Sunday, October 01, 2006

Oh Those 'Mones

Ramblings from my attic #106

I read a second review of Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain (see last Sunday’s Post Style section) and would love to say to the men in our lives, “Ah Ha! That explains it!” “It” being the inevitable chasm in communication between even the most loving of couples, as in “Honey, you just don’t get it!”

Brizendine’s book posits that we all begin in the womb with a female brain, then testosterone washes through the male brain, killing some of his empathetic cells while boosting and growing his aggressive and sex drive cells. Well, duh! My apologies to my male audience of three: Andrew, Doc & Dave (coincidence that their initials together are A.D.D.? I think not!) I admit I do squirm when her theories also lay out nakedly hormonal explanations for female inclinations and behavior.

Except for one. Apparently, the estrogen retreat of menopause gives back feelings of independence that it stole during decades of soaking the female brain and inducing tendencies to nurture. According to Brizendine in David Brook’s review, “Women initiate 65 percent of divorces after age 50.” A friends’ friend may be on to something when she labeled that decade in a woman’s life the “f____ you fifties!”.

I’ve gone full circle. Though I’m a little disappointed to discover that my mid-life contentment and strength may not be the work of exercise, experience and wisdom, but instead a result of estrogen’s ebb; in my late teens and twenties I rebelled against every characteristic attributed to women’s hormonal fluxes. They were labels of weakness, insults. Don’t mind her…she’s on the rag. What’s the matter with you…is it your time of the month? Women were considered unpredictable, emotional and unreliable (due to pregnancies and child-care issues).

We have a show up in the gallery this month and next (see Washington Post Saturday, Sept. 30th, Style Section, Page 2, Gallery) that features work by Inga Frick, a Washington D.C. artist, photographer and educator who is as intriguing as her art. Intense and exacting with an artist’s acute sensibilities, her tall angular frame is crowned by soft, short salt-and-pepper curls. Her works range from large to giant and incorporate digital photography, painting and collage (collage as you may have never seen it before). Before reading about Brizendine’s theories, I looked at these dark, complex pieces as disquieting reminders of life’s ever changing demands on the soul. Now I see evolving washes of testosterone and estrogen, my viewing colored by my musings on Brizendine’s theories. I think Inga’s work captures life’s unpredictability on canvas in confusing layers as women are similarly entangled in the conflicting layers of biological heritage, ambition, family and societal demands.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Full of Wonder

“Mom, I want to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th anniversary again. It was so much fun.”

“But Lindsay, their next anniversary will be their 52nd.”

“How long have you and Daddy been married?”

“Seventeen years.” Then I explained to her that our 25th anniversary would be very special.

“How far away is that, Mom?”

“Take 17 from 25 and what do you get?”

“Mmmm…eight.”

“So how old will you be in 8 years, Lindsay”

“Mmmm…15 years old. But how old will Brooke be, Mom?”

“How old is she now? Just add eight years.”

“Mmmm…she’ll be 21 years old.”

There was silence in the back seat as she processed the data.

“Mom, when you’re seven years old, you have a lot to wonder about!”


I wonder a lot, too, I thought, smiling. I wonder what it will be like to have a child entering middle school while the other finishes high school. I wonder what it will be like to turn 60 with my youngest in college. I wonder how my two girls could be so different from each other and if I am up to the challenge of guiding them on their seemly disparate paths. I wonder when I will be able to be in the same room with both girls at the same time and actually enjoy the experience. I wonder if they will love each other and stay close when we are child-like again and they are the decision makers, or when they are all each other has.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ramblings from my attic #104

Stop, look, listen
I love my kids. I showed my love to my eldest from age 5 to age 12 by putting thousands of miles on our cars driving her to soccer practices, soccer training, soccer games, soccer tournaments, with forays into softball and basketball overlapping the soccer. After seven intense years, she has quit soccer, taken up basketball in a much more low key way, and begun smiling and joking around again.

You may do the like for your children, be it dance, swimming, gymnastics, baseball. Or you may have chosen to avoid the madness but wondered if you were being selfish. The road to youth sports madness is insidious and paved with good intentions. I eventually want to create a checklist that parents of young kids can use to continually re-access who is benefiting from a family’s sports involvement or over-involvement, and who is suffering from it. Youth sports are fabulous for exercise, team work, bond building, self esteem building, you name it. Yet I am afraid that now youth sports are robbing kids of both their youth and time for free play. The intensity of their competitive schedules is also fracturing family life. Parents are ceding the parenting of young children to coaches who may not have their children’s best interests in mind. A Division One winning season may be critical for a coach’s ego but hazardous to a 10 or 11 year olds physical and mental health.

I have seen parents close-up who live and die by their children’s success and failure in organized sports and I have witnessed through their journaling a set of parents who have struggled to keep a terminally sick child alive and a family intact for two years, only to watch their eight-year old son die of leukemia three weeks before Christmas. How do you deal with the loss of a child? I can’t answer that one. Cameron was a treasure to those who knew him. The journal his parents kept on
www.supportcameron.com will break your heart. There is no fairness or explanation for the suffering and death of an innocent. There is no understanding of how parents can survive the aftermath. But as a friend and I agreed, stories like Cameron’s remind you what is real; what is important.

I don’t mean to marginalize Cameron’s story by weaving it into an essay on youth sports. But his family’s tragedy lives in my consciousness next to my supposition that some parents may, subconsciously, view their children as a long term investment to maximize for scholarship potential. If they have a talent, then every opportunity must be given to them to develop it and become the best. Our kids are not commodities to hone and refine. And I don’t think that it is necessarily our job to push them to find and hone their talents at an early age. Our encouragement to take lessons, try out for a better team, study with the best teachers or coaches puts our children in the position of having to just go along to please us or rebel against our pressure and face our disappointment and anger.


Clearly, it’s not just in sports that our over-enthusiasm can push kids away from something they love. I work at the McLean Project for the Arts, and the exhibitions director, Nancy Sausser has told me of her innate love of sculpture, how her parents were supportive, but that meant that they didn’t get her in way when she proceeded to turn a basement space into her own hard scrapple studio. Her goal was to create; not to be the best, not to seek out the best teacher. That all came in time and was driven by Nancy’s own inner passion and determination.

She told me of an artist friend whose son showed early artistic talent. The friend made sure the son had the best training available, went to the best art camps, only to be hurt and mortified when in his late teens he walked away from it all in disgust and exhaustion.

Last summer I had a long phone chat with Marymount Women’s Basketball Coach Bill Finney about the over-reach of sports in kids’ lives. He expressed disgust that he received calls for his players to “tutor” kids still in elementary school to give them a leg-up in basketball competition. Undoubtedly he has a financial interest in promoting kids involvement in basketball as he runs a series of popular youth basketball camps. But he bemoaned to me the amount of structure kids must have now. He loves basketball, he says. He loves it because he played pick-up basketball until he was tired, then walked home. He was allowed to play it, love it, on his own terms.

We don’t let our kids stop when they’re tired anymore. They play on a schedule, in increasing competition. Kids need sports, but the burn-out and competition is pushing many kids away from organized sports before they even get to high school, right at the age that parents count on sports distracting their teenagers from more troublesome pursuits and peers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ramblings from my attic #103


Lice – The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Ok, so you see two or more parents talking in the school hallways or on the playground or in the parking lot. Simultaneously they reach up and start vigorously scratching their heads. You know what they’re talking about.

I have friends on both ends of the lice panic spectrum. One friend; after dealing with three heads of girl hair, a two month infestation, and 3 million loads of laundry; breaks out in hives and reaches for a bottle of wine every time I bring up the subject. The other says she’s ready to set a place at the Thanksgiving table for the little critters, since they obviously like her kid so much, and in the grand scheme of things, she’s dealt with worse.

I felt smug last year after our first invasion of the dastardly little bugs. I saw them, I nuked them, and I cut their nits out, end of story. Then this September, when I thought all was right with the world and children were all where they should be, the innocuous piece of paper arrived from school stuck between a PTA fundraising request and my kid’s homework. “Head Lice Alert” shouted the heading. I sighed and asked, “Does anybody in your class have head lice?” and let my fingers take a perfunctory stroll through hair smooth on top but dense and tangled beneath. Finding only a bit of dandruff, I tossed the notice in the trash.

Two days later I noticed her furiously scratching at the base of her neck and behind her ears. I groaned. I spent hours chasing her matted head around the house until I finally spotted the little varmints. As lice infestations go, this was a small one. I hurried down to the local pharmacy and got the obligatory toxic shampoo to nuke her head, but because her hair was only superficially combed I couldn’t reach all the nits. “Honey, I need to trim your hair to chin length so I can get all the nits out.”

Arms crossed angrily over her chest. “No!”

I tried again. “I know you’d rather Hannah (our beloved hairdresser) cut your hair, but she can’t while you have bugs. I can do it first, and then we can have Hannah fix it up later when the bugs are gone.” Sounded pretty reasonable to me.

“No! You are not cutting my hair” she screamed, then began sobbing.

This was going well. Time for desperate measures. “I’ll give you five dollars if you let me cut your hair.”

“No.”

Ok, now what? “How old are you? What if I give you seven dollars to spend in the National Museum of the American Indian gift shop when we go tomorrow?”

“No.” More sobbing and a dramatic stomping retreat up the stairs and to her room.

I resume my pleas from half way up the staircase. “Look. We have no choice. I have to be able to find the nits in your hair and right now your hair is too tangled for me to search.” Pause. “How about $12?”

“No, no, no, no! I’m never ever letting you cut my hair!” she shouted.

Feeling every bit a failure, even for a slacker mom, I slumped over to the dining room table and tried to distract myself from her continuing tirade by sipping coffee and reading the newspaper.

After a while, the stomping ended. I heard her door open followed by quiet footsteps on the stairs. I pretended not to notice as she glided into the room with a smile on her face. “Do I have to spend the $12 at the Indian Museum?”

She loved her new pixie cut; I thought we were lice free; and the Indian Museum became $12 richer.

Fast forward a few weeks, a few hundred loads of laundry later, a follow-up dose of lice shampoo behind us, and again I find lice in her hair. My sanity, already border-line, slipped out through a crack in an old window sill. After bearing the brunt of a few of my unintelligible tirades, my husband decides transplanting trees and bushes in our yard a small price to pay for being outside of my screaming range. That he also could be heavily armed with yard implements was a bonus.

“Honey, your hair is still too long for me to get all the nits out.”

“No, Mom, you are NOT cutting my hair again,” arms once again folded across her chest and her eyes dark.

Not having the patience to dicker like last time, I cut to the chase. “I don’t have any choice. We aren’t getting rid of the lice. You have to let me cut your hair. I’ll buy you a gift at Target as soon as you let me give you the haircut.”

“Ok.”

A while later, I perched her on a stool in the bathtub, wet her hair, and proceeded to trim. Oh *#@# I shuddered after the first snip. Her chin length bangs were suddenly three inches above her eyebrows. Maybe kitchen shears in dim lighting wasn’t such a great idea. “Let me see, Mommy, let me see,” she said excitedly. “Not yet,” I said. “Let me finish.” A few minutes later the rest of her hair zigzagged up and down with the longest pieces just covering the very tip top of her ears. Nervously, I removed the towel around her neck and she went running into her room to check out her new “do” in her big mirror.

That’s when the screaming started. “It’s horrible, Mom. I look horrible,” she shrieked. My husband tried to calm her down, while muttering to me, “Why didn’t you take her to a hair salon?” Soon, we were all yelling, quickly followed by Lindsay and I each locking ourselves in our rooms. Hey, don’t look to me for good parenting tips!

Hubby finally managed to talk each of us out of our rooms, promising dinner at the mall and a movie. Two and half hours later we came home laughing and hugging, but careful to not disturb little one’s newly pierced ears, the antidote of choice to “looking like a boy, like you do, Mom.”

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Huffman Hair Chronicles

Ramblings from my attic #102

My hair is the weak link in the Arlington Huffman genetic pool so thank goodness Allen’s thick silky tresses can now be found on my daughter’s heads. I keep mine cropped short (“Oh Mom, you look like a man” chime the girls). Allen is acknowledging mid-life and his joyful abundance of brown hair by shunning his usual summer buzz cut and has tendrils now flirting with his shirt collars.

School started a week or two ago and so did my yelling: “Lindsay, you can’t go to school with your hair looking like that!” Lindsay, bring me your head and your brush or you won’t be having any play dates again for the rest of your life!” Lindsay, come out from under your covers. I’ve got to comb the tangles out!” “Lindsay, where are your eyes?” The hair wars had begun.

As I related a particular “hairy” fight scene that traumatized our entire household to my crack-of-dawn running buddies, I began to realize how stupid it all was. That realization was helped along by comments like…”My daughter had knots in her hair for months” and “Why are you pushing her to meltdowns over hair? Why does her smooth hair matter so much to you?” This is what my friends are for…when I present them with a “me vs. them (kid)” problem, they often help me realize that maybe it’s actually a “me vs. me” issue. Lindsay had just begun 2nd grade and though enjoying it, was struggling with the pressures of too little alone time and too many rules. Then I was demanding her hair be perfect because, well, it is so pretty, and, um, I couldn’t see her eyes, and, let’s see, I wanted her to look loved every day when she walked in her class door.

So after the fast-walking counseling session, I took a deep breath and relieved myself of the responsibility for Lindsay’s hair tidiness, at least for a while. “Lindsay” I said, while we were getting ready for school that morning, “I’m sorry I made such a fuss about your hair last night. For the next few weeks, you are in charge of your hair. I will only brush it when you invite me to. But you do need to keep it clean and make sure you can see to read and walk. If it’s too much for you, let me know and we’ll get your bangs cut. Deal?” “Deal!” she grinned.

Vesuvius subsided. My energies are now focused on getting her to do her homework instead of getting her to brush her hair. And I know I love my girls more than life itself even when one of them goes to school with gnarly hair and a part that resembles Harry Potters scar.

Meanwhile, Brooke spends at least 14 minutes of her 15 minute morning prep time combing, re-combing, putting up, taking down, putting up, taking down, combing again her lovely straight locks into a painfully tight pony tail until she has 1 minute left to sprint down the street to catch her bus. And yes, she, too, was once the subject of hair wars. So I know there’s hope! Or at least, maybe middle ground?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Close Up


She wanted pictures of their garden. From the dock, she suggested. I was happy to oblige; happy behind a camera. And landscapes don’t blush, hide, ham or groan when you point your lens at them.

Resilience. That’s what my mother-in-law wanted to record. Full recovery two years after Isabel brought the Chesapeake Bay over the little peninsula where they live, coating all plant life with brine and seaweed and poisoning their drinking water.

From a distance the white-framed screened porch and green gable-roofed cottage with its green lawn and stony riffraff dominate, reflected beauty rippling in the creek. But the flowers drew me in, demanded my fussy attention. Was I in the right vantage point? Would the dew sparkle on the lush fuchsia peony petals when captured in my camera? Would the riot of color in the pot of argyranthumum (no, really) please on paper as they do to the naked eye? The purple Verbena, Lavender, flowering Chives, and robust Pansies were all at peak and inviting.

I stretched the task all through the Memorial Day weekend, playing with morning light and shadows; enjoying the midday sun that illuminated all; relishing languorous afternoon rays angling in from the mouth of Prentice Creek. Fifty frames later I had become intimate with my in-law’s flora (fauna were hiding under the house with their newborn).

Heaven knows, I’m not a gardener. But I am an observer and awe of nature is my religion, my life-line. How can you delve into the depths of that Peony and not see passion, not feel ignited? Botanists may tinker with a plant’s lineage yet the seduction of the animal kingdom by the plant world preceded our meddling.

Sunrises and sunsets; mountain views; nature in the grand aggregate has always impressed me. Now the whimsical, the delicate, the bold grab my attention like never before.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ramblings from my attic #96

Expecto Patronum!

We’ve all been there (at least the mortal and imperfect among us). “I want that toy.” “No, we’re here to buy groceries, not toys.” “I WANT THAT TOY!” “No.” “I HATE YOU!”

Vesuvius erupts. You steel yourself to the disapproving glances of the uninitiated and the smug and manage to hold your shrieking tyke down in the child seat of the cart with one arm, unload and pay for your groceries with the other, then flee the store. The shrieking tyke is usually two, weighs 30 pounds or less, and is still gullible to the cheap tricks of distraction.

I have witnessed tantrums. I’ve thrown tantrums. I’ve caused tantrums. Through the wonders of age, wisdom, modern chemistry, and an elder child who has so far survived my parenting, I have found in recent weeks that I have the ability to withstand my six year old’s daily mercurial meltdowns without causing her (or allowing her to inflict on me) bodily harm. But a picnic it ain’t! Fifty pounds or more of raging illogic with teeth is a lot to try to fold into your arms. I have high hopes that consistency, consequences and more sleep will get her back on track.

Meanwhile, I fantasize that in the midst of her meltdowns she has become a Dementor, and all I need to do is master that spectacular spell of Harry’s, “Expecto Patronum!” My own patronus will chase away the soul-sucking dementor and all will be safe and calm at my castle again.*

But reality bites. And kicks and spits and screams. As I piloted the van home from soccer last night with Brooke beside me in the front seat, Lindsay buckled in but raging like a rodeo bull in the middle bench, and two of Brooke’s teammates in the way-back, I wondered what the older kids were thinking. Size one pink suede boots were banging against the back of my seat. Her screams were ear splitting; her wrath tangible. Pulling over was not an option in 7:15pm rush hour traffic on 495 or 66. Out of tricks, I slipped into a numb zone of not reacting. I concentrated on driving and imagined with a sigh that the older kids thought me a failure, a mom at her most lame.

Then Brooke reached for my hand. “Mom,” she whispered. “I’m so proud of you. I don’t think I could stay as calm as you. You’re doing a great job.”

We smiled at each other in the dim light and our hands stayed linked.



* [Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling]

Ramblings from my attic #97

From the mouth of babes - Lindsay to me as she sat at the computer reading historical blurbs from the American Girl web site: “Mom, we got our independence in 1776. That’s close to when you were born!”



Silence
I’m a silence hypocrite. While I often inflict my un-modulated babbling on my family and the world at large, I increasingly cannot tolerate it from them. While some need the whirr of a fan, the distraction of a TV or radio to silence those nagging voices from within; I wish to hear them. I need to hear them.

As a teenager in Richmond, I went to sleep with the radio on, usually tuned to WRNL or WLEE, to drown out my bewildering thoughts. As a college student alcohol accomplished the same thing…so I’m lucky to be alive to have any thoughts at all. I understand the need to shut down.

Life now seems so hectic, yet so vital, that I need quiet to have any thoughts at all. Sometimes I wonder if my wiring has gone haywire. Is my brain so disorganized now that I require silence to think when I used to write on deadline in the most chaotic environments – fires, city council meetings, racetracks? My favorite places to scribble poetry in younger days were crowded doctors’ offices or city buses, absorbing energy from the masses. It’s true that writing focuses my thoughts. I imagine words careening madly around my brain until captured and funneled into straight lines down the interior of my arms through my fingers into the pen or keyboard.

I feel truckloads of guilt when I find myself commanding silence from my little one. I mercifully am able to choke back the damning words, “Do you EVER stop talking?” A friend reminisces about quietly reaching over to her youngster and placing a hand gently over her daughter’s little mouth to gain a moment of peace. My family labeled me “Chatty Cathy,” a label that stung later when I struggled with shyness; and I remember Brooke bursting into tears as her second grade teacher affectionately called her “Babbling Brooke.” But it is silence I crave.

After some blissfully quiet and companionable time with my book club at a friend’s farm last weekend, my thoughts keep circulating around the concept of fear. I turn off the radio now and try to pin down this new obsession of my inner voice.

Are we afraid of, embarrassed by fear? Fear is a necessary element of survival. In balance it lends caution to our passionate, curious selves. Childhood fear of the dark, adolescent fear of embarrassment, young adult fear of failure and loneliness – all propelled me forward in their own way. My risk-taking thirty-something self all too quickly confronted mortality upon giving birth. Suddenly, my being here on the earth, in one piece, had significance. I had children to raise. My health suddenly had value.

It’s strange to think of motherhood shadowed by the grim reaper, but for many women, I think there is a bit of a specter lurking in the shadows. Fear of disserting our children through untimely death becomes a fear that leads to positive measures. Survival through preventive medicine: mammograms, skin checks with dermatologists, chlorestoral testing, better diets, and attention to mental health. But I think sometimes we are afraid to admit fear. We are strong, resilient, the rocks of our families and friends. It takes guts to admit that something scary has us by the throat. To admit we’re vulnerable and need help. Our adult fears are often quite rational…unlike the invisible monsters under the bed. And it is these rational fears, amplified by all too much information from the medical community and our own genetic pre-dispositions that conspire to immobilize us. That’s where we must help each other. Help track down constructive information. Hold hands. Reassure ourselves that living each day to its fullest means sometimes acknowledging fear and sometimes kicking it into a box and claiming every grand and humbling moment of life.

Ramblings from my attic #98

A Crying Name

Sweaty and flushed, hair wisping around her face more out of the pony tail than in, she started to pad towards me. Her dance instructor reached out and enclosed her in strong arms; Suzanne’s blonde head bending down to rest on Lindsay’s. I could not hear their whispered words, but wondered why Lindsay had been singled out for comforting hugs. Had something happened during class? I helped her on with her shoes and led her out into the hallway.

“Is everything OK?” I asked.

“I was sad during class, so Miss Suzanne was worried about me” she answered, eyes watering and downcast.

“What were you sad about?”

“I told her I was sad because I missed Aunt Betty,” she sighed, squeezing a tear or two out from beneath dramatically opening and closing long lashes. I managed to keep a straight face, though I wanted desperately to laugh.

I’m not heartless, mind you. And I do cry for Aunt Betty, an Aunt I was very close to and whose hand I held as she lay dying. Aunt Betty died at age 87, several years ago. I have vivid memories of her memorial service when Lindsay, age 3, stood at the front of the church pulling the skirt of her dress over her face, letting it drop, pulling it up, letting it drop so that the gathered seniors of Pleasant Hill Retirement Community repeatedly got a nice view of her pink and white panties.

She didn’t cry when Aunt Betty died…she wasn’t old enough to understand the loss. Any first-hand memory Lindsay may have had of Aunt Betty has been supplanted by the image immortalized in a favorite picture. She and her Great Aunt are tossing a big green ball back and forth. They are in Aunt Betty’s Tennessee living room full of vinyl recliners and nick knacks. Aunt Betty is ensconced in her favorite chair, beaming; tickled pink to be playing with my little girl in overalls and pigtails.

“I miss Aunt Betty” is Lindsay code for unexplained sadness...an excuse for a good cry. I chortle to myself when I get the “Aunt Betty” explanation out of the blue from a child prone to high drama. But it makes sense that she has connected grief over the loss of a loved one with socially acceptable crying. She knows she’ll get hugs and comforting if she invokes the “Aunt Betty.” I picture Lindsay years from now. The tears start falling and her boyfriend asks, “What’s wrong, honey?”

“I miss Aunt Betty.”

Ramblings from my attic #99

Trash Talk

My friend Elise: tenacious staff director of a hard-hitting investigative committee by day; trash scavenger by night. She recently spearheaded the money laundering investigation that brought Riggs bank to its knees and simultaneously unveiled further evidence of the corruption of former Chilean dictator Pinochet which the Chilean government is using to bring him to trial.

Our crack-of-dawn talk-and-walks go something like this…

E – “We subpoenaed Enron executives yesterday.”
Me –“I drove in a soccer carpool.”
E – “I brokered a compromise amendment to the Intelligence bill”
Me – “I kept my kids from killing each other.”

But this particular morning after she had related the investigative successes of the day before, she said,”Lori, here’s the best story of all!”

Turns out she had taken her kids out for a bite to eat at Cowboy Café and after settling them into homework back home, her fourth grader came wailing those dreaded words: “Mom, I left my retainer in a napkin at the restaurant!”

Knowing time was of the essence in matters of table trash, she didn’t even pause to scream. On with her coat, into her car, and out to Lee Highway she raced. A waiter led her to the back kitchen where the trash had already been dumped. Bemused kitchen help listened to her tale, and pointed her to the trash bins. “I hung my coat on a hook on the back door and dug into a tall trash can up to my elbows,” she related. Soggy hamburger remains; ketchup stained napkins; well, you can imagine. Minutes passed. No luck.

Not to be outdone by mere trash, Elise kept searching until EUREKA, she felt the retainer. As she held it up, the kitchen staff all cheered! Back home and victorious, she marched in her front door hands over her head a la Rocky, shouting “Who’s the greatest,” and her kids shouted back, “You, Mom!” Now that’s success.