Sunday, February 22, 2009

Orange Underbelly


Well, that “Orange Underground” Cheetos ad campaign has been around for a year now, and damned if they didn’t get me. I can’t believe it. After a year of scrambling for the remote control to make it stop – one year of being simply confounded by the ads when I did have to sit through them (“Why are they doing this? On what planet would this ad even work?”) – I found myself facing a selection of bagged salt-o-riffic snack foods, remembering that landromat commercial, and selecting a bag of Cheetos. No kidding.

Not only that, but I let the kids have some too. They caught me surreptitiously opening the bag in the front seat before we pulled out of our Target parking space, and the jig was up. I gave them each one and started a minor feeding frenzy of my own as the questions began.

“Mommy, why did you buy Cheetos?” asked The Boy.

“I don’t know. I was just in the mood for an unhealthy snack.”

“Aren’t Cheetos healthy?”


“Mommy how do they make Cheetos? Do they take a bunch of cheese and smush it all together?”

“No, honey. It’s cheese-flavored chemicals and fried bread dust,” I explained, winding my way out of the parking lot and lipping powdery cheese dust from my index finger.

“I want-a more chip! More chip!” Little Girl insisted. I grudgingly complied. At least she doesn’t know them by name. Yet.

How did I get here? Not that long ago I was walking home from the local food co-op with a baby in a sling and a backpack full of organic, dye-free treats. Sadly, my pricey trips to the food co-op were one of the first things we slashed from the budget when money got tight.

That still doesn’t excuse the Cheetos, though. What was I thinking? Even now, Mr. Black is watching the ad on YouTube over my shoulder and sputtering “Why would they base an ad campaign on their product being so disgustingly colored that you can use it to permanently destroy other people’s clothing?” And I completely agree with him. This has been my stance all along. So how did they get me?

Let’s take another look at that commercial: A cute Everybrunette realizes she’s dropped her undies on the laundromat floor, cringes and hurries to pick them up. But not before some Angela-from-“The-Office” clone shames her with a disgusted look and a cutting remark. The brunette looks irritated but hopelessly resigned. And then Chester (Cheetos’ version of The Simpsons’ Poochie) appears before her like some mystical anti-Obi-Wan of pranks, encouraging her to strike back by placing a handful of Cheetos in the dryer with Angela’s whites. Look again and Chester is gone. Cool brunette pops a Cheeto and looks into the camera with wide-eyed resolve before the message “Join Us” appears on the screen.

In an interview with, managing partner Robert Riccardi of ad agency Goodby Silverstein had this to say:
. . . Chester's mischievous new personality stems from the idea that ‘powering down’ Cheetos as an adult ‘feels like a nonconformist moment. You're supposed to be eating arugula dip, but you have a nonconforming desire.’ Thus we see Chester (Riccardi says he exists only in our deep subconscious) encouraging people to shatter all sorts of adult norms.
Okay. Fair enough. But I suspect there’s something more at work here. Maybe it’s intentional, maybe not. But it seems to me like there’s something very specifically aimed at women in this ad.

While women are just as susceptible to “nonconforming desire” as anyone else, I’d guess that we tend not to be big Cheetos consumers. So many snacks are just way more impossible to avoid. If you’re female, there’s practically a cultural imperative to crave chocolate or cheesecake (although I’m not a big fan of either). It’s easy to slip up and order crème brûlée for dessert. It’s easy to polish off a few string cheeses with the kids or have a beer or two with your husband at the end of an exhausting day. But those shiny bags of toxically fluorescent orange cheese blobs with a mascot aimed at teen boys? That’s pretty easy to avoid.

So now we have this feisty girl who finds the spirit to fight the judgmental bitches of the world in her bag of Cheetos. She takes the very messiness of the snack that one might instinctively find unappealing and finds empowerment there instead. Cheetos transform her from ashamed and beaten to sassy and subversive. Join us.

But how does it really feel to consume a bag of Cheetos?

There might be a little sassy subversion in the initial purchase. As a grown up, and especially as a mother, you spend so much time telling yourself “no.” No, you can’t blow off the preschool meeting. No, you can’t afford an extra vacation with just you and your husband. No, you can’t go to the bathroom by yourself. You work so hard, put yourself dead last, but you’re constantly messing up anyway and there are plenty of people standing there ready to judge. How incredibly gratifying to put a little “yes” in your day once in a while. Yes, we are going to listen to Sleater-Kinney instead of Choo Choo Soul. Yes, I am meeting my old co-workers for happy hour. Yes, I am going to buy this bag of forbidden junk food.

So, there’s that. But how does it feel to actually eat them? Gratifying. Maybe even a little stimulating, The flavor and texture are evocative, possibly reminding you of better food. But this is food on crack. And when the intensity of salt, sugar, and MSG kick in with a salivating shock, your jaws work a little faster and your mouth is somehow busier than it is with real food. It’s not just a snack; it’s a process.

And then, about halfway through the bag, you realize “Wait. These taste disgusting. Why don’t I just lick the inside of a salt shaker and be done with it?” So you stop. Stop. Close up the bag, put it somewhere out of reach. And if you’re lucky, that bag will stay closed until someone else comes along to finish it for you. But it’s more likely you’ll be driven to see this snack attack through to the bitter end, slogging through the now-overwhelming salt/fat/crunchiness of it all just for the sense of completion and to have them gone. Ugh. Gone. It’s a little like letting yourself cry. It works, but somehow you feel a little worse afterwards.

There’s no harm in it, really. Everything in moderation, right? I’m just noticing how very far the ad’s promise of empowerment falls from the actual Cheetos-eating experience. But there’s one important part they got right: That girl’s face when the other woman smacks her down. She wants to say something, but she knows she’s been beaten. She sighs, puts her hand on her hip and wonders what to do, knowing there’s really nothing she can do. That’s got to be my face at least once a day, probably more. But no amount of Cheetos-stuffing is going to set it right, talking cheetah or no. Having downed that whole bag on the drive home from Target, I can say that with absolute certainty.

I’ve been an advertising worker-bee myself, and I certainly don’t hold it against these folks for doing their job (and doing it so insidiously well!). I’m just a little surprised that I fell for it myself, that’s all. But tomorrow’s another day. Time to have a nice virtuous glass of water and get some rest.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mix Tape Love

PJ Harvey and Nick Cave

“Reconnecting” for me doesn’t look much like anything you’d see in a parenting magazine article. I’ve sailed past the no brainers like “make time for each other” and gone straight to a more literal, almost visceral sense of reconnection; as if something has actually been severed and we press its bleeding parts back together, letting it flow and heal while I hold him in an exquisite, bittersweet limbo.

When you’ve dated for as long as I did, you learn the hard way never to assume that your experience is the other person’s experience. And I’m not going to make that assumption here, either. It wouldn’t surprise or even disappoint me to learn that Mr. Black barely detected last week’s disturbance in the Force. Sure, he knows there was some fighting and miscommunication. He knows his wife morphed into a shrill teenager for a few scary moments, he knows we fought like stray cats late into the night, and he knows that eventually we found our way back to some intelligent, respectful discourse and mutual understanding. He knows there was killer make-up sex, and he’s gladly accepted the fight’s resolutions at face value. And now, he’s happily settled back into the status quo.

And so have I. But I don’t take last week’s disturbance as a minor bump in the road, and I don’t take our reconciliation lightly. In fact, I’m surprised to find myself feeling more deeply, more terrifyingly in love with him than I have in a long while. Who knew? Faced with even the slightest threat to our relationship, something clawed through some layers of sweet complacency and made me crave him like a teenager again. Except this is nothing like being newly in love.

This has all the passion, all the darkness, all the terror and thrills that a young romance inspires. But this is incredibly more sober and grave. We have hard core life experience and a shared history here. We know there are more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in our old moody mix tapes. And while the future is still uncertain, it’s no longer open and wild. We know it’s going to be him, me, our children, and a whole big bucket of whatever life decides to sling in our direction, good or bad. How intensely, almost unbearably sweet to realize that amid all our frustrations and misunderstandings, no matter how content we’ve become . . . I still have this bottomless need for him in my life.

And there he is, snoozing on the couch like any other thirtysomething husband. In a minute or two, I’ll wake him up and he’ll grumble off to do the dishes. Maybe I can talk him into watching a movie, or maybe he’ll want to go to bed. And before long, maybe even by tomorrow, my layers of complacency are going to heal themselves and I won’t feel this same delicious desperation anymore. That’s the thing about these long-term relationships. It’s ebb and flow. Always ebb and flow.

But I want to remember this feeling. It’s not often you get to be madly, unreasonably in love with someone and share a living room with them, too.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Wendy Trap


I haven’t introduced my kids to Disney’s Peter Pan, mainly because of the negative Native American stereotypes. But I was reading the Golden Book version to another little girl recently, and this whole other level of "awful" that I’d forgotten about came rushing back to hit me on an unexpected gut level: Wendy’s miserable, degrading time in Neverland.

Do you remember this? Peter’s gal-pal Tinkerbell can’t stand her. She makes Wendy into a joke at every opportunity, tries to get Peter’s buddies The Lost Boys to shoot her down. Peter rescues Wendy, only to ditch her for some sexy mermaids, actually laughing while they tease her mercilessly. Then he ditches them all to rescue “Indian” princess Tiger Lily and they dance and flirt while Wendy is forced to collect firewood with the homely squaws. Neverland? Sounds like every bad party I ever attended in my twenties. Hell, it sounds a lot like right now, actually.

Last night I emerged from two days of vertigo, which followed a week of worry over The Boy’s school stuff, which had landed on top of a big pile of mundane-but-persistent domestic worries that’s been accumulating for some time now. Anyway, I emerged from this heap of crap to find my Mr. Black in a slightly better mood than usual. He has an unusual spring in his step this week, a friendliness to him that I don’t see much of anymore. He’s usually all “Time to make the donuts” this and “Gotta watch Wapner” that. But these days he’s got a spark. Lighter. Joking. More flirtatious and a little nervous. And it’s all because his old girlfriend is coming to town. Which feels a lot like Captain Hook’s cannonball blown right through my cloud.

But what can I do about it? Nothing, that’s what. He wouldn’t see her if I asked him not to. But that wouldn’t erase his feelings for her. It wouldn’t somehow magically transfer those feelings from her to me. It would just make me seem even more like the unreasonable ball-and-chain that our culture already expects a wife to be. I truly wish I could just let him go and not be the least bit bothered. But, as the great Mr. Croce once said, that’s not the way it feels.

Of course I trust him to be physically faithful to me. Of course I do. But sex isn’t even the point, really. His dreams and his good moods are all caught up in this other woman. Technically that’s not infidelity. That’s just a big slimy bucket of “Sucks for you, wife.”

Monogamy. It’s the “Wendy” trap. Once you pin yourself down to a guy, it’s all over. You might start out as Tinkerbell, but somehow, even if you’re still independent, sexy, and free in a million ways, your devotion to the guy morphs you into a de facto Wendy of sorts. Suddenly there’s all that messy unpleasantness of actually loving him to the point where you’d be devastated if he decided to stop loving you back. Suddenly you’re vulnerable and foolish, and a lot less alluring than you used to feel.

Being Tinkerbell, the buddy, the “not girlfriend” is a hard identity to let go. It’s so much happier to be light and free. Instead of a boyfriend, you have a pack of platonic male friends; your Lost Boys. You can tease each other, quote Star Wars and The Simpsons, out-gross each other, bask in a little harmless sexual tension safe in the knowledge that it’s never going anywhere. Now that’s Neverland!

But once you’re a girlfriend, even if nothing ostensibly changes . . . it changes. Now it’s just you and one guy teasing each other and quoting The Simpsons. Sexual tension gives way to actual sex, which is divine, of course, but not without its messy emotional complications. And now there’s waking up together and seeing each other when we’re bored or ugly or preoccupied. It’s not just a delicious distraction anymore. So, either it stops being fun and fizzles out. Or you grow fonder somehow, latch on to deeper feelings, hold on tight, and dive into the murky seas of “relationship” together.

And that’s lovely. But you’re never going to be Tinkerbell in the context of that relationship again. Nobody’s that cool. Sooner or later you’re going to need something from him that’s going to make you seem like a bitch. Or a ball and chain. But you’re going to need it anyway, and not asking just makes things worse. Sooner or later you’re going to need him to grow up a little. Enter Wendy.

It was a struggle for me at first, but I’ve made my peace with it over time. And I realize I’m being a little unfair here. I’ve written about my own crushes and distractions, always making a clear distinction between a wandering mind and a faithful heart. If I can recognize this in myself, surely I can extend the same courtesy to him?

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But I can’t seem to get my heart around that level of emotional rationality. I suppose I’ve always viewed my own crushes and distractions as a sort of defense mechanism. He’s caught up in all his male angst weight-of-the-world whatnot, preoccupied with worries he doesn’t like to share. He’s indifferent to about 85% of my affection. He doesn’t lavish me with the kind of Twilightesque adoration that melts my toes, so I sometimes happen upon imaginary toe-melting elsewhere. Meanwhile, I’m tired and stressed and preoccupied myself. I’m probably missing his affection cues, too. Since I’ve started writing again, I’m usually pounding away at the computer when he goes to bed, barely acknowledging his goodnight kiss. So, who can say?

Some of my faithful readers out there in Blogspotland may have some concerns. Why am I writing about this here instead of talking to him? Well, I can reassure you that this is all well-covered territory around here. This is not the first time this woman and his feelings for her have darkened our metaphorical doorstep. I haven’t written anything here that I haven’t already said to him. He tries to be respectful about it, tries to keep that spark for his old girlfriend contained. But sparks are impossible to completely contain.

So why am I sitting here typing in my jammies instead of parading around in Victoria’s Secret to lure his attention back to me? Because I’m sad and my heart's not in it. And besides, I’m pretty sure attraction doesn’t work that way. Okay, so maybe I spend a fair amount of my day covered in toddler snot. Maybe I have to be the bearer of bad news sometimes, or even the one who nags. But I’m still pretty damn desirable for an almost-40-year-old mom, and I know he appreciates this. We still genuinely adore each other through our fog of life’s distractions. We still have fun together. We still feel loved. But how can a wife of seven years compete with the fireworks that a guy’s long lost youth inspires? It’s not my fault. And it’s not his fault, either. It’s just there.

I’ll tell you what seems really distasteful right now, though, and that’s one of these “put spice back in your marriage” solutions. Spice schmice. All the date nights and non-missionary-position sex in the world won’t make us new to each other again. I wouldn’t turn it down, of course. But it’s not going to solve this problem. He’s never going to look at me the way he did when we first met, when I was full of mystery and possibility. When I wasn’t such an open book.

This guy’s seen me cry, sweat, lose jobs, vomit, accidentally set a menu on fire, and wash period stains out of my panties in his bathroom sink. This guy has seen me through five miscarriages and two full-term pregnancies, seen me flat on my back with my guts slopping out of an incision while he held our new baby across the room. He’s seen my grey hairs emerge, wrinkles emphasize my smirk lines, and my once-extraordinary sexual capabilities sputter and sigh like an old car under the pressure of mom-hormones and sheer exhaustion. We aren’t just “married” on paper; this is in our blood somehow.

But spice? Spice might get us laid a little more often, but it will never bring back the storm of a first love. Having met each other in our late twenties, it’s possible we never felt that degree of unbearably intense passion for each other in the first place. Oh, there was passion, of course. We were very swept away by each other. But we were tired, too, and ready for comfort. We proceeded directly to long weekends in each other’s arms and a sort of mutual giddiness just to be sharing a movie rental. There was no drama then, and there’s certainly no drama now.

Well . . . except for this business of him seeing his old girlfriend.

But, as I said, there’s nothing to be done about it. I trust him, but I don’t have it in me to even pretend to be cool about it. It hurts like a paper cut; small but insidious, bleeding way more than it reasonably should. But I know in my heart it’s not personal. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to realize that these distractions are natural, inevitable, and bear no real implications on the love we have for each other. And I know this pain will pass. She’ll come to town, he’ll be all twitter-paited and distracted by her for a few days, and it will gradually pass. A little blood in a wide, strong river. And the river simply washes it away.

Hopefully sooner than later. Happy thoughts, Wendy girl.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

And Sometimes There’ll Be Sorrow

I had one of those “bad parent” moments today when you slip up and say something terrible. I don’t even remember the exact words, but I expressed some general frustration with The Boy’s constant, heartbreaking disappointment in me. He’s like the robot kid in AI in his unconditional adoration, yearning for me by his side even at my ugliest. His love for me is so pure and relentless, so overwhelming, so largely undeserved.

And I don’t mean “undeserved” in a self-deprecating way. I know I’m worthy of being loved. But I am not worthy of this degree of . . . devotion. I see how much faith he has in my ability to move mountains and make his world right, and I know for a fact that I am continuously failing these expectations. Because how could anyone not?

Those images of Flight 1549 survivors awaiting rescue have been haunting me for weeks now. There were mothers on that plane with their children. I keep imagining how that must have felt as the plane was going down, not knowing what would happen once it hit, but knowing your child fully expected nothing less than your sheer Mommy Power to keep them safe against all odds, with so many opportunities to fail. This is why I can’t sleep sometimes.

Even before I was a parent, the most memorable scene in Titanic for me was that mother putting her children to bed, lulling them to sleep with a wonderful story even as she knows the ship is going down. (Yep, I'm tearing up just typing about it now.) Imagine being able to comfort someone so completely in the face of certain death. Would I have it in me if it came to that? I’m trying to imagine putting my kids to bed under those circumstances, and all I can see is the panic and desperation in my son’s face when some disappointment far less serious than a sinking ship has happened. It’s too awful to even consider.

Statistically it seems likely that we’ll be spared any such disasters, but the whole grisly scenario is such an apt metaphor for how I’ve been feeling about being his mother lately. He is looking to me for the pure reassurance and safety he probably felt as a baby, back when I really could meet his every last need. Oh, I loved the newborn phase. Never in a million years would I have expected to love it, but I did. What a dreamy little life we had together, drifting through a Seattle spring and summer in his Baby Bjorn, having our little adventures.

Things didn’t get complicated until he learned to walk. Because once he’d mastered walking, he moved efficiently on to pushing down any kid that got in his way. All toddlers go through this at some point. His sister is two and she pushes from time to time. But this was every. single. time. And he wouldn’t just push. He would go after the other kid like it was a bar brawl or something. And then if he saw that same kid again on the playground later, he’d go after them again with Kill Bill intensity.

And there I was: shy, nerdy, socially awkward me. I was always the kid on the playground who wouldn’t talk to anyone or play with anyone. Nice to see that my child wouldn’t have that particular problem. But how awful to be thrust into his spotlight like this, constantly swooping in to avert disaster and apologizing to the other parents. They were usually understanding, but sometimes not. Sometimes my most sincere apologies and concern wouldn’t stop the occasional mom from sniping at me in that sarcastic, impatient tone usually reserved for being unpleasant to their waitresses.

I love my lefty-loosey Seattle, and I’m as PC as the next Birkenstock Mom. But there’s an attitude in this community that can really leave you cold. They’re big on “empathy,” but you’ll see very little of it if you step outside the lines. For example, I once admitted to some moms at his toddler preschool that I was proud to see him assert himself at a community playgroup. (The same big kid kept trying to take his toy away, but he held his ground and the big kid eventually gave up.) The other moms were speechless, kind of eyeballing each other uncomfortably like I’d just admitted to a crack habit. Finally, one of them compared my story to the families at an inner-city school where she’d taught. “If a child got hit, the parents would encourage him to hit back,” she said, shaking her head while everyone “tsk’d” and I squirmed.

Another time, The Boy was in the middle of a five-alarm toddler meltdown when we were approached by a beardo dad and his daughter. In some misguided attempt at John Gottman’s “emotional intelligence,” he barged into our little circle of tantrum and said “Excuse me. My daughter was just wondering why this little boy is crying?”

I took a deep breath. “He was really hoping to ride on the black swing,” I explained gently to the wide-eyed moppet while my son wailed behind me. “He’s very disappointed to have the orange swing instead of the black swing.”

The moppet looked at her beaming dad and said to him “That’s silly.”

“It is silly, isn’t it?” the dad joyfully affirmed. “You don’t care which color swing you go on, do you?” Moppet shook her head proudly, and off they went.

I was too stunned to respond. How nice that our public struggle was co-opted into a walking “Caillou” episode for the precocious neighborhood children. Really, where’s the empathy in that?

Anyway. This is the social climate in which The Boy blossomed into full-blown wildness. Pushing turned into biting other kids. Attachment turned into intense separation anxiety. Energy turned into pinching my arms and wrenching my neck in an attempt to climb to some unclimbable part of my body. He’d get as close to me as he could get and then try to get closer still, constantly burrowing, never settling down. I used to joke that he was trying to get back into the womb. But I was only half-joking.

There was a lot of work to be done. Thankfully he had an excellent preschool teacher who rallied the class to support us, and the biting stopped within a few weeks. I immersed myself in parenting books, classes, workshops, and online communities. Parents like to gripe about this stuff, but I was fortunate enough to find a variety of resources that saved my sanity and helped me turn out real results. High-fives to writers like Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Crary, and John Gottman; online communities like Hipmama and Offsprung; and my IRL parent-friends and preschool teachers. Without these folks, I’d be curled up in a ball in some corner with big clumps of hair falling out. (That reminds me, big high-fives to The Simpsons, too. And coffee. I’d also like to thank coffee.)

Earlier this month, I was so happy to realize that I’ve made it this far into the school year without crying in my car after a parent-teacher conference. He’s been getting along at preschool like any other kid, making real friends, playing well with others, resolving conflicts, self-soothing, using his extensive vocabulary. It’s been such hard work, but the methods I’ve learned have been working. He’s made such progress.

Except . . . there have been some occasional slips. He freaks out at even the slightest disruption to the routine. Stories and lessons that are emotionally evocative upset him. He doesn’t hit or push so much, but his conflicts with other kids often leave him wildly frustrated and intensely inconsolable. And sometimes, there is fighting. These incidents were isolated at first, but they’ve added up. In fact, this week officially ended my no-crying-after-a-teacher-meeting streak. Progress or not, he’s still raising red flags for people.

And here we are. My sweet, smart, incredibly verbal little boy who prefers to hear 3rd-grade-level science books for his bedtime stories might not be fit for kindergarten in the fall. Well, that’s one theory, anyway. And it’s a theory that’s mainly held by other well-meaning parents. Redshirting is fairly common these days, and in many instances it’s a good choice. Maybe I’d consider it if he had a summer birthday, but he turns five this April. By the time the school year begins, he’ll be almost 5-1/2.

I know and admire parents who homeschool, but it is not for me. I love The Boy dearly but I would go batty from the stress of having him home all the time, and I know he would miss the social component of school. (As it is now, he can barely get through the weekend without asking when he’s going to see his preschool friends again.) And the kindergarten teachers I’ve spoken to have been very reassuring so far. “Bring it on,” they say. “That’s what kindergarten is for.” He’s going. More community, less Mommy. It takes a village, people.

But it won’t be easy. I can’t just throw him into a public kindergarten class like a Looney Tunes stick of dynamite, run away and hold my ears. There will have to be some evaluation on some level, if only to help me advocate for him more effectively in the public school system. People are so quick to label and pathologize the slightest unwanted behavior these days, but if there’s truly an issue there then I suppose it’s better we know about it sooner rather than later. I will have to carefully get him placed with the right teacher, and be ready to change course if it’s clearly a disaster. I’ll have to keep stuffing down my own social anxiety to go do what needs to be done to help him be successful in school. Because I really believe he’s capable of meeting the challenge. I’ve seen him do it before.

He won’t appreciate any of my efforts, and I don’t expect him to. He doesn’t appreciate how I stayed up all those nights with his little infant self, getting puked on and holding him for hours at a time until my wrists went numb. In his mind, that’s exactly as it should be. Which is why his heart breaks and his eyes fill up with tears when he can’t tear me away from my e-mail long enough to read him the Bionicles page in the Lego catalog. Again.

I know. Someday he’ll be 14 and won’t want anything to do with me. I keep trying to remind myself that and engage with him now as much as possible. And truly, he is more amazing than I can even allow myself to acknowledge. His vast imagination and earnest words. His pure enjoyment in the things he loves. His ability to tell stalactites from stalagmites. Our shared love of The B-52’s. And so much more, but how to possibly list it all without sounding like gushy? You get the idea.

But let’s get back to that plane crash metaphor. Because life is so wonderful, but so treacherous. As I get ready to send him out in the world, every fiber of my experience warns me that this plane is going down. Maybe not catastrophically. But it won’t be a “Barney” episode, either. There will be excellent teachers and administrators, and there will be awful ones. There will be great friends, and friends who ditch him once they decide he’s too weird. There will be all sorts of setbacks that I can’t even imagine right now. But I can’t shield him from it anymore than I can let him crawl back into the womb. He’ll have a strong foundation of love and support at home, and he will crash and tumble, learn and cry, and pick himself up a stronger person.

Just like his mother.

Me and The Boy in our early days.
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