A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: love

One for all the Moms…

Father Bob read an abridged version of this Blessing for Mothers at mass today. Even though I had heard it before, it gets me every time. Sure wish I knew who wrote it.

This is for all the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, “It’s OK honey, Mommy’s here.” when they keep crying and won’t stop.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.

For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON’T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they’ll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for all the mothers who froze their buns off on metal bleachers at football or soccer games Friday night instead of watching from cars, so that when their kids asked, “Did you see me?” they could say, “Of course, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,”…. and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet like a tired 2-year old who wants ice cream before dinner.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the mothers who wanted to but just couldn’t.

For all the mothers who read “Goodnight, Moon” twice a night for a year. And then read it again. “Just one more time.”

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for all mothers whose heads turn automatically when a little voice calls “Mom?” in a crowd, even though they know their own off spring are at home or have long grown up and left home.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they’d be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up right away.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can’t find the words to reach them.

For all the mothers who bite their lips sometimes until they bleed -when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.

What makes a good Mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a buttonon a shirt, all at the same time?

Or is it heart? Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?

The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M.to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?

The need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying? For all the mothers of the victims of all these school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting.

For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely.

This is for mothers who put pinwheels and teddy bears on their children’s graves.

This is for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation.

And mature mothers learning to let go.

For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Single mothers and married mothers. Mothers with money, mothers without.

This is for you all. So hang in there.


Or for you more visual people:

Wishing all the Moms in my life a beautiful Mother’s Day filled with love, relaxation, and much deserved appreciation!


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.



Oh brother!

Blogging icon, The Pioneer Woman, posted a photography assignment/contest last week titled: Brothers! And guess what? My BFF Laura submitted a photo!

Isn’t that an awesome shot? The faces just kill me. Such joy! And the colors… and the water action… the whole enchilada, really.

Guess what else. The Pioneer Woman picked this very photo to include in her post, YOUR Brother Photos: Group 3! That alone is pretty darn special, because you know she must have had THOUSANDS of entries.

But wait, there’s more. After handpicking and displaying five groups of brother photos, she posted a set of finalists. And guess what. Laura is one of them!!!

I sure am happy for her! I believe The Pioneer Woman is announcing the winner today (Sunday), so good luck Laura!! I’m pulling for you, girl. (If you like this photo as much as I do, go tell The Pioneer Woman! Maybe we can influence her decision!)

By the way, Laura is the only photographer I will let anywhere NEAR my family or myself. I love her THAT much. And yes, she is the artist behind all the good shots on this here blog. For instance, here’s a picture I took of myself (with the self timer on my camera):

And here is a picture that Laura took of me:

Need I say more?

You can see more of Laura’s work on her blog. Check her out! She’s amazingly talented.

Not only is Laura a great photographer, but she’s a great friend too. Here’s a picture of us at Mini-Me’s 7th birthday party:

It was a “mock slumber party” theme and she arrived at my house carrying two dozen hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts and wearing pink footie pa-jay-jays. That’s one dedicated friend, let me tell you.

She also brought this big empty picture frame and used it as a prop to take pictures of Mini-Me with all of her guests so that we’d have cute pictures for custom thank you notes. Totally her idea. I mean really, how cool is that?

So this whole contest thing got me thinking about my kids and how lucky they are to have each other. Especially how lucky they are to have Nature Boy as their big brother. He’s such a love.

If I were to enter a photo in a brothers contest, this is the photo I would have picked:

I took it yesterday at Mini-Me’s softball game. I like how you can see Nature Boy in the reflection of the sunglasses, smiling at his little brother who was totally hogging the juice.

Or maybe I would have picked this one:

So sweet!

Or maybe this one:

Always entertaining his siblings.

Or this one:

…just melts a mama’s heart.

Or how ’bout this one:

I mean really. Every little girl should have a first dance like this.

Or this one:



But probably not this one:

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

(Especially the mother who created this vignette and then photographed it. Nice.)

Anyhoooo. Wishing you lots of brotherly love, today and everyday. And good luck, Laura!

your friend,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Happy Birthday, Bucket Head!

Four years ago today, my third and final child was born. Bucket Head, you are the greatest surprise party of my life.

When you were born, your little face was so bruised that you looked like a gigantic blueberry with an attitude. I’m not going to lie, it was a little shocking to behold at first. I’m pretty sure your Daddy looked twice at you and wondered if I was taking special deliveries from our African American mail carrier.

That was day one, and you continue to amaze and surprise and delight me every day. Bucket Head, you are such a gift. Every time I look at you, or hear your precious giggle, or inhale your outdoors-fresh-little-boy-scent, I am reminded that God always has better plans for each of us than we could ever imagine on our own.

I pray that you always behold your family in your eyes and heart as you did when you were a baby.

And that they keep you sacred in their eyes as well.

May you always delight at your reflection and see yourself the way God and I see you.

I pray that in all your relationships, you’ll continue to look for the similarities, and not the differences.

May you always take pleasure in the little things:

And know that our arms are always here to hold you when the going gets tough.

I’m pretty sure a good book and a cuddle is one of the cornerstones of a happy life.

I hope your love and compassion for all God’s creatures stays a part of you forever.

And that your affection is always reciprocated…

But mostly, I just give thanks. You are a ray of sunshine in our lives… a bright beacon of hope and joy.

Happy birthday, my angel, my love, my surprise party extraordinaire.

"I four."

All my love,


© Copyright 2011, all rights and images reserved by The Bearded Iris.

Cuts Like a Wife

Two bloggers. Two different hemispheres. One vision (largely impaired by too much clutter, dirt and booze). Exposed for all the world to see as Housekeepers of Ill-Repute, Proprietresses of Dubious Maternal Instinct, and Woefully Neglectful Wives.

Here they are, flashing their dirty bits yet again in the third (and final) of three simultaneous postings. Click here to read the sister-post. 


We are stay-at-home mothers and wives, among other things. We’ve already come clean about our not-so-perfect attempts at housekeeping and child-rearing, and now it is time to spill the beans about our marriages. 

Marriage is hard. There are ups and downs. If it were easy, everyone would or could do it. But we all know what the divorce stats are these days. This is not something to be entered into or written about lightly. I knew I’d need some input for this post. 

I asked my husband, The Gatekeeper, for ideas on this topic and he just sniggered.  I prodded him: “Come on Honey, here’s your chance… I’m writing about what a shitty wife I am… let me have it! What should I say?” His response was, “Well, basically just write about what you do any given day.”  


“Very funny,” I chided. “Yes, your life is so awful, isn’t it?!”

“Did you say life or wife?”

“Dude. You are askin’ fer it.” 

“Yep. Am I gonna get it?” 

Cut to the Barry White music, dim the lights, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, and 30 seconds later we were smoking cigarettes and checking our pulses. Kidding. We don’t smoke. 

My point is, I think we have a pretty good marriage. We like each other most of the time, we have a few laughs now and then, we love each other unconditionally, we support each other, and we both seem generally satisfied with the status quo… or so I thought. 

But last night we were both reading in bed and he started laughing out loud. I found this interesting because he had just started to read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It was a Christmas gift to him from my parents all about the political genius of Abraham Lincoln. President Elect Obama said that if he could only take two books with him to the White House, one would be the Bible and the other would be this book. Now, I have a hard time imagining that this nearly 1000 page historical tome would be laugh-out-loud-funny, but whatever. I, on the other hand, was reading Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank by Celia Rivenbark. This ought to give you a clear understanding of how different we are. But you know what they say about opposites attracting.

Anyhooo, I was just dying to know what in that big ol’ boring book could possibly be so damn funny and asked him to share. He turned to me with a smirk and told me to listen to this journal entry written by Judge Edward Bates in the 1850s (Bates was one of Lincoln’s opponents in the race for the Presidency in 1860):

“How happy is my lot! Blessed with a wife & children who spontaneously do all they can to make me comfortable, anticipating my wishes, even in the little matter of personal convenience, as if their happiness wholly depended on mine. O! it is a pleasure to work for such a family, to enjoy with them the blessings that God so freely gives.” 

Yes. Well that is pretty damn funny, isn’t it.  And funny that it is from a book called Team of Rivals, because isn’t that what marriage feels like sometimes? 

But back to that quote… now, is it just me, or have times changed quite a bit? 

I mean, excusez-moi, but I don’t know a single woman or child who lives purely to provide comfort and joy to their husband or father. Am I wrong here? Or am I just associating with the wrong people? 

Not only do I NOT do ANYTHING to anticipate the wishes and needs of my husband, but it is not unusual for him to flat out tell me to my face what he wants and for me to still not do it. And yet, I think he has it pretty good. Sure, there is a shirt of his that has been buried under a pile on my ironing board for close to two months that I keep forgetting to iron for him. And yes, I sometimes forget to buy his favorite soap or deodorant at the store, to the extent that he has to remind me umpteen times and then often ends up going to the store himself for it. And of course, I have been known to secretly stalk ex-boyfriends on Facebook once in a while. So what. 

I had one of my Aunties visiting me a while back and she was watching the clock one day. It got close to 5 pm and she said, “Aren’t you going to go get cleaned up a little? Put on some makeup? Your husband will be home soon.” I laughed until I practically peed my pants. “WHAT?! Are you kidding me? Should I mix up a martini and meet him at the door with his slippers too? Hell no! It’s garbage night. He needs to take out the garbage when he gets home, walk the dog, and then take Nature Boy to scouts. In about an hour I will be busy wiping the food off the floor and walls that Bucket Head tosses all around the room while he eats. Why on Earth would I go get gussied up NOW?”  But again, it’s a different world today. The way I see it, marriage is an equal partnership. Serve and be served. Give and ye shall receive. The wife is not property. The wife has a lot more on her plate than merely anticipating and acting on every need and desire of her master husband. 

Remember how I recently said that my parenting sins aren’t so bad compared to others’ sins and how life is all about making comparisons and justifications?

Well, I figure, I may not be the most attentive wife on the planet, but my husband could have it so much worse.  

One of my best friends was telling me just the other day that her husband was nagging her about not getting the laundry done. Been there. When my husband gets on my back about me not meeting one or more of my homemaking obligations, it usually lights a fire under my ass and makes me want to show that bastard by getting it done faster/better/more whatever, so I can then say “SO THERE!” But not my friend. You know what she did? She secretly took her hubby’s dirty undies out of the hamper, folded them, and put them back in his drawer. That poor bastard is probably wearing dirty skivvies right this very minute! HA! 

I know another woman who once peed in her husband’s chicken soup because she couldn’t stand all his bellyachin’ when he was sick and he had been treating her like shit. No lie. 

And I can’t even count how many of my friends hate having sex with their husbands and joke about how they avoid it at all costs and can totally live without it. Or how about that poor woman on Oprah last week who has been faking orgasms for 24 years?! Lordhavemercy. See that… there are a lot of people out there with wives way worse than me. 

So you see, I think my husband has it pretty good. Yes, I’m not the best housekeeper or cook. No, I don’t knock myself out to look pretty for him at the end of the day… who has time for that shit?  I may e-flirt shamelessly with Facebook friends, and forget to pick up the dry cleaning, or buy the right snacks. But I make sure that my husband has clean undies most of the time. I cut his hair every few weeks. I call his parents just to say hi once in a while. I give him back scratches and bake him cookies now and then. And I love him… with my heart and with my body, and way more than the national average for married couples, thankyouverymuch. 

So husband, you go ahead and laugh about how absurd it is that over one hundred and fifty years ago there existed a man who wrote in a journal that his wife lived to please him. I agree. That is hilarious. I’d really like to read HER journal entry. Oh wait, she probably wasn’t allowed to learn to read and write. Yes… times have changed, haven’t they? And honey, would you care for some more chicken soup?

School Bus Bonuses

Parenting. Oy. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

My two older kids ride the school bus to and from school.  I consciously choose this for MANY reasons:

1.) it is very convenient.  The bus picks them up in front of my house every morning and brings them right back to my front yard every afternoon.

2.) it is environmentally friendly. One bus services my entire neighborhood, as opposed to all the Über-Moms who send thousands of tons of toxic fumes into the atmosphere everyday while they idle in the car rider line.

3.) it is economical.  I don’t waste any money on gas driving to and from school or waiting in the car rider line.

4.) it is practical.  I don’t have to wake up my toddler early and load him into the car to take a 20 minute round trip ride to school and back.  Nor do I have to wake him prematurely from his afternoon nap to then jockey for a good spot in the car rider line half an hour before school is dismissed, and then listen to him scream in his car seat while we emit toxic fumes, burn gas we can’t afford to waste, and lose precious minutes that I could be spending folding clothes, scrubbing toilets, or blogging like the dirty cyber ho that I am.

5.) it is encouraged. The school system WANTS us to use the school buses.  They don’t want the car rider line hassles (which require police assistance for directing traffic!), or tardy students who disrupt class, or elevated carbon monoxide levels in the atmosphere.  And I like to please, as you know.  So, for the most part, I do what authorities tell me to do. (Note to husband: dress like an authority figure and boss me around tonight…I will obey and you will like it.)

So basically, it sounds like the right choice, doesn’t it?  I mean, it’s easy, green, cheap, smart, and preferred by 4 out of 5 dentists school officials to let your kids ride the bus.  Right? Right.

Then why do so many moms in my hood opt to drive their kids to and fro in their ginormous gas guzzling suburban tanks??

“Ask and ye shall receive.” I think I just found this one out, the hard way (my favorite learning style).

Last night my oldest son, Nature Boy, asked me, totally out of the blue, why the worst swear words “are just random strings of letters.”  I asked him what he meant, and he said “… you know, like F-U-C-K… it isn’t even a word, but it is the worst swear word.”  GULP.  I asked him where he heard that one and he said it was on the bus… the “big kids” (5th graders) say it. Fuck, is right. That’s what she said (in her head… she, being me, of course).  So, good news, my kid has no idea what “fuck” means (phew). Bad news, he’s hearing other kids say it on publicly funded modes of school transportation.

But that is not the only issue.  Recently he also asked me what “gay” means.  Dude.  Gay.  He just turned 9 years old! He’s only in the third grade! WTF?!  Apparently, the hot bully move du jour is to force a kid to look at your hands while you do some dorky random hand signal like this:

If you can get some cooperative younger child to stare at your hands for 5 seconds, then you say, “Now you’re going to go GAY!” (“go GAY!”… as if… like going bald or going crazy).

So my sweet little Nature Boy says to me, “Mom, these kids on the bus made fun of me and told me I was going to go gay because I looked at their hands for 5 seconds.”

I was stunned. Not only because I don’t think it is appropriate for a kid like Nature Boy who has yet to ask me a single question about sex to be learning about it from 10 year old rednecks…but also because I had no idea he was being exposed to this kind of hatred.

“And what did you say to that?” I asked him.

“I said, ‘So what? What’s wrong with that? Like on the Flintstones Song: ‘You’ll Have a Gay Old Time!’…it just means happy!’  I’m proud to be happy.  Those big kids are dumb.”

WOW. See what I mean, that this child was clearly switched at birth?  There is NO WAY I could raise a kid this cool.  So, I let him believe that gay means “happy” for about ten minutes, and then I decided that knowledge is power, especially when dealing with hateful bullying good ol’ boy idiot kids.

So I explained to Nature Boy that it is also called “gay” when two boys (or two girls) love each other and want to be together as a couple.  I told him that it is something that people either are or aren’t, but that you can’t “go gay” because someone forces you to stare at a random hand signal, or because you like to dance, or wear pink, or sing show tunes, (what? don’t look at me like that!) or whatever else the bullies say. I told him that there is nothing wrong with being gay, and that people who make fun of gay people (or people of different races, or genders, or religions) are just bullies who are afraid of things that are different. And that smart, educated, kind, loving people are not afraid of differences – we celebrate them and value them.

And this led to a very interesting discussion about right-wing conservatives their fear of homosexuals and gay marriage (except of course when soliciting gay sex in airport bathrooms…although we didn’t discuss THAT) and what a hypocritical thing it is for them to want to protect their freedom to bear arms, but deny others’ freedom to love whomever they choose.  And he got it.  He is such a great kid.

But then he asked, “Mom? If both of the people in the couple are men, who has the babies?”  GULP.  “And if they are both women, do they both have the babies?”  Oh boy. Here we go.  Deep breath.  And…

“Well honey, great questions.  Gay men have to adopt babies, because only women can get pregnant. And gay women can get pregnant, but only if they have the help from a man because it takes a man and woman to make a baby.”

“Oh. OK. ”

Phew.  He is only 9.  He still thinks girls are gross.  He doesn’t need to know about the more graphic fluid-based details. Yet. All in due time.

But in the meantime.  You know what?  I’m still going to let my kids ride the bus.  Because my kids are great kids and they are learning really important life skills on that smut bus, like dealing with bullies, increasing their vocabulary, and becoming citizens of the world! Thankfully, our home is one in which our kids are comfortable talking to us about issues like these, and we listen and try to help them make good choices about how to handle them.  Pretty good strategy, if I do say so my own damn self.

And as for you Über-Moms, sheltering your kids from school buses, bullies, and words like FUCK and GAY…. well, remember when you got to college and were out of your parents’ home for the first time and you drank every night until you either barfed or blacked out? And remember how you shagged every dude in your dorm because it was like a free-unsupervised-all-you-can-eat-buffet? Well, that’s not going to be my kids. Good luck with that.

In summary, and in accordance with my “Just the Tip Tuesday” promise, talk to your kids. Loosen the reigns, let them live a little, and create an environment where they want to talk to you.  You’ll all be better for it.  And while you’re at it, do what Jesus would do and teach them to love others. Your cooperation in this matter will make other kids’ bus rides so much more pleasant, and the world in general a better place for all. Thanks, sugar.

Iris and two classmates on the first day of Kindergarten, 1975.
Bus Riders, yeah-boyeeee.

(I’m not going to tell you which one I am…you’ll just have to guess.
But how ’bout the shoes on that tall drink of water on the left?
Did she think she was on her way to Clown College, or what?)

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