Examples in Motherhood

Okay I know I have been absent for a while- blame a holiday and the film festival. But I am back- starting off with a tame one… I ramp up from here over the next week. Stay tuned.

Sometimes my life seems more like a split end than a strand of hair. This past week was a perfect example. I was desperately trying to get a lot of work done to feel accomplished before I left on vacation. As I slowly chip away at my work load and organize my life around it I seem to overwhelm myself with the enormity of what is left. I have yet to master the art of realistic projection and I still try and do it all, and top everything off with a nice tasting bottle of red or pot of coffee to keep me going.

On my list of goals this week were several recipes, to provide Eva’s favorite food – readily accessible in the fridge while I am away for five days. My first task was to make her coconut granola that she eats every morning for breakfast. I got up early one morning and while it was in the oven I somehow got distracted by email or brushing Eva’s hair and left it in a little too long.

“Shit, I thought, it looks a little too brown.”

“Tastes okay to me, she won’t notice.”

I gave her a bowl.

She looked at it with a funny face and then put it to her mouth, cautiously surveyed it with her tongue without actually chewing it, and spat it back into the bowl.

“It needs more honey.”

The translation was for my attuned ear, “It tastes burnt.”

That evening Daddy expressed his disapproval, and mommy was back at the drawing board finally able to create a palatable version.

Another night I was cooking a “one skillet meal” of garlic spinach, pork loins and apple. How can you mess up a one skillet meal? I can mess up anything. After cooking the pork to perfection I lightly salted the dish as per direction, but my pour was little too heavy from years of making my mother vodka drinks and the top fell out of the gallon of sea salt falling right into the skillet followed by an ant pile of salt. My energy level hit the floor. I scooped out the pile of salt and served it anyway.

It was inedible. I went without. Chris’s only comment was.

“Are we on the Deliverance, is this a flashback to the Starving time, slating hogs for survival?”

“It was an accident.”

Later on the same week I decided to make kale chips, because Chris was going on about how much he loved my dad’s kale chips, and I kept saying oh yeah those are really easy to make, which begged the obvious question- well then why haven’t you made any for me yet.

I thought if I made a big batch of them before I left him as chief parent for a week that it would be a kind culinary gesture. I followed directions but I must have added too much oil and again too much salt ( its that heavy vodka pour) and the chips never became chips more like oily dehydrated spluge.

But I wasn’t done in the kitchen yet, I set out to make a double order of Eva’s favorite tuna fish. I have recently learned that basically all store bought mayo is terrible for you, with soybean oil or canola oil which are both generally bad and full of GMOS. So I have started making my own mayo. Ambitious I know, but to my surprise the mayo turned out well and the tuna salad was a success, the only one so hopefully it will last them the week. But my disasters were not done.

I had a collection of egg whites left over from making the mayo, so I decided to cook them up for the Piccolo’s dinner. The problem was that sometime between when I set the egg whites cooking in the pan and when they should have been ready which is only really a minute or two, I got distracted but not by a dirty dish or a thirty second email, but I decided to call Eva’s grandparents in England and have a thirty eight minute conversation with them downstairs. Opps. By the time we all said our goodbyes and I started up the stairs for the kitchen I realized something was very wrong as the stairwell was full of smoke.

“Something’s on fire.” I yelled dropping Eva on the landing as I started running up the stairs only to be stopped dead by Eva’s piercing scream of terror.

I had to return to Eva then take her to her father, admitting that not only had I lit something on fire in the kitchen and was not sure what was burning but I had also terrified my daughter by abandoning her alone in a smoke filled house. Opps.

Chris took Eva. I returned up the stairs, when I entered the kitchen I remembered the egg whites. We had no choice but to evacuate.

“Eva has earned her smoking jacket today.” Chris joked.

Eva, my mini Hugh Hefner wears her dressing gown everywhere and she has several varieties, which are on a wash rotation.

I took Eva to feed the fish and wander around outside while fresh air and fans wafted fresh air into the house.

“Cooking is usually your expertise. I think you need a vacation.” Chris joked with a twinge of disgust.

“I have lost my touch. Anything to get a week away.”

And so I left the stove and the salt shaker alone for the rest of the evening, and instead fielded obscure emails from my mother about what she ate for lunch, and if I could pack her sugar free vanilla protein powder in little Ziploc bags and hide them in my suitcase and bring them out to Colorado when I come. Luckily she was able to find some at Whole foods, which is just as well because I was given a full Security profile, and had every belonging searched. I would have had a hard time explaining why I had Ziploc snack bags filled with white powder hidden in the arms of my ski jacket.

“Its my mother’s sugar free vanilla protein powder.” Would probably earn me a few hours in the back room and a missed flight.

When I reached my destination in Colorado I was comforted by the fact that I was at least somewhere where my heavy pouring arm would be welcomed and exercised.

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

I am Published : A Real mother!


This week’s blog is more of an announcement. I am now a published author, as my story “A Real Mother.” is part of a newly released anthology of memoir called: Take This Journey    With Me edited by the author Rachel Manley. I haven’t been published before, except for my unedited weekly self published blog which is often “maudlin and full of self pity” but also equally “magnificent,” so this is a big deal for me even if it isn’t for other people 🙂 This piece was written about my experience before I had Eva before I discovered that a real mother is actually a derelict mother. I hope you enjoy a little preview below, and will join me at an event that is free to the public, a reception for the book launch on May 15th at 5:30pm at the Bermuda Society for the Arts where you can hear me and a few other contributors read excerpts from our work. Hope to see you there! Must sign off before Eva smears my entire body in butter.

A Real Mother excerpt:

As a child my vision for my future looked like something out of a Merchant Ivory film: romance, drama and lots of horse riding. There were no jobs or children or responsibility but then somehow I woke up married, 35, pregnant and working full time. Real life had dawned and another person’s life was soon going to take priority over mine and I was in both shock and denial. I was able to waddle through life quite happily thirty plus pounds overweight, but every day when I picked up my prenatal vitamins I was relieved by the sound of the pills rattling around inside representing all the time I had left before her birth. On one particular day I looked down at the mother and baby on the bottle and was sure of only one thing: that was not what was happening to me. Call it a premonition, but I knew what I was facing would not be the vision of smiling maternal bliss on the vitamin label. My fingernail picked at the corner of the picture hoping it would peel off. Did the woman have to look so thin and perfect, be dressed nicely and have perfectly straight hair? The mother looked like she had been eating lettuce leaves for nine months not chocolate milkshakes. I brought the bottle up really close to my eyes, and squinted at the detail; I was horrified to realize that she was a model. It was a lie; this woman was posing; she was getting paid; she wasn’t the babies’ real mother. She wasn’t real like me. I wondered what that meant, what made me a real mother? Swollen ankles, cellulite, chocolate milkshakes, a scowl and the other speechless things that happened to you in pregnancy? Then I looked at the baby in the picture and down at my stomach, and realized that part of the picture wasn’t real yet either. I had no idea what a real mother was.