Since my younger daughter was about one month old, I’ve wanted to change her name. I really thought I was having a boy. I had that maternal sixth sense. I knew we were having a son. His name was Cash. I loved it. Cool, simple and strong.
Before I gave birth, we decided on a girl’s name. My husband loved the name Presley. I thought it was cute and what did it matter anyway because I would soon be holding my darling Cash in my arms. But instead of Cash, suddenly I was nursing Presley, my beautiful little girl.
The first several weeks were a fog in which I just tried to survive sleep deprivation, terrible mastitis and a toddler who wasn’t adjusting well to a sibling (didn’t matter if it was Cash or Presley to her, this baby was just taking up way too much of my time). Finally I reemerged and realized that I just wasn’t in love with my daughter’s name. So I tried to suppress it for five months (why does this approach never work?) and then I finally got up the courage to talk to my husband about it.
He wasn’t overjoyed. He loves the name Presley. Even so, he said he was willing to change it. But altering her birth certificate feels like we are erasing a part of her. It just doesn’t feel right to us.
So we are nicknaming her Summer. We both love the name and in many ways, it suits her so perfectly. She glows with such warmth and happiness. It’s my favorite season and it just feels like her. In the end, she’ll be more Presley to some, more Summer to others but no matter what she’s called, she’s perfect.
I never see armpit hair coming. I’m just living my life and all of a sudden, wham, it’s right there. This week, while visiting my father on Cape Cod, I took a yoga class. I immediately noticed that the teacher was quite chunky around the middle – not exactly what you hope to see in an exercise instructor. Maybe she subscribed to the theory, “those you can’t do, teach.” Anyway, she began the class and a short while later came over to correct one of my postures. And that’s when I saw them – long sprouts of brown hair poking out from under her arms. It’s always a little startling to see female armpit hair, as if the person is naked or something.
I really should be used to his. My mother has always been a bit of a nature girl (o.k. a whole lot of nature girl). In middle school, I started noticing many of my friends had smooth, shiny legs. I looked down at my own blond hairy limbs and decided to take action. If I couldn’t beckon puberty, at least I could have silky legs and wear short shorts. My mother encouraged me not to do it. She warned me that if I started shaving, my hair would grow back thicker and coarser, creating a lifelong, tedious obligation. I took the plunge anyway and have been happily using my pink Daisy razors ever since.
As I was planning my wedding, the issue of body hair once again came up with my mother. I had helped my mom find a beautiful champagne colored dress with spaghetti straps for the nuptials. The only sticking point – her underarms. Like the yoga instructor, she has always embraced her natural state. But my wedding did not have a bohemian theme. I very politely asked my mom if she would be willing to shave her armpits for the first time in 59 years. She was. I thanked the bridal gods.
I really respect my mother’s choices. It’s hard for me to imagine being so comfortable in my body that I wouldn’t care if I shaved or plucked my eyebrows or put on make-up. My mom has always focused more on the inside of people than the outside and perhaps that’s what beauty is all about. I wonder what choices my own daughters will make. Dylan is almost three and she’s already digging into my make-up bag and painting her toes. But she’s probably just copying me. I just know one of these kids will grow up to be a granola girl just like my mom. And that will be fine with me.
I am not a huge lover of dead animals. Perhaps you are. But I am not. This past weekend we were visiting my mother in Connecticut when all of a sudden, I noticed a dead bunny in the living room. Apparently, our dog Martini had grabbed Peter Cottontail (aren’t all bunnies named Peter? Or maybe Thumper) in the backyard, snuffed the life out of him and brought the rabbit inside as a little gift (dogs are so generous in that way).
At the time of the dead bunny sighting, I was standing with my toddler. As a parent, I really wish I had calmly handled the situation, using it as a learning opportunity for my daughter about the natural cycle of life and death. Instead, I screamed, “there is a big dead bunny in the living room.” I screamed so loudly that I woke my husband out of a solid sleep. Rick was also the lucky guy who got the job of rabbit clean-up. Of course, I gave lots of helpful tips like, please use a non-toxic cleaner to wipe up the remains because our baby is now crawling all over the place.
Because of the incident, I’ve likely passed on some kind of dead bunny anxiety to our nearly 3 year-old daughter. But my fear is deep routed. When I was growing up, we had two adorable bunnies named Phoebe and Sophie who use to happily hop around the backyard. They lived a wonderful, carefree life until some kind of animal ended their frolicking and sprinkled their parts across the lawn. My mother got clean-up duty that time. I’m also sad to report that when I was in 6th grade, I brought home the two school guinea pigs for the summer and they too suffered a terrible fate after a neighborhood dog managed to get into their cage. Maybe you’re starting to understand the emotional turmoil I’ve been through. Some kids just have to deal with a fish floating at the top of the tank.
As parents, we try to be calm and comforting to our children. But having kids doesn’t turn us into super heroes. We are just people, like everyone else, with anxieties, fears, and preferences. At this point, I’m pretty sure that I prefer my bunnies alive and fluffy and not lying in the living room.
Sunday was my husband’s birthday. I wrote him a really nice card, saying all the things I should try to say every day. I told him he’s an amazing husband and dad. I expressed my endless love for him. I wrote that I couldn’t imagine my life without him. As he read my words, his eyes become watery. He smiled as he welled up a bit. His reaction didn’t surprise me. Rick’s an emotional guy.
Then came his gift. As he ripped off the tissue paper and discovered his shiny, brand new iPhone, forget about misty eyes – tears started pouring down his face. Clearly, sweet sentiments from his wife were one thing but when it came to an iPhone, he couldn’t hold back. The man was weeping with joy and gratitude. It was love at first sight. Now he’s completely infatuated. Since Sunday, he has spent most of his waking moments programming, admiring and showing off his new toy. Sometimes I catch him gazing at it. Smiling. In awe.
We all know life is not about material goods – it’s about the people, the moments, the experiences. But once in a while, some inanimate object fills your heart with such jubilation. I know my husband loves me. I know he loves his new iPhone. There are now three of us in this relationship. I hope we can make it work.
On Tuesday night, I went out. Yes, out of my apartment, to meet up with actual people, who are doing things other than taking care of children. I met up with my friend Margo and some of her girlfriends to attend a Clinton Foundation benefit. The organization focuses on climate change and other global issues. So now I’m out and I’m actually helping humanity (well, to be honest, it’s my friend Margo who is helping humanity because she bought the tickets) but even so, I still feel like I’m doing my part.
I meet up with these three fun, single women who are all wearing cute, stylish summer dresses or skirts. As soon as I see them, I wonder why I am wearing a pair of jeans on this ninety degree July night. At least I have on a cute top and strappy, metallic heels but I long for a fab BCBG summer dress. It reminds me of the 4th grade when I wore pants on the first day of school and every girl wore a skirt. Of course, I wore a skirt on the second day of school and you know the end of the tale. Everyone wore pants.
So we get into a cab and immediately these super cool women are on their Trios and Blackberries, googling directions to the Roseland Ballroom and checking emails and texts. Suddenly, my Sprint Samsung phone just seems so dated and shabby. But did I mention it takes photos in color? Despite my very hot (and not in a good way) jeans and my lame phone, I enjoyed connecting with these women and not talking about children. Not once did I chime in with, “My child said the cutest thing…” This along with, “I had the weirdest dream…” causes anyone’s brain to immediately shut down.
I spent most of my twenties going out in