Monday, October 27, 2008

Terror in the Water

Remember that scene in Caddyshack, the one with the inadvertent Baby Ruth in the swimming pool? Recall the terror...the first time you witnessed a sample of - not a Baby Ruth - in a body of water. You probably fled, screaming. You showered, scrubbed, and it was months before you were able to go into the water again.

Now imagine the Baby Ruth is a lot bigger, and the swimming pool a lot smaller. And imagine it is not a Baby Ruth, but a big...fat...poo. If you are a parent, this particular episode is probably familiar to you.

My 22 month old son was happily playing in the tub while I was across the hall, changing the 5 month old. Yes. I know. My mother has already informed me how horrible this is; leaving him for a fraction of a second alone in the tub (It only takes a second for him to drown!) but I was eight feet away and could hear him. Besides, there are days when I wouldn't mind if he were silenced by his own bathwater. Kidding! I was within screaming distance.

These are the benefits of a house that you think is too small for you, but that contained a family with six children twenty years ago, before private pre-school, granite countertops and central AC. And jacuzzi bathtubs, thank God.

Anyway, there he was, happily entertaining the plastic killer whale when suddenly a blood curdling, hair curling, horror movie scream echoed from the chamber of his bath.

Mommy! Mommmmmmmmmmyyyy! Mommymommymommymommymommmyyyy!!!

Fearing my mother had at last been proven right and he had accidentally severed his own head while my back was turned, I threw the baby diaperless into his crib and rocketed into the bathroom to find...half a dozen disintegrating Baby Ruths bobbing innocently atop the water, lapping lazily against all the bath toys.

My son was standing, at the far end of the tub, as far away from the offending blobs as possible. He was screaming, terrified, I guess, because, these weird things were not only in his tub, they had come out of him. Imagine his surprise. Imagine his rage when I took in the situation and....laughed out loud. Bad mommy.

I have never in all his 22 months, seem him so upset. And yet, and yet...he still won't sit on the potty. I tried to tell him. You know, this wouldn't happen if you would just agree to be toilet trained. For god's sake man, even the dog doesn't do that!

And now it's not just the potty he avoids, but the tub too. Oh joy.

Did I mention I was home alone when it happened? Did I mention the diaperless 5 month who needed to be fed and clothed? Did I mention it was the joyous hour of 6:30? Did mention I was still in my work clothes...

When this happens to you, and you are so tired you can't see, and the last thing you feel like doing after working all day is cleaning someone else's poo out of the tub you had wanted to take a bath in but now won't be using for some time, and you think, this is so shitty (pun intended) it would be funny if I weren't about to cry...well....just remember, you're not alone.

And oh yeah, savor the moment, because "it goes by so fast."


Friday, August 08, 2008

My son's 47th word

First there was "car." Then "mama." Followed not long after by "moon" and "cat."
But today my 18 month old son looked up at me, apropos of nothing in particular and declared, "happy."

I do not remember him ever hearing this word, specifically, anyway. I didn't teach it to him any more than I did "angst" or "depressed." But he learned it somehow, somewhere, and it seems to delight him to use it.

I'm not sure he knows precisely what it means, either. He likes the sound of it. Or maybe he is happy and knows it and wants to show it, without clapping his hands or stomping his feet or shouting "hooray!" (I never liked that song.)

I think, I'm happy that he is happy, and I hope he stays happy, through the rigors of pre-school, the demands of first grade, his first kiss, graduation (or not), his choice of college (or not), a mate (or not) and a career....and I wonder if he will remember when he first learned that word and how it made him feel to say it, with a smile of benign innocence on his little face, over and over again, just because it seemed to amuse other people.

When he discovered that saying "happy" pleased the people around him, he said it more and more. He laughs when I repeat the word, put a question to it. "Are you happy?" He just looks at me, smiles, and says, "happy."

How many other people will ask him that question, and in what context? His high school guidance counselor? His girlfriend at twenty-one? His ex-wife at forty? His Human Resources director at thirty-seven? His shrink at sixty? His best friend at eighty?

I want to record his voice, not just for the word but for the quality of the sound. Not quite developed, a hatchling of a voice, obscenely cute, the aural equivalent of a baby bunny. I know this is a mother's interpretation but I can't quite believe how this voice brings me to my knees. I would step in front of a freight train for that sound.

I know this voice, this tone, the way he declares things, will not last. His sweet willingness to please will not last (that actually may not last the day, come to think of it). So I want to preserve it, not just for me but for him. To remember the sound of "happy," the feel of it, in its purest version. I have an old Fisher Price recorder, which, despite a lack of slick and updated technology (it's yellow plastic and records on a cassette) works just fine.

We say things together, my happy son and me, and we leave ourselves and this moment in its history on a piece of plastic tape. I'll store it somewhere, knowing that some day, one of us may need it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My son’s first love affair

It has happened. My first-born son is in love. And I am jealous. I am second best. I am devastated. He is 16 months old and the object of his obsessive affection is….his father.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled my husband and son have a good relationship. I just wish I had some of the fairy dust that causes my son to erupt into an ecstatic frenzy at the very sight of me.

But no. This emotion is reserved for dada alone. Dada dadadadadadadadadadada!

Why is it so? Is it because dada is all fun and mama is all business? My husband changes his share of diapers, administers vegetables, declares bedtime before it is welcome and uses a firm tone when necessary. Less than I do, perhaps, but he can still play the bad guy. Yet he remains the Brad Pitt to my reliable Sam Waterston.

My son’s eyes light up and burst from his head at the site of his father in his room in the morning. I feed him, change him, offer him water and hugs and kisses and educational toys and books and an endless parade of funny faces and noises – but the moment his father is in view I simply cease to exist. Dada!

Dada can be a hundred yards away, working on the front lawn, and my son’s sixth sense kicks in. Dada! He exclaims, running to the window and pointing. My heart falls. Mama! I whimper, eyes brimming.

Whatever, his look says. Where’s my sippy cup full of Pepperidge Farm goldfish?

Pasting pictures of myself along the sides of his crib did nothing. Ditto for recording my voice singing and playing it every night as he goes to bed. Emblazoning the image of my face onto stickers that were then applied to all his cars and trains was also ineffective.

I tried playing hard to get, handing my son over to my husband for a whole Saturday. I figured when I came home I’d be greeted with joy and appreciation. Instead, they were both asleep on the couch in front of the game, an empty bowl of ice cream sticking to the coffee table. And I thought, these are men. And I am not.

I woke them and tucked them both in. Then I waited for my son to awake in the night, when I would go to him and rub his back until he fell asleep.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Are You Tired?

This essay is featured today on - where I am guest blogging for the month of April. Check out skirt, a cool women's magazine, and enjoy:

It has happened. I’ve only been married two years…and I have become obsessed with another. And I have had this other. Repeatedly. Constantly. I am committed as one consumed by dementia. My passion knows no limits, my hunger, no satisfaction.

I am in love with my bed.

I dream of it when we are not together. Like a pimply teenager on the cusp of hormonal greatness, I fantasize. I count the minutes until our next assignation, I yearn desperately, fiercely for more of the disastrous affair. While driving in traffic I imagine the sweet burn of our two halves uniting. I long for the evenings I slip away, my husband blessedly distracted in his own rituals. No one knows.

I am in love with my bed.

I do not know when we first discovered each other. Sure, we were acquaintances; we saw each other daily in the course of our own routines. Perhaps we had always taken the relationship for granted. The fixation came upon me slowly, then devoured me like a fever. Had I never noticed the softness, the inexplicable and unconditional comfort my bed provided, night after night, lonely morning after lonely morning? Its delicious sheets and pillows, warm blankets and fluffy throws, all blended into one rollicking tangle of deep relaxation and bliss? The lust I had never known! How had I overlooked the dizzying escape that our togetherness provided?

I could stay with you forever, I thought, and it became a dangerous habit. When we parted it was like being torn in half. We know each other, sharing our most private and revealing secrets. In my bed I am me. It has seen me at my worst, clipping toenails and blowing my nose, unflattering pajamas and sick days. Through it all, my bed has stood by me.

Each morning as my eyes open to the cruel daylight, I bound from my bed and make it - quickly, efficiently; straightening its comforter, flattening its sheets, fluffing and positioning its pillows. Sometimes I slap the mattress, though I know this is cruel. Then I leave the room without looking back.

If I don’t make my bed immediately, I will simply get back in. And we’d spend the whole day together, isolated, keeping the world at bay. I work hard to ignore its whimpers of protest, its cries for my return. Instead, I murmur to its silky creases and 400 thread count depths….Ah….there are but sixteen hours between us my darling! And I rush to my husband’s side at the breakfast table, giving away nothing.

Sometimes, we risk being together during the day. If I am “working at home” and my husband is away with obligations, I creep to the top of the stairs and open the bedroom door. My lover’s joy is palpable as I rip the covers from its body and plunge into the trembling core….and hour goes by, maybe more….and the phone rings, or the dog barks, or guilt washes over me at the incredible number of dishes in the sink.

I smooth the covers, pat the innocence back into the pillows, and go about my day…dreaming of our next reunion.

Once we were almost discovered. A neighbor knocked, carrying a Fedex package meant for me. My car was in the driveway; of course she thought me home, a dutiful wife, perhaps making stew. I rushed from the room, deep creases of evidence covering my cheek and forehead, mascara scandalously smudged, drool recently dried to white flakes on my chin. I tried to iron out my cheeks, arrange my hair, but the door opened and -- I saw the disgust on her face, the envious disapproval in her eyes. Would she tell?

The event shook me and I stayed away for almost ten hours after that. But it is an affair I cannot end. I have no solution.

I’ve tried to end it, of course. But being in the same house together, seeing each other every day…it’s complicated. Sure I know what you’re thinking. Just get rid of it. Sell it on ebay, go away for a while or at least sleep in another room. You don’t understand. Obviously you’ve never been in love like this, for real.

I just had to tell someone.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pregnant…with children

You out there. The ones in your second or third or if you’re really sick, fourth pregnancy. Hang with me for a minute homie mommies.

It’s not as much fun this time is it?

Here’s the rundown, generally. “What to Expect” in one page:

First Trimester
Yay! I’m pregnant!
God I’m tired. And sick.
I’m really sick.
I cry sometimes. At highly inappropriate and unexpected moments.
Did I mention how sick and tired I am?
Please just leave me alone until I can tell someone.

Second Trimester
My boobs are huge!
But my stomach isn’t!
This is great!
I have so much energy.
I’m so horny.
I think I’ll re-do the house.
And write that novel.
As soon as I get laid.

Third Trimester

“How do I feel, honey?” How do you think I feel, you ignorant, insensitive jerk?!
I have half the energy and twice as much to do, while carrying an extra 30 pounds.
When I bend down it feels like someone is stabbing me in the left butt cheek.
When I get up it feels like there is a boulder in my vagina.
Why no, it’s not a fucking decaf. Why do you ask?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why Chicks Rule

The visit.

I was thrilled and mortified. My long lost gal pal from London was coming for a visit, our first since my wedding two years ago. Yes, she last saw me back when I was a shadow of my present pregnant, Mom-ified suburban self. About 30 pounds and several hundred gray hairs ago. I have since taken to wearing sensible shoes and jeans that cost less than my car. She on the other hand, remains unmarried though safely attached, with a fabulous career in interactive media, a showroom type house, several kickboxing and Pilates classes per week and the wardrobe to better showcase said classes’ results.

I was dying to see her – she would finally meet my 14 month old “baby,” then we were jetting off to New York for the weekend of shopping and partying for her and longing and self-pitying for me. Nearly 7 months pregnant, I could not drink, stay up late, buy any clothes, stand or walk for long periods of time or even eat very much. Plus I was on a budget. What fun for her.

I spent nearly twelve minutes preparing my hair and makeup and wardrobe for the airport pickup, a luxury from the usual four. My son grappled variously with my hoop earrings and trendy scarf and hat, throwing one item after the other under the bed or in the direction of the toilet. Heels were out of the question due to my imbalance, aching back and general body type of a Blue Meanie from the Beatle’s Yellow Submarine cartoon movie (no neck, all giant torso and thighs on spindly feet). I settled on my one pair of maternity jeans that stay up, and flat but expensive black boots.

I waited anxiously outside the terminal, everything between my neck and knees safely hidden under a large black winter coat. She emerged from the building, chocolate hair shining, lip gloss glistening, shearling coat flowing behind her, toting two small, stylish carry on pieces of luggage that were not pastel colored or thrown up on. She got in the car, we embraced, and it was suddenly obvious she was far younger and less tired than I….but she saw the old me.

“You look great!” she beamed, all of her unclogged pores radiating health and maintenance.

“You lie,” I laughed, sucking in my cheeks.

She adored my son. She lavished us with gifts from Cadbury and Harrod’s. She helped with the dishes. And all weekend she kept telling me I looked great. Even when I cut out of an afternoon of New York City window shopping to don my XXL pajamas and take a nap in the hotel. Which was, of course, the most fun I had all weekend.

She understood. Solid girlfriends just rule, don't they?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Those pesky ear infections

Many mothers are troubled by the frequency of ear infections in their young babies. The pain and discomfort suffered by the child can be alarming for first time mothers, as can the frequent prescription of antibiotics. Fortunately, there is a great website for getting educated on ear infections, forwarded to me by a caring, devoted mom:

It takes about an hour to review all the information, so for all of you who are less than devoted, or would rather spend that hour on, here’s a quick summary:

Symptoms of an ear infection include fussiness, loss of appetite, low grade fever, pulling at the ears, sleeplessness, and screaming while pointing to the offending ear while “flipping the bird” to Mom with the other hand.

Unfortunately, due to the small size of the ear “tubes,” at this age, ear infections are not only common but normal, according to my pediatrician, who apparently specializes in maddening infant afflictions for which there seem to be no cause or cure. However, there are some preventative steps you can take:

1) Do not feed your baby his bottle in his crib. If he drinks while lying on his back, chances of developing an ear infection increase. In addition, milk or formula consumed while lying flat has a tendency to pool in the mouth, causing tooth decay. If you can’t be bothered to feed your baby his morning bottle yourself instead of climbing back into bed, perhaps you should ask yourself what kind of mother you really are.
2) Take immediate action at the first sign of a cold, or congestion in your baby. During winter months, avoid malls, playgroups and daycare. If you notice a runny nose, coughing, labored breathing or your infant attempting to plug in the humidifier you dug out from the basement but never turned on, you’ve got a congestion problem. Immediately limit your outings by staying in the house with your baby for the months of January through April. If you go out under the auspices of “grocery shopping” but instead head to Sak’s or a spa, we’ll know.
3) Bath time mistakes – Submerging your infant underwater during bath time is a surefire way to get an ear infection, even if he seems to enjoy it. Objects like Q-tips, washcloths, pipe cleaners an rubber duckies should not be forced too deeply into the ear canal, especially when wet. When drying baby, do not hold him upside down or shake him, even if he again indicates amusement at such activities. You’re older and you should know better. Do not use a hairdryer on his ears. They will dry on their own.
4) Refrain from unearthing your husband’s Power Washer from the garage. Flushing the canal, particularly with this kind of force, while tempting, will just do no good at all.

Finally, when you pick up the dreaded antibiotic prescription, read the directions. Some of them need to be mixed with water, and some actually need to be refrigerated. Some are given once a day, some are three times a day, some every other day - for God’s sake, read the instructions.

Give ALL the medication prescribed, even if you think you and your baby are those “special” people who don’t need to follow the rules like everyone else. Perhaps you feel you’re not responsible for the national epidemic of failing antigens due to strengthening strains of bugs caused by people who only take their medication until they feel like it, or until they decide they’re “all better.” Jesus, they drive me bonkers!

Take your drugs, all of them!

Finally, take your baby for regular visits to his pediatrician, no matter how much the co-pay is.

If you follow these simple instructions, there’s no guarantee whatsoever that the ear infections will either stop or lessen in severity. In fact, they probably will do neither. But at least you can rest assured that as usual, you’ve consumed all the latest available information in vain.

Happy parenting!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

United Boobs of America

Yesterday, it happened.

I couldn't go one more day. There on the corner of Harvard and Beacon Streets in Coolidge Corner in Brookline, I broke down. I glanced around, sighed and entered Lady Grace, a specialty lingerie store.

I had to get a new bra.

Do you have Mom Boobs? Becoming a mother does all kinds of things to your mind (and yes, your heart and soul and tolerance for cloying sentiment). But these pale in comparison to its effect on your breasts. Or rather, the Anatomy Previously Known As Your Breasts.

I can see your Dirty Pillows! Piper Laurie screamed at her teen daughter Carrie, a transluscent and freakish Sissy Spacek. Poor Carrie never went bra shopping with her mum.

My pillows have traveled the bumpy road from 34B to their current postpartum Salma Hayek state of 38D. And they've long since stopped hanging out together. I won't refer to the classic image of the tribal women in the National Geographics we all thumbed through as pre-pubescents, our first exposure to bare naked ladies...but ye, I just did and this is what my breasts most resemble, though they are pasty white and not chocolate colored. They are large and swinging and...okay, enough.

I was until today utterly defiant at the idea of spending another dime on clothing to accommodate my ever changing shape (having done so for the past 18months since being heavily pregnant and giving birth the first time). I'd taken to wearing my jog bras to keep things in order.

Ladies - it's not a bad idea to go and actually buy bras that fit and support you. When was the last time some kindly store clerk measured you? Probably at age 13, right?

Well, I sucked it up (or in) and fully confessed to the mammary authorities. "What can I help you with?" I was asked. They're so patient and kind, these breast containment professionals. They are all like great aunts who want to leave you their money but don't have any.

"I'm pregnant and nothing fits. I need help," I murmured, eyeing a black teddy I might have worn in a previous life (like two years ago).

"Oh my, we definitely need a larger band for you," she said in the privacy of the hideously lighted dressing room, taking one look at my sorry ass looking bra that fit about two years ago and was at one point, white and not the dishwater gray hue it was now. "Maybe we'll go to a D and see how that looks," she clucked, tucking in my ample pectoral flesh.

Here's the thing. She came back with a variety of options - and with some adjusting, they fit! They made me look better. And yes, I admit, they made me feel better. There was lift, there was support, there was cleavage! MY BOOBS WERE TOGETHER AGAIN. I was still huge, but in a glamorous, Queen Latifah way. Here's two things you might not know about wearing a bra:

1) Once you put one on, arrange the breast so the "nipple is in the center of the cup." I smirked and blushed when my boobhelper said this, only to be amazed at the difference it made in the fit.

2) You should be able to fit 2 fingers (no more and no less) under the shoulder strap if it is fitted properly and snugly. The difference this made in my interpretation of gravity was substantial.

So, swallow your pride (and that last mouthful of chocolate) and go get measured. Admit it - you're bigger (or smaller) than you'd like to be. Accept this and find yourself a real bra shop (no, Victoria's Secret doesn't qualify. Clerks must all be over age 50 and weigh more than 100 pounds). Take control. Own your boobs.

Remember, you don't have to have it all. You just have to get some.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wishful Thinking

I want to be in a children’s book.

I don’t mean star in one. I don’t mean get my name mentioned. I mean live in one.

I’d like to be a blue dog that drives a car or a bear that talks or a rabbit that wears cute vests and ballet slippers. I’d like to live in a world where it’s ok for moms to go out for a bit and leave the children under the care of a Rottweiler. I’d like to see where insects talk – where hungry caterpillars get fed and lonely spiders make friends. I’d like to hang out in that great green room with the red balloon and giant fireplace. Who has a bedroom that big and cozy?

I’d like to spend a few decades where animals wear clothes and monsters have playdates. Where things are warm and safe and colorful, and the biggest worries are fear of the dark, a rainy day, not wanting to go to bed and wondering how much, exactly, I am loved.

I want to live in a world where problems get fixed in twenty pages or less. Where everyone feels good at the end, even a grouchy ladybug.

Where beings of various sizes, shapes, species, colors and nationalities converse reasonably.

Where bullies learn.

Where being different is okay, even rewarded. Where bears nap in mittens. Where green eggs and ham taste good. Where builders get the job done - with just the help of their cheerful tools.

Where things don’t have to make sense as long as they rhyme. Where it's ok to not know who your mother is. And where time passes - but only until you come back again.

I’d like to live in a children’s book.

For now, I’ll have to pretend.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Conversation That Never Happens

Two men, late thirty-ish or forty-something, face one another across a giant desk in an impressive office. The wood is cherry, the lighting expensive, the work vague and profitable and the coffee, brought by a good-looking, young female assistant.

Well Steve, you’ve had a great quarter, and I just wanted to check in to see how you’re feeling.

(enthusiastically patting his belly)
I actually have a lot more energy this trimester, Bob. Which is surprising, since I was sick as a dog the first three months. Heh.

I remember. You sprinted for the men’s room in the middle of the Dyson briefing. That was embarrassing.

Don’t remind me! Anyway, I’m feeling great now. No need to slow down yet until the baby’s born.
(He suppresses an ugly burp)
Sorry about that.

Yes. Well, that’s what we wanted to talk to you about.


Well, it’s only me in the room of course, but I have to use the proverbial “royal we” when speaking on behalf of the company.

Oh. Right.

Otherwise you could potentially sue me personally for saying something mildly politically incorrect, you know, in your current, ah, “state.”

Well, Bob, I’m here for the company, and if you need me during the first few weeks of the baby’s life, then I’m here too. Phone, email, you name it. I’m your man.

That’s great of you, Steve.
(sensing an opening)
So let me ask you, what are your thoughts on actually coming back after the baby?

(a bit taken aback)
Well, I do plan to come right back to work full time after three months.

But won’t you be tired? What about the breastfeeding schedule? What about sleep deprivation – have you thought about all that? Everything changes after a baby, you know.

I’m sure I can manage. I’ve multi-tasked before. Jen and I have discussed it.

And how does…Jen feel?

She wants me to do what makes me happy, and what’s best for the family.

And you have a nanny lined up? Daycare? Maybe your father can help out?

I’m interviewing people and visiting childcare centers now. I have picked a pediatrician. I’ve also pre-registered for swimming and music classes. They say that’s important.

I’m sure. You’re a busy guy, Steve-o. I don’t know how you do it.

I try to make things easy for Jen. She works hard. One of us has to take the lead on the home front. I’m sure I can manage it all once the baby is born.

Well, you might change your mind when the little one arrives. We’ve seen it before.

Again with the “we…”

Just calling ‘em as I see ‘em, Steve-o.

(a bit defensive now)
Well, there’s no need to worry about me. Millions of men do it every day, right?

(an awkward pause as the good looking assistant arrives with more coffee)Well, nice chatting with you, Steve. Keep me posted on the delivery, and if you need anything, just let Kathleen here know. I couldn’t find a piece of HR paperwork if my life depended on it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Why I Love Kids" Photo Album

Hi everyone -

I'm not one to pass along silly emails (I'm far too serious and busy, ahem) but when this photo collection arrived in my inbox I couldn't resist. Some of these tot shots are staged, I think, but otheres are clearly spontaneous 'capture the moment' moments in kids lives. Enjoy - and if anyone knows the source of these snapshots, let me know so I can give full credit! Remember, if we can laugh at ourselves (and of course, others) it makes being a mom that much easier. P.S. Scroll down to the last photo - it's the best!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Feel like a Bad Mother? At least you're not Rose Mary Walls

The Glass Castle
By Jeanette Walls

Everyone is recommending this book, and as a former publicist and author of two novels published to deafening indifference, I’m not one to heap additional praise upon those who have already summitted the best seller list with no help from me.

However, in this case, I urge you to read Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle because, in addition to the fact that everyone you know is insisting you HAVE to read it, and you’re feeling somewhat like an uncultured, sheltered mumsie for not having done so, it is simply an astounding book, with a story as riveting as any fictional horror tale (ahem, James Frey). Now that I’m a parent, I read this book with a different kind of voraciousness. I simply could not believe parents could behave this way, or that their children could be so resilient, not only surviving but later thriving, with nothing but their own wits and each other as resources.

The Glass Castle is the story of a poor family as they move from place to place, the parents skirting responsibility, convention and authority every place they go. They live in their car, in an abandoned train station, an inherited house for a brief, comfortable time, and finally in a poor West Virginian mining town amidst some strange and abusive relatives who eventually kick them out.

Imagine your three year-old at the stove by herself, cooking a hot dog for dinner (because neither of her parents can be bothered to do it) and then catching fire. Imagine your daughter and son scrambling through the school garbage cans after lunch period ends, in order to both survive and also avoid the shame of sitting beside children with fully packed lunchboxes. Imagine your daughter coloring on her skin where the holes in her pants are, so as to better disguise their condition. Imagine your family of six living in a dilapidated, condemned house with no electricity, heat or plumbing in the dead of winter, and you as a mother telling your kids to “pick off the maggotty parts” of the ham to eat. Imagine their father stealing their hard earned cash savings to go on a drinking binge, and you hoarding a fat Hershey’s candy bar all for yourself, hidden in your bed, as your children shrink to skin and bones. And yet, they love you.

All of this not due to illness, terrible hardship and unforeseen circumstance but simple…will. Wall’s mother fancied herself an artistic type who had no use for domesticity. Her father was a dreamer, a romantic, life with him seemed an endless adventure that eventually became less fun as she and her siblings grew older and wiser. He was also an incurable drunk. Perhaps what is most incredible about Wall’s experience and indeed her voice in this memoir is her matter of fact style as she recounts her childhood horrors with no self pity or bitterness. There is even a remarkable though controlled, affection as she writes about the family’s adventures and her father’s promises, and the fact that they all stuck together until things became so unbearable, and the children old enough, to venture out on their own.

The book opens with the well dressed, now married Walls traveling in a taxi through the streets of New York City. By chance she glances out the window and sees her mother rooting through a dumpster. She meets her for breakfast shortly thereafter, offering her help and resources – which her mother steadfastly refuses.

After all she has been through, after all she and her siblings suffered at the hands of their neglectful parents, Walls has earned the right to turn her back on them completely. But she never does, and the remarkable peace she seems to have made with them speaks to the power of family, however you define it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


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From time to time, we may use customer information for new, unanticipated uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at some time in the future we will post the policy changes to our Web site to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our Web site periodically.

Customers may prevent their information from being used for purposes other than those for which it was originally collected by e-mailing us at the above address.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to a description of information that we maintain about them.

Consumers can access this information by e-mail us at the above address. Consumers can have this information corrected by sending us e-mail at the above address.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us at the above addresses or phone number.

We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our Web site. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address or telephone number) about your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here: