you never know

David’s 90 days off from work continue to impress and amaze everyone in our household. When he’s working, even if he’s physically present at home, he more often than not has both eyes and both thumbs on his BlackBerry. Not his fault. That’s just the way it is.

But now that he has no current work obligations (save fretting about the collapse of Wall Street), the men in my house have time to do all the manly sorts of things that men enjoy. Such as:


Here you see Fergus with but one of the many fish he caught during the boys’ first-ever fishing trip. Mommy and Maddie weren’t invited. Mommy and Maddie were more than fine about that. But when the boys returned home, I was most anxious to hear every detail of their trip. In my excitement, however, I forgot the inescapable fact that men– of any age– are from Mars.

MOMMY: So Cooper did you have fun fishing???
MOMMY: … Did you have fun having special time with Daddy???
MOMMY: … So tell me! What did you talk about?

Cooper looks at me quizzically.

COOPER: Mommy. When you fish, it’s not about the TALKING. It’s about the WAITING.

I guess he’s probably right, and that is why men fish and women don’t.

I tried to get something more out of the younger brother:

MOMMY: Did you have fun with Daddy, Fergus?
MOMMY: Did you catch lots of fish?!
FERGUS: Not weawwy.
MOMMY: But you caught some, right?
FERGUS: You know what Daddy says?
MOMMY: What, honey?
FERGUS: When you know something, you catch the fish. And then you don’t know.

I was floored by my son’s mastery of Zen teachings, and spent the rest of the evening pondering what that meant, until David told me that he really said, “You never know when you’re going to catch a fish.”

I like Fergus’ version better myself.

I DO know how she does it

Sorry. I can’t help myself. Sarah Palin is the most fascinating thing to happen to feminist discourse… well, ever. No one can stop talking about her, and the crazy part is, she makes everyone say the opposite of what they usually do. Hooray for Sarah! cry the women-should-never-leave-the-house Bible thumpers. Boo! cry the intellectuals on the coasts. She shouldn’t be leaving her children! It’s enough to make your head spin.

The thing that I feel obliged to speak out on, however, is the topic of HOW DOES SHE DO IT?

As Dahlia Lithwick pointed out on, Sarah Palin is dangerous because she does it all, and on steroids. Her water broke and she got on a plane. She took a 3 day maternity leave after Trig was born. She is undoubtedly a successful woman, but one without full-time help. Or, really, any hired childcare help. If she doesn’t need any, why should any of us commoners?

BUT HOW DOES SHE DO IT? everyone cries, in response.

I know how. I haven’t seen this explained anywhere. Maybe there aren’t any politicos out there who are the oldest of six children.

This is how Sarah Palin does it:

She has a mostly stay- at- home husband. But even more importantly, she has two teenage daughters.

I WAS a Palin girl. My mother had my youngest sibling when I was 19. I have been changing diapers since I was 7 and babysitting since I was 11. When I was growing up, if I was home, I was helping. When you have two teenage daughters, you can have a 6 year old and a baby and, apparently, run for VP, and not lose your mind. Because you DO HAVE HELP, and it’s 24/7.

I don’t mean to belittle my mother’s parenting skills in this. Quite the contrary. Life with 6 kids is a kind of busy most of us can only imagine. But while she didn’t have paid “help,” she had my grandmother living upstairs, and she had my oldest brother and me. That’s how she did it. At least there were other able bodies ready to assist.

And I’m pretty sure my mom would back me up here. How do I know? Because she was the oldest of 8. Because her youngest sibling was born when she was 20. So, Mom, if you’re reading this, can I get a hell yes? The world has been built on the backs of older sisters.

I hope that’s not ignored. I hope, if Palin becomes VP, there is a general understanding that while SHE can breastfeed her son during conference calls, and let Piper run around her offices, that is not a luxury that the woman working the french fries at McDonald’s has open to her. So just because Sarah Palin does it “without help” doesn’t mean that all working women don’t need and deserve affordable and safe child care.

Unless each mother in the US will be assigned two live-in teenage daughters. That could also work. And come to think of it, Bristol Palin should get a teenage daughter of HER own also. Her plate could be pretty full come January.

our whole whole whole whole family

Well, back to school we go, but something is different at our house this fall.

Can you guess what it is?

Daddy is home. All the time!

At least until Thanksgiving.

Yes, David is on what the Brits call gardening leave. He is switching jobs, and part of the job switch requires that he take 90 days off before starting with his new employer.

You read that right. A paid, mandated, 90 day vacation.

We are all very excited about this. It has already enabled things that were never possible when Daddy was never home, such as an impromptu trip to the playground last night after dinner, in lieu of baths. Cooper and Fergus ran wild around the twilight-lit (twilit?) and nearly-deserted Elephant Park. “Guess what, Mommy? Our whole, whole, whole, whole, family is here!” Fergus shouted. He never says anything once that he can say three or four times.

David is enjoying himself immensely. Last night he discovered, and pointed and clicked aimlessly for over an hour. “Why didn’t I know about this?” he bellowed. “I’m upgrading my whole wardrobe.” Then his computer crashed and lost his shopping cart, but even that didn’t dampen his gay spirits. Today he is playing tennis and taking himself out to lunch.

I am a little bit jealous, because I don’t know when my gardening leave will ever come. But I do plan on trying to enjoy some of it with him. As soon as the Mother Load tour kicks off in Charlotte in three weeks. Oh yeah, that.

I have, however, received some meaningful glances and ominous looks from the spouses of other people who have had gardening leave. “How long is he home till?” they say, eyes widened. “Thanksgiving?… Good luck with that.”

So apparently there is a downside. I have already seen one drawback, in the increase of the aforementioned protein-shake puddles on our kitchen countertops. But I’ve already decided that the kitchen elves are ALSO on gardening leave, so David will just have to make other arrangements for cleaning them up.

because, if you’re a blogger, it’s mandatory…

…and because, if you’re a human being in America, it’s what you’re talking about this week, I hereby submit a few thoughts on the selection of Alaska governor, mother of five, and grandmother-to-be Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate for vice president:

–I hate the idea, with most of the fibers of my being. I feel that it is pandering to me, as a woman, assuming that I will vote for ANYONE AT ALL as long as she is female. But there is a teeny tiny part of me that loves the idea of a “hockey mom” in the White House. She would clean that place UP. Can you imagine the multi-tasking abilities this woman must have?

–On the other hand, consider this: if you told me you knew a mother with five children, an infant with Downs Syndrome, and a pregnant teenage daughter, I would say: “Wow. I thought I had a lot on my hands, but that’s ridiculous.” Multitasker or not, I would suggest that Mrs. Palin’s plate is already rather full, even without this pesky touring the country and running for VP business. I’m not sure there’s enough time management skills in the universe for what this household has going on.

–Since this is not a political blog, I will leave the question of her “experience” off the table. But I will question her judgment as shown on five very important matters:

1) Track
2) Bristol
3) Willow
4) Piper
5) Trig

Now some people would say that some of my children have unusual names, which they do. However they are actual names. “Track” was chosen because Sarah and her husband liked running track when they were in high school. (Look it up, I swear.) If my children were named after things I liked in high school, they would be named Boy George, Forensics, and Stirrup Pants. Hmm. Maybe it’s not too late.

And I ask you this. Where does preggers Bristol have left to go? Weird names are the bailiwick of teenage mothers. When you are a teenage mother, and your mother has already taken all the super-strange names, where have you left to go? Except perhaps “Bailiwick” itself?

–Lastly, an immodest proposal. If this year’s vice-presidential picks were chosen either for being
1) unlike Hillary Clinton, a “babe you want to see age in office,” as Rush Limbaugh has suggested, or
2) for being a “scrappy kid from Scranton,” which Obama has said is why he picked Biden…

…why not THIS glasses-wearing babe, willing to age in office, who not only has the cute baby, but is ALSO FROM SCRANTON?

Seriously. I’m a maverick. You all know that I am willing to take on the Nosefrida lobby, and they are legion. I have absolutely no foreign policy experience whatsoever. Admit it. America needs me.