Aiming to dodge the breast cancer bullet

I started wanting breasts when I was about 11, mostly because all my friends were getting them. I was still rocking an undershirt as they moved into garments that had to actually do some work, and my mother finally swallowed a smile and bought me a bra when I was 12. My sister took one look and said I was just wearing a cut-off undershirt. Maybe, but it had a little bow on the front, and everybody knows when you have a little bow or a rose on your cut-off undershirt you are now a woman.

I should have kept the thing. Two weeks ago, I had a preventative double mastectomy. The ache from losing my mother to breast cancer 14 years ago has never lessened, and when a sister passed 5 months ago from the same thing, I decided to take aim on the disease that has drawn a bead on my family. There was certain a pragmatism to my decision: I am a freelance writer, and I can afford to be dead, but I can’t afford to be sick.

Making the decision was not difficult. We have a medical system which, for all its downfalls, offers lifesaving options my friends to the south can only dream of. I consider the outstanding people at Juravinski Hospital my pit crew – you’re lucky, Hamilton.

Telling my sons was another thing. Breasts are not arms or ears, or some other body part that can be discussed without emotion. As I wrestled with the implication my decision would have on how I felt as a woman, my sons recognized the true paramount concern: they would have to acknowledge their mother had breasts.

“You know, you won’t be able to lift anything,” explained Christopher, 22. True to form, he’d been Googling things and would now take charge of my care. Well, not the actual doing anything part, but the knowing everything part. Previously, if I’d worn a push-up bra when I went out, he’d raise an eyebrow and ask, “gonna get me a new Daddy?” at which point I’d zip up my jacket and feel like a fallen woman.

Ari, 19, learned his lesson in grade 10 when he Googled images for herpes and nearly scared himself blind. He was happy to get his information from me, and relieved that his role would be yard work and running errands. Christer’s girlfriend Pammy, 22, reminded me why it’s nice to have a girl in the house, and my sisters and friends have been spectacular. Food would be dropped off, and I’d hear Ari say, “should we save some for Mom?”

I decided there would be celebration in making a big decision. Together with two great friends and a patient photographer – and wine – I had goodbye to boobs pictures taken on my 50th birthday. I begged for gentle lighting and lamented I was doing this 30 years too late. You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone, said every poet and every songwriter, for a reason. We laughed a lot that night.

I filed work ahead with my newspapers, and took two weeks off from my TV show. I was back writing by day 6, and as I write this just shy of the two week mark, I’m fine. I don’t feel brave, but I do feel strong. My mother didn’t lose to cancer. She fought back with all she had for as long as she could in the face of an unfair fight. I could never put that heart and that hope in the loss column.

There may be less of me, but there is more to me.

Posted in motherlode | 10 Comments

Where yanking your kids out of school for vacation can cost you big bucks

Did you know that in parts of Great Britain, you can be fined if you take your kids out of school to go on holiday? New rules prevent parents taking their children out save for exceptional circumstances, like funerals and illnesses. Of a polled 1000 parents, 22% had already been fined. One man paid £1000 (over $1800). I’m not sure that the point gets made when you have people who can simply write a cheque to get their own way, though how naive of me to think it would ever be otherwise.

This is a touchy subject, which means you know I’m going to go running into it full speed. I’ve heard all the arguments: kids can learn way more outside of school then they ever could within it, I can only get holidays during school and my family should be allowed to have their time together, and my kids are A students, so who cares.

I’d climb on board with those points, if they were the truth. I don’t call Disneyworld an educational holiday, I’ve seen more people who simply don’t want to be part of the scheduled holiday travel crushes, and teachers are still expected to accommodate your A student to keep them being A students.

People admit to lying. I think this just waits to fall apart; kids are lousy at pretending they were at Grandpa’s funeral when Grandpa is alive and kicking. You shouldn’t ask your kids to lie, or ever bear the burden of decisions you make that they have no say in. In that British poll? About half of fined parents just admitted that it’s cheaper to go off season. Money is the first predicator, which I guess is why they introduced the fines: fight fire with fire.

I’ve always looked at school as my children’s job. That is what they are required to do. If I want them to take it seriously, I have to take it seriously. If the message I send is that it’s okay to blow it off, how can I expect them to value it and make the effort to succeed? I’m not talking about an occasional fudged sick day; staying home with Mom or Dad once in awhile when I wasn’t throwing up was heaven. With busy lives or big families, that one-on-one time was an oasis.

I have found myself at odds in debates about this same issue involving sports. I don’t think it’s productive to yank your kids out of school for endless rounds of football games and hockey tournaments. Well rounded children – well rounded people – need all aspects of learning, including sports, the arts and academics. But something has to be the anchor in this equation, and if parents want to start defining curriculums according to their own schedules and requirements, they are no longer part of the collective that is public education. Here’s the sand, draw a line; one size may not fit all, but it never does.

Our education system must do the best for the most, and treating it like a buffet is counter-productive. I get the frustration; I think our schools are failing miserably on many fronts, but the answer doesn’t lie in selectively applying your own standards especially when one of them is an all-inclusive vacation to Cuba. Can travel experiences supply a terrific educational experience? Of course, but not if it’s a sulky teen sitting in the midst of some Greek ruins texting to a friend that everything is falling apart.

Posted in motherlode | 7 Comments

Want your parents to stop butting in? Be careful what you wish for

My father was a voracious reader who never stopped learning. This was an admirable trait. The only hiccup was he never stopped instructing; if Dad found it interesting, you’d better, too. Dad was the master of clippings: he’d see an article he liked, and he’d clip it out. Each week, he’d hand me a stack of news stories and magazines, and random bits of paper. I keep a blog on my website, and I finally realized I am doing exactly what my father used to do, just in a new format. My sister calls me and says stop linking long boring stories on there and just write something funny.

My father wouldn’t have taken to the internet much. He was too hands on, too tactile. The same way he preferred auctions over retail stores, he needed to be part of the process, not just an end user. My mother on the other hand, would have been in her glory. She could have kept up on news from her British homeland; she could have posted pics of grandkids; she could have found new knitting patterns.

But mostly, she would have used it to scout coupons.

Initially, sales, coupons and rebate offers (and preferably a trifecta of those things) were her secret to managing a large family on a budget. As time went on, it instead became a challenge. Mom had a super-organized system that took advantage of every nook and cranny of a deal. I used to make fun of her, until I moved out. Then, bags of toothpaste and shampoo, soup and soap would show up while I was at work. Cheques for ten bucks, twenty bucks would arrive in the mail, as she looped through our addresses snapping up rebates. She only played at the big tables.

Back then, you had to send in UPC codes as proof of purchase. Nothing in my house had a UPC code on it. Every item I removed from a cupboard had the square neatly removed. Mom would babysit, and together with Christopher, they’d clip the UPC codes from Kleenex and Tetley tea boxes. He may have still been potty training, but he knew what a UPC code was.

Once, he decided to help without Grandma. He removed every label from every can in the cupboard. He did it quietly. We had surprise dinner for a few weeks, as I explained to him that this is what happened when Mommy didn’t know what was in the cans.

I would stop by the house and there would be a stack of things for me to take home. Diapers, detergent, peanut butter, all bought at miracle prices. Dad would take a narrow liquor store bag and carefully put a few tomatoes, an onion and a head of garlic in it, whatever the garden was offering up. It would be sitting on a stack of articles about a battle in WWI he’d mentioned, a new slug species discovered in Bolivia and how gamblers at casinos counted cards.

I would get home exhausted, hauling things in from the car with one kid on my hip, another fussing in his baby carrier. The tomatoes would escape from their bag and I’d sigh and wonder why Dad couldn’t just use a real bag. I’d change a diaper, hoping Mom would find a deal on wipes the next week.

Looking back, I realize all of these things were just mooring lines. Tethers that kept me linked to something bigger, something more important. I wish I’d said more often they weren’t silly, and they weren’t boring.

I miss it.

Posted in motherlode | 12 Comments

So that’s where I left the hose: spring comes to town

I bet you’re happy to see the snow melt. I’m not. That snow has been hiding a lot of things I didn’t want to think about, and now must.

I was out closing the shed doors one afternoon because the stick that holds the handles together crumbled and I had to replace it. Sticks are cheaper – and handier – than a new hasp. I glanced up at the corner of my house and sighed. I could see the edges of some shingles. It looked like someone had shuffled a deck of cards and not put them neatly back together. It’s two stories up, so I couldn’t see much more.

We have one of those TV antenna towers by that corner of the house. My father, in a fit of cheap, yanked the cable service one time to teach them a lesson. I think they’d jacked it to seven dollars a month, which my father decided was usury. A friend offered to put up a tower, at which point my mother stopped speaking to that friend. In it went and my mother was stuck dialing a box to try to get Dynasty to come in through a field of snow and static.

The day after Dad was gone, Mom called the cable company.

I should take the tower down, but it’s become a really useful way to climb up to the roof. I’ve been told it will entice burglars, but not only is there someone awake here around the clock; the only thing I would miss would be a stack of Steinbeck novels I’ve painstakingly acquired from second hand book stores and my good vegetable peeler. I don’t think either of these things is on most burglars’ hit lists, though if they were, I’d probably invite them to stay for dinner.

Christopher, 22, was in charge of tidying up the yard last fall. The conversation was short.

“Go clean up the yard,” I told him.

“Huh? How?”

“You need to pull the dead stuff from the garden, give everything a good rake, put the hose away and turn the planters.”

“Rake what?”
Ari, 19, came home from school one weekend and the two of them got the leaves out. Since being away at school, this boy has come to appreciate me in a whole new way. It’s remarkable, even if it’s not particularly contagious. They soon found a football and started throwing that around instead. Watching them play catch with Michael from across the street, I stood in the window all weepy that my babies had grown up. I totally forgot they were supposed to be doing yard work, which I’m sure was part of their diabolical plan. It snowed that night. The winter that would not end made soft lumps out of everything Christopher didn’t get to, which was essentially everything.

The demise of the snow revealed crud that should have been disposed of last fall. The only way I know what kind of garbage day it is, is by seeing what everyone else is putting out. Last week, I noticed a neighbour had an old table out, which meant I could toss some big stuff. It was also garden waste day, so I tried desperately to cram paper bags full of last year’s mess. I cut my finger, and waited until there was a lot of blood before coming in the house. In a voice weakened by injury, I told Christopher to go finish up. Two can be diabolical.

There’s a to-do list on the counter. I think we’re both waiting for Ari to get home.

Posted in motherlode | 2 Comments

Chores, gender and the myth of the work/Life balance

A study recently released by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) took a look at the mystical work/life balance of people in the 34 countries among its membership, including Canada. This respected multinational organization has spent 50 years tracking everything from pension systems to chemical, agricultural and living standards. It has access to data it can crunch and define who we are as a nation, and compare that to others.

This study whacks away at that old chestnut about paid and unpaid work; it arrives at the fact that worldwide, women are working more paid hours than ever before, but generally, men aren’t picking up the slack in unpaid work that still must be done. Who spends more time facing down stubborn bathtub rings, and who plays video games? Who sorts out dentist appointments, and who considers watching their own kids, “babysitting?” Who does the shopping, the sports, the sleeping and the sweeping?

Most of the results show a trend to a better balance, at least in Canada, between men and women. Oh, men are still apparently finding more time to watch TV and dodge scooping litter, but while recognizing that we have to start gathering data somewhere, I have two distinct problems with these studies.

The first? They measure quantitatively, not qualitatively. If I spend two hours scrubbing floors, it is two hours where I envision this is what hell has waiting for me when I get there. I hate it. Every time, it feels like eight hours, and I’m always shocked when I look at the clock. When I spend two hours cutting the yard, I feel like I’ve tackled nature to her knees while receiving a good workout at the same time. I’ve spent two hours not being able to hear the dog yapping two yards away, or anyone yelling for me. This is heaven. So, this two hours does not equal those two hours.

I’d rather fold laundry for half an hour than empty the dishwasher in five minutes. I’d rather wash dirty pots than make dinner, though I know people who find cooking relaxing. Shouldn’t that count under their fun budget in these surveys? It might take me two minutes to sew on a button, but I’d rather weed the garden. And I’d rather scrub those floors than go grocery shopping.

Which leads to my second problem: we all knew (or should have known) who we were teaming up with when we got into this mess. Sorry. Marriage. If your delightful bride considers takeout menus a kitchen fixture, chances are good the ghost of Julia Child won’t be visiting any time soon. If that lovely man-child stares at the washing machine and says, “where does the money go in?”, you’re on your own. Do yourself a favour before you set up your gift registry; remember that human beings are highly averse to change.

I’ve found relationships that work don’t split duties along lines that fit well into surveys. Instead, they’ve established their own rhythm that reveals something done of your own volition is less likely to warrant keeping score. The second someone says, “I called your mother last week” or “it’s your turn to do soccer practice”, you’ve become something more like squabbling siblings. This does not equal that.

Working a relationship and running a home is much like two captains picking players for a team. You take turns nabbing what you like best, then evenly sort out the less desirable options. Think even that method can hand you a dud card?

Try doing it with just one captain.

Posted in motherlode | 4 Comments

Making room for the new kid

PeeCeeWe have a new kitten. Well, technically she’s about 10 months old now, but next to Maggie and JoJo – 13 and 11 years respectively – she still has her pin feathers. She is beyond adorable, an explosion of energy and curiosity. Maggie and JoJo hate her.

The naming process has been complicated. Initially her name was Pam’s Cat. Christopher’s girlfriend Pammy took one look at this little grey and white tabby and announced it would be her cat. That means I’d be allowed to pay for vet bills and food, but Pammy would take care of petting and cuddling her.

Her name was soon shortened to P.C. Or PeeCee. Which became Little Pea, because I didn’t want to call a cat Pee, even if you couldn’t tell how it was spelled when you said it. After a couple of weeks, Pam took to calling her Pip. She squeaks, and she is a soprano. Before she yells, she bangs her eyes shut as if that helps her hit the high notes. A week later, Pam was calling her Pipster the Hipster. This cat will need a shrink before she needs a vet.

Maggie and JoJo did not ask for nor want a little sister, though she has had a good affect on both of them. JoJo now has someone chasing her around and has lost some weight. Maggie now has someone trying to steal her food and has finally gained some. Pea is oblivious to the turmoil she leaves in her wake, and believes she lives in a house of love.

Maggie is like an old dowager, and has refused to even eat near the intruder. I now must put down three separate bowls at exactly the same moment, though Maggie runs under a table to sit in a box for hers. We call this Table for One.

I’d forgotten what it’s like to have a baby in the house, and have had to adjust to the early mornings. For years, the cats got up when I did; now, each morning by 6:30 there is an Indy race taking place under my bed. Pea and JoJo chase each other on the hardwood, doing their best to avoid the eight or so steel legs that support it. Jumping on the bed – and me – is timeout, apparently, which only starts a new game we call Death From Above. Maggie continues sleeping and hating.

No matter what mood a household is in, there is nothing like the magic of a kitten. I’ve always said you can’t be mad holding a handful of something so guileless yet so needy, and many arguments have been ended by plunking a feline on the angriest participant.

If the other two yell, Pea joins them, not quite sure why but wanting to fit in. She steals their favourite sleeping spots and remains astonished when she gets a smack for her efforts. At first I couldn’t put my finger on what was perched on the outskirts of my memory, and then I did: this is Ari, 3 years younger than Christopher, chasing after him and his friends when 3 years was a lifetime. Today they share many of the same interests, and the cries of, “Mom, make him get lost!” have long faded.

The kicker is that Pea was rescued last fall, and she’s fought for real survival, not just the cushiest blanket. She is smart, even after spending an hour each morning ramming her tiny head into the steel pillars beneath my bed. I caught Maggie and Pea sleeping inches apart the other day.

Maybe we don’t have to make her get lost.

Posted in motherlode | 12 Comments

Why will I age gracefully? Because I’m too lazy to fight it

My eyelids do a funny thing now. If I put on eye shadow and don’t arch my eyebrows in comic disbelief, the whole eyelid itself moves with the brush; there is no smooth sweep of colour happening, as the ads on TV would have me believe. I have baggy eyelids. The worst part of this is the realization that when it happened to my mother, I would do her makeup and assure her everything was fine, though all the time wondering if this is how old people turned out. It is.

I thought I was doing just fine, adapting with some degree of grace to the changes handed down by Mother Nature and Father Time. The ads that pop up on my computer and messages that stalk me in the media have a different take on things, apparently. I’m not doing well; not doing well at all.

The recent Academy Awards were a hotbed of full frontal comments on how people age. The women were slid under a microscope as soon as they hit the red carpet, one wrong camera angle sending the message boards into fits wondering if that really was a double chin or a crow’s foot. Poor Kim Novak showed up at age 80 with her skin stretched over her face like an artist’s canvas, and two headlines blazed: who the hell is Kim Novak, and what has she done to her face? She was once a movie star, though her last noted hurrah was on the night-time soap Falcon Crest in the 1980s. It’s sad that she’s rendered herself unrecognizable, but it’s sadder still that she felt the pressure to do it.

Who got it right? Bill Murray got it right. Thinning white hair flying, liver spots adorning a craggy lived- in face, it took many several moments to figure out who he was. It’s a no-win situation, but Bill Murray does not give a damn what you think of his appearance. How I love Bill Murray, but how I hate that women don’t get the same pass.

Depending on what you use your computer for, magic gnomes will start programming featured ads to helpfully sort you out. A group of us have contests over whose offerings are more insulting; I think the winner was my 30-year-old single friend invited to a senior’s dating site, though another being asked to join a class action lawsuit about transvaginal meshes ran a close second. We’re all aware these ads are triggered by links we read and topics we discuss. I make so many jokes about cowboys that no fewer than 4 dude ranches have sent me their vacation packages. I told my friends they would be wise to follow what I talk about, because the ads are much prettier.

What’s creepiest? When the ads move away from your interests and make assumptions based on your age. Of course I’ll want to know all about Botox and fillers; here is a full list of the plastic surgeons in my area. Seemingly overnight, I’ve gone from needing sleep away camps for my sons to Centrum Silver.

I’m mostly inundated with pictures of darling boots, always my size, always my style. I don’t need any more boots, but the same way I can always be tempted, ads that offer to offset my shortcomings can produce a low buzz level of anxiety. Do I really need to click on a magic pill that will give me washboard abs when I’m sitting in bed downing Cheesies and wine?

Forget it. I’m just going to haul my baggy eyelids to a dude ranch.

Posted in motherlode | 15 Comments

The interview: education, work history, hobbies…bad habits?

If you saw an ad containing the phrases “non- smokers only” or “non-smokers preferred”, you’d probably think you were perusing a dating site, or maybe rental housing. What if it was, in fact, a job listing?

A recent article in the Toronto Star relates that it’s happening. The law mandates you may not be able to smoke on the job, but so far, it hasn’t extended its tendrils to whether you do on your own time. Is it time for a change? Should companies be able to pick and choose whom they hire based on whether they smoke or not?

I get migraines triggered by scents. I hate smoking. I also hate perfume. But if we’re going to get right down to it, what about people who spend their work day nattering on the phone when there is work to be done, those who whistle, hum or belch as if they’re alone, those who decide Facebook is part of their job description, and those who show up to work too drunk or hung-over to be of any use? I work alone, so if I do any those things, only my cats can rat me out. But I’m also the one who pays the price.

The article cites a Conference Board of Canada report that quantifies the accumulated time that smokers use to duck out for a break: $3800 a year in lost productivity. In a work setting where people must function together as part of the same machinery, having one cog consistently out of place impacts all the rest. But it strikes me as shooting fish in a barrel to pick on smokers. Wasting time – losing productivity – was hardly invented by them.

“But smokers cost the benefit plan more,” some might argue. Well, maybe, but if I have six kids who all need braces and glasses, I’ll probably cost the plan even more. Should we be allowed to discriminate in the hiring process by asking how much your blood pressure meds cost? What your family history of cancer is? If you think you might suffer a depressive episode in the coming years?

Soon after my divorce, I sat across from a prospective employer. I was desperate for the job. We’d reached that stage of the interview where on paper, everything checked out. Looking at me, he hesitated.

“My tubes are tied,” I sighed. I hated myself for saying it, but I knew it was the last hurdle. I got the job, and I’ve never stopped feeling ashamed for believing – knowing – I’d let down all women. I got fired less than a year later; the job was never a good fit, nor was I. That’s what we both got for judging a book by its cover.

If you work on the 50th floor of an office tower and you take off for a smoke every hour, resentment is going to build, but lax policy is as much to blame as the smoker. If you chat to your co-worker about your wedding plans for half the day, you’ll engender the same level of irritation.

A lot of productivity is lost in the job place for a lot of reasons; I think the inventor of FreeCell takes first prize. But enabling people to discriminate against what you do outside of the workplace – or inside the rules within it – is dangerous. If this is to be the new standard in hiring practices, I think employers should be prepared to fling open their own medicine cabinets and hard drives.

Don’t be fooled by the cover.

Posted in motherlode | 9 Comments

The Sommerfeld method of counting sheep. A little stinkier, but more effective

I planted this year’s garden last night. Really. It took a long time, but I was methodical and careful, making sure to correct last year’s mistakes, while still experimenting with some new vegetables. I even put in a small herb patch, though that could lead to cooking, an endeavour that rarely ends well.

When my brain is spinning and all I want is sleep, my go-to, last chance, desperate measure is to organize something in my head to distract me from the fact I can’t organize anything in my life.

I put in a vegetable garden last year, and last night, despite the blanket of snow it now lies beneath, I mentally put in another one. I raked and pulled the forgotten remains and I took a pitchfork and worked sheep manure into the earth. I’ve never actually done this, but I watched my father do it for enough decades that I’m pretty sure I could master it. It went quite well in my head, so well I could smell it and did a quick edit. Most people just count sheep; why do I make everything more work?

I made a mental list of what I should grow this year. What worked, what didn’t, what should be moved. I considered making it larger, and, liking this idea, I proceeded to pull out the bricks that form a wall around my small garden, and grabbed the shovel to begin widening it. This was hard work, but once accomplished, I put the bricks back. I needed more from the side of the house, and I was glad once again that my inability to achieve much meant I also hadn’t gotten rid of them. Even in my slightly suspended state, I could hear my own voice saying, “you never know when you’ll need them” and I swear it blended with my father’s.

The tomatoes took me by surprise last year, shooting up fast. I hadn’t been prepared to stake them, and the result was a mess. Not so this year; as I returned the tools to the shed (because I’m very tidy in my imaginary world), I noted the stakes sharpened and ready to go. A ball of soft twine was sitting on the shelf next to them, because that is exactly where it should be.

I surveyed the perfectly turned earth before me, wishing Dad were here to direct this show. I carefully put the seedling pots where I thought they should go. Last year’s random poking and plugging produced exactly what it sounds like it did: a random mess. I hesitated over the cantaloupe plant. Last year a sprawling vine that captured half of my garden produced just one perfect melon. Because I was also putting in squash this year, I wondered if it was worth handing over so much space to a four dollar plant that produced a single one dollar fruit. That a racoon ate. I set that aside for another night.

It is these kinds of decisions that force all other noise from my head. Dozens of details and even imagined physical labour sooth the relentless racket. It’s hard to worry about other things when you have an entire garden to prepare before you lose the light.

It must have worked; it usually does. I can’t imagine writing, or else I have to get up to write things. I can’t imagine people, or they’ll infiltrate my dreams and I can’t control them the way I do plants.

I got my insomnia from my Dad, and in a roundabout way, I got the solution from him, too.

Posted in motherlode | 9 Comments

Maybe not large, but still in charge

When Christopher, now 22, was about 15, I noticed a change in his behaviour toward me. Already towering over me, he’d amble past and catch me in a bear hug. With my feet high over the floor, he’d laugh and call me Little Mom, even –especially – if someone was watching. I would sternly tell him to put me down, but when your feet are dangling uselessly and your arms are clamped to your sides, you lose a little of your authority and most of your dignity.

I can tell if Ari, 19, calls and has friends within earshot. He conducts his side of the conversation like he’s called an insurance hotline.

“This is Ari. I was just wondering if you knew the next time you might be headed up this way, and if I could arrange a ride home,” he will ask.

“I love you, baby! Are you eating okay? Did you remember your gloves? It’s supposed to get even colder. How come you never call me very often anymore?”

“This is why.”

Both went through their thorough aversion to public hugs, at least by their mother. Christopher was a Velcro kid at preschool – the teacher would firmly peel him from my arms as I walked away weeping while he forgot me by the time he got to the sand table. Ari was far easier, though he also spent the first three years of his life believing his name was Just a Minute.

When I take Ari back up to school, he stuffs the back of the car with laundry and groceries. Every time, I offer to help him schlep everything to his room. He has to go through three doors and down a long hallway. He’ll glance around, consider the four trips it will take without my help, and usually acquiesce. I pretend I don’t see him moving swiftly ahead, eyes tracking back and forth looking for landmines, or someone he knows. I’ve also, however, discovered how to get a hug.

“Well, I guess that’s the last load,” I’ll say, standing in front of him. “Want me to help you put things away and tidy up?”

I get a big hug every time as he waltzes me out the door. He thinks he’s won.

They both know more than I do. They maintain the computers, buy their own clothes and often do the grocery shopping. They don’t need me to tell them when it’s garbage day and nobody cries when I drop them off at school.

As we finished up some errands last week, Christopher announced he would like to try a certain beer. Christopher does not drink beer. “I’ll just get a six pack. Wait. I don’t have my debit card,” he said, looking at me.

“I’ll loan it to you. How much?”

“I dunno.”

I rarely buy beer, so I just opened my wallet and pulled out several of those new plastic bills I hate so much. “Here.” I stuffed them at him.

“’I would like to buy some beer, please, I have this many monies,’” he said in a tiny voice, making fun of me.

“Shut up. It’s that or nothing.”

Ten minutes later, he emerged with a box of beer, looking sheepish.

“I thought you were only getting six.”

“I asked for six, and they didn’t carry a six pack. The guy asked me what I wanted to do. I actually just opened my wallet and showed him how many monies I had, and he said I had enough for a twelve,” he laughed. “I felt like a little kid.”

Still my little kid.

Posted in motherlode | 16 Comments