All posts tagged: Growing Up

Prince Taught Me My Dirty Mind Was Just Fine

Opening night of the 1997 Prince tour at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. (Photo: Jon Stark) When I heard Prince’s first album, For You, I was a chubby 12-year-old girl with thick thighs, an ample rear and a dirty mind. I was an honor student whose tendency to correct my teachers and point out their flawed logic in class got me called to the principal’s office for insubordination. I was the girl the boys in school either ignored or called fat, while men in cars drove behind me as I walked home, shouting out of cranked-down windows what they’d like to do to my pre-teen ass. I sat next to my dad on the sofa every weekend, watching sports with him while quietly lusting over the quads and abs and glutes of my favorite players. As the youngest of six kids, I read everything my siblings read, from their biology textbooks to porn magazines, and I listened to all the music they listened to, from hard rock to jazz to pop to easy listening to …

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Prince Gave Me a Condition of the Heart

In the mid-‘80s, when I’d get home from school, my parents were still at work. Sometimes I’d eat cereal and watch TV or get on the phone with friends. But very often I’d pull out Prince’s 1999 and play “D.M.S.R.” on the family turntable and dance across the dark brown wall-to-wall carpet in my living room, using the staircase landing as a stage. I gave Purple Rain its due, too. I mean, it was the ‘80s; who didn’t? But “D.M.S.R.” was my jam, and I played it over and over and one more time after that. I only danced in my living room when I was alone, not because I was shy — I love dancing, and I’m good at it — but because it was like a meditation that I didn’t know I was doing. It was me creating a space where I could be my authentic self and let it all out, long before I could put words to what I was doing. My parents were music lovers who bought records all the time, …

I’m Incredibly Nearsighted but My Hindsight is 20/20

I did it again last week. We reach the moment in my son’s annual physical where the pediatrician checks his vision, and I instinctively held my breath. He’s turning nine, and his brother is now 12, and neither one needs glasses yet. But odds are it’s only a matter of time. My husband was just nine when a pair of glasses first was perched on his nose by a cheerful optometrist. We’re both ridiculously nearsighted. I was turning 10 when I got my glasses, just weeks into the fall semester at a new school where I had no friends yet. I can still picture the school nurse checking my eyes and ears, then handing me a folded slip of paper. “Take this note to your mother,” she said. “Tell her you needed glasses.” “What??” I wanted to scream. “I’m the new kid! I don’t know anybody yet! Now I’m going to be the new kid with glasses!” But I said nothing. She’d already moved on to the next kid in line, and my fate was …

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

Amy and her sons, Peter and Nick. (Photo: Courtesy Amy Barr) 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 …