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Fall 2009

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In This Issue 8 19

Editor’s Note

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Don’t Psychoanalyze Me Dianne Perry

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Forest For The Trees Sarah Stoner

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Going To Prison Carol Kloskowski

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Lipstick Mom Kim Shipman Honesty Day Larissa Laber

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Shreds & Comments: letters@getbornmag.com Advertising: advertise@getbornmag.com Honest mother lit.: submit@getbornmag.com. Title your piece and include a short bio at the end.

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The Search For Intelligent Life Dani Baresel

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Growing Katie Harris

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Please Not Nudism Forbidden Carrie Visintainer

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Shadow Woman (Poem) Abra Houchin

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I Resign Jeannie Sponheim

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Wanted, A Mother Lynn Dean

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get born reserves the right to edit any submissions for quality and clarity. The opinions expressed in articles and advertisements are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or other contributors. get born magazine is brought to you by our advertisers. Your support of these local businesses and services helps our local community thrive. Join us in thanking them for their support - please let them know you saw their ad in get born. Keep get born alive - You can subscribe by sending $16.95 for a year’s subscription, along with your name and address, to get born magazine, P.O. Box 1141, Fort Collins, Colorado or by visiting www.getbornmag.com/subscribe

Editor in Chief & Publisher > Heather Janssen Managing Editor > Corey Radman Assistant to the Editor > Stephanie Rayburn Art Director/Designer > Makeesha Fisher Marketing Consultant > Kyndra Wilson

Photo and Art Credits: Cover photo titled Feeling Free by Sanja Gjenero (Croatia). www.sxc.hu Page 4 photo titled The Feminine Figure by Sergio Geraldes. Sergio considers his photography “snapshots of nature revealing itself.” It is each individual’s life and spiritual journeys that open the eyes and the heart to the message that waits to be discovered. Sergio lives in Bedminster, NJ with his wife, three kids and two dogs. THEFUTUREFOSSIL.com or thefuturefossil@gmail.com


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Autumn, 2009

eted by a girl we were immediately gre y, Da or Lab er ov on ati camping destin uced herself and upon When we arrived at our Katie. She eagerly introd my m fro r he ish gu tin dis hters and their play I’ll call “Camping Katie” to day with their young daug the in r late us ng eti me s were great detail, she hearing that some friend parently, as she told us in Ap re. asu ple old ar-ye friends that d with ten finally meet horse-loving horses, she nearly swoone to d ite exc so s wa she horse-lovers, and , fully understanding had no friends who were at her italicized enthusiasm iled sm I . up d we sho y the she just couldn’t wait until e things you do. w friends who love the sam ne ke ma to ls fee it ul erf how wond entative. ugh extraordinarily argum tho ld, chi us cio co pre lly be a delightfu ing Katie was around, Camping Katie proved to upon our children, if Camp ced pla we s rie da un bo No matter the geographic she argued with us. tie and her ading home. Camping Ka he e for be ks roc the on d for a last climb red you by coming aroun The day we left, we went d, “I hope I haven’t bothe sai she d, lke to wa we me d As . tol t little brother tagged along lifetime of conditioning tha red, battling between the we ans I e for be d use pa I so much.” truth. the reality. I opted for the say, “Of course not!” and red thfully. “What has bothe at all, Katie,” I replied, tru d un aro u yo ing hav ed “I haven’t mind you’ve argued with us.” me, however, is how often problem with arguing.” e “Yeah,” she said, “I have a e to deal with. We all hav have problems that we hav all we ell, “W d, sai I ly, Automatical work on.” to s thing than anyone else.” t I have more to work on “bu d, You do argue sai she ” s, “Ye tement. “That is not true. sta r he by d ine pa ly ep u’ve “Oh, Katie,” I said, truly, de ! You’re very friendly, yo an you’re not a terrific kid me ’t esn do s left t wa I tha t t bu bu s, ch, up to the kid with adults too mu stic.” She ran off to catch sia thu en er sup the e n u’r tha yo got great initiative, and she’s already more broken somehow feels as though she y, ead alr life. It made me ten at y, wh wondering d such footing in her little ne gai y ead alr has me that sha d to the utterly rest of us. It saddened me , and how much it’s relate me sha of ck tra nd sou tune into the ble, I find it rarely feeds wonder how early we all While nice is socially palata to. d ose exp or en giv response to Katie. It tragic lack of truth we are I was really proud of my it, of ht ug tho I re mo e Th . uld lie for fear me like the truth feeds me annoyed or bothered, I wo or , set up s wa I if me ed edom eone ask held more power for fre used to be that when som not realizing that the truth , dly ba l yes, fee and m , the ing g oy kin uing is ann of offending or ma ke two truths: yes, your arg spo I , me for e and sak and r , he tie Ka for g, both than my polite lie. For tially damaging messagin ten po e som t ins y aga the ; nd nce a sta my existe you’re a great kid. I took my flaws don’t invalidate to: g clin to n gu be tly en only rec for mine. It’s a truth I’ve hey do not define me. —t me of are merely pieces ny messages—about our scious messaging. So ma con sub s, ou idi ins ly, ear g— maging. So I ponder on messagin negative and therefore da bly ara be un m the of st mo r value, makes us human, flaws as they relate to ou we are all flawed, which t tha w kno to n me wo anything, for ther, staying cognizant of I want, almost more than alidate our existence. Ra inv y the s do r no us, e fin de a chorus of honest voice but these flaws do not achable and fully human— pro ap us g kin ma , nce ste our flaws enriches our exi this freeing truth. ing im cla pro er raised togeth en ugh, that we all need to list l take her far. I think, tho wil , ken ke. bro ma t no en if , ldr chi nce men and Camping Katie’s resilie ul messages will strong wo thf tru d, Kin g. gin ssa me th more carefully to the tru


Don’t Psychoanalyze Me

I wanted Jo Frost,

Dianne Perry

Supernanny, to come to my house, verbally slap me around a little, then hug me in her big, warm bosom and make charts for my family. I wanted a village.

It was the day after Christmas. My older son Henry was two-and-a-half and my younger son Joe was six months old. Our furnace hadn’t been working for three days, and because of the holiday we couldn’t get anyone out to fix it. My husband, Michael, was back at work, and my babies and I were huddled in front of our fireplace trying to stay warm. The fireplace was gas and only for show, but it at least provided the illusion of heat. It was a mild winter so we weren’t going to freeze to death, but we all had red, cold, runny noses and cold fingertips. I was miserable. For perhaps the 20th time that day Henry was throwing a tantrum. He didn’t like the color of the sippy cup I had given him. I thought to myself, “I could just throw him in the fire, and all this would be over.” I imagined the trial, me in an orange jumper. I imagined the horrific headline in the Denver Post. Would I be able to pass myself off as insane? Could I claim the devil made me do it?

I confessed this incident to a girlfriend who is a mother of three. She laughed, particularly liking that my fantasy went so far as to include the actual trial. This was exactly the reaction I expected. She understood that my children were never in actual danger of being thrown in the fire. Her kids were older than mine— she was a veteran. She knew what it was like to hand a graham cracker to a child and then wait for the screams because there were pieces broken off. She knew what it felt like to forget to bring water to the park only to discover that the water fountain didn’t work, then listen helplessly to her kids cry all the way home because they were thirsty. She knew about that strangely painful hour (what my mom calls the “arsenic hour”) between 4:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon when you’re all stuck in the house waiting for the distraction of dinner. As my friend liked to say, “My kids slowly eat away at my brain. Oops, there goes another chunk.”

Shortly after that Christmas, my father-in-law, a Freudian psychoanalyst, suggested Henry needed therapy because his sibling rivalry was extreme. I thought the idea of sending a toddler to therapy was nuts, but Michael convinced me to give it a try. He had grown up with therapy and believed in it wholeheartedly. I figured we’d go to a few sessions, the doctor would give us some advice, and we’d be on our merry way. We got a referral from Michael’s former psychotherapist, and took Henry to his first appointment. I had never been to a therapist. I had to ask Michael what one wears to therapy. The three of us went into the office with the doctor and he proceeded to “play” with Henry. He presented Henry with a dollhouse and guided him by asking about the dolls and who they were and what they might do. Henry was only a toddler and not a big talker. He didn’t say a word for the entire session. Eventually, he picked up a little toy


dog and put it in the dollhouse toilet. Michael, the doctor and I all chuckled a little, and then Henry threw the dog in the doctor’s trash can. We chuckled a little more. Henry, emboldened by our amusement, proceeded to take all the dolls—baby, dad, mom, grandma, etc. and put them in the trash. I didn’t realize it at the time, but, voila, the doctor had his diagnosis. We left the session and I was confused about what, if anything, had just happened. Michael was excited and thought a lot of “work” had been done – that Henry had revealed important information to the doctor through his play. Michael and I had a session on our own a few days later, and the doctor confirmed Michael’s opinion. Henry threw the dollhouse toys in the trash because of his anger over the birth of Joe. The doctor believed that Henry needed ongoing therapy, twice a week. I was dumbfounded. How did they expect a two-and-a- half-year-old boy to play with dolls? Did they think he would tuck them in bed, read them a story, and get them a cup of milk? I’d been around a lot of little boys—they don’t tend to play nice. But, again, Michael convinced me that the doctor was an expert—he knew what Henry needed. So twice a week Henry met with the therapist for 45 minutes and they would play with toys. Sometimes Henry wanted me to sit in on the sessions and sometimes not. When I did sit in, I didn’t see a lot happening. Often Henry would build towers out of blocks and then knock them down. I wondered if the doctor thought this was more evidence of trouble. I would mentally calculate the cost. Let’s see that’s $185 a session, 8 times a month. That brought the monthly dues to a total of $1480! Health insurance covered only a tiny

portion of this. I knew the therapy was crazy, but I was too full of self-doubt about my parenting skills to stand up for what I believed in. There was no insurance to cover the emotional dues I was paying. The doctor was always vague about how long the treatment would continue, and Michael’s dad told us it could take years. Now and then Michael and I met with Henry’s therapist to discuss how things were going at home. I was naive about therapy and I went into those sessions thinking I had to bare my soul and declare every bad thought I’d ever had about my children. In one session I told the story about the fire. Michael chortled nervously while I told the story, but the doctor, with a stricken look on his face, told us he was obligated to contact the proper authorities if he felt I was a danger to my children. Apparently my story didn’t quite rise to the therapist’s idea of needing intervention—he did not call any authorities. But thus began a struggle with me on one side and the therapist, Michael and my father-in-law on the other. They all believed that I was depressed and that it was my depression that was causing Henry’s problems. Henry’s therapist told me I either needed intensive psychotherapy or antidepressant drugs. I heard Michael having hushed conversations with his dad on the phone about me. I wasn’t sure exactly what they were saying, but I could guess. It’s a cliché in our society that patients go on and on about their mothers in psychoanalysis. Think of the Geico commercial with the caveman in therapy who puts his mother on speaker phone. But the basic precept of psychoanalysis, that an underlying cause can and should be drudged up

for a person’s neurosis, is not going to be a boon for us mothers. It leads to dangerous conclusions like Bruno Bettelheim’s in the 1950s. Bettelheim was a psychoanalyst and “child development specialist” who determined that mothers of autistic children caused their children’s illness because they were cold and distant. He called them “refrigerator mothers.” Then there was Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, another psychoanalyst, who argued that mothers of schizophrenics also caused their children’s disease. These were doctors who were practicing decades ago—they could never get away with those kinds of conclusions now. But aren’t mothers still on thin ice? I read a little Freud in college but it was from a literary theory perspective, not from a therapeutic perspective. My feminist, knee-jerk reaction to Freud was that he was insane. I decided to read up a little in order to have a more informed opinion. We happened to have a copy of Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria on our shelf so I started with that. Freud concluded that “Dora” was hysterical because, at the age of 14, when she was lured into an office and grabbed and kissed by her father’s married friend, instead of getting excited as a “healthy girl in such circumstances” would have, she was disgusted. Okay, so, debunking Freud’s analyses and ideas at this late date is a little too easy. And Henry’s doctor, though trained in Freudian analysis, was quick to distance himself from Freud. But I still heard a lot of the same Freudian jargon from Michael, his dad and the doctor— things like, “transference” and “over-stimulating” (as in, a child should never see his or her parents naked. It’s “over-stimulating”). Therapy was always referred to as the “process” (as in, we

9

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Raising kids is difficult for everyone, and it’s not possible to do it perfectly, or perfectly sanely. Armed with this wisdom from the trenches, I’m more than willing to pay my dues, just not to the therapists.

don’t know why the “process” works. It just does). This kind of jargon made me want to punch the pillows. But then there was a big part of me that thought, hey, maybe all these men are right. Maybe I am a rotten mother and am not good for my children to be around. It’s true that I could come up with a whole laundry list of my inadequacies. Henry could bring me to a point where I would just lose it and belt out what can only be described as primal screams. There were instances when Henry slapped me in the face and I slapped him right back (and not gently). I wished there were hidden cameras in other mothers’ homes so I could see how they treated their children. Were they always kind and loving? Did they do crazy things, too? What was the standard of behavior and how far off the mark was I? I stumbled on a few episodes of John and Kate Plus 8 on cable (before they became cheesy tabloid fodder) and did get a sick feeling in my stomach when I saw how unfailingly patient Kate was with her children. And she had eight. Were the bad parts edited out? She did seem to be mildly sedated. Was I in fact obligated to submit myself to rigorous therapy in order to protect my children? But therapy was just not part of my upbringing. In the dining room of my house growing up, my

mom posted a handwritten sign that said, “MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.” I always found it comforting. To me psychotherapy was something you either bought into or you didn’t – like Christianity or Buddhism or Scientology. It wasn’t real. If you could buy in, it would certainly be helpful, as it was for Michael. This required a leap of faith that was difficult for me. But the guilt and the episodes of poor mothering on my part continued to mount, culminating in the incident that really frightened me. One day I left Henry and Joe in the living room while I was in the kitchen cleaning up. Joe had just turned one—not walking yet but crawling. I heard an explosion. I ran into the living room where Joe sat howling next to the wall, blackened with what looked like soot. I screamed at Henry, “What happened, what happened, what happened to your brother?!” Henry cried and said, “I don’t know. I didn’t see.” I was treating Henry (just barely 3) like he was the babysitter and responsible for the explosion. After I calmed down, I pieced together the facts. Joe must have taken the floor lamp plug out of the wall, put it in his mouth, got it nice and juicy, then tried to put it back in the outlet. Kaboom. He was totally fine (although I did take him to the pediatrician to make sure he hadn’t 10

melted his brain). I was ashamed about how I had treated Henry, though. In my weakened state, I called a therapist (who was recommended by Michael’s therapist) and made an appointment. It took me a while to warm up in therapy, but eventually I did begin to talk about myself ad nauseum. However, I had these out-of-body experiences where I could see myself sitting in the chair and hear myself talking. I could never quite shake the feeling that I was a parody of a person in therapy—like a character in a Woody Allen movie. Most absurdly, I found myself spending many of the sessions with my therapist complaining about the sessions with Henry’s therapist. Again, I would tally the cost. Let’s see, that’s $185 for Henry’s sessions plus $165 for my sessions to complain about Henry’s therapist. But more important than the money (though the money was staggering!) was, again, the emotional dues: the feeling that I was being told, “You suck as a mother. Let’s figure out why you suck, take you apart, and try to put you back together.” But why couldn’t I just give myself up to the “process?” Maybe it would help and I’d become a better mother. It was totally melodramatic and self-aggrandizing, I know, but I’d liken myself to the protagonist in that old chestnut from high school English class, Orwell’s 1984. Couldn’t I just


give in and believe in Big Brother? After all, Big Brother loved me and wanted the best for me. If I just let go of my skepticism then I could finally be at peace and welcome the bullet in the back of my head. At one point in my therapy, I recounted an incident that happened when I was about ten. My mother forced me to practice piano, and to get back at her I pounded out the same song over and over again (I think it was “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”). My mother, driven to madness, broke a yardstick over my back. When I told this story, my lip started to quiver, my eyes filled with tears, and I felt profoundly sorry for myself. I thought, oh my God, I think I’m having a breakthrough. Yes, my problems are all my mother’s fault. I’m a bad mother because my mom was a bad mother. But a few days later, outside of therapy, I revisited that piano incident and remembered that it had actually always made me laugh. I thought, “Boy, what a little shit I was! I really knew how to drive my mom crazy!” I mean can you imagine listening to “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”—itself an exercise in repetition—played (badly) 50 times? Ghandi would have bludgeoned me with a yardstick. So I quit therapy, and I soldiered on. One day, I took Henry to one of his appointments (he’d been in therapy for almost two years at this point) and he wanted me to be in the session with him. I went in with him and the doctor took it as sign that something was wrong between Henry and me. He asked Henry why he had asked me into the session and if Henry was angry with me. I had a sudden flash of rage and of insight. With this man I was always going to be blamed for Henry’s problems—real or perceived. I realized

Henry would only be done with therapy when I said he was done with therapy. We left the office and I never brought him back. It was raining that day and we ran down the sidewalk to my car hand-in-hand. It felt very cinematic and kind of romantic—like I was busting Henry out of the nut house a la One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. My husband and I went back for a final meeting with the therapist where I was berated for my behavior and my lack of dedication to the “process.” The doctor accused me of being unable to accept help. I did want help. I wanted help getting the boys dressed in the morning and out the door. I wanted help cleaning orange juice from the kitchen floor. I wanted Jo Frost, Supernanny, to come to my house, verbally slap me around a little, then hug me in her big, warm bosom and make charts for my family. I wanted a village. I was recently in an airport waiting for a flight (blissfully without my children). It was late at night and there was a mother of three little girls at the same gate. Her youngest child, who was about two, was determined to walk behind the flight attendants’ desk and the mother was trying to keep her away. The child, who obviously just needed to be in bed, was screaming. The two older daughters tried to comfort and distract the little one by dancing with her, but they only made it worse. I saw wild desperation in the mother’s eyes. An older woman sitting next to me leaned over and said, “I feel so sorry for that woman. But I 11

have three grown children of my own. I paid my dues.” Sounds mean, but trust me, it wasn’t. There was nothing but empathy in her voice. Something about the woman’s statement reassured me. Raising kids is difficult for everyone,

and it’s not possible to do it perfectly, or perfectly sanely. Armed with this wisdom from the trenches, I’m more than willing to pay my dues, just not to the therapists. ❀ Henry is seven now and doing really well. He’s incredibly loving, super smart, and a total happy ass most of the time. He’s also intense, prone to fits of pique and has a dangerously low level of frustration tolerance. He shattered the glass on our plasma TV by throwing the remote at it. Joe is now five, is adorable, and loves the F word. I continue to pay my dues.

getbornmag.com


The Forest For The Trees Sarah Stoner

dangling from the back.

It’s one of those fresh spring Seattle mornings. My skin feels immersed in a cool clean pool and I am cocooned by things green and alive. I surface from my house, pulled outdoors. I need to breathe in the newness and green. My son, 16 months old, not yet walking, needs to see more of the truck parked outside. Dark blue footie pajamas encase him, toasty warm.

My child and the mist slow me down to a diver’s pace, slow motion suspension, small details in focus. A main focus when I dive is to breathe—as slowly and measured as possible—as I take in the beauty: in color, in pattern, in elongated pause to watch a fish brush along the coral. One long inhale, a slight push of my left fin, raises my body eight inches. Effort reduces to breath. I look down to the coral, holding in my belly as I skim over braids of turquoise and red. Time softens.

I swing him up to my right hip bone, pull the front door closed behind me. Three men stand on the rise of my driveway: fluorescent orange vests, hardhats, strapping on worn brown chaps. I can’t see their faces but I feel soft and receiving in their presence. Maybe it’s the mist, the thin ribbons of water that wrap us together in whiteness.

I look up. This man in his tree, walking out to the thin edge of the branch, he moves with no effort, buoyant, at ease. Equipment floats around his waist—sheathed handsaw, delicate chainsaw, a slimmer version of the usual hunky beast. Carabineers. Ropes, like breathing tubes, tethered to the safety of shore.

“Do you need to get out?” one of them asks. A chipping truck blocks our driveway. They are here to cut down a city tree, a redwing ash whose roots loosened in the winter windstorm. “No, not at all,” I say. “My son was begging at the door to come see.” I shift Noah’s weight on my hip.

The serious work begins. He rides the tree like a horse, holding on the mane, lassoing branches. Warm in the cool air from a steady gallop up and down the tree trunk, he takes off his jacket. Boot spurs dig into her sides for grip.

We both watch the men prep for the cut: orange cones, rakes, signs. Sidewalk Closed Ahead. Tree Work in Progress.

“Call Josh. We need another hand for this one,” he says to his buddy on the ground, yelling over the squeal of the chipper.

I walk the length of the red chipping truck, holding Noah. Bandit Model 250. Pudgy fingers reach out to jangle the three metal links

A cut limb, when all logic tells me it should crash to the ground, swings gently into the air. Lassoed, it catches like a bungee jumper, swaying, held in free fall. Two men below unleash the fallen limb, grab her like EMTs with a charge on a stretcher towards an ambulance. Only they feed the branch through the chipper. The dance finds its rhythm—lasso, limb, rake. I watch the men, rapt, doing their day’s work: rising up through the leaves, roping the mare, and bringing her down gently. I am grateful for my son, who watches round-eyed and silent, a grounding weight on my bones. I would have felt a little silly standing around on my own, gawking. My son gives me permission to slow down, to watch people, to pause at a patterned leaf. Most of all, I am grateful for the days that my soul swims fresh and slow, seeing beauty everywhere, even in the slow death of a tree, and the men who held her gently. ❀ Sarah Stoner is a Seattle-based writer whose subject matter most often touches on health, mothering, and international living. She and her family are currently making the move to a community land trust property in rural Washington—closer to the trees and deeper into the forest. Contact her at sarah.stoner@earthlink.net 12


It’s rough at home so I think I’m going to rob a bank. I won’t use a gun, just my hand in my pocket. I’ll check out where all the surveillance cameras are and make sure that they’ll get a few good close-ups of me being handed the money by the teller. Once I get outside to my car, I’ll make sure it won’t start. When the police come I’ll give up without a struggle and give them the money even though my husband and I could use some help with our very large mortgage. The reason I think I’m going to do this is because I want to go to prison. If you have children you can probably guess the reason. I need a rest. I have four children under the age of ten; two of them are still in diapers. We have a big old house to keep clean, and besides that, I have a part-time job that cuts into the time I have available to do all the things that need to be done at home. (Yes, my husband does help—sometimes.) Don’t tell me to quit the job. It’s fun. It’s the easiest part of my day, and THEY PAY ME. Also I’d really like to finish college. I’ve heard there are some free college courses in prison, and there’ll be lots of uninterrupted time to study

C arol

Kloskowski

In prison, I’ll probably have to get up early but that’s okay; I get up early now. I also get up a lot in the middle of night with the baby. There’ll be no babies to get up with in prison. I won’t have to cook in prison and no little person will ask me what’s for supper and then say “Yuck” when I tell him. I won’t have to fight with a different little person in the morning to get her to eat the oatmeal I made, and I won’t have to drive anyone to school because they missed the bus. In fact, I WON’T HAVE TO DRIVE ANYONE ANYWHERE. The television in the prison won’t be tuned to Sponge Bob or Sesame Street. On it, I might actually get to watch a daytime talk show. There may even be a special exercise room in prison for the inmates, or at least I’m sure there will be special times set aside when the prisoners are exercised in the “yard.” (I’ve seen lots of prison movies.) At home I don’t have time to exercise. I’m hoping that in prison I can lose some weight and in get shape. Reading is something I really enjoy, but there is a very high pile of dusty unread books on the shelf in my closet. I’m going to bring all those books with me when I go to prison. The guards in the prison won’t expect me to do housework. Sure, I’ll make my bed, clean the little mirror over my sink and my toilet; but that’s all. I won’t have to do mountains of laundry, clean any ovens, wash walls and windows, or do yard work, although I think I might miss the yard work. I love flowers. But I guess everything has a price. By the time I have to leave my temporary prison home, my husband will surely have come to appreciate all that I had to

do and, finally understand why I was always tired. My children will probably be adults if I get the long sentence I think I might like; and I will have missed their teenage years entirely. That does it. I’m going to put on my brand-new red jacket with the deep pockets. Then I’m out the door and on my way to the First National. Carol Kloskowski now raises and sells perennial flowers instead of children.  Her seven children are all now adults who turned out just fine in spite of that fact she didn’t follow a lot of the expert’s parenting suggestions. She now is a grandma to 15 grandchildren, which is a much easier job.  She also writes for magazines and is working on two books which may or may not ever get finished.


Lipstick Mom By Kim Shipman

“Really?” I huffed at the shirt I was wearing. “What is that? Oatmeal? No it’s too orange. Wait…is this the same top I had on yesterday?” My shoulders slumped as I exhaled a long sigh. It was just another day in Mommyville: the beautiful, enlightening, creative, intellectually challenging (whether it’s stimulating or deflating), reflex training, full of indiscriminate memory lapses, patience building, love expanding, and obviously hygiene challenged world of being a Mommy. Disheartened, I realized I was long overdue for a change. The wheels began to spin in my head. Maybe a Kate haircut? Holmes, that is, not Plus Eight. Nah. Then I had a vision. My transformation would come by way of lipstick. My goal, no matter what, would be to always have a shimmer to my lips. My eyes grew wide as I declared, “I’m going become a Lipstick

Mom!” I was going to join the legions of moms that even after cups of coffee, popsicles, and PB&J, had not one errant crumb stuck in the shimmering bow of perfection. I was convinced, as the inspirational music swelled in my head, that a youthful shade of emollient magic would give off a Bree Hodge-like appearance to help camouflage those Lynette Scavo harried days. A perfect shade of lipstick would surely help resurrect a little of my external beauty that laid dormant most days. So off to the drugstore I went in search of the perfect shade of lipstick. I needed something that was not too dark, not too light. Something that brought out my eyes, and not the circles under them. The excitement left me giddy with anticipation; I could only imagine the beauty conventions that had been invented since the early nineties. I had heard rumor that there was something that promised to make your lips look plumper and fuller. “Hmm…” I thought, “I wonder if that would work on

other parts of my body?” Back at the playground with my lips aglow, I watched my children with an aura of joy. I pressed my dewy lips together, feeling confident in my latest reinvention. “This must be how Madonna feels,” I thought. Just then I realized my toddler was heading straight for a muddy patch of grass. I quickly bent over and scooped her up to keep her from being covered head to toe in mud. I stood up with a smile of accomplishment and realized my vision was blocked by my hair! Oh no! My hair now resembled “Cousin It” from the Addams Family! With  my toddler still tucked under one arm,  I  calmly began moving my hair out of the way with my free hand.  However,  it wasn’t going anywhere! It had become plastered to radiant and glossy lips! The shimmer had attacked and was holding my hair hostage! I started to move faster, my toddler wiggling free from my football hold and on the run again.With


rapid motion I began to push the hair out of my face. Like a kung fu master, in a reverse karate chop motion I succeeded to rescue my hair from the hostile situation. “Who am I kidding,” I thought exasperated as I began to coax my hair back into place. As I scanned the playground to see where my muddy tot had moved on to, my eye caught a mom with gleaming lips. She held her baby with one arm, while grasping her coffee with the other hand, and pale rose colored lips that Grace Kelly would envy. I wondered, did we both look foolish trying to be a bit more chic in our chic-challenging world? Feeling defeated, I sunk down on the park bench. I was beginning to doubt this whole Lipstick Mom business. I watched the pale rose Lipstick Mom heave her baby higher onto her hip while tilting her head back savoring the last drops of her coffee. Before she could swallow she was blindsided by her infant’s elbow sending the last of the coffee down her celadon green shirt.With a sigh she set the baby down and sopped up what she

could using the blanket from the stroller. Then she did something that made me bolt straight up in my seat! She magically retrieved a tube of gloss from her pocket and quickly applied it to her faded pucker, and stashed it away just in time to grab the twig that her orally fixated baby was about to ingest. Her eye caught mine and she gave me a wink. She was a master. She was the black belt of Lipstick Moms, her skill and craft were what legends are made of. I felt a semi-glossy smile stretch across my

face. I wasn’t alone. Her wink of sagacity was the reassurance I needed. Were the blindness by tresses, muddy toddler, coffee stains, and near choking incidents worth a little shimmer? I believe they were. In the words of Amelia Earhart, “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” So if becoming an emollient master helps brighten my day when I’m the last thing on my To Do list, then I will plump, moisturize, SPF, anti wrinkle, exfoliate, and shimmer my mood upward. Shimmer on!


Honesty Day

Larissa Laber

At least once a day one of my girlfriends will start an email to the rest of us explaining the newest reason why her husband is worthless or why her kids are driving her crazy. Three or four of us respond with supportive zingers like “men are so selfish,” “BASTARD!” or with similar anecdotes of our own. At the end of a day there will be anywhere from 20-100 responses to that first message with subject lines reading “WTF” or “I need a drink.” The following day it will be someone else’s turn to start the bitchfest and we’ll do it all over again. It wasn’t always this way. You see, I was naïve and thought I had an idea about what it would be like to be a mother.  I assumed my love for my newborn son would be immediate and allconsuming. My husband and I would lovingly stare at him while he slept peacefully in his crib. I would fall more in love with my husband, leading to a fantastic sex life. I would still go out with my girlfriends as often as I’d like.  Then I brought my son home and realized I had no clue what I had gotten myself into. My mom had passed away when I was 8 weeks pregnant and I was the first in my group of friends to have a baby. I felt alone, isolated, and totally out of my league.  I wondered if I just wasn’t cut out to be a mom, because nobody else ever seemed to complain.  Instead, I always heard women gushing about being moms and how supportive their husbands were. Was I not supposed to be missing my social life? Would I eventually adjust to sleeping no more than two hours at a time? Why didn’t anyone tell me how much breastfeeding blows? When did my husband get so lazy? I sucked it up. I didn’t tell anybody how I was feeling, including my husband or my girlfriends. Cut to five months later when my girlfriend welcomed her daughter into the world. Two months after that, another friend brought her baby girl home from the hospital. My heart ached for them. I knew how difficult those first few weeks and months are and I was secretly glad it wasn’t me starting at the beginning again.  I gently hinted that it was okay to admit it wasn’t the cake walk we expected. Thankfully our play dates always include beer, so after a few it didn’t take long for one of them to say, “Why didn’t you tell us it was like this? We had NO idea.” And with that, Honesty Day for Mothers was born. I invented Honesty Day when I was in college and worked at a local buffet restaurant to support my binge drinking.  I was amazed at how rude people could be, so I found a great way to cope (other than the drinking, of course.) Honesty Day was a day that you could be totally honest with someone and not worry about the repercussions. For example, when I worked at the buffet I would love to have been able to say, “Hey asshole, look at me. I’m 20 years old and working the cash register at a buffet chain. Do you REALLY think that I have any input into the pricing? You’re bitching up the wrong tree… And by the way, based on your weight

Larissa works full time and is raising two boys in Wisconsin. Her loving husband knows that weekly Girls Nights are non-negotiable because she lives by these words: girlfriends and beer solve everything. She can be found blogging furiously, usually while drinking beer and talking to her girlfriends, at laboroflove. blogspot.com.


Sometimes I don’t like my child I hated breastfeeding

I’d guess that you are going to get more than your money’s worth anyway.” Years later when I worked at a hospital, I would have loved to apply Honesty Day to the doctors: “Who the fuck do you think you are? Just because you wear a white coat doesn’t mean you can walk all over people, you pompous ass. YOU ARE NOT GOD.” You get the idea. Maybe Honesty Day would only happen once a year, I thought, but during that day, rather than making snide remarks under my breath to my friends or co-workers, I could let people have it and put them in their place.  And I wouldn’t get fired! I’m fairly sure Obama is going to make it a national holiday, but he hasn’t responded to my email. So here we are: new moms, best friends, and more beer than I’d like to admit, and for once we can say, out loud, that being a mom isn’t as easy or natural as we thought it would be. We can tell each other that our husbands are not the fathers and partners we hoped they’d be. We talk about the sleepless nights and bleeding nipples and the colic. We admit that we would be willing to give our husbands blow jobs if they would just offer to do one feeding a night or wash a freaking sippy cup without being asked. We realize it’s okay to be annoyed by your children. We share that we sometimes cry all night out of exhaustion, and nipple shields are made by the devil, and man, after I gave birth my crotch felt like it was kicked repeatedly by a steel-toed boot. We admit that despite all the crap we’d love to change, we do love our kids more than we thought possible. There is a real comfort in knowing that I’m not alone or crazy in this journey called Motherhood. Just yesterday my girlfriend and I were talking about our kids and how awful they’ve been behaving. And she said, “I’m so glad I have you guys to talk to about this, because if I didn’t know the way she’s acting is normal I would have her into a behavior specialist or something!” Sometimes I catch myself taking note of things that happen during my day with my husband or kids, and I think “I cannot wait to email the girls about that tomorrow.” Even if they don’t agree with me, they listen with open ears and open hearts. With them, I have nothing to hide. I now find nothing more annoying than a woman who won’t admit that being a mom is hard or that her husband can be a selfish tool. So many times I have been stuck in a conversation with a woman who goes on and on about how her baby slept through the night at 3 weeks, breastfeeding didn’t hurt, and her husband was the most helpful and patient man she’d ever known. And in my head, I’m always thinking: You’re lying and I don’t have time for you. And I feel a little sorry for her, because in my world—in my little circle of friends—every day is Honesty Day.

I never breastfed I drank wine regularly when I was pregnant I bribe my kids with sugar I give my toddler soda in a sippy My kids often go 2 weeks without taking a bath I had an epidural with all of my births...and LOVED IT I drink vodka tonics for lunch My husband is clueless most of the time ...and I hate him for it sometimes

My child only eats 3 foods...and none of them is a vegetable I go out with friends to escape ...and don’t want to come home Sometimes I forget to feed my kids I regularly make my 7-year-old fix her own meals I have imagined hurting my child I think babies stink I didn’t have sex once during my pregnancy I don’t volunteer at my kid’s school I use the TV as a babysitter

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The Search For Intelligent Life

Dani Baresel

My teenage son recently moved to the distant, yet popular, planet named “Self-Centered”.  He texts me occasionally from this other world to let me know he’s OK, or that he’s going to dinner with his friends, or to the mall, or…wait a minute, is he texting while driving!?!?! The infrequent occasions when he has a conversation with me is when he is the subject ( James), the verb ( James-ing) and the pronoun (MEMEMEMEME!) of each sentence. “Hey Mom! James will be James-ing to the James, with my James’. It’s going to be Jamesmazing! BTW, can I have 20 James’?” He coolly prattles on about himself without realizing or caring that I, a mere human mother, may have something to say. His friends have also been taken over by aliens. I witness their unusual behavior when they occasionally gather at our home. They perch unusually close to the television or the refrigerator, perhaps similar to loved ones deep in outer space. Their language appears to be hand-signals, murmurs, snorts and grunts, usually while madly texting with grossly enlarged thumbs. All of these are obvious signs of alien intelligence. His chronic wallowing in his own thoughts and actions prevents him from remembering how to behave on his home planet. His hugs have become rarer than Haley’s Comet. He frequently forgets things like chores, walking the dog, paying his car payment, flushing (or finding) the toilet, filling his tires, or scheduling his doctor’s appointment. Since I still have the earthly capabilities of memory, I assist him with these endeavors by nagging and cajoling until he flips up his space helmet to block me out entirely. After discussing this bizarre behavior with other moms 18

of teenagers, I learned the seamy underbelly of truth about my son’s condition.  One day, not too many years ago, while he slumbered in his increasingly foul-smelling room, his body was apparently invaded by an alien life form: The Cell-Phone-Carrying-Stink-Eyed-AttitudinalSmelly teenager (or CPCSEAST for short).  I knew something was different when I told my son “Good Morning” and I received the first alien transmission: The Look of Death. His only method of communication became the cell phone, which he never answered if I, a mere human being, called. I scratched my head (and the new grey hairs), perplexed as to what I did wrong. How could my child be so easily abducted? How can I avoid my other children suffering the same fate? Shall I put foil on their windows, or remove their televisions, get an anti-alien vaccination, or ground them until college? I have heard rumors that teenage aliens, er, children do eventually return to earth. I’m afraid, however, that my son will be scarred by this experience and return even more different than he is now. I miss the little sweetie-pie who hugged me with sticky hands, grinned like sunshine when I entered the room and placed cookie dough kisses on my cheeks. He left in a rocket ship years ago. ■ Dani Baresel is a WOTH mom of three, ages 18, 8 and 5 in Houston, Texas.  When she’s not working, shuttling kids, running errands, helping with homework, reading, taking pictures, visiting with friends, improving her french, writing, or traveling, she enjoys her 4 hours of free time by sleeping. She blogs for Motherhood with Attitude at http://www.motherhoodwithattitude.com/category/ guest-bloggers/dani/ and can be reached at altru28@yahoo.com.


g r o w i n g Katie Harris

Running my fingers across my daughter’s bare shoulders, I marvel at her glowing skin, the tightness of her pores, the softness of the blonde baby hairs that she has yet to shed. We are sitting together in the tub, each of us intent on very different activities, each of us thoroughly enjoying this, as of late, rare opportunity. My 22-month-old girl is “shaving my legs” with the bubbles in our bath and a rubber duck which she has deemed a razor. I, on the other hand, am lost in thought, thinking how sorely in need I am of a real shave and if only that were a real razor, while contemplating the energy and life that seem to pour out of my daughter’s very skin. It’s ironic that I should notice such a thing now, after the many baths the two of us have shared in my daughter’s short life. Ironic because I just recently noticed how quickly my own body seems to have lost these youthful characteristics as of late. Did my skin ever shine like hers does? The timing is no coincidence: I gave birth to my second child, my son, just weeks ago. All of the praise I showered myself with when my daughter was born and I lost my entire 30 pounds in the first month is now coming back to bite me in the ass. Apparently, it’s the second child that really gets you. Returning to my OB’s office for my six week postpartum visit after having my daughter was a celebration of sorts for my husband and me. A chance for me to show off how quickly my body had repaired itself and, for my husband, a chance to hear those magic words, “You may resume your sexual activity as usual.” This week I returned to my OB once again, for the same purpose, but my enthusiasm was killed before I even made it into the exam room. As I stepped on the scale and realized I had only lost half of the baby weight I packed on this time around, I realized that resuming my sex life was not going to be on the top of my priority list again for quite some time. Obviously the extra 15 pounds that I put on, on top of the 30 I expected to gain, was not due to my son weighing nine pounds instead of my daughter’s petite seven. *** Back in the bath tub, my mind wanders to growing. I am growing. I am growing older--my body will never look or feel like it did when I was 20. My breasts will not be as perky after nurturing two babies as they were when I walked down the

aisle. My ass will not be as taut as it was when I had the time and money to hit the gym five times a week. Those wrinkles around my eyes will continue to grow and, sooner or later, I will find that first gray hair and instantaneously pluck it from my scalp. But I am growing in other ways as well. I am now a mother, and not a new mother, but a veteran mom of two. My children are healthy and for the most part, happy. I will continue to watch them grow, watch my son take his first steps, watch my daughter find her desk on her first day of school, watch as they get their first bumps and bruises, the makings of scars which will remind them when they are my age, and they look at their children’s perfect skin, that they have lived and grown. And I will grow with them. In the last two years I have gone from being a very selfish, at times shallow, and generally immature girl, to being a responsible and selfless woman. I have poured the best parts of myself into my children and squelched the ugly, at least in front of my kids, and I have benefited greatly. Because here I am, brushing my fingers over my daughter’s downy shoulders, and there I see, right amongst the glistening and glowing, the very best parts of myself. Katie Harris is an aspiring writer, student, and mother of two. She enjoys strong coffee, red wine, and a good dose of sarcasm whenever possible. If she is not playing with her kids she is probably writing about them.

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Please Not Nudism Forbidden Carrie Visintainer

It’s 6:45 a.m. when I first see the naked people. I am pajama-clad on a ledge

outside my cabana in Tulum, Mexico, watching the tangerine sun rise over the Caribbean Sea. On the beach, a fleshy figure catches my eye, and I crane my neck to get a better look. A man with grey curls, fully naked, strides through the sand, and then suddenly stops to face the sea. His shoulders and back are the color of baked clay. He lifts his arms over his head in one swift motion and begins to bend and twist in a sequence that might be tai chi. I watch, captivated by his total lack of self consciousness as his skin sags and dangles with the flow of his movements. When he drops down into the splits, I look away. A nude couple strolls into view. They are short with round bellies and thin legs. Pink goggles hang from the woman’s neck. They wade into the sea holding hands, and with one loud yelp they bound through the surf and dive into the waves. I blink. The scene is a shot of espresso in the lazy light of the morning, and I turn and peek through the full-length screened windows of our cabana. Chris, my husband, is still asleep sprawled out on the white sheets of the bed. I want to run in and jump on him and squeal, “There are naked people out there!” But I refrain. We arrived from Denver late last night, and this is one of the few times we’ve been away from our son since he was born over a year ago. We’re here for sleep and romance, in no particular order. My exclamation would offer neither. Plus, the lodge’s web site does state that the beach is “clothing optional,” an amenity that is listed quietly next to “sea view” and” jungle setting.” I was caught up in the excitement of traveling sans child and visiting an eco lodge for the first time. I hadn’t really thought about the nude beach. It’s not that I don’t like being naked. When we go backpacking, we choose a secluded camp spot where I can shed my clothes and soak in the sunshine. It makes me feel free and closer to nature. But public nudity is different, especially after having a baby. Last winter we visited a hot springs in Colorado that was clothing optional at night, and as we soaked in the pool among dozens of beer-guzzling nude guests, I wanted more than anything to embrace the healing 20

water. But instead I felt like I was on a spring break trip, painfully conscious of my body, worrying that people were judging my flabby belly and dimpled butt. Here in Mexico, savoring much-needed alone time with Chris, I wonder if I can bid my insecurities adios and join the carefree nudists. Still in my pajamas (why not?), I stroll around the property. It seems that everything exudes raw sensuality. The cabanas are palm-thatched, blending into the deep hues of the jungle foliage. Coconut trees, tall and lithe, dance to a sultry rhythm. Fine sand slips like silk through my toes. The spa, which offers traditional Mayan body treatments and an indigenous sweat lodge ritual called Temazcal, is open-air, decorated with dark wood furniture. Near the spa, a white mattress hangs from wooden posts. I sit down on the edge, staring up at the sapphire sky. This place is stripped-down, emanating pure rustic romance. As I lean back on my elbows, arching my back in one long breath, I suddenly feel soft and sexy, more like a Mayan goddess than an American mother. I walk down the stairs to the beach and wander along the shoreline. Already the sun is hot on my back. The beach is scattered with eager guests, and I hear people talking in French and German. There are Americans, too, and a few


quietly. Unlike the hot springs, there is a general feeling of peace and privacy.

locals. Some couples are clothed, wearing bikinis and board shorts. Others are naked. Many women are topless. A nude family of four sits in a circle, building a sandcastle. At the edge of the beach, I see Chris reclined in a chair staring at the sea. “Morning,” he says. I kiss him on the cheek. “What do you think?” He smiles. I perch on his lap. “Should we swim?” He wraps his arms around my waist. We go back to our cabana to get towels. Although we thought we might feel guilty about leaving our child for five days, instead we are like giddy new lovers. As Chris pulls on his swim trunks, I toss my bikini around in my hands. “Should I wear this?” Chris looks amused. “Absolutely not.” I laugh. “I don’t know.” I slide on my bottom, tightening the strings. And then I fasten the top, too. “Maybe I’ll ditch it tomorrow,” I say. Chris looks jokingly disappointed. Back down on the beach, we find a quiet spot near some rock outcroppings for our belongings. I look around. The man who was practicing tai chi is now stacking rocks into intricate towers, wearing only a baseball cap. A tattooed guy in red board shorts sips coffee from a mug. Next to him, a woman sunbathes topless in a chaise lounge chair, her arms draped over her head. There are two dozen others on the beach. Everyone is coupled off, sitting silently, reading or chatting

Chris grabs my hand and pulls me toward the water. Digging my toes into the sand, I pull back. With a mischievous smile, I loosen the strings of my bikini top and toss it to the ground. Chris beams and pulls me close. He takes off toward the water, and I follow behind. As we float in the sea, I embrace the feeling of the water lapping my shoulders, no strings tugging at my neck. The deep water offers the seclusion of a campsite, which evokes familiar feelings of freedom. Chris uses the word “paradise” several times to describe the first day of our vacation, and although I cringe at the cliché, I have to agree. Later, as I walk on the beach in a sundress before dinner, I see a wooden sign staked into the sand at the edge of the property. The words “Please Not Nudism Forbidden” are carved into the loose grain. I smile. The person who thrust the sign into the ground probably intended to make a clear point, but they negated their own rule. Tracing the letters with the tips of my fingers, I consider smearing the “Not” with wet sand to correct it. But as I step back and read it again, I decide I prefer the sign at face value. ❀ Carrie Visintainer is a Colorado-based freelance writer. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the Travelers’ Tales “The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2008” anthology, Cahoots Magazine, Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine, and Melusine. She lives on the edge of town (and life) with her husband and two-year-old son.

Inner Potential

Dr. Colleen Holland, DC

LLC

International Chiropractic Pediatric Association Fellow Webster certified

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970.224.2912

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Shadow Woman Abra Houchin

Standing still My back to the setting sun My shadow stretches before me. Still lovely Shimmering. Strong legs run barefoot across clover Leaping over bees Skipping over saplings. Shapely arms swing Sleeveless in a red evening dress. Slim Silky Hips Dance in the big hands of my husband. Strange mirror that tells such lies. My lumpy legs wiggle. My flabby arms jiggle. My hips bulge. Still Flat under my feet We connect. This fine Clear

Image.

Truth blossoms upward. These legs show fortitude. These arms grace. In these hips are babies Grown healthy and strong. Perhaps we are not so different after all— My shadow and me. I turn my face into the evening sun. It is time to go home.


I Resign

A mother works through her decision to leave her beloved teaching job to care for her baby.

Jeannie Sponheim Dear Kind Employer,

t thought out this, since I haven’t ye u yo ite wr to dy rea I’m not really ks are, by their nature, t I realize that your tas Bu e. us to nt wa I rds wo what ble. In the near u as much of it as possi yo ve gi to nt wa I so – e time sensitiv th hope you’ll be able to ch class on the 7 , and tea to e abl un be ll wi I term, ect my creative, term, however, I will dir g lon e th r Fo t. en em find a replac toward Anne. Poor Anne l and physical energy ua rit spi al, on oti em al, ment at all. I think lly, I don’t believe that ua Act t! ou r he r wea unusual – I’ll probably time with her child is an r he s ate eci pr ap o wh that having a mother and I will from now give to Anne – so I do – can I at th e on s it’ d privilege, an of a teaching career. without the competition d an , ion est qu t ou th wi on, me. I can, e of her full-time gives car g in tak g lin fee e th Words cannot describe tmas tree, she slept in s taking down the Chris wa I en wh at th u yo l e feeling however, tel ly, and she woke. It’s th ari nt me mo r he at ked loo her seat next to me. I th she had that – the unquestioning fai me at up zed ga e sh as r I cannot I got from he I cannot leave her, and at. th ve lea t no can I . of course I was there , sighs in relief me when she smiles at me ves gi e sh g lin fee e th d d her. I used leave behin when she pats me as I fee d an r, he e eas ll wi at when I figure out wh I only want to could. But I realize that ll sti I d an ts, den stu I am Anne’s to nurture my can teach a class. Only ff sta r ou of ne yo An . nurture my daughter in someone else’s care? voluntarily leave her I d ul wo rld wo e th in we require. mother. Why husband provides what my d an , tle lit ed ne we Only for money. But relevant them. Somehow they are ng eti del en th d an ces I keep typing senten a letter of I hope that I’ve written er. oth an to t no e, liz rea y. I guess I to me, but I ign” sound contradictor res “I rds wo e th h ug ho resignation here, alt rgaret Sponheim’s l important. I’m Anne Ma fee I – ng ni ig res I’m e ther. But I don’t feel lik agined possible, as a mo im ER EV r, eve I an th mother. I’m happier e teaching for ult. I had a wonderful tim ap Cat at ion sit po my I am resigning sider you a friend, and some friends there. I con de ma n eve d much an y t, ver ul d ap Cat I woul I’m writing this letter. ich wh in rit spi e th l ion I may hope you fee on for any future posit ati nd me om rec al on ssi appreciate your profe seek.

you experience begin to imagine until t no can u yo gs in th e ort and There are som I appreciate all the supp . gs in th ose th of e on them. Motherhood is w I want to raise my employee – Thank you. No an as me n ow sh ve ha u right thing for kindness yo ite – I know this is the wr I as w, no , ief rel g daughter. I’m feelin me to do.

e criticism, and evaluations, constructiv for g lon ll sti I , gh ou rdest part. Weirdly en be my own. That’s the ha to ve ha ll wi I . job od reward when I do a go Sincerely, Jeannie Sponheim

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Wanted: a Mother Lynn Dean

On the wall of my boss’s office hung a painting of a grizzled cowboy with the caption reading, “There’s a lot about this job that they didn’t tell me when I signed on.” As mothers, we know the slogan rings true. In honor of all the jobs that you signed up for when you became a mom and also the truckload of work of which you were blissfully unaware, we bring you these thoughts about the vocation of motherhood.

“Mom, have you seen my other shoe?” “No, where did you find that one?” I asked knowing full well that the location of the shoe in my son’s hand probably had nothing to do with the spot where its elusive mate was hiding. “In the laundry basket,” my son replied. In the laundry basket? Please tell me it’s not the clean laundry. “Did you look there for the other one?” “Of course,” my son said in his “do you really think I’m that stupid?” tone.

- get born editors

Your Turn

}

Hey, I’m not the one who left his shoe in a laundry basket.  Of course, in our house, he might not be the guilty party either. What am I, anyway? A detective?

What title didn’t you anticipate you would hold when you signed up to be a mom? Was it Spider Catcher, One-Handed Plumber? Join the conversation at www.getbornmag.com/blog Well, yes.  I am the finder of lost things.  I also solve great mysteries:        “Who wrote on my antique bench?” “How did my silver ladle get out in the garden?” “Why are you wearing one red and one purple sock?” Who would have thought that when I became a mother it would be so complicated?  The job description might have read: This person is responsible for the physical, social and moral development of a child.  She will provide love, care, guidance and other duties as required.  “What do you want to be when you grow up?” adults would ask when I was a child. “A teacher,” I had replied.  I never really mentioned being a mother.  I had crossed that “job” off the list when I found out about the pain in childbirth.  (It’s just a good thing God installed that biological clock!) Turns out I am a teacher. I just don’t get paid.  My job includes teaching basics like language development, reading appreciation, mathematical manipulation, and moral development, as well as the finer points of tic-tac-toe. Other career paths I briefly considered were those of nurse and doctor.  But frankly,

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I didn’t like taking care of sick people. (Who does?)  However, it didn’t take having a child throwing up in my lap too many times for me to realize I am a nurse, too.  My duties include properly diagnosing and treating a sick child.  I also need to know when to call in a professional: “So, Mrs. Dean, what seems to be wrong with your child today?” the phone nurse asked. “He has a headache, sore throat and he just threw up on my shoe,” I replied. “What about a fever?” “Let me check,” I said as I dragged the phone over to where my son was moaning and placed my hand to his forehead. “According to the ‘mommy method’, I’d say he has a fever of about 100 degrees.”  (While doctors dismiss the accuracy of this measurement, it seems to work well enough for me. Research now bears out that it works!) “Could be strep, you’d better bring him in for a culture.” I knew she was going to say that! One subject I did choose to study was marketing.  But I never expected I’d need to use what I learned on my own children.  But part of being a mom is knowing how to market a product: “Do you want hot dogs and beans for lunch?” I asked my son. “No, no, no,” my preschooler replied. “I don’t like them.” Sure you do, I thought.  “Well how about beanie weenies, then?” My son nodded in agreement. In addition to these jobs, I also act as a chauffeur, maid, short-order cook, guidance counselor—the list is endless.  No wonder the job description says “and other duties as required.”  If God listed them all, who would take the job? And although I stepped into this position blindly (like every other mother), I wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world! ■  Lynn Dean is a Colorado writer and the mother of three.

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This person is responsible for the physical, social and moral development of a child.  She will provide love, care, guidance and other duties as required.


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get born magazine P.O. Box 1141 Fort Collins, CO. 80522


get born fall 2009  

women share stories of freedom and liberation

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