Three Of Cups Is The Magic Number

Three III Of CupsWhen I asked the Mayan fertility goddess Ixchel for daughters, I dreamed of having twin girls named Eve and Edie. But the next day I imagined having three daughters. So for years I’ve wondered how to reconcile a dream and a vision.

We named our first daughter Maia, to thank the immortals, and our second Eve, named for a dream because she is our dream.

Then we paused for the practicals. Could we afford another addition to our home, another ticket, another tuition? More importantly, I was surrounded by my bright-eyed dreams. I had little incentive to look for more than my armsful of perfect daughters. Still, I puzzled over my Isla Mujeres-inspired dream and vision. Is two or three my magic number? Continue reading

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I Thought It Was Knights In White Satin

Sir LancelotFor the longest time, I thought The Moody Blues were singing about knights in white satin. As a girl, but also well into adulthood too I understood the 1967 hit single as a tribute to Arthurian legend. Why, after all, such impressive crescendo if not for the likes of Lancelot riding into battle?

Maybe Lancelot didn’t wear white satin, per say, but I imagine he could have. Or maybe Sir Galahad did. Either way, the lyrics lend themselves to my misunderstanding: Continue reading

I’ll Stop The World And Melt With You?

When Modern English’s “I Melt With You” pops up on my Pandora station, I really should thumbs down it. But once, didn’t I like it enough to sing along?

In a recent moment of nostalgia, I typed R.E.M. into Pandora’s search box. For a little bit of Life’s Rich Pageant, now that I better understand what that means. So I relaxed again into Michael Stipe’s introspections, Dolores O’Riordan’s “Dreams,” and Edder Vedder’s “I Wish”es.

But what to do when “I Melt With You” plays? I should thumbs down this odd interruption to my alt rock playlist. Thumbs down because I no longer care for the new wave anthem.

But how could the adult me thumbs down something that once mattered, even if for only one night of driving around town listening to music? Because music mattered at that age – you know, that age when songs really speak to you and your seemingly very individual moment and emotion – I almost feel like I should spare the old song a spot on a playlist.

Maybe I’m treating myself here like I do my daughters. Continue reading

I Can Almost Have It All But I Have To Go To Bed Early: On Good Citizenship And Motherhood

civil rights activists and peace activists

John and Bonnie Raines with their children two years before they burglarized the FBI

Last January, a popular article in the New York Times spotlighted civil rights and peace activists who in 1971 stole papers from an FBI office and began a years-long expose on J. Edgar Hoover’s counterintelligence program. A year later, I’m still wondering how parents of three young children found the time to burglarize the FBI.

Of course I wonder at what our country might have become had activists not checked the FBI’s power. I wonder if we’d be even more systematically watched and controlled by unaccountable agencies. Hoover was after dissidents, after all. Eager to silence college students and activists, his FBI threatened to expose Martin Luther King, Jr.’s extramarital affairs unless he committed suicide. They drugged and arranged for police to murder Black Panther Fred Hampton.

The papers stolen in 1971 and the Freedom of Information Act that followed make Hoover look like the 17th c. Cardinal Richelieu whose spies patrolled Paris, punishing criticism of king or country. In the 1960’s and 70’s U.S., history was repeating itself as Hoover targeted Martin Luther King, Jr.’s potential not unlike his predecessor Richelieu opposed (MLK’s namesake) Martin Luther’s legacy.

absolute monarchy

Armand-Jean du Plessis Cardinal de Richelieu c. 1640

The burglarizing activists helped pull the U.S. a little further from absolute monarchy and a little closer to democracy. Still, I’m most struck by John and Bonnie Raines because they did so while raising a family. Continue reading

Happily Ever After With My Daughters

Emma Stone Snow White Once Upon A TimeAt first curious about the ABC series Once Upon A Time’s clever premise – fairy tale characters cursed to our own magicless real world? – I was hooked by the heroine’s proximity to her mother. When Snow White and Prince Charming, who for 28 years haven’t aged or remembered who they really are, meet their now 28-year-old daughter Emma Swan, mother and daughter look more like sisters. I am absolutely taken with their comparable age.

And eyeliner. On the show, mother and daughter sport similarly dramatic cat eyes as they sip matching mugs of cinnamon-sprinkled cocoa. There’s something at once hip and homelike about them. They are each maiden and mother without either having to age into crone. Continue reading

Fairy Tales Make For Dead Mothers

Gustave Dore Mother Goose

For years, I edited as I read aloud to my daughters: “Cinderella’s father went away and she was left with a cruel stepmother.” But now that she can read, Maia corrects me: “it says died, Momma, her father died.” Snow White/Beauty and the Beast/Pocahontas are easier, as the heroines’ (dead) mothers often aren’t mentioned. The mother – my role – has  been edited out for me. It’s strange to read so many stories that suggest I do not exist.

Because my daughters love magical fairy tales and heroic mythologies, I’d love to introduce them to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. But both heroes grieve for mothers who die early in their stories, in great anguish and at the hands of evil forces. The one who lived loses his father, too, to he who must not be named. More than not mentioned, here parents die unmentionably. Continue reading

And Though She Be But Little And Smartly Dressed, She Is Fierce

Little Red Riding HoodMy daughter Maia’s love of Greek gods and heroes often bleeds into other mythologies. Her typical conversation starters go like this one:

Maia: You know Little Red Riding Hood?

Me: Yes.

Maia: She’s the goddess of clothing. And axes.

I’m continually impressed by my daughter’s creativity. Her stories in which folklore and even the everyday mingle with divinity entertain as well as situate my own attempts at inventiveness. My situation isn’t too impressive. Lately, I tend to congratulate myself for the likes of recycling leftover chicken into savory hand pies for the next day’s lunch. Next to Maia’s collaborative tales, my kitchenry seems more frugal than imaginative.

Once upon a time, I too told stories. Continue reading