I hear Zimbabwe’s nice this time of year.

This morning, I spent some time in Africa.  I had to.  My family’s pace of life has accelerated to infinity these last few weeks and I needed to catch my breath.  So while it was still dark out, I crept out of bed and hopped onto the stairmaster, book and water bottle both in place.  The water was Dasani, and the book:   Don’t Let’s go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller.  It’s about an English girl who grew up with her family amid the civil unrest of Africa.  Oh my three faithfuls, this one’s gonna be a beauty.  The plot will be a little melancholy, I think, but the writing is gorgeous–descriptive, brutal and gorgeous.  The sultry heat and vastness of the outback were exactly what I needed to feel and where I needed to be on this chilly Tuesday morning.  I even needed to hear the drunk mother rant about the necessity of a white-ruled state on the continent.  Somehow, it made missing family prayer last night feel like less of a maternal blunder.

I’m not far into the book, but my mind has already planted itself there until I can get back to it.  Though today I’ll be wading through violin lessons, swim practice and the orthodontist, I’ll really be on the dusty border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, bribing the greasy customs agent with cigarettes and Coca-Cola in order to get through.  If only we had a Banana Republic at our mall.  Then I could really lock myself inside my own head.

Where do you like to go when there’s no place to go?  When the relentless demands of your life consume all of your time, but not all of your mind?  That is the hardest thing about motherhood, I think.  We are so busy most of the time, and yet slightly bored much of the time.  I don’t mean to complain.  Most mothers would rather be nowhere else than with their children, whether that is in the diapers or driving-them-everywhere stage.  We want to mother our children, and no one will dispute the intellectual investment that doing so requires.  But on an immediate, daily basis, that mothering also involves a lot of stop-and-go, hurry-up-and-wait, long slow explanations, and long slow minutes spent listening to long slow explanations.  All of that physical care keeps our hands importantly busy but our heads, sometimes, a little less so.  And sometimes, our brain needs to hang out with someone its own age, somewhere other than the minivan.  That’s why, this week, I’m going to see Mother Africa.

Where do you go when you need to escape the minivan?  Who do you go see?

I’d really love to know.


It’s 3 am I must be lonely.

Do you remember that song by Matchbox Twenty?  I never liked it all that much, but it takes me back to my Portland years and young motherhood, so it’s redeemed.  Soft rainy days and my first baby in a tiny apartment.  Ah.

It’s 3am and I’m up.  I don’t know why.  I slept a few hours, then my body said, “We’re done!  Time to start the day.”  My body does this to me on occasion, always without my consent.  I wouldn’t mind it so much if my body did other things without my consent, like shrinking itself two pants sizes or plumping up my ever-thinning lips.  But my body seems interested only in rebelling against sleep, not aging.  (Thanks a lot, body.)

I’m sitting in front of my computer like a warm stick of string cheese.  And though my body is awake, my brain is only half so.  That’s the problem with insomnia; you’re up, but you’re not really up.  If I was really up, I could accomplish something important, like cleaning out my fridge or finishing (okay, starting) The Brothers Karamazov.  Either endeavor would break me out of my sleepy trance, so I sit at my computer instead.  What is it about the computer that’s so mesmerizing?  No, mesmerizing implies drama;  I’d call it pacifying.  I don’t know what it is, but I know that my six-year old son is no dummy.  Staring at this screen beats the heck out of thinking.

The other thing I know is, I can’t sleep.  Maybe insomnia is a subconscious sort of “night out” for the desperately trapped middle-aged mom.  If I can’t go anywhere, I can at least stay up.  Kind of like how poor people are always fat.  Eating is the only fun thing they can do.

I’m afraid that last remark may have been offensive.  But that’s okay, because nobody thinks they’re poor or fat, even though we’re all a little of both.  Besides, it’s now 3:37am and I bear no responsibility for what I might write. Kind of the blogger’s version of “The Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight.”

I’m afraid that last remark may have been offensive.  But this post is now officially boring, so like the editors of Cosmo, I will write anything distasteful to snare a few readers into my dark web.  I’m not above selling out.  Kind of like when I used to bring pastries every week to the Sunday School class of sixteen-year olds I was teaching.  Oh please.  The kids knew I was just trying to dress it up.  Why didn’t I just hang a sign on the door that read “This class is too boring to get through without a muffin and please, please, please like me as your teacher!”  Gag-o-rama.  Just one more memory that makes me happy I’m not still in my twenties.

I’m afraid that  last remark may have been offensive to people in their twenties.  Well, I meant it.  You will do many things in your twenties that will make you cringe when you remember them in your thirties.  But you are cuter, leaner, and have thicker hair than I do right now, so don’t worry too much about it.  Beauty trumps ignorance, every time.  Derrick read me a study once which proved, by and large, that most people become only as smart as they need to.  This explains a lot about hot guys.  I, myself, am not especially hot or smart which–based upon this study–means I’m not especially dumb or ugly, either.  I’ve decided to take the news as a compliment.

So as the years march on and I get less cute, lean, and thick-haired, I apparently need to get a lot smarter to compensate.  Which is why I should be reading one of the bazillion unread books in my pile right now instead of boring you with this blog.  But that would take a bit of intellectual investment, unlike writing this post.  This post, as you may have inferred, has required only a set of fingers, a keyboard, and a body temperature of 98.6.  All things considered, I think it turned out pretty well.  Especially since I’m going to close with this quote from The Brothers Karamazov that I’ve obviously googled in an attempt to make you think I’ve read it:

The stupider one is, the closer one is to reality. The stupider one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is honest and straightforward.

I’d say this post has been pretty honest and straightforward.  Just like me.  Which, according to Derrick’s study, also means I’m pretty hot.


I’m no slouch. (At least I didn’t used to be.)

But I’ve been doing it a lot lately.  Slouching, that is.  At the dinner table, while I’m driving, and especially while sitting at this keyboard day after day in a pathetic attempt to validate my stay-at-home-momness.

Can I just tell you that I used to have perfect posture?  No really.  I hate to brag, but it’s true.  Maybe it was from taking piano lessons when I was young, but I used to sit up straight as a rod at my desk in school, all day long, while my peers slouched and slept beside me.  (I’d tell you that I was also wearing a big pink bow on my head and getting straight As, but that might weaken my credibility.)  I cannot vouch for my grades or obedience as an adolescent, but dang it if I didn’t sit up straight.  Even my teachers commented on it.  For reals.

So why do I catch myself slouching so much lately?  Is it my aging spine, weakening stomach muscles, the inevitable demise of a body reaching middle age?  All good ideas, but actually, I’m pretty sure I slouch because I’m lazy.  Sitting up straight is harder.  On some subconscious level, I-think-that-I-think that all those years of rockin’ posture then have earned me the right to slump a little in my chair now.   This slightly erroneous platform wouldn’t be so dire if I didn’t find it seeping into so many other facets of my life.  Somewhere over the last decade, my high-minded ideals seem to have given way to a lesser settling of sorts.  I’m not sure if this is good or bad, so I thought I’d ask my three faithfuls to help me determine whether I need a course correction in my newfound attitudes.  I’ll break each topic into two categories:  what I thought in my twenties and what I think in my thirties.  Please review, juxtapose, and summarize your position on each in the comment box below.  (Oh, alright, fine.  Just “like” it on facebook, ya big slouch.  I never have any fun.)  Here we go:

20s:  It’ s terribly important!  It’s fascinating.  It’s about who we are, what we believe in, and where we’re going. I need to know what’s happening  every day.
30s:  It’s terribly important and not important at all.  But it is interesting.  Gets fun when an election rolls around, kind of like playoff time.  Headlines are what I have time for most days.

20s:  There is no excuse for letting yourself go.
30s:   There are plenty of excuses for letting yourself go, and good ones at that.  I consider the people I truly admire.  Their fitness level has zilch to do with it.

Decorating my home
20s:  My home is a reflection of my taste, creativity, and artistic eye.
30s:  My home is a reflection of my pocketbook. Get over it. Nobody else has any money, either.

Cleaning my house
20s:  My tidy house indicates my work ethic and homemaking skills.
30s:  My tidy house indicates that my kids have been spending too much time at Grandma’s and I’ve not been spending nearly enough time writing.

20s:  I love to cook for my family! I try new recipes and ingredients all the time. We need to have healthy, interesting family dinners nearly every night.
30s:  I love to cook for my family–when I’m in the mood. The rest of the time, cereal or spaghetti are good.  The kids are growing fine and nobody cares if there’s a side dish.  Really.  Not even a little bit.

How my kids are going to turn out
20s:  I expect my kids get to get straight As, become musically accomplished, intellectually curious and spiritually mature.
30s:  I hope my kids turn out nice, and marry someone nice.  Especially the latter; it’s a always crapshoot, no matter what a parent tries to do.  Don’t tell me you haven’t seen it.

Whether or not I’m happy.
20s:  I need to ask myself, every day, if I’m really happy. I need to make sure I’m happy.  It’s not only normal to be happy, it’s my duty.  Otherwise, I’m lazy/ungrateful/un-spiritual/you name it.
30s:  I don’t have time to check my Happiness Pulse every day, and I’m not all that interested when I do.  Productivity, compassion, and a little fun are what I try to work into my life.  (Read:  a lot of fun, with a little productivity and compassion thrown in for cover.  Who am I kidding?)

So tell me:  Am I getting wiser with age, or are my moral convictions merely weakening like the muscles in my ribcage?  And are any of you experiencing this inverted outlook on life as well?  I gotta tell ya, I’m liking the inverted position a heckuva lot better.  Call it lowering my standards or just getting real; either way, I’m breathing a whole lot easier these days.  And that’s quite an accomplishment, since I’m usually slouching.