I’ll Hack Yours, You Hack Mine


Last weekend, in between cutting my toenails, drinking two pints of coffee and folding laundry I decided like a typical middle aged mother to sit down with my laptop and instead of reading about Hilary’s campaign for the presidency I spent my all too valuable free time hacking my genome. We all have secrets locked away, encoded into our DNA, and that accident of conception and human mutation over centuries that resulted in you and me is just begging to be hacked so hack I did.

Believe it or not this all started over a year ago with my ambition to become a member of the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution. To become a Daughter, you must prove your bloodline to a revolutionary solider through birth and death certificates or other evidentiary methods like published genealogies. This is no small deed, and the process usually separates the dilettante from the serious. It’s been a year and I am still an “in process member” or dilettante but I have not given up. I have proven the first three generations back and then the hardest generation, the oldest one but I have two in between that elude me proving on paper that I have revolution in my blood.

However, this was but a starting point for something much deeper. The same revolutionary line, my mother’s father’s family has been traced all the way back to European royalty and Charlemagne himself on one branch. Not to scoff at royalty but another line of his family intrigued me more. My grandfather always maintained to all of us that his grandmother was a Cherokee squaw and was very proud of his Native American heritage. This has been passed down to all the branches of the family but we have no photographs or proof? In my pursuit for revolutionary status I discovered that we could probably find out if my great great grandmother was Native American by simply spitting in a test tube and testing our genetics. How novel!

During the last year I have made my father, mother, husband and finally myself spit into test tubes and have our DNA extracted. I have been warned that this was not a good idea, to send off your DNA to be held in a database for fear someone might want to clone me one day. My curiosity in my own DNA far outweighs any one’s desire to clone it, and that counts triply for my mothers DNA, who is by far the most cynical about the entire process. She spat in one test tube of DNA then held off for a few weeks on the other kit, alternatively holding it over my head like a carrot with hopes I would brush my hair more often, and then decrying it as “ridiculous” and then confessing that, what she really wanted for her birthday was “ a purse” not a “rubbish DNA test.”

I gently reminded her that it was the only way to discover if her great grandmother was really a Native American. That would pique her interest just enough to work up a bit of spit. My mother has always wanted to identify herself with a minority for the shock value if nothing else as my mother pretty much looks like Heidi from the Swiss Alps.

Eventually she mustered enough saliva, no doubt by fantasizing about a bucket of fried chicken, to warrant a DNA test. Then you have to wait a month or two or more for them to process it before they send you a login to access a complicated portal that sucks more time from your day than Facebook.

In the meantime, distraught with anticipation I endlessly read blog articles about genetics, and became even more upset with the idea that if the DNA test came back without any Native American genes, it does not mean that my great great grandmother was not a Squaw, it just means we haven’t inherited any of her genes, which is entirely possible if not probable after four or five generations. Perhaps DNA was not the answer to all my questions after all.

My mother’s dna results arrived at the same time as mine. It felt like I was a talk show guest on Maury Povich and he just handed me an envelope and at any moment I was going to find out if the trailer trash guy my mother had been hanging around with years ago was really my father. I opened the envelope and there was the answer in my DNA 99% European, 1% Native American, and in my mother’s DNA 93% European, 7% Native American. The Squaw’s DNA had persevered five generations to convince us not to doubt my grandfather’s word, and to give us some sort of proof for the skeptic relatives and acquaintances, and for me an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

In my web surfing and narcissistic fascination with my own genome I discovered that far beyond tracing my European and Native American ancestry, I can actually discover what genetic predispositions to disease I carry around with me waiting to be flipped on like a switch through environment, stress, or just the ravages of time and age. So last weekend in between loads of laundry I hacked my genome.

While my mother was probably building a teepee in the backyard “for the grandchildren,” tying a chicken feather to her headband and practicing her drum circle chanting, I was hacking not only my own genome but my father, mother and my husband’s. It’s kind of like looking in their underwear drawers but 21st century style.

What it turned up was quite surprising. It turns out its not just my husband who says, “You are just like your mother.” We both have at least ten gene SNPs which give us something like a ten fold increase in risk for breast cancer, and my mother is herself a survivor. I will be getting a mammogram soon. Both my parents have longevity genes. I drew two short straws and inherited one gene for a shorter life span and increased risk of dementia with age. What a pity, looking after my parents as they approach 100 ( they both have a greater likelihood of living to 100) will probably kill me off at 70 or at least give me breast cancer but then again that could be all the booze. Turns out we – that means everyone in the family on all sides including my husband- have rampant addiction genes, for me I inherited more of the high likelihood to become addicted to nicotine genes, and a dodged the stronger desire for alcohol gene both my mother and husband have but we all have at least two or three more for alcohol dependency. The nicotine genes make me very very happy I somehow had the personal drive to quit smoking after my freshman year in college when I smoked about twenty cigarettes a day. That one year of smoking is probably still chipping off days from my genetically abbreviated lifespan- at least it was fun in a Bette Davis chain smoking kind of way.

To counteract the alcohol dependence genes my mother and I share a gene SNP that unifies us in commiseration, we share an SNP on the dopamine/serotonin feedback loop that leaves us with the genetic disadvantage of suffering from terrible hangovers. I always marveled at people who recover from hangovers by 3pm, for me they tend to get worse as the day goes on.

If hacking my genome didn’t have me running out the door to get a head to toe MRI, then it did at least depress me somewhat, but there are not just bad SNPs there are also good ones. Somehow my three genes for “unlikely to go bald” did not bolster my mood any, considering chemotherapy looked almost inevitable but you know I even have an SNP for intolerance or greater negative reaction to chemotherapy drugs. I now felt like I had read my own diary, and knew things I might be better off not knowing and I haven’t even said anything about my personality genes. Yes there are gene snps for personality too. I will devote an entire post to this next week.

Another reason I hacked my genome was to find out if I had a common and at the same time potentially catastrophic mutation in my methylation genes. Methylation is a necessary cellular process that governs many fundamental functions in the body. My father and I share a mutation on the A 1238 gene which can affect methylation but is far less problematic than the central mutation of the AC3677 gene which is far worse. Thank god we dodged that snp.

If you are interested in hacking your genome read this article by Suzy Cohen, which explains the process really clearly.


This is what I did… order a basic genetic test from 23andme.com for 99 dollars. They are better and easier to understand than Ftdna.com and the other services out there. They will send you the kit, spit into the test tubes, send it back, wait, then they will email you. When your results are ready login and download the raw data. Then upload your raw data into:


for $30 dollars and it will list all your SNPS and if you have two plus signs you are homozygous for that SNP and will most likely display the trait, if you are heterozygous for the trait plus/minus you may or may not display the trait. If you have two minus signs you will not display the trait. There are good and bad predispositions and traits. Click on each one and it will take you to the page devoted to your SNP mutation on http://snpedia.com. You better devote an entire day to this process. MTHFRsupport.com analyses your health snps but if you go another step further and upload your raw data for 5 dollars into:


you will find it analyses personality and other traits, like big boobs or small boobs, blue, green or brown eyes. Then do the same for every member of your family so you know who to blame for what you got in the genetic roulette of conception. I also uploaded my DNA to NutraHacker.com to find out what supplements I should and shouldn’t take- however a lot of what came back was contradictory- so best to have a naturopath or holistic doctor interpret the data in reference to your symptoms rather than a computer program… more on that from Chris Kresser.

Start with this Suzy Cohen article:


Then watch this podcast with Bulletproof diet man Dave Asprey and Dr. Ben Lynch of MTHFR.net, the website I used to analyze my genome.


And this podcast by Chris Kresser called Methylation 101:


Chris says in his podcast that genes make up about 10% of what will happen, and your environment is the other 90%, so there is no such thing as inevitability just predisposition. Dr. Ben Lynch echoed this when he referenced the wonderful book Biology of Belief, which is on my reading list and found on amazon.


I wonder if there is a predisposition to being revolutionary, and if I submitted my DNA to the DAR I could be granted membership based on a gene SNP. Joking aside the DAR have just opened up DNA as a course to membership but you must have a direct male descendant and be able to match his DNA to yours which is a possibility in my lineage. I wonder if he would let me hack his DNA too. Ill Hack Yours, You Hack Mine.

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A Proposition of Sorts

Now that I look far more haggard than I ever looked “put together” even in my best moments, there are a few things that have become certain. This includes the disappointing fact that I am no longer flirted with, by anyone even gas station attendants looking for an extra tip. I comfort my ego by thinking that this is because I am so obviously married, a fact anyone can pick up on by noticing my glittering wedding ring. The truth is if you checked me out you would probably miss the glitter altogether but what you could never miss is the middling overhang, that thing that I used to call my waist when I was eight. Since then I have called it affectionately my pouch, but then I had a baby and it never went back to being just a pouch it is now imperfectly huge, like a bunny burrow my daughter used to live in, then left leaving it eviscerated and at the same time puffy. Occasionally I get a look from someone who hasn’t seen me in a while… it’s a look that speaks loudly and clearly, “My god she let her self go,” as if it was a choice and that I had anything to do with it.

More disturbingly I have noticed an opposing correlation. The less and less members of the opposite sex flirt with me, the more and more people of both genders ask me for advice. I know, why would anyone ask me for advice about anything other than which Danish is better, cream cheese or blueberry? “I don’t eat gluten,” would be my response to which they would look incredulously back in my direction seemingly asking, “How can a chubby person not eat pastry?”

In the same sort of way people always seem to think I can help out their son, cousin, or friend who wants to be a filmmaker so every few months I end up sitting down with someone just starting out to give them my “advice.” The truth is I don’t have any advice, as I have not yet achieved what I really want to. This is really too embarrassing to admit, except in my blog so I usually show up to these meetings, disheveled, dose up on caffeine and tell them to pursue their dreams and try and give them a few practical tips from a most impractical person along with some inspired realism peppered with my best fake smiles and encouragements, when inside I am thinking “Get out while you still can and become an accountant,” but I won’t allow myself to speak that truth as it would be unfair to the fictional version of myself that is both successful and solvent.

So this is how I turned up at my usual coffee place last week to meet my husband’s friend Jamie’s nephew who is applying to film school in Canada and making short films on the island. He was a strapping lad, who had probably been out of school for a few years trying to get into film school and into “the industry.” We went through the usual and the particular. He through out a budget and a story idea, and what he was planning to achieve and how long it would take him. I told him bits and pieces of what I knew about funding and casting etc. etc. Then he asked me something that almost made me choke on a figurative cream cheese danish.

“Have you ever done any acting?”

Hmmm I thought to myself, that was not a usual question. Why would he ask me that, it was like asking me if I had eight legs instead of just two.

“No, I haven’t actually except for student productions when you act, direct, do set design, makeup and Kraft Services all at once while barefoot and with a two dollar budget.”

“I know what you mean, but would you consider acting?”

I took a long swig of coffee and then the ever so egotistical, I am really still eighteen, thoughts crossed my mind— Is he flirting with me?

I tousled my hair, buying time, and then answered, “Well I might consider acting if it was the right role.” It was my best Nicole Kidman impression.

He had previously told me about the film he wanted to make about a young twenty year old man who has a psychotic break and his relationship with his mother. He was going to act as the main role as well as direct. I probably should have seen it coming but I didn’t, so then he asked,

“I would love to cast you as the mother.”

I immediately stopped hair tousling, and then licked the bottom of my coffee cup trying to cover up my shock.

“Oh as the mother, as YOUR mother?”


At this point my mind went reeling into a stream of consciousness rambling horror.

“Definitely not flirting, not flirting at all. How can I be your mother, you have a mustache? You are bigger than me. I can’t play your mother, I don’t even have grey hair and I still get my period, I’ll have you know. How can this be happening. Mother of a grown man. Ewwwww. A grown man with a mustache.“

Our conversation ended soon afterwards, with me missing out on what could have been the role of the century.

Later that day I was checking out at the grocery store with all my provisions for my real child who is three not twenty and does not have facial hair yet, hopefully never. The cashier recognized me or my ATM card when I was checking out.

“Oh my gosh, Luci Spurling, how are you?”

Fine I thought, as long as you don’t ask me to act as a middle aged woman.

“You don’t know who I am?”


“It’s Chernelle’s mother.”

“Oh my gosh, Hi, its been a while, I haven’t seen Chernelle in a few years but I chatted to her on email the other year, how is she doing?”

“Chernelle is great, did you know she is a grandmother now.”

I started to madly search for the dark chocolate I had purchased in my grocery bags.

“Grandmother?” I looked at her with an expression as if I had just witnessed the miracle birth of Jesus Christ.

“A What?”

“Did you say Grandmother?”

I stuffed a block of chocolate in my mouth, to ease the pain that word caused to reverberate through my entire body.

“Wow,” is about all I could muster. The packer offered, “Would you like me to take the bags out to the car for you?”

“No I am not crippled, nor am I a grandmother, nor will I play one onstage or in anyone’s crazy fantasy.” I murmured half to myself, my speech distorted through chocolate squares.

The following day I went to fill up my car with gas, full service of course as that’s how old people roll.

The gas man leans on the car hood and leans into the window to say to me, “I can’t believe she hasn’t given out yet.”

My immediate thought is – My god not again, he is talking about me. Then I realize he is talking about my car. My offended expression changes into one of laughing acceptance as I hit the side of the old jalopy with my hand and say, “They don’t make them like they used to.” We smile like two old crows sitting on a park bench watching clouds float by.

“So How old is your car anyway?” the gas man asks me.

“I am not sure, I have lost count.” I reach over and pull the registration out.

“1996” I say proudly, “Nineteen years old.”

As I tapped my fingers on the dash, and wound my fingers around the worn grooves in the steering wheel, that fact really started to sink in. Nineteen years old. My damn car is older than the mustached young actor who wanted me to play his mother. My god I am old.

It is not actually just my own age, or being called “Mame,” that is hard to accept. As the gas topped up on the car and I drove off I realized that I was having problems accepting that Eva would eventually grow up, she would stop going everywhere with me, and that some day she will be almost twenty. And when she is twenty she might decide to date an actor, she might even consider one with a mustache a decision, which will certainly give her mother grey hair menopause and a heart condition.

Until then I can only accept mortality, age and the metaphorical ticking clock of the crocodile in Peter Pan. In the meantime I can enjoy Eva at three sort of the perfect age, if only I could press pause.

I bought Eva a crocodile sleeping bag for Christmas. She hates it, and has banned all camping equipment and toys with teeth ( or ticking clocks for that matter) out of her playroom, bedroom, or bathtub. I may follow her inspired example and live eternally in denial, and treat my daughter like she is three years old forever. Hey maybe that’s my own mother’s secret 🙂

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The First Unfairness


Eva has a new mantra for 2015,“It’s not fair!”

I am not sure what gave rise to her newfound acuity of what is proper and deserving and right but it is emerging alongside the equally important skills of empathy and manipulation. This understanding of equality is as fundamental in humans as it is in dogs. Dachshunds particularly have an almost sixth sense for when one is given a bigger treat than the other, or when one was greeted before the other, or petted for a fraction of a second longer, an imperceptible injustice, which dissolves into an all out war, a forced reconciliation after battle, and eventually exile. I am reminded now reminiscing about Piccolo and Piglet’s well hewn warpath that dogs are believed to have intelligence equal to the average three year old and this fills me with dread for Eva’s year ahead. My experience with warring dogs is a powerful argument for not giving Eva a sibling as life is at its worst when every child at nursery or home wants a turn on the same metaphorical yellow swing at the same time.

The yellow swing is about all I hear about every day when I pick Eva up from nursery. Rogan or Ethan, or Sadie wouldn’t let me have a turn on the yellow swing. And the worst part is I am currently mother to at least three children with the mental age of three ( Eva, Piccolo and Piglet (in exile)) but back to that yellow swing:

“I am sure they did let you have a turn.”

“It wasn’t long enough.”

I pause unsure of my answer and manage to muster,

“It was long enough, it just didn’t SEEM long enough to you.”

I flounder as I am not sure how to raise a child who is to the power of ten times more impatient than the average three year old. All parents say this I am sure, but they haven’t met Eva. Her rage at not getting what she wants is only as powerful as her resolute will to never admit she is wrong.

The other day Eva hit Piccolo and I with a plastic stick that came off one of her Christmas presents.

“Eva please apologize to Mommy and Piccolo.”


“I insist Eva”

“no, NO, Na, Na, NO.” sung to the beat of a Beyonce song. The Diva has arrived.

“You will have to sit on the naughty step.”



I pick her up and put her on the bottom step of the stairs. She cries for forty minutes, every ten minutes I ask her,

“Are you ready to apologize to Mommy?”


Every ten minutes for forty minutes.

Eventually I asked her father to convince her to apologize. He took her off the naughty step without my permission, wrapped her in a blanket and finally ten minutes later, a whisper as loud as it was meaningful eked out,

“I am sorry Mommy.”

“Apology accepted.” I whispered back, arms crossed.

“Now get ready for bed.” No wonder I am the least favorite parent. I put her on the naughty step, Daddy whisks her off, he feeds her chocolate, I make her go to bed. He devises treasure hunts, I wash her ears out, he carries her around the house on his back, I spend most of my waking time following her from room to room plucking her off furniture like a baby monkey, a simile she enjoys bringing to life. I turn the TV off. Daddy turns it on.

Now that she can count it has infiltrated her logic of equity, her comprehensions and assessments of what is fair. About a week before her birthday she started saying that because she was two she should be allowed to watch two cartoons before bed, as that was only fair because she was two.

“Okay that sounds reasonable.” I said not willing to argue the merits of one cartoon, and only one cartoon.

Then Eva more than one step ahead of me as usual added,

“And when I am three I get three cartoons before bed because, I am three!”

“Okay, three cartoons before bed.”

Eva gives me a look as if she was thinking, “Fantastic she bought it.”

Noticing that Mommy’s energy has been flagging lately she has started to use her newest skills of argument, reason and toddler justice to give voice to her most base desires.

When we get home from school, she opens the fridge, “I want chocolate.”

“No chocolate before dinner.”

“That’s not fair.”

“Yes it is!”

Eva bursts into a fit of tears like I had made up a new rule to prevent her from getting what she wants, to eternally get in her way like only mothers can do.

“Eva, no chocolate before dinner has always been a rule and it should never be questioned.”

“It’s not fair, you never said I couldn’t have chocolate.”

“You never asked before dinner.”

“Anarchy” I murmur under my breath.

For Eva the stretch between getting home and finishing dinner is enough of an eternity and so I have discovered that the upside of an impatient child is that she has forgotten about chocolate by the time her deserving hour arrives.

Eva’s other daily habits are also evolving as she grows into her year of being three, or as a blogger wrote the other day her year of becoming a “ Threenager”. Eva is now scared of the dark and calls for mommy to come and take her to the potty at all hours, which I do of course and then lead her back into bed, tuck her in and kiss her goodnight for the umpteenth time. To my amazement these midnight potty trips have meant her diaper is dry in the morning and I am beginning to dream of never having to buy a diapers again until I need Depends.

Eva has always liked to hold my hand while using the potty especially when she has a bowel movement. I guess it gives her fortitude. Now that she is three, she prefers the back of her toddler chair, which I have to move in front of her when she is expecting a movement. Her blue chair is a symbol of independence at last. She holds on to the back of the chair and grunts away reminding me of my Lamaze class. She is very territorial about her blue chair and over the last few days she has been greatly offended by her father. I am relieved it is for once not me who is guilty of such offence.

“Last day, Daddy bit my fingers, these three fingers right here, AND he put HIS shoes on MY blue chair, his shoes on my blue chair!”

She says this with great expectation wondering when I will put Daddy on the naughty step. If Daddy is going on the naughty step it will be for a host of other reasons, not for putting his shoes on Eva’s blue chair but in her world and especially within her potty moments, it is all about the blue chair.

The other day her Daddy and I were discussing his new job and I said, “You will have to play the bad guy at work.”

Eva was shocked, and repeated for days to come, “You called Daddy a bad guy, Daddy is not a bad guy. Mommy you said Daddy was a bad guy.”

“I meant he should pretend to be a bad guy like when he pretends to be a monster.”

At some point Eva is going to wonder why she is the only one that ever has to sit on the naughty step. I am sure Daddy would like to put mommy on the naughty step for my offences against husband-kind: burning the potatoes, leaving the washing in the washing machine, never making the bed, earning too many sky miles on the visa card.

Eva’s other new and disturbing habit is that every night when we are laying in her big girl bed reading stories, she asks, “Mommy can I lay on your boobies?”

“Why do you want to lay there?”

“Because they are soft.”

“Okay put your head right here” I said patting my right breast.

“Mommy you have big boobies, can I touch them?”

“Yes.” I say half disappointed that I cannot for my life recall the last time anyone said anything that romantic to me.

With a wicked smile, Eva does her best belly flop from an upright standing position landing splat on top of my chest, winding me with a WWE Banzai drop.

“Owww, why did you do that, you are hurting Mommy.”

“I want somewhere to rest my belly.”

“Okay, just be gentle.”

Every night I do my best to get through reading her bedtime stories. It’s hard to keep my eyes on the page, while recovering from the nightly Banzai drops, trying to eek out, “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb” while being held in a chest lock.

Last night. I tried to convince Eva to assume another position.

“No, I like it that way.”

“Mommy doesn’t like it, it is uncomfortable.”

“But that’s not fair.”

I could hear my mother in my head,

“Life’s not fair,” but I know better than to say that to my three year old. Instead, I sucked it up and remained in the chest lock for yet another night. The moral, life’s not fair, is perhaps a better lesson imparted on the mother than the daughter.

Year three has already brought many new questions and some tough ones too. Since Eva overheard the headline breaking that Teresa Giudice and her husband of Housewife fame were going to jail she has been asking me,

“Mommy, What is Guilty?”

She hasn’t bought my most recent, explanation:

“Guilty is when someone does something that is not fair, and they are punished like the naughty step, or when Daddy yells at Mommy, and then there is jail too when you are really bad, or when you don’t wear your car seat straps.”

This week’s big toddler probing into the mysteries of life question is,

“Mommy what is Ebay?”

“It’s a place to sell things you don’t want.”

“You mean like Piccolo?”

“We aren’t selling Piccolo.”

“What about Daddy?”

“No we can’t sell Daddy.”

“But he bit my three fingers and put his shoes on my blue chair.”

“Life isn’t fair.” I thought.

Last night I finally finished rereading Peter Pan. It was one of my new years resolutions (2014 not 2015.) I laughed when I came across this passage about a child’s First Unfairness, it reminded me so much of Eva.

“Quick as thought Peter snatched a knife from Hook’s belt and was about to drive it home, when he saw that he was higher up on the rock than his foe. It would not have been fighting fair. He gave the pirate a hand to help him up. It was then that Hook bit him.

Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter. It made him quite helpless. He could only stare, horrified. Every child is affected thus the first time he is treated unfairly. All he thinks he has a right to when he comes to you and yours is fairness. After you have been unfair to him he will love you again, but will never afterwards be quite the same boy. ( or girl) No one ever gets over the first unfairness; no one except Peter. He often met it, but he always forgot it. I suppose that was the real difference between him and all the rest. “

Eva’s Daddy has a few more chocolate coin treasure hunts in his future to make up for putting his shoes on Eva’s blue chair, Mommy will forever be the one who wouldn’t let her have chocolate before dinner, and her friends will never be forgiven for not letting her have a longer turn on the yellow swing but amidst all of this inequity Eva still loves us and we love her back from the prone, clearly unequivalent position beneath a Banzai drop.

Xx Derelict Mom


The Dangling Conversation

If you have read my blog posts in the past you may have followed my interest in digging into my family tree. A few months in I realized it was more of a life long interest and not a temporary project, so I convinced myself to take a break. I have also been run off my feet with my living relatives especially the little one, who has no idea she has third cousins thrice removed who died in 1897 and lead a life full of intrigue. For Eva, Mommy, Daddy and Auntie Zoe are the most important people in the world and despite a few friends and her grandparents she is not sure why anyone else matters. Her biggest problem is that her mother, me, finds everything fascinating.

When my parents received a phone message from a long lost relative we had never met, I was eager to call the person back. As soon as my mother listened to the message she gladly passed it on to me, check that box! But I did not have a chance to call her until 7:30pm when Daddy came home from work and was playing with Eva.

The woman I called will be henceforth referred to as Shirley, which is not her real name in order to protect the guilty.

I dialed the number, she had said she was staying with some friends: let’s call them the Haywards.

I dial the number.

“Hello, is this the Hayward residence?”

A long mumbly pause.


“Oh, um… Yeeeeeeesssssss.”

“May I speak to Shirley who I believe is staying with you?”

“Well, my dear, I am SHHHHIRLLLEYYY.”

“Oh” I say surprised that she would answer the phone so nonchalantly when it was not her home.

“You called and left a message for my parents Rick and Jane Spurling wanting to ask about the Davis family, I am their daughter and I am calling you back.”

“Oh, wow you called me back.”


A long mumbly pause


“Oh yes Oh yes, now who are you again?”

“Lucinda Spurling.”

“Who are your parent’s”

“Rick and Jane Spurling.”

“Why did you call me?”

“I called you because you called them?”

“Oh, I did?”

“Yes, this morning.

“What did I want?”

“You were looking into the Davis family. My great grandmother was May Davis Gurr.”

“Oh, and you are?”


“Oh yes Lucinda Davis, I think we have met.”

“No we haven’t and it is Lucinda Spurling.”

“Who was your father?”

“My father is Rick Spurling, his mother, my grandmother was Marion Gurr, the

daughter of May Davis Gurr.”


“May Davis married Frank Gurr, and their daughter Marion is my grandmother.”

“Who is your husband?”

“It does not matter, my husband is British, and I kept my maiden name- Spurling.”

“Yes, Lucinda Davis.”

“No Lucinda Spurling.”

“Whatever, well what I want to know is to look into the Davis side of the family.”

“We don’t know much about that side.” I say trying to discourage her.

“Well I am really serious! “

“I can tell.”

“I have been here two weeks and I am finally starting to call around. Did I call you or did you call me?”

“I called you back.”

I hear something that sounds very much like a swig.

“I am from New Mexico.”

“Oh that is nice.”

“Who is your husband?”

“It does not matter, he is British and I kept my maiden name.”

“Oh My husband thinks he is Bermudian.”

She giggles, “ I am from ALBUQUERQUE NEW MEXICO.”

“I know, you told me.”

“Did I call you or did you call me?”

“I called you back.”

“No one ever calls me back, you are so SWEEEET.”

So is that cocktail you are swigging I think.

“Do you know Bill Davis?”


“Bill Davis is going to help me; he is quite elderly.”

“Yes he is now.”

“Are you related to the Shelly Bay Davis’s or the Bailey’s Bay Davis’s’”

“Shelly Bay.”

“Well, we are related to both sides.” She says giggling again.

“Oh really, that is interesting.” By now I am wondering how to put myself out of this misery.

“I am 73.”

“Oh good for you, I am 38.”

“Is your name Ann?”

“No, Ann is my aunt.”

“Oh COOOOLLLL, I spoke to her today.”

“Oh you did, then you know everything you need to know.”

“Ann is a COOL lady.”

“Yes she is.”

“Ann was a Davis, what did Ann tell me, I can’t remember now.”

“Oh well,” I say sighing.

“ My mother, Kate married Harry Davis, Kate was a Barnes so I am related to everybody.”


“Everybody! So what is your mother’s maiden name?”


“What is your father’s maiden name?”

“He doesn’t have one.”

“I want to ask you something, as I put my life together, can you help me put my life together?”

“Yes” enormous sigh from me.

“What is your number.”

“297-0221?” I gave her my old number that was disconnected many years ago.

“I am really serious about this, I will call you.”


“So Who did you say was your husband?”

“It doesn’t matter, he is not Bermudian.”

“Did you call me or did I call you?”

“I called you back.”

“ No one ever calls me back.”

“I really have to go now, I have a two year old I need to put to bed.”

“Oh a two year old, I don’t have any of those anymore.”

“Okay, goodbye.”

“Goodbye, you will hear from me again- I am serious.”


The first thing I did was laugh, call Ann, and wonder what I would have done with those twenty minutes if I had not been on the phone with “Shirley.” Ann and I agreed that the drinking gene in all of our convening family lines, had many expressions and one of them was Shirley.

I have to admit that this is the first time I have given out a fake number to a drunk grandmother, which made me perversely nostalgic for the days I gave out fake names and numbers to hoodlums who tried to sleaze up to me- I guess I have lost my touch, or maybe just my youth. I also realized the danger of having years of dinnertime, bath time, and story time and then when the babies fly the nest replacing those activities with cocktail hour – even at age 73. Maybe I won’t wish for an empty nest so quickly.

Xx Derelict Mom.


Family Holiday

If the title of this week’s blog sounds like a Peppa Pig episode – it was intentional.

“I’m Peppa Pig, snort this is my little brother George. Snort snort, This is Mummy Pig snort and this is Daddy pig, snort. Laugh. Peppa Pig. Snort.”

Ad infinitem.

In case you don’t know who Peppa Pig is, which probably means you don’t know anyone who is two- here is a link to one of Eva’s favorite episodes “Night Animals.”


The Peppa Pig obsession/ TV watching/ ipad watching got so bad even the grandparents asked us to turn the volume down. All I could think was:

Gigi can you take back the ipad. Gigi? Gigi?

But we were on holiday in the U.S. with Chris’s parents Shelagh and Duncan and Eva. If I had one regret in my child rearing experience it is that I ever let Eva watch a cartoon ever. After one cartoon they are hooked. It has to be worse than crack. Although not all kids are born addicts. My sister’s kids (the perfect ones) happily watch thirty minutes then go and do something else. For Eva there is nothing else to do, there is just things to do to waste time until she can watch some form of television. She is an addict and part of that is my creation.

I probably should have probably seen this coming as I was called square eyes as a child and could never get enough TV, which may just perhaps have had some bearing on my career choice. This vacation made me realize that if I didn’t break Eva’s TV habit soon it would not only drive me around the bend but she might, god forbid, grow up wanting to become a documentary filmmaker, and I just can’t have her do that.

In baby class they tell you a child must not be in the vicinity of a television for the first three years of its life. I did what I was told, almost. I did not let her watch television until she was two and a half and when we started letting her watch it we tried to limit her exposure to certain times or situations, but soon the monster otherwise known as Peppa Pig took over.

I used to say, “You can only watch toons when you are sick,” which is such a first time parent trap. From that point on, every day when she woke up she said.

“Mommy, I am a little bit sick.”

“Where are you sick?”

“My tummy. Can I watch toons?”

And if that didn’t work,

“Mommy, I have a boo boo, I need a plaster.”

Peppa Pig plasters- flown specially in from the U.K from her long-suffering band aid buying relatives.

As soon as I had affixed the bandage, she would say, “Can I watch a toon?”

Her manipulation hit an all time high, before our holiday after I surfaced from my bedroom after being sick for two days.

As soon as she saw me, she announced,

“Mommy I am a little bit sick, I am not sick like you are sick, but I am sick like me.”

“What do you mean how is Eva sick like Eva?” I asked

“I am a little bit sick so I can watch toons.”

After that elicited no response, Eva began to wail in agony.

“What’s wrong?” I said.

“An ant bit me, I need a plaster.” She lifted her right foot onto the chair.

“Can I watch a toon?”


She began to fuss and cry so Hamma picked her up to cheer her up.

A few minutes later, she tried again.

“My foot is sore, can I watch a toon?”

And she propped up her left foot in false agony and tears.

“Is that the foot the ant bit?” I asked her.

“Yes” she said with a painful yelp.

“No it was the right foot.” Hamma said with a giggle.

I had to give her credit for her persistence, a reoccurring theme.

While still popping antibiotics, Eva, Shelagh and I boarded a plane for the U.S. for our summer holidays. Daddy had found a way to have three days off at home for Cupmatch before joining us to watch cricket with his dad.

I was a bit nervous, as we had not been away for about a year and travelling with Eva at this age was entirely different than the year before, but I was armed with the ipad- all would be okay even though we were travelling on the busiest day of the year in Bermuda, the Wednesday of Cupmatch. It was also the first flight that Eva would have her own seat. The long queues were tempered by little Eva excitedly tiptoeing so she could see out the window at the airplanes on the runway.

“Airplane, I am going on an airplane.” She sang and danced and ran around, while mom and Shelagh dragged the carryon luggage through the airport. I had done her hair in pigtails so that when she had a tantrum she would at least be the cute kid with pigtails having a tantrum, rather than just another snotty nosed kid losing it in a public place.

When we were leaving the house, I had been sure to pack Eva’s blankie in my carry on- because she was particular about the softness of blankets and she was as attached to her cuddly blanket as her bunny. It was not something that could be forgotten. After we checked in, I put Eva in the stroller and put the blanket over her, catching the distinct whiff, well it wasn’t a whiff – it was the persistent odor of pee.

The day before, derelict mom had had a moment of fluster when she put Eva down for her nap without a diaper and Eva had wet through the bed. I jammed all the blankets in the wash or so I thought. As it turned out, I had neglected to wash the one blanket that was making the trip and so make the trip it did. The odor of day old pee wafted around us, like the smell of an old folks washroom. When we approached security, I took it upon myself to warn them.

“We had a little accident on the blanket, so I would hold your nose.” I made it seem like Eva was guilty of wetting herself that very moment rather than draw attention to the fact that it was actually mommy that packed a pee soaked blanket without noticing. When in doubt, blame the toddler.

The security lady put on rubber gloves and gingerly sent it through the scanner. We carried the blanket around the airport, occasionally someone would catch a whiff and we would stand next to an elderly person and no one was any the wiser.

To my utter surprise and amazement when we boarded the flight, little Eva ran into her seat, climbed up and put her seat belt on like she had been a frequent flyer in a past life. I tried not to react but I was relieved that she didn’t fight the assigned seating like the anarchist most toddlers tend to be. I knew that it would only be a matter of a small increment of time on the hour and a half flight before Eva rebelled against the common order. She was good for about ten minutes, until the plane was fully boarded with 100 other people ready, bored and gawking ready to judge my parenting skills which I was always the first to admit were lacking.

Ding dong. The seat belt light went on, and the plane began to taxi back from the runway.

“Mommy, I have to pee.”

I sighed, and then like lightning I grabbed the toddler and released her from the seatbelt like taking a gun from its holster and I ran with her down the aisle to the bathroom as Eva clenched her hello kitty underwear in an attempt to stem the flow.

I locked the bathroom door and plunked her down on the potty in time. “Phew we made it. “

We were back in our seats, belts buckled before the jet engines engaged.

“Mommies need to be fast.” I told Eva.

“Airplanes are fast.” She said.

The rest of the flight she played with her mini peppa pigs, her sticker book, her quiet book, and then I decided to whip out the ipad, little did I know she would wake up out of a cartoon haze two weeks later with crossed eyes and a grumpy dependency on electronic entertainment.

About ten minutes after the pilot announced our decent into Boston and put the seat belt sign on, a little finger tapped my arm.

“Mommy I have to poo.”

I sighed again but harder this time and then repeated my holster release of child from seatbelt and began the illegal sprint down the aisle to the bathroom during landing.

“Wait” Eva screamed.

I paused, convinced I was going to have to go back for my change of clothes.

“I need my books,” Reading on the potty had become a habit at home, a habit which she could not let go of while on a plane in mid descent.

To avoid a tantrum and poo combination I ran back to the seat grabbed two Curious George books and sprinted back to the bathroom, not knowing when we would come out or if anyone would miss us when they boarded the next flight. I stripped her off and let her dangle into the potty while clutching my legs, and to my total shock and amazement and enormous perfectly formed poo emerged in record time and we were back in our seats, hands washed, and belted in before the plane hit the tarmac.

“Must have been the pretzels.” I thought.

“Maybe I need to feed her more fibre?”

With Eva’s history of plane travel no one was more shocked than me that we made it to Boston without being fined for some incident with excrement ( a near miss) or for refusing the direct warnings of the cabin crew- a habit of toddlers.

While waiting at the bag claim, I overheard someone say to the friend who picked them up,

“There were loads of kids on the plane, and I was surprised they were all really well behaved.”

Oh if only she had known how close it was from an entirely different outcome. I inhaled a large breath of pee blanket and sighed in relief when Eva, Shelagh ( Nana) and yours truly finally turned the key in the lock at the Boston apartment.

The following three days were a challenge as I like most Bermudians had a large shopping agenda. Imagine you get off the island once a year and have to do all of your shopping in three days, with a two year old, a stroller and her grandmother all in tow. Underwear check, socks check, CVS check, makeup check, shoes check, birthday presents check, weird health foods from Whole foods – check etc etc etc.

I am sure Nana, along with all the staff of the apartment building think Bermudians have a shopping addiction but what we have is shopping deprivation and we have to make up for it either online or in a three day metropolitan visit or both. To my surprise Eva liked going shopping even though she took to running as fast as she could through the aisles of Marshalls and hiding under the clothes racks but she couldn’t stay hidden for long because her little pigtails stuck out where ever she went. But the exercise of chasing Eva around a department store while pushing a stroller and trying to buy clothes gave rise to all my small town paranoia that my child would be baby snatched in the big city.

Nana and I, and Eva popped into a CVS drugstore one day to pick up some necessaries like lipsyl and hairspray. Eva wanted to get out of her stroller so I lifted her out and she ran ahead of me up and down the aisles. I followed her as quickly as I could but things happen quickly and as I rounded one aisle I found little Eva with a little old lady who had bent down and was giving her sweets. I ran up to her, bent over and snatched them out of her hand. Then I said, pretending to be nice to the potential childnapper.

“Mommy will decide when Eva will be allowed to have sweets.”

Which started the never-ending chorus of,

“I want my sweetie, I want my sweetie.”

So I made Nana buy her a package of M&Ms, which she scoffed the entire package in one sitting and then passed out in her stroller. I am not sure if the old lady was a childnapper but who in their right mind gives a stranger’s child candy. That was as close as I ever want to come to seeing Eva’s face on a milk carton and it was only day two of our two week holiday.

For Part II, of the Family Holiday tune in next week.

Eva on plane

Gigi Saves The Day

As a working mother I seem to perpetually spread myself too thin. Although I try my best to avoid this it seems the world conspires against me, with an unpredictable job and a toddler’s unpredictable immune system. 2014 was always going to be a busy one, I dubbed it “The year of the visitor” as we had Chris’s aunt and uncle visit for ten days, his parents for three weeks, his sister and her family are coming for a week later this month, and then Eva’s godfather for ten days or so in September. When looking ahead I knew July was going to be a bit of a nightmare. My friend and co-co-director Kara could only come to do our shoot for our documentary, for ten days at the end of July, so we booked that out to shoot our many and varied interviews for our current film. During that week my in-laws would arrive, and the day after the shoot ended I would be flying with Eva and my mother in law to Boston. Nothing like leaving no time to pack, that was acceptable only before I had a two year old- if I forgot something like her bunny, then I might as well fly home. It was also the week of my husband’s 48th birthday, considering I forgot his birthday last year it was high time I made up for it, before Linked In beats me to the punch again with their scheduled happy birthday email- damn automation. Chris had reminded me several times of the date at the beginning of the month so I would not forget but I had my own version of automation- I decided to throw a party. I invited all the relatives who were in residence on the family compound to dinner for Chris’s birthday on Saturday July 26th, in the middle of our shoot and four days before we left for Boston. Hey at least I wouldn’t forget.

To make matters more confusing, I got the dates mixed up for Auntie Zoe’s holiday and she was planning to be away from July 16th through August 4th, not from August 1st through the 14th as I had planned for our holiday to coincide with hers. With my shoot beginning on the 19th of July I would not only have a shoot, guests, and a dinner party to throw and a trip to plan, but I would also have no daycare. This was an impasse. The only answer was to ditch Eva with daddy over the weekend of our shoot, which did not make me the most popular wife or mother, and then on Monday and Tuesday I had to ditch the shoot to take care of Eva, which did not make me the most popular co-director with my co-directors. To make matters worse both Eva and Chris were recovering from the summer flu, and I had finally made it a mission to take my old man of a dog, Piccolo for his yearly checkup several months late. At the vet appointment I learned that he needed an operation immediately to have several teeth removed before an abscess grew so in addition to everything else my firstborn had to go under the knife. So when my in-laws arrived fresh off the plane I ditched them not only with a two year old but also a dog recovering from surgery and disappeared to join my fellow filmmakers who I then abandoned at 5pm to run home, take Eva to swimming lessons, come home prep her for bed then cook dinner for four people and think about doing it all again the following day.

Around the same time every client I have had in the last two years called, emailed and asked for something to be done immediately and without delay, none of which was possible because my editing suite died and was stumping the apple technicians who could not figure out what of a myriad of possibilities was preventing my computer from even turning on. In the meantime, I resorted to leaving Eva watching cartoons on YouTube on my laptop in order to cook dinner, organize the shoot or otherwise get rid of client demands. When I came back Eva had not only chewed through the power cord, she had also removed five or six letters off of the keyboard, she was part toddler, part tiger or so she told me.

“Eva, mommy’s puter is not a toy.”

“But mommy I know it’s not a toy, but I am pretending it’s a toy. Roar Tiger” while making claws with her hands and trying to bite my arm.

What do you say to that? I just sighed. I wasn’t sure what was going to go wrong next but I ran around unplugging appliances sure that the house was going to burn down, well it didn’t but my fridge died, so we fed on rapidly defrosting mystery food for a week.

Amid all this chaos, there is always the unforeseen to tip things totally over the edge. In our case, it was a hostile take over of sorts, what happened next was that it rained. Although rain in and of itself is not a game changer, it invites a congregation within the house, which are unwelcome by the human inhabitants: ANTS. Five days into our shoot as I collapsed into bed I heard the distinctive ear flap of my dog Piccolo and then I felt an ant crawl out from my hair line, then another one on my ankle, then one bit my butt when I had the nerve to roll over. At midnight I flipped on the light to reveal the invasion, which had infiltrated the last bastion of peace for any over subscribed working mother, my entire bed. They were everywhere, I killed what I could see and tried to go back to sleep. Five hours later when they were biting my eyelids I gave in and got up without any sleep.

The following day I made it to my shoot, but almost crashed the car a few times, and found it difficult to finish my sentences but it was almost over, the next day I only had a dinner party to prepare and a forgotten birthday to make up for. I went to bed early, my husband very generously switched sides of the bed with me after I shared with him my thoughts that entire world, ants and all had turned against me, that or I was high on ant venom from the night before.

The following morning I woke up, momentarily victorious that I had slept through the entire night without being bitten by an insect or wild animal, until I got up and collapsed back into the ant’s lair. It was the flu, I was on fire and I could hardly speak but it was okay I only had a dinner party to prepare. I managed to eek out

“Happy Birthday” with a flu-ey exhale.

“I have to go to work” Chris said.

“On your birthday?”


The day before his company had been taken over -not by ants but by another company, and the future was as uncertain as my dinner party. After Daddy went to work, I did as any hard working responsible birthday party host would do, I put my toddler in front of the T.V. and got to work making the starter course, and the dessert. After completing a culinary masterpiece tomato orange soup and chia seed pudding, I made Eva lunch and force fed her as the room spinned, my head pounded and the annoying Peppa Pig theme tune repeated ad infinitum. When the clock struck one, it felt like cocktail hour had finally arrived. I measured up a strong bottle of milk and gave it to Eva to sip until the heady eyelid drooping arrival of naptime dawned.

I propped her up in bed under a pillow and prepared to sneak out of the room. As I turned the doorknob Eva cried.

“Mommy I have to wee wee.”

It was her new procrastination.

“No you fucking don’t have to pee.”

Immediately I felt guilty, I didn’t think I had ever sworn in front of Eva. I am pretty sure she thought I was speaking Spanish anyway but she was a bit shocked by my tone of voice, and so was I, it was more than I had said most of the day.

I picked her out, put her on the potty, read her another book, and then put her back to bed. Within five minutes if anyone followed the trail of pain pill wrappers and Ricola sweets they would find me, prostrate on the bed surrounded by the dead bodies of about one hundred ants, murdered by me in fever fueled “fucking” rage and the few survivors drowned in a feverish sweat, even the ones that clung to my eyelids.

When Chris came into the room when he got home, he found the outline of a dead body drawn by the tiny black ant bodies outlining where I had collapsed. I managed to say “happy birthday “ in half enthused baby sign language. I didn’t cancel the birthday party, nor did I promise it would go forward. At four pm I surfaced to take the beef out of the working fridge so it would return to room temperature, something no one else would remember.

At 5:30, an hour and a half before the guests were due to arrive Chris returned to my flu lair and announced,

“Your mother, back from her trip, has taken over the party.”

“Thank god for mom.” I said and rolled over.

Somehow like a miracle worker, my mother was able to whip up a chocolate cake complete with home made cream cheese icing, roast potatoes and cooked my roast beef tenderloin to perfection. The guests were notified of the location change, and I was left in peace.

Chris had a birthday party after all and I survived the night.

The next day, I did not come out of the bedroom and I had only two visitors.

My mother came first to see if I was still alive.

“Thank you mom, for saving the day.”

“Not a problem” she said bringing me tomato soup, taking my temperature and checking my medicine dosage.

“I guess moms are really good to have when you are sick or you need to throw a party.”

“The show must go on.”

A little later on, a little face appeared at my bedside, it was my second visitor, my daughter Eva coming to check on me.

“They told me you went to work. You didn’t go to work!” she said with a tone of total disgust of having been lied to.

She played with me for about forty-five minutes bouncing on my bed and being generally worried about my wellbeing. When her father had been sick with the flu the week or so before, she had gone into see him and announced,

“Mommy will be very upset if you die.”

When I was sick I think she was more concerned about who would make her lunch and dinner.

About forty minutes later someone realized Eva had escaped from the playpen. She gave me a kiss to get better and was ushered out, but within the hour she was back checking up on me again.

“Mommy will you be better tomorrow?”

Amazingly I was much better the next day and although I had to cancel the rest of the shoot, I was able to leave on our family holiday a few days later.

And Eva also returned to her normal self.

“I like Daddy better than you.” She said the next day.

“Why?” I asked

“Because he is taller than you, and he has bigger hands.”

“Okay” I said knowing I would not be able to change that.

“I love you mommy, but daddy is more fun.” I might have been wiping her butt when she delivered that line. I was growing accustomed to her abuse as any mother must.

The day we left for our trip, my own mother showed up the morning to help us pack, she took us to the airport, gave us the keys to her apartment in Boston, my parents house in New Hampshire and the keys to their car. She made sure we packed the ipad she had given Eva and that we had all the right forms and passports. She also took Piccolo for two weeks at her house, allowing him to sleep in bed with her every night, so he wouldn’t miss us too much while we were gone. And when we get home rest assured there will be a carton of milk in the fridge she will have bought for us, because that is what mom’s do they save the day.

We were about to pull out of the driveway for the airport when she yelled,

“Wait, you have forgotten Eva’s bunny.” Picking it up off of the front stoop where it had been draped over a suitcase, fallen off and almost been forgotten, she passed it through the window to Eva.

“Thank God!” I said. “Thank God for Gigi.”

Thanks Gigi for saving Chris’ birthday and all the days in between.

Xx Derelict Mom


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Gigi Goes AWAL

Continued from last week’s post:


Chris and I don’t go out much, but when we do we USED TO ask my parents if they were potentially available to take care of Eva. My parents have for a long time had a busier social life than ours and so usually they are too busy, booked in advance.

Eva of course is my child, and my responsibility and I would never think to ask my parent’s to take care of her full time during the work day, although that is an arrangement that some grandchildren have with their grandparents, as good daycare is not only hard to find but expensive. But Chris, Eva and I are blessed to have Auntie Zoe in our lives making it only necessary to find a baby sitter when we have plans in the evening.

My parents did agree to take care of Eva for three whole days and nights while we were all on vacation in New Hampshire last year, and it was going to be Chris and I’s first chance since she was born to reconnect for a long weekend in New York for the occasion of a friend’s wedding. Two nights before we left Eva was struck with the stomach flu. You can see from this picture her “I am about to get the stomach flu” face. This was not the dreamed of scenario for the first time you leave your child and go on holiday but these things can only happen to a derelict mom.

IMG_0417 copy 2

Luckily it was a 24 hour bug and she had recovered before we left but she had given me a parting gift. We arrived in New York with high hopes, but on the morning of the wedding I woke up with Eva’s stomach flu and spent the next two days in bed missing the wedding and happy only that I could throw up in peace and did not have the audience and responsibility of a toddler. Throw up ruins everything.

A few months after this trip, we decided to ask my parents to babysit again, she was two and other than a few hours here, a few hours there, and those three days in New Hampshire they had never really looked after her. This had transpired for several reasons.

  1. She is their grandchild and not their child so they have no moral or ethical obligation to help out.
  2. They are kind of old.
  3. They have an active social life.
  4. They have two other grandchildren to take care of, quite frequently.
  5. Eva is “difficult.”

In January we decided to begin a date night once a month where Chris and I would go out to dinner and my parents would take care of Eva, all they would have to do is feed, bathe and put her to bed at their house. I went to my writing group at 6pm and Chris came straight from work to meet me for dinner at 8:30pm. We ordered a bottle of red wine, browsed the menu and ordered our meal in toddler free peace. At 9pm the phone rang.

“Hello, how is it going, why are you calling.”

“Not well, have you eaten yet?”

“We just ordered, Why?”

“Eva threw up everywhere and she won’t stop crying.”

“Why did she throw up?”

“Your father fed her three Peppa Pig yogurts.”


“She wouldn’t eat anything else, she wouldn’t eat the avocado, or sweet potato.”

“But did you try the beets, and carrots and sausages I brought over?”

“No, why didn’t she eat the avocado and the sweet potato, because Sadie always eats the avocado and sweet potato.”

“Because mom, Eva’s name is Eva not Sadie and she does not like avocado.”

“Why is she crying?”

“She wouldn’t go to sleep so we left her to cry.”

“Did you read her stories in the bedroom for ten minutes before you put her to bed like I suggested.”


“Why not?”

“Well Sadie goes right to sleep and she doesn’t need any stories.”

“Eva is not Sadie.”

“When are you coming home?”

“As soon as possible:”

We ate the rest of the meal in complete silence and Eva was still awake when we came home. That was our last date night and the last time my parents attempted to babysit for Eva. Fast forward six months, it was June and I decided to ask them to make one more attempt at having a babysitting relationship with their granddaughter.

“Yes we can babysit, what are you doing?” my father said. He always says yes but my mother has the power of veto.

“We are going out to eat with our neighbors. At a restaurant in town so we were within sprinting distance should Eva throw up or refuse to eat avocado. “

Two days pass and my mother sends me an email from France.

“What time do you have to be at dinner on our babysitting night, you see we have accepted an invitation for a cocktail reception from 5-7pm at the U.S. Consulate and its very important that we attend as they have an important visiting American artist.”

“8pm, so you can still babysit.”

Another two days pass and I get another email from my mother from France,

“I am afraid we will now not be able to babysit at all because the Michael’s will be moving into our apartment that night for a few nights and we will need to cook them dinner, so we cannot have Eva.”

I did not reply as we got the message.

Another two days pass and I get another email from my mother, “We will pay for your babysitter the night you go out.”

I did not reply.

Another two days pass, and I get another message, “We have bought Eva some Peppa Pig books in London.”

When they got home from London, they gave her the books and the other spoils from their trip. It turns out my mother is much better at shopping than babysitting but sometimes these past times over lap. Because they don’t babysit they would have no idea that Eva’s favorite book is “Peppa meets the Queen” and so they bought her another copy, but on occasion you do need more than one of the same thing, kind of like grandparents. So when it came to Auntie Zoe’s summer holiday we called in reinforcements and Eva’s other grandparents agreed to take care of Eva all day for the seven days they were in Bermuda before our joint holiday in New Hampshire leaving me with only seven days to cover before they arrived.

Meanwhile my parents informed me that they were taking down Sadie’s crib in their spare room because she no longer needed a crib as she was sleeping in a big girl bed. It never occurred to them that Eva still sleeps in a crib and might in some alternative universe actually spend the night at their house before she was big enough for a king size bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and an ensuite bathroom.

The problem was not just that Eva was persona non grata at my parent’s house it was also that the grandparents were barely ever home. One such weekend a few weekends ago my husband Chris suggested to my dad that we take out the inflatable run around boat that he had said we could use to boat Eva around in the harbor.

Gigi and Hamma had plans for a friend’s birthday and said they would be back at some point in the afternoon so Chris dusted off the boat but thought twice before hauling it out of the shed for fear that they would not be home in the afternoon to give us a lesson in operation. Sure enough as we were feeding Eva her supper, my mother came staggering through our yard with friends.

“Do you think we could get that boat up and running now?” Chris asked.

“Why do you want to do that?” My mother answered.

“Because Dad has been saying since last summer that we could use it if we wanted to and we wanted to take it for a spin.”

“I don’t know why he told you that, he sold it to Cousin Patrick last week.”

It was just as well Chris hadn’t spent too much time readying the craft.

About thirty minutes later my mother returns.

“What does she want now?” Chris asked.

I shrugged my shoulders and appeared on the other side of the chain link fence.

“Can you give my friend a ride home?”

It was a total role reversal and for a moment I felt like I was living the Disney Movie, Freaky Friday when the mother and daughter switch bodies. My mother, a senior citizen just asked me to drive her drunk friend home.

“Sure!” was of course my answer. I got in the car and obliged. When I returned down the drive way, I came around the corner and there was Cousin Patrick with all the kids loading their boating gear into the family van. They all had mystified looks on their faces, which confused me. I drove past them and at the fork in the road as I was going to turn right to return my mother’s car, there she was, in my way, a bit like road kill but more colorful.

GiGi was swaying underneath the Poinciana tree, with flowers behind her ears and holding a tray of cupcakes each with an American Flag flying from a toothpick. She was waving and she might have been singing. I think she may have lost not only her drunk friend but her mind as well or maybe she was having a flashback to when she was a teenager in the 1960s.

I paused and unrolled the window.

“What are you doing?”

“Waiting for you?”

“I made you some cupcakes.”

“In the last five minutes?”

“They were leftovers from July 4th, we made them for Sadie and Trystan.”


At that moment I realized there wasn’t much difference between Gigi and the teenage babysitters we hire for Eva. When Hamma and Gigi got off the boat they seemed shocked to see their house guest who my aunt had picked up from the airport earlier in the afternoon. It was clear they had totally forgot she was coming, kind of like they forgot they had a third grandchild, Eva.

With Auntie Zoe’s holiday imminent, a hung over Gigi questioned me the next day on her departure,

“When is Zoe going away?”

“Next week”

“What day next week?”

“Wednesday the 16th of July”

“What flight is she on?”

“The BA flight at 8pm.”

“Is she working a full day that Wednesday?”

“Yes. “

“When are Shelagh and Duncan coming?”

“The following Tuesday.”


“Why so many questions?”

“Oh no reason.”

A few days later Gigi announces that she will be leaving for New Hampshire on the morning of Thursday the 17th of July and returning on Friday the 25th. A coincidence? I don’t think so.

“Gigi has gone AWAL.” Chris announced.

Meanwhile Eva’s other grandparents arrive. They bring Eva a new pair of Peppa Pig pajamas, which she is proudly wearing when Daddy gets home from work.

“Who gave you those Peppa Pig pajamas Eva?” He asked her.

“Hamma and Gigi” she answered.

“Huh?” He looked at me.

I shook my head.

“It’s classical conditioning, like Pavlov’s dogs.”

“What do you mean?”

“Eva is conditioned to think every gift is from Hamma and Gigi”

“Oh, they buy her things.”

“They are better at shopping than babysitting.”

We spent the evening in the garden drinking wine and playing with Eva.

The phone rang, it was Gigi from New Hampshire.

“What is that noise in the background?

“It’s Eva and her Nana playing the cymbals.”

I looked out the window, and Eva was running around in my orange sarong clanging cymbals and Nana was teaching her a new song.

“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna…” dancing like Hindu fairies.

I wondered if when Gigi got home if Eva would have shaved her hair into a solitary pigtail and also be wearing Birkenstocks.

“What is that dreadful sound?” my mother asked.

“Its Eva and Nana singing Hare Krishna”

There was dead silence on the line. I figured my mother was reconsidering her last minute trip, and wondering how many Peppa books it would take to get Eva to take the orange robe off. I could hear her eyes roll back in her head.

The evening prayer continued outside after I hung up.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama

Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Peace, Love, Freedom, Happiness.

When I took Eva to the bathroom, I saw daddy’s electric shaver and seriously considered for a moment that if I turned Eva into a mini Hare Krishna that GiGi would hold a parenting intervention and thereby become a grandparent at last.

In pursuit, Eva, Nana and I have taken up Bhakti yoga on our holiday in Boston. Hare Krishna! Krishna Krishna!


Tune in next week for “A Hostile Takeover and Gigi Redeems Herself.”

Xx Derelict Mom

Fair Warning

It is officially the middle of July, its hot, the social calendar is full, it seems I spend most of my free time trying to teach my two year old how to swim so she doesn’t drown if someone leaves the gate open. I gave up exercising when it hit 80 degrees and 99 percent humidity, but some how my day seems more full, and when your days are full the forward planning gets much more complicated. My motto when Eva was a baby, was “wing it” but now that she is two, that plan isn’t really working anymore and I have come to the begrudging realization that I need to be more organized, kind of like my sister who has probably already filled her kids Christmas stockings six months in advance. Part of my disorganization comes from my eternally changing schedule of employment as what I do everyday often changes on a clients whim, an unexpected equipment failure, and other more important people’s schedules which can be tricky with a two year old. Many people are astonished when I say I am not available except between 9 and 5pm, as if there were no such thing as a working mother, or like I grew another head right in front of them.

The phrase “summer holiday” used to bring images to mind of relaxing in a sun lounger reading a stack of books sipping a pina colada, and I know that I did this back when I was a young bronzed teenager before real life hit like a rogue wave in a horizon pool. When I heard the words “summer holiday” for the first time this year back in January it was from Auntie Zoe, Eva’s second mother when she let us know of her plans to take a holiday for two weeks in July, of course I winced dreading Eva’s last day at school but we all need a holiday, especially Zoe. Back in January plans were hatched to go away at the same time on our own summer holiday, therefore minimizing our own work days without daycare for Eva. My plan was elaborate, it was six months in advance and it involved three countries and as many airlines. My plan was to fly Chris’s parents from the UK through Ireland to Boston Massachusetts where they would stay overnight then fly onto Bermuda, after a week in Bermuda, they would fly with us back to Boston, and we would drive up to my parent’s house in New Hampshire for a week. We could enjoy our “summer holiday” with an adult to child ratio of Four to one, which if we couldn’t abandon Eva all together, was the next best thing. The plan was flawless, my mother in law booked their Aer Lingus flights to Boston and I booked our five non refundable sale tickets from Bermuda to Boston and back on delta. I had checked the: plan our summer holiday box in January I was ahead of the game, or so I thought.

About a week later I asked Zoe,

“Zoe I just thought I better double check with you, you are going to be away the first two weeks of August- right?”

“Oh no we changed our plans slightly we are now going away on July 16th and coming back on the first.”

“Oh shit.” I said I booked our tickets to leave on August 1st.

When Chris came home we discussed it.

“Why does it matter you don’t have a job anyway.” At the time a project had fallen through.

“I don’t think I will be unemployed six months from now.” I said ever the optimist.

“Oh really how can you be sure?” Chris said, ever the pessimist.

“Maybe we should see if we can change the plane tickets?”

“Why would we do that and pay more money?” Chris said.

“Because otherwise I will have to take a month off of work between our summer holiday and Zoe’s.”

“You don’t have a job.”

“Okay.” I relented I was not going to win this one.

I started to realize that planning in advance might not only be not my style, it was fraught with its own innate difficulties. There was one innate difficulty that always seemed to crop up in my life, my very own mother. She was especially good at appearing when everything else was going wrong already and deciding that the most important thing at that very moment was that I was in desperate need of a new shower head, or lawn furniture. If I spent $8,000 dollars on a new patio set at Island Trading all my problems would miraculously go away. She also had a knack for ruining plans and she was beginning to rub off on my father.

At some point she decided to bring an important detail to my attention.

“So have you booked your flights for your summer holiday in NH?”

“Yes I told you we booked them a few weeks ago.”

“Did you do it in time for the Delta seat sale I told you about?”

“Yes mom.”

“Are they flexi tickets?”


“You might want to call and check or see if you can upgrade them.”

“Why?” I started to get suspicious.

“We just put the house in New Hampshire up for sale, it’s on Sotheby’s Real Estate.”

“What? !!! Mom I just bought five non refundable plane tickets six months from now. What am I going to do?”

“It won’t sell.”

“Why did you put it on the market then?”

“To sell it, eventually.”

“What if it does sell tomorrow?”

“There is usually a period of exchange.”

“Not six months! “

“You will have to make other plans if that happens. It won’t happen.”

“Oh my god, I thought you were going to give us all a year or so warning.”

“This is fair warning.”

As we are about to set off on our holiday next week, my mother was in fact right the house has not yet sold but it could have. It is usually my mother that takes pains to deliberate what might happen, in fact it is one of my mother’s favorite excuses for her least favorite activity, babysitting, which I will explore more fully next week in Part II, GiGi Goes AWAL.

“But Eva might throw up?”

“But Eva might not eat dinner?”

“But Eva might not go to bed.”

“But Eva might not be as good as Sadie and Trystan.”

Xx Derelict Mom

The Witching Hour

wedding day may 31

The word “witch” comes from the Russian word that means, “one who knows,” but all the witches in my family seem to know everything, except when to go home. Therefore having my brother’s wedding at the other end of the island produced many heated discussions about when our taxi was going to be booked to take us home. Eventually the Wicked Witch of the East decided to keep our options open and hire a few staggered through the evening so we could have options. Options were good. Midnight was always a good option for me to call any party to an end, even before I had children, and the hour is thus referred to in modern lore as “the witching hour,” because after the clock strikes twelve witches and evil spirits come out to play and are at their most evil. Midnight was also about the time when my mother had had a few too many vodka flavored potions, and the Wicked Witch of the East would be at her most powerful, but she was under heavy manners to be on her best behavior, after all this was not “her” wedding because of course, the grand affair was being hosted by the other side of the aisle.

When the wedding ceremony ended, the guests filtered out into the garden for cocktail hour, otherwise known as hour from hell for mothers of toddlers. After wedding pictures which always take forever, I spent the rest of the hour trying to dodge conversations while chasing a toddler and trying to stuff her pre packed dinner down her throat. There were highlights of course, like when she threatened to throw her self in the Koi pond because someone said it was a fish pond and she adamantly insisted that toads not fish live in ponds. Of course with two year olds, the word is full of absolutes and not just for toddlers. Meanwhile while my mother was necking absolute vodka and sodas in celebration, Eva, Chris and I started to move toward the wedding tent.

Koi Pond

Finally they rang the bell for the next phase of the evening, the dinner. We found our table number. We were sitting with a bunch of Eastenders including the Gruncles, because if the family is separated for too long we get anxious, so we had all been carefully divided. Chris and I, Gruncle Michael, Gruncle Michael, Oralene and Betty who were practically family because they had worked for the family for so many years (think the witches’ familiars,) and friends Barbara and Bob Lee, and of course Miss Eva. Each table was named after an East End landmark, and ours so fittingly was “The Unfinished Church.” Fitting because we were all unfinished in our way, and some of us were very certainly heathens.

Unfinished Church

Before dinner we saw the Reverend’s bright yellow car screeching out of the narrow driveway, escaping rather than spend another minute with a witch, a witches’ familiar, or a Spurling, and he had probably been seated on the table plan next to my mother. At about the same time, someone at our table popped a champagne bottle. The vicar was gone; the party can begin.

My father was MCing and to begin the evening he introduced the wedding party. As he called each persons name they walked through the party to their seats. After the bridesmaids were seated, they called for “The Flower Boy, Trystan Hocking,” and he walked through the party to his table. I wasn’t sure he would be too happy being called a Flower boy, but never mind.

“And the Flower Girls, Sadie Hocking.”

Sadie ran and somersaulted into the party, which was met with a roar of applause.

“And the smallest flower girl, Eva Worsick.”

And then it happened, the tantrum we were fearing and expecting earlier in the evening began.

Eva started throwing punches and slaps in my direction, then kicks.

“Can you do a somersault like Sadie?”


I tried to pick her up but she fought me until Daddy scooped her up and paraded her through the party screaming and kicking in a fitting display of toddlerhood. I was thankful later that she hadn’t taken me up on the suggestion to somersault into the wedding as she wasn’t wearing any underwear, as with her multiple objections to clothing at the beginning of the evening, we had called a truce at underwear and happily forgot she missing a significant part of her apparel. She was only the latest in a long line of women who had “forgotten” to wear underwear. I can remember getting a note sent home from nursery school because I had chosen not to wear any, and then there is my mother who just finds underwear a hassle because getting to the potty is so much quicker without them. I think that might Eva’s thought process as well, they had so much in common.

Girls on the dance floor

After Eva, the smallest flower girl’s uproarious introduction, and the introduction of the now married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Spurling, it was time for the speeches.

My father introduced the Father of the Bride and the Mother of the Bride to start the evening. The Mother of the groom, Wicked Witch of the East actually refrained from giving a speech at the wedding and gave up the spotlight to the Mother of the Bride, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West. The speech drifted from teddy bear picnics to the musical Wicked and at the climax she brought out her brand new broom she had been given, complete with its own parking place outside Danielle and Giles’s Cambridge beaches hotel room. At least my mother had left her broom at home, in Alda’s closet. As the night went on I am sure she contemplated more than once if she should summon Alda to retrieve it.

When it was my brother’s moment to shine he opened with “This is the first time I have been able to speak without being interrupted by my mother, “ a reference which seemed like the same thing- an interruption by my mother. He continued with a tribute to his beautiful bride. During his speech he recounted the first time they met:

“ I first met Danielle at a 4th of July party at Coral Beach Club 13 years ago. I was 18 and she was 15. It was 2001. I was standing at the bar with my mate drinking a black and coke. I said to him, “who’s that girl over there?” he said, that’s Danni Chiappa.” I said “Who? He says,”Danni Chiappa, CHIAPPA, it means butt cheek in Italian.” I said “oh ya, well I like that set of butt cheeks.”

Danielle was going to fit right in with the Spurlings, with a last name like that she probably has a dislike for underwear too.

Lastly the groom introduced his best man, Nick. Everyone looks forward to the best man’s speech as much as every best man dreads it. Nick’s speech was so heavily edited for content that his jokes were about editing the speech with small hints at much more involved stories. He ended with the true and tested quote, “A happy wife means a happy life.” I think my brother has learned more than most in that department after a lifetime of watching my mother and father’s relationship mature.

When my father introduced the cutting of the bride’s cake he asked the Bride and Groom,

“Now who is going to hold the knife? Danni?”

The crowd peeled in laughter. I wondered how many of them were remembering when my mother and father were newlyweds and having their first argument in their first apartment. My father turned his head for one moment, and one of their brand new butcher knives, gifted from a kind relative or member of the wedding party, sailed through the air past his face landing upright sticking up in the linoleum floor. My mother had not been trained in knife wielding, therefore she missed, and now neither of them can recall the argument but they can both recall the knife sticking up from the floor. Knowing my mother she probably threw the knife when she realized the floor was linoleum and not real marble. It is scary to contemplate that the three of us came within a knife’s breath of being born and Danielle would have been a Chiappa forever.

My father’s next one liner summed up his experience of marriage perfectly,

“I was a fool when I married you, I was a fool I didn’t notice.”


“She thinks she’s perfect but I don’t always agree.” That was my mother inside and out she was oft heard saying to my father, “There must be some mistake I can’t be wrong.”

I am sure my mother was tutting at her table but I couldn’t see her from where I was sitting because the Gruncle Michael’s hand kept obscuring my view while he kept ordering fresh bottles of wine for our table.

Chris had missed most of the speeches chasing Eva around until two thirteen year old neighbor’s daughters appeared like out of a dream and offered (put up to by their parents) to babysit for Trystan, Sadie and Eva.

“Yes please” was our enthusiastic answer. Chris was able to return to the adult table and enjoy some of the evening until he decided it was Eva’s witching hour.

When Daddy finally collected Eva from our opportune babysitters, she was watching Finding Nemo with one eye propped open, looking like the Bride of Chuckie, with dark circles drooping down over the apple of her cheeks, and drool dripping down her chin whilst maintain a fixated stare at the TV screen. She protested when we collected her, but soon passed out, dress and all on Daddy’s lap, and Betty and Oralene who shared the taxi ride home did not seem to mind if Eva drooled in their respective laps as long as Chris continued to listen to them complain about how they weren’t allowed to make the wedding cake.

What remained of the “Unfinished Church” table continued partying until someone decided the taxi had waited long enough past midnight and that if our coach wasn’t going to turn into a pumpkin or run out of petrol from idling in the parking lot for so long, it was time to leave.

We gathered all the wayward family members and walked through the dark night, but not before Gruncle Michael went back for a roadie bottle of red wine. We did have an hour’s drive and there are traditions to uphold. When we got to the taxis we counted family members and we were missing my father so I was dispatched via hitching a ride in a van to find the missing Patriarch.


After locating him, and forcing him to end the party, my brother, the groom, made one last attempt to remain a child forever.

“ You are going home, can I come with you?

“No I don’t think you can come with your parents on your wedding night, Gee.”

“But Danielle doesn’t want to leave, I just want you to drop me off at my hotel.”

“No Giles, you have to wait, not every night but tonight you do.”

So I left, Dad in tow, and Giles became for the first time a West End boy, and ever so much closer to becoming an adult, but as many of us know that only really happens when you have a child of your own.

The next morning there were more weary reprisals of the night before, phone calls made, post mortems had over eggs and bacon and that was only within the gates of Speakers Drive, then we all mustered enough energy to go to the post wedding brunch, the last party in a series of parties that was the wedding to end all weddings. Codfish and bananas and a side of coffee roll topped with bacon bits, you can’t beat a Bermudian spread. On the way home I snoozed in the back of my parents car, meanwhile my sister’s husband had driven home from the brunch and when he made it back to the East end he found that both his wife and two kids had fallen asleep, so rather than disturb them, he left the engine running and fell asleep, himself in the drivers seat with the radio blaring.

An hour and half later when he woke up, the entire neighborhood had tried to get through the shared driveway and had to accomplish forty point turns to negotiate their vehicles past the sleeping family, making them all inevitably wonder if they really were asleep or if they had witnessed the murder suicide of entire family by carbon monoxide poisoning, but no they were members of the Spurling family, they were just hung over from the wedding the night before.

And just because two parties is never enough my mother woke up two days after the wedding and started planning wedding number three in the east end of course. Why you ask? Who is getting married now? No one. She is planning another wedding party to invite all the people they couldn’t fit on the guest list at wedding one and wedding two. It is an eternal cycle, as long as there was still a party to be thrown, she would still have my brother wrapped around the handle of her broom.

Perhaps now that her three children are married, she might feel it is the appropriate occasion to stir the cauldron one last time and pass the broom on to a new Wicked Witch of the East. I am nominating Gruncle Michael, after he ate all the crucifix cookies my sister brought home from a Christening bake sale. But I highly doubt that my mother will allow any one else, certainly not me to determine her witching hour.

Xx Derelict Mom

Michael eating Cross cookie Holy Sacrament

Two Weddings and a Funeral: Wedding Two

Check out the preceding post Wedding One: https://derelictmom.com/2014/07/03/two-weddings-a…-2-wedding-one/

Friday felt like the night after a party rather than the night before a party but the one thing we had to do that day was attend the actual rehearsal at 5pm. I picked Eva and Sadie up early from school and met my sister and we drove up together in caravan. When I got about a quarter of the way to the other end of the island, a little voice came from the back seat.

“Mommy, the wedding is way too far away.” Little did she know we were only a quarter of the way there.

“Yes it is Eva, but we have to go to practice for your Big Flower Girl day.”


Crap I thought, we are only in Devonshire.

A few more miles down the road, the same voice.

“Mommy I need my juice.”

So I pulled over got out of the car for a water break before resuming the journey.

Another mile down the road the same little voice came from the back of the car

“Mommy I feel sick”

“Oh boy.” I thought… and flicked my indicator on.

I pulled into a hotel parking lot, my sister followed me in her car.

“Now what?” Anna Laura asked.

“Eva feels sick”

So we got the girls out of the car to walk around for a bit, when it was time to resume our journey, Sadie hopped in her mother’s car and instead of saying anything at all, Eva just turned around and climbed into Aunty Laura’s car. It was like getting flipped the bird as a mother, my daughter had abandoned me and my fifteen year old car for my sister’s jazzed up new Hyundai.

”She will be fine, “ Anna Laura assured, “I have the fun car”

Sure enough she made it the other half of the way without throwing up or complaining.

An hour plus after our journey began I was reunited with my about to be car sick daughter. Eva ran around the property, trying to find the closest and quickest path to the water. Toddlers have an acute sense of danger and seem to be drawn to it, which is why as a mother it is best not to be tired, or hung-over and we might have been both.

The rehearsal went on for some time, and without the pomp and ceremony of the actual event Eva and Sadie did not ever successfully make it down the garden aisle amid empty chairs. I had high doubts that when they were filled that they would have the courage to make it down without an adult holding their hands, and me walking down the aisle in a hot pink and orange dress would not only ruin the colour theme but also the whole point. Eva was going to have to make it down the aisle under her own steam. I thought of all the possible scenarios..

What if she has a tantrum?

What if she gets scared and runs backwards down the aisle?

What if she won’t leave me and clings to my leg?

I realized at that moment that there were times in a mother’s life when chocolate was your best friend and not just during PMS. I was going to resort to chocolate bribery, it had to be done, on the wedding day I would be armed with a Cadbury’s twirl.

As most mother’s know a twenty minute window of time can either make your day or the lack of it can break your day, so the hour plus to travel to the wedding was a recipe for disaster, as well as the fact that I had to pack for every two year old eventuality and there were so many, the mind boggled. I brought a full dinner and extra in case she pukes. I brought an extra dress and pajamas in case she puked, I brought wipes, a stroller for her sleep in, a blanket, her bunny, books, a hair brush, five juice boxes, milk etc etc. I bathed her before her nap, and stuffed her, Daddy and my suitcase of supplies in the back of a taxi.

“Wait, “ I said as the taxi started to roll out of the driveway. “I forgot something,” I ran inside for my iphone and a fresh set of clothes- for me, in case Eva threw up. I hung her bridesmaid’s dress on the hanging rack in the back of the taxi- no way would she be wearing that until we got to the other end of the island.

“Why do you have so much stuff?” Chris asked with the air of inneccessity.

“In case Eva, Throws up!” I yell back at him rolling my eyes, wondering what he would do if she puked all over him because I had not brought him an extra suit, but men had a more laissez faire attitude to eventualities, that is until they eventually happen.

“Wait,” I yell again.. and run back in the house and grab my concealer.

“What is that for?” Chris asks.

“Have you seen your daughter?” I say pointing at Eva.

“She went down for her nap and woke up with a spot above her lip. We will need to cover it up.”

As I dabbed my finger in the makeup and Eva fought back as I came near her with my finger. I suppose at two, the point of makeup is not subtlety or concealment it is drama.

“What is that?” Chris asked going in for a better look at the blistering spot above her lip.

“I fear that it is the tropical disease otherwise known by its clinical name: impetigo.”

There was a gasp from the back seat.

“An impetigo beauty spot .” I said, thinking we could just get away with it. I figured it was too good to be true to imagine that my daughter might actually be healthy on the day of her uncle’s wedding.

My own uncles, and my parents had taken “child free” taxis to the wedding, while we had to pile in three kids, four adults, two strollers and masses of supplies into our “child taxi.” By the time we pulled out of my sister’s driveway with everyone and everything stowed away for the hour journey, I was pretty sure the only thing I had actually forgotten was to shave my legs.

A few minutes in Jake, my sister’s husband decided we actually had forgotten something and so we pulled into the Collector’s Hill gas station and he emerged with a six pack of beer and a four pack of Barefoot white wine minis, which is the housewife version of pulling over for a forty. I think he thought we needed to lighten up the reality of being trapped in a cube minivan taxi with three children for over an hour and there was the Spurling family tradition of the roadie, that had to be honoured on long trips away from the east end homestead.

By the time we arrived at the wedding there were two white wine mini’s left over so we hid them in the bottom of my sister’s stroller, which Anna Laura pushed, rattling with the unmistakable clink of wine bottle against wine bottle usually only noticeable on recycling day on Speaker’s drive. Anna Laura pushed the stroller, like a Trojan horse inside Danielle’s father’s house where the wedding party was dressing. Anna Laura looked innocent but that belied a far more conniving personality and I was sure that two white wine minis weren’t the only contraband she had ever smuggled in her stroller.

Eva did not adjust well to being out of the safety and comfort of her parish so she ran around the grounds in her pajamas screaming, hitting her mother, and being tamed only by the strong arm of her father while refusing point blank to ever wear her flower girl dress, the same dress which she had been begging to wear for the last month while it hung on the back of her door.

While my mother stabbed the groomsmen with boutonnières, the guests began to flood in and Eva was still in her pajamas. Eventually Chris, who had been designated an usher and was neglecting his duties, whipped her Hello Kitty pajamas off and her white tulle dress on and handed her to me in a screaming writhing ball and disappeared at my request to usher people to their seats, while my two year old prima donna tried her best to hold up the wedding. Soon after Daddy disappeared Eva seemed to flip a switch and agreed to have her hair done in pigtails, agreed to wear her wedding shoes and even smiled for the camera. It was then I realized the bullet we had dodged, for the forty five minutes we had been there she had been suffering not only from the onset of impetigo but recovering from car sickness. If we had driven to Dockyard we could have all been covered in vomit. There was much to celebrate.

The Reverend came over to Anna Laura and I to say hello to the little girls and make small talk before the wedding started. I yawned and my sister asked me winking in front of the Reverend,

“Would you like a glass of water?”

“Yes please, I am parched” I winked back.

She reached into the back of her stroller and as if hunting around for a clean diaper, wipe or snack bar she carefully unscrewed a white wine mini and poured us each a glass in a plastic cup.

“Thank you” I said, receiving the offering as if it was Dom Perignon in an overrated Miami nightclub.

We were finally ready for the main event.

Where there was wine for grownups there was chocolate for toddlers, so before the wedding started I slipped Hamma a piece of Cadbury’s twirl and he waited with it in his top pocket just below the boutonnière, encouraging Eva down the aisle with its sweet temptation but with toddlers there is no guarantee.

When it was their cue, my sister and I lead Trystan, Anna Laura’s six year old son, Sadie and Eva to the back of the aisle. Trystan took the little girls’ hands, and Eva tried to swat me with her flower girl basket and whined in protest,

“I want my mommy to hold my hand.” I might have celebrated that on a normal day but it was the beginning of disaster until Anna Laura stepped in, grabbed Eva’s hand and told me to go, as I backed up she did as Aunty Laura said and grabbed Trystan’s hand and marched down the aisle with thoughts of the Cadbury twirl waiting for her at the end. Anna Laura and I ran around the back of the house, and missed the whole thing but evidently they made it down the aisle, pigtails intact. I doubt adults are too different from Kids, and I wondered if it wasn’t chocolate and an older man that tempted Danielle down the aisle with my brother.

Xx Derelict Mom

Stay tuned for next week to find out what happened at the reception:  The Witching Hour.

She made it down the aisle

She made it down the aisle