Tag Archives: children

We Named Our Daughter After a Mouse

(Note: This post was written while still pregnant, lest you think I just shot a kid out of my baby-cannon and now have any ability to construct a coherent sentence, much less a mini-memoir.)

Yes, a mouse.

But stay with me. We have a rational reason for doing so. Well, maybe not a rational reason (not sure how anyone can expect me to be rational right now, as I am currently in month 9 of having two vaginas), but a reason that will at least provide some context for my desire to name our child after an animal that most people try to kill with strategically placed snap-traps.

Ten years ago, I suffered a deep, terrifying, paralyzing depression. I’ve written about it and referenced it many times on this blog so I won’t re-hash the details in this post, but needles to say, it was my darkest hour. What I haven’t mentioned before is a somewhat interesting (and now extremely relevant) aspect of this terrible time in my life– my obsession with mouse-kid Noisy Nora.

Yes, I’ll explain (because who? And huh?).

In the months I spent depressed living in my parents’ home at age 26, I was unable to do virtually anything. One day, while robotically eating breakfast and staring blankly at the Honey Nut Cheerios box, my mother put a pencil in my hand and suggested I draw something. Not only did I think this was pointless, as EVERYTHING was pointless, but I thought it was extra ridiculous given that, a mild talent for photography aside, I had never at any point in my life shown any kind of visual-arts ability or interest.

But I had nothing to lose (and nothing to do), so I grabbed the pencil and started drawing what I saw on the cereal box in front of me.

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Looking at it now, I think “Not a bad little Cheerios bee!” At the time, however, all I could manage was, “Well this drawing sucks.” Because, you know. Everything sucked. But what I did notice was that for the brief time I was immersed in the sketching process, I wasn’t, for once, writhing in despair and wondering how the minutes of life could possibly be ticking by so slowly. I was able to escape my agony for a short, precious time, and that alone was enough reason to keep drawing.

So I did. Basically, I stuck to sketching images that were on the boxes of the food I was eating:

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As you can see, I was really into carbs.

Then one day, in a further desperate attempt to pass the interminable minutes, I began sorting through mountains of crap in my parents’ storage room. To my delight (delight is a strong word– I hated everything) I stumbled upon a box of my most beloved childhood books. They were all there: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, Doctor De Soto, The Snowy Day and, finally, at the very bottom of the box– Noisy Nora.

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GOD how I loved that book as a kid. It’s about a very endearing yet insufferable little mouse-kid who is jealous of the time her parents spend with her siblings, and therefore seeks attention by being a destructive little pain in the ass. I adored her, because I was her. No one could yell, stomp, and slam a door (then open it and re-slam it) for NO GOOD REASON like kid-me (and, ok, teenager-me. Adult-me…).

And for reasons I could not articulate, I suddenly became OBSESSED with drawing Nora. So obsessed, in fact, that I purchased a separate sketch pad solely for Nora drawings, where I could practice sketching her over and over again until I had her every tiny little detail perfected. (Side note: This genius separate-notebook idea backfired, as somewhere in the five times I’ve moved residencies since then, it got misplaced, while my notebook full of meaningless cereal box characters has somehow stood the test of time Face_With_Rolling_Eyes_Emoji_large ).

I sketched these Nora drawings in the privacy of my own bedroom, and kept the special Nora notepad under the bed where no one would find it. Unlike my Cheerios bee and Keebler elves, I was very protective of my Nora sketches and did not want to show them to anyone, even my mother, who was always so delighted and impressed by my cartoon drawings– so impressed, in fact, that she suggested I pursue a career in comic-strip writing (she was pretty desperate to give me purpose. She was also, understandably, drinking a LOT of wine during that time).

Nora was my little secret. I was never really able to articulate or explain to myself why I was so obsessed with her. Sure, I loved the book as a kid, but I loved lots of books and characters and wasn’t obsessing over any of THEM. At the time, the infatuation made no sense. But then again, nothing made sense, so I didn’t spend too much time or energy trying to figure it out.

Eventually, with copious medical interventions and the unwavering support of family and friends, I began to heal in early 2009, and life restarted again. I moved back to NYC, got a teaching job, found my marbles, and was functioning like the human I had forgotten I was capable of being.

And in the process, I let Nora go. Not completely and not forever– after all, she was there with me for those lonely, agonizing months and got me through a truly hopeless time– but now that I was able to participate in life again, the inexplicable obsession subsided and found a cozy spot in the back recesses of my mind, rather than in the fixated forefront.

Fast forward 9 years and I’m pregnant. As soon as we learned we were having a girl, out of (seemingly) nowhere, the name Nora came to my mind. I casually mentioned it to Eric as a name I liked, and he agreed it was nice, but suggested we keep thinking. He liked it but didn’t necessarily LOVE it, and maybe there was something out there we’d both LOVE. That was fine with me– I wasn’t even sure in that moment why I liked it so much, or why it came to me so suddenly, so I agreed to keep thinking. We looked through list after list and flirted with other names, many of which I did really like. But at the end of each day when I put my head to my pillow, I kept coming back to Nora.

And slowly, I began to realize why. Now, bear with me here– I’m not typically a hokey, whimsical or overly-spiritual person. But I am a big believer in things happening for a reason, and I do think “the universe,” however one might define that, plays a role in the direction our lives take. And in that time when I felt I truly had nothing to live for, I feel that maybe, just maybe, the Nora obsession was the universe’s way of saying “Do not give up, Emily. This darkness is temporary, and light awaits. There’s something big coming, and you’re going to want to be around to see it.”

Now I don’t want anyone to interpret this as me thinking that having a child is the only, or the ultimate, thing to live for. It has been 10 years since that depressive episode and my life has been beyond full of reasons to live– from big reasons (family, friends, major accomplishments both personal and professional, fabulous travel, discovery of new talents and interests) to all those little moments that make up a full, meaningful life  (a burst of uncontrolled laughter, hearing Journey’s “Faithfully” and remembering every single lyric to your camp alma mater, a post-run nap in a shaded hammock, the satisfaction of finally killing the pesky fly that’s been occupying your apartment for a week– sorry, that last one just happened like 5 minutes ago and DAMN it felt good! Anyway, we all have our things.)

There are trillions of reasons to live, big and small, but when you’re severely depressed, you can’t access any of them. So I think this Nora obsession, for which I had no explanation at the time, only an intense and seemingly primal NEED to draw her, was the universe desperately trying to shove hope in my face– to tell me that if I could just hold on and get through this time, I would rediscover all the reasons to be here, and come to see that I still have so much important work left to do in this life, including (but certainly not limited to) becoming a mom.

So I kept coming back to the name Nora, and although Eric liked it, he still wasn’t totally sold. I wanted to disclose the reason I was so attached to it, but I also worried he might think I was nuts (not sure why I still occasionally fear this. The guy has witnessed some pretty emotionally ape-shit moments and he’s still here, inexplicably, with bells on). For months, I kept pressing the name on him, with no explanation other than, “I just really like it,” only to get a non-committal, “I like it too, but let’s keep thinking,” in response.

So eventually, on a particularly hormonal day, I explained my reasoning. With tears in my eyes, I cautiously relayed the story of my Noisy Nora fixation, and how in hindsight I think it might have been the universe giving me a reason to hold on.

“Oh,” Eric said. “Well then that’s it. That’s her name. Why didn’t you just tell me that? Of course that’s her name. And now I love it.”

And that is why I married him.

And why we named our daughter after a rodent.

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Dear Camp Robindel

Dear Camp Robindel,

Sleep-away camp season is upon us, so I’m filling out an application for my daughter. She’s still in my womb. No, I’m not crazy.

It’s for NEXT summer.

She’ll be almost 1 and, much like all the Lermans starting camp far younger than the suggested age, she’ll be fine. But also like all the Lermans starting camp far younger than the suggested age, it won’t REALLY matter if she’s fine or not, the point is more that her mom needs a break. So she’s getting on that plane, goddamnit.

If my kid is anything like her mom, she’ll be a bit confused, under-showered, and questionably lice-infested for the first few weeks, wondering if Ann and Nat are her new parents and if this bunk is just where she lives now.  Or, if she’s like her Uncle Zack over at brother camp Winaukee, she’ll wear one Teva all summer, be covered in weeks-old temporary tattoos, smell like the dubious roped-off section of the lake, and spend all her free time, voluntarily, with the camp nurse.

The adjustment will be slightly jarring, but then the first time she receives a “free” foot-long Charleston Chew at canteen without having to write the required letter home (because is this dirty, gap-toothed, bowl-haircut kid even old enough to write? No one is certain), she’ll smile and be like, “Oh, ok. I got this. I’m going to run this place now.”

She won’t even bother to wipe the chocolate drool from her chin. It will remain there, crusted over, for two months.

So reserve a spot in Hemlock for Summer of ’19, please. Top bunk. Don’t even waste your time with a guard rail. Kid’s gotta learn.

Love,
Emily, aka “Lerman”
(9-year camper, 3-year counselor. Owner of 3 CR necklaces— 2 actually earned, and 1 because you forgot you already gave me a gold at 9 years, so you gave me another at 10. I did not correct your mistake. I just quietly pumped my fists and gleefully snatched my third necklace, which would be excusable behavior had I not been 19 years old and in charge of roughly 40 middle schoolers at the time.)

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Learn From Your Mother’s Mistakes

Being pregnant has given me a lot of time to reflect on all the stupid shit I did as a kid and to wonder if my daughter is going to be as poor a decision maker as I was.

For instance, one time in high school I smoked the world’s most unnecessarily large and potent amount of weed. I definitely could have stopped at one bong hit and been perfectly pleasantly stoned, but I guess I thought if one was fun, 8 would be REALLY fun, because everything fun is better when you overdo it by 7 times.

I was an honors student.

I have no explanation for this.

I was dropped off at home by a sober friend (I think/hope?) around midnight, and instead of going straight to bed, I chose to sit in the bright, incriminating lights of the kitchen and eat a tub of Breyer’s vanilla ice cream with a large wooden cooking spoon, straight from the tub. I must have been making absurdly loud slobbering noises and dropping the spoon one or 12 too many times, because at some point, my Dad wandered downstairs from his bedroom to see what was going on.

I didn’t even attempt to act like a normal human, I just proceeded to dip my big ass spoon in the tub o’ Breyers and stare at the kitchen TV, ice cream trickling down my chin, while Dad carried on what I think was supposed to be a conversation with me. To this day I have no idea what he said, but if he didn’t realize I was stoned out of my damn mind, well, that’s just sad for him.

To make matters worse, I was so high that I ended up vomiting multiple times in the middle of the night, and then oversleeping the next day, when I was supposed to be at my parents’ friends’ house babysitting their kids. I was a total no-show for the job, with essentially no excuse other than “I took 7 too many bong rips, by accident.” I lost out on a ton of money and so badly pissed off the family, who had been my steady source of income since middle school, that they never asked me to work for them again.

So all this is to say, for the love of god, I pray my kid makes better choices than I did.

I mean– Breyers vanilla?

Aim higher, baby girl. When you’re stoned as shit, you shove that oversized spoon into something worthwhile.

The world is your oyster.

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Remind Me to Thank Your Dad

Finishing a math lesson with a 5 year old….

Me: “Any questions?”

Kid: “Yeah. When that baby comes out of your vagina, is it going to hurt?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Kid: “Babies come out of vaginas, you know. My dad told me when I asked him how your baby was going to get out of you. He said it would come out of your vagina.”

Me: “Well, remind me to thank your dad. But what I meant was, do you have any MATH questions.”

Kid: “Ummmm…let me think.”

Me: “We just did a whole lesson about how to tell time and read a calendar. Do you have questions about THAT?”

(long pause)

Kid: “Oh! Yes. How many days on the calendar…”

Me: “Ok, that’s better…”

Kid: “…until that baby comes out of your vagina?”

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Fair

Discussing baby names…

Eric: “How about [name]? Or [other name]?”

Me: “No. And no. You don’t like [name I suggested weeks ago]? I’m really growing attached to it.”

Eric: “No, I do like it. I don’t know if I’m sold on it.”

Me: “But you aren’t sold on anything.”

Eric: “I know.”

Me: “Ok, so then that’s her name. I’m sold and you like it enough.”

Eric: “That’s it? That’s how it works?”

Me: “Yes.”

Eric: “That doesn’t seem fair.”

Me: (looking down at my bulging uterus, dry, stretched skin, weird-looking belly button and painful, sore boobs as he sits there not sharing organ space with a tiny human)

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So yeah that’s her name.

 

I Still Think It Was Me

Working with a kid who never pays attention to anything I say, ever.

Me: “I noticed you are extremely focused today. I love it!”

Kid: “Yeah well I realized that you are really smart and have a lot to teach me, and I should really listen to you because you’re a great teacher.”

Me: “Really? So all this focus is because of ME? You just woke up and suddenly realized I’m great?!”

Kid: “Yeah. Is that so crazy? I’m going to listen from now on, because you helped me see that’s important.”

Me (tearing up): “Wow, I just never knew I could have that kind of influence on you. It just goes to show that having one positive role model can really change–

Kid: “Oh and I started taking Ritalin. So maybe that’s also it.”

 

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Ebola Mom, Part 79

(Part of the Ebola Mom series )

On Monday I sent an email to all my clients letting them know I am pregnant, and giving them a heads up about my planned maternity leave in the fall. Every single one of them responded with congratulations and well-wishes, except for Ebola Mom, who did not respond at all.

And just now I received this:

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I Shouldn’t Have Led With the Word “Exciting”

Yesterday I sent an email to my clients letting them know I am pregnant so that they can plan for my time off accordingly. One Mom responded, “That’s fantastic news! Please share with [kid] at her session today, she will be SOOOOOOO EXCITED!!!”

Me: “So…your mom wanted me to share some exciting news with you…”

Kid: ms-3icPaY

Me: “I’m going to have a baby!”

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Me: “A little girl!”

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Me: “Not yet, though. Not until August.”

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Me: “Ok, well. Your mom thought you’d be excited…”

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Fair enough.