Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Grace’

tiger bait

February 6th, 2011    -    23 Comments

Comparing our kids to one another is the most juvenile thing we grown ups can do. But amid all the recent hubbub over so-called Chinese style parenting,  I’ll take the bait.

Unlike some other kids, here are some things my daughter is allowed to do:

• spend time making friends
open her eyes to a world that is not defined by rank, culture, race, wealth, elite performance, or my ideas about the same
• be in a school play
• complain about not getting the part she wanted
• perform in the play anyway and overcome the sting of not being “best”
• learn by her own disappointments to be kinder to others
• obey me, disobey me; gladden, frustrate, and defy me; and one day repudiate me, as she must
• watch TV on weekends, learning that when it comes to finding TV entertainment, the first hour is easy and the second and third hours are hard
• devote herself to extracurricular activities that I was never good at or afraid to try
• remind me, when she sees my face collapse in horror, that “a B is a good grade too.” read more

what happened to my punkin

November 23rd, 2010    -    17 Comments

Reprising, reposting and reflecting on the amazing transformation of little punkins around here.

Because Mika said any self-respecting pumpkin pie starts with real pumpkin, I went to the overcrowded and overstocked supermarket two full days before the holiday in search of the small cooking pumpkins required to get my pie rolling right. That’s when I discovered that fresh pumpkin pie must be a kind of a urban myth in these parts, because after the six-month Halloween selling season, all those precious little pumpkins are all sold out or out back in the trash. So we started with this, Georgia’s mummy pumpkin, which was still sitting around looking cute and useless, and set out to give it new life as a savory, flavory dessert. read more

the last chapter

August 5th, 2010    -    2 Comments

Last night I watched Georgia transform herself into a genie for a local kids theater performance of “Aladdin.” It was magic, I tell you, to see your baby girl grow up to be a genie who grants all your wishes with the shine of her smile. This morning, still reeling from the smoky potions, I remembered one of her lines, spoken to the wistful Aladdin who is wishing he could win the love of Jasmine by turning into a prince:

Al, all joking aside, you really oughtta be yourself.

And that reminded me of so much else, the whole of it, really, the beginning and the end, and so I spoke it out to share it with you here, the last chapter of Momma Zen. Listen and lose yourself in the story, the marvel, and then look up. See if you can’t crack a smile.

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sitting quietly doing nothing

June 28th, 2010    -    14 Comments

Last week my daughter finished fourth grade.

At the beginning of the year her teacher asked the students to make a time capsule from a cardboard cylinder and fill it with artifacts. Inside went a self-portrait; a hand print; names of favorite foods, movies and books; and a list of goals for the year ahead. She opened it on the last day of school, and this was what it said:

What I would like to learn this year:
1. Pi
2.More long division
3.More multiplication
4.To type

What I would like to accomplish in school this year:
1. Math Field Day
2. Student Council

What I would like to accomplish at home this year:
1. Middle split
2. Back handspring

What I would like to do to become a better person:
1. Volunteer at the aquarium

I record these things here not for her, but for me. I had not one thing to do with anything on this list, and she did them all. I no longer know what pi is or does, and any handsprings I do are mere metaphors. I post it to remind myself that her life is her own, and to make space for it to grow in every direction. To trust her able hands, agile mind, limber legs and passionate heart. To delight in the scenery and to marvel at the change. To keep company with her – silent, loving, loyal company – and to leave her off my list.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.

For an up-close view of what I mean, see what my friend Pixie saw in my patch of paradise. The photo credit is hers.

love this girl

April 30th, 2010    -    15 Comments

she levered into my lap
spilling over the overstuffed rocker
the old nest in the bend of my elbow
I had a rough day
I had a rough day

a catastrophe of words
spare can mean reserved or saved
I didn’t know
I didn’t know

I was so frustrated
Erased hard and tore a hole
in the multiple choices
her friends whispered into palms
my life is pointless
my life is pointless

the exaggeration scares her short
is the plural hyperboles?
she stretches the length
of her tiny big girl bed
head propped on a dingy pink unicorn
I see the sunrise and moonglow in her face
the bloom and the night
and I think to myself
Love this girl

A tribute to being 10.

It’s not you, it’s me

November 1st, 2009    -    19 Comments

My daughter has eight American Girl dolls and more than 200 outfits for them. They occupy a trunk, a dresser drawer, and a considerable amount of the floorspace in her room. I only wish they occupied an equivalent amount of her time, but I’ve learned not to expect that of childish things.

The sum of all this is so outrageous, so embarrassing, that I hesitate to do the math, but I will. Here is how we got in this mess: one doll was a hand-me-down, one came from her parents, one was awarded as a prize, one purchased with her own savings and the rest resulted from masterful pleas to aunts and grandparents.The newest one is always loved best of all, “best” and “all” being subject to the excruciatingly short lifespan of any fancy.

A year ago, I decided to put the kibosh on the whole thing, since to me at least, eight of anything has always been enough.

Yesterday I received something quite close to the following email.

Hi Karen: Well, our contingent feels pretty pleased with themselves regarding Chanukah. When Georgia was here in September she was very enthused about the new AG Doll, Rebecca. Of course we were all delighted. I just ordered Rebecca, plus accessories and the book, ______ got the pink “movie” dress, ______ got her two more books about Rebecca, and ______ got her Rebecca’s fur coat and muff set. It means a lot to us that she wanted it.

For those of you who don’t follow these developments with rabid self-interest, Rebecca is a soft-body plastic doll sold for $114, book and accessories included, embroidered with the storyline of a girl who celebrates the treasured traditions of her Jewish family.

From time to time I’m asked what it’s like to be married to someone who doesn’t share my practice, or more to the point, what it’s like to be in an interfaith marriage. This is what it is like.


The brilliant novelist and kindred spirit Elissa Elliott, herself a disaffected former fundamentalist Christian, has a fascinating post up today. I just read it, and it arrives like heavenly host into the dark storm of my wounded heart. She takes up the curious ramifications of the rising percentage of Americans who have no religious affiliation, a segment that will likely reach 25 percent of the population within two decades. She quotes one religion writer as saying “believers are perplexed and disappointed with God.” I rather think people are perplexed and disappointed with other people: their internecine fights and religious-political warfare.

At my weariest, I feel all alone, but more of us are beating a retreat every day.


I’ve written before about how my daughter views all this, or at least how she used to. It was inspiring and uplifting to me to see how purely she saw us all as one: the divisions meaningless, the sum greater than the parts.

If you click the link you might be wondering how the trip to Israel went. We didn’t go, because the brothers couldn’t work it out.

Yesterday I sent something quite close to the following email:

You can rest assured that Georgia sees herself as Jewish, and always has. No one here tries to take that away from her, or impose anything at all on her. What it means is entirely up to her. My only job is to leave all her options open, pick up the clutter, clean out the drawers, and love her no matter who or what she thinks she is. She doesn’t have to please me. No one in my family has ever insisted she be Christian, for goodness sake, or Buddhist, for that matter.

I am fully aware that this is the most trouble I have ever made about this, but then I’ve been uncharacteristically loud lately.

More and more it seems to me that there is one truth, and it cannot be named. Religious faith is one thing, but religious identity is another: like all identities, a complete human fabrication, and the source of perpetual conflict and suffering. Alas, we like to suffer, and spread it.


Elissa’s post closes with a sentence that pierces me through and through. It seems the name for people who claim no religious affiliation in our country has been shorthanded to “nones.” She writes, “I had no idea that there’s an actual term for all of us.”

There has always been a term for all of us. It’s called us.

But that’s what wishing is for.

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Magic spell from a pincurl wizard

October 30th, 2009    -    7 Comments

Auspicious Dharani for Averting Calamity

No Mo San Man Da Moto Nan Oha Ra Chi Koto Sha Sono Nan To Ji To En Gya Gya Gya Ki Gya Ki Un Nun Shia Ra Shiu Ra Hara Shiu Ra Hara Shiu Ra Chishu Sa Chishu Sa Chishu Ri Chishu Ri Sowa Ja Sowa Ja Sen Chi Gya Shiri E Somo Ko

Veneration to all Buddhas!
The incomparable Buddha-power that banishes suffering.
Om! The Buddha of reality, wisdom, Nirvana!
Light! Light! Great light! Great light!
With no categories, this mysterious power
Saves all beings; suffering goes, happiness comes!


If I ever tell you that I’m saying a service for you, this is what I say. On another note, it warms a mother’s heart to see that there is some magic that only pincurls can accomplish.


The bigger the hat the smaller the horse

October 16th, 2009    -    22 Comments

And other recollected wisdom from the day heaven kissed earth. These two thousand words are from the hand and heart of Tracey.

And just because, leave your name in a comment, plus a way to reach you by email, and I’ll draw for a gift subscription to my literary patron, the Shambhala Sun magazine. Winner drawn next Friday, Oct. 23, rain or shine.

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Every bit love

September 15th, 2009    -    12 Comments

The other night I stepped into the living room to deliver the announcement: Timetobrushyourteethwashyourfaceitsbedtime! My husband and daughter were watching an ancient baby video, one of the ones we haven’t watched in, oh, nine years or so, a dozen obsolete formats ago.

We were starstruck.

She was not yet two. We watched her waddle in circles around the lemon tree, and then repeat a circuit around the yard, climbing the steps over and over, little feet sailing, arms flailing, head tucked and hell-bent on a mission called growing up.

She stood in sunken, soggy diapers twirling her goldilocks curls and rubbing her bedtime eyes.

She danced in a loopy bounce to grandpa’s ragtime piano, bathed in a spotlight of self-immersion and propulsion.

She emptied her first Halloween bag piece by piece, cooing a drooling baby talk of approval, chirping a drunken birdsong of eees and opps and umms that we understood perfectly.

I said to my 10-year-old, “Now do you see why we love you so much?”

Everything seen and unseen. Heard and unheard. Known and unknown. The confusion, the fear, the fatigue, the worry, the doubt. The rage, the gulf, the hurt, the tears, lonely sleepless anxious terribleness, all of it, the ugly underside of it, and the unwrapped rosy red yummy of baby’s first bobbypop. It’s all love.

My sweet lord. Every bit love.

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Yield the floor, take the sky

August 13th, 2009    -    14 Comments

August feels like a lost month. Slow boiled, a pot left on the burner and forgotten until a quicksilver memory sends you back to find it pitch darkened and empty.

And so my daughter, my sweet little, is 10. It is different at 10, you know. That extra digit on one side. The roundedness of zero. The empty whole of it.

“I don’t want to grow up,” she sighs on every day but her birthday today, when she didn’t say it. She doesn’t need to say it. It is the lyric we all live our lives by, and now she does too. The going is always gone.

Once I would have called it bittersweet. But I don’t taste too much the bitter any more. It benefits us both that her mother is ancient, so long and well-lived. I’ve lived forever! A hundred years or more, and the last hundred years were the best 10 years of my life.

I don’t want to grow up either. I don’t want to expend a minute of energy nursing myself: my make believe dreams and unrealized aspirations, the tug, the rift, the tides. I don’t want to become anyone else, or even more of myself. I’ve yielded that floor, scuffed and rutted.

Instead, I’ll take the sky. That sky!

Happy birthday baby girl. The world is yours.

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10 early warning signs of a preteen

August 6th, 2009    -    4 Comments

1. How old do you have to be to be a preteen?
2. This is definitely my color.
3. This is definitely not my color.
4. Awesome.
5. I wish you would have talked to me about it first, Mom.
6. Because I mean, like, it’s my life, you know.
7. I’m just not that into it.
8. Random.
9. Do you think I can pull this look off?
10. When are you joining Twitter?

OK, that last one wasn’t her. It was me.

So, like, why don’t you follow me on Twitter? Because it’s like my life, you know, only I’m not going anywhere!

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The half-life of Susan Boyle

July 26th, 2009    -    8 Comments

Half-life: The time required for something to fall to half its initial value

Last week my nine-year-old was in the chorus at what was billed as an All Stars Concert for 60 kids in a summer theater program.

Just do the math and you know that 60 kids can’t All be Stars but try selling that to the kids or their parents who paid admission.

The day before the show, she fairly exploded with expectation. Then show time came. We couldn’t see her in the second row of 60 kids sing her heart out, but we know she did a fine job. Walking to the car after, she said, “I’m depressed.” Stardom will do that, apparently. The high lasts through one rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” before you’re slammed back to the hard pavement of the parking lot, as we see so painfully time after time.

I mean no insult to my daughter, or anyone else’s ambition, but our cult of stardom, this collective craving for instant inflation, the plucked-from-obscurity-to-overnight-hysteria thing, has me vaguely ill, as though I’ve been overfed.

We seem to have become sensation junkies. Each week a new sensation goes viral, whether it’s astonishment à la Boyle, grief à la Jackson, or this week’s cherry on top, the wedding dance being sensationalized for its “novel way of sharing matrimonial joy.”

Everyone puts on a good show. Indeed, All are Stars.

But gravity always has the last word. The simple cruelty of physics brought Susan Boyle swiftly low and likewise ensured that Michael would never rise to the occasion. I too, feel depressed, after I blow up ballooning expectations that inevitably blow up.

Now we have newlyweds that have reached, within a month of their nuptials, a summit that will surely never be scaled again. Two Today Show appearances in two days. Perhaps next they’ll be invited to have a beer at the White House. I know a thing or two about marriage, and this honeymoon would be hard for any ordinary couple to recover from.

Most of us have never seen anything like it, but there’s a veritable YouTube subgenre of choreographed wedding dances out there, the couples spreading their ambition for matrimonial joy by breaking into breakdance and hip hop, then posting it on YouTube just for friends and family. Tell me: are you surprised? These plucky couples and their videos feed the diet of morning news shows which are front and center in the televised wedding business. Weddings are already afflicted with an increasingly outrageous need to trump all. Don’t you know thousands, maybe millions, of betrotheds are now scrambling to top a new bar in the wedding-as-viral-video department?

When did we stop seeing the obvious? Viruses make us sick, and can even kill.

I hope Georgia picks herself up and keeps going for the love of performing. I hope Susan Boyle endures for the love of song. I hope the happy couple stays together in anonymity and health, as I wish for all couples. And I hope Michael Jackson rests in eternal peace.

As for me, I’m going away to a place where I can practice spreading another kind of sensation: obscurity.

Don’t worry, you’re safe. It’ll never go viral.

Monsters are midgets

July 19th, 2009    -    No Comments

I kept my eyes open the whole time! Those monsters are midgets!

Faith is forward motion.

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