Come on over!

I have been struggling lately with a couple of new problems. (I would say “issues”, but then I’d feel like an earnest young therapist, and we can’t have that.)

One: This blog is supposed to be about parenting, and the lack thereof.  It is supposed to be about my journey into the future, into my golden years, and hopefully my Grandma years.   I am sort of running out of ideas.

Two: I really want to be a warrior woman.  I want to change the world.  It goes back to my college years, you know?  I want to be on the front lines of a movement to change the political realities of this country.  But.  I’m a chicken and I can’t seem to get myself into the Occupy Wall Street throng.  Gulp.

So, on the advice of some friends, including other bloggers, I am turning my writing attention to another blog, which I began last October after the arrest of my kids on the Brooklyn Bridge.  It’s called “Mothering the Occupation”, because I want to be the wise woman, the voice of support and nurturing, and I want to be throwing my voice into the fray.

Please come on over and visit! Please comment, and please follow and share, if you are so inclined.

It is truly past time for reasonable people to demand civil, honest, open discourse and a return to true democracy.

Mothering the Occupation

A Happy Sleepless Night


The following post is going to be one of those annoying, bragging, “my life is so awesome” posts.   Sorry about that.

No, I’m not.

You see, over the years, I have had many sleepless nights related to motherhood. Many.   And the next day I always felt like crap, with a headache and swollen eyelids and a bad mood.

My sleepless nights started all the way back with the backaches, heartburn and leg cramps of pregnancy, and ran right through the 24 hour labors and into the 3 am feedings.  I have stayed up all night with croup, asthma, pneumonia, broken bones, vomiting and hives.  Many, many nights, and none of them were fun.

In the later years of my Mommydom, I often found myself awake and shivering with fear when the kids stayed out past curfew, or when I knew that they were driving on snowy roads.  I have tossed and turned and visualized every possible disaster after dropping them off at sleepovers. Or college.

When they moved out of our house, I stopped sleeping because I needed time to mourn and grieve in private.  I walked the dark and empty hallways, checking into silent rooms, sniffing for one last lingering scent of my departed children. I sat on the deck, alone, hearing the sounds of little voices in my head.

And  last October I had my all night panic attack, when all three were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, and the internet showed me photos and videos of my babies in zipties, surrounded by uniformed and scowling police. THAT was a horrible sleepless night.

So bear with me for a moment while I indulge in a hazy, groggy morning once again.  This was a different insomnia.  I liked it.

Last night Paul and I drove out to Western Massachusetts and picked up both boys.  Our younger son spent the summer living with his brother and several other young people out there.  They live in a ramshackle old house (to put it kindly) complete with tiny rooms, a galley kitchen which was last updated somewhere around 1970,  and warped and buckling wooden floors, painted a dark and peeling forest green. They love it.

So we came to get them, and the four of us went into the college town nearby. We had tickets for a concert at a local restaurant/bar/music club. We saw a band that I love (the Duhks: if you don’t know them, you have to check them out.) The boys had found out about the concert a couple of months ago, and had suggested that we all go.

The bar was packed, and steamy and incredibly fun.  We sat there with our two handsome sons, eating burgers and drinking cold foamy beers.  We talked about life, about school, about politics, about food and music. We watched them flirt with the beautiful young waitress and chat with the musicians.


We danced a little, sang a little, clapped and stomped a lot. They are so full of life.  They are deliriously happy with who they are, where they are, where they are going.  They don’t have two nickels to rub together, but that’s OK.   They understand and believe in hard work, and they aren’t afraid to do it.  They value generosity, kindness and love more than money. They want to make the world into the place they believe it can be.

They love each other. They are each other’s best friends.  They love us, too.  Some of the things that they said last night really resonated for me, and danced around in my head all night long. Keeping me happily awake.

They said,  “I’m proud of the person that I am right now.”                         and “The word ‘brother’ has a whole new meaning for me after this summer.”                                                                                                                 and “We’re so excited to be showing you our town.”                                       and “Thanks for this great night, Mom! We love you guys.”

See why I’m bragging and feeling all warm and fuzzy and good?

All those the years of sleepless nights paid off in a happy night under the bright blue moon, thinking about my children.

Check out The Duhks on Youtube.  You’re feet will be tappin!

Seeking rational thought.

Dear children.

My babies.

My kids.

My brave strong sons and daughter.

I am trying very hard to be the supportive, helpful, serene Mama that you deserve. You are all smart, informed, progressive thinkers.  You read, you listen, you understand what you are doing when you go out and protest.  You are involved, and you are trying to change the world.  I salute you!

Yeah, but……

Last October, on your maiden voyage with Occupy Wall Street, you all marched valiantly across the Brooklyn Bridge and you all got arrested.  Gulp!  Dad and I spent a scared and sleepless night trying to get information about you, trying to follow what was happening down there, trying to reassure ourselves that you were safe.  We know that you tried to stay in touch when the zipcuffs allowed you to text, but it was still pretty upsetting for us.  I will never, ever forget what it felt like to scan the images popping up on Flckr and recognizing the young man with his hands cuffed behind his back.  OH MY GOD!!  THAT’S MY BABY SON!!!!!

I didn’t jump in the car and drive the 5 hours to New York, but that’s only because Dad stopped me.

So now I am getting myself ready for your involvement in the May Day General Strike in Manhatten tomorrow, as well as your road trip to Chicago on the 20th to protest the NATO meeting and the possibility of war with Iran.  I am doing everything that I can to stay calm and relaxed. I am not reading the OWS website (that often).  I am not scrolling through photos of police in riot gear (much).  I am not lying awake at 3 AM envisioning every possible mishap, accident and complication. (Well, not every night.)

I am, to be perfectly honest with you, of two minds.

Or rather, I am in one mind.  But I am out of the other.  My internal dialogue right now is the war of two Mamas.

One is Rational Mom: she is so proud of you!  She is your biggest fan and cheerleader!  She can’t wait to see your Facebook updates!

The other is Crazy Mamma Bear: she is sure that you are going to catch a disease, be clubbed in the head by a corrupt cop or be kidnapped and sent to the third world as a sex slave.  Her imagination knows no bounds.

If you somehow had the misfortune of hearing my racing thoughts, you would hear something like this:

Rational Mom (RM): “This is so great!  I have raised responsible, aware, involved kids!  They rock!”

Crazy Mamma Bear (CMB): “They have ASTHMA, for God’s sake!  They can’t possibly tolerate pepper spray!”

RM: “I am so proud!  I have always been a super liberal, but I never had the courage to get out there and march!”

CMB: “What the hell do they think they’re doing?!?  They’re BABIES!  They think they are going to stand up to Wall Street?  The New York City POLICE?!  Freaking NATO?! They are idiots!!!!”

RM: “I should send them some gas money! I should pay for a place to stay in Chicago! I should pack them a nice lunch!”

CMB: “I should slap them silly!  I should lasso them and tie them to the kitchen table!”

RM: “Go, kids!  Change the world!  Keep your idealism, your faith, your altruistic natures! Go get ’em!”

CMB: “Get back here right now!  Put down those signs and come into this house!  I MEAN IT!”


The thing is, I have children who are too smart and too independent to let CMB hold them back, and for that I am profoundly grateful.  I want them to stand up to my Crazy Mamma Bear self.

Because for me the only thing worse than knowing that they are out there would be knowing that I stopped them from going. Knowing that I used guilt and fear to keep them from spreading their wings.

I never ever want to hold them back.  I just want to hold their hands.

So, go get ’em, kids!  But be sure you have a raincoat and some healthy snacks when you do!

My sweet occupiers.

Court dates

I try very, very hard not to be a “helicopter Mom.”  I have not tracked my kids’ college classes. I haven’t kept up with their assignments, or test dates, or projects.   I don’t check in to see if they have good healthy food in their cabinets.  I don’t make doctor’s appointments and I haven’t thought about their prescription refills for a few years now.

But there are certain moments in the life of a Mother which absolutely require some involvement.  A kid is sent to the emergency room for abdominal pain, and calls to say that it is indeed appendicitis.  The Mom races down the highway to be there by his side.

A child is literally sent packing by the person who is supposed to have been her life partner, and is sobbing out her grief.  The Mom has to be there, arms open, bedroom readied, soup on the stove.

There are simply certain events that cannot be left in the hands of the children.  There are times when any self respecting Mamma Bear simply MUST take a day off, gas up the car and head out to manage the crisis.

Now, I am a very imaginative neurotic Mamma Bear.  I have envisioned nearly every possible disaster in heart wrenching detail. I have prepared myself to speed to the rescue in case of car crashes, sudden illness, heartbreak, job loss, homelessness, or alien invasions.  I am always packed and ready to go.

So what do I do about this week?

My baby boy has a court date this week. In (gulp) New York City.  Because he was arrested as part of a huge political protest on the Brooklyn Bridge.  He took a stand, he stood his ground, he got himself arrested along with both of his siblings.  When it happened, we were scared, proud, confused, amazed, excited, terrified, and filled with a burning need to rush to his side.  We didn’t, and he and his brother and sister handled it perfectly.

Now he has to go back down to the big city, to face a judge, to answer to the charges of disorderly conduct (or whatever it is that they put in the charge; all three have different charges, although all three were standing together at the moment of arrest.)  He will stand before a judge and answer the charges.  His brother is bringing him down, and the Occupy Wall Street legal defense team will be there to represent him.

But I want to go, too!!! I want to stand beside him, hold his hand, make sure that no one is mean to him. I want to tell him how proud I am of him, how strongly I believe in what he is doing.  I want to look those cops in the eye when they charge my boy with a crime.

But I won’t.  I will let the kids handle this.  I will trust them. I will stay at my desk at school and let them do what they need to do.

And then I will close my eyes and pray that as they leave the courthouse and once again join the marchers, they will manage to avoid a repeat performance.

I don’t know if I can force myself to skip more than one court date………..

Dear Wall Street Occupiers,

I am writing to you as a worried mother figure.  I am proud of all that you have accomplished in the very short time since you first appeared on the scene.  You have gone from being a group of disgruntled youth to a powerful, vocal, global movement.  You can judge the impact of your actions by the increasingly frantic reactions that you are stirring in the halls of power.

The media has gone from ignoring you to endlessly speculating about you.  The most conservative media outlets (those who need not be named) have spent countless hours vilifying you.  Nothing could more clearly prove your strength than the ugly stream of name calling coming from those talking heads!

The President and members of Congress are swinging wildly from criticism to support to worry and back again. You have the world’s attention; all eyes, ears and internet outlets are focused like lasers on your every move.

Part of what has given you such international strength is your ability to confound the old guard.  My generation expected you to print out leaflets; we didn’t understand that you would use “Livestreaming”.  We thought that you would write letters; we haven’t fully grasped the power of Facebook and Twitter.  Those in power are mostly of my age, and they just don’t know how to head you off.

So here you are.  Encamped in Zucotti park, and facing the mayor’s order to disperse or be dispersed.

My dear brave Occupiers,

Now is your moment to turn world history on its head.  Please listen to this nice older lady. I’ve read a lot of history, and I’ve lived through more than a few protest movements.

The old, 20th century version of tomorrow morning would have all of you linking arms and chanting as the police close in with riot gear and pepper spray.  The old, historical chain of events would have you resisting, the police making a token announcement that you must disperse, then rushing at you all at once. There would be mass arrests, photos of young men and old women with bloodied faces and torn shirts, cries of ‘Police brutality!” and in the end both sides would retreat to their corners with no one the winner.

But you are the future! You have in your hands the perfect moment to step forward and bring civil action to a new place.  You can, if you choose, confound the power elite once again and break the chain of past history.

If you can find the courage to turn your backs on the romantic idea of being arrested and hauled off to jail by aging, bored cops, you can change history.

If you can find the strength to remain peaceful in the face of so much frustrated power, you have the opportunity to fundamentally change the future.

I urge you, in the name of your own original ideals, to hold firm to your peaceful, respectful, inclusive origins. I urge you to wake up early in your Zucotti park camp, grab some brooms and some trash bags, and begin to clean the area around you.  I beg you to greet the advancing police with smiles and mops and buckets of soapy water.  Then I pray, with all my heart, that you WILL disperse for a few short hours to rest, eat, take a nice hot shower and come back refreshed, to march another day.

By doing this, you will have continued on your path into a new America, when overworked and frustrated city police are not forced to beat and zip tie and haul off regular people like themselves. When peaceful protests are allowed to stay that way.

You can keep this incredible power in your own hands, or you can hand it in one short hour to Mayor Bloomberg and his power elite.

I’m behind you. I support you.  I am really scared for you.  Please, when the sun rises tomorrow, choose the 21st century answer.


At the age of fifty five, I have pretty much mastered the art of trying-not-to-offend. I don’t always succeed (in fact, my husband would be laughing out loud if he ever read this blog), but I do try.

I try not to offend. I try not to upset.

As I drive to work, I am thinking of gentle ways to inform parents that their best beloved can’t sit still for 20 seconds in a row.  I don’t want to offend; I want to educate and enlighten!

As I read the news and feel my blood pressure skyrocket, I am thinking of ways to clearly express my outrage without offending anyone.  I want to find a way to express my thoughts and feelings so clearly and crisply that no thinking person could possibly object. I won’t engage in name calling; I don’t want to offend!

I am a middle aged woman. I see most things, most often, sort of from both sides. I can understand and respect those shades of gray.  I really don’t want people to look at me and think “crazy radical”!

But here we are, faced with the “Occupy” movement.  I am conflicted on SO many levels.

One: this is an incredibly naive and simplistic movement. (OK; so what? Naive is innocent, innocent in uncorrupted, uncorrupted is available to hope.)

Two: these people don’t even have any demands.  (OK, when did we decide that you have to be “demanding” to have meaning? What ever happened to civil discourse?)

Three: I don’t have time to march and protest (Well, I am not sure that any demonstrator, protestor, revolutionary ever woke up in the morning and said, “Oh, good. Nothing on the agenda today.” I don’t think that Rosa Parks said that on the key morning of her life. I am not sure that William Dawes was thinking it on on April 18th, 1776. Who am I to feel like my grocery list is more important than the message being delivered here?)

Four: This is going to get messy.   (Yes. Yes it is. Democracy is messy.  It is loud, it is time consuming and it is frustrating. If we could only ask the ancient Athenians about it, I am absolutely certain that they would agree.)

Five: You can’t change the world through a protest. Oh. Yes. You. Can.Ask the Solidarnosh marchers from Poland in the 1990s.  Ask the people of Tunisia or Egypt.  Ask the Boston Tea Party participants from 1776. Oh. Yes. You. Can.

But people will get aggravated with me. They will think me annoying with my repeated political posts.  People I love and respect and want to keep in my “circle” will not know how to respond when I march in favor of increased regulation of banks and investment firms. I’m afraid.  I’m afraid of the snickers. I’m afraid of the rolled eyes. I’m afraid of the “hide” clicks on my FB page.

Then I look at that FB page, and I see the postings from my children and their friends.  I realize that some people are putting their futures on the line. They are risking arrest for the movement. As I watch the videos taken at the various recent marches, I realize that they are risking their bodies, their safety, their freedom. They are willing to march and take those chances and stand up in public.

I’m not young enough to discount public opinion. I’m not innocent enough to believe in a utopian future. I’m not bold enough to believe myself beyond the reach of the ruling class.

But I am naive enough to believe that the sound of a thousand voices can be heard in the halls of power. I am foolish enough to have faith in a system that relies wholly on public choice.  I am innocent enough to believe that the power and strength of an impassioned youth movement can suddenly open the eyes of the power elite.

I will, with some trepidation, march in Boston on Monday, October 10th. I will carry a sign and stand with my children and hold my head up high. I am willing to take on the laughs, and sneers and derision of my peers. I will gulp, and cringe and stand tall.

I am the 99%.

True fear.

I have always loved the stories of courage related to the American Revolution; the men gathering beneath the Liberty Tree, the mustering of men and boys on the common in the misty dawn of April 19th, the late night gallop through the countryside of Dawes and Prescott and Revere.

Never once, until now, have I wondered how the mothers and fathers of those brave revolutionaries might feel.  I never stopped to think about those parents, left home by the fire, as their sons took up arms against tyranny.

After last weekend, though, I can well imagine the heart stopping anxiety of those who waited behind while history was being made.  Yikes.

Last weekend, my three children were arrested on Brooklyn Bridge while participating in a march designed to focus national attention on the corruption which has taken hold of our economic and political systems.

Let me repeat that.  My three tiny, innocent babies, my sweet gentle little children were zip cuffed, hauled onto buses and placed in jail cells for hours. Behind bars.

With the police guarding them.

In New York City!

Paul and I sat awake until 4 AM waiting for word that the three of them were free and unharmed. We didn’t know where they were, we didn’t know if they were together, we didn’t know if they had been fed, or were being sheltered on this cold night.

On an intellectual level, I knew that my three were in the company of more than 700 compatriots.  I knew, from video and on line accounts, that the police had been largely supportive and uniformly professional.  I knew that the zipties would not be harmful.

But on an emotional level, I was overwhelmed by a sense of panic and helplessness.  I watched videos after video on line of the events on the bridge, and sorted through hundreds of photo images of the afternoon.  You can imagine my shock/horror/thrill when I came across a photo of an officer, standing with zipties in his hands, and recognized my son Matt sitting on the pavement behind him.  When I recognized my boy, at about 1AM, my heart gave a jolt.  When I looked closely and saw that his hands were held behind his back, it almost jumped right out of my body. I was ready to jump in the car and dash off to New York. If I had known where they were being held, I might have done just that.

Luckily for us, we didn’t find out exactly what was happening until it was pretty much over.  It was too late to rush off to rescue them. They were freed, they were fed, they were excited by the whole experience.

I am so proud of them for joining in this movement. I believe, with my whole heart, that idealism is a key to the future.   I believe that the passion of such activist events is what truly pushes society toward evolution and progress.  I am so delighted to have my cynical sons finally willing to engage in the political world.

But I find myself, three days after the arrest on the bridge, struggling to lower my adrenaline level enough to sleep.  I am finding that every night, when I close my eyes, I am faced with a picture of my children huddled in a cold dark jail cell with their hands held behind their backs.  Even when my head tells me that my 6 foot sons were at little risk from middle aged paunchy cops, my heart and mind keep showing me the faces of those boys, big eyed, gold haired, grinning those innocent grins. Even when my eyes show me the evidence of my beautiful daughter leaning toward the camera to yell her slogan and show her strength, my heart and mind keep showing pictures of my pale and tiny girl being threatened by thugs in the streets of the world’s most frightening city.

The intensity of the mixed emotions has me dry mouthed, sleepless and slightly dizzy.

I am so proud of them. I am hopeful that they will effect real change somehow. I am terrified that they will be in the front lines at the inevitable moment when those with power and arms decide that they have had enough of threats, and decide to strike back in earnest.

I am absolutely terrified.