Tuesday Open Thread

It’s Tuesday!

And you won’t believe the doozy of a story that caught my eye.

In Chicago, two grown-ass children had the audacity to sue their own mother for… being a “bad mother.” And guess who their attorney was?

Their own father!

Raised in a $1.5 million Barrington Hills home by their attorney father, two grown children have spent the last two years pursuing a unique lawsuit against their mom for “bad mothering” damages allegedly caused when she failed to buy toys for one and sent another a birthday card he didn’t like.

The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, “haggling” over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming.

A judge just dismissed the case, but mom still had to foot her legal bills and spend years defending herself against this insane lawsuit. And you wouldn’t believe some of the details:

Among the exhibits filed in the case is a birthday card Garrity sent her son, who in his lawsuit sought damages because the card was “inappropriate” and failed to include cash or a check. He also alleged she failed to send a card for years or, while he was in college, care packages.

On the front of the American Greetings card is a picture of tomatoes spread across a table that are indistinguishable except for one in the middle with craft-store googly eyes attached.

“Son I got you this Birthday card because it’s just like you … different from all the rest!” the card reads. On the inside Garrity wrote, “Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo.”

Oh wow. Words… I have none.

Except these: WTF??? Can you imagine being sued for not putting money in a birthday card, or choosing the wrong card? Or for asking your daughter to adhere to a midnight curfew. My mother never sent me care packages in college. I was not aware this was worthy of a lawsuit!

And to think of all the grounds my kids have to sue me. I make them buckle their seat belts! Go to bed at a decent hour! Sometimes I raise my voice. I don’t bake their birthday cakes. My daughter has been BEGGING me to buy her Barbie Video Girl, and I have steadfastly refused, insisting she must wait until Christmas or her birthday for such a big-ticket item. BAD MOM!

So tell me, what grounds do YOUR kids have for a “bad mother” lawsuit? What fate would you like to see befall these ungrateful brats who sued their own mother?

What else is on your mind? Chat away!


Chapter 27: The Women of Chestnut Street

Meeghan doesn’t know which way is up!

By the time Meeghan arrived back at her mother’s house from court it was almost 7pm. Memories of icy stares when she dared arrive to dinner seconds past 6:30 as a teen were still fresh in her memory as she scrambled out of the car and up the porch steps.

The living room was empty and Meeghan cautiously peeled off her jacket and placed her bag on the couch before creeping into the kitchen. Peter, Melanie, and her mother were already seated around the small round table.

“Mom mom mom!” Melanie waved happily.

Peter, engrossed in texting, glanced up to acknowledge his mother.

Meeghan pulled out a chair next to her mom. “So sorry I’m late, after court I did a bit of shopping….”.

She froze mid-sentence when she heard the toilet flush in the hall bathroom.

“Is someone here?”

Peter and Melanie looked up- sensing drama.

Grandma spoke, “Well-“.

Max sauntered in the room, unrolling his sleeves.

“Meeghan, how nice of you to finally join us.”

Meeghan squirmed uncomfortably in her chair. They hadn’t been together in her mother’s kitchen for years. “Hi”.

“I thought I’d catch you after court but you slipped away pretty quickly.”

“I just did some-“.

Max pulled out his chair and had a seat.

“Shopping. I know. Your credit card charges show up on my Blackberry.”

Max took a calm sip of water.

Meeghan eyed her mother who averted her eyes. The children pretended not to be listening.

“Charming. All business as usual.”

Meeghan’s mother rose. “Thank you so much for coming by, Max. Kids definitely need to spend time with their father.”

Max stood and smoothed his shirt. He kissed both his children on their heads.

“Thank you, Sylvia, for the scrumptious meal.”

Meeghan’s mother swooned like a teen.

Meeghan rolled her eyes upon seeing how smitten her mother was with the compliment. She was always so impressed with Max the Great.

“I’ll walk you out.”

Melanie jumped up and gave her dad a bear hug. For a few moments while they embraced, Meeghan felt her heart soften for her almost-ex. The thought of him receiving reports of which brand of tampons she purchased at Walgreens on his PDA brought her back to reality.

Controlling, manipulative, demanding…she repeated the words in her head over and over in an effort not to crack.

“Say bye to dad, Peter”.

Peter nodded.

When Max and Meeghan were in the living room alone the gloves came off.

Meeghan tossed his coat roughly at him.

“What are you doing here? You hate my mother’s cooking- if you want to see the kids just take them out. Must you constantly invade my space?”

Max said nothing for a moment. “You’re right, Meeghan. Next time I’ll call and run my plans by you.”

The world stood still as Meeghan tried to contemplate the fact that her husband had just agreed with her.

“Um. Ok. Thank you. Thank you. Well…I’ll see you in court next week.”

“Would it be alright if I saw you before then?” Max opened the front door.

“What do you mean?”

“I’d like to take you to dinner tomorrow.”

Meeghan shifted her weight from one foot to another.

Max continued, “to discuss the children. Peter, specifically. He seems depressed.”

“Oh sure. Yes. Fine. 8 o’clock is good for me.””

“See you then.”

He closed the door behind him. Meeghan didn’t realize how deprived she’d feel of the standard “goodbye wife” peck on the cheek until it wasn’t so standard anymore.


My Mother’s Dresser, Looking in the Mirror.

I remember as a kid playing with my mother’s things, in her dresser.  One drawer had
an insert with face powder and a big puffy to put it on your face. I swear I probably spent
hours of my young life playing with that puffy.

We moved alot due to poverty and a bankruptcy. My father was a notorious gambler, and
many times we went hungry or without heat in the cold Michigan winters.

The story of the dresser is one my mother made a point of sharing. How it was the
best piece of furniture in the house, and how it represented her marriage to my father.
Solid and made for the duration.

My mother passed away November 8th 2007. She left a house full of every purse she
ever owned, every pair of shoes, every pair of underwear, socks, bills, everything.
I don’t think she ever threw anything away.  There was food that pre-dated dating.
Rusted cans of beans she moved from Michigan to Alabama.

And the dresser, actually the entire bedroom set, end tables, highboy. I am not sure where
the headboard for the bed went, but there was the dresser with the mirror. The same mirror
I looked into as a child. Man, they sure knew how to glaze a mirror back in the 40’s. Sadly
the puffy with insert was gone. I wonder when she lost that part.

We must of moved at least 7 times as a kid. From Miami to Michigan, and then from
town to town. Like a band of gypsies. And the dresser was always there. What is so
special about this particular piece of furniture. At first, I didn’t think there was any
thing special, but then my mother died, and I decided the dresser was a very
special gift for me, and my daughter.

My Mother had a story about the dresser: ” You know Shari, I wouldn’t of married
your father if he had not bought the bedroom suite for me. I told him, if he wanted
to marry me, then he had to buy me a very nice bedroom suite of my choice. No
matter the price, I would not start my marriage without a decent bedroom suite.
And it is the best piece of furniture I own in the entire house.”

After she died, I decided to let someone clean and not refinish, but you know,
fix the dresser up. The piece became transformed, the wood gleamed, it had
such a  warm glow. On top of the dresser it had a small inlay bow on each corner.
I remember these as a child, how I would run my finger over the pattern. I was
just blown away by how the dresser made me feel. How it was part of my life,
my entire life, and now it sits in my bedroom. Every morning I look into the
beautiful mirror and marval at how lovely a piece of furniture could be, and
how much I enjoy using the dresser. How deep the drawers are, and how
lovely the brass handles feel, how substantial a piece, the beautiful wood grain.
I think it may be made of cherry.

Now I hear myself telling friends and relatives who see the dresser the story.
My mother’s story, and now my story. The funny part is the furniture is the
best piece in my house. Everything else I have is modern practical stuff.
A cheap dining table and chairs, with kids you don’t want to worry about
furniture stains. Honestly I am just not into furniture.

It was my daughter who brought up the fact that the dresser had moved around
and yet here it was, in our house. She runs her hand across the top of the dresser,
tracing her fingers around the bow pattern on top. “I love this dresser.” she whispers.

I smile at her, ” Well, you are my only daughter, and when I’m gone, it’s

My mother’s dresser, my dresser, my daughter’s dresser. Life can go on in
an old piece of furniture. How lovely.


World’s Most Challenging Job Description

A friend posted this on Facebook… couldn’t help but share!

Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy, Ma


Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an
often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent
communication and organizational skills and be willing to work
variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour
shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to
primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports
tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed.
Extensive courier duties also required.

The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily,
until someone needs a couple of bucks . Must be willing to bite tongue
repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule
and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this
time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must
be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget
repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen
phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple
homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social
gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be
willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.
Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million
cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.
Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end
product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and
janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years,
without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills,
so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a
continually exhausting basis.


Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A
balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption
that college will help them become financially independent. When you
die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this
reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you
could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition
reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered;
this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and
free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

There you have it, ladies! Would you add, delete, or modify anything from this job description?

Under BENEFITS I would add: the possibility of grandchildren… SQUEEEEE!!!


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos. Don’t forget to recommend us!

Good morning fellow moms, dads and caregivers!

I am back with your weekly parenting news update. Here are some topics we recently discussed at MotherTalkers:

Do you eat dinner as a family? Multiple studies have pointed out health advantages eating together rather than grazing in front of the TV solo. But we discussed the challenges of herding the family during mealtimes and offered tips on how to make it easier.

We had yet another discussion on how much influence parents should have over their small children’s birthday party invitation lists.

Here is a personal and moving account of what it is like to be adopted and place your own child for adoption. Our “Frog Wife” garnered quite the response.

We had a monstrous discussion on progressive and family-friendly places to live in the United States. I am an east coast transplant who now lives in Berkeley, California. This is what I had to say about it in the thread: “We have been living in Berkeley, CA, for the last 10 years and can’t imagine being anywhere else. It is, for the most part, sunny, green with all the amenities of city life plus open space in the hills. It is progressive and family friendly in that there are many things for us to do like go to the zoo, children’s museums, preschool-type programs and other activities. However, it is expensive and that is a big downside to it and what made us consider Portland (Oregon). It is also a tad crowded. I am surprised by the number of cars here despite having, for the most part, reliable public transportation.” Where do you live? Do you like it?

Here is a hot topic we discussed: Would you buy your teenaged daughter a vibrator? Apparently, Oprah Winfrey and show sex expert Dr. Laura Berman endorsed the idea. I read a re-cap of the show — and ensuing discussion — at the AOL blog ParentDish. Discuss away!

I will be out of town next week and will not post this diary a week from today. I will resume “Weekly Parenting News Roundup” and the accompanying Daily Kos diary on Saturday, May 9. “See” you then!

What’s up with you?


Thinking of Maddie

As I put my toddler down for a nap, Heather Spohr was preparing to address a crowd of mourners at her daughter’s funeral. Her daughter’s funeral. Could there be a worse sentence in the world?

As I scan a room of toys, unfinished snacks, and other evidence of young life I wonder how Heather is feeling, thinking right now as she starts the first day of the rest of her life. A childless mother.

As I put my toddler down for a nap, Heather Spohr was preparing to address a crowd of mourners at her daughter’s funeral. Her daughter’s funeral. Could there be a worse sentence in the world?

As I scan a room of toys, unfinished snacks, and other evidence of young life I wonder how Heather is feeling, thinking right now as she starts the first day of the rest of her life. A childless mother.

The first question God asked humanity as it wandered in Eden was, “Where are you?” Is Heather asking her child the same question? The same one I ask my almost 3-year old in a playful singsong voice as I, on all fours, “hunt” her through our home?

I can’t help put ponder the Divine when life reminds us of its process in such shocking ways.

I imagine sitting at the beginning of time at the right hand of God as the world is being designed. As I’m shown universes, stars, rushing waterfalls, and animals of all sorts I smile and nod, amazed at the beauty of it all. Then I’m shown trees scraping the highest clouds and stretches of desert sand farther than I can even see and I’m speechless.

Then God shows me people; beings full of complex emotion, capable of courage, love, and unwavering belief in each other. I can barely breathe. Just when I’m ready to shake God’s hand at a job well done something sparkles in the corner of my eye. My head turns.

“What’s that?” I notice a being holding another, their hearts twisted around each other in a matter that seems as dangerous as it is wonderful.

God answers: “That, my dear, is mother.”

I watch the mother, her eyes see and care for everything. Out of her body life literally flows and quenches the thirst of those she calls hers, and even to some she doesn’t know at all. Unlike all other beings her heart beats outside of hers and within those she loves.

It’s beautiful but I’m afraid. Isn’t it harmful to be so intertwined, interlocked with something outside of yourself? What if something were to happen? How would this mother, her heart wrapped around another beings body, survive the trauma?

Everything else in creation could sustain itself, experience its grandeur independently except this mother. I looked at God and wondered how this creator could be so irresponsible, cruel even.

God didn’t address my accusations but allowed me to see the world again, through changed eyes. This time when I looked at the towering oaks, I also noticed the rivulets quietly feeding the roots below. The tall branches still waved powerfully in the wind, but I saw the cool shade they provided for the people below. As I continued to survey creation, the power and majesty of each aspect remained as its ability to serve shone clearly.

That which I’d considered independent wasn’t. Just like the mother whose heart thrived outside of her body, each part of the world lived only to the extent that it allowed another to flourish. It wasn’t sacrifice, it was life in motion. When the movement stopped for one, it halted for all.

I turned my head back to the mother and saw at her heart beating joyfully apart from her. I said a prayer, hoping for her to be never separated from that which she calls hers and knowing that was impossible all at the same time.


When Telemarketers Prey on the Elderly

I am sorry for all the corporate bashing lately, but unscrupulous practices have either made the news or affected me personally. I am not down with the corps right now.

And here is another reason why we can’t grant free reign to corporations: What happens when your elderly mother, who is technically legally able to make decisions for herself, is preyed upon by telemarketers? What rights do children have in this situation? One concerned daughter wondered aloud in a recent Berkeley Parents Network newsletter:

My 87-year old mother lives alone in what was the family home. She’s generally competent and alert, though both her memory and her common sense are waivering. She did a very good job as money manager for the family, the result of which is that she now has a fair amount left over. She has increasingly been agreeing to sales presentations for mortgages, energy-efficient windows, ”lifetime” exterior painting, etc. She thinks that she’s doing this for the ”free stuff” (she has 4 George Foreman grills stacked in a closet), but she is quite vulnerable to the cleverness of financial predators and their advance guard, telemarketers. Last year, she re-financed her house 3 times, forfeiting $60k in pre-payment penalties and closing costs and winding up with a 7.5% rate, when she’s well qualified for much better. The situation is becoming alarming and we’re beginning to think that we’re going to have to do something proactively. We’d welcome thoughts on how to limit the damage she can do herself. For many reasons, we can’t consider conservatorship. Thanks for your help.
”Do Not Call” fan

Conservatorship, by the way, is when the court orders a property or person to be subject to the legal control of another person or entity known as a conservator. It is like legal guardianship. In this case, it sounds like the daughter does not want or can’t be the conservator, or legal guardian, of her mother.

What do you think? Have any of you had to protect a senior loved one from predatory business practices? How did you handle it?


Who Does Baby Look Like?

Erika sent me this cute website with face recognition software that can determine which parent your child most resembles. Because DH and I have spirited debates about this — he insists the kids look like him and trots out his baby pictures for anyone to see and I think the kids look like my parents — I could not help but try out the software.

The results? Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to save the “Look alike-Meter” — which is too funny and cute! — but Ari looks like me by a mere four percent. I want to point out that is one percentage point more than Eli (three percent) who looks like her father. I am waiting for hubby to finish up a meeting to show him the results. Heh, heh.

Have fun playing on your own! (It’s quick.) Don’t forget to publish the results — and bragging rights.


Eat, Pray, Mother

Good book! Nothing to be ashamed of, One Crazy Mother. -Elisa

A few weeks ago I saw Elizabeth Gilbert sitting across from Oprah’s throne speaking about her new book Eat, Pray, Love. I like Oprah, but have never purchased a book due to her urgings.

This time was different.

In Target this past Monday I looked around to make sure no one was watching and then slipped the paperback underneath the paper towels, candles, and a million other things I’d never intended on buying when I stepped into the store. Buying “pop spirituality” books has always been a semi-humiliating experience for me.

Example: When I checked out The Book of Secrets by Chopra at our library last year, I wondered if the middle-aged volunteer wasn’t praying that this young mother get a grasp on life before her obviously under-disciplined child turn three.

Maybe I should stop examining/creating other’s thoughts.

Anyway, five days later with only one chapter left, I have to say that this has been one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read all year. And it’s December.

If you’re not familiar with the book it’s basically Carrie from Sex and the City meets L’auberge Espagnol meets the entire “Spiritual” section of Borders.

Elizabeth (we’re on a first name basis now) takes us on her one year journey starting from the end of a devastating divorce to…well I haven’t finished it but she travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia to find out who she is, who God is, and how they can do life together.

One part that really stood out to me was when one of the spiritually inclined people she met in India offered their opinion on how to end the religious wars.

I’m summarizing:

“If someone wants to argue with you about God, just turn to him and say, ‘I agree,’ then go home and pray the way you want.”

My first inclination to this seemingly passive statement was, “So we just lie in order to get along? How stupid.”

But then I had flashes of the millions of people who have chosen murder, theft, living in bitter silence for the sake of “I’m right” and suddenly a simple lie doesn’t seem that bad.

At the end of the day, why does it matter what someone else thinks of your  God or lack thereof. Isn’t the ability, the right, to worship the way you want enough? Or is widely known supremacy of a religion more important?

My boobies made me wonder how this translated to motherhood…I often find myself wanting to defend and explain the decisions my family makes for our kid.

“She can’t have that milk…it’s not organic. Yeah I know it’s weird, but just work with me…”

“Yes, we let her watch TV. And she will be a licensed Disney character for  Halloween. Oh and no I don’t think Halloween is from the devil.”

In the past I’ve gone too far into the details to skeptics who question some of my mothering choices. Most of those skeptics being other mothers (including my own).

I’m going to try what the Indian guy did. Just agree. Or maybe nod with a silent smile.

Perhaps, and I say this will all due respect to the feminist movement, the Stepford Wives were on to something.


Can you identify with her? Please read and react if you can

I know every one of you will be able to immediately feel the pain of the mother of seven children who wrote this:


PLEASE help us help her by reading the rest of my post. With regard to who I am by the way, I am a Grasshopper (see below).

I am an active member of the Grasshoppers Network, a group created only a month ago to help others (and each other) via the power of the Internet. Started by Chris Brogan on Facebook, it has migrated to Ning and you’ll find Michelle’s original call for help for her friend’s situation here:


If these links don’t work for some reason, please see http://grasshoppers.ning.com and look for “needs help” in the forum.

Thanks in advance for looking at this and seeing if there’s anything at all you can do, including emailing your suggestions or simply good wishes.