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From Dad, excerpt from a two-page letter that my dad sent to me when I was 17, November 22, 1978, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





From my Writing Practice on “Be Impeccable with your Word,” the first agreement of don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements:

Dad was impeccable with his word. Words were important to him. They still are. He still wants to be heard. When I was a teenager and unwilling to listen, he wrote his words down in two or three letters he then slipped under the closed door of my bedroom or left on the kitchen table for me to open after he left for work. He was like Felix Unger in some ways, a tidy man with small and precise handwriting. His handwriting is shaky now, but then his writing looked like a professional cursive font.

The letters he wrote on yellow legal pads, and so he fit a lot of words on them. He told me the things he had tried to say to me but that I would shut down. What was important to him, the things he wanted to pass on, the wisdom he wanted to impart. He worried about me, the friends I had chosen, my boyfriend. He acknowledged that even though I had many bad habits, I was still keeping up my grades, and for that he was grateful.

He did pass something on to me, didn’t he? His honesty with words. That’s a powerful gift.





Thanks, Dad. I listen to you now.



-Related to posts PRACTICE: Be Impeccable With Your Word – 15min and WRITING TOPIC — THE FOUR AGREEMENTS

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vietnamese children (one)
 
 
                   vietnamese children (two)
 
 
                             vietnamese children (three)
 


Here I am, crouching in front of a temple in Hue, surrounded by children. They squeal, I smile. They tug at me, I hug them. When my guide enters the courtyard and sees me, he marches toward me, beside himself. He pulls me up from the spot where I am, a small child like them. “Watch your purse,” he hisses.

He’s not unkind. He just knows how children can be with tourists. But I’m not afraid. If they take something from me, more power to them. I shouldn’t be such a naive soul, should I?, for letting them dupe me like that. It’s the price I’m willing to pay to be with children, even if they’re not my own.

But the truth is, these kids don’t even try to take my things. They want to test their broken English and throw me some universal signs. Peace, love, all that. At this point on a trip to Vietnam, I need all the peace and love I can get. I notice children everywhere I go. I am beyond homesick.



child monk




Fast forward to today. Em packs Froggy and Meow. Froggy is a frog pillow that presently rests in the space between me and Em. His green warmth at my side assures me as our plane lifts from the tarmac and begins its bumpy ascent. Dee packs no stuffed toys, although this morning she took Merry, the horse she’s had since age three or four, to stay with Jim for the almost three weeks we’ll be gone. We’ll be gone. Me and my girls. Finally. In Vietnam.

This is something I’ve always done with my girls. Not the international travel, but whisking them away, the three of us sans Daddy. I’ve taken them to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, where we tried unsuccessfully to put up a tent in the wind and ended up walking into the administration office and sheepishly asking for a room. We’ve been to Santa Monica, at the Hotel California, and when we drove into the parking lot from the airport—you won’t believe it!—that Eagles tune was playing on the rental car radio.

We’ve gone to Denver, with my sister and her kids, and also taken a road trip with them to San Francisco via Las Vegas. In Taos, the girls and I stayed in Mabel‘s room at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, and I didn’t tell them that my blog partner had once seen the ghost of Mabel in that very same room.

But those adventures pale in comparison to the three plane rides it will take to get us to Ho Chi Minh City. One of the flights is 13 or 14 hours long. I try not to dwell on it but wonder if I’ll be able not to when I have an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old sitting next to me. Not to mention Froggy.

And this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see my girls’ reactions when I take them to the crowded colorful market where women tug at your sleeve and say “Madam, Madam!” or when we eat a steaming bowl of rice noodles and chicken for breakfast or morning glory sauteed in garlic for lunch. Will they agree that Vietnamese food is the best in the world?

We’ll float down the Mekong Delta, travel by domestic plane to a beach town I’ve heard about but never been to, stay in a luxury two-bedroom apartment right in the heart of bustling Saigon. All month long as the trip looms closer, I drive them around our hometown and tell them that driving on the streets of Saigon is nothing like Corrales. I want them to feel the chaos, the aliveness of it all. To see how a place half a world away wakes up, eats, lives, go to sleep. Is.

We are on the plane now. Em shows me a photo she just snapped with her cell phone camera of the landscape out the window of our plane, somewhere west of the Grand Canyon. The image on her small screen resembles those photos of Earth as seen from outer space. There’s the curve of the terrain, layers of atmosphere growing from light to dark blue as you move away from the land toward the expansive sky.

This is like us, I think, in the world, high above it all. On our way to places beyond.


safe travels


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Dee got her first cell phone at age ten. A milestone year (and an indulged one), the birthday of her first decade brought a horse, pierced ears, and a flip phone.

It was earlier than we had wanted, and I’m pretty sure she was among the first of ten-year-olds-we-knew to have a mobile phone. But it went with the horse, another accoutrement like the saddle and reins. The phone was essential to keeping in contact with Dee while she went on long trail rides, alone or with friends.

Not that we expected anything bad to happen to her and her one-ton animal, but in the event she needed help or even to alert us that her ride was meandering longer and further than expected, we could be reached. She almost always called us on her rides, mostly to check in. One fall day she left her hoodie on a bush near the river and went back to find it. That day she took twice as long as expected on her ride, which would have had us worried sick had she not called.
 
This morning I was pondering the question, How young is too young? Dee’s sister got her first phone for her tenth birthday this spring. The excuse this round wasn’t equestrian safety but rather, precedent.

Em is among the first of her friends to have a cell phone, and among her friends’ parents I am about the only one who thinks having a phone is a good thing. But I’m also in a unique position in that I travel, a lot, and the cell phone has become a way for me to stay connected to my littlest babe.

This morning, Vietnam time, after calling home to say good-night to my family (it was about 7:30p their time and they were on their way home, oddly enough, from picking up Vietnamese take-out for dinner) I continued for about two hours to receive text messages from Em. She always misses me most at nighttime, so as it got later for her, I got more frequent text messages.

The messages arrived in my email inbox—my cell phone service doesn’t work in Vietnam—and always with Em’s little abbreviations, misspellings, and emoticons. She told me what she and her sister and dad were up to (a carwash after dinner), what Sony the pug was up to (missing me), and when she was ready for bed. Then when she crawled under the covers she sent this:
 

I'm going to bed now I luv u  :-( I miss u  :-(

 


These past few days, Em has sent me all sorts of text messages, along with photos she takes to show me what she’s been doing. She sent me a drawing of a girl who looks like her (no, not a self-portrait), a photo of Em yawning, a shot of Sony sticking out her tongue, and just a bit ago an image with these words on the Subject line:


The garden is growing.





Em Big Eyes, the doodle Em sent to me via her phone, image © 2009 by Em, all rights reservedSony Tongue, pic of Sony that Em took and sent via her cell phone, photo © 2009 by Em, all rights reservedGarden Is Growing, photo of the amaranth that Em took and sent me via her cell phone, photo © 2009 by Em, all rights reserved




I work in in the Tech industry and maybe for that reason I see technology as a positive. Dee is almost 14 now and on her third phone (all changes due to my switching service providers). Her latest is an iPhone with unlimited data and texting. She’s also had a MacBook since two Christmases ago.

As is common for kids of her generation, she’s comfortable with technology and figures out how to download and use “apps” way before I can. She learned how to manipulate photos taken with her iPhone into entirely new and bizarre creations. Thanks to that and a fascination with making mini-films on her MacBook, she recently spent her own money on her first digital camera.

There are, of course, huge risks for kids and technology. There are concerns about long-term health effects, especially brain cancer from the radio-frequency electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones on developing brain tissues of children. There are worries that kids are spending more time with their gadgets than with real friends. I fret about sexual predators and their access to my daughters via cell phones and email. (Neither of my girls has asked for Facebook or My Space accounts, and I thank their schools for instilling a cautious attitude around social media networks.)

But the risks can be mitigated by talking with your kid and setting guidelines around usage. And you’ve got to ask yourself, at what age do the pros become greater than the cons?

For me, ten-years-old is that tipping point. Tonight I can’t get an international phone line out of Saigon to make a call, but I have sent about a dozen text messages back and forth to home. And even though I didn’t get real voices on the other end of the line wishing me sweet dreams, I’m going to bed with a virtual kiss good-night.


kiss

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Dee and me, detail from a Mother-Daughter mural that our Moms-Daughters group created

dee and me, detail from a Mother-Daughter mural
that our Moms-Daughters group created.




Last night Jim and I attended a meeting for families who will be hosting exchange students from Mexico City starting next week. Our oldest daughter’s school has a two-week exchange program with a bilingual school in Mexico’s capital, and we signed up to be a host family.

Our exchange student is a twelve-year-old girl who has an older brother and younger sister. She loves animals—her menagerie includes a dog, rabbit, turtles, birds, and fish. I wrote last night to her father to let him know that we are also animal lovers, with three dogs, turkeys, a horse, and a bullsnake. (I made sure to tell him that the bullsnake lives outside.)

We’re excited to host this young girl. The exchange program coordinators have planned activities of all kinds to give the students a taste of the best things to do and see in Albuquerque and surrounding areas. The host family’s job is to provide three square meals a day, a private room, and a comfortable, safe, and stable environment. Of course, the mother in me is also prepared to provide love, support, and a wonderful experience—in short, a home away from home.



dee and me (two), detail from a mural created by our Mother-Daughter group    dee and me (two), detail from a mural created by our Mother-Daughter group





Benefits of Exchange Student Hosting

  • Gain a lasting friendship: While two weeks might not be long enough to bond for a lifetime, foreign exchange is built on trust. The parents of the student send their child to another country with faith that she will be kept safe and cared for. In turn, we embrace the student into our family. Assuming all goes well, we enter this as strangers and walk away knowing that we each took a leap of faith and met one another’s trust.   
  • Learn about another culture: Having an exchange student is immersion into another culture, except instead of you going to another country, the country comes to you. We’ll plow this child with questions about her life, family, school, traditions, foods, friends, home. You name it, we’ll want to know about it. She’ll be her country’s ambassador, and we’ll be ours.
  • See your family and your life through someone else’s eyes: There is nothing like putting the mirror to yourself to help realize how fortunate you are. And to remind yourself that if you can create the family you want to be for this student, you can be that family always.
  • Do the things you love most about the place where you live: With almost all of our family living in our city, we don’t do enough of the things tourists do in our town.
  • Be reminded of the importance of community: I hope to introduce our student to my parents and Jim’s, and to have her get to know Dee’s friends. Also, Dee’s best friends’ parents, who are all part of a common carpool, offered to accommodate this new rider in our carpool. Doing so wasn’t easy and involved a couple of people loaning vans to those of us who were limited by car size. Once again I was struck by the generosity of friends.



What to Expect (and Tips to Handle the Unexpected)

  • Homesickness: This girl is still a pretty tiny person in the world. This is her first exchange, and I’m prepared for her to hit a wall. (My gosh, I do whenever I travel abroad, and I’m an adult!) If it happens, we’ll do everything we can to help her get through—cook a favorite meal or ask her to show us how to cook something from her country, let her sleep with the girls’ stuffed animals, hug her, take her somewhere fun to distract her, let her call home (although that can make it worse), or meet up with another exchange student if she has a friend in the group.
  • Illness: I’m not the world’s best caregiver of sick people, but the good news is I’m better with children and animals than with my husband. (smile) Although, last night when the program coordinator asked us what we’d do if our host child woke up in the night with nausea, I whispered to Jim that I’d throw a towel over her head and run get him. But in all honesty, I can cope. We’d have to call the coordinator before administering any medications, even over-the-counter, although we can provide ginger ale, Saltines, and anything else that might provide short-term relief. And I will sit by her side and soothe her.
  • Conflict: Even though 12-year-olds are less likely than high schoolers to rebel, we’ve been advised to expect that conflicts might arise. Perhaps the student will want to do nothing but listen to her iPod or be on email or want to go somewhere that we can’t accommodate. Maybe she doesn’t like the food or gets up late every morning. Who knows? What I do know is that it will be important to let her know our schedule and our expectations. We have routines, practices, and traditions, and while we’ll be flexible we also need to maintain sane, healthy lives.
  • Exhaustion: Immersion in another country can be exhausting—all that thinking and speaking and living in a different language, not to mention that fact that you never really let your guard down. We were advised that our student might become withdrawn, expecially with all the activity, and if this happens to not take it personally. We’ll give our student down time, let her take naps or go to bed early. And of course, we love to sit quietly and read. Exhaustion we can handle.


Our temporary family member arrives this Saturday afternoon. We’ll let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, I’m curious if any of you’ve hosted foreign exchange students or have been an exchange student yourself. If so, what was your experience? And if not, have you ever entertained the idea of either role? Did you long to be an exchange student in high school? Do you toy with the notion of hosting a student now? I want to hear about it.

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Please buy, Madame, child vendor selling clay whistles in Hoi An, Vietnam, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




My oldest daughter, Dee, made 48 brownies this morning for a bake sale today. She and two other seventh-graders are doing a “pay it forward” class assignment, whereby they identify a worthy need and then do good works to support the cause.

Dee and her classmates decided to raise money for a global non-profit called Invisible Children. The group was created in the spring of 2003 when…

…three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them, a tragedy where children are both the weapons and the victims.

After returning to the States, they created the documentary “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda’s night commuters and child soldiers. The film was originally shown to friends and family, but has now been seen by millions of people.

The overwhelming response has been, “How can I help?” To answer this question, the non-profit Invisible Children, Inc. was created, giving compassionate individuals an effective way to respond to the situation.


Invisible Children has a singular mission: To use the power of stories to change lives around the world. There are many organizations that help children, some decades old, and I can only imagine it was tough for Dee and her two friends to choose a recipient for their project. Ths group appealed to them because of the medium (film), the young vibe to the organization, and its focus on schools and books for kids (many of whom been forced to grow up and participate in a tragic war) in Uganda.







There is so much poverty in this world. I have seen children in Delhi and Agra, India, little blind beggars and dirty-faced kids performing acrobatics down crowded walkways of trains—scenes and situations brought to light in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Vietnam, South Africa, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and communities in my very own New Mexico—these are some of the places where I’ve seen children living without the most basic of needs met.

It’s easy—perhaps even at times a necessary coping mechanism—to become inured to the realities of the world, especially when we don’t see with our own eyes the suffering and pain. But it’s all around us.

Dee and her classmates also chose as recipient for their works a no-kill animal shelter whose primary focus is to rescue dogs and cats on “death row” (those about to be euthanized by animal control centers in the state). One of the girls working with Dee on this project volunteers at this shelter, which is supported entirely by donations from the community and adoption fees.

These are tough realities for these girls to be aware of, yet they’re learning that through their efforts, no matter how small or big, they can make a difference.


It begins with doing a favor for another person– without any expectation of being paid back.


This is their second bake sale this month. Their goal is to raise $150 per organization. Their first bake sale they earned $80, and within just minutes of setting up for their sale today, they’re earned about $15. They’ll probably have one or two more sales before the project is due. I hope they surpass their goal.






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Twilight Advance, advance ticket for opening day of Twilight, the long-awaited film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s young adult hit series, image © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Twilight opened at midnight last night, and I imagine theaters everywhere were filled with teenage girls dressed in black. My teen didn’t make it; today was a school day.

But guess who has a ticket for a showing tonight? Yep. The way I see it is, these are the things that eventually become memories when today’s kids get to be our age. Standing in line for over an hour to get a good seat in the theater on opening day of Twilight, or sitting two rows from the front of the screen and being unable to straighten your neck when the movie ends. Sweet.

I don’t remember standing in line as a kid to be among the first to see a movie or to buy a book. Maybe life was simpler then and less sales-driven. Or maybe my parents just wouldn’t stand for such nonsense.

I’m pretty sure it’s the deprived child in me that now indulges my daughters and last year endured the torture of standing—or, rather, leaning—in line, half alseep at one in the morning, so I could fork over $24.99 to a testy cashier and get Dee’s copy of the long awaited Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.



     



What did we have that was even slightly similar? My older sisters swooned over The Beatles and Elvis, although I don’t think they ever made it to a concert. Jim remembers going to see 2001: A Space Odyssey on his 13th birthday, although it wasn’t opening night. “Nah, we never went to openings when I was a kid.” And in general, we still avoid the crowds that come with any opening night.

Although, Em reminded Jim that we all went to see Wall-E the first night it opened this past summer. We were in Taos for the Taos Solar Festival, and on a whim the Friday night we rolled into town, we decided to go see Wall-E. We sashayed on in, bought our tickets, and sat smack dab in the middle of a mostly empty theater. We couldn’t believe our luck. No way we would have ventured to an Albuquerque theater for opening night of any movie, not even a Disney Pixar one.

But some people love the excitement of being among the first. It’s kind of like making history. Or, like I said, making memories.

How about you? Do you move with the throngs or do you hang back until the crowds thin?




-Related to posts My Kid Got Bit By Stephenie Meyer and Stephenie Bit Me, Too!

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I have a photo of me in Ray Bans and a bright green bikini top, climbing sandstone rocks on a beach in Costa Rica. I’m smiling, teeth white against my dark skin. On the back of the photo, these words in my handwriting: March 1996, for Dee, so you’ll know what your mama was up to six months after you were born.

Rosa from work snapped the shot. She and Kevin and I were on a two-week trip to Central America. Guatemala and El Salvador the first week, weekend at Manuel Antonio, and the second week in San José. Rosa and Kevin went on to Honduras and Panamá, while I flew back home to be with my baby.

It’s a long story, how I ended up in Central America when Dee was only six months old. Suffice to say that it had to do with a grant proposal I submitted on behalf of the university I worked for when I was pregnant. The proposal was funded, and I had to follow through with the trip or risk losing the money.

As with most international travel, it was Hell getting mentally prepared. A jet plane crashed in the region weeks before I left, killing everyone on board. All I could think was, I’m going to die and never see my baby grow up. Of course, once I got there I was pulled into the color and smells and sounds. I loved it.

Between appointments, I had to run to my hotel room and power on my little battery-operated breast pump. Waoo-waoo-waoo-waoo, it went, like a sick cow, for twenty minutes. I sat on the bed with my blouse unbuttoned and tried not to worry about whether I’d dry up by the time I got home.

Later, walking past indigenous women sitting on the sidewalk, infants in bundles on their backs or in their arms, I pictured my watery milk running down the sink and wished I could pick up a baby and feed it.

“Ew, that’s disgusting!” Rosa said when I told her what I wanted to do.

That trip, Dee refused to take the bottle. Typical conversation those first days I called home:

     Has she taken it yet?
     Nope, just spits it out.
     My God, what are you gonna do?
     Everyone says she’ll take it when she gets hungry enough.
     Have you tried other nipples?
     Yeah, went through four new ones today.
     I’m sorry.
     It’s alright. She’ll be fine. Don’t worry.
Click.

Everyone was wrong. Dee never took the bottle. No other options left, Jim finally introduced rice cereal.






I was thinking about that trip yesterday. The postcards I’d sent from Vietnam had just arrived, and I remembered how before I left for Central America I prepared a postcard a day for Jim to read to Dee. I didn’t actually send them; I left them for him to show her, a new one each day.

I went on a lot of trips while both my babies were young. I left the university when Dee was about a year old; new job yet one thing remained the same—still plenty of travel.

I remember sending baggies of frozen breast milk over dry ice for Em when I took a week-long training course in Eugene, Oregon. I became expert at pumping in mothers’ rooms at work and in airports. Life revolved around finding the best place and time to run my little machine.


I pumped milk in the Portland airport. I used the private kiddy bathroom, which had a plug so I could use electric. After 15 minutes, someone jiggled the door and it turned out to be a cleaning woman. At first she scolded me for using the kiddy bathroom; apparently a woman had complained about not having access to the changing table. But when I explained that I was pumping and that I appreciated the privacy, she seemed to understand.

I’m coming home with something for everyone: Em’s milk, a watch with a floating dinosaur for Dee, a Nike fleece sweatshirt for Jim.


Before we had kids, Jim and I made the decision that one of us would stay home full-time to take care of them. We both came from families where a parent stayed home, and we wanted to do the same thing for our kids if we could afford it. Which we could, barely at first. Jim got the role of stay-at-home Dad, and I got to pursue my dream of working in a job where I could travel.

But it wasn’t easy being away from my children. All the time I was on the road, I wondered if they would grow up and resent my being gone. Yet when I was home I was a present parent, more so, I imagined, than dads in my same situation. Bone tired, I took over the moment I got home. Evenings and weekends were always mine.

My girls are both old enough now that I can see they’ve not been damaged. On the contrary, they are bold and adventurous from spending formative years with a parent who let them walk on roofs versus one with a fear of heights. They love being outdoors, think nothing of catching snakes and frogs, and are up for long hikes.

They also want to get to know this world. “Take me to Vietnam,” they tell me. I promise them that I will. Hopefully next summer.

They’re in for a wild experience.




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Dee Butterfly, cell phone photo of my oldest daughter when she was about eight years old, photo © 2003-2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.


I gave birth to Dee on Labor Day thirteen years ago.

“Some Labor Day!” folks joked afterwards.

It was a beautiful birth. I had her in our bedroom, attended by Jim, my best friend, and our midwife.

For a while I didn’t think I could do it. I was on my back pushing yet nothing was happening. Finally my midwife, who up to then sat quietly in a corner letting me be in control of my birth, came to check on me.

“Ah, your water’s not broken,” she said. I had told her it broke before she got there. “Go into the bathroom and visualize your water breaking. Once it breaks, the baby will come.”

I sat on the toilet and stared at the circles on the linoleum tile. Open, open, open, I said to myself. I closed my eyes and could see a faint imprint of circles in the darkness. Open, open, open. Splash! It worked.

Dee came in to the world in the early morning. I birthed her crouched on the floor beside our bed. The air was cool, sunlight soft. Mexican sunflowers stood guard outside our windows.

Every human being brings with him or her into the world a bundle of traits. Some characteristics deepen with love, others are quashed from lack of support. New talents and quirks emerge based on home life and the world at large, but I know with certainty that every one of us arrives with something and not as a blank slate.

Dee brought with her a fiesty attitude, curiosity, and a natural tendency to question and challenge. She was expressive, sensitive, argumentative. She held her fork in her fist while she waited for her meals, refused to take a bottle, and cried every time she woke up from a nap. She was serious and at times stern. She was also compassionate and could break out crying at the knowledge that someone or something was hurt.


Using the words Brave and Face in a sentence, Dee’s second-grade homework, image © 2002-2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Jim and I each grew up in homes that stressed respectfulness, courtesy, and good manners. Jim’s parents, especially, valued proper behavior in children. My parents did, too—Grandpa’s motto was, Children are to be seen and not heard. However, Mom’s tendency to rebel against anything conventional translated into exposure to many vices (poker and Black Jack games at any family gathering, smoking, drinking, cussing, etc.).

It was apparent early on that Jim’s ideas about the right way for children to behave would not set well with Dee. Although she was often quiet and inside herself, she never hesitated in voicing her opinions. If she didn’t understand something, she asked questions and always in a way that sounded like she didn’t quite believe what was being said.

Jim’s sister came to visit one day when Dee was three. We were at the kitchen table talking about something that happened when Dee insisted that Jim’s recounting of events was not right and began telling her version. Just as Jim was about to reprimand Dee for the interruption, his sister stopped him.

“Let her be. If you teach her to not speak up when she’s a child, she’ll have a hard time finding her voice as a woman.”

I joined Jim’s sister in describing how so many women I see at work are reserved and conditioned to neither debate nor question, how they let men dominate conversations and meetings. While courtesy was important, we said, Dee carried an innate respect for all humanity. If it came down to teaching proper manners, wouldn’t it be easier to learn good etiquette later in life than it would be to unlearn reticence?

To his great credit, Jim listened to the women in his life. In bringing up his daughters (because he was the one who had the most influence in their early lives) he has resisted the urge to constantly keep them in check. That’s not to say he is overly permissive; he still appreciates a well-behaved child.

For her part, little Miss Dee is a confident, newly annointed teenager. She can be quiet, especially among strangers—another one of those characteristics she brought into this world. But among her friends and family, she continues to speak her mind.

This morning Dee said that tonight she’s not going to cry over leaving behind her childhood. She’s ready for what’s next. (I, however, might be a different case altogether.)

Happy Birthday, Dee! You are an impressive young woman and human being.





[NOTE: I don’t normally publish photos of my family, but this photo of Dee was taken so long ago, plus with the face-painting, I decided it would be fine to share this one.]

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anXiety, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




I want to write about anxiety. Not panic attacks, since I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those, but rather, the general sense of dread that covers me at times like a veil.

I want to write about anxiety, but not in a medical way. I want to write about the days I feel like I can’t possibly smile, can’t possibly let myself get into a good mood, so shellacked into place is my heart that if I allow myself to feel it pulsing in my chest I might just burst open.

I catch myself increasingly more in this predicament, anxious and paralyzed and becoming the impatient, often enraged woman I knew as…my mother.

Yes, my mother! She suffered anxiety for many years, and there is indication that, like brown hair or Diabetes, anxiety runs in families. As one article put it, “More often than not, anxious women grew up in anxious households.”


 



Mom must have been in a near constant state of anxiety. There was a 13-year spread between me—the youngest—and my oldest sibling, which means Mom was living and breathing children from the moment Patty was born until I moved out at age 18. That was 31 years of dealing with kids through every stage, and it doesn’t include my niece, who was six years younger than me and who Mom eventually brought into the fold.

I tell the story of being five years old and walking into my house one day after having spent a few hours across the street with my best friend at her grandmother’s trailer. My eyes were lined in black; we’d gotten into Suzanne’s grandma’s make-up bag. I came in through the back door just as Mom was getting up from a nap. Usually she made me take naps with her but this day I got to play with Suzanne instead.

I can see Mom now, making her way to the kitchen to find her cigarettes and maybe a glass of iced tea. I am happy and proud; it’s the first time I’ve put on make-up, the domain of grown-up women. Mom crosses the living room, I’m coming up through the den. She sees me and I am smiling, about to open my mouth and tell her “Look what we did!” but before I can get out the words she raises her arm. WHACK! In a throaty voice she screams, “COCHINA!” “PIG!





Later on, when I started school and life became more intense for Mom, it was hard to separate her meanness from her Meniere’s Disease. When I think of her during those times I see her in bed or on the bathroom floor or the couch, a wet washrag on her forehead and a glass of water by her side.

I remember one summer we drove to Juárez, pulled into the parking lot of the Camino Rael Hotel. Its pink stucco and turquoise swimming pool shimmered like a mirage just beyond the asphalt, and there went Mom, puking into a brown paper sack. The long road trip with three of us fighting in the back of the Caprice, plus the heat, set off an attack.

Always sick, always throwing out certain expressions: “I can’t stand you!” “You kids are driving me crazy!” “I’m a nervous wreck!” There were good memories, too, a flood of goodness, and I don’t want to make my mother sound like a monster. She wasn’t by any means. I’m just trying to understand the cycles of anxiety, what they transform us into, and how I might break the pattern.

Which reminds me, my youngest jokingly calls me Momster. Am I?

If not, I suspect I am on the road to becoming one. Like it did for Mom, my life seems to be getting out of hand. At times my emotions, even my physical being, are hijacked by anxiety.

I sometimes find myself driving in my car and thinking, I shouldn’t have become a mother, I shouldn’t have become a mother, and then I retract it all, convinced that God will punish me by taking away my daughters. This is anxiety talking, taunting in its urgent whisper, That’ll show you.



      


My friend Deborah calls it “middle-aged rage,” and maybe she’s talking about something different but I tend to think it’s just anxiety in its angry incarnation. Deborah says it stems from the pressure to be good – good mother, good employee, good partner. She also says it’s the mountain of responsibility that piles up daily – bills to pay, deadlines to meet, cans and bottles and paper to recycle.

“Passions unmet,” I chime in, giving away that for me the crux of the matter is almost always this balance between being the solid matriarch of my family and being myself. Artist, writer, and individual.

I do agree that middle-aged rage is a symptom of our inflated expectations. Disappointments taken to the nth degree. The bald realization that we’re not perfect. We’re smart women. We may or may not hold down well-paying jobs. We might be great gardeners, mostly solid friends. Our parents need us more than ever and we’re struggling to meet those needs, never mind looking and feeling good and meeting the pressures of being decent role models.

For me it’s gotten worse in the past year. It’s the perfect storm. Daughter in mid-school with those funky dynamics, another in elementary (and I can always find something to worry about in her life – too skinny, too sickly, too talky). Aging parents, stressful career, big house, new dog. You name it, I got it.

Anxiety becomes worse as women take the long walk toward menopause, and I seem to have been stuck on that trail for years now. Given the physical changes in my body (temperature changes, night sweats, weight) I think I’m heading deeper into the forest, but I wish this body of mine would just squeeze through the eye of the needle and emerge, with all the apparent downsides, into the desert of post-menopause. I will give up any day the last of my so-called youth for that long moment of calm.

I tell Deborah that we were stupid to wait until our mid-to-late 30s (her, early 40s) to have children, but she reminds me we would have simply had longer periods of rage and be less equipped to cope. I suppose she’s right.

I feel fortunate that she’s opened up this conversation. Over this past year I’ve felt the anxiety growing like yeast in my belly, yet I’ve kept a lid on it. But once I get something out in the open, exposed to air and light, there’s no hiding from it. I will talk, write, treat it to its pretty death. My submission will lead to its submission.

My annual check-up is coming up this fall, none too soon to get the medical help I need to get my calm back. Mean time, I’m exercising, cutting out the crap I’ve been eating, setting boundaries, and holding on tightly to daily practice and prayer. 

The girls still tell me I’m a nice mom. But I tell you, it’s a thin thread that holds me to that reality versus being Momster 24/7.

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Collective Soul at 2008 Taos Solar Music Festival
Collective Bliss, Collective Soul at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival, June 28, 2008, photos © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.



Here are my souvenirs from Taos — numbness in my right ear and sore calves. Plus, that good kind of exhaustion you get from a night of dancing outdoors, near the stage, to the beat of your favorite band.

We spent the weekend at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival. It’s a three-day, multi-band, two-stage event held in Kit Carson Park. Dee and Em’s first concert, not counting local gigs where no one would even think of lighting up a joint. No, Taos caused me pause — Do I even mention what that smell is?


Ed Roland from Collective SoulI didn’t. Instead, I danced to the fabulous band who in the mid-1990s gave us “December,” the song I swear I wanted to record so I could play it on continuous loop during labor.

Soulful. That’s a good way to describe lead singer Ed Gould’s voice. He hails from Stockbridge, GA, son of a Southern Baptist minister. And I couldn’t believe I finally got to hear him in person. Twelve years I’ve been carrying around those lyrics, buying up CDs, and belting tunes in my car.






Define bliss: (outside-of-ten-years-if-they’re-lucky) middle-aged singers reaming strings and throwing microphone stands, wearing tight jeans and blowing kisses to their (assuming-we’re-all-destined-to-be-centenarian) middle-aged fans.

I danced my socks off, shook like I was possessed, rattled my arms in the air, whooped, hollered, whistled myself and everyone around me temporarily deaf, and caused my children to wonder, Is this what they mean when they say someone is speaking in tongues?

My one saving grace? I wasn’t wearing a leather halter top.



Sweet Nectar

It was only natural that Jim, the Hummingbird Whisperer, would be mesmerized two bands earlier by the liquid flute of native son Robert Mirabal, who hails from Taos Pueblo. A man with a message, Mirabal thanked us for bringing our children. Not me and Jim directly, but all of us Glad-Bag-for-raincoats parents and grandparents.

Kids need music. “They hold the future in their hands,” he said. I shivered, stared up at the sky and wondered if the rest of the bands would get rained out.

Then he sang a Circle Song and laughed away the wind, bringing us a still night.


Robert Mirabal   Robert Mirabal
Circle Song, Robert Mirabal at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival, June 28, 2008, photos © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.



Neither Jim nor I (nor anyone in the audience) could keep our eyes off of Silvana Kane, the Peruvian-born singer of Canadian band Pacifika. This woman was pure beauty, inside and out.

“Qué linda las mujeres de Taos,” she cooed. “How beautiful the women of Taos are, dancing in their skirts.”

We chanted back: “Qué linda!”



 

    
Beautiful Spirit, Pacifika at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival, June 28, 2008, photos © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.



Swimming Down Morada Lane

We stayed at Casa Benavides — the Mabel Dodge Luhan House was full — and what a delight! Homemade granola, yogurt, and fruit as first course at breakfast, along with coffee so strong that even half-and-half couldn’t tame it. Baked goods, French toast, waffles, an egg quiche smothered in red or green.

And another round of baked anything-you-crave from 3-6 pm. Afternoon tea, Taos-style.

From our patio we could hear the music almost as well as if we were at the concert, so we took many walks down Morada Lane, from the park to the inn and back again.

The girls rested, played cards, watched cable, ate lemon bars and pecan pie. Jim and I walked, rested, rocked, rested. Besides the bands mentioned here, we saw or heard Latino sounds, reggae, hip hop, and more.

If you asked my daughters what they loved the most, they might not mention the music. They might say, instead, that they liked shopping the best. Window shopping during our many rounds back and forth, but even better were the Fair Trade vendors at the festival. Tye-dye and sterling silver earrings and beads. Girls love beads.

So in between ice cream and burritos and roasted corn — festival food — not to mention tea, my daughters visited all the vendors many times. Each round, Dee and Em would return bearing bracelets or rings, bought with their own money. I helped Dee pick out her first two single earrings, which is to say, earrings worn without a partner. As in a third piercing, perhaps. Hmmm.



                



I loved being with my family doing something we all enjoyed, together and individually. Jim danced his Grateful-Dead-inspired shuffle and it was as if our pre-children lives suddenly merged with our post-children lives. Why hadn’t we thought of this before?

My favorite moment? Me in the mosh pit (well, Taos-style) swaying and shaking with friends and strangers; Jim and the girls a safe distance, watching and doing bopping of their own.



        
Folk Mandala, yarn laid into intricate pattern, seen at the Tenth Annual Taos Solar Music Festival, June 28, 2008, photo © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.



“I love Collective Soul, Mom,” Dee tells me as we make our way back to our room.

“You dance like this, Mom,” Em giggles and wiggles her little body as she navigates the sidewalk, throwing her arms this way and that.

I can tell the girls see me anew. For once I’m not just Mom. I’m one with the music, one night in Taos.

That and shin splints.


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Waiting for Dad, self-portrait of Jim and Em, photo by Jim, all rights reserved.
Waiting for Dad, self-portrait of Jim with Em at school, photo © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.







my best mother’s day:
my mother, my daughter, and
a father who shares








-related to post, haiku (one-a-day)

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Mom used to get so frustrated with us kids that she would scream. The she’d break down in tears. It was like everything inside her finally came out. Her face twisted up. She held her arms away from her, her hands balled up, and she hunched slightly like a bodybuilder showing his biceps. That’s when she screamed, more to get noise out of her than to quell whatever it was she was upset at. Finally, the tears came, hands flew up to the roots of her hair and she’d say something like, “I can’t stand it anymore!”

In my memory, it seems almost a physical depiction of Giving Up. Like her whole self had to go through a release. A welling up, explosion, then wilting.

Sometimes she was mad about something we did, although her meltdowns never seemed tied entirely to an event. I don’t recall any of us ever coming home late to Mom sitting by the doorway. I don’t recall her walking in while we were having a party or her catching us smoking a joint in the bathroom. Rather, it was the little things that chipped away.

She found a bong in the bedroom. She didn’t like my boyfriend. She was a grandmother at age 40.

Life was anxiety-producing. We kids spanned 13 years. My oldest sister was pregnant, married and out of the house; my other sister was away at college; my third sister a teen; my brother in middle school; I was in elementary school. (In hindsight, the little things weren’t so little.)

I remember when I was pregnant with Dee, I got the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Every night I read and re-read the sections that covered the particular number of weeks I was into my pregnancy. I also read ahead. Then when I got to that phase, I read and re-read that section.

I eventually got to the point where I put away the book. At seven months into my pregnancy, I even stopped going to see the doctor. I’d decided to birth my baby at home, and the midwife I’d picked out — the only one who did home births — was going away on a retreat for six weeks. She’d be back by my ninth month, just in time to work with me before the baby came.

I don’t know what snapped to cause me to transform from someone bewildered by pregnancy to someone with complete faith that I could birth my own baby. Maybe it was the sense that all the books in the world weren’t going to prepare me. Or maybe it was Jim and my last childbirthing class where we watched a film comparing US and European births. The US father was dressed in scrubs from head to toe, his wife laid out on what looked on an operating table under a stark light. The European couple was in a birthing center that resembled a lovely home. In the car that night, Jim and I both blurted, “The hospital birth looked scary!”

The point is, I finally figured out that I wasn’t going to figure it out. I just had to go with the flow. And once I went with the flow, I became calm. I knew what to do. I started to take responsibility for my pregnancy, and I prepared the best way I could, mentally and physically. When the day came, with Jim and my midwife by my side, I birthed Dee. In my bedroom. By myself.

What this has to do with Mom and her breakdowns is, I’m feeling a lot like what I imagined she used to feel right before she blew. And a lot less like I felt when I gave birth.


Earlier today I went to see Dee’s volleyball game. It went three rounds; they lost the last round by two points. It was close. Dee didn’t play well. Her serve was inconsistent, and her other hits were not solid either. All in all, it was a going-backwards for her. She started stronger four or five games ago, yet today’s game was her worst. I watched from the bleachers. She wasn’t the only one who wasn’t good. But a few of the other players had gotten great. The gap between them widened. It was hard to watch.

This is our first experience with team sports. Dee did rodeo the past two years. Rodeo is all about the girl and her horse. Dee’s horse is good. You can tell by looking at him. He’s honest, and he wants to perform for her. He does whatever she says. He senses when she’s ready, and every time he’s gone faster, she’s been ready. Watching her do rodeo was a thrill. She always improved in rodeo. Her barrel time got shorter, her finesse with the flags finer. She became competent before my eyes. I was in awe. Truthfully, I was in awe.

In the car home this evening, I asked her how the game felt. She shrugged. “Mmm,” she said.

“You guys did better,” I told her. “Mmm,” again.

“You were the captain this game, right?,” I tried. “Yeah,” she said, “one of them.”

“Well, that’s great, that means you guys led your team to an almost victory, which is way better than the past three games.”

She was silent most the rest of the way. When we were almost home she told me one of the girls who’s gotten great told her earlier in the day that Dee shouldn’t play volleyball. That same girl also told Dee after the game that they lost on account of Dee.

I tried to tell Dee from that girl’s perspective, Dee and the other players who weren’t strong were the reason the team lost. Dee missed the second-to-the-last point. She had a bad game. I didn’t want to gloss over the fact that Dee hadn’t supported the team the way the best players did. I wanted to point out that team sports are different from individual sports that way. That team sports are about two things: your game, and the team’s game. I didn’t blame. But I didn’t say that the girl who blamed was bad. Only that that’s how things are when you play in a team. It’s life. 

Honestly, I don’t think I did so well. Honestly, I’m at that stage of wanting a book to tell me what to do. And, while I’m being honest, I have to say I don’t want to go to the next game. If Dee keeps getting worse while the other girls get better, it’s going to get harder for Dee.

I know I need to let go. I let Jim practice with her tonight. She came in after about twenty minutes saying she learned to serve. I wanted her to show me, but I also didn’t. I’m at that place where I need to snap. Just like I did at seven months pregnant. I need to believe that she can do what she needs to do, and whatever happens she’ll be fine. I need to trust that Jim can be her father and help her. And that I’m going to be fine, too.

A part of me wants to do the Mom meltdown thing. The other part of me wants to rely on my own self for the journey. Then there’s the voice saying, “IT’S JUST VOLLEYBALL, FOR GOD’S SAKE!” Even so, I don’t know what Giving Up looks like for me right now.

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I want to let go of this feeling of concern over Dee. I want to be light with her, not expect that she talk more, smile more, stand up taller, walk straighter.

I want to let go of the legacy I carry from my own parents, Dad’s constant “Dumb!” He used to say that any time I did something stupid — hammer his good nails into a piece of 2-by-4 while playing Dentist, not understand how to do Calculus, or paint the corner of my bedstand with Janet’s nail polish.

I want to let go of the kind of parent I’ve become, demanding and disappointed. I don’t know when it started, I’d like to say it is just a three-week-old trend that came up when Dee began middle school, but I worry it has been with me all my mothering life.

I want to let go of the penitente within me, her self-flagellating nature. I want to drop the whip, bury it or burn it, walk with a bounce in my step, be naturally happy and, most important, satisfied. When was the last time I was content with the person I am, the people around me? When was the last time I enjoyed going somewhere with my girls, saw it as more of a privilege than a burden?

Even at Ghost Ranch we arrived late and I had to put up a six-person tent. Dee ran off to eat, and Em had to help me struggle with the rods, making them flex so the tent would stand. They flopped every time I tried to lift them into an arc, and finally after five attempts I was sweating and in tears. I can see the look on Em’s face. Alarm. That’s what it was, a mirror to my own panic. I swore at Dee under my breath for not being there to help, and now I see her running back from the dining hall, friend in tow. I must have given her the look to kill. She told her friend to leave, and then what? I’ve said as much as I wanted to say.

It’s time to let go of all of it, my dissatisfactions and disappointments, and who exactly am I disappointed in? Is it me, for not living the life I wanted to live, as an artist and writer? For having this conventional life to begin with? For my choices? And so what of them?

They’re done, made, and now I’m thinking of that saying “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” Why are those sayings always so punitive?


-From Topic post, “I WANT TO LET GO OF…”
-NOTE: I wrote this during a recent writing practice with a friend at the Sunflower Market café in Albuquerque.

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Birth is a natural wonder. Those words refer to Dee and to this earth. How can I describe what it’s like having an eleven-year-old daughter? To the Natural History Museum today she wears a skin-toned tank top with black lace coverlet, blue jeans, and a pale pink tie in her hair. Her bangs fall around her China-doll face.

“Look, Mom,” she tells me as she debuts for the day, “I’m Violet Baudelaire.” Dee and Violet (from Lemony Snickett’s Series of Unfortunate Events) are pretty yet clever. (Always remember clever. Dee will never go for just pretty.)

A year ago–six months ago, in fact–Dee would be no one other than Dee. Play unencumbered by fashion. Digging a giant hole in the front yard–so what if high-water pants? Then suddenly this year, a subtle shift. This certain tank top from The Gap in Denver. We bought it on sale. Dee loves to wear it, although tank tops are taboo at her school. So she slips it into certain outings. Natural History Museum on a Sunday afternoon.

I birthed Dee in early fall of 1995. A roller coaster–that’s how I described pregnancy-to-birth. Being on the world’s highest roller coaster (which I’ve been on–The Viper in Six Flags Southern California), me screaming as the contraption click-clicked toward its pinnacle overlooking the entire amusement park. Are those specks the cars? I couldn’t even see people. You can scream your head off (I did) yet it won’t do a whit of good. The emaciated man with corn-cob teeth manning the controls on the ground can’t hear screams. They evaporate like steam into atmosphere.

When I used the roller-coaster analogy I didn’t realize I was talking about raising a child. I thought I was referring to the act of bringing another human into the world. Yet, the ride persists. I read today that it took six hundred million years after its birth for Earth to contain all the elements of modern life. Ocean, rivers, mountains, atmosphere, continents. After eleven years I wonder if I’ve delivered the most basic qualities: love, respect, self-confidence, compassion.

In the context of Earth’s six hundred million years, this particular day is not even a grain of sand. Not the cuticle on the left thumb of the person–what I presume to be a person–standing in the vicinity of the Ferris Wheel. Quartz, the most common mineral on earth, is more ancient and durable than me and my concerns. But I am a woman of today, aware that every moment I spend in my daughter’s presence is an opportunity. To be volcanic, gaseous, a tectonic plate pushing sea into land, land into mountains. Or a phantom–the invisible parent. (These are words from nature’s terminology. Phantom to quartz is the black vein-like formation inside the crystal, like tree rings symbolizing time on earth. In a human, phantom is the residue of childhood, what you take with you through years of therapy. Your true story.)

Dee and I walk from Earth’s Origins to Triassic Period, walk across the super-continent Pangaea, and I wonder as she peers at Coeleophysis, New Mexico’s state fossil, whether she will remember me as an erudite mother wandering museums on a holiday Sunday or as a guilty, preoccupied parent touting an occasional mother-daughter to-do. Do the museum visits override the time I slapped Dee in the car when she was two and wouldn’t stop crying?

I read the exhibit labels aloud but she doesn’t hear me. New Mexico two hundred million years ago was hot and humid. The year I birthed Dee was dry. We grew sunflowers taller than the top of the window. They bloomed bright yellow-orange and beckoned my pregnant belly to give forth its contents. Scream your head off, it doesn’t matter.

Both our favorite is Jurassic Period, the age of super giants. New Mexico was covered with conifers, cycads, and ferns–not juniper or sage. When Pangaea split apart, we were sea or were we coast along the sea? It doesn’t matter. Either way, I like this version of life. Ultimately we are everything. Placenta and child and blood and beating heart. Happiness and frustration.

Dee runs from the whip-tailed dinosaur (whose name I forget) to a young man with a ponytail, little more than a teenager himself, standing at a small table showing his dino-wares. He holds up a fossilized dinosaur thigh bone with quartz growing where the marrow used to be. He describes the process of crystallization, water sitting in the channel of the bone over many, many years. The crystals glimmer and I notice Dee is mesmerized.

“What’s this,” he asks, and he’s on to a smallish oval-shaped thing that looks like rusted metal. Dee is thinking. I watch her instead of generating answers myself. This is how it is with Dee these days. I’m consumed with her process of growing up. Fossilized dinosaur poop, or coprolite, as he prefers to call it. Dee and I look at one another. I raise my eyebrows, in awe of nature. What nature does she see in me?

“T-Rex had 150 teeth,” the young man says as he holds up a giant white fang the length of his hand. “T-Rex’s brain wasn’t as big as this one tooth,” the boy-man says dramatically. He looks at Dee expectant but she says nothing. She doesn’t even make eye contact. She knows not what to do with sex or sexuality, and I am only now aware of this small seed growing inside her.

“…so, you could say T-Rex definitely had more brawn than brain,” the boy-man says. I laugh at the punch line while Dee skitters off to Cretaceous Period. For a moment I think I’ve imagined it all. She’s a girl, not a pre-teen.

In the Cretaceous Period shallow seas covered New Mexico. They say a type of plant-eating, five-horned dinosaur–Pentaceratops–was found only in this area. I like the idea that we have our very own species. This one ranged in size, they say, from no bigger than a dog to up to five tons. Flowering plants arose during this time. Up to then there were only evergreens.

There are different theories for why dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. A great meteor, Chicxulub Crater, hit the earth and ended the reign of these creatures. Or mammals ate the eggs. I go for the crater explanation. I can’t imagine anything worldly preventing mothers–even dinosaur mothers–from having children. So many methods for not having kids today, yet so many babies born. Wanted or not.

On the drive home from the museum, Dee reminds me of our new joke. “What’s a man eating dinosaur?” We both saw the riddle on a wall near the exhibit describing the evolution of dinosaurs into birds. You lift up a little plastic tab and underneath is a picture of a man carving into a Thanksgiving turkey. “I don’t get it,” I first told her. She had to walk me through the dinosaur-to-bird section and explain that turkeys were ancestors of dinosaurs. A-MAN-EATING-DINOSAUR…GET-IT?, she asked. I did. Finally.

I notice something about Dee. When it’s all of us–me, her, her sister, my husband–Dee is distant. She snaps her answer whenever I ask a question. Yells from the bedroom, WHAT??? Yet when Dee and I are alone together in this fast-disappearing eleventh year (do we only have one more before she officially becomes a teen?) she settles into me. Me into her. We are earth settling into a new period. Shallow seas covering land. Flowering plants for the first time.

Eleven years I’ve had to be a mother. Eleven years of impatience and love. I’ve tried to make memories. Natural History Museum (age eleven and times before). Disney World (age three), Santa Monica Pier (age four). Six Flags too many times now to count. San Francisco, the same. Somehow, though, I know it’s the day-to-day that counts. I worry that I’ve been distant. That she emulates what she sees.

Some day it will be Dee’s own life. Her own eccentricities and values and actions that override everything I’ve stamped onto her. You can scream all you want but you still can’t get off.

I learned today that New Mexico had camels and elephants five to 18 million years ago. Nature–she has her own plan.

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