500 posts. Still blogging.

As this summer winds down, I am marking the fifth anniversary of starting my blog.

Not only that: this is my five hundredth post.

I started blogging in July 2007, after finishing the New York run of my show Mother Load. The press agent said I should start a blog so if people went to the show’s website, there’d be something to keep them there. And so my sister taught me how to use Blogspot, and I hung out a shingle:

Pregnancy is so long that any time you feel like you’ve gotten somewhere, you just have to look at it from the “time remaining” vantage point to realize that you still have oceans of time before you. 13 weeks? That’s enough time to write a freaking novel or train for a marathon. And I have already been at this since JANUARY.

Nobody commented on that first post. Nobody commented for the first couple of months. I’m not sure anyone was reading. It took me a bit to realize I was supposed to be part of a community, reading and commenting on others’ blogs, linking back and forth, finding a community one reader at a time.

That pregnancy, almost certainly my last, is now far behind me (that occupant of my belly, who just interrupted this blog post to tell me my “favorite show” was on, will start pre-K in two weeks). Five years and five hundred posts later, I still wonder who’s reading, and I’m still shocked and delighted that anyone does. I post here once a week when it should be daily. I should have a vlog and a podcast. This blog could be bigger and better. I resolve to make it a priority. And then I don’t.

Still, when I look back, I can’t believe what this blog has given me: a writing career. Being part of Listen To Your Mother. Advice and encouragement from strangers, many times over. And friends– smart, funny, insightful women with tons to say and whose own online writing has made me laugh, and cry, and feel so much less alone. (See “blog roll” at the bottom.)

I’m not always so good at this blogging thing. Sometimes blogging is just another arena in which to feel bad about oneself, feel shamed at one’s lowly monthly pageviews and soaring bounce rate. Like motherhood, there is always a way to be blogging a little bit better, and always someone there to tell you how they’re scaling those heights of achievement. That can make me feel motivated; it can also make me feel discouraged.

But for today, I’ll choose to feel proud. 5 years, 500 posts, and if I’ve made a few people laugh, or nod, or just feel better, then I am extraordinarily lucky. As my blogging friend Kyran Pittman has pointed out, having a blog means your writing has an immediate audience, and whether we have millions of readers or dozens, how very lucky we are: we are saying something, and we are being heard.

Thanks for being on this journey with me.

don’t expect the opposite, either

Readers, I am happy to report that Seamus has recovered very nicely from his pneumonia and was declared officially able to resume normal activity as of today. This was very good news for Mom, since it was a looonnnng few summer’s days spent indoors, me trying to sneak emails in here and there while forbidding him even one more minute of Dragonvale on the iPad. I couldn’t let him have “screen time” 24/7, but without  it, he was irritable, headachy, out of sorts, and bored– that is, unless I put aside whatever notions of a productive afternoon I might have had in order to keep him company.

On Day Three of our quarantine, Seamus decided that what he wanted to do most was set up an epic battle called

“Robots vs. LEGOs”


which he would execute–and I would give my complete and uninterrupted attention– for each of its umpteen rounds of competition.

(Why yes, that is a beautiful sunny day outside, seen streaming in behind the competitors.)

Scoring would be kept via a complicated system of strips of cut-up Post-It notes. Five strikes against a LEGO guy meant he lost one of his LEGOs. He had to lose all of his LEGOs to die. (There went my afternoon.)

After a lengthy preamble on each of the team’s powers, which I tuned out with dreams of Facebook and what everyone was talking about without me, we were nearly ready to begin.

SEAMUS: So Mom. Who do you want to win?

MOM: Um. Who are the good guys again?

SEAMUS: Mom! You weren’t listening!

(I wasn’t listening.)

MOM: Of course I was! I just want to make sure I have it right.

SEAMUS: The LEGOs are the good guys.

MOM: Then I want the LEGOs to win.

(Seamus thinks about this for a minute.)

SEAMUS: Okay. Time to START! THE!– wait, Mom. Don’t just think I’m going to give you a happily ever after ending.

MOM: Oh no, I don’t.

SEAMUS: And that the good guys are definitely going to win.

MOM: I don’t.

SEAMUS: So now who do you want to win?

MOM: (taking this apparent invitation to change my allegiance) I want the robots to win.

SEAMUS: Right. Time to START! THE!–

He pauses.

SEAMUS: But don’t expect the opposite ending, either.

I assured him I did not. I learned about eight years ago never to expect anything at all with Seamus. Doing that only ensures its inverse.

The robots won, by the way, because they in fact could fly even though the LEGO guys didn’t know that. Well played, bad guys.

those who cannot remember strep throat are doomed to repeat it

Fool me once? Shame on you.

Fool me twice a year for a decade? So much shame I’m soaking in it.

We just finished a long weekend’s visit with seven cousins between five and fifteen- a visit to which my 8-year-old son Seamus had looked forward for weeks. When the day of their arrival dawned, the kids asked when they’d be coming so many times I had to set my phone’s alarm and threaten a world of punishment to anyone who asked EVEN ONCE MORE before the alarm went off.

But once the cousins came, Seamus didn’t want to run and play, didn’t want to play Legos with his cousin, didn’t want S’mores, didn’t want to go to the beach, didn’t want to, didn’t want to.

And I spent four days rolling my eyes at him but refusing to give it any more attention- I had eighteen people to make lunch for.

As soon as the cousins left yesterday, and the house was quiet, Seamus coughed. “Where’d you get that cough?” I asked. He shrugged.

A few minutes later, he came over and hugged me around the waist. Burning hot. Are you listening yet, Mom? Fever: 102.

This morning, the doctor told me that he has pneumonia, is very sick, and needs at least a week of rest. Maybe more, since I spent all weekend dragging him out of his room and to all sorts of places he was TELLING ME he didn’t want to go.

Kids get sick. It’s not like I could have prevented the pneumonia from happening. But how many times do I have to learn the same lesson? When a kid is cranky, REALLY cranky, he’s probably sick. REALLY sick.

I learned this six years ago when Seamus the toddler clung to me in the kiddie pool on vacation (ear infection). I learned this again four years ago when Connor cried at the slightest provocation for a week (respiratory infection).

I learned this and blogged about it right here two summers ago when Seamus had no seeming interest in his birthday presents, because he had a 102 fever. Again. I called that post “worst mother ever,” but I think I’m really just deserving of that title about now.

Seamus is going to be fine, by the way- he’s on a heavy dose of Scooby-Doo and antibiotics. This too shall pass. It’s my own dunderheadedness I can’t seem to find a cure for.

Please tell me you have done this also- assumed that your kid was just being a pain in the ass when in reality it was scabies?


what the Olympians thanking their moms don’t know

It’s a completely different experience watching the Olympics as a parent, isn’t it? As a child, I felt strongly that only a few hours of practice and the right coach were all that kept me from actually BEING Nadia Comaneci or Mary Lou Retton.

Same haircut, for one thing. And I mean, I could do that dismount pose with the crazy hyper-arched back so well.

if you squint, it’s totally me, right?

But I’m watching the 2012 Olympics, and most of the athletes are half my age. And while their grace and skill are thrilling, here’s who I’m identifying with right here.

I hope you have watched Aly Raisman’s parents react to her routine at least a dozen times by now; if not, I’ll wait here while you do, because, as Maggie Dammit put it,

“Alexandra Raisman’s parents just made my entire Olympics experience. I can turn the TV off forever now.”

(At least until Kristen Wiig returns to play Mama Raisman in the SNL season opener.)

I was surprised and dismayed by some of the reactions to the Raismans’ level of stress and involvement as seen here. “What a stage mother,” some said, or “What nightmares for parents.” I can only assume that the people who reacted that way aren’t parents themselves. I’ve nail-chewed my way through seven years’ worth of school Christmas concerts so far, and I’m not sure a videocamera trained on me would be much different.

When I look at that video, I see parents who have stopped at nothing to enable their daughter’s dream, who have put their own lives on hold for what? eight years?, who have every last penny invested in their Team USA Polo shirts. Let’s hope it was because that’s what their daughter wanted, but either way, we wouldn’t be chanting “USA!” without them.

Procter and Gamble figured this out, and their “Thanks Mom!” ad campaign sets out to honor the Olympic moms and all that they’ve done. As a mother, though, I find the sentiments of the Olympians in those ads a tad disappointing. Aly Raisman’s own tribute said her mom was great because “she’s always doing my laundry.” Aly, I think your laundry is about #50 on the list of great things your mother has done for you. (In her defense, Aly claimed on the Today show that she had had no idea that’s what her parents were really doing up there in the stands.)

Gabby Douglas left her sentiments at “My mom is awesome. Thanks, Mom!” and left out the part where her single-parent mother sent her halfway across the country to live with strangers because she was told that was best for Gabby’s career. By all indications, it was, but it couldn’t have been easy.

When I see those “Thanks Mom!” ads, I am torn between laughing and wanting to bean the fit youngster right through the television with a pair of the socks I am folding as I watch. They so don’t get it, I think. But maybe that’s the point. They’re living their dream, they’re on top of the world, they’re having their moments in the spotlight- and Mom? Oh yeah, sure, she’s awesome in that mom kind of way. Right there behind me every step of the way. Right where she was supposed to be.

Maybe it’s the very confidence of these young people that their mothers’ dedication is everyday, nothing special, and utterly dependable that got them where they are in the first place. And maybe they really don’t get it. But that’s just another sign of their mothers having done a great job.