Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I've Moved!!!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween: The Big Lame-Out

Is it me, or has Halloween become more sanitized than a frigging Ebola ward? I hate to sound like an old lady, but times have changed, and not entirely for the better. We are just so freaking uptight nowadays.

Take costumes, for example. In 1983, there were no rules regarding what could and couldn't be worn to school on Halloween. One year my mother, who had recently inherited a nasty old fur coat from a dead aunt, dressed me up as a 'movie star'. I wore a slinky dress that kept sliding down and exposing my kid-boobs, a blonde whore wig, and the aforementioned rat coat. I also carried a 'sophisticated' cigarette holder, attached to which was one of Mom's Parliaments.

It wasn’t at all unusual for boys to come to school dressed as horror movie villains or war victims or 'bums'. One year a boy came into our 5th grade class dressed as Aunt Jemima, complete with blackface and a pillow under his skirt to look like a big, fake booty.
Completely poor taste, yes, but you have to admit, pretty creative.

My daughter’s school doesn’t even allow costumes with fake blood. Notes go home the week before Halloween warning that if a child shows up in a costume deemed 'too scary', he or she will be sent home immediately. Oh, get over yourselves.

When I was little, my mom annually brought my sister and me to the drugstore, where we each picked out a $5 plastic piece of shit costume made to look like a Disney character or super-heroine. This 'costume' was basically a colored garbage bag which tied around the neck, and came with a plastic mask. The mask had tiny nose-holes you couldn't breathe out of, and the eye-holes were roughly cutout slits that often scratched your face. You definitely were in trouble should you wear the mask trick or treating after dark, because your peripheral vision was totally impaired. Whatever, though, you just asked your friend who wasn't wearing a mask to look out for cars.

Now, let's talk Trick or Treating. We used to traipse around the neighborhood unsupervised, a gaggle of kids ranging in age from toddler to maybe 10 years old. Now, the tradition of knocking on people's doors, asking for the one thing you are never supposed to accept from strangers, is in and of itself a weird tradition. But still. It seemed...I don't know, more organic back then. I remember one elderly lady yelling out the second-floor window of her house, telling us to come on in and grab some candy from the bowl in the foyer, because she was too infirm to make it down the steps.

We totally did.

A Mom’s only job back then was to check for razor blades in apples and pin holes in candy bars (in case someone injected some kind of poison into them? That really takes a certain amt. of dedication, by the way). Now, we all accompany our children trick or treating. Granted, we carry travel mugs of wine and vodka drinks, but we still all go.

They even have ‘trunk or treat’ now, where kids trick or treat out of their friends' parents cars all parked in a lot at the church. They even have trick or treating in malls to keep kids off the street. What the fuck is fun about trick or treating in a MALL? What do they give you? Cell phone cases? Sunglasses? Auntie Annie pretzels?

I don't know. It just seems like we might need to loosen the reins just a bit. Halloween used to be dark and somewhat sinister and nasty. But that's what made it fun.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Gems from the Insult Ninja

Watch out for the Insult Ninja. She lurks behind swingsets and sits watching 'Glee' on Netflix, biding her time, just waiting for that perfect moment when you are feeling your most old or fat or disorganized, and then she pounces. BAM!

It can come at any time. On the car ride to school. Mid-flip on the trampoline. While walking the dog. Doesn't matter. She is as unpredictable and arbitrary as a funnel cloud during a Louisiana thunderstorm.

I've just had my hair highlighted. My stylist went a little lighter than usual.
"It looks like you have more gray hairs than you normally do."

I'm having a bad reaction to something I ate.
"Wow. I heard you pooping, like, through the wall."

Getting out of the shower (a most favorable time to strike)
"God, Mom! I really hope my down-there hair doesn't end up like yours!"

And, this one is interactive!

"When I have a baby, will my stomach look like that?"
(Poke, poke)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mrs. Redpants

I lived in NYC for a decade, but I didn't really find my 'tribe' until I had a baby.

This is not meant to be a declaration that, ‘YOU’RE NOBODY TIL YOU’RE A MOMMY!!!’ or anything; it just turned out that I didn’t form any real lasting friendships in the city until I had had my kid. New moms are like frenzied hound dogs, always sniffing around for fresh blood: “Oh! You’re exhausted and wearing a newborn in a sling? OMG, me too! Let’s go to Starbucks!”

I found most of my friends that way.

I’m discovering though, as I get older, that I will probably never be as open-hearted, unguarded, and willing to let people in as I was at that time. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m too busy now. Or too damn tired. Or I’ve just lost faith in humanity in general. Hopefully not though.

I met Kara when we were chasing our toddlers around the local playground. She wore Chuck Taylors, a delightfully wild mop of ‘I’m a mom, fuck it’ curly hair, and a beautiful tattoo that spanned the top part of her shoulder.

Immediately I was all, GOOBLE GOBBLE ONE OF US, ONE OF US. I decided she had to be my friend. We connected instantly, over so many things. The fact that our husbands were both artists who made very little money. That we were on the crunchy side, but were not above feeding our kids mac and cheese when we were too tired to cook. That we adored our children but also liked a good glass of wine with grownups sometimes.

When my marriage imploded several years later, Kara was one of the first people I called. There was no judgement, no begging for juicy details. There was, simply, “Just tell me what I can do.”

It was she who lovingly looked after my daughter so I could go back to work. And she who made dinner for us many Sunday nights (a ritual that became known as ‘Dinner and a Bath’, as we’d pop the kids in the tub after eating and let them pass out while we hung out). She also saw me cry on a park bench more times than I can count. She, along with a small handful of other wonderful people, pulled me through the mire that my life had become.

Now, years later, my quietly beautiful friend is going through some shit of her own. Since we left the city for greener pastures years ago — both of us moving to different corners of the US — I’m not sure I can be there for her in the capacity that she was for me back then. I’m not sure she’d even need me to be, since she’s about three thousand times tougher than most women I know.

Still. I'll be here to help her sail through the mire. And I know, without a doubt, that there will be so much sunshine for her on the other side.

Here's something I wrote a LONG time ago. Maybe you remember this. Oldie but goodie.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Suck My Fat One, Apple.

Hey. Shout out to the makers of all i-products for simultaneously improving and taking a gigantic dump on my day-to-day life.

I’ve been what has been called a ‘Power User’ of Apple products for some time. I LOVE my iphone. I can pay bills, watch shows, even order cat food and sex toys, all while waiting in the carpool line at school or crouching on the toilet (sorry guys, but a great many of your photos and status updates have been ‘liked’ by while peeing, and if you say you've never done this you're lying through your teeth). The abilities of this miraculous little handheld device continue to amaze and confound me.

My ex husband was, until recently, one of those ‘Not gonna drink the Kool Aid, Samsung All The Way’ kind of anit-iphoners. Yeah, I just switched gears here to talk about my ex. But I'll come back to the point. The man, when I knew him, liked to think of himself as an against-the-grain kinda guy.

Then he switched cell plans and all that changed.

I didn’t realize until recently how a very small percentage of companies in this world are keeping us uncomfortably close in our connections to one another, pretty much every second of every day. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple in particular have enabled us to basically live our lives in plain sight of the entire world; we can be as transparent and public as we choose in everything that we do. This is what my mother would call a 'velvet trap'.

Facetime is one of those apps that I'm just not sure about. When it first came out, I, like everyone else, marveled at the way we could effortlessly have 'OMG It's just like the Jetsons!' video chats with any other iphone user in America, at any time, all from the palms of our hands. I could sit out in my yard and chat with the tops of my parents’ heads while we all drank wine on separate sides of the country (for people in their 70s, my mom and dad have embraced the handheld revolution in a most kickass way, although they are still working out the kinks. Still, kudos). I have to be honest though; the sheen has kinda worn off this brand new penny for me. Facetime is not really my thing. I have never been much of a phone person, so throw in having to brush my hair or obsess over seeing my batwing upper arms in the little mini-screen of myself while I chat with someone, and it's a no-thank-you for me.

Lily's Dad LOVES it, though. Oh my god. And this is the conundrum.

I moved thousands of miles away from my ex husband years ago, and pleasant side effect of the physical distance has been my lack of involvement in the variety of antics he gets up to. We aren’t connected on any kind of social media, and we communicate sporadically and businesslike, via text messages and emails mostly, to transact any comings and goings involving our daughter. I like it that way. I imagine he does as well.

Then the guy got a goddamned iPhone and discovered FaceTime. And I was fucked like a homeless cat in a dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant.

After moving into the home of a nice divorced woman with an adorable toddler, and finally securing a full-time job, my ex husband has apparently 'gotten his shit together'. Bravo. However, now that he has discovered Facetime, it's like he and his new family are in my fucking living room EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
I did not sign off on this.

Somehow, Facetiming is different than Skyping once a week from the home computer, because you don't need an appointment to do it. And Lily, who can't sit still, carries the iphone from room to room to room, chatting and laughing with her father's giant face and louder-than-necessary voice, and there is no escape for me unless I hide in the bathroom and pretend to be having a stomach attack (which I did last night). They all cook dinner and sit down to eat, and we are witness to it. They do dishes. They put the toddler to bed with stories. They watch their favorite TV shows. Constantly. It's exhausting.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. I think any attempt on my part to limit the amount of Facetiming would probably make me seem like a bitter old harpie exwife beyotch who just wants to drive a wedge between my ex and his child, and that is truly not the case. I just don't really need it in my peripheral vision every freaking second, ya know? Not exactly sure what the prudent move would be here, y'all. Advice?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sweep the Leg

I’ve always been one hell of a sleeper. My favorite pastime, besides constantly bemoaning the relentlessly sticky South Louisiana humidity, is crawling into bed at night with a bag of veggie booty and passing out face down and drooling into a good book. I am still trying to figure out a way to work an 8 hour day from my bed. I think it’s absolutely possible.

I used to be able to get by with less sleep, though. Now, less than 6 hours and my whole body and soul punish me for it. I get so cranky I actually growl to myself while getting ready in the morning— a feral dog slapping on moisturizer and scratching at mange. At this moment I am so exhausted I actually think I can hear my hair growing. I down two, three cups of shitty work coffee, feeling it souring in my stomach, wishing I could just bypass my mouth entirely and mash the grounds to a nice paste I can inject right into my arm or between my toes or my eyeball or wherever it is people inject things into themselves.

Usually I make more of an effort to get good sleep nowadays because I know what a vile and worthless piece of bitchy excrement I am when I don’t. Being sleep-deprived is what I would envision a bad acid trip to be like, but with more yawning. I speak from the dank bowels of experience in this area because
I spent the first two years of Lily’s life without any real, substantial sleep.

‘Sweep the Leg’ was a game conceived in a state of serious sleep deprivation. I created it when Lily was about 18 months old, an age where she was big enough to kinda grasp bipedalism, but not so sturdy that she could get anywhere fast without falling down a lot. The game quickly became a favorite in our house; we’d come home from the park and instead of laying down to a sweet nap like other toddlers I knew, Lily would demand, ’SWEEP THE LEG, MAMA! SWEEP THE LEG!’ and for the next two hours, I’d lay on my back in the middle of our giant, king-sized bed and pretend to be asleep. Then Lily would jump up and down next to me and shriek like a maniac. Without warning, I’d reach out and literally swipe both her legs, so that they’d fly out from under her and she’d tumble onto the bed in a giggling heap of hysterical glee. I think even then she was an adrenaline junkie; there was this insane thrill she got from never knowing when she was going to be completely wiped out. I loved the game too, because it was the only game I could play with my kid where I got to lay like a corpse. It was a setup that worked well.

That is, until one day I accidentally fell asleep mid-game and swept a little too far. Oh, I will never, ever forget the sound she made hitting the floor. It haunts me still. Nothing in the world stings like hearing your kid in pain. Except when you’re the dumbass who caused it. Then it’s a million times worse.

She ended up being fine. Just a little surprised. And probably her feelings were hurt more than anything, that Mom could actually over-sweep and send her to the floor on her butt.

That day I learned an important lesson, and was never sleep deprived again!

That’s a big, fat lie. But I think that might’ve been the last game of Sweep the Leg we played for quite a while..

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sage Advice for Single Parents

I had a conference with Lily’s 5th grade teacher the other day. The woman locked eyes with me across the table. I became painfully aware of my ass oozing out on either side of my child-sized plastic seat. Uh Oh, I thought. What now?

Then she smiled. A mothering kind of smile. And a warm jelly of relief flooded my whole body.

‘Lily…oh, Lily is a delight. She has such a strong sense of herself and such good self esteem for a girl her age..whatever you’re doing, keep it up. you’re doing it right.’

‘Oh, thank you,’ I said, resisting the urge to reach over the table, cup her face in my hands and plant a hugely inappropriate kiss on her pearly pink lips. She might as well have just handed me a book deal or a winning lottery ticket; her words were a McDonald’s sundae sprinkled with xanax. The relief was so potent, I wanted to just get up and walk out right there, toss a pile of papers in the air on my way to the door, and say, ‘SEE ya Motherfuckers, I WON.”

My life so far has been pretty good, all things considered. I have very little to complain about, but as far as big accomplishments, massive milestones and the like, I haven’t had a real shitload to put on my Life's Resume. I can say with complete honesty that so far, Lily is really my highest accomplishment. My mad Momming Skillz are by far my greatest source of pride. Kind of ironic, since becoming a single parent was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

I remember sitting in my therapist’s office many, many moons ago, contemplating the idea of kicking out my then-husband. Her sage advice: ‘No matter what you decide, just remember that being a single parent is the hardest thing in the world.’ I was like, hey, screw you, lady. You don’t live with the guy.

She was right, though. And wrong, too, in some ways.
Here is MY sage advice for anyone considering walking this path:

1. Don’t mourn the loss of your social life too much.
Find a nice teenager on the block who will hang at your house for a few hours after your kid is asleep if you want to go have a cocktail or scream in your car or something. Personally, I’ve never been much of a social butterfly. I have a book club once a month at my house, so I get to see my lady pals and drink and talk about vibrators and periods and afterward I just crawl into bed. It’s kind of awesome.

2. it’s helpful to have a granola bar/cookie/trail mix stash in the console of the car for the times you forget to pack breakfast.
Also, flip-flops or sneakers, for those times you rush out of the house wearing two different shoes. I also keep tweezers in there b/c once in a while I will glance at my face in the rearview at a light and Jesus Christ.

3. Know that people will assume things about you.
People might assume you’re lonely, or that what you really want, more than anything, is another husband. If your married friends tend to be insecure (and we can all be sometimes), they might even worry you’re after THEIR husbands. Or that your disease of divorcedness is a highly contagious swine flu that they might catch if they hang out too much with you.
Your ex’s family will especially have ideas about you. Remember that these are based solely on what your ex is telling them about you, so their opinions are a weeee bit slanted. Also, it doesn’t matter what these people think. Lets just hope that they keep these opinions to themselves around your child, biting their tongues as you have almost bitten yours into Swiss cheese many times.

4. Speaking of tongue-biting…
Yeah. This is the biggest challenge ever. Maybe you and your kid’s father are on great terms, so this one doesn’t apply. I have a friend who traveled to Disney with her ex and their kid, they like each other that much. That’s not my situation. Take it from me, I struggle daily with the urge to blurt out one of the multitudinous depraved things Lily’s dad did during our marriage, especially when she is on a tear about how much better it is at his house than at mine. Not doing it can be cruelly difficult. But doing it will have even more disastrous results.

5. You will feel guilty.
A lot. No, all the time. Like mostly every second. I even have guilty dreams. Last week I dreamt that I went on vacation to Jamaica with my boyfriend and came back to find out that Lily had started smoking crack. I also lay in bed at night NOT sleeping sometimes, running through all of the things I must be doing wrong: Am I loving her enough? Too much? Preparing her for the real world? Teaching her not to loathe her body? Enabling Daddy Issues? It never ends. And you can’t even take an ambient because what if the house catches on fire and you’re too zonked to get your kid out of bed? Then what, huh???

6. You can’t do it all, but you can do SO much more than you ever thought possible.
When I go through my day, I’m amazed that I was able to get as much accomplished as I have. When I was in college, I would sometimes spend entire Saturdays laying on the couch, smoking pot and watching movies. Today, the idea of wasting a day sickens me. Not because I think it’s a bad thing to do, but because THERE IS SO MUCH THAT HAS TO GET DONE. Truthfully, I usually go to bed at night feeling pretty smug that I managed to feed, clothe, support, teach, play with, and listen to a small, ever-developing person, while also keeping our house from disappearing under a pile of laundry and cat litter. Multitasking is no joke. Today I hopped out of the shower to iron a school uniform while dripping wet with soap in my hair. I don’t recommend this, by the way.

7. It can be amazing.
I always think about that old Peace Corps ad from the 80s, where they say it’s the ‘Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love’. It’s true. Any parent will tell you that, but doing it on your own is especially tricky because, duh, you’re doing two people’s jobs by yourself. But here’s the cool part: You are your own sovereign nation. You have nobody to defer to, nobody who needs to be consulted on the big decisions. There’s nobody with whom to share a bathroom. No weird, kinky items show up on credit card statements. Bills get paid because you are the one earning the money to pay them.

8. Remember that this is all so temporary
Some day, sooner than you think, she will be gone. Grown up, set out to live her own life, which is exactly what should happen if you’ve done this whole crazy thing right. You will always be her mom. But some day, you’re going to remember what it was like to be a lot of other things too. You'll have more time than you do now. So don’t worry about the stupid scarf you don’t have time to knit, or the memoir that is sitting in pieces on your computer desk, scratched up to hell with red pen (these are hypothetical). There will be time. It will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lemme Stand Next To Your...

Just recently I realized that every important thing that happens to me doesn't necessarily need to be shared with my parents. I know, I know, perhaps a little late at the tender age of 41, but...yeah.

As the product of a closely-knit family of oversharers, I've typically told my family EVERYTHING. Not sure why, but I feel like every weird, wonderful, humiliating or painful event isn't really and truly HAPPENING to me until I've broadcast it to my mom and dad.

It has come to my attention, however, that it isn't necessarily appropriate to pick up the horn and impart absolutely everything to my parents, who are 3,000 miles away, retired, and after spending their lives validating everything I've ever done, might actually deserve a little down time.

I'm realizing that not every milestone, be it good, bad, or terrifying, needs to be passed on to the elders. Like, say, for example, when your house catches on fire.

I guess I can say I've had my metaphorical housefire-cherry broken. As a child, having my house go up in flames was absolutely my biggest fear. Well, next to cobras. Also, the white witch from Narnia. Escalators, for a time. And my sister being abducted by a serial killer.

Anyway, fire safety being paramount, I would vigilantly palm closed doors 'just in case' they were hot before I entered a room, and would be the first to knock over the family dog in order to reach the nearest exit if dinner got a little smoky on the stove. Funny that, given these proclivities, the only thing I felt when my fire alarm went off the other night was irritation.

My house's fire alarm system is a little high-strung. It's been known to whine if the back door is open and the grill is going in the yard. It doesn't like certain scented candles. Generally, when I hear it, my first instinct is to want to smack it with a bat. So when I lit an incense and went into my bedroom to savor my few kid-free moments (Lil was down the street at her friend's house), I didn't exactly hustle out to the living room when the alarm started to chime. "Fucker," I muttered, trudging out to see what the trouble was, grumpy as a teenage boy whose bathroom masturbation time has been cut short by his kid sister's need to pee, like, now.

I saw the smoke just as the ping of the alarm graduated into an urgent wail--I'd never heard it do this before, and the siren was deafening, like a hundred foghorns and ambulances converging on my living room at once. In minutes, the room had filled with gray, turbid smoke, curling furiously toward the ceiling from a fire -- A FIRE -- that was fast leaping up the wall.

You'd think this would be the time when a dramatic 'impending danger' soundtrack would play, wouldn't you? But it's shocking how utterly silent a fire really is. The only sound was me yelling, "OH MY GOD THAT IS NOT HAPPENING", over and over, which I tend to do when the fight or flight instinct is supposed to kick in for normal people.

I don't remember every detail of the next few minutes, but I do remember thinking briefly (if not absurdly), 'What would Michael Landon do?', since I generally look to Pa Ingalls as my go-to crisis guru. So I grabbed a blanket from the laundry room and hastily threw it over the fire. The flames retreated beneath a cloud of smoldering black vapors, rising up to the ceiling like hateful spirits. They stained the wall and ceiling a sticky black and coated my nostrils and throat in the savagely toxic odor of THINGS THAT ARE NOT MEANT TO CATCH ON FIRE.

As the alarm continued to wail, I suddenly thought, I should probably get the animals out of the house.

Oh, and probably me too.

Somehow I grabbed my phone and gathered the smoldering blanket, eyeing a melted plastic picture frame in the rubble. I realized that the incense stick must have somehow set the frame on fire, as it was no doubt a cheap-ass Family Dollar purchase, painted with a ridiculously flammable shellac probably not legally manufactured in this part of the world.

Stumbling outside, I called 911. Have you ever actually had to do that? punch in the numbers 9-1-1? I hadn't. I always wondered what it must be like to be the poor person on the 'actual 911 recording' you see on reality crime shows, and now I do. It sucks. I felt like someone else was talking for me, giving my address, describing the situation. Yes, a fire. No, it's out. Yes, I'm outside. Within minutes I heard sirens in the distance-- such a commonplace sound, really. I tend to hear sirens outside and feel a sense of comfort that they aren't coming for me.

Except that now they were.

Three fire trucks pulled in front of my house and men started streaming out. It's weird, but my first instinct was to hug one of them. "THANK YOU!!!" I wanted to cry, "THANK YOU FOR COMING! OH MY GOD, YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE! THIS IS SO SO NICE OF YOU! ARE YOU THIRSTY? HOW ABOUT SOME FLAVORED SELTZER??"

They marched inside and thoroughly inspected the entire house, even going into the attic to see if some residual smoke/damage had spread (it hadn't). They brought in giant industrial-sized fans and blew the caustic hate-smell out the open windows (and with it, 2 inches of black ash that covered everything in the living room. Amazing how even a small fire can cause SO much damage). By then neighbors had started coming out of their houses, rubbernecking to see if there might be anyone passed out on the lawn or trying to jump to their death from an open window. My friend Khipi pulled up and I crumbled into her arms. Jeremy arrived a few minutes later and I pulled him close, so grateful to have people in my life willing to just come and BE with me.

I caught the reflection of my tear-and-soot-smeared face in a window and sob-laughed. "Do I look hot right now?" I asked Jeremy. "Like, in a Little Match Girl sort of way?"

We all cracked up because it felt like the right thing to do.

In the end, there was only cosmetic damage to the wall and a small part of the ceiling. The firemen told me it was lucky that I acted so quickly and put the fire out before it spread. The dog was panic-stricken but safe in the yard, and the cats, I don't think, even noticed a thing. Lily was safe at her friend Molly's house, and it seemed, for now, we had dodged one very hot bullet.

As the firemen were leaving, I still felt compelled to throw myself at them in gratitude. Maybe I could send them a fruit basket or something, I thought. I mean, really. They deserve it. A bottle of wine, a thank you card. Something.

I got through the rest of the night with the help of my loved ones and a large jug of wine. But it was everything I could do not to call my folks. It seemed unnatural, wrong, to keep this from them.

But I didn't call.

I'll tell them about it at some point. They'll probably read this post and go, "WHAT THE HELL?? A FIRE?!?!" but by then the danger will have long passed and it will be just something that happened, no big deal. I'm ok not sharing this with them, because they've spent their lives trying to protect me from unpleasantness and pain and worry. And I think it's time I start doing the same thing for them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Those aren't really skinny jeans; they're too-tight jeans that don't look good on your butt

My daughter actually said this to me today when I was getting dressed. I am living with an insult ninja. It seems that every morning lately I must steel myself against a varied and colorful barrage of indignities, hurled like Chinese throwing stars, not from an abusive partner or bitchy co-worker or vindictive celebrity gossip site, but a from a knock-kneed ten-year old sitting cross-legged on my bed. She turned double digits and the filter button on what comes out of her mouth just sort of broke.

It's not bad enough that I'm my own worst critic – after a weekend diet of nachos and wine and an exercise regime consisting of draping myself across the couch and watching "Glee", my jeans DO feel a tad like sausage casings, so I choose a flowy top that will be sure to cover my puffy midsection. Also, I will admit that I tilt my full-length mirror against the wall at an angle that makes my reflection look a little bit thinner and taller, because it helps me start my morning off in a proper frame of mind. What do you want from me? I do what I can.

But now my daughter, speeding down the luge to adolescence, feels the need to critique everything about me, and it's like living with Joan Rivers and my bathroom is the red carpet. No area is off-limits, being it my outfit or my boot-heel-height, the age-appropriateness of my hair color, or appalling lack of eye-makeup.

And don't even get me started on Lily's critiquing of my child-rearing style. ("Haley's Dad lets HER watch Freddy Krueger! Molly is allowed to Facetime on HER IPOD TOUCH!!! UGHHH!) Always I am reminded of my shortcomings in the Momming Department, these sentiments constantly punctuated with requisite eye-rolling and shoulder slumping that really drive home the point that her life, like, totally sucks.

I read an article today that likened tween (I hate that word) girls to folks suffering from multiple personality disorders. I laughed out loud when I read that, because it rang so terrifyingly true. Over the last few months I have treaded very lightly around my daughter, worrying that too much sarcasm or the wrong question about a boy in her class might embarrass her right into having her first period all over my kitchen floor.

It's as if suddenly Lily woke up and found herself with such an overdose of emotions and opinions that she had no choice but to release them constantly and without any filter, for fear of absolutely imploding. She suddenly is experiencing life with such an intensity I worry sometimes that her head will pop off her body from all the drama-tinged adrenaline.

So I try to talk to other moms. Seems that this is a relatively new but all-too-common trend: our girls are growing up a lot faster than they used to. One mom frowned, "Oh yeah, she tells me I ruin her life just about every day." A co-worker with two teens suggested her behavior could be fueled by hormones in flux. So we went to the health food store and bought some overpriced "Power Teen" vitamins. The hot pink label on the bottle boasts lightning bolts and a sexually ambiguous girl skateboarder. Seemed like a good place to start. But god forbid anyone know that she's taking them. Though it's great to think about being older and cool, Lily is horrified by the things that are about to happen to her body. She's looking forward to growing up, I think, but scared of it too.

That makes two of us.