Fearsome Foursome–My Undiagnosed Darlings

Strategist, Michelle; Adventurer, Emma; CEO, Molly; Writer, Jane

Writer, Strategist, CEO, Adventurer


My four daughters have turned out wonderfully–well educated, professionally successful, happily married. Three of them are wonderful mothers. Such a happy ending was not predictable during their childhood and teen years. I wonder what diagnosis they would earn now. Certainly, I worried at least three of them were bipolar, if not spawns of Satan, when they were younger.
Here were some diagnostic indicators. Obviously not all applied to all four daughters.
  • They were chronically late. No one could get off to school in the morning without substantial maternal help, usually involving driving.
  • They never picked up their toys. I have stepped on 20,000 lego pieces in the dark. To this day I cannot walk across a dark room without my toes’ going on alert.
  • Emma and a friend decorated their bedroom with a mixture of desitin and baby power while their grandpa benignly looked on.
  • Emma painted her entire body purple when I was on the phone.
  • Bedtime was a joke. A friend said you could call our house at any time of the night; someone would be sure to be awake and delighted to talk to you about anything for as long as you needed.
  • They told their mommy ” “I hate you” with not an ounce of guilt or remorse. When I asked Emma why she was acting like a devil child at age five, she explained “Mommy, I used all my goodness up in school.” She now uses her goodness working for world peace.
  • Jane, the Writer absolutely refused to do the assigned kindergarten homework, writing sentences using a list of words. “Writers don’t use other people’s words.” The teacher had no answer to tha t.
  • Astoundingly Janer convinced her rigid high school art teacher to allow her to miss class and submit a portfolio. She argued that artists decide what art to make.  “Jane has such integrity,” the teacher marveled.
  • They almost never lost power battles with their doormat mommy. Emma should have been born with a printout, “You will win exactly five battles with this child. Choose them carefully.” I did win the important battles, but I only learned their importance by losing the rest. By the time her sisters came along I was so demoralized that I didn’t fight battles that I could easily have won:)
  • At various ages the Writer melted down because the new washing machine wasn’t blue; the pretty blue rental car had vanished; her aunt and uncle didn’t have a second child her age; she was not attending a school that closed three years previously; there wasn’t enough snow; election day would be a day before her 18th birthday four years from now. She was a lovely, sensitive child, eager to please when she wasn’t battling the existential order of things. She is now a human rights lawyer and writer, heroically battling the existential order of things. If you google her first name and torture, she is the first hit.
  • Michelle, the Strategist, only ran fevers, thereby missing school, on the three school days without the gifted program pullout. I conducted ad hoc home schooling for bored students who could cough convincingly.
  • Emma only pulled the hair and dumped sand over the heads of playmates whose mommies would reliably go round the twist. (She has traveled to over 65 countries, and has lived in Niger, Rwanda and Kosovo.) She ended her three-year sand eating on the day our doctor looked her in the eye and assured me that her sand-eating must account for her excellent health. For old-times sake, she would occasionally revert to the diet when babysat by a hysteric mommy. A good friend confessed to me that she thought Emma would be in jail by the time she was 16.
  • At age 2 the Strategist  magic markered $2000 painting. To be fair, artist was able to fix the picture.
  • The same culprit at age two also destroyed another family’s audiotapes of their kids when babies and toddlers.
  • Notice I omitted my baby Molly,  the CEO. The most mature, disguised as the youngest, was perfectly sane from birth and struggled valiantly to contain, organize, and direct her crazy family. This is a lifetime job. All my dfficult communications with her sisters are best filtered through the CEO. Every teacher immediately noticed the difference. Notice her smile in the above picture.
  • Molly  idolized Madonna when she was 3. She memorized all Madonna’s songs, danced around with her grandma’s rosary beads around her neck, proclaiming she was a material girl. If only You Tube had been around then!

I questioned my sanity again and again throughout their childhoods. But I am very proud that I could cherish their intelligence, creativity, and individuality and was never tempted to drug their uniqueness, no matter how it disrupted our lives. They insisted they are going to emphasize order more and creativity less with their own kids. I am ecstatic watching my 5 grandchildren totally outwit their mothers.

Posted in Daughters | Leave a comment

Join the Movement for a Family Friendly America

When I was a radical young feminist in the late 60s and early 70s, I was profoundly disturbed by the middle-class nature of New York feminism. Only a tiny minority of women could afford to become doctors, lawyers, college professors, corporate executives. The needs of women of color were ignored. African American women had always worked and taken care of their children. They were more dubious about abortion, since the babies of teen mothers were often cared for by relatives.
 Unlike many women with my intellect and education, I stayed home with my four children full-time for 14 years. I also cared for my mother in my home 24/7 during the last four years of my life. Both my husbands and I made career and financial sacrifices to make that possible. Certainly my career has not been the success I dreamed about. But I am not sorry. I involved myself in nonsexist childrearing, childbirth education, breastfeeding counseling, parent education, toddler playgroups, babysitting cooperatives, cooperative nursery schools, school libraries, a campaign to save the local public library, the nuclear freeze movement, mental illness support and advocacy, parent advocacy for playground upkeep and a preschool playroom, the War Resisters League, Pax Christi (Catholic anti-war group)–the list is endless.
When I made the mistake of attending library school and social work school, I naively assumed my qualifications would be obvious and no one would dare to treat me like a beginner. Instead, I was given the the salary, benefits, authority, and respect of a beginner and the responsibilities of a long-term employee. Several bosses seemed threatened I wanted their jobs. I recall one infuriating incident during my first social work placement; my childless supervisor earnestly instructed me how to interview a client with her two year old present. I had frequently run La Leche Meetings with 20 moms and 30 babies and toddlers. Women social workers who had taken very short maternity leaves and worked full-time during their children’s childhood too often acted like all my knowledge and wisdom had been attained by cheating. I got more respect from male professors.
 The situation has worsened; women are terrified of taking only a few years off from work. And yet the men who fought World War II left their jobs for several years and did not suffer economic consequences. The government even paid for their college and grad school education. When my mom went back to college in 1963 and work in 1968, after having raised 6 children, she was accorded more respect and her experience was more honored than mine was 20 years later.

Full-time childrearing is frequently belittled as beneath the time and attention of intelligent, well-educated parents, who presumably should have exploited immigrant women of color to love and understand their children while they pursued their more important jobs. In the 70s parents were going to have flexible work schedules so both could raise their children. Instead , in New York City both child care and elder care are lovingly performed by women of color, mostly immigrants, some with irregular immigation status.. When I take care of my grandson in the same New York City playgrounds where his mother frolicked,. my companions are mostly nannies from all over the world. An older white woman with a toddler is assumed to be his grandma, not his nanny. I am often appalled how little highly successful two-career couples pay their nannies; many fail to provide the caregivers with any benefits, Social Security, least of all health care. They think nothing of calling the nanny on Sunday and telling her they don’t need her that week or forever.. As one dedicated women from the Dominican Republic told me, “the more I love the children, the more it hurts my heart.” Imagine loving a child as your own for three or four years and then never seeing them again when they go to school full-time or the family finds a cheaper nanny.
 The aides who helped us take care of my mother during the last years of her life had tragic stories. We paid the agencies about $18 an hour (2001-04); the aides got less than half of that. Most did not have cars and might have to take two buses and a subway to reach their client’s homes. Many had left their children in the Caribbean with their families. I agree that most women with college degrees, graduate, or professional degrees have made enormous strides in most major professions and in the workplace generally. It is only when women have children or have to care for aging parents that they fully realize that women have mostly gained the right to follow the traditional male life style, emphasizing work over relationships, caregiving, community activism..
As women chose to have children at an older age, the realization is late in coming. At that point their lives tend too become too frenzied and exhausting to leave any time for political activism. Nothing has changed to make full-time or even part-time child care by fathers more financially possible. My four well-educated, successful daughters are only having their consciousness raised as they begin to have children. Before they became mothers, they believed feminism had won its battles. You might make over $100,000 a year, but you might still have to pump breastmilk for your infant in the toilet One daughter was told she could not store her pumped milk in a company refrigerator for a day because it was a biohazard. If you work at Walmart’s or a department store, you won’t be able to nurse at all, no matter how vehemently your doctor argues that breastfeeding is best for your babies.
A movement as sweeping as the civil rights movement is required to make America a child-friendly, elder-friendly, family-friendly, human-being friendly society. 

AUTHOR TAGS:


Posted in family friendly society | Leave a comment

"When I Whisper, Everyone Listens"

Machiavelli, the Whisperer, and Her Baby Sister Jane. Wouldn’t You Be Bamboozled?

For years I thanked God that Michelle, my second daughter, was so much easier than her confrontational older sister, Emma, two years older..But she had carefully observed Emma and realized charm worked much better than confrontation. When asking for something, Michelle would preface it with so many appreciative compliments that I was eager to do what she asked.

Michelle was almost grown before I realized that she had gotten her way much more than Emma had. She is the ultimate iron fist in a velvet glove. I was in awe how she handled doctors and nurses whenever my mom was hospitalized. Both my husband and I have named Michelle to be our health proxy. Once, when her dad and I were squabbling, teenage Michelle suggested, “Mom, you should wear more perfume.” I have taken her advice in my second marriage.

Michelle has a BS from Yale, an MS from Harvard, and MBA from MIT. She is a  director of strategic planning at a leading biogenetics company. and the mother of a 3 year old girl and an 8-month-old son. She has been strategically planning since she was born on her due date after a labor of one hour and 45 minutes in 1975. None of my other labors were anything like that, but then her sisters’ don’t strategically plan as brilliantly.

My favorite Michelle story occurred when she had just turned 3. She fell in the playground and needed ten stitches in her head. The ER was a horror as I had to fight tooth and nail to stay with her. Right after the accident we went on vacation with my parents, my brother Joe, his wife, and their three kids from Kansas City. Michelle was very close to my parents and had no experience sharing them with anyone but Emma. Immediately upon arriving , my chatterbox ceased talking. After a day of absolute silence, she deigned to whisper, but only to me and my mom.

Her absolute command was terrifying. Even after she woke up from a nightmare, she remembered to whisper. When I was playing with her in the water, I could coax her to make sounds, but she refused to utter sounds that were words. I was frantic, convinced that her fall had caused brain damage or a lasting emotional trauma. Was she upset that I was 6 mothers pregnant with Jane?

When her grandma asked why she wouldn’t talk, Michelle whispered. “With my cousins here, when I talk, nobody listens. But when I whisper, everyone listens.” Her ingenious scheme worked wonders. Everyone spent the entire ten days trying to trick Michelle into talking. I had just gotten a tape recorder, and the impact of Michelle’s silence is documented. The main topic of conversations recorded was the strange silence of a certain three year old. The minute Joe and his family drove away, Michelle started talking and has never stopped. Study those pictures. Would you suspect that sweet, smiling little girl in the green bathing suit was a junior Machiavelli?

Michelle told this story on her college applications. “It is rather funny to think that in my large family of overachievers, a three-year-old’s decision not to speak in one of our fondest and most memorable stories. To this day, I cannot speak a word to my Uncle Joe without receiving the loud surprised reaction, “She talks.” Harvard and Yale eagerly accepted her.

Have you ever tried not talking for an hour at an immediate family gathering of 11 people? As my first grandson turned 3, I appreciated again Michelle’s incredible feat. When Michael isn’t talking, he is asleep.

Posted in Daughters | Leave a comment

Parental Anxiety and Children’s Wings

 Richardroof

My mother’s combination of fearlessness, faith in God, and experience with 5 younger brothers made her wonderful mother of 5 boys. She didn’t worry; she didn’t clip any wings. Sons on the roof or a son out of touch hiking the Appalachian trail for months didn’t  upset her.  Joe looks so pleased with himself, without any fear he might fall off the roof or get in trouble with is parents. Her shy, timid, anxious daughter was a mystery to my mom.  I am a  lifelong worrier, from early childhood  telling my parents: “I’m scared.”

What my mom did effortlessly, I have had to struggle with every day of my 39 years as a mother. All my daugters are braver and more adventurous than I am. For the most part, my anxieties have not infected them. They respect my fears.  I have decided to concentrate my worries when their planes are in the air, not when they  are on the ground for days or years in Kosovo, Rwanda, Niger, Sydney, Shanghai, etc.. They always call, email, or text when the plane lands, at any hour, in any part of the world. Flight Tracker is my best friend. 

My oldest daughter Emma has inherited her grandmother’s bold fearlessness.

From my journals, 1974-1975
From the time Emma was 10 months old, I took her twice a day to Central Park, particularly one very large playground. Emma would casually wander off almost 100 yards away. As long as I was within eye range and met her eyes and waved when she glanced at me, she seemed perfectly confident. One nightmarish day, she managed to slip out between the playground bars and head for Central Park West. I didn’t know I could run so fast.
At 15 months Emma would go down slides and climb up jungle gyms that three year olds would avoid. By 2 she was so physically competent that I felt confident about sitting on a bench and watching from a distance as she clambered over a climbing structure designed for children 6 and up. She hardly ever cried if she fell down or bumped into something. Emma was happiest learning new physical feats. She loved the water; at age one she would fearlessly walk into the ocean and laugh if she were knocked down. She was physically fearless yet not particularly reckless except about things she could not possibly know about. She was always ahead of other kids in trying something new physically like walking up the slide backward.



Emma in Niger, 2000                                                                      
 One month ago, I sat in a grass hut in a small village in Niger called Koyetegui, and watched democracy in action, Nigerien style. The five members of the Bureau de Vote sat on overturned pestles normally used for pounding millet, and offered me a seat on a woven mat. And so I sat, as the sun set and the kerosene lantern was lit, and watched as the chickens were chased out of the hut and the entire village crowded into this cramped space to watch the solemn counting and recounting of the 132 votes that had been cast in this tiny district. When the vote counting was over and the report had been filled out and duly sealed with wax, I rode back to the regional capital of Dosso with the ballot box to turn in the election results. It was only the next day that I learned from my driver that the chief of the village had presented me with a gift of an enormous river squash. I spent the entire ride back to Niamey replaying the events of the past few months in my mind, wondering how I had ever gotten to be so lucky.

Emma’s applications to graduate schools in International Relations in 2000:
In three and a half years, I visited over 75 cities in 53 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In several countries–Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Nepal, Benin, Curacao–I was the first AIRINC representative to conduct a survey. I have had the opportunity to do amazing things in my life. I have seen some of the truly wondrous places in the world, from the Sahara desert, to Machu Picchu, to the Mekong River Delta. I have jumped out of a plane in Maine and been seventy feet underwater in the Caribbean. I have witnessed one of the poorest countries on earth usher in a new era of hope and democracy.

My post to a Salon Group, 2001:
My 28-year-old daughter has just accepted a summer internship in Rwanda. Seven years ago, a million people were killed in three months in the worst genocide since the Holocaust.  At Columbia she is specializing in human rights, transitional justice, and Africa. If she wasn’t going to Rwanda, she would have gone to the Congo. I am fiercely proud of her. But I worry about how to handle my fears as she goes from one world flash point to the next. I want to support her, not burden her with my anxieties.

Letting your fear of what could happen clip your children’s wings  and undermine their confidence and autonomy endangers them most of all

Posted in Mothering | Leave a comment

1971, Age 25, Doubts about Feminism

As I have mentioned, I was very active in the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although I described myself as a radical feminist, I always had misgivings. I explore them in this journal entry from October 1971. Talking about a 20-hour work week seems preposterous now, but it seemed a realistic goal once upon a time in the 1970’s.

Are men necessarily the enemies? Adopting that logic, couldn’t women be categorized as the enemies? Must there be an enemy? Must the movement have a scapegoat? There is a danger of generalizing for all women from a few women’s (typical, atypical) experience with men. Perhaps many men are baffled rather than hostile. They have been socialized to believe the myths, so they do believe them. Why does the movement assume that their motives are vicious?

Perhaps the myths are harsher than the realities. Individual women are treated better and respected more than social mythology about women dictates. The movement shouldn’t present what seems to be a fatal choice: true autonomy or loving, intimate relationships with men. If all men are despaired of, shouldn’t most women be despaired of? Have women tried hard enough to explain themselves? Or would they rather renounce men than fight through to an accommodation?

The movement stresses relationships with women because they are easier (at least for many women). There is no need to confront the enemy directly. Women often have bravely attacked men in coffee klatches, but they then have gone along with their own men, having worked out some of their hostilities with other women. I don’t understand; because of my five brothers, I have never had any trouble confronting men.

At times Women’s Liberation is vulgarly careerist. There is very little speculation on changing the nature of work. There is no recognition that women’s jobs, not men’s jobs, may be the desirable jobs of the future. Many dominant economic values are accepted. A job’s value is measured by its pay or its status. There is total denial that raising young children is a uniquely demanding job, calling forth an infinite range of talents and imagination.

Feminists lack a strong grasp on job alternatives. I am frustrated with so much loose talk about expressing creativity in jobs. Don’t women recognize what most workers do, not only blue and white collar workers, but professional and managerial ones as well? Creativity is the value much stressed by woman’s magazines. Be a creative homemaker. The movement often seems to accept this definition of creativity. There is no recognition that post -revolution many, if not most, women might have less creative jobs than they do now. Volunteers are often allowed more autonomy and outlet for imaginative change than regular staff would be permitted,

Emphasis could have been completely different. Feminists need not have accepted the male value that your job is everything, completely determining your value and what people think of you. Alternatives include–more leisure, 20 hour week for everyone, change hierarchical nature of work, decentralize it, recognize that much work is unnecessary in a more rational society that won’t need 100 brands of detergents, toothpastes, and feminine hygiene deodorants. Many jobs now are completely unproductive. Most jobs are not inherently creative. What is a creative job anyway? The solution may be to give people more time, real time, to be creative off the job.

My close friend said almost any job is preferable to staying home with the kids. That is a preposterous statement, particularly from a so-called radical who pays lip service to human values. That is not to say that childrearing as it is now arranged is perfect. We might benefit from more stress on communal childraising, not necessarily so parents can get a “job,” but because it may be a better way to raise children from both parents’ and children’s point of view. I am the oldest of six; growing up in a large family with a positive experience. My parents seemed to have less need to control our direction in life than the parents of my friends with fewer siblings.

The nature of work must change in our society. Women should be at the forefront of the battle for change. Autonomy and self-sufficiency cannot be pictured as depending on capitalist recognition of worth. Rather the economy should be made to value and reward the kinds of work that woman do. Men have problems with women’s lib on this point. They can’t seem to believe that women would want to have equality in men’s world. How many men would trade roles if only the objective nature of what they had to do was the consideration and not society’s evaluation of it?

Perhaps the major emphasis must be on changing society’s evaluation of women. Otherwise, when women enter or take over traditionally men’s fields, they would only decline in relative prestige. It can’t be difficult or challenging job if mere women can do it. Emphasis should not be on merely putting women in out-of-home jobs. The nature of reward for jobs should change. Money must cease to be the major incentive. The gap between low salaries and high salaries needs to be dramatically smaller. If raising young children had prestige of being a pediatrician or a child psychologist, for example, and it need not be done in social isolation, might not women and men feel differently about it? I seem to be getting away from 20-hour week. If all men and women worked, the work week probably would be less than 20 hours. Low productivity and make work have kept the work week from declining for over 20 years. Even without women’s going to work en masse, it might sink to 30 hours.

Posted in Feminism | 5 Comments

Growing Bookworms

MJReading46_1
1946
In my baby book my mom wrote: “A book worm–she loved all books. At 2 years her favorites were Dumbo, Children’s Garden of Verses, Alice in Wonderland. Was always eager for Cinderella, Goldilocks, etc.” My parents read to us every single night. I left home for college when my youngest brother was 5, and they were still reading. They tended to pick books of interest to the older children, so the younger ones were exposed to Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Books, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in ththe Willows, etc. at an early age. When they visited my first daughter Anne the day she was born, my parents brought her three picture books.

My mom and dad were consummate book worms. Our local library was a tiny volunteer operation in an old church. They took us to the Hempstead Library, three miles away. We were each allowed to take out as many books as we could carry; once I managed 20. My first library card seemed magical. I vividly remember my awe when I realized that card was a passport to the entire world. Wherever I have been in the world, libraries are home. Jorge Luis Borges wrote, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

MJreadVanessa
1974

Three-year-old Molly’s kitten-holding technique was not optimal in 1985. She assured me she could talk to animals, and I absolutely believed her. Reading to toddlers and preschoolers is one of life’s supreme pleasures. It is the natural follow-up to breastfeeding. Preschoolers who are read to realize that reading aloud is a wonderful way to nurture someone. I recall my daughter Jane’s saying to her doll, “Don’t cry baby. Mommy will read to you.” I always read aloud to the older girls when I was nursing the baby.

I take care of my grandson Michael three days a week. Since birth his mother, father, and I have read to him everyday. He enjoys the same books his mother and aunts did–Mother Goose, Dr. Seuss, Frog and Toad, Make Way for Ducklings, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Runaway Bunny, Where the Wild Things Are. At 22 months his attention span often outlasts my voice. Sometims he will sit on the floor by himself with a pile of books, “I read.”

natemothergoose

natescary

Michael’s mother Emma loved the Curious George books. She loved them so much that both my parents and I gave her the same giant Curious George for her second Christmas. She grew up to be a curious Emma who spent her 20s and early 30s working around the world in 75 world cities, living in Kosovo, Niger, and Rwanda

Now her son loves Curious George just as much. Watching my daughter read to my grandson the same book I read to her, her sisters, and my brothers is lovely beyond my powers to describe.

Do you ever go back and read your favorite children’s books? At any age, it illuminating to try to find out what books you wanted read to you again and again. I remember Emma’s calling me from college, thrilled that she had made a new friend who loved the same children’s books. After my dad died, I loved to read again the books he read to me and my five brothers; the books and the memories seemed to bring him back. So many of the best children’s books never go out of print, so you can buy your favorite books for the children in your lives.
Posted in books | Leave a comment

My Four Undiagnosed Darlings

sweethearts
Top L, Writer (Jane); R, Scientist (Michelle); Bottom L, CEO (Molly); 
R, Adventurer (Emma)
VGrad85
Top, Scientist, Explorer; Bottom, CEO, Writer
My four daughters have turned out wonderfully–well educated, professionally successful, happily married. Three of them are wonderful mothers. Such a happy ending was not predictable during their childhood and teen years. I wonder what diagnosis they would earn now. Certainly, I worried at least three of them were bipolar, if not spawns of Satan, when they were younger.
Here were some diagnostic indicators. Obviously not all applied to all four daughters.
  • They were chronically late. No one could get off to school in the morning without substantial maternal help, usually involving driving.
  • They never picked up their toys. I have stepped on 20,000 lego pieces in the dark. To this day I cannot walk across a dark room without my toes’ going on alert.
  • Emma and a friend decorated their bedroom with a mixture of desitin and baby power while their grandpa benignly looked on.
  • Emma painted her entire body purple when I was on the phone.
  • Bedtime was a joke. A friend said you could call our house at any time of the night; someone would be sure to be awake and delighted to talk to you about anything for as long as you needed.
  • They told their mommy ” “I hate you” with not an ounce of guilt or remorse. When I asked Emma why she was acting like a devil child at age five, she explained “Mommy, I used all my goodness up in school.” She now uses her goodness working for world peace.
  • Jane, the Writer absolutely refused to do the assigned kindergarten homework, writing sentences using a list of words. “Writers don’t use other people’s words.” The teacher had no answer to that. 
  • MysteriouslyJaner convinced the high school art teacher to allow her to miss class and submit a portfolio. She argued that artists decide what art to make.  “Jane has such integrity,” the teacher marveled.
  • They almost never lost power battles with their doormat mommy. Emma should have been born with a printout, “You will win exactly five battles with this child. Choose them carefully.” I did win the important battles, but I only learned their importance by losing the rest. By the time her sisters came along I was so demoralized that I didn’t fight battles that I could easily have won:)
  • At various ages the Writer melted down because the new washing machine wasn’t blue; the pretty blue rental car had vanished; her aunt and uncle didn’t have a second child her age; she was not attending a school that closed three years previously; there wasn’t enough snow; election day would be a day before her 18th birthday four years from now. She was a lovely, sensitive child, eager to please when she wasn’t battling the existential order of things. She is now a human rights lawyer and writer, heroically battling the existential order of things. If you google her first name and torture, she is the first hit.
  • Michelle, the Scientist, only ran fevers, thereby missing school, on the three school days without the gifted program pullout. I conducted ad hoc home schooling for bored students who could cough convincingly.
  • Emma only pulled the hair and dumped sand over the heads of playmates whose mommies would reliably go round the twist. (She has traveled to over 65 countries, and has lived in Niger, Rwanda and Kosovo.) She ended her three-year sand eating on the day our doctor looked her in the eye and assured me that her sand-eating must account for her excellent health. For old-times sake, she would occasionally revert to the diet when babysat by a hysteric mommy. A good friend confessed to me that she thought Emma would be in jail by the time she was 16.
  • At age 2 Michelle magic markered $2000 painting. To be fair, artist was able to fix the picture.
  • The same culprit at age two also destroyed another family’s audiotapes of their kids when babies and toddlers.
  • Notice I omitted my baby Molly,  the CEO. The most mature, disguised as the youngest, was perfectly sane from birth and struggled valiantly to contain, organize, and direct her crazy family. This is a lifetime job. All my dfficult communications with her sisters are best filtered through the CEO. Every teacher immediately noticed the difference. Notice her smile in the above picture.
  • Molly  idolized Madonna when she was 3. She memorized all Madonna’s songs, danced around with her grandma’s rosary beads around her neck, proclaiming she was a material girl. If only You Tube had been around then!

Michelle Obama would be horrified. I questioned my sanity again and again throughout their childhoods. But I am very proud that I could cherish their intelligence, creativity, and individuality and was never tempted to drug their uniqueness, no matter how it disrupted our lives. They insist they are going to emphasize order more and creativity less with their own kids:)I foresee much amusement watching them try.

Posted in Daughters, Mothering | Leave a comment