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My son has adored dolls since he held his first one around age one.  He relishes playing tea party with Tara and Michaela, my partner’s nieces and their dolls when we visit Grandma’s house, and he just delights in pushing along my neighbor Stella’s doll in her play-stroller during their playdates.

When I see him very naturally cradling a doll and talking to it, I see glimpses of a conscious boy growing into a caring and sensitive man who will one day be the most wonderful loving father imaginable.

My son is lucky.  Many young boys are deprived of the privilege of developing their nurturing instincts with dolls because of a bias toward dolls as girls’ toys, but Baby GoGo is helping to change that perception.

For today’s modern boy, the folks at Baby GoGo have created a doll outfitted in gender neutral clothing and that comes with a story book that instructs how to care for baby.  The book, soon to be in its second printing, will be updated and revised to include images of a single parent figure, alternating male and female, in order to broaden the accessibility to families with same-sex parents and single parents.

Products from Baby GoGo include the Baby GoGo Goes Home Baby Set ($39.99), with doll, PJs, bottle, blankie and other accessories; the Baby GoGo Diaper bag, sized for little ones and complete with play diapering supplies ($24.99); and the Moses Bed, a carry-around travel bed for the doll ($29.99)

Available at babygogodoll.com.

My personal note: I tend to believe that Jodie Foster, who has an impeccable reputation, would not attack an innocent teenager trying to take a souvenir photo.  I do believe that as a mom she would stand up to predatory and intrusive paparazzi who are invading her and her children’s privacy.  I have been caught in paparazzi crossfire before and these guys are rude and ruthless.

Los Angeles – After RadarOnline.com reported on Friday that Jodie Foster had been accused of battery by a 17-year-old boy, a rep for the actress tells People that the boy was “most definitely a professional paparazzo” who was harassing Foster and her family.

According to the police report, the incident happened May 29 at the Los Angeles shopping center The Grove: “Vict while at The Grove saw susp and began taking pics of susp with his camera then walked to the valet area of The Grove. Susp followed vict, poked him on his chest, grabbed vict by his left arm causing visible injury.”

The 17-year-old’s father told RadarOnline.com, “My son was at The Grove with his girlfriend and they were going to see a movie. He saw Jodie Foster and is a big fan so went over and took a picture of her.

“She came after him, poked him in the chest and said, ‘Do you even have a mother you slime ball?’”

Foster’s rep, however, says the police report is a complete “fabrication” of what happened. “He had a large camera bag and 100mm telephoto lens. He tailed Jodie and followed her all the way from the move theater to the valet.

“He crowded her and her two young children and took photos of them the whole time,” says the rep, adding that the actress then asked him to stop.

This morning my little darling, Stephen, who will be three in August, demonstrated just why his age is called “Terrible Twos.”  After being told “no” when he wanted to pour more syrup on his already drowning pancakes, he threw a fit and tipped over the breakfast table. A cup of hot coffee landed on the dog, a glass of orange juice shattered with shards flying in all directions, and sticky, syrupy pancakes, sausage and fruit salad flew across the room, splattering the floor and even the walls. It was a scene not to remembered but not cherished.  Our first concern was the dog, who appeared startled and frightened but not injured.  The our attention was to the bad boy in the high chair. My frazzled partner, Kira, picked him up out of the chair with an “Oh My God, NO!”  She hauled him off for a time out in his room.  He was already bawling, as he was just as shocked at the aftermath as all of us. With a deep sigh, I began picking up the broken glass, sopping up the coffee and juice and lamenting the hot breakfast of blueberry pancakes I had just made going to waste, not to mention I was just about to have my first bite, and I was so looking forward to it. Stephen was still crying in his room, Kira took the dog out for a walk, and I cleaned up.  It was another Sunday morning in our happy home.  It wasn’t even 9 am yet, and my day was already just like most days, as I go from cleaning up one mess to the next mess and from tantrum to tantrum, trying to get through the day without any major meltdowns, just to wake up and do it again the next day. The other day when I mentioned this pattern to a fellow mom, she said, “You think the twos are bad.  Wait until you hit the Terrible Threes!”

The disaster that was our breakfast table

But for all the tantrums and messes, this is what I signed up for.  It’s all part of motherhood, and this is what I wanted.

When years ago I told a friend, actually an ex,  that I wanted to have a child, she warned, “It will change your life.  It will be all about the kid.”
“Yeah, I know,” I responded.  “I’m ready for it.”
The irony of this morning’s breakfast disaster was that the orange juice glass that broke into a hundred tiny pieces was the last of a set of crystal bar glasses given to me by, yes, another ex.  It was symbolic that the remnants of my old days as a swinging single gay gal are disappearing.
Those days are over.  Motherhood is my life now, and I do love it, even as I brace myself for the Terrible Threes.

The question “Who’s the man?” comes up a lot for me.  As a mother who has opted to have a baby using a sperm donor, and as a woman in a relationship with another woman, many people have asked, “Who is the man?”Latley I have wondered about this myself.

Who really wears the pants in our family?

In the first instance, it’s not important; and in the second instance, the answer is more complex.  As far as my sex life, again, not important; but, regarding the division of labor in our household, it is an issue for me.

My partner Kira and I do not follow traditional sex roles, and it has not been easy to iron out who is responsible for what, such as taking out the garbage, yard work, housecleaning, laundry, cooking or grocery shopping.

In some cases we have naturally taken on household chores based on our interests and aptitudes.  For instance, I am the more mechanically inclined, and I’m handy with power tools, so I am the one who fixes things, installs stuff, assembles and changes the batteries in the toys; and since I also have a knack for computers, I am the resident IT girl.  By default, because I am deft with a spread sheet, I also handle the household finances.

Kira has the green thumb in our family, so she does the planting and nurturing of our perennials.  She also is the more experienced cook and has mastered some favorite signature dishes, such as her goat-cheese and sun-dried tomato pasta, chicken Marsala or shrimp risotto, so when we have company she is queen of the kitchen.

Then there’s the things that neither of us really like to do, but somebody’s got to do them.  We solved part of this problem by hiring a cleaning lady who does the mopping, dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, changes beds, etc., but it’s the responsibility of the everyday chores that have frustrated me.

In many ways, I feel like the man, because I do the heavy lifting and dirty work; but then I also do all the straightening up and all the little things around the house, like picking up toys, changing the toilet paper, throwing out the spoiled food and wiping up the hair in the bathroom. The reality is that if I don’t do these things, they won’t get done, because my partner, like the man, doesn’t think they are that important.  So I nag at my partner, and then I feel like a 50s housewife, complaining about my husband who doesn’t take out the trash.

So while most of the time I feel thankful that I am not tied to a traditional sex role and expected to do the things that women of past generations did purely because they were born a woman, sometimes I wish it were that simple, and that it was clear, who is the man.

Fish are friends!

I just returned from a 13-day trip to the east coast with my 2.5-year-old son Stephen.  During our trip I realized something that, perhaps for many moms is a given, but for me it was a truly amazing and significant discovery:  how well I know my child.

Introducing my son to new things, people, surroundings and situations, I realized that  I could predict which toys and games he would take or leave, to whom he would warm up quickly, and which activities would make him shine or whine.  Likewise I could anticipate a tantrum or other scene, and often times I would know how to avert or allay it.  It was a gratifying feeling.

When we went to Blue Ridge Seafood House, I knew right away he would love the big faux shark head protruding from the bar.  The waitress said that many kids are scared of it, but not mine, who begged to go touch it.  Same story with the hard-shell blue crabs, which he helped me eat by cracking the claws with a wooden mallet, which I knew would be a delight for him, as was his first crustacean encounter.

Stephen meets his Uncle Johnnie

Later in the week, when Stephen met my dad’s brother Uncle Johnnie, I knew the two would hit it off because Stephen would be fascinated by his booming baritone voice, and he was.  I also knew I could trust Stephen to hold and not hurt a delicate caterpillar that we found near my parent’s house, because he has a gentle nature, and quite literally, he wouldn’t hurt a (butter)fly.

Stephen with a very hungry caterpillar

Throughout our trip I found myself one step ahead of Stephen, telling my folks, “Watch this, he’s going to go give Uncle Johnnie a hug,” or “”He needs to lay down for a nap in the next half hour or he’s going to meltdown.”

My two-week travels with him, alone, without my partner, tested my ability to handle him by myself, including on a five-hour-10-minute plane ride, through a time zone with a three-hour adjustment to meal and sleep times.  It was immensely helpful to feel attuned to his peculiarities and preferences, as when I could foresee a spate of boredom coming on during the plan ride and distract him with a game that I knew would engage his attention and keep him from repeatedly opening and slamming shut the tray table, to the appreciation of the man in front of us.

Of course, there are occasional surprises, like when he hated a floral-print sundress my cousin gave me.  Inexplicably he cried and screamed for me to “take it off, take it off.”   I could not get to the bottom of this odd and very pronounced aversion to my dress.  I guess, as a Southern friend of mine was apt to say, “There’s no accounting for taste.”

While I don’t profess to know everything about him, I realized I know a lot about him, as his mom, and I felt proud about it.  The more I know him, the better of a mom and parent I can be for him, and suddenly that old Dolly Parton song came to mind, and I smiled as it played in my head, as it was exactly my sentiments.

“To know, know, know him, is to love, love, love him, and I do…”

My female friends — and actually a few male — have at one time or another exclaimed in horror, “Oh my God, I’ve become my mother.” 

Well, I’ve done them one better.  I’ve become my Grandmas.  At forty-something, and mom of a two-and-a-half-year-old,   I’ve discovered I am the re-incarnation of my frugal and practical Gramma Pearson-Pruitt, who never saw a need to spend money when you had perfectly good things at home, and anxious and nervous Grandma Brown, who was always in a state of unease about us children jumping off of high places or running around too fast and breaking things, including our own crowns, also known as noggins and cappies.

I realized my transformation after a recent outdoor party at our home when my partner and I were cleaning up and she remarked that it was a waste to throw away the plastic forks, knives and plates.  After all, they were the really nice heavy-duty resin stuff from Costco.  I laughed, because it reminded me of sensible Gramma P. — the matriarch of the Pearson family, who raised her three children, mostly as a single mom, on the salary she made as a telephone operator, and who saved money by drinking well water rather than town water and eschewing air conditioning in the swamp-climate known as a DC summer, and who used to wash and re-use her disposable flatware.  Then I found myself immersing a sink full of plastic utensils and plates in hot soapy water.  Why not? 

 I had inherited it. I was a carrier of the thrifty gene. 

 It was the same feeling I got when I whipped out a stack of wrinkled coupons on the counter at Babies R Us.  I picked through them, asking the clerk, “Can I use the $5 off on the Pampers and  the 20 % off on the same purchase?” 

It was scary. 

Then one day when I was sitting in my family room with a friend when my little stunt man prepared to launch off of the coffee table onto a pile of pillows below, when I heard, “Get down from there right now young man.”  It was dear, sweet Grandma Brown, who has been gone since my sophomore year in college, speaking through me, loud and clear.

These verbal artifacts, some colored by well-worn Southernisms I heard growing up, dormant in my brain for many many years,  have inexplicably resurfaced recently.  “Did you hear me Buster?”  “I’m not going to say it again Mister (or Missy).”  “I’m going to count to three and you’d better (insert desired behavior).”  Of course, with modern perspectives on child rearing and corporal punishment, I have not gone so far as to utter the dreaded, “Settle down,  or I’ll go outside and fetch me a switch.”  Also, in light of the years of psychotherapy that it might require to undo, I have not resorted to “go get Mr. Dryers from the attic,” which was threatened when we were really misbehaving, and which started quite by accident when my then five-year-old brother misheard my Grandma Brown talking about on old washboard that was stored in the crawl space above her staircase.

While it initially was a bit disturbing that motherhood brought out these age-old traits and mannerisms, it was also reassuring and confidence boosting.  The role I was assuming was a rite of passage, from adulthood to parenthood.  Though I had waited until late in life to start a family, and I thought I had matured as much as I was going to, I found that being a mom, having that responsiblity for a little being, protecting him from harm, getting him fed, bathed, dressed, helping him to learn things, progressed me to an altogether new and different type of growing up.  My priorities have evolved, including not only my greater concern for person other than myself, but also I have shed my former need for certain brand names on my clothes and other status symbols. 

I suspect becoming a mom has a great deal to do with my emerging Grandma persona, but also I think it may in part be just a matter of getting older.  This I realized when I pulled out my 23-year-old nanny’s laundry from the dryer and thought it was odd she had washed her hair scrunchies, then I realized those tiny scraps of elastic were her undergarments.  As I tossed my balloony granny panties into the washing machine I realized that, indeed, I am  from another generation, and to me thongs are rubber flips flops to be worn to the beach.   I reckin’ Grandma would agree.

So, okay, yes, I have become my Grandma, but what’s wrong with that?


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