the amazing reach of cnn.com


If you are here thanks to cnn.com, welcome! If you’re not, you might want to check out this essay I wrote for Babytalk magazine, which was reprinted on cnn.com’s “Living” section today:

Why I Didn’t Want a Girl

I am thrilled to hear everyone’s feedback on the story, even if you didn’t like it. (If you nose around the comments section of the posts below, you will find a lively debate.)

A special shout-out to anyone who lives in FLORIDA! I am going to be visiting Tampa, Naples, and Fort Lauderdale between May 12 and 23, with my one-woman show MOTHER LOAD. You can find all the info here. I hope you’ll come check it out!

As far as the essay: I do want everyone to understand one thing. I did not title my essay “Why I Didn’t Want a Girl.” CNN did. Babytalk called it “Boy Crazy,” and my original title was “A Daughter, At Last.”

CNN’s title is definitely more provocative, but if you read my essay, I think you’ll find it’s much more about my concern about my apprehension about having a girl, than my proud statement of how anti-daughter I am.

18 months later, I am utterly besotted with Maddie. To all those strangers who told me how lucky I was to be having a girl: you were sure right.

PS For a lovely look at the inverse– what it’s like to want a daughter when you only have sons– check this out, by Allison Slater Tate.

swine flu: not looking good

This morning, there is sad news that the first US death has occurred due to the swine flu, a little boy in Houston, Texas, not quite two years old.

And here we all are, at the same crossroads we’ve been at umpteen times. Is it time for us to freak out? Or, like MRSA, SARS, and the avian bird flu, are we going to feel like idiots in six months for having bought into the hype?

This morning, at my sons’ school, not only did they have Purell at the doors to the school, but more sanitizer was pumped into each child’s hand as he or she entered the classroom.

Is this risible? Or merely prudent? Who can say? In the meanwhile, it seems like we can do absolutely nothing about swine flu, but worry. And use more Purell.

seet, mama


I once heard, from a very wise Orthodox Jewish mother of nine, that our children are divinely inspired to be ours. And that the challenges they present us with are exactly the challenges we need in order to become better people.

It’s a lovely thought, isn’t it? And quite true. Fergus challenges my patience many, many times daily, and heaven knows I am an impatient person. He moves very slowly, but then, I tend to move too quickly. When my kids frustrate me, it gives me much-needed perspective to consider that God wants it that way.

Maddie, at 18 months, has already shown, by her headstrong and bossy ways, that she intends to challenge me quite well in her turn. For now, at least, she is still a cuddly mama’s girl, and in her eyes I can do no wrong. Still, she challenges me:

“Seet, mama? Seet? Seet?”

That’s “Sit, Mommy.” And she says it all day long. If she’s watching Blue’s Clues, she wants my company on the couch next to her. If she’s having a leisurely lunch of scrambled eggs and peas, she wants me sitting at the table as well.

I really appreciate her invitations. I can’t remember anyone else in my family inviting me to take a seat. However, what she doesn’t understand is that her sitting quietly = my opportunity to run around our house like a madwoman, getting 100 things done. How can I just sit at the kitchen table when there’s a dishwasher to be unloaded? How can I sit for 22 minutes of “Ni Hao, Kai-Lan!” when there are brothers to bathe and overdue blog posts to write?

Still, she beckons. “Seet, mama?” And I know that she’s right. There’s nothing more important, at that moment, than sitting down with my daughter, and keeping her company. So I do it. For five minutes, anyway. All too soon, I’ll have all the time in the world to unload the dishwasher, and she’ll want nothing to do with me.

drop-kick the drop-side cribs


The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Toys “R” Us has stopped ordering drop-side cribs because of safety concerns. The good old Consumer Products Safety Commission, full of action, has scheduled a meeting to plan how the government can better reassure us that drop-side cribs are safe. In other words, they’re going to take a good long time to figure out how to tell us all there’s no problem. Meanwhile, after 21 recalls of 4.2 million cribs over the last two years, the largest toy retailer is pulling the plug, rather than waiting until a drop-side crib actually comes to life and bludgeons a babe with its own rickety parts. Apparently, that’s what it would take for the CPSC to take quicker action.

I’ve never really understood the point of drop-side cribs; I own them but have never used the drop-side function. It never even occurred to me. I’m hoping that makes my own particular cribs a little less rickety.

It does chap my fanny, however, that when there really IS something dangerous to our children– as drop-side cribs are proving to be– the agencies that are supposed to protect us are always caught sleeping on the job. Same with the cough medicine, same with the salmonella peanut butter. And that means, as mothers, we can’t really ever relax. I think it’s probably better for my kids if I don’t worry about every single thing they encounter being hazardous to their health. But sometimes I’m not so sure.

sanctimommy watch

From an eagle-eyed reader in the Big Apple, a link to this post, on passiveaggressivenotes.com:

Before you decide whether the parent writing this note was reasonable or not, consider that it was posted in the LOBBY OF AN APARTMENT BUILDING, where a “meet and greet” was being held for said baby. I was never a germaphobe when my babies were little, but I also didn’t host parties for them in public thoroughfares.

It does seem to me like the sterilize everything around a newborn thing has been increasing in intensity. Recently, I visited some friends who just had their first- they greeted me in the mudroom/foyer of their home, which was plastered with laminated signs listing the baby’s “rules,” such as taking one’s shoes off before entering. Gladly would I have, had I ever actually been invited inside. Our whole meeting took place in the vestibule, since apparently they preferred visitors not enter the actual home in the first place. I did understand their horror: I was holding Maddie on my hip, who kept lurching at their newborn with her fat, dirty fingers, saying “Bayy beee… BAAYYY BEEE…” (and yes, I managed to keep her away).

I do think the writer of this note deserves some credit, for not writing it in the voice of the baby: “Hey, there! I’d love to meetcha, but Mommy says you have to Purell first! Ga ga goo goo!” Then, they really would deserve the public ridiculing they are receiving courtesy of the internet.