Friday, February 16, 2007

Letter To A Sick Girl

Dear Hazel,

Today you are sick. Your cheeks are bright pink with fever, and you have a cough that sounds so bad, it makes my chest hurt. You had to miss your preschool's Chinese New Year celebration, which really disappointed you - you were really looking forward to those chocolate coins and dragon puppets.

On days like today, when you are achy and tired and extra sensitive, I am reminded of how little you truly are. You seem so mature most of the time, so full of opinions and ideas and youthful exuberance. But today you are wilted and pale. Today your big, brown eyes are glassy, instead of sparkly. Today you said, "Mama, will you please hold me?" So I did.

Because you and your sister are both napping everyday again, we had to go out to buy a pack n' play this morning. Getting you both to sleep, in the middle of the day, in the same room, has proved to be impossible. You were a good sport about shopping, but instead of skipping ahead of the basket like you usually do, you sat inside of it, legs crossed, quiet. When we passed a display of cowgirl boots on clearance, and I saw a tiny spark in your eyes, we both smiled. You sure can work a pair of black and teal butterfly cowgirl boots, girl, I'll tell you what.

When we got home, you went peacefully off to sleep. When you woke up, you felt well enough to watch a movie and drink some tea. By the time Dada came home, you were feeling well enough to go out for a "flashlight walk" in the dark. So we did. (I'm sorry the flashlight batteries were dead). You wore your princess nightgown, stripey tights, your new cowgirl boots, and a purple headband with a giant red bow tied on the top, Minnie Mouse-style. We could tell you were feeling better because you skipped a little. And you told me about how "cowgirls ride horses and horsegirls ride cows."

Sometimes it's hard for me to remember how little you are, because you are such a huge presence in my life - your chirpy voice, your loud, crazy outfits, your jokes and songs and made-up games ring in my ears from sun up to sun down. But days like today, when you are soft and still, I see how vulnerable and tiny and new you are. And the love that I have for you rises up in my throat, and catches behind my eyes, and I ache from its intensity. For you, I have a love that is so deep and wide, I'm not sure where it ends and I begin.

I hope you feel better soon, Hazel. But if you are still sick tomorrow, and you need me to rub your back, or make you your favorite noodle soup, or read you an extra story, I will be happy to do it. I will be there. Always.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ahh, Valentine's Day. That media induced holiday which dictates that my hubz buys me some flowers and the girls get jacked up beyond belief on candy hearts and chocolate kisses.

We don't really make a big deal of V-Day in the Salad family. Mike tells me that he loves me at least 5 times every day, and I don't need no stinkin' card to remind me. So, the girls and I will be making this for our very low-key Valentine's Day dinner. And I'm just going to pretend that they didn't get a year's worth of sugar at the preschool V-Day party this morning, and make some triple fudge brownies for dessert. Then Mike and I will settle in with a bottle of wine to watch this, and then.... well. We'll see where it goes from there.

Wishing everyone a lovely, lovey, Valentine's Day!


Monday, February 12, 2007


I never identified as a "hipster," until yesterday.

I do not define myself through what I wear, or what I buy, but just like everybody else, I am guilty of wearing and buying things that fit my definition of "cool." But we live in a consumer culture, and while I rail against it on the inside, I fall victim to it more than I care to admit. I wear Chuck Taylors. I buy Gap jeans. My kids wear funky, crazy tights, Misfits onesies, and get pushed around in a well made stroller.

By its current definition, that does make me a hipster.


I've been called worse.

Yesterday, I was attacked online, both personally, and as a contributing writer of Strollerderby. Called names. Made fun of. Insulted. And I felt compelled to defend myself, and my choices. I could've just ignored the comments, and jibes, I suppose, but I chose not to. I jumped into the altogether pointless and downright mean "conversation," because I felt like I was being accused: accused of being a bad parent, of being a thoughtless consumer, and of being less that what I am.

I spent the better part of my day yesterday thinking about who and what I am, exactly. And all I could come up with is this: I am more than just one thing. I am more than a lifestyle or a demographic. I am bursting with contradictions, opinions and passions. I am less than perfect. I am a beautiful mess.

I can see how someone who does not know me in real life could get an impression of me by reading Strollerderby. I write snarky posts about celebrities, and make fun of stupid people for being caught doing stupid things. But that's my job. I get paid to crank the sarcasm up, and engage readers in conversations like "New Mom Jen Garner Thinks She's Fat: Discuss!," and to debate things like a federally mandated HPV vaccine for young girls. I like my job - but I'm more than that.

I can see how someone who does not know me in real life, but reads this blog, could form an opinion of me based on what I write about my life as a woman, post childbirth. Let's see: I breastfed my kids until they were almost 2; My 4 year old daughter only recently stopped sharing a bed with her parents; We had a loving pet pit bull in our home for 6 years; We take our kids to protests and concerts; I swear a lot, and sometimes, I ignore my kids in favor of spending a little quality time alone. Depending on what your take is, I could be called a hippie, a hipster, an attachment parent, a careless parent, a mommyblogger, a pushover, a lactivist, a foul mouthed knee-jerk liberal, an asshole, a freak, or housewife. But I'm more than that.

Some people call Salad Days "an exploitation" of my children, a way to get attention, a badge of my status as a (insert insult here). I call it a chronicle of this amazing time in my life, and my family's life. When I started it, no one read it but family, and the word "blogosphere," was not in my vocabulary. Through it, I have made friends, shared heartache and joy, told intimate secrets, learned some valuable lessons, and discovered pieces of myself that I didn't know I had. Yes, I am a blogger, and proud of it. But I'm more than that.

Yesterday's discussion of the TIME piece, and Strollerderby, and me, took me back to high school. It was bizarre. It took me back to a time when everything and everyone was labeled and categorized - if you were this, you weren't that, and if you weren't that, you had to be this. There was no grey area, no room for more than one interest, belief or defining characteristic. It took me back to when a time when I had no idea who I was, so I was a little bit of everything, and nothing.

But now, twenty years later, I've got better things to think about; I have two young girls to raise up. And I have the self-awareness and chutzpah to tell people who make assumptions about me to go fuck themselves. People who don't like who they think I am are just ignorant. People who think they can define me based on their own perceptions of mothers, women and the word "cool" will get it wrong every time.

I'll never be just one thing - ever. I'll always be a mess of ideas, dreams, plans, contradictions and compliments. I'll always be changing and growing. No one word will ever accurately describe me. Because I am more than that.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Good Things

So far, 31 is a nice age to be. Everyone in the house is over their cold/ickyness. Mike is home from Japan, and over the jeg-lag. And we got a new reading chair in the living room, which is bright red, which I love.

I'm blogging a lot over at Strollerderby, and really enjoying it. It is strangely liberating to have a legitimate excuse for ignoring the kids. Also, after four years? It feels pretty good to bringing home some bacon. I'm loving Babble, too - even if I wasn't working for them, I'd be reading it every day - it's just cool. A little (self-promoting) taste:

The Family Bed: I'm Over It - And Now, So Is She!

Personae Urbana

Katie Holmes Is A Freak

I'm also going to be posting at Silicon Valley Moms Blog and Maya's Mom, soon - so check them out! This blogging gig is suddenly, unexpectedly, turning into something more than just a pleasant diversion; it's something I love to do. I didn't realize it, but I'd been missing that. I've missed having, and doing, something that's for me, that's mine. All mine.

Hazel's preschool class has started dividing into "kindergarten groups," doing more concentrated and specific activities involving simple math or comprehension skills, in preparation for kindergarten. She loves it. She says "it's more like real school!" which tells me that she may be more ready for kindergarten than we thought. She has grown visibly taller than all but one of her friends, and is trying to grow her hair down to her butt. She wants to start taking singing lessons. She's so... big.

Violet's vocabulary has exploded; she's speaking in 4 and 5 word sentences now! She makes little jokes, and sings songs. She comes to me crying and says "Bonk my head, Mama," and she comes to me laughing, saying "'Hazel hide, me seek!" She refers to her self as Violetta ("Dilleta") and she says something new, and charming, every day.

Right now, life is really good. Mellow, quiet, restful. Everyone is happy. And that's a good thing.