did YOU get a flower from Amy F?

If you received a flower in your email this week, from a mysterious admirer named “Amy F,” you’re welcome. And I apologize.

I signed on to a website called Mamasource this week, a sort of ivillage-by-zip-code that connects moms within their communities. It was suggested to me as an effective marketing tool for Mother Load, so I checked it out.

“WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEND A FLOWER TO SOME OF YOUR MOTHER FRIENDS INVITING THEM TO JOIN?” it exhorted, in a totally cheerful and lame font.

“Noooo,” I said, and clicked on what seemed like the opt-out version.

Ninety seconds later, as my computer whirred, I realized I had instead opted IN, and frantically hit “stop” and “refresh” while mamasource sent an email to every single person in my email inbox: our contractor from when we renovated our kitchen three years ago, a babysitter I had to fire last week, work associates of my husband’s I have never really met… you name it.

Well, maybe I stopped it in time, I thought. Chloe O’Brian usually pulls that off on 24, and sadly, I have the same hairdo as she does here, so why shouldn’t I be able to stop an impending computer disaster as well?

But yesterday morning at dropoff, I started getting weird looks. Sidelong glances. Finally, one of my son’s classmates’ mothers, who I emailed at some point about a playdate or something, apparently, approached me. “Um. Did you send me… a flower?” she said, hesitantly.

I heard this about eight more times before I left the school. I was mortified. Then I got home, and my email inbox was topped with the same question, from someone who is basically a complete stranger. “Dear Amy F,” she wrote. “I received your flower. Thank you! Can you please tell me more about Mamasource?”

Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I would never call myself “Amy F.” The “F” is my husband’s name, which I take in certain situations, but I would call myself “Amy” or “Amy W” or “Amy W F,” even, before I would call myself “Amy F.” The problem is in the people who don’t really know me.

But that’s the interesting part. I’m starting to get emails from women I don’t know that well, or haven’t seen in a long time, or wished I knew better. “Thanks for the flower!” one wrote. “You made my day!” And so this flower business now seems like an opportunity, to respond to these fellow mothers, and get back in touch, which is undoubtedly a good thing, and the stated purpose of mamasource.com in the first place. So, see, they’re evil geniuses.

If you received a flower from me, and you liked it, you’re welcome. If you were annoyed by the spam, me too, and I offer my sincerest apology.

Next time I email everyone in my inbox at once, I’m going to do what this lady did, while sleepwalking, and email out some REALLY random stuff. “Come tomorrow and sort this hell hole out,” she wrote a bunch of people. “Dinner and drinks, 4.pm. Bring wine and caviar only.” THAT’S a surefire way to hear from some long-lost folks.

you go Salma

Have you seen the video yet of Salma Hayek breastfeeding another woman’s child on a recent trip to Africa? After seeing the blogosphere giggle about it for a week, I finally had my defenses worn down enough to check it out myself.

It kind of blew me away. Nursing another woman’s child is not something I would ever have considered. And I DEFINITELY would not have wanted someone else nursing my own children. I’ll give my daughter milk from any old cow in the world, but another human? Yick.

Or at least that’s what I thought until I saw Salma giving of herself to this young infant, whose own mother won’t nurse him because of prejudices against it in her country. This little boy has a GOOD meal, and ABC News isn’t afraid to show a nice closeup of him gulping down the milk and staring up at Salma with frank adoration.

Kudos to Ms. Hayek, and kudos to ABC News. If a woman who has nursed three children can have her mind opened about breastfeeding, just imagine what it can do for people who have never been exposed to it at all.

please don’t hate me because I slept until 9 am on a Sunday morning

Readers, I have been in Texas, away from my family, since Wednesday, performing Mother Load at the beautiful Eisemann Center in Richardson. The last two shows are today, and although I am very excited to get on the plane tomorrow and go home to my kids, I am also secretly savoring every last moment of freedom.

Picture this, Mommy: four and a half hours on a plane. No kids with you. No movie or Jet Blue TV, either. No nap, unfortunately, because you are seated next to the galley, where Smashing of Bags of Ice occurs every ten minutes or so. But four and a half hours, to read catalogs, and magazines, and do the crossword, and have a Coke. That flight was a vacation in itself.

When we arrived at the venue Wednesday afternoon, the stage manager and company manager both had duties to attend to. “Meet us at the theater at 6 pm,” they said. That meant I had two hours to kill in the hotel across the street.

I didn’t want to work out, because I didn’t want to get sweaty and have to take a shower. So I unpacked. I sat on the bed. I turned on the TV. I turned off the TV. I paced around. Six minutes had passed.

I called my babysitter. “How are you managing?” I asked. “Oh, fine,” she said. “David just got home, the kids are all fed and bathed.” “Can I talk to them?” I asked. She put down the phone and went to get the boys. “Sorry,” she said when she came back. “They’re watching Prehistoric Planet and I can’t tear them away.”

No one needed me. No one WANTED me. I’d already read for four hours, I was sick of reading. So I laid on the bed. And did NOTHING. Nothing at all.

It was a weird feeling, like stepping out onto the landscape of a strange new planet that may or may not have gravity and/or oxygen. What is this thing I am feeling? I wondered. Could this be boredom? Or even… RELAXATION?

Since then, I will have done six shows in four days, so it’s not like I’m a total slacker. But keep in mind that in the past, I’ve always done six shows in four days while also taking care of my kids. This has been a marvelous strange time for me: to sleep until I’m not sleepy anymore; to finish a cup of coffee while it’s still hot; to go to the mall, alone, and when the lady at the makeup counter says, “Do you have time for a touchup?” to hear myself say, “Why, yes. Yes, I do”; to eat room service and watch Notting Hill, because even though there’s only one TV, I get to decide what’s on.

I imagined myself using my free time during these days to write several chapters of my book, work out for at least an hour and a half daily, and solve the world’s problems. I have done none of those things. I have rediscovered the value of doing not much. And I have also rediscovered that my children do OK without me for a couple of days, and that I will have vastly renewed stores of energy and patience and love for them when I see them tomorrow.

So, if you’re a mother who stays home with your kids, I recommend a Business Trip. Make up a business if you have to, and hit the Holiday Inn by the interstate. You won’t be sorry.

Well, a week ago today, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means that we have six more weeks of winter coming. Or, I guess, five, as of this writing.

As if. First of all, it’s the same every year. I had to look it up, of course, to remember whether if it’s that he sees his shadow that means life sucks, or if he DOESN’T see it, but the point is, year after year it seems like he picks the one that means it’s going to be butt-cold for a while yet.

And secondly, six more weeks of winter after Feb 2nd only gets us through to March 16th, and if there’s anyone out there who thinks it’s going to be springtime in the Northeast by mid-March, well, I beg to differ. Mid-March is when you just can’t take it anymore, that you’re still wearing gloves at the bus stop every morning. Early to mid-February, where we are now, is when you just START to lose it with the long, gray, cold afternoons stuck inside. But we have eight weeks of crappy weather left, at LEAST.

The prognostication of Punxsutawney Phil also means that there will be at least six more weeks of Maddie’s runny nose, which has been at it for two weeks now with no signs of abating. She’s not eating, she’s up at 5:30 every morning, she’s coughing and increasingly miserable and so am I. Fergus battled strep throat this past week, and now Cooper has a mysterious non-strep (confirmed) malaise involving glassy eyes and a rather insistent fever. I’ve taken the boys to the doctor once each. Maddie has gone three times in the past week. Each time they look in her ears and throat, as she screams “Bye-bye! BYE-BYE!” and points desperately to the door. Each time I hope they’ll find something. “These ears are full of fluid!” I imagine them saying. Or “Hmm, just as I suspected. Throat pox.” Because if there’s a cause, there’s a solution, i.e. antibiotics, and she will be back to normal in 24 hours. But these days, if it’s not an infection, little ones get nada. No meds, just a humidifier and your pediatrician’s best wishes. At our third visit yesterday, as my mucus-y daughter was once again pronounced too healthy to medicate, the nurse practitioner took pity on us and whispered that half a teaspoon of Children’s Benadryl, at bedtime, might dry her out a little bit.

Does it make me a bad mother that I was hoping for a positive strep test? Because Fergus got one of those, and after two doses of bubble gum erithromicin, he was a new man. All I want is some sign that her cold, and The Cold, will soon be over. Phil, I want a do-over.