Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things I Want to Teach My Daughter

Since my daughter is only 6, it's hard to guess what she might choose to do with her life once she moves away from home. Currently, she'd like to be a football player. I hope she intends to be a kicker, because she's tiny and probably always will be. She also would like to be a horse rider, which sounds like the more realistic of her career ideas, oddly enough.

I hope that my daughter grows up feeling like she can do anything. All paths are open to her. At the same time, I want her to find joy in simple things. Baking bread. Making a quilt. Arranging a vase of flowers from the garden. Growing veggies. I want her to embrace everything the modern world, and modern feminism, has to offer, but not forget the little things her grandmother and great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother took pride in.

She already helps me in the kitchen sometimes. But this year, I'm stepping up the effort. This summer, she's going to learn how to make cookies and bread. I'm going to teach her how to sew, too, and hopefully by fall she will be working on her first small quilt. She already helps choose garden plants, but this summer she will pull weeds and water, too. Though it will probably be painful for both of us, I also intend to start teaching her how to make a housekeeping schedule. And stick with it. Which means I will have to stick with mine. Yikes.

My mother did all of those things, and did them well. I think, though, that sometimes we expect that our children will just learn how to do all of that stuff just by watching us. Do most parents have some sort of formal teaching schedule for how to keep the house somewhat clean and get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour and tend the garden and bake delicious cakes and balance all of the other commitments we end up with? My mother did teach me how to sew. And how to bake some of the things she always made. The rest... I've sort of picked up on my own. Or have called my mom in a panic for instruction when I needed it.

So, my goal is to actually take the time to truly teach those things to my daughter. The traditional stuff. The basics. Woman's work (ha ha ha). If I ever have a son, he'll probably be forced to learn it too. This mom will certainly not be doing laundry and grocery shopping for an adult son. Heh. Hopefully, by the time my daughter is old enough to fly the coop, she'll be ready to take on her chosen career, but also to manage her home and enjoy some of the "old-fashioned" hobbies that have almost become lost arts. Maybe she'll even be able to prevent dishes from piling up in the sink, unlike her mother.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I Should Have Named Her Cooter

I have a really hard time finding anything with my daughter's name on it. Her name, Maya, just isn't one that people tend to put on pre-made objects. And that's OK, really. She doesn't need a lot of stuff to remember her name with. I got her a rockin' pack of princess name labels from Mabel's Labels and she can put her name on just about anything.

Last weekend we went to a craft fair in town. One of the vendors was making wood cutouts of things, including names. I did a double take as I walked by the stand with the pre-made names. You expect to see the usual suspects on the name rack. The Jennifers and Matthews. The Jessicas and Jaimes. The Heathers!

I have to say that I never expected to see Cooter as a pre-made name choice. Or Renner, for that matter. Have you ever even met someone named Renner? I haven't. I have met someone named Cooter, though. I live in Kansas, y'all. What do you expect? I'm also confused by Karren. With two r's it is solidly out of the realm of common names. Julius and June seem odd only when you consider that they did not have Maya, which is far more common nowadays than either of those names. But Jalen? That's not even a name!

Friday, May 09, 2008


The time I've spent on the internet has been good for my husband, although he probably wouldn't admit that. I have long been of the opinion that he is a decent person, one whom I enjoy being around, and the tales I've heard on the internet about other husbands and fathers has only served to reinforce my appreciation of him.

For example, my husband has never once expressed irritation at being at home alone with his child. Nor has he ever referred to taking care of his child as "babysitting." Apparently, there is a whole subsection of parents in the world who believe that, when a father magnanimously agrees to care for his kids occasionally, it is called babysitting. Funny, I call it parenting. And it's not something you agree or disagree to. You agreed when you helped create the kid.

/end soapbox rant

Friday, May 02, 2008


I'm not sure it's possible to sum up my feelings on motherhood with one photo, but I think this one comes the closest. My daughter and I are in a wheat field, near our house on the farm. I was trying to take pictures of her, but she wasn't content just to pose. She wanted to take pictures, too. And she wanted me to be in the pictures with her. Without her prompting, this picture, which is one of my favorites, would never have been taken. She took the picture via the camera remote in her hand. My daughter is so much like her father - my personality and hobbies rarely make an appearance in her - so her interest in photography is pretty special to me. My influence actually shows in this picture!

For some reason, this photo also reminds me of how much motherhood changed my life. I know everyone says that. Motherhood does change all of us, in many ways. But, I can say, without a doubt, that my life would be entirely different today if my daughter hadn't made a surprise appearance 6.5 years ago. I had just started a new job, in another state. We had been married less than a year, and kids were not even a consideration yet. But the universe had other plans. I didn't have a support system of friends in our new city at the time, so I looked online for information about pregnancy and found loads of forums with women that became my "mom friends."

When my little girl was born early and spent time in the NICU, I realized that 6 weeks at home with her was not even remotely enough, and started down the road that would eventually lead me to become an at-home mom. For someone whose career was of the utmost importance to her before baby, this was a huge change. Babies have a way of doing that. Not long after I quit my job to stay home with the little one, my husband's place of employment closed with only two weeks notice. Had I not quit my job, this wouldn't have been a problem. But I had. So we packed up our apartment and moved back to my husband's family farm. We always planned to be back here someday, but not quite this soon.

Being a city kid, the transition from "career person in reasonably large town" to "at-home mom in rural Midwest" was fairly difficult. Those online friends I made during my pregnancy? They kept me going when I thought I would perish from the lack of adult contact. Later, one of my forum friends would link me to an announcement for a job that was done entirely online. I applied and got the job, which allows me to work as a journalist while still living in the middle of nowhere.

So, my home and career would be entirely different had my daughter not arrived when she did. We wouldn't even have the same pets! (There is no way Danny Phantom the Angry Attack Cat would be living here without a little girl pleading and begging daddy for that cute kitty.) This picture sums all of that up for me. The city girl, in a wheat field, with the surprise daughter who is the absolute best thing that ever happened to her.

This post is part of the Mother's Day photo contest at