Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters



An Ode to My Windy City Whirlwind Tour and My Perfect World Back Home

I just returned from a weekend get-a-way to Chicago. Me. Leaving twin toddler threenagers and a curmudgeonly dachshund with spiteful shit tendencies at home with my husband. What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking my sis and I hadn’t had a girls’ trip in over ten years. I was thinking I was in dire need of some breathing space, a massage therapist’s table, and a cocktail or two on a rooftop bar.


And I was thinking I was leaving my boys with their father. A father who is no rock star. Or bionic man. Or superhuman specimen. Although I tend to think so. Nope, he is a dad. But not JUST a dad – for there is no such thing. There are wonderful dads — capable, organized, efficient, loving co-parents. And there are terrible dads – disconnected, disinterested, uninspired biological sperm donors. And there are all those who dot the continuum from wonderful to terrible and back again. The same goes with moms. But my boys’ father – he sits at the very top end of that number line. He is a wonderfully capable, organized, efficient, and loving co-parent. So, guess what?

I had an absolute blast. I didn’t worry. I didn’t fret. I didn’t leave frozen meals in the fridge and emergency contacts on the counter. I didn’t call him every three minutes to make sure he knew not to forget sunscreen or to give them too many sweets or too much screen time. I knew that he had it all covered: the Friday school routine, the Saturday morning pancakes and the Sunday Frozen film fest. I knew he could sail smoothly — well, maybe not smoothly (there’s no smooth sailing with twin boys) — but he could at least sail confidently through all the random tantrums, dirty diapers, snotty noses, and snotty attitudes that our darling twosome could serve up. And they can certainly serve up a lot. But he had it. Asthma regimen – no problem. Bedtime and bath – no sweat. Stealthy wiener dog thievery and rapidly-scarfed-down happy meal nuggets – well, that may have ruffled his sails for a second, but still. He had it.

And like I said, I had a blast. My sis and I were ready to cut loose. We crammed as much into three days as humanly possible. The first night housed a gala – complete with hair and makeup and champagne on serving trays. And dancing. Lots and lots of dancing.


The next morning held a detoxification massage (not that we had any need for a detox). But let me take a small second to tell you about this massage. I’ve had rubdowns (not like my sister, mind you She’s had basically every make and model from Swedish to Shiatsu) but both of us would argue that no massage compares to this massage. It’s like being melted down and remolded out of myrtle and cypress and juniper berries.  It is seventh heaven on the eighth floor of the Four Seasons Chicago. Go there. Yesterday.

And speaking of the Four Seasons Chicago – they know how to pamper an exhausted twin mom/end-of-the-year schoolteacher and her kid sister who has her own special set of challenges and fatigues. We were spoiled senseless. We consumed flatbread sculptures, ate hand-rolled truffles, drank gingerbread tea, sipped three-olive martinis, slept on marshmallow mattresses and consumed room service before a window that reigns supreme o’er the Windy City. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality.

Nor can I thank my sister enough. She is my mirror twin, separated by four years. We are opposites. I am quiet, she is… not. She brings light and laughter everywhere she goes. When she turns it up, the world dances to her energy. I tend to sit back in the shadows. I enjoy naps and home. But last weekend, she plugged me into her electrical current and we bathed in the bright lights of the big city. We took a river tour and learned about the history and skyline. We had guitar solos played for us at Buddy Guy’s. And we rubbed shoulders with giants – literally. The Celtics were staying at our hotel and we bumped into their seven-foot-tall frames and their family members at every turn. I am now rooting unabashedly for Boston in the post-season because of the cutest three-year-old daughter of Jay Crowder and his beautiful wife. They shared their enthusiasm for Disney and her daddy as we sipped our gingerbread tea.


And finally, I can’t thank my husband and boys enough.  They hung back here in the big city of Euharlee eating the unexceptional provisions of a middle-class pantry and the Big Arches drive thru, while I gallivanted around Chi-town consuming deep dish pizza and five-star cuisine. My fellas are the ones who truly spoil me rotten. They shower me with love, and with hugs and kisses, and with the occasional bodily fluids (different fluids from different fellas ;b), and their love outshines all the fine-dining and relaxing massages and super shiny skylines in the world.

I thank them super very much a lot for loving me enough to let me leave them for a weekend. Especially to Mike. He handled everything with the dexterity and talent of a dad — a capable, organized, efficient, loving (and might I add, sarcastic — see above spa-parody pic) co-parent. And while the Four Seasons was leaving perfectly molded mints beside my meticulously fluffed and feathered guest bed, my dachshund was leaving perfectly pinched turds beneath Mike’s and my comfortably rumpled marriage bed. And yes, Mike handled that, too. I most humbly thank him for loving me enough to handle even that. He is way too good to me.


The Queen of All Besties

I have this Bestie… She’s the absolute best of the Besties. She’s the Louise to my Thelma. The Lucy to my Ethel. The Bert to my Ernie.  She completes me. Not in the Tom Cruise/Renee Zellweger kind of way. Tom Cruise makes me cringe and my Bestie LOVES, LOVES, LOVES Kenny Chesney. She never would’ve left him after a mere six months of marriage. She would’ve made that matrimony work, I’m certain. Nope. Definitely not Cruise and Zellweger kind of “completes me.” More like coconut and cream makes the complete and perfect pie kind of way (which just so happens to be her favorite). I’m the coconut. Flaky and scattered. She’s the cream. Flawless. Her skin is flawless. Her character is flawless. Her grammar is flawless. I’ve never seen her make a mistake. She is on point. She is on fleek. And SHE would never, ever, never ever use a cliché. She’s that flawless.

She is my better half. The Yin to my Yang, the sweet to my sour, the Felix to my Oscar. The Jesus to my John the Baptist. As in I’m the crazy one with the locusts’ legs snagged in my teeth and my hair all cattywampus. And she is perfection incarnate. Her hair is never out of place — could be because she shaved it when her mom was battling cancer – because she’s that flawless and that perfect. I’m telling you, she’s a saint. Her smile is beatific. It can work a room like an epiphany, showing everyone in it their worth and their potential. She sparks. She galvanizes. She emboldens. She is the Queen of Inspiration.


She has taught me how to teach. Without her, I wouldn’t be half the educator I am. She focuses me. She drives me. She writes my rubrics for me. You see, I have a very big weakness. I love ideas. I love concepts and creative outlets and projects that glitter and gleam. And she does too. She sees the big, conceptual picture, too — but she also sees the bottom line. She grounds me. Without her, I would be a nebulous cloud of creative ca-ca. But she reigns me in and funnels my creativity into legitimate, effective, measurable methods of teaching. She’s detail-oriented and fundamentals-focused and together, we plan and coordinate units like gangbusters.

Our classrooms are across the hall from each other and have been for the last thirteen years. Even though we are opposites, we have one common denominator: love for our students. We believe building relationships builds success. Learn your students – who they are, what makes them tick — and they’ll learn the curriculum. Stay motivated and they will too. And nothing motivates me more than my Bestie. She’s the Queen of the Go-Getters.

Without my Bestie, I would only be half the mother I am today. No lie. Like, literally half my children wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have married Mike and I wouldn’t have had my beautiful twin boys. She orchestrated that. She took it upon herself to caulk up my cracks and teach me to trust love again. She watched Mike and me chat over tuna fish sandwiches and kimchi in the break room at lunch and decided that my faulty connections and his crooked wires could be a thing. A real, bonafide, working thing — full of electricity and light.

You see, despite my dreamy, visionary nature, I never saw Mike’s and my potential. But my Bestie did. She saw a future in an instant – a jaeger-soaked, mistletoe-marked instant – and she pushed me toward my ultimate Carpe Diem. My moment of a lifetime that spun into a postmodern family of a lifetime. And what did I manage to do for her in return? On that most magical of semester-ending, happily-ever-after, holiday nights, what did I do for her? I got her drunk. Fall-over-the-sofa-in-a-riotous-splatter-of-giggles drunk. For the first time in her life drunk. Did I mention I’m the bad influence in this relationship? She comes out on the short end of our friendship stick every time. Still, she sticks with it (pun intended) because she’s the better person. I’m telling you, she’s absolutely perfect.

And without my Bestie, my life wouldn’t be half as amazing. It just wouldn’t. We share secrets and laughs… and the most ridiculous homecoming costumes in the history of the high school homecomings. There is nobody else on this earth who makes me act a fool quite like her. Nobody. Throughout our years in the hallowed halls of Woodland High, we have dressed as Gangsta rappers, Oompa Loompas, Lady Gaga, Hungry Hippos, dinosaurs, ninja turtles, the Kool Aid Man… I’ve even been the Wicked Queen to her Magic Mirror (I told you I was the bad influence…). We are the silliest and the stupidest and the absolute awesomest when we’re together. We go on road trips together and have girls’ nights together and sing karaoke and eat double doozies and watch football together.  We talk books and husbands and children and politics and obscenities together. Nobody can conjugate, triangulate and cross pollinate cuss words like we can. We are profanity in motion. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer would toast our talents. (My Bestie never cussed before me, either.  Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the worst influence of them all…

Now my Bestie has been there for me for such a long time. She was there to teach my daughters, and she was there to help me birth my boys. She has helped me solder my past and helped me forge my future. She has taught me to wield love every second of every minute of the present. She is perfection. I wish there were some way that I could pay her back for all her lessons, all the blessings she has shared. It is an impossible task.

But today, on my Bestie’s birthday – her first birthday without her beloved mother, the mother who granted her all her glorious ways of loving and teaching and sharing and laughing and being – I just want to tell her how very much I love and appreciate her. How much I know she’s hurting. How much I know she misses her mom. And how much I wish I could ease her pain.

To my Bestie: with your birth, your mom gave the world the kindest, warmest, most luminous and learned soul I’ve ever known. You brighten our planet with your smile and with your love. You do your mother proud with each soul that you touch. And you touch so many. Mine is simply one among them all. But you… you are one in a million. I love you, my Bestie, the Queen of my heart.

Happy Birthday.


A Host of Golden Daffodils

Daffodils have long been my favorite flower. They are so bright and agreeable after months and months of a long, dreary winter. Their green leaves slice through the grays and browns of a dormant landscape just when the winter blues have taken hold of our spirits. And then they burst into flame like scattered stars of the Milky Way that have crash landed in ditches, back pastures, and lawns. There is no method to their majesty, no discrimination in their display.

Their blossoms are seasonal exhibitionists – like tiny ballet dancers in gilded tutus. Like leggy blondes with teased bouffant hair. Like blousy maidens, large cupped and small cupped and double cupped, baring their tender tips – platinum, rose-gold, caramel, amber, and peach — to the swollen March skies.


How could I not love daffodils?  Not only are they bright and ballsy, they’re cultivated from myth and propagated by poets. A veritable Who’s Who of literature is tangled round their tempting trumpets. Narcissus, and Wordsworth, Hughes and Plath – the flowers feature prominently in their lives and legends. Elizabeth Barrett Browning even has a variety named after her.

The first time I caught daffodil fever, I was seven. There was an antebellum mansion about five houses down from our house, and its lawn was speckled gold with their glory. I was mesmerized. I had to have them. But I was terrified of the dragon-lady caretaker who guarded that property with ferocity. Every time we ventured onto the drive on our bikes, she instantly appeared on the doorstep and roared at us, her voice crackling brimstone and fire. But I wanted that sparkling gold treasure…

So I did what all rational seven-year-olds with unhealthy hankerings do: I sacrificed my sister. My kid sister. My tow-headed, toddler kid sister with pudgy pink cheeks and soft, dimpled elbows and knees. I figured no one – wicked, scaly curmudgeon included — would ever harm someone as darn stinkin’ cute as Jo Jo. It was unthinkable and unlikely, and improbable. She was just too darn stinkin’ cute.

I hid behind a parked Chevy station wagon while baby sis innocently plundered and pillaged those prize daffodils, her curls and the blooms bobbing with each successful snap. She’d collected nearly a dozen when the shadowy shapeshifter appeared from nowhere and snatched her up in a rough, wrinkled claw. I cringed and hid, and when I found the courage to peer round the bumper again, both the beast and my sister were gone.

The worst had happened. The unthinkable. The unlikely. The improbable. It had happened. A dragon had swallowed up my sis in its lair. What should I do?  Should I ride home for help?  Ring the bell and risk my own life? Set fire to the woods and wait for the first responders? While I stood, rooted to the asphalt in terror and guilt, the front door slowly yawned open. Out of the darkness, a bright, tiny figure, haloed in white-gold curls, emerged. In her hands was the stolen bouquet. She toddled carefully, one pink patent step at a time until she reached the edge of the porch, then she turned back and did what any three-year old who just stole flowers from an historic landmark would do, she asked for help down the stairs. I had been right. She was just too stinkin’ cute to hurt.

I’ll never forget my kid-sister’s bravery and sacrifice that March morning so long ago.  You would think that after such a close-call, my passion for the buttery blossoms would’ve waned. Not so.  On the contrary, it only fueled my addiction.


My passion is slightly unhealthy. Those blooms give me fever. Some people claim to have a spirit animal. Me, I would be so bold as to call the daffodil my spirit annual (only they’re perennial. But still…) Like a spirit, they have me completely possessed. I may have once  – although I would never swear to it – I may have once pulled up a blooming bulb from the damp, fecund soil of a rather celebrated southern writer’s homestead. I couldn’t help myself. I am an addict. He was one too, although of a different sort. Still, I think he would understand.

So, this weekend, my three fellas and I went to Gibbs Gardens in North Georgia to visit their famed daffodils and to feed my addiction. They have acres and acres and acres of them, spilled across a wooded hilltop like leprechaun’s gold. It was riveting. The stuff of legend. The impetus of poetry.  The foundation of faith. A field with flickering tongues of fire, a hilltop aflame with prophecy and promise. I felt cleansed. I felt renewed.

I didn’t steal a single one.

Though, Lord, I was sorely tempted.



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