play it again: overheard under the Big Top #99

Because it was fourteen years ago which means we have children who have no clue whatsoever what the date September 11 means to so many people even if life goes on and sometimes they ask why.

Originally published September 9, 2011

While watching, as a family, a 9-11 ten years later piece on tonight’s evening news:

Daniel: Why is everyone so sad on the news?

Mom: Well, everyone is remembering a terrible, scary day that happened ten years ago.

Daniel: What happened?

Mom: I’m not really sure why but there were some people who hated everything about the United States and one day they decided to attack our country. On the day that they attacked us almost 3,000 people in the United States died that day.

Daniel: (eyes widen) Wow! That is terrible. Was it scary?

Mom: Yes. Yes it was. It was a very scary day that day. It was also a very sad day. A very scary and sad day that we all stop and remember every year because so many people were killed that day.

Daniel: Did we catch those mean people?

Mom: We’ve tried. Our country went to war because of the attacks that day. We still are at war…for better or for worse…We caught some of them.

Daniel: Good!

Mom: Yes, but now is a time to remember the people who died that day. There were so many people who were going home or going to work or going off on an adventure who had no idea that there were people who were at the same moment planning to kill them and planning to hurt the United States. Now is the time to stop and remember every single person who was killed that day. They are why people are sad and why people are talking about that day right now.

Daniel: (hugs me)

This is the very first conversation I have had with my son, who was born five months to the day after September 11, 2001.

How are you talking to your children about the attacks on September 11 and the aftermath?

kids are assholes


It had to be said.

Sure they are cute…too-too cute. But they rob us of our sleep, our bodies, our patience, our sanity and then they grow. They grow up much too fast.

From this adorable, cuddly, cuteness…

To this still adorableness but oh-so opinionated and exhausting human being.

Then before you can even begin to catch up on the years of lost sleep, they rip your heart out as they pack up all their prized possessions and with the help of their very best friends, load it all up and celebrate…yes, celebrate because they are moving…moving more than 700 miles away.

Oh yes they did!

She hasn’t been gone 12 hours and I am missing her much too much. So I shut her bedroom door, took the cat to the groomer, went for a long run, ran all kinds of errands and…

missed her all the more.

Don’t imagine that yours will grow up much, much too fast before you are ready? Scroll back up and look at those first two photos. Don’t blink, don’t pause because those adorable little assholes whom we adore more than anything in the world won’t wait.

poolside chatter

Sometimes the most challenging conversations with your child are the times when you are least expecting it. On a long drive down Highway 17 as the sun is setting, the kid is going to ask questions about sex…because you driving down a twisty, winding mountain highway is not nearly challenging enough. Or when you are gripping tightly to the steering wheel while driving up Interstate 5 in a windstorm it will be the perfect time to ask why their grandmother, your Mommy Dearest, never calls or writes or visits. So it would follow that while you are lounging by a hotel pool, your son will float up to you and pose a question that is guaranteed to make you sweat…not because it is over 100º even as the sun is setting…not because you are experiencing your usual round of hot flashes that come without warning and literally leave your hair and clothing soaked…if only! Nope. He floats up to the edge the pool where you are lounging, smiles and…

Hey Mom, I was wondering…do you think my biological parents loved me?


So begins one of those hard conversations, the ones that make you sweat. Still I can’t shy away because this is Daniel discovering his story. He already knows our story of when he completed our family circus and it is a great story; he’s the first one to tell you that. But as he begins to discover who he is, as all children do as they grow up, part of that self-discovery includes his story before he joined this circus.

Do you think that they loved me?

So , taking a deep breath, I tell him yes. Because I was his nurse the day that he was born, I am privy to some of the more intimate details of his parents and his biological mother’s pregnancy.

Yes, son. I am absolutely certain that your biological parents loved you so much while they were pregnant with you.

Big tears fill his eyes as he slowly sucks in his breath. I hold myself back from reaching out to hold him tight. I wait. I wait to let him guide this narrative like I have learned too many times the hard way to do with the hard conversations with all of my kids. He exhales then meets my eyes.

But I was so, so tiny and so, so sick and they were afraid so they asked for someone to be brave for me like you and Dad. Right?


But they did love me?


He looks away discreetly wiping away the tears then looks back at me and smiles widely.

I’m glad that they loved me.

Me too, son.

Then he reaches out to hug me, hug me so very tight. Now I’m the one fighting back the big tears filling my eyes. I know that I was brave enough to be his mommy when he was so, so tiny and so, so sick in the NICU; but god help me, I need to even braver for conversations like this because I am certain that there will be more to come. I’m thinking that for now, I will avoid drives on mountain highways with him alone in the car…for now.

kids, here are 10 things I may or may not have told you

You made me cry…a lot

Hollie and me – 1987. No apologies for the hair and glasses because 1987.

I wanted that last piece of pie…cake…cookie

Hollie, Zoë and me, 1992. Yes, those are matching Christmas sweaters. A gift. Funny how my darling husband didn’t receive one.

It hurt.

Hollie, Zoë, Abby and me, 1994. One child might never forgive me for this picture.

I was always afraid…still am…don’t judge, especially if you are not my child.

Hollie, Zoë, Abby, Jodie and us, 1996. Apparently we didn’t realize just how busy we were then as people told us ALL THE TIME that “we must be busy.

I know that I am not perfect.

And the Family Circus is completed, 2002. Also the year where any doubts of me being a perfect Mother were solidly squashed. Have a teenager and you will understand.

I watched you as you slept…still do.

Hollie, 1990

I carried you a lot longer than nine months.

Zoë, 1998

It broke my heart every time you cried.

Abby, 1997

I put you first.

Jodie, 1999

I would do it all over again…times five…to the infinity power.

Daniel, 2008

Kids, I can’t begin to express my gratitude that I get to be your Mother, Mommy, Mom, times five…to infinity and beyond.

I thank you all for calling me Mama, Mommy, Mom, Mommy Dearest, OMG-Mom, Mother; and, thank you , for needing me, teaching me, forgiving me, loving me, accepting me, modeling me and, most of all, amazing me because I get to say that I am Mom to these five remarkable people.

BONUS!! I have to say that I must be a pretty okay mom because these two perfectly, exquisite children  call me Mima…and give the best hugs.


no weasels were teased in this post

You can knit a kitten mittens
And perhaps that cat would purr.
You could fit a fox with socks
That exactly matched his fur.
You could make a goat a coat with a collar trimmed in mink
Or give a pig a wig
In a dainty shade of pink.
But never tease a weasel;
This is very good advice.
A weasel will not like it
And teasing isn’t nice!

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away called Mooncrest I literally read this book so many times that I had memorized it.

Never Tease A Weasel was a favorite of my brothers and sister. There were so many reasons to love this book in both the words and images. Bold, bright colors and wonderful rhymes that clearly paint a picture of all the reasons why we should never tease a weasel because it’s fun to be friends with a weasel instead. Yes, I read this to Randy, Billy and Valerie so many times to the point that the eminently repeatable refrains did become a part of  my familiar quotations.

A very familiar Mom-quote especially for this Fab Four. Growing up, they heard far too many times that they should never tease a weasel…or a sister…because teasing isn’t nice. And they often would roll their eyes because honestly Mom what does a weasel have to do with me teasing my sister anyway? Years later it has become a memory the four of them share and often laugh about…their mom telling them not to tease a weasel (there I’ve said it thrice!). Where in the world did that come from really they wondered out loud recently?

So of course I had to find the book because my grand babies need to learn that it is okay to knit a kitten mittens, give a moose some juice or bake a drake a cake…along with understanding that teasing is not nice.

If only I could find the original 1964 edition that doesn’t cost $30-60 or more.