Archive for April 2011

And Another Thing…

I’ve received a lot of emails about the TODAY Moms article I wrote about not punishing T, many of them asking for more resources. I wanted to turn you on to the two places from which I crib most of my parenting ideas.

Alfie Kohn is amazing. I particularly love his book Unconditional Parenting: Moving From Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason.

If you’re in Los Angeles, I also encourage you to check out The Echo Center (formerly the Center for Nonviolent Education and Parenting). Scott and I have learned so much there and continue to go for classes and support.

I also really appreciate those of you who disagree with me and are engaging in a respectful dialogue about it.

Also- I just wanted to demonstrate with this photograph that as a result of our nonviolent communication, our son has absolutely no sassy attitude at all. Um, right.

Festival of Books

I always love the raging party otherwise known as the LA Times Festival of Books- it’s a heartening experience for an author. This year I’m speaking on a memoir panel (that thankfully doesn’t conflict with Smith or Lethem or Egan or Eggers, etc. etc., phew), called “Finding the Hook.” My awesome fellow panelists include Heather Havrilesky, Lisa Napoli and Richard Polsky. It’ll be moderated by Susan Carpenter and it’s at 2pm on Sunday at Norris. The festival is on the USC campus this year. Come on by.

Fun fact: Heather Havrilesky and I were once in love with the same man at the same time. If you can guess who it is, you win a prize. It’ll probably be a restraining order because no one should know that much about us. Even though we are memoirists.

The Other Man in My Life

I’m lucky enough to be married to the love of my life, but if I’m to be completely honest I do harbor romantic feelings for another. Part of my heart will always belong to New York. I’ve lived on the west coast for fifteen years now and every time I fly into JFK, I keep expecting the feeling that I’m home will have faded but it never does. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that I lived in New York during such a hopeful time, when my life was little more than possibility. I never had to schlep my kid and three bags of groceries home through the snow and up five flights of stairs. I recognize this and nevertheless my chest tightens every time I see the skyline approaching. I always think- how could I live anywhere but here?

I spent a few days in NY last week and I had so much work to catch up on that I barely left my hotel room, but I did manage to make it out to the MOMA for the Abstract Expressionist New York exhibit. The sheer scope of it blew my mind. I learned a great deal about a movement that I’ve always found deeply inspiring. I had one of those weep-shamelessly-in-an-art-museum moments of which I’m so fond.

Dazzling synchronicity- my friend Melissa Febos write this essay on crying in public in the Times.

As I was standing outside the MOMA waiting to do serious sushi damage with my friend Rachel, a group of kids walked by me. They looked like they had recently graduated high school. One of them gleefully threw his hands up in the air and said, “I have $164 in the bank and can’t pay my rent and WHATEVER!” Much of the art I had just seen was made by people who could have said the same thing. For some reason it brought to mind Patti Smith’s memoir detailing her floating, totally broke years as a young artist in New York. I hope that if Tariku is ever in that position, I’ll trust in his journey and not get all bourgie on him. I think what I romanticize about New York is the freedom I felt there. I need to somehow find it again, even in the midst of the groceries and the forever mess and the schlepping and the play dates.

Why We Don’t Punish

Read my new blog at TODAY Moms about why we don’t punish Tariku. Ever.

Weigh in with your comments if you feel moved. The discussion on the TODAY Moms Facebook page is pretty heated.

Audiobook Giveaway!

One of the gizmos in my snazzy new web design is a newsletter. I’m going to give away a copy of the audiobook of Some Girls, read by Tavia Gilbert. All you have to do to enter is sign up for the newsletter in the right sidebar of my blog page, then leave a comment on this post telling me you did. I swear that I’ll only send an email out like every ten years or so and I’ll only sell your info to the penis enlargement sites that actually work. Do it before Monday 5/1 and I’ll pick a name at random.

I Love a Makeover

My friend Arthur Avary over at Twiners designed a beautiful new website for me. The blog got a makeover, too.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Rejected

A friend once told me that in order to be a great boxer you don’t just have to like hitting people, you also have to like getting hit. I would say the same thing about writers and rejection. In order to succeed as a writer it helps if you can welcome the adversity of rejection. This is definitely true for me. I mean, I don’t exactly like rejection, but I certainly spent enough years being bombarded by it to know that I’m someone who’s going to keep swinging.

But I’ve never before faced a foe with such an absolute ability to break my heart.

I know that many of you have been following the struggles our family has been facing as a result of Tariku’s early childhood trauma and the resulting behaviors. I think the one that’s the hardest for me to talk about is that T often rejects me. And when he rejects me he does it like he does everything: big and loud and unmistakable. I can’t tell you how many times a day I hear, “Mommy, LEAVE,” or, “Mommy, NO COME.” And that’s not even getting into the hitting and biting and throwing things at my head. Perhaps most saddening to me is when he’ll use an intimate, cuddly moment as an opportunity to punch me in the eye.

I don’t mean to make it sound like this is a summation of our entire relationship, because it’s not. We also have plenty of awesome times and sweet moments. But it’s there and it’s real and it’s something we deal with daily in one way or another.

This is so hard for me to talk about. I think I’m only able to write about it now because I’m in New York on business for a few days, so I can get enough distance from the situation to gain some perspective. Nothing I’ve encountered as a mother has sent me to quite as dark a place as the rejection. I have guilt- what if I worked less, what if I yelled less, what if I was better at the balance, what if I was cheerier, what if I was more fun? What if I could draw a perfect elephant? What if I was different somehow? Would that make my child love me?

Realistically, I know it isn’t me. I’m not perfect, certainly, but that’s not the problem. It makes sense that with all of the trauma and transition my son has experienced in his short life, he would make it his business to be the one to do the rejecting rather than risk being hurt again. I have great faith in the healing we’ve committed to as a family but I also know that it’s a long process. We have quite a few rounds left to go.

But today, I have a little break between rounds. I get to walk through a New York April while I keep reminding myself that parenting isn’t about how much love I get to take from the world, but how much love I get to bring to it. And I love that kid crazy, crazy, crazy.

Winning!

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I managed to get this far without using any Sheen catchphrases and today I caved. Oh, the shame. Luckily, I’m unphased by shame.

The winners of the Australian Some Girls giveaway are Julia (for calling me a gutsy, awesome Sheila) and Kelly (for teaching me that “budgie smugglers” is Australian slang for Speedos). Email me your addresses and I’ll get you your books.

And Joe, sorry you didn’t win, but my trailer needs new screens in the windows, so we’ll talk…

How Are You Celebrating?

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I’d like to kick off my celebration of National Poetry Month by sharing one of my favorite poems, Adrienne Rich’s “Diving Into the Wreck.” I enjoyed revisiting this today. It was so meaningful to me as a young woman first discovering ideas about feminism and art. It resonates in an entirely different way twenty years later, an author now, a mother. Give yourself a treat- close your eyes and listen to this reading by Anne Waldman.

Sing it With Me…

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Read my new blog up at TODAY Moms, in which I fight for the right to party!

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