. Being unable to explain to Hal what's so funny. (See, Hal! You MISS my voice! You really miss it!)

8. Realizing that I should have titled this post "Five Reasons Why Ear Infections Suck" instead of thinking I could come up with ten original reasons. That was dumb.

9. I think I'm going to add "My Penis" to the end of this post title. You know, to make it more appropriate for those who find this post through... ahem... google.

10. Scratch that, this is a mom-blog. I'm going the mature route.


For more in-depth theatrics from Ear Infectionsville go here.

Ah! Sean Preston Stole Archer's Face! Ah!

Ah! Ahaldhsalkapow9q79384yrugehfjkabsaklk2kioeu!!!!!!!!! OH MY GAIUWEYAUYHDKUEURYT73GAJBSBXJZ765E9Q287R9!


Fast Times at Montessori School

Archer, pre-preschool. 8:23am

"I'm going to sneak away, now" I whispered to Archer's teacher, just as Archer was making himself comfortable with the other boys and girls at the snack table.

"Sneaking out is a bad idea," she said. "Then he'll think you left him. Tell him goodbye, instead. Tell him that you'll see him in a few hours."

"But he'll cry!"

"Yeah, I know. They always do. But after a while he'll be fine. And pretty soon he won't cry at all. You'll see."

I crouched down next to Archer who was enjoying drinking his water from a Dixie cup.

"Archer? I have to go now but I'll pick you up in a few hours, okay? Have fun at school! Bye-bye!"

"Bye-bye," Archer said, as I scurried away.

Don't look back. Don't look back. Don't look back...

But of course... Because I couldn't help it, I looked back. A frown was forming on his face and I knew any second he would cry. I pushed through the front door just in time to miss hearing his wails.

His preschool was the one and only school we looked at, a little Montessori school up the road. I didn't even know what Montessori meant, to be honest. I still don't really. I just liked the teachers and the children and had a feeling it was a keeper. I liked that the school was painted red and the schoolyard had an area of dirt for the kids to roll around in. I liked that the children were from all backgrounds. I liked that classes didn't believe in parent-carpooling for fieldtrips, instead taking the children to and fro by way of the Metro bus. I liked that there was nothing neurotic or phony about the place. It was laid back. As preschool should be, me thinks.

I never bought into the whole preschool hysteria. Maybe I missed the gene, but I just don't get it at all. Reminds me of waiting in line for an hour outside the "cool club" which is only "cool" because Jared Leto's band played there once or something. In my experience the "coolest" clubs usually suck. But hype is powerful and parents want to do the right thing for their kids at all costs and sometimes that means visualizing the emperor's robes. (I'm not discounting the probability that I too will compliment the emperor on his invisible platinum jock-strap. I've most definitely done it before. )

After leaving Archer, I sat outside the school in my car for several minutes, waiting for the teacher to come get me but she didn't come. So I drove to the gym and worked out. I went home and took a long shower. Wrote some emails. Did some errands. Had a quiet afternoon to myself, checking the clock only sixty-seven (thousand) times. Not bad.

When I went to pick Archer up he didn't see me right away so I stood in the back of the class and watched him. He was eating his lunch quietly, surrounded by the other children. He was smiling and humming and pointing. He was happy as I've ever seen him.

"Archer. You're mommy is here," one of the little girls in Archer's class screamed.

All the children waved. "Hi, Archer's mommy!"

(Last month Archer and I visited the school two days a week to get him acclimated, which was why all the kids knew be my name. And by name I mean "Archer's Mommy")

Archer looked up from his lunch and smiled at me.

"Mommmmmy!!!" he shrieked, running to me. He put his little head on my shoulder and looked up at me again. "Aw, Mommy yuv."

Then he proceeded to drag me around the room, pointing out a puzzle and a peg board and showing me the rug he sat on for storytime, before waving to his teacher and the other children and saying, "bye, bye cuel!"

On the way home I asked him what he thought of preschool and he pointed out the window.

"Cuel! Cuel! Cuel!" he shrieked. "Cuel!"

He was beaming with pride and so was I. We both made it out relatively unscathed. Some tears shed on both sides of the school-door but that was to be expected.

"Gimme five!" I said.

Already one-step-ahead of the game, Archer held out both hands and gave me ten.

that wasn't so bad after all!

Preschool Eve: A Mother's Lament the top of the slide, looking down

Archer's speech delay has kind of, in a way, made it difficult to see Archer as anything but a baby. A toddler. We don't have conversations yet and even though he is slowly able to express himself, we were recommended Archer start Preschool early as a way to jump-start his speech. (Early Intervention covers the expenses for kids with developmental delays until age three. On Archer's third birthday he will be re-evaluated to see if he still qualifies.)

At first I was against the idea. I was afraid that the other kids wouldn't understand when Archer couldn't talk back to them. I was afraid of a lot of things: What if Archer hates it and no one there understands his sounds and he's unable to communicate... But over time I realized that, yes, it would be a good idea to put him in Preschool early. Because although I want him to go at his own pace I also see the need to put him in a position where he has to speak... In order to make friends and learn and grow up. Be a little boy.

Archer's really tall for his age. He looks older. He looks the same age as the children in his class. Three and four-year-olds, children who are potty-trained, kids who can count to twenty and sing their alphabets no problem. Things Archer cannot do... yet.

It isn't easy to look at your child and then say to yourself, "yes. It's time he grew up"... In fact it's painful, heartbreaking. Not fun at all.

... sun-kissed, pushing off...

I packed Archer's lunch hours ago, filling it with enough food to last him two days. I burst into tears picking the tofu out of his orzo because I didn't feel ready to pick tofu out of his orzo for his school-lunch. And I started to panic realizing that Archer doesn't know how to unzip his lunchbox himself, which is an insane reason to panic because he will have teachers to help him. That's what they're there for, right?

But... But... BUT!

What if he's thirsty and can't ask for his water? What if he needs some help with wiping his face after his meal? What if he doesn't understand what the teacher's are telling him to do? What if he needs a diaper change and the other kids laugh, because he's still in diapers?.... A thousand questions blew through me like a wind until my head was spinning so fasr I had to sit down to avoid falling over.

down the slide, he goes...wheeee!

I suddenly felt awful. Like I was sending my son out in the rain without an umbrella. What if we were wrong to think this would be a good idea?

"I don't want him to go to school tomorrow," Hal said, earlier today.

"I don't either."

"Do we have to send him?"

And then I thought about it. I thought about Archer surrounded by older kids. Kids advanced for their age and kids behind. Kids who pee in the potty and kids who don't. Kids who might pick on him for being different and kids who might see him as a friend. Kids who might teach him. Guide him. Aid him. In his growth. In his change. In his ability to transform, evolve into boy.

"Yeah, I think we do," I said.

"He's just so..."

"Yeah. I know. That's why it will be good for him."

He lands with his feet in the sand, smiling.

Being a parent is about making choices-- following and then fighting our instincts to shelter and hold close and protect, making the decision that is best for Archer in the long-run. Even if and when he fights it. Even if and when we fight ourselves.


The Family Who Freestyles Together...

come on ride the train...

I come from a family of incredibly musically inclined people. My sister's a flute prodigy who's performed all over the world. My brother's a singer-songwriter who just recently formed a band (he writes the songs and plays guitar. And sings) with some fellow Harvard graduate students (all Physics majors, talk about math rock) and my mother writes music for children's theater as a profession. Growing up, you could hear the music from down the block and walking into my parent's house has always been like walking into a musical. Everyone practically sing-talks to each other. I'm not kidding. My grandmother founded a sort of customary rhyme-fest, in which she (and we) perform rhymey-type raps for one another on birthdays, anniversaries or just because. Growing up I thought this was normal.

I was the least musical one in the family. Still am. I love music passionately and dabbled in guitar, played piano for a seven years before throwing in the towel. Played the Clarinet for a minute and the Violin for two whole lessons. My talent was (is) more in the way of the rhyme. I rapped. I made up silly rhymes and freestyled at suburban parties (hip-hop name = Da Woolf in Sheep's Clothing) Seem whack? Maybe so. But I was able to parlay my rhymes into a paycheck and subsequently, a sort of pre-career career.

wrecka, wrecka...

In High School my family was an embarrassment: a sort of modern-day Partridge family gone amok. Music filled the halls at all times. Even my Dad sang songs (he did musicals as a child before getting throat cancer, effing up his vocals, causing him to drop out of musicals for good. He's been the beacon of health ever since, fyi) while making coffee in the morning.

Of course, now, I appreciate the quirky genius of my family like nobody else. I want to be my parents when I grow up. I worship them and am in awe of my siblings. Case in point, the following video, which pretty much sums up my childhood, and what looks like Archer's 'hood as well (two-minutes in the fun REALLY begins.):

That about sums up my family: holding hands in song, eye-rollingly wacked-out amazing out of their musical minds. Not a trace of irony. (Well, maybe just a teensy-bit.)

In my last post, one commenter (hi, Moosh!) quoted one of my fave bloggers, Oh the Joys who wrote that the way one spends his/her New Year dictates the kind of year he/she will have. "Sounds like you've gone domestic," she said. Not so much domestic (I can't even sew a friggin button, people!) but I would like to think I've gone "family."

As for the commenter (hi, Charlotte!) who mentioned an "Archer #2 in the making," let's just say we're "not trying not to" knock me up.... I mean, if Hal and I are going to carry on the singing, dancing, freestyle-la-la-laaaah-legacy of my people we're going to need a bigger brood to complete our band.

Raise the roof!


In the Company of (My) Men

Last night for the first time ever, I chose to stay in. I say "I" and not "we" because if it was up to Hal, staying in would always be Plan A. It has been my role in our relationship and subsequent marriage to drag my husband out the door on evenings, at all costs, unless of course a babysitter isn't available in which case I drag myself out the door, kissing both boys on the forehead before hitting the town. To a party or an event or social gathering of some kind.

The last two years we've had small parties at casa de GGC for New Years. (Because if you can't go out, might as well bring the party to you, right?) This was our perfect solution for not missing out on the festivities. My perfect solution. We'd cook up some food and Hal would make White Russians. We'd drink up Champagne and sneak cigs on the porch while Archer slept soundly in his room in the back of the house.

But this year I had no desire... To get dolled up. To flirt. To be social. Or drunk. I didn't care about missing out on all the "fun." (even though New Years Eve in my experience is never as fun as promised.)

It was the first year I had no want whatsoever to ring in the new year with anyone but my boys. My dudes. My dawgs.

Hal and I let Archer stay up until 10:30, the three of us overlapping on our small couch watching two and a half years of home-videos of Archer... Archer pointing at himself and saying "wha is it?"

"That's you, dude. As a baby."

"Ooooh! Beebee!"

It was perfect. Arch was in bed by 10:30, allowing Hal and I a wild and c-c-c-razy game of Scrabble (I kicked his ass) before cuddling up on the couch to watch the ball drop with a bottle of my favorite Pinot Grigio, clad in our socks and sweatshirts. No glam. No glitz. Just us, spooning. And who'd a thunk it, it was a thousand times more memorable than any blurry night on the town.

Maybe I'm getting old OR finally adapting to this new life, which would be about time-- it's been three years. Not that I ever want to fully give up the nights-on-the-town thang but I'm starting to realize that I've got something really great. Right here. Fun doesn't need to be sought out to be had. A party of three can be just as or even more of a rockin' good time.

So in retrospect, as I type this on this first day of the New Year I christen the year of 2008, the be-happy-for-what-I-have year. The year I pull my face from the window and chill the eff out with my crazy workaholicism and anxious obsession with having a social life, and enjoy my family because I've got a pretty good one, I must say.

And may I also add that one of most obvious plusses of staying in on New Years Eve: Come midnight, instead of kissing when the clock strikes midnight....

(cue hot-tub jazz: bow-chicka-chicka-wow-wow...)

Happy New Year, party people.