Columns 1996

Should Mothers Work?

Whenever I hear this question, I pause for a moment in anticipation. It sounds like the straight line to a really good joke. I keep waiting for the punch line.

My rueful observation is that the punch line is probably our modern lives. At best, we are comical, frenzied, goofy, and too often out of control - the kind of qualities that make The Three Stooges a classic.

A Four-Year Old and a Dog #2

My husband and I told ourselves over and over again that a smallish house with three kids and three cats (and two too-tired parents) is full enough. The kids, not weighed down by logic, thought otherwise. They often rhapsodized about the extreme joy they would experience if we only had a dog. Then one Sunday afternoon last spring, a woman drove slowly past our house, saw us outside, and pulled over.

Kids Play Hockey

Last fall our son asked us if he could join a hockey team. Innocents that we were, we casually answered yes. Why wouldn't you let a zippy kid join a sport dedicated to zipping and zooming?

We found out quickly. First of all, hockey is expensive. Second, Racine doesn't have an ice arena.

We've been to Kenosha about forty times since that fateful decision. At three hours a session (that's getting there, being there, and coming home) we've devoted five solid days to this sport.

Is it worth it?

You bet.

Weddings, Wry and Funny

June is the month for weddings. What I love about them is how hard people work to create events of flawless beauty, but what everyone remembers later are all the things that went wrong.

We have friends, married now for seven years, who still laugh so hard when they recount the events of their wedding day that they get tears in their eyes.

Kathy and her best friend and bridesmaid, Libby, spent the early part of the afternoon at a beauty salon having their hair and make-up done, getting dressed in their fancy dresses. Then they hailed a cab to drive them to the church.

On Having No Kids

I love the joke about the guy who's a cement worker. One day some kids run through his just poured, freshly smoothed, still wet sidewalk. He becomes so furious that he yells at the kids and then chases them. A co-worker tries to calm him down.

He mumbles back at his buddy. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love children in the abstract. But not in the concrete."

Gone Fishin'

I was twenty, home from college for the summer, working two dumb jobs, and bored out of my gourd. Somehow I decided fishing might relieve my angst, which was an odd choice since I knew nothing about the sport. But my hometown was Ludington, Michigan and I guess I was beguiled by the common summer scene of all the folks who fished along our particular shore of Lake Michigan.

I found a fishing pole and a bucket, packed a ham sandwich, and drove to the breakwater that led out to the town's lighthouse.

Hometown Weekend

There's a literature about leaving home and then going back. Thomas Wolfe said you can't do it. Much of Bruce Springsteen's early music, like Born to Run and Thunder Road, was about the risk of leaving home versus the risk of staying. Even fairy tales, that stuff reputedly for children, is often about the dangerous magic that happens when one leaves home, the powerful changes one goes through, the impossibility of going back as the same person one was when one left.