Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is God Real?

“Mom, is god real?”

I was just settling in under the covers with Dixon. Delaney was cuddling Sneezie, our new kitty, who we just got yesterday. I don’t know what made her think of it. Perhaps touching the cat. Perhaps the imminent arrival of Christmas.

But tonight, it came out of the blue. And it came from Delaney, as most of the deeper questions do.

“Whoa, that’s an interesting question,” I said, turning over to face her. “What do you think?”

Friday, December 3, 2010

How to Celebrate Chanukah Without Burning Your House Down

It’s been my week for trying to do new, unfamiliar things. It took me two days to add a subscription service to this blog. I’ll post something on that in a day or two. Suffice it to say I was a little frustrated when I picked them up from school. And when Delaney suggested that since it’s Chanukah, we should cook something from her children’s “Jewish Holidays Cookbook,” I should have known better. But I said yes. I thought it would be fun.

I thought wrong.

See, the problem with Chanukah is it’s a story about oil. Heated oil. Lighted oil. Lasting longer than it was supposed to. And all of the foods associated with Chanukah are oil based. Potato Latkes (which have always tasted to me like what I imagine a mouthful of hot liquid rubber would taste like), homemade doughnuts, and schmaltz. (It’s a real thing; not just a fun word meaning “corny and melodramatic.”)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Delaney's Cat

Every year for the last three years, about a month or two before their birthday, Delaney starts asking for a cat. At first I said no. I was just getting used to being a single mom. I didn’t want to add another thing to the mix. Then I said we could get a cat if I could name her or him Crookshanks. Delaney did not like that. She argued. It was going to be their cat, she and Dixon should be able to name it. I said I was going to be paying for the cat, buying all of the things cats need and feeding it regularly. I should get naming rights.

This works for sports stadiums. It does not work for 6-year-olds.

And, of course, I was counting on that.

But this year, as she and her sister approach their eighth birthday, she’s a bit more mature. And, apparently, incredibly focused and resourceful. She can read and write. So—to my horror—she can surf the web. She Googled cats, which led her to Petsmart, which has an entire area devoted to animal shelter partners with cats to adopt. She spent the morning looking through a variety of felines, narrowing the parameters (“Long or short hair, mom?”) and taking notes on the ones she liked best. Then she started looking at cat accoutrements, eventually handing me a list of 16 items that cats need—and their cost—assuring me that she looked through all the different cat bowls and chose the cheapest one.

Methinks we’re getting a cat.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Delaney's Blog

Delaney started a blog this Thanksgiving weekend. One of the things she put in the “about me” section was that she is a twin. I found this amusing, given all the times she walks around saying, “I hate my sister.” She also wrote that that she has two moms. That actually did surprise me. She’s fine with having two moms. But she doesn’t always want to tell people. She declined, though, to explain that her two moms do not live together anymore.

We’ve been talking about the blog for a couple of weeks—ever since she wrote a story about her life. She and her best friend, Ava, are starting a publishing company. They even made signs, listing each story for four dollars. Dixon was supposed to be part of it, too, but she came upstairs and said to me, somewhat distressed, “Mom, I don’t want to be a writer.” I hugged her and told her she could do or not do anything she wants. But I also secretly thanked their scientist sperm donor. At least one of my kids has a fighting chance of not being some sort of artist.

Delaney, I’m afraid, is doomed. And, yet, I still find a little glimmer of hope.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Single Parenthood

OK, I know parenting is hard. But I’m really tired of people with partners complaining to me that they have to be single parents for a day or two.

They have no idea.

The thing about single parenthood isn’t the big stuff. It isn’t the talks you have about how to navigate friendships. It isn’t teaching them the discipline of homework or piano practice. It isn’t talking about god or science or the whole Quinn/Finn/Puck pregnancy thing in Glee. It’s not about pausing the TV in the middle of Twilight to explain that we should be wary of pop culture that teaches women to be attracted to dangerous men. It’s not even about being gay, or why you and Uma split up, or who their sperm donor is.

No, the thing about single parenthood is the relentlessness of the little stuff.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Sandwich

By Carrie Kaufman, copyright 2001

It was the sandwich that made me take the drugs.
The shmear of peanut butter
The dribble of grape jelly
The papier mache white bread left over from Thanksgiving,
The crusts cut off carefully, so he wouldn’t roll his eyes and have to do it himself, later.

The sandwich and the morning sun
Made me take the drugs.
The not-yet-seven-when-I-don’t-get-up-till-8:30 morning sun streaming in through our kitchen windows
Illuminating his face
Animating my hands
Refracting possibilities in my lover’s eyes
As I spread and cut and bagged and hummed
And thought about taking drugs.

The sandwich and the morning sun and the little boy made me take the drugs.
The sly smile I have known for six years
The compassionate heart that defies my eyes to stay dry
The large, soft hands that hold mine when he sits next to me in the car.
The boy who loves me.
The boy whom I love, perhaps more than anyone.
The boy who is not mine, though we have both pretended, from time to time.

The sandwich and the morning sun and the little boy and his mother’s imminent return, made me take the drugs.
I wanted this to last forever
Would gladly skew my day earlier
To make sandwiches for my child
To have breakfast talk with my child
To send my child off to school with a perfunctory kiss
And tear up as I watched him run through the playground to join his friends.

So I’m taking drugs.
And I’m popping eggs like they’re going out of style
I am fertile.
And carrying around cannisters that look like R2D2
With tubes of stuff that half of you will likely produce tonight. For free.
So I can get up early and talk and cry and make sandwiches in the morning sun,
Every day.

The New Oppression of Gay Marriage

November, 2008 (just after the presidential election)

When one group is oppressed, we are all oppressed. That was the lesson I learned from the Holocaust. Germans turned their eyes when Jews were stripped of their rights. They spat at the Gypsies who were rounded up. They laughed when the faigelah son of their next door neighbor was taken away. They started to worry when their “correct” neighbors disappeared, and they started to lose their own freedoms of movement and association. Then they couldn’t move at all, and they wondered how they got there.

Barak Obama is going to be president of the United States. When California closed its polls and Obama was announced the winner, tears sprang spontaneously to my eyes. Then I saw that Jessie Jackson, and Oprah, had them, too. When Obama spoke of the 106-year-old woman, Ann Nixon Cooper, and all that she has lived through, the floodgates in my eyes could not hold back. This election is truly an historic moment, not just for brown skinned people or for liberals, but for the world. Oppression has been overcome, and our kids are going to grow up not knowing what it was all about.
Well…not all kids.

At the same time that California voters were putting Obama over the top, they were also decisively adding an amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage. According to the tracking polls, Proposition 8 was opposed overwhelmingly by white people, independents and liberals. It was supported overwhelmingly by Christian conservatives…and African-Americans.

This was written a couple of years ago after spending Thanksgiving in St. Louis. The girls were just shy of their 5th birthday.

We’re at my Aunt Rose’s for Thanksgiving weekend. It’s Saturday morning and we’re hanging out before we hit the road this afternoon. Aunt Rose has lots of board games for her grandchildren. Delaney decides she wants to play the Game of Life. Great. We open it up and set out all the mountains and valleys and schools and churches. I read the instructions (believe it or not, I’ve never played the game before) and we pick out our cars. I read that we have to put representative people in our cars, so we open the bag and, to my amusement, there are only pink and blue “people” pegs. We each take a pink.

The game begins and we both take loans to go to college (‘cause I wouldn’t give her the option of starting a career without going to college), and we stop at the red squares and do what they tell us. Delaney gets to “Get Married.” She takes a Life card and dutifully picks out a blue peg and places it next to her in her red car. A few turns later, I hit the same spot. I pick out a pink peg to put next to me in my yellow car.

“You can’t pick a pink one, you have to pick a blue one,” my daughter tells me.

“No I don’t. I can pick any color I want,” I answer.

“No, you have to pick a boy.”

“I don’t want to pick a boy. I want to pick a girl.”

“But you can’t. You have to play boy/girl. See, there’s the picture.” She points to the picture on the game board of a bride and groom.

“But I don’t want to marry a boy. I don’t marry boys. I’ve never posed for that kind of picture in my life.”

“But it’s the rules.”

“I don’t follow the rules.”

“But it’s the rules of this game.”

“I don’t have to follow the rules of this game, either, if I disagree with them.”

She looks at me.

“Look,” I say, “If I followed the rules, you would never have been born.”

She rolls her eyes, shakes her head, then reaches down and spins the wheel.

What a great game of life lesson.