All posts tagged: Mom

Honoring the Women in My Maternal Battalion

Technically, my godmother is some white lady. Those three words are literally all I know about her: some, white, lady. And it took some digging for me to even get that little bit of information from my parents. At first, I sent my mom a text message that simply asked, “Who is my godmother?” Her reply: “I can’t remember. Curtis will remember.” So, I called my dad (Curtis) and he said, “I don’t think you have one. I don’t think your mother believed in godmothers.” Then, of course, I called my mom to verify my dad’s theory. And, of course, she disagreed. “That’s not true,” she said. “You have a godmother. Your godmother is some white lady who your father knew when we lived in Baltimore.” [pullquote]Just because we grown-ups don’t need legal guardians doesn’t mean we don’t still need support from people who are more grown-up than we are and who can step in when our parents cannot be there.[/pullquote] I considered calling my father back with the new “some white lady” clue to …

As a Motherless Child, I Was Raised by My Neighborhood

I was a child of the 70s, negotiating an evolving place in society for both my gender and my race. I was born Negro, eventually deemed Black and eventually accepted the term African American. The small South Philadelphia enclave I landed in clung stubbornly to its past, trying against all odds to assure its particular brand of denizens that all would be ok. We were assured by listening to the same music, getting baptized in Grandma’s lifelong church or hanging on corners where doo-woppers harmonized. As a girl, I would sit on my front steps as the summer days were cooled by the constant release of fire hydrant water — human-made fountains of refreshment that streamed on screaming kids and grateful adults. Cold winters were made warm by pots of food from neighbors, followed by gossipy phone calls between friends. But I was born an outsider; a permanent visitor to my ‘hood. I felt different. My arrival into this world came during a tug of war between my estranged parents. My mother, long distrustful of a …

tuenight tattoo annette earling mom

Like Mother, Like Daughter — When it Comes to Tattoos

I present for your entertainment the brief but painful tale of my foray into the world of body modification, and how my seventy-three-year-old mother managed to both steal my thunder and make me feel like a privileged little shit. I got my tattoo later in life, some time around age 41 or 42. It was something that I’d wanted to do for years, but in all that time I had never been capable of settling on an image. There were three basic concepts that scrolled through my mind’s eye, and each one felt powerful, personal and perfect. But three tattoos were two too many for me, and committing to that one-and-only and forever-and-ever was harder — I admit it — than it was to commit to my second husband. I suppose it was because I’d already lived through the pain of divorce, but I’d never experienced anything like laser surgery. The images were simple ones: A ginkgo leaf. A dragonfly. A horseshoe crab. Each represented a time and place in my life and each spoke …

I’m The Embarrassing Parent I Never Wanted To Be

Valerie’s dad in his finest. (Photo courtesy Valerie Medina) You know the look. The I-can’t-believe-you-just-did-that look. The one that makes you feel like no matter how tiny your infraction, your teenager will forever remember this embarrassing moment. The problem is, it’s challenging for me to refrain from breaking into song-and-car-dance when Uptown Funk (or even Funky Cold Medina) comes on the radio. It doesn’t matter if a friend of my 15-year-old daughter’s is in the car, a random cute boy is biking by, or we are at a stoplight with a car full of her peers right next to us — this type of music gets into my soul and beckons me. Yes, I have officially become the embarrassing mom. Anytime my daughter catches a glimpse of this boy on our way to or from school, she reaches over, holds my arm down so I won’t attempt a wave, and says, “Don’t even think about offering him a ride, Mom!” It’s a legacy. Growing up with my dad was like being in a room with …

Mommy Hottest: Why I’m Not Sacrificing My Sexy for My Kids

“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” —Victor Hugo “Stacy’s mom has got it going on.” —Fountains of Wayne Last month, my husband came home after a week of work travel. He brought me this incredible dress from a street market in London — a steampunk mashup of leather and lace with a thin brass chain dangling from the neckline that somehow reads as both sweet and sexual. It’s the kind of completely impractical piece of provocative clothing he knows I adore but would never buy for myself. I went into the bathroom, slipped it on, then walked back into our bedroom. His face lit up. “I love it,” he said quietly, looking at me like I was the only person on the planet. Our two boys, who’d been busy opening the souvenirs he’d brought them, stared at me. “Awkward silence,” the 8-year-old stage-whispered. And then this, from the 12-year-old: “Mom,” he said, “you don’t look like you.” Lately, that’s the problem. Society has finally caught up with the fact …

My Kids Don’t Need Me Anymore and That’s Just Fine

I celebrated my first official Mother’s Day 24 years ago. When I think back on what I loved most about those early days of parenting, what floats to the surface seems both obvious and surprising. It wasn’t how cute my son Nick was, though both he and Peter, the brother who followed two years later, were ridiculously adorable. It wasn’t how delicious their downy heads smelled or how gummy their smiles were or even how incredible it felt to hold their little bodies in my arms. What moved me most about being a mother was how much my children needed me. The fact is that as infants they needed me for everything, and without me, they would not survive. What a sense of power I felt. I had not only given life to these miraculous creatures, I was singlehandedly sustaining them with my nourishment and nurturance. No one has needed me like that before or since. Lots of new moms complain about the infant days, which consist almost exclusively of feedings and diaper changes, carried …

The Plate-Spinning Act of Being a Transgender Parent

A little more than week has passed since Bruce Jenner’s “coming out” interview with Diane Sawyer, which was seen by nearly 17 million viewers. To many of us in the transgender and gender non-conforming community, the interview has come to be viewed as a watershed event of sorts, primarily because it has prompted a conversation about transgender people in all corners of the country. People who may not have previously been interested in transgender issues are now discussing them, whether around the water cooler in the office (do they actually still make water coolers?) or as a part of dinner time conversations at home. I’m making the assumption here that families still do, on occasion, actually share dinner together. Regardless of where they are happening, the fact remains, that they are happening — in greater numbers, perhaps, than ever before. Venues aside, it’s clear that these conversations are contributing to the national narrative and shedding further light on the larger issues of workplace discrimination, homelessness and suicide that continue to plague large segments of the …

Role Reversal: When My Mom Went Back to School

Four days prior to Christmas, I was the idiot running around Target with a cart full of decorations to put up around my home because apparently I need to invest in a calendar to tell me that a major holiday is fast approaching and perhaps I should think about, you know, participating in some way. Here is photographic evidence of my 10 p.m. Friday night shenanigans. Unfortunately there is no selfie of my look of panic as I decided how many strings of lights I needed for a yet-to-be-purchased tree. This past holiday season was the first in which I had to take the lead. There was no mother around to purchase a tree and make sure the cat didn’t try to use it as a jungle gym. She wasn’t there to put out the photos my younger brother and I had taken with Santa or to tell me which ornaments should go where. I don’t know about your mother, but my mother always just made the spirit of Christmas and all that encompasses it …

I Learned To Be a Feminist From My Single Mom

She just stood there, not moving, staring at a closed door. I was standing behind her, having come to the same complete stop as she did. I was confused as to why she wasn’t moving anymore. I was seven. Then it dawned on me: she was waiting for me to open that door for her. She didn’t tell me as such; she showed me. That was my mom. The household I grew up in placed a high premium on manners. There was a way things worked, and it was not to be fucked with. That last sentence, for example, would not have flown in my house. My sister and I were taught all about elbows and tables and sir and ma’am and eye contact and, of course, door holding. Though we resided below the Mason Dixon line, barely (Bethesda, Maryland), this all had nothing to do with Southern concepts of proper behavior. In fact, it had more to do with feminism. I am a feminist. I have been one my whole life, though I didn’t …

Margit’s Note: Are You My Mother?

Last year in our “Mother” issue, we talked about the simultaneously hilarious, humbling and, ok, sometimes irritating experience of turning into our Mothers. This year, we’re honoring the many ways women play the role of Mom— even if you’re not a biological one. Our approaches to motherhood are hotly debated (and, um, there are Dads too!) from a consequence chart to a hearty slap to keep them safe — and if you haven’t read it, read Ylonda Gault Caviness’s piece “What Black Moms Know” in the New York Times. The parenting role ebbs and flows, but our Moms are always our Moms. Contributor Stephanie Battaglino says it best: “As a parent, I have embraced the fact that, as we transition from the active parenting phase of child rearing to a more ‘consultative’ phase, we have to let them go. Our kids need to find their own way and create their own individual reality.” We here at TueNight are all about the diversity of experience, especially as it relates to being a so-called “grown-up.” Being a Mom is no different. So this week, …

Mommy and Mookie: Living Up to Our Nicknames

  I reluctantly befriended my mother on Facebook last month. It was a move I’d resisted for obvious reasons. I regularly fire f-bombs and reveal snippets from weekly sessions with my psychiatrist. Plus, I have a weird phobia that one of these days someone with whom I’ve had sex will tag me in a post about my vagina. And it won’t be euphemistic. In fact, it’ll be horrifyingly accurate. It might even be a selfie that I sent him while we were sexting. I trust that my partners have more discretion than that. But you never know. And when it comes to the fear of social-media humiliation, your mind spirals into worst-case-scenario thinking. And, I mean, we’re all capable of being crazy muthaf*ckas on Facebook. Until a month ago, I’d taken a hiatus from Facebook for nearly two years.  But when I became active again, my mom’s name popped up in my “people you may know” queue. So I sent her a friend request. I should tell you: My mom had sent me a friend …

The End of Small Talk: I Called My Mother Every Day For 30 Days

The first few calls I made to my mother for TueNight’s 30-Day Challenge covered familiar territory: My youngest sister was visiting with her husband, so I filled Mom in on our adventures around New York City. She described the holiday meals she’d prepared back in California. We expressed reluctance to get rid of our respective Christmas trees. But after a week or so, I started to learn things about my family that I never before knew. On one occasion, for example, our conversation turned to catnapping. “Oh yeah, Grandpa loved James Herriot,” my mom told me, speaking of the publicity-shy veterinarian whose heartwarming stories of his country practice in Yorkshire sold millions of books in the ‘70s and ‘80s. “He loved James Herriot so much that when he and Grandma went to Cambridge on one of their trips, he grabbed a cat from outside their hotel and went to see him posing as a client.” [pullquote]The Challenge was undertaken with Mom’s knowledge: I didn’t want her to think I was suddenly in constant contact because, …

Letters from parents TueNight

Family Archivist: Why I’m the Only One Who Still Writes Letters

I come from one of those annoyingly functional intact families that make it hard for me to sell my memoir to publishers. Of course, the rosy vision I have of my family relations is helped by the fact that I live, by choice, three thousand miles away from them in the Bay Area, and have for 20 years. It’s easier to idolize my parents and siblings (and vice versa) when we’re not rubbing right up against each other every day. Even if the cross-country move was entirely my doing, once I became a parent the fact that I was the outer moon to their cozy hometown Family Planet became harder to bear. When Mom and Dad wanted to see my brother’s and sister’s kids perform in a school music showcase or volleyball game, it required a drive that ranged from five to thirty-five minutes (depending on the snow). To see my kids perform, it requires advanced airline reservations, a transfer in Chicago, and three days for them to get over jet lag. Seeing Grandma and …

Don’t Forget to Call Your Mother… Every Day?

When I was in the first grade, my mother summoned me to our kitchen to take a phone call. “Hello?” I chirped, the chunky ‘80s receiver the same size as my blonde head. My classroom crush, a boy named Jamie, sang back in his best Stevie Wonder voice, “I just called / to say / I hate you,” and hung up. I never really forgave the telephone for that. I was a decidedly un-chatty teenager, my dorm phone gathered serious dust in college, and if unused cellular plan minutes were tangible things, I could swim in mine like Scrooge McDuck in his vault of gold coins. There are researchers stationed in Antarctica who use the phone more than I do. Big deal, right? Who makes old-fashioned calls these days, anyway? More than 40% of Americans don’t even have land lines, and many of us use our smartphones primarily for things like texting, shopping and taking grainy photos of our dinners. But the thing is, I left my mother, father, and sisters back in California when …

You Loved Me Even When I Didn’t Love Myself: A Thank You Note to My Mom

Although I’m not a mother myself (however I am a proud new aunt!), I imagine that most moms welcome it when their kids cry on their shoulders, or come to them for some TLC when feeling flu-y, or call them when worried about a new job, or have been beaten by a broken heart. And of course there are the happy occasions, as well — the birthday parties, graduation parties, celebrations of first jobs, and a feeling (I imagine) of absolute pride when watching the now-adult child she raised to be polite, poised, successful and fun. But what I suspect a great many moms may not know about are the moments that seem similar to the ones above, but are a bit….off. A sob-filled phone call that doesn’t make very much sense, and comes from a voice that doesn’t 100% sound like that of your child’s. A plea for a visit to your daughter’s apartment to help her get over a sudden bought of the flu, which seems completely legit at first, but then doesn’t …

It Took Me 49 Years to Truly Understand My Mom

Not so long ago, I passed the age my mother was when she died. This was unsettling on several fronts, the most obvious of which was staring my own mortality more squarely in the face. She was just 49, which, from where I sit on the north side of 50, feels pretty damn young to die. I’ve got decades to keep figuring out life, don’t I? Don’t I? So, thoughts of my impending doom are one effect of reaching my mother’s final age but that’s a big duh. The more interesting facet is the insight I now have into who my mother was at 49 and what she cared about. I was 18 when she died and we were very close, but what did I know then about the ups and downs of a long marriage, or the fortitude it takes to run a happy household and have a job? Or what it’s like to watch your children grow into really interesting people? On any given day, she was probably thinking about what to serve …

Good Mother Going Blind: Author Nicole Kear on Her New Book Now I See You

Nicole Kear was 19 years old when she learned she was slowly going blind. Sitting in a doctor’s office in her native Manhattan, on break after her sophomore year at Yale, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that would wipe out her vision over time. Given just a decade or so of sight left, she decided to carpe diem, while keeping her disease a secret. She tore through boyfriends, traveled the world, signed up for circus school, played bartender, and moved to Los Angeles to become an actress. Meanwhile, the disease quietly took its course, first attacking her night vision, then her peripheral vision, and finally her central vision — clouding it over with cataracts, erasing depth perception and bringing on color blindness. Eventually, she married the love of her life, returned to New York and her close Italian family, settled down in Brooklyn, and started having children. And in her new role as mom she decided  to surrender her secret, ‘fess up to her kids and to herself, and start preparing for …

7 Essential Beauty Tips I Learned From My Mother

My mom is a common-sense kind of woman, someone who doesn’t delight in ceremony and abhors anything fussy. Which is why having a teenaged daughter who was obsessed with makeup and fashion was a bit of a quandary for her. I wanted to look magazine-cover ready at all times. But over the years, I’ve fallen into a a much more mellow beauty routine that’s quite similar to the one my mother has practiced for years. Want to love the skin you’re in and look like you sleep in an oxygen chamber? Heed the following seven simple tips from my beloved mother. 1. “The less you do to your face, the less you’ll have to do to your face.” This is her number one rule; simple, plain and effective. The more you scrub and paint and spackle and pull, the more scrubbing, painting, spackling and pulling you’ll have to do. Less is more, which means the easier you are on your skin, the less irritated it will become. It’s never too late to adopt this concept. …

The “Golden Ninja”: My Best Mom Hack Ever

Mom Hacking is a part of everyday life for a parent. Kids expect us to know how to do everything, period. And when we don’t, it can be painfully confusing to them. There was a point after I had my first child when I realized two things:  What I thought I knew about parenting was mostly going to be based on instinct, and through observing other parents. Then I learned the most important lesson of all: kids are the worthiest of adversaries. They’re smart, wily and born with the innate knowledge to outwit, exasperate and frustrate you. Something I didn’t know until I had crafty kids of my own. Babies and toddlers are more of a physical challenge. They seem difficult at first, but in hindsight, are relatively easy to please. You feed them, burp them, bathe them, let them sleep, then repeat all over again. Sleep deprivation is largely conceptual until Baby No. 1 comes along. It’s almost as if nature is toughening you up for what’s to come. The transition to toddlerhood naturally …

The 8 Types of Imperfect Moms in Literature

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone, because whether or not you’re a mother — and whether or not that’s okay with you — we all come from mothers, whether those mothers are perfect or not. That’s why my Frontlist pick this week is Robin O’Bryant’s Ketchup Is A Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves, a collection of her columns from her popular Robin’s Chicks blog. Yes, O’Bryant is funny, fierce and honest, and more on her delightful writing in a moment. However, she had me at her subtitle. “Lies Moms Tell Themselves” — was there ever a more truthful phrase? In order to get through the process of childrearing, mothers have to tell themselves quite a few lies. For example: “I am ready to face another day changing this tiny tyrant’s waste-filled diapers.” (And I made that one up all by myself!) More important than anything O’Bryant has to say on potty training, breastfeeding, the chaos of the dinner hour and postpartum depression, more important even than her honesty, is the fact that she’s funny without …

“You’re Turning Into Your Mother”

We’ve all had those moments — the ones we’d swear we’d never have — where we utter some phrase or make some gesture that we realize is exactly like something our mom would do. Most likely, our first instinct is to freeze in horror. But we are our mothers’ daughters, after all, and as we get older, their affectations usually start to seep into our own personalities, whether consciously or not. And really, is this such a bad thing? We asked our contributors to share their own “Am I Turning Into My Mother?” moments. Feel free to share yours in the comments or on our Facebook page. (Because you know you have one.) Lipcolor Copy “The moment when I picked out the same shade of lipstick that my mother’s been wearing for 30 years.” —Jennifer Ha Clean Genes “The other day, I flew into an organizational frenzy, spring cleaning on a level that most would consider manic. I caught myself saying things like, ‘A place for everything and everything in its place,’ and I realized …

Margit’s Note: Mom, Mother, Mommy, Joyce

“I’m turning into my mother.” A phrase usually said with some disdain, regarding a particular quirk, like twirling your hair as you ponder, leaving post it notes on the coffee maker, wearing a mélange of tan-colored clothing. But then there are the wonderful things we can only hope to become. The brilliant teacher, planner, sacrifice-maker, survivor. Throughout our lives we oscillate — being overly annoyed by these idiosyncrasies and amazingly graced by the power of the woman in front of us. We call them by various names that (in this language) begin with M or by their first name. Now we might have children of our own. We remember what it was like to be a teenager, to be hell on wheels and now, as my sister puts it, “It’s about to be payback time.” As mothers, what do we want for our daughters? “Every mom wants her daughter to be better than she is,” says in-house mom Adrianna. “That’s why it’s a little bittersweet when you turn into your mom.” I called my 76-year-old mom on …