On Babies & Birth Control & Our Household

The thing about my home… office (it’s a kitchen counter, people) is that everything—and not just papers—can end up there. The magic wand, the plastic binoculars, the golden yellow marker I’d have called “mango,” and of course, the coveted Zumba victory statuette. All of this stuff illustrates my point that it’s hard to focus on… everything all at once. My M.O. as my house reveals is to ignore the stuff and do the work when the house is miraculously quiet or even when the house isn’t quiet, but the small girl is otherwise occupied. Put another way my house would back up the notion that you may think you’re an effective multi-tasker but you really are never so effective as you hope.

This is the office (the bin–it can move from the counter to the table).

Today, though, I will prioritize some final camp forms.

I hope.

The camps probably hope so, too. I do operate on the theory that someone has to be the last person to hand forms in.


We had a former babysitter visit with her not-quite-three-week-old baby yesterday. This was a delicious, mellow, content baby. Probably the happiest part was how delighted in her new-mama skin our new mama friend was. And how besotted she was. The whirling dervish of a four-year-old did her best to whirl fast enough to overtake the airspace but she ultimately failed—and then it was bedtime for her. Bedtime took an hour and 15 minutes, by the way, a particularly long hour and 15 minutes.

This morning, I found this link about access to birth control and was reminded that my house is very good birth control (an hour and 15 minutes’ worth at least). With the inspired stories of hopes and dreams abortion allowed in honor of Dr. Tiller last week, with a stream like this about how people first obtained birth control, I want to shout out in all seriousness that if I had no other reason to heart social media it would be the way reproductive justice activists use it to share people’s stories. This sharing of our stories is the strongest basis for tangible social change, always.

I like social media for the baby pictures, too.

Soon after the interminable bedtime, the younger teen hit the post-eighth grade project malaise he’d begun during the afternoon off from school (everyone got a half-day) and as inevitable as the letdown was, he’d been so proud of himself and upbeat the night before I’d entirely forgotten about how inevitable the letdown was.

Meantime, the nine year-old cheerily cleaned the rats’ cage. While I rubbed his back before he went to sleep the smoke alarm went off (upstairs neighbors, door closed in the kitchen equals smoke alarm; every so often, this inevitably occurs). He recalled a conversation at his friend’s house about fire drills and the friend’s mom telling them about how as babies the teachers put them into a big cart for the fire drill. And then, he recalled, at his preschool, the teachers used tangerines during fire drills because they were “quieter.” He shook his hand as he spoke, and so I realized he maybe meant tambourines. At that suggestion, he smiled and nodded.

At the end of the night, the elder teenager wanted to talk and a somewhat heated discussion ensued. During which I fell asleep. By the time Saskia is a heated teen, I’ll probably leave my car keys and wallet out for her as I head to bed with a note that reads, “Whatever.”

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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