Now as my twin girls take their first steps into adolescence, I find I am sometimes as unprepared and overwhelmed as a new mom — except that instead of colic and problems latching on — seemingly straightforward issues with available solutions and demonstrable results — I worry that my response to the occasional eye-roll will land them in therapy, or that their schoolyard squabbles will lead them to worse. Already, we’ve had tears over mean-girl stuff and at least one conversation in which I heard my own mother’s voice say, “Really, you’re wearing that?” Again I feel as I did when I first brought them home: “How do I not screw this up?” I want to raise happy, confident girls, but how?
Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention tells the oldest story in the world, a story familiar to anyone who has read the Old Testament, Greek myths, or Shakespeare’s tragedies. It’s the story of a wayward, willful child and a parent driven to desperation, a story of full-force collision between an older generation’s best intentions and a younger generation’s intractable resistance.
Tomorrow Grace will turn six. Six years ago today I was waiting for my life to begin, although the life I was waiting for and the life I got turned out to be two entirely different things. Six years ago today I was watching my sister weed the garden and repaint an old family rocking chair for the baby’s room. I was napping and peeling beets and swimming in a clear and quiet pond until dark.
Ezra has pica, which is a childhood disorder characterized by compulsive and persistent cravings for nonfood items, such as mud, paper, and dirt. The word “pica” comes from the Latin word for magpie, a bird known for its indiscriminate appetite. Twenty-five to 30 percent of children have pica, and it is most common among those with developmental disabilities like autism, which Ezra has. Ezra expresses his autism in two primary ways: he struggles with language, especially conversation, and he doesn’t eat.
I did not really know what it meant to be a mother until I became one two years ago. And what I learned, in those first desperate weeks, was that motherhood was muteness. After my daughter was born, I did not write for months. My head was choked with silence, broken only by her squalls. […]
One of my favorite Roz Chast cartoons shows a woman in her forties or fifties wearing a flowing baggy dress with a wild hairstyle and clunky jewelry. The words read: Are you entering your “Goddess” years? Have you gotten heavily into herbal teas, especially the “soothing” varieties? Has your husband recently purchased an expensive sports car? What’s with the hair? This cartoon makes me convulse with laughter and cringe with a bit too much recognition. Am I her? Am I that? Is she my future?
In my (relatively) energized second trimester, in between the morning sickness, exhaustion and headaches of the first trimester, and the aches and pains, exhaustion and headaches of the third, I wrote the opening chapters and proposal for a book (part memoir, part lifestyle guide) about yoga philosophy and healthy eating. My hope was to share what I’d come to learn from The Yoga Sutras — an ancient yoga text — about how to lead a healthier, happier life.
I ran feral for five or six years in my early twenties. These are years my family knows little about. Oh, I sometimes share a few impressive incidents here and there: the solo bike ride across France against Le Mistral wind; my year as a topless dancer and drink hustler in San Francisco; that time in Yugoslavia when I picked up a sailor, was stranded on a Croatian island, and got bitten by a bat. And too many of my stories begin with, “I had this one boyfriend who . . .” My daughter Annie just rolls her eyes.
When Groneberg and her husband learned they’d be having twin boys, their main concern was whether or not they’d need an addition to their house. Five days after their sons were born, Avery was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Moment by moment, in chilling detail, Groneberg walks the reader through the experience of learning her son’s diagnosis, the confusion and fear that news brings to her, the other worldly sense that this birth is not turning out to be as she and her husband had dreamed, or expected.
As a new mother, I seek literature that reflects my parenting experiences. Beth Ann Fennelly’s book of poems, Tender Hooks, artfully explores the wrenching beauty and pain of motherhood with humor, tenderness, and a sharp bite, as the title of her book suggests. Despite a few flaws, this is a lovely collection of poems that are unafraid to look at motherhood–and at life–with naked honesty.