Scene outside the school this morning

by emily on September 10, 2014

Me (responding to some question): It was nobody.

Zachary: I am nobody, who are you?

Me: Are you nobody, too?

Zachary: Then there’s two of us.

Me: A pair. Don’t tell, they’d banish us, you know. How dreary to be somebody, how public, like a frog. To tell your name the livelong day to an admiring bog.

Benjamin: That Dr. Seuss had some good poems.

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The evening before Labor Day

by emily on August 31, 2014

Zachary had his tenth birthday party yesterday, a week in advance of the day. In contrast to his brother’s party, Zach asked to have a few friends over, order pizza, make sundaes, and watch Episode IV. I told him he’s my new favorite child.

He’s going to be ten, which means I’ve been a parent an entire decade. I’m somewhat tenuously connected to the Me who came before this decade. She seems insubstantial, a wispy prelude lacking three-quarters of herself. Even the Me from Los Angeles or London is hopelessly ill-defined. It’s not so much that I disavow my old selves as they no longer feel particularly relevant.

Is this how it’s going to go on? I’ll keep piling new selves onto the old, strokes of self atop self atop self, with streaks and drips from below marring the finish. I wonder if other people are like this or if most people walk around each day with their feet firmly planted in the person they were at five and seventeen and twenty-eight.

The odd thing is that I have a very good memory, at least for dialogue. I can remember things people said to me two decades ago, the place, the context, the exact words. And I have long relationships. Many of you reading this have been listening to me quote you back to yourself since we were nineteen or twenty. My husband and I have been together for twenty years come this October. And we still like each other.

It could be that the surface tectonics change drastically while the rock center remains. Or maybe I continue to build my core self with bits of the person I am on any given day, exfoliating the rest with a piece of pumice after the shower. Who the hell knows.

What is constant seems to be change and growth. My change, my children’s change, and their growth. Their legs—they get so long. They stretch these things out on their beds at night and I don’t recognize those long limbs as belonging to my little people. I glance back at the babies I read The Night Pirates and it all feels so recent and so distant and I get that dizzy feeling I get when Neil deGrasse Tyson tries to explain black holes.

Baby Girl announced to me this month that she wanted me to read her Harry Potter, but that’s obviously impossible because she is not old enough except she’s starting first grade and reading Judy Moody and Ramona.

So last week—with summer nearing an end as it does every year long before I’m ready—the boys piled into Lilah’s room at bedtime, bringing with them wider chests and grown-up teeth and feet that I’m not sure they actually wash all that regularly. Coming back for perhaps the only constant in the universe.

“Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived.”


The Angry Inch

July 18, 2014

“Five feet, three inches,” the medical assistant person noted. “No, I’m five feet, four inches.” “No, you’re five feet, three inches,” she insisted. “No, no. I’m five feet, four inches.” “You’re almost five feet, three-and-a-half inches.” Writing it down. She was writing it down on my chart. It was going on my permanent record. “Well, […]

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In which the novice surpasses the master

June 26, 2014

Some days I don’t feel all that necessary around here. Today was not one of those days. Today was, rather, one of those days in which I felt with great, leaden spears the importance of what I’m doing. I felt more than I have in a long time—perhaps ever—just how unbearably significant and deliberate parenting […]

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A Very Harry Potter Birthday

June 21, 2014

There have been a number of requests for pictures of the party. Please forgive the text here, folks. I can barely stand up at this point. The greeting sign, which a random passer-by asked to photograph.   The kids came into the house through here, with the Harry Potter music blaring.   The Great Hall, […]

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Go big or go home

June 4, 2014

Benjamin’s birthday is coming up. While my other two children have normal birthday celebrations that involve things like gymnastics places or going to a play with a friend, Benjamin’s birthday always seems to involve something like a Greek mythology birthday cake complete with a Temple of Zeus constructed out of marshmallows and white chocolate or […]

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Sunrise, sunset

May 27, 2014

“Just let me finish the chapter,” she mumbled, not looking up from her Puppy Place book. This is the series—alphabetical and with several books per letter—about dogs who go live with a foster family until they find their forever home. I’m going on hearsay here, never having read one myself. Lilah brought several of these […]

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Walk for Hunger

April 28, 2014

I don’t usually hit my readers up for money. If ever there was a statement so obviously about to be followed by a “however,” it’s that one. In high school, every year I participated in Boston’s Walk for Hunger, a twenty-mile walk that raises money for Project Bread, a fantastic organization committed to building the […]

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To parents of small children

April 23, 2014

Parents of young children, I want to tell you something. You cook dinner in stages, starting usually about 24 hours before you actually put the food on the table. That’s when you do cook dinner, which—let’s be honest—doesn’t always happen. What? Oatmeal is a whole grain. If you serve it with chocolate milk and bananas, […]

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I don’t want to build a snowman

April 16, 2014

In keeping with my commitment to being the last family in town to get whatever it is all the other families are buying, I held out for a long time against getting the soundtrack to Frozen. (In case you’re wondering what other things my kids insist we’re the last family in America to get, we […]

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