The Missing Element?

From Motherlode to Mamiverse the discussions on balancing family, work, parental roles, marriage, and life in general continues to be juggled between the parents and most of the time, it seems, excludes the kids.

Why aren’t our children part of the discussion?

When my sons were just beginning grade school and learning about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I introduced them to John F. Kennedy. They were on the apex of an “I want” blue streak, (insert toy, DVD, pet, or candy).

I was primed to give them my usual spiel about the importance of earning and saving their money, but instead remarked, “You know, an older friend of mine, someone like Grammy, once said to me when I was young, “…ask not what your parents can do for you; ask what you can do for your parents.” I apologized to President Kennedy for masticating his legendary quote, but someone like their grandmother packed a bigger punch than a president. They stared back at me with furrowed eyebrows.  I explained that my older friend was asking us to think of others.

Now my sons are leaving high school and I continue to remind them, using the correct version of President Kennedy’s quote, that the world doesn’t owe them anything, instead its about them contributing to their world, community, and  family.

So, how do we include our children?

Crazy, Loco Love on MITM

When it comes to loving my teenagers, Crazy Loco Love stretches me just shy of breaking point. At times, the connection between our children almost seems hardwired to snap, split, and break away while they reach for adulthood. They seem like strangers when they’re sheathed in snarky self-absorption. The plausibility of body snatching pods intensifies: I’ve stared into their eyes, just in case.

My mother used to call it amor salvaje, a rough and tumble love. Before becoming a mother, I conjured up Rarotonga, the love goddess of the jungle featured in the weekly fotonovelas we swapped with friends. My mom meant teenagers baring more than just teeth and stomping their way through life, “Just wait and see. Maybe you’ll be lucky.”

Now, I do see. My old-school Latina bag of tricks has a hole in one corner where lectures, ground rules, and pronouncements scatter and fall on deaf ears. The once tried and true approaches to keep conflict from boiling over are tattered from overuse and seldom catch my teenagers’ attention anyway.

Continue reading at Mothering In The… and when you’re done, please LIKE or retweet my post. Thanks!

Getting Closer!

Earlier this morning, I finalized the book cover changes with CreateSpace and should receive a physical copy in the mail early next week, if all goes well.

In the meantime, here’s what the front cover looks like…

SM_Book Cover


I’m in a reading slump.

There are two books of fiction and a memoir scattered around the house that I’m a few chapters into, but so far, theirs no tug at the bookworm in me. I’m not holding these highly regarded books responsible; its me.

Won’t you help?

I want to read.

I need the escape.

So, please recommend some of your favorites.

What books have sucked you out of the ordinary and taken you away?


What A Problem!

The New York Times’, The Motherlode needs blogs. KJ Dell’Antonia wants a fresh, new blogroll.

“So I’m hereby bringing back a Motherlode staple: the blogroll. A fresh, new blogroll, cleansed of the defunct and abandoned sites that once brought it down, and filled (I hope) with voices crying in the wilderness in the classic blog sense…. But what I really hope to share and read are bloggers doing the real thing: writing about life as a parent in a way that makes it all fresh and new and infuriating and joyful again…”

Well, let’s help her out! Please submit and other blogs you’ve been following and telling others about. Thanks!

A Valentine


A Valentine

Camouflaged Love

I received quite a few comments offline for yesterday’s post, On Loving a Teenager.   Parents at the end of their threadbare rope felt an instant of relief to know that what they were feeling for and from their teenagers was in fact love.

Doesn’t look like love. Doesn’t feel like love, but it is. At times it’s so messy, hurtful, and chaotic that a trace of harmony or hint of love can’t be found in the silence or obnoxious behavior, but it’s there.

My mother told me so countless times when we traded stories and I asked for advice. She’d endured eleven different types of teens, some were easier than others, but with each one of us, she dug deep and managed to find love to give and receive.

My Sally Fields’ Moment

When Sally Fields accepted her Oscar for Best Actress in Places of the Heart, I bet she never expected that one sentence of her heartfelt speech would’ve been taken out of context and brought on such ridicule.

“And I can’t deny the fact that you like me… right now… you like me.”

Sally Fields

Please, Like Stretch Marks!

 Muchas gracias for your company and support as I Indie-publish Stretch Marks! I’ve submitted the Book Cover Changes, Interior Layout, and the manuscript, which was proofed, again, by three different picky people, myself included. We were stunned to find   punctuation errors and extra spaces we’d missed. So, I proofed it again, just in case. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to purchase it by mid-February!

Reminder: Listen To Your Mother!

“A few weeks back, I alerted you to the Listen To Your Mother show, a national series of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day.

I’ll be auditioning in San Francisco on either February 10th or 12th. No, I haven’t secured an actual spot yet. This is just one of many ways I psych myself up.

“There’s no place like a stage. There’s no place like a stage…” Do you hear my heels clicking?

I’ve refined the five hundred and eleven words of my entry until I count each one in my sleep. I’m honing it with the precision essential to nail a spot.

But until my audition in February on that stage, I’m reading my piece out loud to adjust the flow as I work to stay under the strict five-minute maximum. I’m reminded of Nana Herminia’s advice, when I’d read a book report out loud to her: “keep them wanting more”. This applied to my boyfriends as well.

Reading for a handful of minutes may not seem like a big deal, but it is another calculated step in accomplishing my goal as an author.

I grew up among a witty and bold brood of eleven where we auditioned every day for my mother’s approval. Luckily for us, best behaved was not a category my mother deemed important. Best dressed, best manners, and best Spanish ranked high, but funniest reigned supreme in her book.

A witty joke or humorous story prompted her to stop whatever she was doing and award us with the best prize of all: her laughter. My mother didn’t giggle or chuckle. She threw her entire body into a laugh until her eyes squinted. That was golden! That was the equivalent of Johnny Carson’s okay sign to an up-and-coming comedian at the end of their routine.

That’s really what I’m striving for when I submit my piece, to hear my mother’s laughter.

I’m Your Mother, Not Your Maid

KJ Dell’Antonia raised an important issue in The New York Times, Motherlode about how parents who are convinced they don’t hover may not be stepping back to allow children to step up.

Most of us have great intentions when we do for our children, what they can, in fact, do for themselves. But I believe that it’s a disservice,in the long run, not only to our children, but also to us. They should be taught from an early age and be given the opportunity to become responsible for themselves.

I understand its gut wrenching for some parents to let go. I know it was for me. I remember the prideful delight when my adolescent sons rode their bikes to Jr. Lifeguards, instead of me chauffeuring them, during the summer. I’ll admit, I followed them once from a distance and barely managed not to scream when my older son showed off, riding with his arms up in the air. They learned more bike safety than any class could offer, found the best burritos on the way back home, and got to know their community. I garnered more than just time for myself. I was rewarded by their confident swagger.

They also learned to run most of the household appliances, all by themselves, at the tender age of eight. My mother was horrified and gently suggested I hire a housekeeper. I’ll admit it took a lot of patience on my part. It would’ve been easier for me to take over and do it to ‘my specifications’, but now when I hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner or the washing machine on a weekend as I’m heading out to the garden or a walk, well, it’s priceless.

As a Latina raised in a traditional home, I was resolved that my sons wouldn’t expect me to do all of the grunt work just because I was their mother.

Now both of my teenage sons know how to buy and bag groceries as well as whip up a decent meal. I eat with pleasure whether it’s slightly charred or am not in the mood for scrambled eggs with hotdogs, again. Eating a meal that I didn’t cook myself after a long day, is a gift.

Of course, they complain and give me dirty looks when I remind them that it’s their turn to wash the dinner dishes or clean their bathroom. They are teenagers after all.  But I hear the gratification in their voice when they correct folks who assume they don’t contribute to the running of our household.

How else do they learn that they are not entitled and exempt from the every day responsibilities of life?