Motherhood & Words

I had a very long weekend. It was the USA Cup, which is (for those of you who don’t follow youth soccer) a week-long tournament in Minnesota that draws kids from all over the world. They descend on the National Sports Center by the thousands to play their little soccer hearts out and bake in the sun, on field after field.

I wasn’t there—I’m not that crazy—but D. was, because both of the teams he coaches participated. This meant that he was gone ALL DAY Saturday and ALL DAY Sunday. Now, you know I love my daughter, but that’s a lot of uninterrupted Stella time.

The mornings were great. We cuddled and looked at her baby pictures, something she loves to do. Her voice becomes sort of tiny, and she says, “Ohhhh, so cutie,” as she looks at each photo, even the preemie ones in which her three-pound self is sporting an IV in her head and a feeding tube taped to her cheek. So cutie.

We arranged barrettes on the floor (by color and style), after which she put them all in my hair. I should really post a photo of this. You’d be stunned by the sparkle and shine of fifty barrettes at my hairline, but I don’t want to make anyone jealous.

Then we went to the park. She flipped on the ropes and hung upside down, and I tried not to tell her to be careful too many times.

But by mid-afternoon, everything changed. Too much sun? Not enough lunch? Too much ice-cream? Probably all of the above.

On Sunday, it happened at the THIRD park we visited. I told her it was going to be a very short visit because I had just hauled her tiny ass around Lake Calhoun in the Burley. We were almost safe at home, but I said, hey, okay, what the hell, we can stop one more time. But the kid loves the monkey bars, and the monkey bars at this park were too high, so I had to hold her up as she lurched across them, and, well, I’d had enough. I said she could go one more time, and she agreed. I sat down on the bench, but the bugger started lurching across them again.

“Support!” she yelled, and I had to come to her rescue.

I was stern. “I said that was it with the monkey bars, but you didn’t listen to my words, so now we have to go.” (We’re trying out consequences for not listening.)

“No,” she said, and ran to the swing.

“No, Stella. We’re leaving.” I just wanted to lie down on the couch for a minute. Is that so wrong?

She began to scream and yell. “Push me, mom! PUSH ME!”

“I’m sorry, but you didn’t follow directions, and now we have to go home.” (Hard core, I know.)

She proceeded to flop onto the ground, sand flying. “You’re not listening to MY words! This is my choice, mom! This is my choice!”

She kicked, she screamed, and I was so, so tired that all I wanted to do was sit down and cry. Instead, I picked up her flailing self and strapped her back in the Burley. She bellowed the rest of the way home, her face red and mottled. Strangers on the street stared at me.

We recovered, of course. I hypnotized her with a book of Christmas carols. This was a little embarrassing because my neighbors were outside gardening and I’m pretty sure they could hear every note of my off-key rendition of “Away in a Manger.” But it was worth it. Rapport was reestablished. We took a shower, went to the grocery store, and picked up Peter Pan, which we watched as we ate a “picnic” dinner. Nothing like a little racism and some good old stereotypes before bed. Ah, but Stella loved Tinker Bell.

She was asleep by 8, and I thought I might muster the energy to watch a movie of my own liking, but I was so tired that I had to go to bed, as well. And that was just one weekend. My heart goes out to all the single mothers out there. Hang tight, sisters.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Emmie (Better Make It A Double) on July 24, 2007 at 8:27 am

    I feel ya. We manage to just squeak by without paying for daycare by staggering when we work. There are plusses and minuses, but the worst part is that I have both boys to myself the entire weekend, pretty much, with the exception of bedtime on Saturday. Weekends are also when all my friends tend to have “family time”, so it’s also kind of lonely sometimes. Next time call me – I’m always up for something on a Saturday morning.

  2. mcewen on July 24, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Likewise, sometimes you just want to reach for an emergency energy pack.
    Best wishes

  3. Mardougrrl on July 24, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Oh, boy. I am so feeling this. (And I wish I had known you were in my neighborhood…I would have come out to play!). I’ve also done the “stroller walk of shame” from the playground and it is NOT. FUN.

    Hope you and Stella are all better now. 🙂

  4. kate on July 25, 2007 at 11:22 am

    thanks, ladies.