The Mama is a closet vanity case. I hate that beauty matters so much but it does. Matter, that is.

While these facts remain true, I don’t talk about such things with The Kidling. Do I exercise regularly? Yes. Do I wear nice clothes? Yes. Do I take the five minutes for make-up? Yes. Do I comb my hair? Occasionally. Do I bathe?

Well… usually.

Ultimately, she sees what she chooses to notice, and I answer her questions candidly as they arise. I never really know what all The Kidling picks up on, but I wholeheartedly believe that if I want her to live an authentic life, then I should perform my identity in the way that comes naturally.

I was grabbing a pair of earrings one recent day when The Kidling informed me she had no interest in piercing her ears. “It’s more about how you feel, and safety, and how you’re scared, than beauty,” she said. She went on, mentioning a friend in her kindergarten class whose ears are pierced. The Kidling told me with great gravity that her friend Blanca is more concerned about beauty before bringing the discussion to a close with the assertion, “I’m for safety.” 

Remember that, wee one. Neither needles, nor heels, nor Spanx are more important than you keeping that tiny body happy.

flashes of brilliance (or sparkle, as the case may be)

This weekend, The Mama got her hair done. Finally. I’ve been rocking the same look for nearly two years, and the time had come. Now, we’re not talking about a little trim here. No, this was a major change: bangs. And it looks damn good, if I do say so myself.

The Kidling was less than convinced. When she first saw me, she smiled in greeting before her face fell. “I liked you better without those,” she informed me.

“You’ll get used to them,” I replied. The look in her eyes told me that was not likely.

Later, I told The Kidling we looked alike now, since we both had fringe on our foreheads. Clearly I was reaching, but I thought–perhaps–making the fringe seem more familiar might lead to less animosity. Right?

We walked to a mirror and studied our reflections. A moment passed before I noticed, “You can see my gray hairs now!”

“That’s too bad,” The Kidling responded.

“Oh no,” I corrected, “I like them. They’re sparkly!”

The Kidling shook her head, “The older you get, the less you’ll like them.”

How does this chiłd know everything?



The (old) Mama

The Kidling just walked in the door with her father. She didn’t see me, so I walked over to say hello.

        “Oh, you surprised me!” she exclaimed. She stopped, cocking her head and studying my face. Moments passed, then finally, “You look old!”

I laughed. The Dada laughed. She continued,

“Well, in those glasses, you look old.”

I laughed again. The Dada laughed harder. She went on. Again.

“You look like Carol. An old Carol.”

At this point, The Dada was struggling with his effort to contain his mirth. The Kidling ran from the room, heading toward the bathroom. She came to a sudden halt around the corner, then turned around and screeched back into the kitchen.

“At least you look like Nana. An old Nana.”


And as much as I love her beautiful, kind, and wise Nana Carol (though occasionally I am less fond of her mocking offspring, The Dada), I do believe I will be returning to my regular specs. This 30-something mother doesn’t need to look like anyone’s grandmother.

Also? The Kidling is a total shit.

Just like her father.


Overheard at Home Town water park: 

Darling kidling snuggles up to her mama, a (relatively) fit, obsessive pre-dawn runner. In a bikini. Exposed for the whole damn world to see.

Upon climbing onto The Mama’s lap, The Kidling snuggled in, resting her sweet head upon her mother’s abdomen. A smile in her voice, she kindly told The Mama, “you have a squishy tummy pillow.”

The Mama’s reply?

“Thank you.”

on beauty… or not

Confession: when I started this post, it was going to be funny. Nothing earth-shattering. You wouldn’t have spit out your lunch. You wouldn’t have peed your pants. You might not even have laughed out loud. But it was to be typical kidlingville fare.

As I was getting ready for work Tuesday morning, the Kidling looked at me and said, “You don’t look very pretty.” I was creating an opening and coming up with the perfect one-liner to close the post when I decided that wasn’t the post I wanted to write today.

You all know that story that has been making the rounds?  The one about mothers telling our daughters we are beautiful? It is every bit as amazing as folks are saying. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, then you can check it out here. Amanda King writes poignantly and with truth that lies in the depths of every mother’s soul.

Even in its general amazingness, I can’t subscribe to her thesis wholesale. Why? It is complicated.

For one thing, I don’t want physical beauty to be a priority for The Kidling. I get that Amanda King wasn’t saying that. I get that she is facing the reality of being female in this world where beauty is prized. And I get that she clearly has her priorities straight with regard to raising strong, thoughtful daughters.

Perhaps her age has something to do with it. She is young enough that I prefer her to use “beautiful” as an adjective to modify sunset, or song, or flower. A beautiful story. A beautiful painting. But not a face. I don’t want her worrying about that at four years old. Not yet.

Another reason? I am beautiful. Not crazy beautiful. Not model beautiful. Not breathtaking. But pretty enough that I don’t spend time worrying about it. And do you know what? It just isn’t that big of a deal. It is a convenience. A free pass. A smile and a held door once a month or so that might not otherwise be held. It might not be fair, but it is reality. Which is why it doesn’t define me.

The “me” I want The Kidling to identify when she thinks of me during her childhood is the one who is strong, loving, and smart. Maybe even sort of funny. An occasional pain in the ass and an irrational stickler when it comes to her dinner table behavior. A mother who would never raise a hand to her, and who apologized when she raised her voice (unless, of course, she totally deserved a grouchy mama due to her general stinkeriness at that given moment). I want her to recall her mother as fun and passionate, if flawed. And a mother who loved the shit out of her.

But beautiful? My soul, I should hope. My shell, I’m less concerned with. And I hope upon hope that she judges herself by that same standard.

The Mama stays in the picture

Perhaps you saw this Huffington Post article, “The Mom Stays in the Picture,” late last week. I thought it was terrific for two reasons. First, Allison Tate tells her story beautifully. Second, I know I should probably be better about doing it myself. If you are a mother or mother-figure, then you should read it and contribute a photo.

I also MIGHT have uploaded this shot to their album.

photo credit: The Stepbrother

Tee hee. Perhaps The Mama shouldn’t have stayed in that particular picture. It is just so over-the-top bad that I sort of love it. Enjoy!

And stay in the picture, dear breeder readers. Seriously. We owe it to ourselves, our partners, our children, and our grandchildren. Even on days we look like this.