when I grow up…

Portrait of a little girl thinking, over a gray backgroundA friend of mine was crowd-sourcing on Facebook recently. “For a story I’m working on,” she wrote, “please ask your daughters: What do they want to be when they grow up?”

The comments came in so fast you could practically see the churn:

Astrophysicist! Veterinarian! Pearl diver!

I couldn’t wait to join the fun. My six-year-old daughter has not always been consistent in her vocational aspirations, but her hyphenates are without peer:

“Ballerina and a pet doctor!”

Sofia the First and a gymnastics girl!”

Basically, all I had to do was ask the question and I’d have the most-liked Facebook comment of my career. I catch her between cartwheels.

ME: Maggie. What do you want to be when you grow up?

She thinks about it. Sighs.

MAGGIE: Just a mom.

ME: …What do you mean, just a mom?

MAGGIE:  Like, I used to want to be other stuff, but now I just want to be a mom. I just want to go on the computer and clean up and stuff.

She cartwheels away down the hall.

I am left reeling. Is that what she thinks I DO? “Go on the computer and clean up and stuff”? Okay, yes, that pretty much sums it up, but– WAIT. I do a LOT. I catch up with Maggie in her room.

ME: Is that ALL moms do? Go on the computer and clean up?

My daughter sighs even more deeply. Thinks about it.

MAGGIE: You have to start getting dinner ready too.

She imagines this with a weary wave of her hand, like “starting to get dinner ready” is a momentary distraction, a brief mental check– yes, I have started thinking about that– before a mom can get back to “going on the computer.”

This kept me up that night. Did my daughter really think that was all I did, some twenty-first century version of soap operas and bonbons in a bathrobe?

I couldn’t let it go. Over breakfast the next morning:

ME: So you’re going to be a mom when you grow up, and that is SO GREAT, but what else are you going to do? How about be a scientist? Or, I don’t know, a pearl diver?

MAGGIE: Nope. Just a mom.

ME: So what are you going to do when your kids are in school?

MAGGIE: I’ll go to spinning cycle class.

OH MY GOD. My daughter was totally calling me out. 

ME: Is that what I do while you’re in school?

MAGGIE: Sometimes.

ME: What else do I do?

MAGGIE: You try to write.

There it was, ladies and gentlemen. My daughter had seen inside my very soul.  There will never be a better description of what I do all day than “try to write.” The first draft of my novel, one that I barely remember writing and which has gotten only cursory glances since November, can attest to that.

But I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I mean, who has the time? After going on the computer and thinking about what’s for dinner?

WANTED: good family movies

My eleven-year-old has declared “family movie night” one of his favorite weekend activities. Mine too- at least in conception. But as I search for good older-kids-family movies that are both enjoyable and appropriate for parents and almost-tweens to watch together, I find myself despairing, since any screening must also include their six-year-old sister, who would have ...

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Mom, I left you a note

Lately I’ve been trying to convince my kids that if they want me to take an action on their behalf, they should leave me a note. Pen and paper are on hand at all times for said purpose. If the third-grader finishes the jar of Nutella, and he expects there to be more at some point, ...

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no. no more snow. not allowed.

At what, please God, is almost the end of the longest winter ever in the history of everything (screw you, Punxsutawney Phil), I find myself still in the Denial Stage.  With six to ten inches of heaven’s wintry diarrhea barreling down on the Eastern Seaboard just in time for our school commute tomorrow morning, I ...

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on being middle-aged

From my third-grader’s spelling homework last week: He handed me this page for my typically cursory parental review. ME: Uh, Seamus. One thing. SEAMUS: (already putting his pencil away) What? ME: Well, it’s just– 45 isn’t “middle-aged.” SEAMUS: (quite sure) Yes it is. ME: Usually people say that, like, 60 is middle-aged. More than they ...

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is blogging a dead language?

My brother recently asked me why I’d been posting to my blog less frequently. More than anything else, I was shocked that he’d noticed. For six-plus years, I have been blogging– parenting stuff usually, funny stuff most-of-the-time-hopefully. Five hundred and fifty-odd posts later, besides giving me a wonderful record of things I was sure I’d ...

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tightening Santa’s belt

This week, I am celebrating my own personal Christmas tradition: biting my nails over whether Santa will be leaving too much stuff under the tree, or not enough. Each December 26th, I vow: next year, Santa is dialing it back. But come the following December, I look at my Santa spreadsheet and fear the piles might ...

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50,032 words later: what I learned from National Novel Writing Month

Readers, I DID IT. I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days! I feel like I ran a marathon, albeit one of a most sedentary nature. I am still squinting as I re-enter the sunshine of this unseasonably warm December day, but here is What I Learned from National Novel Writing Month  (Some of this ...

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because Thanksgiving is really about the leftovers

As far as I’m concerned, the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers. Pumpkin pie for breakfast. Cranberry sauce and stuffing sandwiches (okay, maybe a little turkey too). In that vein, I offer you a rerun of my Thanksgiving thoughts from last year, in case you missed them, or perhaps did not commit them fully ...

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why I’m doing National Novel Writing Month

In the next month, I’m about to undergo something truly preposterous. I’m going to write a novel in thirty days. Maybe it will be good. Maybe it will be awful. Probably it will be somewhere in the great in-between. But I am hereby going public: I am going to write 50,000 words of fiction between this ...

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Bake it Happen: the best banana bread ever (plus support for breast cancer research)

Out of my many friends in the blogosphere, there’s only one I knew before she ever was a blogger, and that’s Shari, from My Judy the Foodie. Shari started her blog after losing her mother, Judy, to a long struggle with breast cancer. Judy was a great cook; Shari knew how to use a microwave (kind ...

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my son’s soccer team is a real buzzkill

I am a soccer mom. And I gotta say, it’s starting to be a real buzzkill. The game is fine. My son runs around, he gets a jersey, he gets exercise, he gets a snack, who could ask for anything more? But about that snack. We parents received this email from the league: No donuts. ...

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should an 11-year-old have a phone?

My fifth-grader has one of those unfortunate December birthdays: one month absolutely sick with presents, then bupkis for the other eleven. When you have to wait that long, December counts as “around the corner” as soon as you’re back to school. “You know what I want for my birthday, Mom,” Connor said last night at ...

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remembering Benjamin Wheeler

Yesterday was another September 11th, and another chance to feel sad at how a lot of America seems to have moved on from remembering. Or, at least, wanting to remember. The victims would want us to move forward and live our lives, we’re told, and maybe that’s true. But I think their families probably appreciated any ...

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