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Random Family

A good friend recommended repeatedly (and over the course of several years) that I read Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, and I finally did this spring.  My husband, who read the book last fall, warned that I might not want to read Random Family during my commute because so much of the material can be heartbreaking.  I ignored my husband's advice and plowed straight ahead.  While I was waiting for the R train to take me home a few weeks ago, I finished reading it, and there I was, on the platform at Rector Street, finishing Random Family and starting to cry.

Apparently, my husband was right.  But the reason my eyes welled with tears that day was that LeBlanc had done something truly amazing at the end of her book -- she gave her readers the gift of a happy ending.  Random Family follows the lives of two women for eleven years through their multiple teenaged pregnancies, their varied relationships with men and with the criminal justice system, and - most importantly - their even more varied relationships with the members of their families.  After having chronicled an eleven-year series of substantial parent-to-child disappointments, in the end, LeBlanc gives us a brief scene of joy and love between a father and his daughter.

In the ordered and comfortable world of baby books, mommy blogs,  and parenting education, the starting point is always a celebration of the relationship between parent and child with the underlying assumption that each of us is the best parent for his or her baby.  But can that simple notion withstand complex circumstances?  Is a teenaged mom who goes out to clubs, bribing her own mother to watch her small children in exchange for cocaine, the best mom for her baby?  The answer is yes.  Heartbreakingly, yes.  There are many lessons from Random Family, but the one that has serious lasting power for me is that no matter who you are or what you do, your baby will still need your love and support more than anything in the world.  And so it will be my life's work to remember that fact and to honor it.


Attack of the Wiggle Monster

Baby is officially a Wiggle Monster.


  1. Baby is curious.
  2. Baby has an adventurous spirit - ready to explore the world.
  3. Baby is getting strong enough to get himself around, which means he really wants to get himself around (an amazing positive cycle that builds confidence and independence).
  1. Bath-time has morphed into: "Oh, [Baby] look at this awesome ____ [insert: frog, penguin, duck, puffer fish, turtle, star]!"  "Ummmm, [Baby], try to enjoy the bath while you are sitting down . . ."  "[Baby], please do not try to climb ____ [insert: out of the bath, up the wall of the tub, onto the soap dish]."
  2. Diaper changes are starting to resemble putting a diaper on a rotisserie chicken -- if said chicken had wiggly arms and legs and let out great sounds of frustration and irritation with said attempt to put said diaper on said chicken.
  3. Changing Baby's clothes is a process that sometimes involves two people, or, at the very least, it involves several moments of pause while Baby flips over, gets on his hands and knees, and rocks back and forth in what appears to be an attempt to launch himself off of the changing table and out into the World, where he is obviously meant to be, clothes or no clothes, Momma.  
Tonight, after the bath (See, Con #1), I brought Baby to his room to get him ready for bed (See, Cons #2-#3), and an epic wiggle battle ensued.  Baby rotated on his own axis at least three times while I tried to fasten his first diaper.  Yes, first diaper.  One of the tabs on the first diaper broke free from the rest of the diaper, which resulted in more rotating, more wiggling, and - oh, yes - a prolonged diaper experience.  

By the time Baby and I were working on his PJs, I found my mind wandering.  I flashed to my adventures in Kruger where I tracked lions on foot, stood several yards from a rhino, and walked through a herd of water buffalo.  [To be clear, water buffalo are no joke.]  If I could handle those wild animals, surely I can handle a Wiggle Monster.

But here's my question:  If, during a mere diaper and clothing change, I summon the inner-strength it took to face lions, rhinos, and water buffalo, what when Baby becomes Toddler and delivers his first (and second, and third) . . . temper tantrum?   


Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the dads  -- may the giggles and shouts of laughter be extra loud today!