|Leslie Morgan Steiner is the editor of the best-selling anthology Mommy Wars and the brand new memoir Crazy Love. Steiner is a frequent guest on the Today Show, MSNBC, and regularly contributes to The New York Times, Newsweek and Vanity Fair. She lives with her husband and 3 kids in Washington, DC. In this column, she will offer her Two Cents on issues relating to modern motherhood.|
Over 20 years ago, the night my first marriage ended, I spent hours dialing the phone. My husband had beaten me unconscious, I’d given statements to the police in my wrecked living room, and then I’d driven with my dog to City Hall to file a restraining order at midnight.
But when I got back home at 2 am, bruised ribs and glass cuts on my face, the first thing I did was make several calls, all of which were as important to my survival as the police, a locksmith, a divorce lawyer, and a good therapist.
Beauty is the strangest gift ever given, because you have to give it back.
Try telling that to a teenage girl. Or any woman under 30. Or, maybe, any woman of any age.
When I was eight months pregnant with my third child, I informed my boss, my staff and my colleagues, that I wasn’t going to take any maternity leave. I loved my job as general manager of The Washington Post Magazine. Our bottom line was at a critical growth stage. Stay home with a baby? Been there, done that.
One of my mom-mandates is that I’m easy when it comes to food. My job is to put out nutritious items; the kids’ job is to eat what they like. Having survived a bout of anorexia as a teenager, I have zero tolerance for pressuring kids to eat or not eat. I have a loose definition of “nutritious.”
Over the years, this has translated into lots of fruits and veggies, plus lots of chicken nuggets, tater tots and ketchup. Milk, water and Gatorade are the only beverages available in my kitchen.
Two years ago, one of my daughters made the colossal mistake of declaring, to the family, that she was not going to finish high school.
“I’m just going to marry a rich man,” she said. She’d been watching a few too many episodes of The Kardashians.
Fortunately for her in the long run - albeit unfortunately for her in the short run -- we all set about educating her.
Last week, after school got out but before my three kids scattered to camp and basketball tournaments, we kicked off summer at our new lake cabin in New England. Although none of us had ever driven a boat solo, we purchased an old 1986 13-foot Boston Whaler for the lake. The marine salesman gave us a 20-minute lesson. Then he pushed the boat away from the dock and we were off.
The first day went beautifully.
Back in 2008, when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hit the international media scene as John McCain’s photogenic running mate, I was a brave, lonely voice among feminists and Democrats. I went on the Today Show to explain, rather heroically I thought, that there was a lot to like about Palin.
I respected that the woman had become more ambitious and successful with every one of the five babies she’d had. Usually the opposite occurs.
Ten-year-old girls. Sleepover parties. Tween drama. Need I say more?
My daughter attends a small school with about 20 girls in her class. Very nice girls. But not every sleepover and birthday party can include all 20 girls. So, inevitably, there have been a few hurt feelings. Tears. Playground huffs. Mean looks.
The girls talked. The moms talked. (Probably a few dads too.)
Motherhood is a comedy. And the joke seems always on me.
The latest episode featured the fourth grade end-of-year music performance.
My youngest child is ten. This is her last year of lower school. She attends the school my two older children, my younger sister, and I, all attended.
College reunions are designed to trigger reflection, nostalgia and insights into the winding, baffling life journey that connects who you were at 20 and who you are now. And maybe, for cynics, how much you owe your college, how impressive are your life achievements, and how good you look compared to your college boyfriend’s wife.