Mama Writer

For Halloween! The Horror Movie Shower Scene: Single Lady Vs. Mom of Littles

It’s Halloween season (is that what we call it?), so let’s have a little horror fun.

The Traditional Shower Scene vs. The Shower Scene with a Mom of a Child Who Has School the Next Day

Traditional Shower Scene

(Steamy bathroom. Showering naked woman. A disguised serial killer enters unseen.)

(Door creaks.)

Woman: Who’s there? Rick? Is that you?

Serial killer silence.

Woman: Rick, stop it. You’re scaring me. Rick?

(Serial killer is finally seen through the thick steam, woman screams, and is murdered).


Shower Scene with Mom of a School-Aged Child

(Steamy bathroom. Showering naked woman. A disguised serial killer enters unseen.)

(Door creaks.)

Mom (fully expecting that this is the child she has already said goodnight to three times, re-tucked in blankets for, fetched glasses of water and teddy bears for, and answered questions about God, superheroes, and Johnny Appleseed for, responds immediately with):

I swear to God above, if you don’t get right back to where you are supposed to be this instant you will be stuck in that room forever with nothing but the darkest whole grain bread, water, and the Oxford English Dictionary with the words “Rue,” “Sorrow,” and “woe” highlighted for your convenience. I don’t know what makes you think you can 1.) be sneaking around at night like you don’t have a place to be, and 2.) that you can just barge in to a bathroom with no thought of privacy or personal space– words that will also be highlighted in that you’re-never-going-to-see-the-light-of-day-again dictionary. Let me assure you, sweetheart- if your trouble making behind is anywhere near here when I get this soap out of my hair, you had better be able to run faster than The Flash, ‘cause I am going to be Right. Behind. You.

(Moments later, Mom emerges into an empty bathroom. The next day, her nice, mild-mannered coworker mysteriously starts giving her a wide berth.)



My Greatest Shame: Picking (and Sticking With) the Wrong Lawyer

*The picture is of college me.

Midterm grades are in, and Fall Break has officially commenced! Yay!

It’s a Monday, but I was still able to buy groceries, cook, and play with the kids. Professor mode is switched off for the time being. Husband gave me a little writing time, and I think I am officially in a good enough mood to write about something that’s been hanging over my head for ages.

The great shame of my life (thus far)- the time I trusted, hired, and continued to trust, all the way to my sad, troubled ending, Mr. Tim Moore.

Back story:

I was hit by a car the week before spring semester final exams at UNC.

I was a pedestrian in a crosswalk on campus. No alcohol involved, in case anyone’s curious. A police officer witnessed the accident, and I was immediately cared for.

Details are fuzzy on my end, since either the accident or the shock took 24 hours of my memory.

Amnesia is weird.

When my family escorted me back to my dorm in the wee hours of the morning, we worked through what happened that day based on the evidence in the room: I had apparently bought groceries, treated myself to a king size candy bar (which I really wish I could remember), and I had bought Dune and read the first 200 pages (I reread them later, and I could have kept that one unremembered and been just fine).

My mom watched over me while I slept, in case I had a concussion. We found where I had parked my car the previous day (which took a minute, since I couldn’t remember), and my family took me home.

Bloody legs and a lump on my head took a while to calm down. I returned to UNC, took my final exams, and had my first talk with the insurance company- the one that was supposed to cover the damages from the guy who hit me. They recommended I get a lawyer.

Nice of them, really. I knew nothing of legalities, and my hospital bills weren’t that high. If they’d just covered my medical bills up to that point, I might have treated this like a regular car accident and moved on.  

Then, the bruising on my legs just stayed and stayed. That escalated things.

I shopped for lawyers in the two weeks between spring semester and summer sessions. I asked the (usually women) who answered the phone whether or not they would recommend the lawyers they worked for. I got 3 “yes,” 1 “no,” and 1 emphatic “He’s the best.”

Tim Moore should give that woman a raise.

I met Tim Moore, told him the whole story, and was assured this was the kind of case he could handle with ease. I signed some papers, giving him the right to request this and that from the police and hospital. Moore encouraged me to go to a specific doctor’s office.

I couldn’t get an appointment with that doctor in the immediate future, so I scheduled it out for a month later. I saw a local doctor in the meantime, and, a month later, Moore’s suggested specialist corroborated my local doctor’s diagnosis: the numb patch and discolored bruising on my legs were most likely permanent. It wasn’t surprising. It was even common for injuries of this sort.

There were big lawyer repercussions for “permanent injuries,” though.

Over the next year, I called Tim Moore’s office from time to time to see how things were going and if they needed anything from me. I called because they almost never did- the whole year.

Each time I called, I was assured everything was going well. They were just waiting for this or that. It started to sound really repetitive, so I pushed a bit. Then we would have a very brief, very difficult to schedule meeting that always started the same way:

Moore (looking through my file): So it’s… Stephanie… who was… hit by a car…

They say I had amnesia of the incident. It was nothing compared to my lawyer’s.

I wanted to jump ship, but with a year down, it was hard to imagine. I was in the middle of my master’s degree, and didn’t know where to turn. By the end of our meetings, Moore always made it sound like he had already done a lot for my case and had even more still in the works.

I just had to wait. Be patient.

Until the time ran out.

He let the time run out.

With just a little while left before my case would expire, I was once again assured that Moore could handle it. Then, I suddenly received a phone call from the man himself. He explained that he didn’t have time right now, so he was recommending I allow him to transfer my case to this other lawyer he knew. The other lawyer had already agreed to take it on, if I gave the go-ahead.

I’m so ashamed of my stupidity. This is really hard to write.

I accepted. The new lawyer (who always sounded frustrated and put out by having my case thrust into his lap), said he didn’t recommend renewing my case, so we would have to settle quickly. My file from Moore’s office was apparently very thin, and my new lawyer didn’t feel like we had much to work with. All of those things Mr. Moore had told me he’d had in the works either never came to fruition or never existed in the first place.

So ashamed.

The timing was terrible. When all of the frantic offer and counteroffer phone calls were happening, I was studying for my impending Master’s exam.

I passed my exam. I failed my first legal interaction.

A no-fault pedestrian struck in a pedestrian crosswalk, inflicted with permanent, uncomfortable bruising- and a settling offer that covered medical and legal fees, and might have paid for my Master’s exam book list.


I mean, there were a lot of books on that list.

I blame myself, but I hope there is no mistaking what I blame myself for- trusting Tim Moore. I absolutely should have jumped that ship. 

Deep breath.

Fall Break continues. After having to write this, I think corralling the kids into the kitchen for some extraordinarily messy cookie baking is in order.

Have a chocolate chippy day, folks.   

Mama Writer

The Usual Distractions

Kids are romping around, giggling and screaming, while watching the loud cartoon they begged for.

Husband is lying beside me. He’s watching Korean singing contests, and, because it’s Husband, it’s all blasting way too loud.

“Honey? Isn’t that loud? Is it at full volume?”


(I clearly see him immediately open his tablet’s volume, lowering it two bars).

I’m trying to make myself small over here. If everyone’s occupied, maybe I’ll be able to write something continuously.

Not “in peace.”

Not “distraction free.”

It would actually be hard to imagine it getting any louder in here.

Distractions I’ve had. No problem.

The real issue is that the kids are doing some tickle torture chase game while they watch their show, and if I don’t hurry up my typing, I’ll have to stop in order to kiss someone’s inevitable booboos in the living room, and maybe have a talk with the other one about never pulling someone along by his/her shirt.

If I don’t get a move on, I’ll have to stop when Husband suddenly puts his tablet down and asks what “I” want for dinner (i.e. what am I cooking, i.e. “aren’t you going to start cooking? It’s dinner soon”).

My fingers need to fly because the cartoon the kids wanted is playing that song that means the problem is about to be solved.

Everything is loud. The music is always good, but I don’t speak the language, so, when I’m trying to work, it’s hard not to sound like a stereotypical old person complaining that it’s “just noise.”

Must go faster.

Distractions abound. Writing still happens.

It would be nice to be able to sit down and immerse myself in something for more than the 15 minutes the cartoon/ballad lasts.

I hear the credits-rolling song. Gotta hop up, point the kids in Husband’s direction, and start dinner.

Time’s up. 


We Need a Children’s Literature Book Club

We Need a Children’s Literature Book Club.

I have become the book-pushing stealth ninja.

“Someone sent us a book…”

“Oh, really?”

“Was it you?”

“You’re breaking up- going through a tunnel-”

My Christmas card address list has been turned into a medium for my version of “I saw something on YouTube and you just HAVE to see it.”

You HAVE to read these amazing, beautiful books.

Yes, they’re for elementary schoolers, or even preschoolers, but you HAVE to read them!

I love them so much. I want everyone to have an opportunity to experience them- both as children for the age appropriate delight and as adults to “get” all of what the author has crafted.

My kids laugh at Hilo because it’s hilarious. I’m laughing, too. As the adult in the room, however, I was the only one who got a little choked up at the climactic ending of Book 3, when Hilo saves his sister and the magic cats unexpectedly scream to the rescue with, “WE ARE FURBACK CLAN!”

My kids were hushed and attentive as we read through the tense, action-packed Mighty Jack and the sequel The Goblin King. As the adult in the room, though, I was the only one who understood that, by the end of the books, there had been an important shift, and Jack was no longer the main hero, or even main protagonist, of either book. The Goblin King is the combat champion, Lilly, who saves herself and emerges with more supernatural power than all of the other characters. (I am especially prone to sending Ben Hatke’s books to my friends with daughters. His female characters are kick-ass little girls. If you received one of these from Amazon Prime- yes, that was me).  

There’s usually so much more to these books than what my kids can glean (ages 6 and 4). They need an invested adult to guide them- otherwise, they’ll miss out.

It’s one of my favorite things to do with my kids, since I sometimes struggle with conversation. When it comes to reading books together, though, we share common tastes and interests. It starts so many conversations, and helps me teach them things that I didn’t even know needed to be taught.

So, if you receive a book from the stealth ninja book-pusher, I am sending something that is 5000% awesome, but also something that I hope helps build the kind of reading conversations with your little ones that I enjoy with mine.

And, when you’re done reading them, please call me, ‘cause I desperately want another interested grownup to discuss these with. They’re literary GOLD, and, if you liked that one, I have a million more that we should talk about.


The Many Positive and Negative Aspects of English Class: One Student’s Perspective

It’s been a long week. Here’s some fun. 

The Many Positive and Negative Aspects of English Class: One Student’s Perspective

            Since the dawn of time there have been many aspects. Some of those aspects have been good (positive). Some of those aspects, I’m sorry to say, have been not so good (negative). Just like all things in life, English class has some positive and negative aspects. In this paper, I will explore the positive and negative aspects of English class.

            Merriam Webster defines “aspect” as, “a particular status or phase in which something appears or may be regarded.” Since English class has many such particular statuses and phases in which it appears or may be regarded, English class does, in fact, have many aspects.

          Some of those aspects are positive. Some such positive aspects are not having to do much in class, being able to chat with friends, and learning to grammar.

Firstly, not having to do much in class is a positive aspect. Many classes require a lot of note-taking or exams. English class, on the other hand, just requires one’s presence. There will be a lot of discussion about personal feelings. If the teacher is talking, one should listen, but there won’t be any exams on what she says. In fact, there are no exams- only papers. Therefore, missing the lecture is not a big deal. Considering how other, harder classes require one to attend every lecture AND pay attention, the less effort needed in English class is a very positive aspect.

Being able to chat with friends is also a positive aspect. Since group work is regularly assigned, but the class is only an English class, it is a great opportunity to get to know everyone in the group and even scroll through for some social media time. The teacher encourages group work for one to be social, which is definitely a positive aspect.

Learning to grammar is probably the most important positive aspect in English class. Some teachers say that the point of English class is not to just learn grammar, but grammar is the number one thing in papers, which is where all of the English grades come from. So grammar learning is very important and very positive.

For all positive aspects in life, unfortunately, there are some negative aspects. English class is no exception. Some such negative aspects are the readings, the attendance policy, and the papers.

To start with, the readings are a negative aspect of the English class experience. While one would expect all discussion in an English class to be about one’s feelings and personal experiences, occasionally the teacher will ask how one’s feelings and personal experiences relate back to the readings. Since there are no tests on the reading, only discussions, it is, of course, optional, though it makes class a little confusing when skipped. If this is the case, one should only talk in class when one has a personal anecdote that is in line with the title of the reading being discussed- or, in a pinch, one can google for a quick summary of the reading. If one is careful, one can avoid the negative English class aspect of readings.

The attendance policy is another such negative aspect. It may seem confusing that the lectures can be missed without incident and taking notes is not necessary in class- but there’s an attendance policy. While it can be frustrating, showing up does not have to be endlessly frustrating. If one would have skipped because one is tired or burnt out from other, actual college classes, one should attend anyway and lay one’s head down on one’s desk. That’s how one can both be present and catching up on rest, thus avoiding this negative aspect of English class.  

The last negative aspect of English class is actually the most negative of all: the papers. While the class material is about nothing in particular, papers will be graded with an iron fist. It is as if the teacher doesn’t realize the class is a relaxed place for personal narratives. She will, instead, write on the paper things like “no thesis,” or “no research,” or “needs citations- plagiarism flagged,” as if she actually believes the class went over these things called thesis, research, and plagiarism.

          Unfortunately, this last and most negative aspect of English classes does not yet have a quick fix. The good news, though, is one can complain about these harsh and confusing grading standards to the teacher’s superiors, such as the dean and school president- and don’t forget the power of student evaluations! Even if one must deal with the negative aspect of harsh paper grades in English class, one can help make sure future students don’t have the same problem.   

          In conclusion, all things have positive and negative aspects, and English class is no exception. While there are many positive aspects, the negative ones show that the world is still a hard place to live.


So Your Daughter Will One Day Have a Period…

Dear husband,

I’ve been picking up on some subtle hints that you’re feeling wholly unprepared for our baby girl’s first period party. That’s fine, since she’s little, but the number of times you’ve said, “I’m scared” when tampon commercials come on TV is really starting to add up.  

I get it. You’re a good dad, and, since I work, there’s a chance that when the fateful day comes, you’ll be the one on call.

I’m here to help.

Welcome to your “So Your Daughter Will One Day Have a Period” tutorial.

Two things must start us off.

1.) We call it a period. There’s menstruating involved. Let’s get our vocabulary in order- no “friends,” “monthly visitors” or “that time” talk. If you want our daughter to talk to you about what she needs, first prove that you can talk about the subject at all.

You might also want to read up on female anatomy. You can even read the books I’ve picked for her.

Spoiler alert: they’re scary books. 

2.) Please forget everything from the tampon commercial. There is no more fallacious advertising on this planet than the tampon commercial.

It’s a blossoming, cheer-squad-spinning, field of lies.

Now, we’re ready to talk.

Will the first period hurt?

Probably. See the anatomy lesson mentioned above.

Will she be freaked out?

Probably. We’ll give her books, long talks, and advanced notice, but all of a sudden she’s going to be in pain and seeing blood, while the world just nods, says its normal, and tells her to go on about her business sporting absorbent gear in some difficult places.

It’s kind of like being stabbed and having to walk around with the bandages hidden, pretending it doesn’t hurt.

It takes some getting used to.

Will she need anything?

Yes and no. She’ll need cuddles. And for you to go away. And chocolate. But not THAT chocolate. She might get frustrated with the pain/hormones and say things- evil, spiteful things, and when you tell her not to say evil, spiteful things, she will dissolve into a puddle of tears and whimper, “Why are you mad at me?!”

And sanitary products.

Years from now, If you’re the one home when this all goes down, tell her everything will be okay, and hand her a pad.

Why not a tampon?

Because, in the beginning, those need a lot of instructions or even some help.

(Ladies, show of hands for those of us who got that right on the first try. Anyone?)

So, hand her a pad.

There’s always Midol in the cabinets. There are strategically placed heating pads throughout the house. She’ll be set until I can come home.  

The first periods will probably feel like the scariest. Even so, it will actually be a long few years before she starts to feel her period is “normal.” There could be some easy times, as well as hard times. There will be so many issues for all of us to figure out.

Is missing school on the hard days in her best interest?

Birth control pills regulate this and that, but the side effects…?

Do we need second jobs to cover the cost of menstruation supplies and junk food cravings?

I’m glad you’re a good dad, since these are parenting decisions (with heavy input from our girl, of course). You and me, we’ll help her all the way.

And you’ve totally got this. You were a little pale in the delivery room, but you were no fainter.

So, go read those scary menstruation books. Learn it so well that you could teach it.

There will be a test.