Jessica Ashley facebook twitter babble voices pinterest is a single mama in the city, super-savvy editor, writer, video host and shameless shoe whore.
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Five problems that are good to have


After a wee bit of a hiatus due to post-toddler-birthday exhaustion, I am back and thinking about all the choices that offer our brains and hearts the good kind of stress.

Here's my wishue list:

1.  On the ballot: Barack or Hillary?

2.  On my back: Hot stone or deep tissue?

3.  On my shoulder: Coach or Fleurville?

4.  On my Top Five/Free Pass: Dr. Burke or McPotty?

5.  On my love:  Early morning lovin' or sleeping in (also known as Afternoon Delight or Big Ol' Nap)?

And you, oh many but silent readers, what are the not-so-problematic problems on your list?

Do tell.

Photo credit: Hillary Clinton /

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Two today


Darling Boy,

Today you are two years old. And I sit here, watching you play your specialized version of golf with a wooden screwdriver, two vacuum cleaner attachments and an orange whiffle ball, amazed.

Wasn't it just yesterday when you were all curled up in a little ball on my chest, fresh to the world? And haven't you always been here, always been the center of this family?

I have to squint back into my memory of only a few years ago to remember what your room looked like before it was painted aqua and before the floor was strewn with books and babies and and baskets of diapers and toys.

I can't seem to recall what my days looked like when I worked from home alone without the crazy/wonderful interruptions of nap time ending early or sentences incomplete on my blinking screen while you and I make chalk drawings on the sidewalk outside.

I can no longer imagine a morning beginning with any words other than "Mommy! Daddy! Mommy-Daddy!" or greeting you and the day with anything other than, "Good morning, sunshine!"

My life, our lives were shaken up by little you, not in a disruptive way. More like a snowglobe where everything looks out of place for a minute but settles in right where it should be, only with thousands of little glowing flakes making the whole scene beautiful and shiny.

You came into our lives nine days early on September 20, 2004 at 4:45 pm. The nurse marked the official time as 4:41 but Grandpa's video shows the time to be exactly what I predicted your birth to be: Twelve hours to the minute from the time my water broke.

When you emerged, I gasped a little to see all of your dark hair laying in waves across your head. A week earlier, I'd had a dream that I gave birth to a baby with the exact same hair. It was like a little whisper that you were on your way.  Soon, soon.

"He has Bruce's eyebrows!" I remember saying.

We all cried - Daddy by my side, Grandma leaned against Grandpa, Grandpa filming discreetly at my shoulder, me as I watched the nurses whisk you off for ointments and suctioning and assessments, and you, on a blanket on the steel table with arms outstretched and open to the world.

Back on my chest, I looked deep into your eyes.

"Hello, baby," I said, "I'm your mama."

You stared back intensely with understanding and stillness. Too soon, we were transferred to our private room and as they wheeled us past the nurse station in the hall, we stopped to say thank you. You looked up at the nurse who bathed you in the delivery room sink and you smiled. You smiled a big, wide smile.

The nurses cheered.

"Did you see that?," one nurse called out, "My God, he smiled! He's not even a half-hour old."

I wasn't surprised.  Just happy. Very happy.

A little more than twelve hours earlier, I'd been dreaming again I was in labor. It woke me up and as I turned to tell Daddy about the dream. I heard a pop and stood up.

"Bruce!" I yelled. He looked up hazy. "My water's breaking."

And then the gushes. We packed and showered and picked out CDs. Light was beginning to break through the sky when we called Grandma and Grandpa to tell them to meet us at the hospital.

I phoned at 6:00 a.m. and Grandpa answered with, "Happy Birth Day!," the same greeting Dr. Amsler gave Grandma when she was in labor with me.

Back at the hospital, the night you were born, Daddy and I were all kinds of nervous and blissful. We watched you all night, barely sleeping, in awe that you were right there, breathing, cooing, moving in between us. Your skin was this perfect olive color and your lips like little buds. Your long fingers curled around my finger and those eyes...I fell in love in those eyes.

You have big brown eyes just like Grandma Alice. At 98, Grandma Alice has quieted into the depths of Alzheimer's. And yet, when she sees you, she recognized those eyes as her own. She smiles at you with a knowing and connection that is much bigger than your two small bodies.

"Grandma's boy," she sometimes says, and I know that the two of you were meant to meet, were meant to find each other on this earth. If only for a short while.

You are not the same but you are kindred spirits.


There is great peace in knowing that in those silent meetings, you've bared your souls to one another. From the two of you, I've learned the greatest lesson of these two years: Be present. Put everything else away and just be. Just be present.

Those shining eyes are draped by long lashes like your daddy has on his own brown eyes. Nine years ago, when my own father first met your daddy, he noticed those lovely lashes. We walked out of the restaurant where Daddy was working and Grandpa grabbed my arm.

"">"He's got really long eyelashes!" Grandpa said unexpectedly.

"">When you bat your eyes or wrinkle up your face in a wink or bunny rabbit face, I can catch a quick glimpse of your Daddy and that makes me smile.

Your three dimples tie you to your Great-Granddad Cope, Daddy and I. You have one in your left cheek like me, your right cheek like Daddy, and a hint of one in your chin like Granddad. You have a nick in your ear just like your great-grandfather Natella did, the way he said he was sure his kids, all ear-marked, were his own.

Your crazy brown hair has a deep, swirling cowlick in the back and shines gold and red in the sun. We laugh at your rocker 'do in the mirror when you wake up from naps, sweaty and thrashing around in your crib.

Everyone on both sides of your family wants to claim every bit of you to be their own. That's a pretty nice thing.

No matter who you resemble or how much it is mostly like me, you are truly your very own person.

You love trucks and balls and coloring. You are thrilled when Caillou comes on, when Elmo sings and Mr. Noodle mimes, when the kids on Barney dance around and when funny Mr. Gilley takes a bubble bath after collecting all the garbage on Trashy Town.

You are completely. obsessed. with. golf. You yell out with enthusiasm "Here comes the pitch!" every time your Daddy throws a ball toward you and your bats or wrench or drumstick or whatever you are playing baseball with that day.

You are inseparable from Bobo, who is detachable from your paci. And sometimes the monkey blanket, but more often the green blankie.

You wake up slow and like to cuddle in the rocker until you are ready to play ball or eat breakfast or watch the news. You always laugh when I insist on just one more kiss before bedtime.

You send me off with a generous Lub you, Mommy so you and Daddy can read book after book, sing the songs you mandate (mostly Frere Jacques and London Bridges these days) and then turn on your special music before ni-ni.

You occasionally indulge me in singing the songs I love, in singing your song. You laugh when I'm silly and we make a great audience for each other. You hog the crayons when we color. And I can respect that.

You rub our elbows and pinch our knuckles in a strange, soothing ritual that has been yours alone for all of your life. You like to lounge on the couch and throw your hands up in the air to dance in your high chair.

Thank God, thank God, you know what it means to shake your booty (or boodah, as you often say), and you can. You play a mean Christmas-cookie-tin-cum-bongo-drum and you can monkey toe a sippy cup of water in your crib in the night.

You are verbal in ways that surprise me every single day. You belt out and whisper to yourself the words to twenty songs. You are curious about the names and descriptions of almost everything you see. You've begun asking questions that stop me, make me laugh, send me running to write the words down while they are fresh in my mind.


Last week, after just one more bedtime snuggle and smooch, you brought tears to my eyes when you turned my head toward you and asked earnestly, "You love me a lot, Mommy?," the last syllables lilting up in high toddler notes.

Oh yes, my sweet pea. More than you know.

You are so you. And each day, Daddy and I take joy in discovering all that you are and all the possibility that is emerging.

We chose your name with great care Your first name means fiery and strong. Your middle name means wise and knowing. It was our hope that you would walk this world with all these characteristics, fiery with knowledge, sagely passionate.

And here you are, precious boy, two years old, with so much to learn and having so much to share. Two years old and full of fire, full of light.

We love love lub you.

Happy Birthday, little one.

Photo credit: Jessica Ashley

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Of the base, golf, soccer, foot, volley and bouncy variety

100_3890_0212_148_2This morning, digging through big bins of craft supplies to find the puffy paints to decorate dollar favors for my son's birthday, carefully taking notes and making lists of all the things left to do before the celebrations begin, before my baby boy turns two, it occurs to me:

I am a person who holds a degree in Women Studies, who was an instructor and adjunct professor in the subject. I write about grrrlfriends and feminism and preserving women’s stories. I am a complete and total grrrly-girl.

And here I am, planning a party all about balls.

Balls. Balls. Balls. Balls. Balls. Sigh.It's a crazy old world, parenting. Isn't it?

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