I subscribe to four magazines, and I’m not sure how that happened. Three months worth of Home and Garden sit on the table, gathering dust, while Women’s Health, InStyle, and Popular Science are only a month behind – hey, I like to feel a little healthy, smart, and at least appear like a fashionista.

Fine, I fail on almost all counts.

At least a decade ago I subscribed to three family oriented magazines, and rarely read any of them through.  I chalked it up to the demands of single-parenting, and stopped subscribing after a couple of years because I read more when I went to doctor’s appointments than I ever did at home – at least feeling productive with all that waiting time.

The parenting magazines only helped me feel inadequate, and mostly envious of all the energy those interviewed parents had to make those incredible birthday cakes from scratch, plan a beautiful, even if simple, party, and have happy party guests go home with clever little gift bags (hey, it was my kid’s birthday – why should the other kids go home with gifts?).

I would have been a hit on ‘cake-fail’ sites, and the parenting magazine was the first to go, even though, yes, I did read them at my son’s doctor appointments.  At least I wasn’t paying for the guilt and inadequacy anymore.

The daycare I worked at a few years before I became a mother gave me good skills I actually practiced.  I think I only yelled ‘shut-up!’ once as a parent.  ‘Use your inside voice’ was my go-to phrase.

One skill I learned after my son was well past the incessant questioning age, and was never addressed in those parenting ‘zines – and I can save you months of pain and suffering by revealing – is this simple phrase: ‘why do you think that is?’.


We have to go inside now.


Because it’s nearly time for lunch.


Because food keeps us all happier, and healthier.


Because food breaks down into vitamins and nutrients that give us energy.


‘Why do you think that is?’

The above example would have gone on for close to ten minutes with my son, whom I was patient and tolerant with, and I would try to keep answering until he was out of questions – especially because I was not allowed to ask questions when I was growing up.  One time the ‘whys’ ended tearfully when I said ‘because I’m stupid, that’s why’! (My tears, not my sons.)

My father’s standard answer to asking ‘why’ was: ‘because y is a crooked letter’ – when he was in a good mood…  I had no idea what his answer meant, especially as I wasn’t clever enough to realize he was talking about the letter rather than the word, but it did signal no more questions, as getting beat was likely as not to happen next.

The parenting magazines often showed fabulous ‘easy’ home-made costumes for Halloween, and the best (and only, really) home-made costume for my son was when he was twelve or thirteen, and very into the Final Fantasy video game, he wanted to be a black mage for Halloween.

black mage
Final Fantasy Black Mage

I am not a seamstress.  I have sewed hems, badly, and patches and repaired rips, equally badly, but my son, really, really, wanted this home. made.  I guess it would give him street cred, or whatever the video-gamer equivalent is, and so help me god, I heard ‘OK’ come out of my mouth.

OK?!  What the hell was I thinking?  That sweet boy face – that kid who was already starting to pull away from me and acting like I was the very epitome of ineptitude  – was asking me to make him a costume!?

Well, when I put it that way, we can all see why I said OK.

Mind you, the internet was still fairly new in 2002, and all I could afford was dial-up internet anyway, and I wasn’t very internet savvy.  Hell, the internet wasn’t very internet savvy then.

I saw what the black mage looked like from a poster my son had, and I went to work: measuring, and figuring out how to make a wizard’s hat, shirt, and cloak – something that would make him proud, and maybe be nicer to me? (Ha!)

I found the right material for the cape – on sale!, and buttons for the shirt that were fantastic, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be making the shirt and cloak, but I nearly went insane (fine, insane-er) when I was making the hat.

Black Mage Final Fantasy
Black Mage Final Fantasy

I made it out of heavy felt, and found a pattern for a similar hat, but it needed tweaking, so I expanded on the pattern the best I could, and while I began the project in late September, it was a few days before Halloween when I was ready to give up and just let the ‘I hate my idiot Mom’ campaign begin in earnest.  But persevere I did, and the hat got made, and it came out beautiful.

austen black mage a10_31_04

Best of all, his friends thought he looked amazing.

Ironically, I never thought to write-up and submit that experience for an article because I found the experience abysmal, and didn’t think any parents out there would relate. Now, of course, I know that at least a few others out there might have sighed in relief knowing that the ‘good-parent’ bar was set just a bit too high in those magazines…

These days I can read magazines without feeling (as) inadequate, but there’s no reason to re-subscribe if all they’re doing is collecting dust.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current




Current Events

I’ve been reading, Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, and while it hasn’t made me detest the Financial Industry and the Federal Government more, the book has framed a better context for my ire.  I’m grateful to understand more about what happened and why, and I know that we’re a nation governed by avarice far more than ever before, checked only by revolt of those it harms the most.

Occupy Wall Street was always going to happen because there’s no way the current system could continue and not experience blow-back.  We might be poor, but we’re not stupid, although I’m betting that’s how many of the four-hundred richest people in this country like to frame it to themselves.  Ignorance is one thing, stupidity is quite another.  As soon as the ignorant become educated, they get angry.  You can’t enslave a people forever, not if they have any sense of self.  You can’t rip us off and tell us it’s our own fault for very long without the ruse starting to come apart.

The irony is that so many of us are amenable to getting by with some moderate comfort.  I believe that most Americans are hard workers.  I know many people, in my blue-collar community, who work to live, and will do that until it becomes impossible due to health issues (in themselves, or in their family, or to others they care enough about to try to help out) or from job losses.  The working class isn’t asking for the situation to reverse, they’re asking for human decency.  We live in a rich nation that doesn’t provide affordable health care, when it absolutely could; our nation doesn’t provide decent jobs or living wages, when it absolutely could, and our government has seemed to have forgotten about providing for the common good, about being a voice for the voiceless, and power for the powerless, because of all the money in politics.

I don’t know what the best solution is, but there are many fixes or stop-gap measures proposed but not being implemented.  The ‘let them die’ crowd will always be with us, but that doesn’t mean they should be listened to, because if it were their own children or family, I doubt they’d be euthanizing them.  Even Ayn Rand took the Social Security and Medicare that she hoped to see dismantled.

Congress having a nine percent approval rating shows that whatever side of the aisle you sit on or root for, nothing is being done except yelling back and forth.  We need action that addresses the problems of the ninety-nine percent, because the one-percent will be just fine, no matter what happens.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.