Friday, April 30, 2010


The Matron had one.

Earlier this week, John threw up his hands and declared bedtime a bad deal.

"I'm done with this."

He was referring specifically to the seven year old's two hour ritual: snack, reading, teeth. Then there's the hour and a half of 'checking' and, unfortunately, snuggling. Not that snuggling isn't good but shouldn't five minutes suffice? Then He Who Cannot Be Named is up until 11, doing 'stuff.' Scarlett is now home from the theater but is still on that late night schedule. She thinks she should be in a bar at midnight, winding down from a show.

The meltdown? Because for the past DECADE the Matron has been declaring bedtime a bad deal. Way too much intensive interface with youth. Too many midnight theater dates. Too many late night conversations. Too many back rubs and what-nots that continue until 11 pm. That's right folks -- 11 pm. And that doesn't include the theater drives.

But when the man in the house -- as much as she loves him, and she does -- notices a problem after TEN YEARS, suddenly the culture changes. Last night was much different.

Now, the Matron has a doctorate in English and, ahem, Feminist Studies. But guess who wipes the toilets every morning? Um . . think, think, think. Her!

So the irony of the instant change in the family rules isn't lost on her, even as she's hopeful the marathon will turn into a sprint.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Considering the kitchen: the Matron does not excel at heat. She can make a mean salad. There's pudding, various arrangements of fruit, and wicked sandwiches (add hummus to everything!). But put something in the oven or on a burner, and well, she's sort of toast.

Here's the scene. There are noodles on the stove and a chicken in the oven.

Her husband comes home, registers the emergency and immediately resets the oven temperature and turns down the heat on the noodles.

This annoys the Matron.

"Really! I have this under control!"

Another chapter in this story:

Scarlett: "Mom? Can Dad make us popcorn? I really want popcorn! I'm DYING for popcorn."

Matron: "Dad's busy. But I can."

Scarlett: "No thank you. I don't need popcorn."

Matron: "Scarlett, I am perfectly capable of popping corn in a pan and putting butter on it. I am 47 years old, have a doctorate, have traveled the world. I can pop corn."

Scarlett: "No thank you."

Then there was the quite remarkable Thanksgiving. Stryker caught his mother putting the turkey into the oven.

Stryker: "Mom!!! Where's Dad? Please don't do this!"

Now, the Matron has not only a problem with heat but with the whole narrative of inept motherhood -- completely competent women pretend that their houses are dirty, kids out of control, dinners boiled to death. If you read a lot of blogs about mothering, you find women highlighting (extending?) their shortcomings. It's currently hip to be inept at the fundamentals. You know what she means. There's some weird sort of value in dismissing the job, in lamenting the cookies not made and dishes not done--the kid whose camp you forgot.

But the cooking and heat thing in this household? Not the dismissive or imagined shortcoming, but a genuine family battleground.

Because the Matron will die at the stove top over her right to be in control of dinner -- even a bad one -- rather than have her husband come home and revise everything she's started.

"Hey, let me stir that pot."

"I can take over the pork loins."

"Are you sure you want the steaks to stay on the pan for so long?"

Makes her crazy.

Too many cooks in your kitchen? Or are you in the one in control?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


several years ago, the Matron got deeply involved with this book:


Simple Spells by Barrie Dolnick.

Yes, there are potions involved. Herbs, tea, incense, candles, light. But the whole point was putting out your desire and need --and wish for the greater good -- to the Universe and seeing what happens.

The Matron and her husband would sit for an hour every night, setting out their dreams and wishing. They boiled oil. They crushed flowers. Burned a blue candle at exactly midnight. They DID SPELLS.


That phase, like so many others, ended. The spells faded. But so did the belief in magic --and that's not necessarily a good thing.

Lately, this intrepid family has suffered lots of failures, lots of no, lots of losses. Every sports try-out, a rejection. Every audition? You're number two. Try to get into a school? Uh, sorry. Aging grandparents? Ill and needy.

So today the Matron decided to pull out the spell book again--just to see what happens.

She's really not a believer in spells or religion. But there's something solid about sitting with your spouse for an hour every night, talking about the dreams, the demons, the desire.

Not really in it for the spell, but for that hour every night with her husband, talking. There's the magic again and she needs it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gone Fishing?

Okay, the Matron doesn't fish, but she'll be back on Wednesday.

New readers can pour through nearly three years of 5-day-a-week posts and be astounded at her creative output--and applaud her two day break.