08 December 2006

Making Room

We jetted my belly across the equator and back in October, washed & sorted Stella’s 0-6 month clothes, and installed a new hot tub. Work ends in a week. I’ve given my well wishes to patients who will deliver while I am on leave. I have not forgotten that it took three months to learn how to get out of the house before noon with a newborn, yet I have the idea that I will be able to sew and write when Stella is in day care and I am home with our son. Thus we are cleaning out a closet. A closet that shouldn’t be a closet. It has a window, heating vent, phone jack and overhead light. We cleaned out this same closet before Stella’s birth and rapidly stuffed it with more junk. So we begin again. Mostly it involves me nagging my dear husband to recycle his 2002 Wired collection and 1991 box of Hustlers (after we take an amused look). I don’t remember 1991 being so 1980’s- but it WAS! What a horrific realization. At least it is my own and not my kids pointing it out in 15 years. Anyway, I have big plans for this closet/ reclaimed room. It will be my craft nook. No, My Craft Nook. It will have a small table under that sunny window upon which I will leave quarter-made quilts, pieces of collage, and tangled balls of yarn. And when I have 8 minutes to myself I can go in there and pick up a project (or a Hustler!).

I think it all means we’re ready. I think Stella is a ready as possible. She knows where her brother is for now (and will one day wish he had stayed there, I’m sure). She diapers and feeds and swaddles her dolls several times a day. We used her language to teach her about birth: I delivered her stuffed hippo from under my shirt/ between my legs and made a lot of pooping noises. Of course it has become a favorite activity- with or without the hippo. We want her there when the little one is born. For the labor- probably not. She is a worrier- and a toddler- so one of our generous friends will entertain her and bring her home for the final moments.

Now we dive into holiday entertaining and being entertained. And we wait.

25 September 2006

Winter Hide-Inside

I’m writing so erratically! I think I’m a Winter writer. Spring and Summer are for gardening, lazing. Winter is for hunkering down, thinking, and putting pen to paper with a mug of something hot. Most people I know mourn the shortening of the days. I welcome the shift in light. When it starts getting dark earlier, I haul my butt home to get on with the evening. This response is perfect for nesting. I was just getting started on the Winter hide-inside when Stella came. This time I might have until mid January to hunker down and write, clean deep into closets, sort the kitchen junk drawer, rip pages from old Vegetarian Times and Sunset. A Winter baby makes perfect timing for quintessential nesting behavior. I feel so Crafty. So Mrs. Good Housekeeping. If I weren’t so excited about it I’d be embarrassed. This drive is a far cry from ripping up the Berkeley chaparral on a mountain bike or belaying at the gym. But that life is on hold for now, and I AM excited… knitting, singing Wheels on the Bus, making soup, repairing dog-eared maps- these things wake me up. I am a driven pregnant woman, making spells to bring on the Winter.

20 July 2006


Finally! I feel connected to this pregnancy. I don’t know if I was holding out to pass that magic date when we lost the first or just being a normal mom of a toddler, but I am relieved to have finally arrived. I have been feeling flutters for a week now- much earlier than before. I also look farther along than my almost 15 weeks. I have made it to this place twice before; I guess my body knows where to go.

Now I have to reconcile having a boy. It looked likely on the ultrasound, and my intuition said BOY within a week of knowing I was pregnant. I love the idea of a 20 year old son. But a little boy? I’m so used to having a girl. I guess that’s the reason we decided to find out this time. To prepare. The wonder of Stella’s gender was great throughout the pregnancy (although I knew she was a girl all along). Now we get to try another way for this fluttering boy.

I have more joy and energy now that I’m out of the first trimester. I have more patience with Stella and find her charming again. She says “baby” when she plays with my doppler, tries to hear her own belly.

07 June 2006


I’m beyond Hello but not into the reality of pregnancy yet. Stella consumes me now. She hangs onto one of my legs like a skilled climber and says my name in so many variations I can’t pretend I don’t understand her. We went to visit my family for two weeks. I had visions of reading books, paying bills, sending letters. I actually brought all those things in my luggage- only to lug them home again untouched. Stella would not just play with Grandmom while I put my feet up. Oh, no. She needed me MORE in Baltimore than Oakland. So much for a vacation and time to connect with the baby within…

The best day so far this week was Monday. I worked 10 hours and although tired on the way home, I was actually smiling. I felt good. Then I realized I haven’t felt good in a few weeks, and 10 hours away from Stella cured me of my furrowed brow and bitchy outlook. I love my toddler so very much, but I get used up- especially with the pregnancy hormones. I’m not making excuses- I know I am perfectly normal. But I still felt guilty for my post-work-happiness, and sad for the smile-free days.

13 May 2006


How different this is than the first pregnancy. Well, third, really. The first I aborted when I admitted I couldn’t be a student and single mother to a child borne out of love to man who left for his own adventure with prostitutes in Ecuador 24 hours after the positive result. I mourned that one for years. The second died of accidental causes 14 weeks and 4 days into a terribly desired pregnancy. The third was dear Stella. We held our hearts secreted away until we passed into the 16th week, the realm longer than I had held any child. We burst into the 5th month buying baby things practical and frivolous, no longer tense around a stockinette cap or three-snap onsie.

And now number four. I have called my parents and told some friends, but I have not jumped for joy or shed a lump-throated tear. It’s not because I’m holding my breath. We now have proof that it all works. I’m not thinking about the challenges of two. I am certain they will come. The bulk of my pregnancy with Stella, I couldn’t will time to move fast enough to meet her. Now I pray these next 8 months will be slow and gentle. And we want this baby for our family. We had regular sex despite exhaustion just to get right here.

On the cross trainer this week I read a 2005 Utne Reader essay about a father’s experience of his wife’s pregnancy and birth. In full view of the other exercisers, I sobbed on the machine and then remembered that in the coming Winter I will bear a child again. I realized I hadn’t even greeted it yet. So I balanced on the machine, placed my hands on my shiny capoeira pants and said “Hello.”

09 May 2006

Clean Kitchen

From the 6:08am call, “Mamae?” to my current half-eye-desk-slump (the hiss of the monitor at my back), it has been a jam-packed day. Clean kitchen, design cabinets, learn about new spirituality, take brisk walk near lake, clean kitchen, finish odd, but satisfying book, lend car to friend’s father, clean kitchen… Mostly I shuffled Stella from diversion to diversion while trying to hold down intelligent conversations with a carpenter, a poet, and a blogging neighbor. She does not like being ignored or sitting second in line for my attention. She has mastered a wrinkle-nosed purse-lipped “naooo” tied in with a Chinese finger grip thing that really sends a hint as to how she feels about it all. One other thing on my Packed Day List: see two pink lines on the pregnancy test and place them in front of my waking husband. I think that will add a few more “naooo’s” to Stella’s world- and a few more wipes of the kitchen in mine. We’re due in January 07. It’s just not real yet.

26 April 2006

Word Salad

I know it is completely unethical to share any details from patient appointments, but I just have to. It took me a few minutes of careful redirection when determining the reason for CL’s visit today (not her real initials). A few mind-warping minutes of wondering if it was too late for my coffee or if I needed to practice focusing a bit more. I couldn't understand her (English) description of her chief complaint. She said her vagina was "sweck" and "swappy." She rolled those terms out like everyone knows them. She is not a teen. It is not some new generation thing (please correct me if I am wrong). I have been privileged to learn “dukie” (noun, shit) and “nut” (past tense of the verb to ejaculate), and a rash of other terms previously unheard by me but understood in context because I am somewhat smart (and it is my job to understand my patients).

Anyway, it took me those few minutes to realize my patient was completely nuts (not to be confused with nut). She went on to describe “you know, when you do [some reference for a drug] and get that white flowing feeling when it overflows over your underwear, when your skin is following one direction and the rest of you has gone to [a place or mental state].” Have you had this problem before? “ Well, I’ve been taking in a lot diamonds and properties and that usually makes it sweck. I shouldn’t be telling you, but I’m pulling it all together now- you know when all the parts just get in line?’ Are you sexually active? “Oh yeah, but my husband is so gorgeous and famous, he has sex for cigarettes or necessities sometimes. Women can’t resist him.”

CL had a simple yeast infection. I had a fabulous time talking with her in her unmediated state. I used to work with mentally ill adults, but never doing GYN care. It’s a whole new menu of word salad. And I love word salad. That’s where we are with Stella now. “Mama can take Baba for nana, Sweetie.” “Did you make coco? I think your diaper has uh-oh in it.” “Put down the watering can, Stella.” “Agua!”

24 April 2006

On My Own

Shopping On My Own

I select 16 oz of garbanzos,
42 small diapers,
four boxes of our favorite

I can’t stop staring
at one pale tomatillo-
its papery skin removed.

All 12 pounds of my little daughter
are at home.

Was Stella really already 3 months old when I wrote this poem? I didn't get out before then!? January 7 was the first draft. That's when the in-laws were here. It must be so. The emptiness of that first hour away from her was a hard surprize. I remember it well.

Today I left home at noon and my only contact with Stella before 7 am tomorrow will be in a few moments -when I sneak to her side and check the blanket on my way to bed. And it is easy. Every Monday is like this; I see patients until after 9pm.

My own time. Now it is sweet and rich with gratitude.

22 April 2006


No one talks about weaning. It's not surprising since breastfeeding isn't in the top 10 dinner conversations, but even among breastfeeding moms the getting off the breast passes without much comment. Like initiating this basic act, the ending of it can come with suffering. Feeding Stella was excruciating and humiliating for the first ten weeks. It felt like she was cutting off my nipple with an expertly sharpened pair of scissors. At week eight, it dulled to something akin to a firm slap on new sunburn. I avoided nursing in public. I cried a lot, especially at the 2 and 4 am feedings when I was too tired to get her into the right position and too tired to have any emotional strength in the face of this awful failure. And it did feel like a failure.

Now we skip ahead past 15 months of good eatin'. Breastfeeding carves out quiet time on busy days, makes a perfect soother, and nourishes my daughter and my ego (yes, it finally worked!). And after every cracked nipple, every pulled up shirt, we are weaning. I started 3 or 4 months ago by removing the mid-day and late afternoon snacks. She gets cow or goat milk or yogurt at these times. In March I removed the naptime nurse. That one has been really difficult. Stella screamed and clawed at my chest the first few days. I held her until she cried herself drowsy and then put her in the crib. Twice a week the nanny puts her down for her nap without a boob, another day she falls asleep in the car on the way home from grocery shopping or the park- so it's only 4 days max I need to do it. And it is working- she will ask to nurse by signing, but will accept a bottle of milk or just some rocking and then ask for the crib.

The surprise is my own sadness. The first day she realized I wasn't going to nurse her for the nap- and more or less accepted it, I wept when I left her room. After a horrific beginning, I thought I would praise the day my breasts became my own again. There is a freedom I am regaining now, and for that wonder, I am grateful. But seeing a window into the near future- when she won't need me in that core way- carves a strange wound in my heart. Is this how I will feel when she makes all her big steps toward independence? Proud, but weeping?

16 March 2006

We Made the Decision!

We have made the big preschool decision! She’s not going to preschool this year. I visited a few and found one I really like. Stella played happily with the other children- except one kid who wanted to do everything she was doing. I appreciated the well-kept wooden toys, healthy snacks, big outdoor play area, and gradual progression from play-based to slightly more structured as the kids get older. We’ll probably send her there next year when she’s 3. For now we’ll be switching her to an in-home Brazilian day care ½ mile from our house when our nanny returns to Brazil. There are eight kids max with 2 or 3 adults speaking Portuguese to each other and the children. It will cost less because I don’t really need three full days per week, but must pay for them with the preschool. I don’t know if I’m even ready for three days anyway. The idea of an extra day just for me to get things done and/or make some art, play in the garden, etc. is wonderful in so many ways, but I love being with her and am into a comfortable routine. The day care hourly rate is higher, but it will be much more affordable over all if I go on maternity leave for a second baby next year. Most importantly, Stella will learn more Portuguese. With her Papai having such a long commute, she gets her Portuguese on the weekends and with the nanny. Another year of the language will really help in the long run.

It’s truly hard to trust my decisions regarding Stella’s care. They are more critical than most decisions in my pre-motherhood life. A mess up with a care provider choice could have devastating affects. A smart choice can make our lives easier. I feel like I’ve met my own little developmental milestone.

09 March 2006

Without the Shock?!

Our office/ playroom furniture finally arrived in a functional state and eight weeks later the old desk and mess are hidden away. We have a new play table for Stella and a hand-me-down slide for the yard. In the past nine days I have planned and executed these last two items with passionate vigor. I have also had two successful ebay shoe bids. Now I am without direction when I sit at my computer. If I let myself go where I really want, I will be trapped in a web of medical jargon and sad stories until well past my bedtime.

What I really want to do is Google peanut allergies. That’s because last week Stella could have died. She had two cubic centimeters of my Clif Nectar bar (dates and cashews made in a plant that processes peanuts). I handed them back to her while we were driving home from the gym. When we pulled into the garage she was clawing at her ears and neck and was covered with red splotches over her lower face. I ripped her out of her car seat, raced her upstairs, and trashed the medicine cabinets searching for liquid Benadryl. The reaction seemed to be thwarted after a little vomit, a nap and the antihistamine, but she woke two hours later the color of ripe raspberries from the top of her head to the edges of the soles of her feet. When her lips, hands, and feet turned blue, we went to the emergency room. Not directly, however. I pulled into the red zone, knowing I had not a dollar in my wallet to pay the parking fee- which surely I would need once triage laughed and sent us on our way home. I stared at her, convinced myself that her lips were a normal shade, that the swelling wasn’t progressing. She was breathing fine. Then the pediatrician called my cell and asked if we had made it ok. I confessed my ambivalence and she firmly convinced me to go in.

We were triaged in front of a packed waiting room of whining children and immediately greeted with undivided attention and steroids via IV. Her swelling worsened over the next hour, despite the medications, and she barfed all over me- all over every item of my clothing. The attending physician called it “anaphylaxis without the shock.” We left with an Epi-pen and the burden of knowing that until we can sort out her allergies- and then after- every label, every joyful toddler’s outstretched handful of potentially fatal cereal will be scrutinized.

Shopping for furniture and discount shoes is so much easier.

07 March 2006

Lost Ant

One lost ant scaling the shower tiles survived this morning. Five years ago this act of non-violence wouldn’t have deserved mention. I let bugs live for most of my years. I escorted all terrified spiders and even disgusting earwigs to the door. Then we moved on top of the largest anthill in the city of Oakland. I have massacred hundreds of ants forming a highway from the kitchen door to the cat food. I have squished them one by one on my desk, my daughter’s overalls. But not today. When I saw that black speck running away from the spray, I didn’t even move my hand in her direction. We’ve been fighting heavy eyelids and packed schedules- and actually having regular sex- all to have a second child. When I saw that tiny ant, I imagined tiny possibilities deep in my uterus and just watched her make it to higher ground.

23 February 2006

Put to Death

Finally someone has a fresh perspective on the death penalty. Joan Ryan wrote her column just for me today. When I heard that the anesthesiologists refused to participate in the most recently planned San Quentin execution, I thought if we just went back to hanging, this wouldn’t be an issue. I oppose the death penalty, but I find interest in the nuances of the argument. We have reduced legalized murder to a sterile spectator sport. If more people could witness the raw death of a hanging or beheading perhaps they would rethink that vote. Photos of meat processing farms made me give up meat. 19 years later those images of sad cow eyes are still effective.

This man will be put to death. (Does that come from “put to sleep,” what we tell children when the dog is euthanized? Are we children who need some buffer from the truth?) Like Ryan, I don’t care too much about his pain. I think there was some merit in eye-for-an-eye punishments, I just don’t think we should go so far as murder-for-murder. But what about the family of Terri Winchell, mourning her for 25 years? And the murderer’s family, what of them? The survivors know raw pain and can’t hide their realities behind sterile sheets, simple phrases, or legal arguments. Ever since I could find the outline of Stella's foot inside my womb, I have had her brutal murder, her tragic accident, her kidnapping- in multiple forms -play out in my untamed imagination. These waking nighmares stike at any time, raise my heart rate, embarrass me. If they were real, I would want someone other than me or her to suffer.

16 February 2006

Shoe Shopping

When something is on sale and appears to be of good quality and style, I consider buying it. I almost never pay full price and often shop second hand. I rarely buy shoes. My husband is the shoe man. Not me. I can’t understand spending $60, $80, or $120 on shoes. I bought Stella’s “first shoes” today. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I went to use a gift certificate we received when she was born. It is from a store filled with imported gossamer dresses and suede jackets. It also has a large shoe selection. The owner is the shoe fitter. She had me hold the excited post-Gymboree Stella over the metal foot measurer. 4.5 narrow or medium. I eagerly displayed the mauve mary janes at a gift certificate worthy $56. “Not for her first shoes. A mary jane is never a first shoe.” I tried the sporty, blue and red Italian model for $78. “She needs something with a lower profile, a softer sole.” She already has Robeez- the shoe with a strip of leather for the bottom, but they don’t work in the rain.

She brought out two dark, featureless pairs that didn’t bowl me over with their style, but I would pay $80 for each! There were four other mom-kid shopper dyads in the shoe section. One girl was a day younger than Stella. Her mom was buying her “second” shoes. Cute ones with a funky sole and strappy Velcro top. I found out that she had been walking the same amount of time as Stella. So I asked the owner/shoe expert why my daughter had to wear some ugly shoes. “These are her first shoes.” Well she’s been in other shoes. “But they’re the first to me. I go by the book.” I know I should have stomped right out the door in my poorly fitted bargain sale shoes, but guilt held me like a sink weight. The expert went on about posture and gait and some kids need wedges and lifts and it’s my job to keep the development in the right direction. So we ended up what is probably the latest version of my “first shoe.” A $40 pair of plain white lace-up Stride Rites- and the compliant knowledge that we’ll be buying new shoes every three months until she’s four. The good news is that in three months we can spend more money and get something cute.

07 February 2006

It's the Fingers' Fault

It wasn’t an overindulgence of blueberries. She had a stomach bug, and it went around. Over the next week, every 48 hours, it got me then our nanny-share family. It was only 24-hours for each of us, but I nearly cried to go to the Emergency in the three sweaty, chilly, moaning hours before I finally careened over the proverbial porcelain. I did feel much better afterwards- just like everyone always says. Birth excepted, last week’s puke fest was my third in over 15 years. I suppose it is a glimpse of the good bugs to come from having a child who sticks her fingers in other children’s drooly mouths and snooty noses, and various undersides of benches, corners of dirty floors, whatever! as often as she can.

Today she was digging in the pebbles near the bird sanctuary at the lake when she was approached by a goose. Being the good mother I am, I immediately started taking pictures without ever giving thought to shoo the creature away. It was probably almost her weight and looking for a handout. Stella turned with a pebble and the goose thought it was morsel of something good. Nipped her little fingers. Naturally being the good mother I am, I started to laugh. The goose went in for more and got her other hand. Now I know in some corner of my intellect that they can be nasty creatures, but I also spent half my childhood luring squirrels to the sliding glass door with my outstretched hand. So I can forget sometimes that wild animals and babies might not be the best mix. With the left hand nibbled and her mother laughing harder, she cried. My sensible mama friend told that goose where to go, and I got Stella and kissed away the double insults.

30 January 2006


I hate vomit. Mostly, I hate the smell. My daughter threw up for the first time last night. It was her first night sleeping 11 hours without calling for me. When she woke up at a fantastic 7 am, I went to her in the morning darkness. As I leaned over her crib… “What is that smell?!” Intuition made me turn on the light.

Puke. Everywhere. A cold and half-dried pool on the sheet. Stiff in her hair. Crusted on her cheek. Plastered to her bunny. Speckling the bumpers. She looked at it and at the look on my face and started to cry. I scooped her as quickly and lovingly as I could (without holding her too close) and made for our room.

Fortunately my husband isn’t pukephobic like I am. (Not planned, but an excellent parenting match). He ripped off the bedding and started the laundry while I took her in the shower. Even though I washed her hair twice, she still smelled faintly of barf today. Tonight’s bath got rid of the rest, thank goodness. It is a terrible thing to have one’s formerly vanilla-butter scented child have vomit-stink seeping from her skin. The smell is horrible, but the spoil of the “great smelling baby” is a real heartbreak.

27 January 2006

Stella loved Brazil!

I Read the Research

Today's Chronicle reports a UC Santa Barbara study that shows the benefits of preschool disappear by 3rd grade. This means kids who attended and didn't attend preschool perform the same in math and language by the time they're 8. These data come on the heels of a Stanford/ UC study that showed cognitive gains from preschool contrast with significant slowing of social- behavioral development. The behavioral factors, which were measured in kindergarten, included aggression, acting up, sharing, and showing the motivation to engage in classroom tasks.

So now what? I'm not overtly thinking of putting Stella in preschool for the cognitive benefits, but for the socialization. She loves playing with other kids. She gets bored with me at home. She could go into a smaller family daycare, but preschool gives me the idea that she'll learn a thing or two (as a bonus). I also have the idea that she should go to preschool. Like it's a requirement akin to brushing her teeth. So like any normal person, I read the research and stay mired in my old ideas.

26 January 2006

Primary Education

I have good organizational skills. I can make a matrix on any subject and creatively file so that most people can find what they're looking for. I am well-educated and laid back enough to comfortably wait in a very long line at the post office. I live in a neighborhood jammed with strollers. I have internet access, a cell phone, a home phone, a car, and (currently) 7 days a week to make calls and go places. Why can't I find a preschool? Why can’t I even decide which preschools to consider? I'm not looking for the standard 2 year, 9 month start gen-U-ine School, but some place to deliver Stella three full days per week when she's 2. Our nanny is moving at the end of the year.

People warned me that preschool entry is competitive. Competitive?! Despite this warning, I am in shock. Obviously, there are two possibilities:

  1. Parents are freaks to think that the “right” preschool assures the little one a slot at Harvard/ Sarah Lawrence/ Whatever.
  2. I am a neglectful mother whose child will never make it through primary education.

I have heard of people who have been on waiting lists since before conception. Thankfully, I don't know any of them because I don't know what I would say or do to them if I did. I also just found out that people camp out for preschool admission!

I went to a preschool fair on the weekend. I saw the tables with photo displays of multihued smiling faces and small stacks of shiny pamphlets. Were they handed out more eagerly to some parents than others? My mama friends and I are generally a balanced bunch. But school is making some of us a bit nutty. I ran into a dad at the fair. He looked scrubbed and planned out. The baby was in a matching outfit. Dad admitted the family had "dressed up” just in case they might talk with an administrator of a potential school. They are kind, normal people. She’s an artist. I think he’s a tech guy. They had a reggae singer at their son’s first birthday. I don’t think he was kidding about their admission anxiety.

Stella will be too young this winter to enter most of the schools- which is good since we will have fewer to choose from. Good because I am wholly unprepared for the insanity of 20 plus potential schools. I have prioritized the selection criteria: Close to home or work. Minimum hours 8am to 6pm. Multicultural and affordable. Filled with happy parents and friendly teachers. That’s it.

When I left the fair I had a little lump in my throat thinking about sending my baby to school. I imagined packing her lunch, watching her wave bye and patter away. I called my mother as another lump rose in my throat. I asked how she chose my preschool. She said there was one across from the campus where she was in college. And when I couldn’t go there because I had a runny nose or it was closed, she brought me to class. I remember sitting in the back drawing.

If it could be so simple.

25 January 2006

Off Work/ With Nanny

I am at the end of my third day off work/ with nanny. My third day in the entire 15 months, 7 days since my daughter's birth. Not that I'm trying to impress anyone with the hours and hours of time I have juggled her in one arm and a skillet/telephone/bowl of cat food in the other. I'm not looking for any sympathy or praise for cleaning all the beans off the floor AND doing a dark AND light load AND taking out the recycling all in one day. I'm merely mentioning the year and 3.25 months because it's kind of a long time to go without a full day to oneself. I didn't even realize it until the first day. The To Do list was hopeful.

clean garage
sell speakers
prune trees
mend dress
clean porch
fix fence
find job
make holiday letter
birthday card for mom

On 1 /11/06 I ironed one shirt, took a nap, had a pedicure, and ate lunch with a friend. But the other days I have plowed through tasks. Cleaned tiny corner of garage. Sold stereo, automatic litter box, and double stroller. Gave away stack of old curtains on freecycle. Pruned all the trees. Started making recycled wool hats and one of a kind recycled baby clothing. Napped a few times. Installed mailbox that was purchased before Stella's birth.

Today I had a two-hour interview (aka- they love me!) for a decent job at a community clinic in the location of my old job. So not only will I like the work and staff, but I can see my favorite parking lot attendant and coffee guy just like old times. The only problem is that I'll lose this ability to get things done- this living fantasy world that almost feels like routine.

09 January 2006

The Best Thing

The best thing just happened. I was hungry and tired and unable to decide what to eat as I pawed through the wrapped sandwiches at the Starbuck's next to work. There were many possibilities promising a full belly and an increased level of hip-ness. "upscale Mediterranean tuna salad." What?! Still, nothing blew my skirt up. I nearly walked away from the counter, defeated, belly rumbling, when a scruffy man with brilliant eyes said, "My favorite is the egg one. They put peaches in it or something. I don't know, but it's really good and is a generous portion." I couldn't open my mouth, couldn't find a single word to say to him. My hand reached for the salad on "scrumptious multigrain" and grabbed it without effort. When I emerged from the refrigerator case, the man was gone. The girl at the counter asked if I wanted anything to drink, and I chose a pear Izze in less than a second. The block was gone. I was released from the vortex of starving indecision. That one simple comment from the brilliant-eyed man connected me back to the world and to my own power. He reached into my sleep-deprived mama soul and straightened my collar, dusted off my sleeve. He gave me a little mothering and vanished.

The sandwich was good. No peaches, but sweet.