Parks and Procreation


I live in Utah, the land of a ton of children. Public parks are a great place to witness this.

Actually, anywhere that advertises “free” and “children” (though, not “free children”) is guaranteed to be crawling.

What can I say? Having children is expensive and drains any creative energy one may have exhibited during babysitting years. Who wouldn’t tie them all into a car for a little public park diversion? At this point, I’d take my boys to a puppet show about phlegm if it advertised free popsicles.


This morning, I walked with my youngest to Puke Park.

No, that’s not its real name. It was christened thus shortly after opening, by my second and fourth children. They had looked peaky all morning before losing their breakfasts on the lovely, windy path. The city also chose to paint all the play equipment purple and orange, colors my mind automatically blends into a vomit-like hue when they’re near each other like that.

I’m happy to report that we enjoyed a puke-free visit today. We were not, however, spared from masses of miniature persons. We’re used to it; we contribute to it. What always gets me is not so much the number of children, but what names those poor kids were slammed with.

“Come down from there, Cole,” a mother (?) called. She looked about old enough to vote, but not purchase cigarettes.

“Ella, Greer,” a grandfather called to two girls. “It’s time to go. Abby needs to use the potty.”

“Now, now, Crue, we don’t push. Wait your turn.”

“Emyrson, Emyrson!” (a girl) “Don’t lick the pole!”

My husband and I picked traditional, English names for our boys. They’re names like Reginald Rutherford III and Edward Theodore. (Okay, not that traditional.) We’re somewhat aberrant in this. Preferred name choices of our procreating peer group appear to go one of three ways: very traditional, different spelling of common ones, or completely made up.

Don’t believe me? My friend’s daughter is named Adelaide. A relative of ours went with Heidy for her girl. When I was visiting my sister (also in Utah); she told me of a Zax and a Jax.


We could go on and on about why people pick this or that, but I’m actually more fascinated by a different phenomenon: why we all pick the same type of name at the same time. I thought, perhaps, everyone talks to their friends about names they’re considering. Or, maybe they all pick names based on popular shows or books.

With the exception of Bella/Ella (looking at youTwilight), pregnant couples seem to just think along the same wavelength. We picked a name that starts with “E” for one of ours coincidentally the same year that four others in our friends group did, and our choice wasn’t even on the list of ones we liked. Last year, four neighbors went with “C” names: Cole, Crew, Connor, Charlie.

How does it happen? Why?

Amidst the screaming, running hordes of Puke Park, I came up with a new theory. Perhaps we’re all just trying to pick something original so that we can actually find our offspring. This is true even within a single family, so the kids can tell which one Mom is yelling at.

That, and it’s quite possible we’ve run out of names.

The Maid


I always thought I wouldn’t have to clean the house when I grew up.

Not ever doing chores again was pretty much the only plan I had for my future. I also planned on having a prestigious career -that wouldn’t have ANY tedious parts to it.

This may be why motherhood has failed to engage my interests.

I doubt I’m alone, here. Why; just a few months ago, my husband said something similar. He’d really been trying to help around the house after work for a day or so when he had an epiphany. After sitting down on the couch, he turned to me and stated, “I think I know why I don’t really like doing housework. It’s just not that interesting to me.”

How should I have responded?

A. No, duh!
B. What a smart observation, honey! Let me fetch you your pipe and slippers and I’ll do all the housework while you catch up on your newsfeed (as usual).
C. *Laugh* I don’t think anyone enjoys housework. You still need to do it.
D. How right you are! Let’s never do it again and escape to Bermuda!

Your chosen answer is a good indication of your marital relationship. I happen to know that I should have picked E. *Put on authentic, commiserating face; full of love* I hear your concerns. Thank you so much for helping these last few days; It’s really meant a lot to me.

Instead, of course, I picked C. My laugh may have been categorized as sarcastic and derisive, and my rejoinder may have smacked of an insinuation that he was trying to get out of work.

Our interactions are why we’re in marriage counseling.

So…. who’s going to pick up the floor? Me? Him? Children? A maid service?

I tried all of those. We all know how he and I clean, and how effective child labor is. The service was even more disappointing than trying to motivate myself. They charge you at least $20/hr for light cleaning. They will not pick up your clothes, wash your dishes, or remove the crap from the floors before vacuuming. That meant that every other week, I scrambled to clean for the maid.

Unless you can afford full-time staff, a cleaning service should be used in addition to regular tidiness.



Remember when your parents said you had to pick up your room before you could play? Who knew they were talking about the rest of our lives?

No matter what; life is a never-ending pile of unmatched socks, dirty dishes, dusty furniture, crummy floors, pee-stained toilets, wrinkled beds, messy bedrooms, weedy flower beds, fingerprinted glass, marked walls, stinky garbages, rotting fridges, empty pantry shelves, misplaced lunchbags, and unwashed bodies.

No wonder the rising generation is opting to stop rising and sit back down. I want to join them.


unsplash-logoJennifer Burk
unsplash-logoJeremy Perkins

Just Find Time for Yourself

I don’t know about you, but I am terrible at this titular axiom, Just Find Time for Yourself.

Frankly, it’s because I DO NOT EVER have it. Ever since I first started growing a person inside my body over twelve years ago, I have been permanently attached to another soul.

“But, but… they cut the umbilical cord when the baby’s born…”


Yeah -that’s like one of those rituals with sacrificial bible blood or hands under thighs and whatnot. You have, and will always have, an unavoidable association with your offspring for the rest of your life. More sensitive types feel it. I liken it to phantom nerve sensations, similar to when an amputee feels an itch.

I’d wager that’s part of why many women have aftereffects from an abortion, or deep sadness over miscarriage. Before social media, mothers who opted for adoption could only wonder at whatever happened to that tiny person they can never fully forget.

I do not have personal experience with abortion or adoption. I do have experience with a disassociation, with a supposed disconnection.

When my second child was born, I DID NOT feel close to him. He was 9 weeks premature. Convincing my body that it had popped that baby out and needed to love him and produce milk for him was one of the biggest acts of imagination I’ve forced upon myself.

HOWEVER, I did have the mental association of a child. My body was simply confused, as that child should still have been inside me.

“What does all this have to do with time for yourself?”


Excellent question, Class! *AHEM* Our PHYSICAL INABILITY to be fully removed from a deep connection to our children makes it IMPOSSIBLE to enjoy free time.

Yep, go tell that to your husband.

Whenever’s he’s just “carved out” a little “me time” while you’ve sat and scratched your head; you can pull up your shirt, look at your stretch marks, and think, Oh, YEAH. If you’re an adoptive parent, you can look into your sweet little child’s eyes instead.

Creation forms the bond inside, and care forms the bond outside. I spent nearly two years struggling with that second sort of bond with my premature child, so I know. Given the way he treats me some days, I wonder why I bothered…

Getting back to the subject at hand: I hadn’t realized this permanent umbilical cord thingie was there until I had the chance to go back to school.

Unlike many mothers, I was able to stay home with my children while my husband went to work. Returning to college was the first time I employed a sitter while I went and did something besides visiting a NBICU or buying a swimsuit unmolested by a toddler.

As I walked around campus uninhibited, I felt odd. Something was missing. Was I wearing shoes? Did I forget underwear? I checked my breath, but I’d brushed that morning.

Then, it hit me: I was alone.

Besides the obvious physical absence of two children (back then), there existed a psychological absence in the form of how everyone treated me. At school I was only me. Everyone I spoke with saw only me, and not my two shadows. Those people didn’t even know I had children.


As I mentally tasted this odd sensation, I realized that my husband feels like this every day. Going to work was just like my going to school. It created the sensation of being cut out, paper doll-style, and put on a separate page from the children.

Since that time, we’ve added two more children to the mix. We even talk about adding more some days -usually when they’re all asleep. The bonus part is that they have gotten slightly easier as they’ve grown up. Most of that ease is due to potty-training and independent access to cold cereal. Also, I’ve realized the titillating freedom of Free Day Care (AKA Public School).

The husband and I have *GASP* had a vacation for longer than an evening, together. (Thanks, you wonderful, wonderful babysitters!) I’ve run to the store for milk and left the oldest in charge.

The connection is there. It always will be. If not, we would be a crummy species at procreating. So, then, how do we get that all-important “Time for Yourself” without the side effects?

Deferred responsibility.

When my little darlings are in the care of someone I trust, I’ve found my instinctive sensations of worry to be muted.

For example, we’re planning our FIRST EVER week-long vacation this summer. Without children. Someone volunteered, without blackmail, to watch ALL FOUR BOYS. We drove over to their place to get everyone acquainted with each other and ensure that there weren’t any large bogs or busy highways to wander into. It turned out that these lovely, lovely people own the perfect place for them to stay. We’ll be able to have a good time; and I can almost, mostly turn off the Mom Switch in my brain.

…After I leave them our health insurance card and 12 pages of typed instructions.



unsplash-logoTanaphong Toochinda
unsplash-logoAlexander Dummer
unsplash-logoPriscilla Du Preez
unsplash-logoShifaaz shamoon

Morning Routines


The boys’ carpool ride arrives at 8:10 a.m.

Right on cue; our three handsome children who attend elementary school line up at the door Sound of Music style. They’re dressed smartly. They’re clean, their clothes are clean and pressed, and their socks and shoes match each other. What’s more, they’ve packed their own healthy lunch and eaten their own balanced breakfast. As I kiss each on the top of his head, I am treated to three radiant, teeth-brushed smiles. They skip out the door holding hands and singing of brotherly love and making the world a better place. “Goodbye, Mother, Dear,” they chorus as they skip.

Yep, in a parallel universe.

In this universe, my neighbor often shows up around 8:15ish. All right: 8:20. Ish. We’re near the end of the school year, after all.

As if they cannot possibly hear a knock that has sounded on the front door since last August, my elementary-aged children continue to do what they were doing. Boy #1 scrolls down his Amazon wish list to see if he’s already added that particular Lego set. Boy #2 enters the room to demand to know where his mother put his item that he absolutely must have RIGHT NOW. Boy #3 is casually eating cereal while reading a book.

According to an advanced mathematical formula I’ve developed, only 1/3 of the boys will be dressed. 1/2 of that third will not be fully dressed. Further; 0% will have completely clean garments, matching socks, or even matching shoes. The only thing my offspring know about ironing is that the iron gets really hot and they will be burned alive by parents yelling at them if they get within 5 feet of it.

The next five minutes are a complete chaos of sorting shirts to backs, shoes to correct feet and owners, food to lunchbags, backpacks to backs, and a few parental hands to figurative backsides. After passing a last-minute toothbrush swipe and underwear check, my little darlings grumble out the door to the sound of impatient honking.

I love my neighbor. She drives in the morning because she’s doing that whole work-outside-the-home thing, and I’m not usually dressed before 10 because I’m not.

She and I love our children. We love them getting ready on time, dressed in a manner that upholds the family name, and sitting quietly and seat buckledly during carpool. We especially love when they do all of these things without prompting.

It’s a good thing we love them in the real world, too.

The Best Time of Day

Birds twitter joyfully in the trees and early morning sunlight streams innocently across our bedroom walls when I hear it:

Mom? Mo-o-om? MAHM!

The call may vary sometimes; usually, lately, it’s the mid-conversation climax of hearing the caller “playing” with his brother, until the thumping escalates to a definite clunking of a body or piece of furniture making contact with the floor.

I’d say the noises make for a great wake-up alarm, but only if ringtone companies wish to wake their users with a day’s worth of stress from the get-go.

No, mornings are not the best time of day.

The best time is not difficult to discover. All that a potential Sherlock need do is sift through the overwhelming photographic evidence in our electronic picture stockpile. What is the most frequent time that I think, Aw, how sweet! -and save the moment for all eternity?


Okay -we also have an inordinate number of each of them attempting to eat yogurt for the first time. That; and times when they’re reading, riding in the car and reading, or watching each other game on a screen with zombie-like expressions.

OBVIOUSLY, my favorite times are when they are holding still and not destroying something (or someone).

So you can keep your incessant twittering of morning birds. Take back your glowing sunrise and bad alarm ideas. I’ll take what rays of sunset filter through our neighbors’ houses and our tightly-drawn blinds. I’ll get what Nature can yell, from outside, over the sounds of, “But I don’t wanna go to bed yeeeet.”

For, when all are FINALLY quiet and asleep, I know I have a good, solid eight hours of uninterrupted “free time.” True, I ought to also sleep -and sometimes do!- but the thought of the potential freedom alone gets my vote every time.

The best time of day isn’t day at all. It’s night.