How Writing is Like Changing Diapers

1. You have to do it often.

2. It can be difficult to pin down your subject.

3. The process is messy, but the results can be satisfying.

4. There are many methods; find the one that works for you.

5. You might be nervous at first, but eventually it will become a habit.

6. It takes time and practice to be good at it.

7. You might sometimes be surprised at what comes out.

Perfect Moment Monday–Goodwill

I was raised to fight any pack rat tendencies. When I was growing up we held regular yard sales and we also moved frequently, getting rid of stuff every time. You might even say I am addicted to giving stuff away. I love the clean, light feeling I get when I free up space in my closet or dresser.

Since becoming a mom, my house has been joyfully taken over by baby stuff. A friend of mine calls this the baby creep, and it’s insidious. Don’t get me wrong, I love a living room strewn with bright-colored toys. It’s something I thought I would never have.

But over the past year our loft has started to look like an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive. When you have to move piles of stuff just to find clean underwear or running shoes, it’s time to do something.

So I went through Oscar’s baby clothes for the first time in a long time. It was a bittersweet moment. The last time I inventoried his clothes was two weeks before he was born.

I remember lovingly counting onsies and receiving blankets, trying to imagine the baby that would one day be wearing them. It was a magical time, and now, deep in the trenches of motherhood, I sometimes miss it.

At first I was tempted to keep everything. These clothes represent so much. They represent the lovely generosity and good will of friends and family and memories of excitedly opening presents while pregnant. They represent Oscar’s first year of life. I can still see him in some of the outfits and remember where we were and what we were doing when he first wore them.

But, alas, there was too much. Nobody, and certainly not a baby, needs that many clothes. Looking at photographs, I realized that this was Oscar’s favorite outfit:

I also realized that when not clad in solely a diaper, Oscar (like his parents) pretty much lives in pajamas, which offer warmth, comfort, and range of motion.  Babies don’t get up and go to the office every day, they don’t need dozens of pants, shoes, and button-up shirts.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly kept quite a lot. We don’t know if there will be more babies in the future, and it’s good to be prepared. And he has a lot of lovely clothes that I will save and give away to friends or family members in the future. But I also got rid of a lot, and it felt good. After hefting several garbage bags full into the back of the car and dropping them off at Goodwill, I felt like I had removed a very large, benign tumor. I now have room to organize the rest, and much more breathing room upstairs.

My perfect moment:  the realization that memories are not housed in things, but in our hearts. The realization that holding on to stuff does not stop the passing of time. And the realization that I have been very lucky and very blessed.

Another perfect moment was reliving all of Oscar’s different stages, like when I came across this outfit (which I saved, of course):

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

I Capture
Perfect Moments.

Sunday “Bringe”

This morning after putting Oscar down for his nap, I indulged in a little binge. I scarfed the following:

Ham and egg burrito
Leftover crab dip
Cheese and crackers
Chips and salsa

Brunch + binge = bringe

No, I am NOT pregnant.

Since I declined to photograph the event, here is a picture of Oscar eating among the farm animals:

Morning, Baby…or MORNING BABY!

Years ago when I was a teenager and visiting my dad, I was reading to him from the TV Guide listings. As I came to the movie ‘night, Mother, starring Sissy Spacek, my dad stopped me and said, “Wait, was that “night mother” as in “Goodnight, Mother,” or “NIGHT MOTHER!” (i.e. a horror movie)? We both cracked up.

Some mornings with Oscar are wonderful. Morning, Baby! I swing him up out of his crib, cuddle with him and nurse him in bed for awhile, watch as he body slams Darin a few times, and then take him downstairs where he plays happily in his playpen while I make coffee and turn on the computer.

I usually love mornings, which is really, really funny coming from me (I can hear the peals of laughter coming out of my family right now). I used to love mornings for one and only one activity: sleeping in.  Now, I love them for a different reason. Mornings are a time when I feel a little bit fresh, a little bit like I can manage the dysfunctional corporation that is my life like a seasoned CEO. In the mornings I am focused enough to get some writing done, and Oscar is usually content to play quietly with his toys for awhile.

Some mornings are not like that.

Some mornings I am so tired the thought of standing makes me a little bit nauseous. Some mornings I am so far behind in my work that I can’t bear to turn on my computer. Some mornings Oscar acts like a little child in a horror movie. You know the one where they smile sweetly and then eat your soul?

It occurs to me that I can’t do anything with the time, energy, and focus that it needs in order to be done well.

I can’t mother Oscar the way he deserves to be mothered. I don’t provide him with stimulating activities and well-balanced organic meals.

I can’t be a teacher and scholar who researches, writes, and thinks at the cutting edge of my field.

I can’t be a creative writer who has the time to sink into writing a novel long enough to hear my character’s voices and convey the setting in rich detail.

I can’t blog regularly enough to be a good blogger.

I can’t keep my house clean and organized, and it’s beginning to look like an episode of Hoarders.

I have no social life.

One mother I know organizes full-moon hikes, book club meetings, barbecues, and neighborhood play dates every month. Her house is immaculate.

Another mother I know travels with her kids to Costa Rica to volunteer on sustainable farms.  She speaks at the community center and shows slides of her Peace Corps work. She writes articles for national magazines.

Clearly, I suck. At everything.

I have to go now, Oscar is stuffing cereal into the printer.

Cheerios and Silent Disapproval…

D Day


I’ll never forget the moment you told me we had a son.  I am so grateful that you were able to speak softly to him, reassuring him right after he was brought into this world, during that agonizing wait before he could be in my arms. I know that your voice, the first one he ever heard, is painted beautifully and permanently on his soul, a source of strength and comfort to him for the rest of his life.

I love that you gave him his first bath and changed his first diaper. I look forward to so many other firsts for you and Oscar: first bike ride, first camping trip, first fish caught, first father-son garden, first video game played together.

Thank you for giving me the gift of a son who is the joy of our lives. And thank you for making every day, not just that first day, magical.

Love, S. & O.

Proud Aunt

Recently we were in California to celebrate the first birthday of my great nephew Damien. That’s right, my great nephew. I became a great aunt before I became a mother, and currently have five great nieces and nephews. I am the youngest of four, and my siblings had their kids early in life while I had Oscar late in life. As a result, all of Oscar’s cousins are either high school teenagers or adults in their twenties. I adore my six nieces and nephews, but as they grew up I became sad that my kids (if I ever had them) wouldn’t grow up with their cousins.

However, a small baby boom has occurred in our family, beginning when my nephew Ryan’s daughter Layla was born seven years ago, followed by Rylan, Zack, then my son Oscar, Damien, and Zoe.

Much to my delight, most of us were together for Damien’s first birthday party. At one point all of the new moms were headed outside and I realized we might not all be together in one place like this again anytime soon. I asked my niece Britney to take a picture, and what she captured was an absolutely perfect moment.

This is my little posse of new moms. From left to right, Ganae and Damien, Cerrina and Zack, me and Oscar, and Caitlin and Zoe.

There is nothing like the mother of a baby or toddler to say, “Yes! Exactly! I hear you. I have been there.” I am often stressed out, at my wits end, and frustrated by the well-meaning advice that so many people feel they need to dish out to new moms. But at the party, my niece Caitlin plopped down next to me and said with dry sarcasm, “So how is the whole motherhood thing working out for you? Is it everything you dreamed it would be?” We both looked at each other and then burst out laughing. Caitlin makes me laugh, Ganae swaps c-section stories with me, and Cerrina brings me bags of hand-me-downs for Oscar.

I am a proud aunt.

Proud of these young moms, who are doing an amazing job raising their babies. Proud of my nephew Cody who couldn’t be there. Proud of my nephew Ryan who is a talented chef and a wonderful father.

Proud of my nieces Britney and Ashley, who love Oscar like a little brother.

When Oscar was born I was sad that his cousins had all grown up and moved on with their lives. I never realized that this new generation of babies would bring us all closer and teach us again about the meaning of family, and the sweetness of love.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

I Capture
Perfect Moments.