In Love With Love

I’m in love with love. In fact, I’ve always been in love with love. When my parents told me they were getting a divorce I thought, “There’s the death of love.” I wanted to crawl into a hole because my whole belief system had been shattered as surely as if I had in fact died. … Continue reading In Love With Love

Dear Journal: Between

Dear Journal, It’s always interesting when my mother comes to visit because at those times I’m both a son and a father, both a child and an adult, looking for acceptance yet strong enough to discipline just the same. I find it curious because I never felt like I wanted or needed acceptance as a … Continue reading Dear Journal: Between

Pencil Marks

There are pencil marks at various heights on the wall just outside the kitchen, with names scribbled in to identify each one specifically. One of them has my name attached to it but it doesn’t match my true height — not even close — because it has been a dog’s age since I posed on … Continue reading Pencil Marks

Why Mom Can’t Be Dad (and why that’s okay)

dad_8tzp“Now ain’t nobody tell us it was fair. No love from my daddy ’cause the coward wasn’t there. He passed away and I didn’t cry, ’cause my anger wouldn’t let me feel for a stranger.” -2Pac, Dear Mama

Mothers are the singularly most amazing human beings on the planet. They give more of themselves than it seems possible to give,and then they give some more. So often a mother’s job is never done, because to her it is so much more than merely a job. It’s a calling. When her child screams out in the night, a mother’s ears are tuned to pick up on it and respond, even before she herself is awake. A mother seems like she’s in all places at the same time because she often has to be in order to take care of her myriad responsibilities.

A mother doesn’t complain, though, not even when she isn’t appreciated, because she knows complaining doesn’t get things done, and she has no time for excuses. But one thing a mother can never do is be a father, and that’s okay.

For the most part, I grew up in a single-parent home. My father was never around, but even when he was his mind was elsewhere. I had probably five, maybe six, solid, concrete moments with him when I was younger when he made a positive impression on me, but I have a plethora of those type of memories featuring my mother. I just saw her this weekend, and it’s amazing to me how fresh those memories still are, and how we continue to make those memories no matter how old I get. The bond between a mother and her children should be an enduring one, and it often is, but can it make up for the absence of a father?

I hear so many people extoll the virtues of single mothers by saying, “She was both a mother and a father to me.” But that can’t be true, can it? Expecting a mother to be a father is like asking an Irish man to be Chinese. That’s because we need different things from each parent, and while many of us make it through childhood just fine without a father, it doesn’t lessen the yearning for one, or fill the hole caused by his absence. Continue reading “Why Mom Can’t Be Dad (and why that’s okay)”

My Two Moms

There was a show in the 1980s, called My Two Dads, about a 12-year-old girl who somehow came to live with two guys she happened to call “Dad.” These two fellows couldn’t have been more different from each other, with the one a sensitive artist and the other a staunch businessman. But neither knew who … Continue reading My Two Moms


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Strawbridge & Clothier, circa 1984.

“Shout. Shout. Let it all out. These are the things I can do without. Come on. I’m talking to you. Come on.” -Tears For Fears

It was a dog’s age ago, and I was knee high to a duck (long before I started using cliches). I’ll never forget the day. My mom had dragged me to Strawbridge & Clothier’s downtown. I have no idea where my sister was, but it was the day I got lost (twice). We took the subway to 13th and Market Streets where there were a million interchanges. I was supposed to hold onto my mother’s hand, but I thought I was old enough to walk by myself. That was the problem.

When we emerged from the El I was captivated as always by the hordes of people in the concourse, by the man on the bench selling bean pies, and by the derelicts just riding the trains back and forth to stay warm. When I stopped looking all around I realized my mother was nowhere to be seen, and I started to panic. “Mom!” I croaked, but I hadn’t used my voice all day to that point, and it came out sounding so small. Then I saw the back of her coat five steps ahead. I hustled to catch up, and grabbed her hand, relieved.

Except it wasn’t her. It was some other woman wearing a similar coat who was quite surprised when this young kid grabbed onto her hand. Seconds later my actual mother yanked me away from the strange woman, and she didn’t let go of my hand the whole rest of the way to Strawbridge’s. I got the lecture about getting abducted, but you know how it is when you’re a kid. Nothing seems to phase you, at least when you’re safely with your mother. Continue reading “Shout”