My nephew Joe is obsessed with turtles.  Actually, he’s obsessed with all frogs, lizards, turtles, and other slimy, crawly creatures.  It’s bad enough to be called “a reptile dysfunction.”

But I have to say I’m with him on the turtle obsession.  Mine started around the time my oldest child was an infant.

My then-husband and I were at dinner one evening with a business associate, an older gentleman who had traveled extensively in his profession. I can’t for love or bubble gum remember much of the dinner conversation or even what we ate.  (Okay, that’s not exactly true.  Remembering the restaurant where we ate, I most likely had a salad with blue cheese dressing — the only appropriate dressing ever — and Cajun chicken pasta).

What I do remember about the evening was this one thing the man said:  “If you can get to the place in your life where you’re at home with yourself, then anywhere you go in this world is home.”

It’s profound.

It’s also the source of my turtle obsession.  I later found out that  Native Americans believe the turtle to be the most spiritual animal because a turtle always carries his home with him.

You see, I’ve spent the past seven months biding my time in Atlanta while my daughter finished high school.  The whole time, I was very vocal about wanting to be in St. Augustine instead.  And to make matters worse, during that seven months,  I barely even made it to my place at the beach because life and teenagers seemed to thwart my beach time at every turn.   It wasn’t all bad, though; I spent ten wonderful days in Italy and another ten fabulous days in Louisville, Kentucky, working on a master’s degree in writing.  And I have to say that during both trips, I congratulated myself on being kind of “turtley,” or feeling right at home where I was and not the slightest bit homesick.

My daughter graduated from high school Friday evening.  Now that my two older children have graduated and left the nest, it’s time for Mom to leave the Atlanta nest and finally make a new one in St. Augustine, Florida.

I got here to St. Augustine last evening, and for the first time since purchasing this house more than three years ago, I walked in and said, “I’m home.”  Until that point, you see, Atlanta had been “home” and St. Augustine had been the second home.  But somehow, last night, it was different.

And if I needed confirmation, this morning I saw a gopher turtle the size of a home-baked blackberry pie.  I told him to crawl like hell into the nearest dune and don’t come out of that shell until I sound the “all clear.”  Joe’s on his way down here today, and no reptile is safe until he goes back home to Atlanta.

How Laverne stays so thin

Having their pictures hanging in the local post office for biting the mailman just wasn’t enough for the dachshunds. The felonious little beasts are now on the county’s list of vicious animals, and they’ve been under house arrest, which in this case means they’re only allowed to leave the confines of our home under heavy security. Two leashes each.

Laverne and Shirley are the biggest little troublemakers on the planet. Well, Laverne is little. She’s eight pounds of pure badass, trotting her little self all over the yard as if every cat, dog, or person who passes should be terrified of her. And they should be. She bites. Not hard enough to break the skin, but it doesn’t exactly tickle, either.

Shirley used to weigh twelve pounds. Then she ballooned to twice Laverne’s size by gaining four pounds in one month. That’s a twenty-five percent weight gain. In Oprah’s world, it’s enough to get your picture on the cover of several tabloids with the blaring headline “OUT OF CONTROL!”

She was fat and lethargic and mad as hell about it. God knows that if I gained that much weight in one month, I’d bite someone, too.

The vet determined that Shirley had a thyroid problem. After a few weeks on soloxine, her “Skinny Shirley” pills, she was almost back to her normal weight. And I have to say that, if it weren’t for having seen the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer helped himself to the canine meds and then started to act like a dog, I might have been tempted to pop a couple of those little pink pills.

The soloxine did not, however, temper Shirley’s temper. She’s like Mike Tyson on speed when a stranger enters our yard, especially a stranger she deems to be of questionable character. And somehow, she’s surprisingly accurate in her character assessments.

According to some of the New Age wizards, animals mirror the behavior of their owners. But whose behavior are my dogs reflecting — mine or my ex-husband’s?

Well, for starters, the dachshunds are extremely protective of our children. I can grab my son and playfully shake him, and within seconds, Luverne is hurling her body at me like a Kamikaze fighter. Protecting the kids – that’s like me.

I’ll take credit for the pancake batter incident, also. They once intercepted the UPS guy and opened a package containing five pounds of sweet potato pancake mix. I pulled into the driveway to find them lying in the yard, bloated and unable to move. I love sweet potato pancakes, especially with cinnamon syrup. And although I haven’t gained twenty-five percent of my body weight in one month, four pounds in thirty days can be easily accomplished after a couple of three-ways with my friends Ben and Jerry. So the dogs’ eating habits are more like mine.

But pushing little kids down and attempting to hump them? And rooting around in gym bags looking for dirty underwear to chew on? I can’t say I’ve ever done either one. They got that behavior from my former husband.

So they’re a combination of my ex-husband and me, I guess. Energetic mixed breeds. Metaphysical mutts, if you will.

Well, there is one more story I should tell, an incident that happened after the divorce was final which might tip the balance in favor of my being their reflective inspiration.

My property taxes went up. The county claimed that a “Change of Ownership”  after the divorce was final prompted the reassessment and that the higher valuation reflected the increase in market value.

Being a writer, I quickly fired off a letter that only marginally veiled my outrage. First of all, there had been no change of ownership. I had received the house in the divorce and had, upon the advice of my tax attorney, placed the ownership of my home in a trust, appropriately titled the Grace Adams Trust. The name was the same, I pointed out. Secondly, I reminded the Office of Tax Assessors that the housing market was in a serious slump. According to recent reports on “Good Morning America,” my home was only worth two thirds of its previous valuation. So either they could reduce that valuation to accurately reflect current market values, or they could just agree that no name change had ever taken place, and we would all just forget the whole unfortunate incident.

Well, the unfortunate incident got worse. They sent an assessor to my home, but nobody told me she was coming. Had I been warned, the dachshunds would not have been patrolling the perimeter of my property hunting squirrels, moles, and well, tax assessors. The poor girl had no idea that the cute little doggies wagging their tails while barking ferociously would actually bite. (Actually, their method of attack is quite sophisticated. Laverne barks the ferocious warning, and Shirley sneaks up from behind and draws blood from the thin-skinned area around the ankle.)

I actually felt sorry for a tax assessor.

County Animal Control came to my house and verified they were current on their rabies vaccinations. They put my dogs on the county’s list of vicious animals and a ten-day home quarantine.

And then the county put my home’s valuation right back where it had been in the beginning.

Barking and growling while wagging their tails. They got that from me. Then again, if your dog barks and growls and chases tail, it could be mirroring the behavior of a cheating husband.

Until December 1999, my family was pretty darn lucky.

Two of my grandfathers fought in and survived World War Two.  My dad was never drafted during Vietnam.  I don’t know this for absolute certain, but I suspect he avoided it because he was a college student during the early years of the conflict.  And then I was born.

All three of my mother’s brothers served in the armed forces during the period between Vietnam and the Gulf War.  All three are still living and breathing.

My first cousin went to West Point.  He fought in the Gulf War and came home to tell about it.  His two sisters married Air Force guys, Blackhawk helicopter pilots who also fought that war and came home to their families.

But in December 1999, there was a freak accident in Kuwait.  Mike Geragosian, husband of my cousin Dana and father to their toddlers Luke and Zack, was killed when the transport plane he was on missed the runway and crashed.

I held two-year-old Zack in my arms during his daddy’s graveside service.  He was quiet in my arms as he watched his mother weep when handed his flag.  He didn’t flinch during the 21-gun salute.  But when fighter jets roared over our heads, and a lone jet peeled off, straight up into the air, in what is called, simply, “Missing Man Formation,”  Zack excitedly pointed to the jets and began shouting, “Daddy!  Daddy!”

It was the saddest moment I’ve ever experienced.

But no sadness lasts forever.  Dana, Luke, and Zack built a beautiful life out of what remained of their tiny family.  And last year, Derek joined it.

It was the happiest wedding I’ve ever experienced.

And just last week, I got the happy news that Luke and Zack are going to have a little brother or sister.  They’re so excited they can’t see straight.

Finally, they’re having a happy Memorial Day.

Hotdogs and Fireworks — click on the link to see some Fourth of July weiner dog action

I know, I know — you hate clicking on videos.  But this one is 10 seconds long, and all I need to say about it is this once happened at my house with a dachshund, of course, and a sparkler.

I walked outside to find Shirley shredding the last chapter of Leviticus.  Tiny bits of the Good Book fluttered in the breeze and landed in the garden. The dachshunds had devoured the Bible I’d kept on the back porch.

Now, most dogs would look guilty when caught.  But dachshunds are not like most dogs.  Guilt is not in the dachshund’s repertoire of feelings.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Me?  I didn’t do this.”  She stood up, walked over to the second chapter of the Epistle of John lying forlornly next to the pot of gerbera daisies, squatted and peed on it.

“You’re going to hell, you know, for destroying God’s Word,” I said to her.

“Bite me.”

“You just better be glad I’m not Muslim and that’s not the Koran.”

I turned to Laverne, who was flossing her teeth with Philippians 3:2.  I yanked it from her and read this:  “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision.”

“How appropriate, Laverne,” I said.

“I was reading it to Pancho.  I heard you talking about having him neutered next month.  While you’re on a cruise.”

“Hunnnnh?!”   Pancho did a perfect  Scooby Doo.

I shushed Laverne and said, “Look, guys, I’ve told you there are plenty of things in this garden you can eat.  Parsley.  Sage. Rosemary.  Dogfood.  But the one thing I said you could not eat was my Bible.  Did I not tell you that the day you ate my Bible you would die?”

Laverne pointed at Shirley.  “It was her idea. She said reading makes you smarter, and we wanted to be as smart as you are.”

Shirley quickly shifted the blame.  “Don’t look at me.  I have a thyroid condition that makes me too fat to jump.  I couldn’t possibly have gotten onto the table and pulled your Bible down.  It was Pancho.”

I looked at my three-legged Pancho, who wandered aloud if he was going to be evicted from paradise and sent to the pound.  He, of course, was missing a leg to stand on.

At the beginning of the end of my marriage, my husband and I took a trip to the Bahamas with several other couples. Sixteen friends at the Atlantis Resort, lying around the pool drinking Dirty Bananas during the day and spending our evenings enjoying a long dinner followed by a little gambling, drinking, and dancing.

What? You’ve never had a Dirty Banana? Shut up! It’s a banana daiquiri with Kahlua poured over the top, and, all sexual metaphors about cheating husbands and Dirty Bananas aside, it’s enough to make you not care about a husband’s dalliances for a good thirty minutes.

I’d had big hopes for the trip. Most of the people in our group were friends from church, and I was hoping that my husband would re-connect with some of them and, as a result, return to church. It was also our first time away from the children since he’d been in rehab, and I thought that maybe some time together in a romantic spot surrounded by couples who loved each other might help us rekindle the love we’d lost.

That same week, the Atlantis was hosting a large celebrity golf tournament. Ten minutes after we checked in, someone in our party spotted Wayne Gretzky. Later that afternoon, another friend reported seeing Michael Jordan in the casino. At dinner that evening, one of the girls told us she had been in line behind Kid Rock at the waterslide. Pamela Anderson was on display in the pool area the whole week, although she wasn’t wearing her red Baywatch swimsuit.

We were literally in Paradise Island surrounded by famous people, eating fabulous meals, and competing to see who could be the biggest lazyass of all. It was shaping up to be the trip I’d hoped for.

Well, it was until halfway through the week. My husband staggered into our hotel room in the middle of the night and woke me up to tell me that he’d just disclosed to several of my girlfriends that he’d been having an affair.

And I should be grateful, according to his drunken reasoning, because now no one would ask questions when I filed for a divorce.

Humiliated and enraged, I got up and packed my bag. I called Delta and found out the next flight to Atlanta was at nine. I booked it and decided I’d rather wait at the airport than risk seeing anyone I knew, certain the story had already spread to everyone else in our group. My husband was sleeping with the lower third of his body hanging off of the bed. I kicked his leg on my way out of the room and said, “I’m leaving. I hope you’re happy, jackass.”

On my way down to the lobby, the elevator stopped, and an older black man who looked very familiar to me stepped in.

I said hello, and he nodded a greeting. Then he pointed at my bag, a soft-sided brown Samsonite on wheels, and said, “That’s a big suitcase.”

“Yeah, the ticket agents always tell me it’s one of the bigger ones they’ve seen,” I laughed.

He didn’t laugh with me. “It’s too big,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“I said that bag is too big. You can’t even lift it.”

“Yes, I can,” I said. “I lifted it off the luggage rack in my room three minutes ago.”

He ignored me and continued: “I have my own plane, and if you showed up to fly with me carrying that bag, I’d tell you it’s you or the bag,” he said.

The elevator stopped, the doors opened, and Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, exited the elevator ahead of me. After four days in Atlantis, I had finally seen my first celebrity.

I’ve often wondered what the man saw when he looked at me. I’d been crying, and I hadn’t bothered to shower. I was a sad, sad girl, so horribly discombobulated by the fight with my husband that I might have misunderstood the man. Perhaps he wasn’t talking about my actual suitcase. Maybe he was referring to the baggage I was hauling around, a load I continued to carry for years, until the day I decided I was tired of defining myself through the lens of infidelity and a failed marriage.

Nah. He was talking about the Samsonite. So as a public service announcement, friends, please know that in the event you’re ever invited to fly on Reggie Jackson’s plane that he owns, pack lightly. That lardass has to save room for an ego the size of my suitcase.

On the other hand, it would be awfully fun to show up with a bag bearing a luggage tag that reads “Mine is bigger than Reggie Jackson’s.”

My littlest dachshund, Laverne, has been acting rather squirrelly the past few days. And if I’m honest, I have to say that her nutty behavior is partly my fault.

When I was a kid, my mom made Pine Cone Choirs during the holidays. Members of the Pine Cone Choir had bodies made of pine cones with acorn heads glued on top. She painted little faces on the acorns, their mouths all in an “O,” as if they were permanently singing the first note of “Joy to the World.”

I remember looking for acorns to be used for the Pine Cone Choir people’s heads. The acorns had to still have their “hats” on, and they needed to be long enough and plump enough to have room for a painted face. Finding plenty of perfect acorns was sometimes tough, especially if we began searching after the squirrels had sifted through the nuts.

To this day, if I see a “perfect” acorn, I pick it up. It’s not like I’m going to make any Pine Cone Choirs, but I guess some habits stay with us forever.

And really, there’s a second reason I collect acorns.

In her 2006 best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about the Zen Buddhist belief that there are two forces working at once to bring an oak tree into existence. The first, obviously, is the acorn, the seed full of the potential to become the giant oak. But the second force is the future tree with its desire to exist, a longing so great that it creates the seed from which it was born. According to Zen Buddhism, she says, it is the seed’s potential along with the future pull of the already-existing tree that join together in helping that tree become what it was meant to be.

I love that. I love looking at pictures of myself as a small child and saying to that little girl, “It really is ALL good.” But even more, I love the thought of the woman I want to be. As Gilbert says, she’s standing at the top of the mountain and yelling encouragement back at me: “Yes! You can do it! Things might be hard right now, but what you dream of becoming is absolutely possible, and I’m just waiting for you to join me.”

So I pick up acorns. My housekeeper must think I’m nutty because I have two or three acorns next to my computer so I can see them when I write. I have a few on my nightstand, a few on my bathroom counter, and a few on my back porch, next to my quiet place. I keep them to remind me that it’s not only possible to become what I was meant to be; it’s inevitable, as long as I don’t give up.

Laverne is terrified by the sounds of weed eaters, mowers, and blowers. Yesterday, when the yard people were at my house, she followed me around begging to be held. She ended up in my lap while I was at the computer. And while I was typing, she noticed my acorns on the desk and decided she had to have one. Before I could stop her, she jumped from my lap onto the desk, grabbed a nut in her mouth, jumped off the desk, and ran.

I tried to get my acorn back, but she hid it, or more appropriately, she squirreled it away. It took me the better part of a day to find the remains of my acorn. Just like a squirrel, she’d cracked it open and eaten the meaty inside. All that remained were a piece of shell and the cute little hat.

I know. I’m nuts, and so is my dog. But that doesn’t discourage me, because I keep telling myself that the mighty oak is just a little nut that held its ground.

Have you heard about Donna Simpson? She’s the woman who’s trying to become the fattest woman in the world.

Right now, she’s in the 600-pound range, up from the 532 pounds she weighed three years ago when she gave birth to her daughter.

Her Baby Daddy, who she says is “a belly man,” is a scrawny little thing who weighs a mere 150 pounds.

I need to picture slaughtered hogs just to stop thinking about how in the hell he actually managed to get her pregnant.  Obviously, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Prolly a step stool had to be used.

To accomplish her goal of becoming one-ton Tessie, Ms. Simpson eats 12,000 calories a day. She loves sushi, she says, and eats 70 pieces at a sitting. So much food is expensive, of course, but she has men who love to buy her dinner. People actually pay $11 to download a video of her eating. Or you can join her fan club for $15 a month.

The only thing that might keep her from reaching such a weighty goal she says, is “running” around after her daughter.

Or dying.

Why, I keep wondering, would a woman want that title? I realize that people will do crazy things to be noticed, but I can think of some attainable titles for the average woman that wouldn’t jeopardize her health, land her in jail, or involve giving birth.

How about Woman with the Most Screws Loose? Lisa Nowak, the diaper astronaut, would be the likely frontrunner if she hadn’t been disqualified by a felony, although Jon Gosselin’s girlfriends, any of them, probably have a good shot at this title.

Woman whose picture is posted most often on PeopleofWalmart.com. This is not to be confused with the Fashion Police section of Us Magazine. Those are celebrities dressed like People of Walmart. There would be some serious competition for this title, but it’s definitely winnable.

Woman Who Dresses Completely in Duct Tape. This one would be helpful for anyone interested in attracting a Tin Man.

World Noodling Chamption. Noodling is the sport of fishing with the bare hands. It involves muddy, snake-infested water and cramming a fist down a fish’s throat. Not exactly my cup of chai, but it beats eating 70 pieces of sushi or dating Jon Gosselin.

Thank God, I can’t muster enough desire for fame (or infamy) to do something crazy. And I think most women feel the same way. In fact, when it comes right down to it, I believe most women have a pretty clear distinction between what they require and desire. Happiness, it turns out, boils down to a pretty simple list.

It reminds me of a woman I heard about several years ago.

Picture a chain-smoking 80-year-old with skin like a piece of shoe leather and bleach-blonde hair. She’s driving around in a big white Cadillac and chain smoking with the windows rolled up. That’s our girl. Her theory of life went something like this:

“No woman can live on less than $100 a day. Every day, she needs a pack of cigarettes, a tank of gas, a bottle of wine, and a present for herself.”

Okay, and maybe in some cases, a step stool.

I greeted my grandfather with a quick hug and then slid into the booth opposite him at our regular Friday lunch spot. As a young man, he was a fiery redhead with the proverbial temper to match the hair. Now, at eighty-seven, he has the same amount of hair that he had fifty years ago, only it’s as white as the porcelain veneers replacing his top front teeth. And his temper must have vanished along with the hair color, because in all the years I’ve known him, I’ve never once seen it.

“How’s it going, Grandad?” I asked, and when he opened his mouth to reply that everything was “alright,” I noticed he was missing a lower front tooth.

“Grandad, what happened to your tooth?” I asked, horrified. We meet for lunch every Friday, and the Friday before, there had been no gap.

“Aww, that tooth was bothering me, so I took a pair of pliers and yanked it out,” he shrugged.

Good Lord. Somewhere, a dentist is cringing, and a Tooth Fairy is impressed enough to waive the age limit and contemplate payment for that lost tooth. But it begs the question of why on earth an eighty-six-year-old man would pull his own tooth.

I’m tempted to say it was money. A child of the Depression, Grandad remembers barely having enough money to buy food, much less money to pay a dentist. Toothaches were cured with a swig of homemade corn whiskey and a pair of pliers.

He and my grandmother married during World War Two, and they had two sons. After the war, he tried farming, but the farm failed. Paying a dentist would have been low on the list of priorities at that time, probably akin to paying $4 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks these days. Unable to make the monthly payment on the farm they were renting, he was forced to look for work in Atlanta, a half-day’s drive from the place where he and his wife had been raised.

He found work at the Army Depot in Forest Park, and they moved to the south side of Atlanta with their two young sons. He opened a vending machine business on the side. The business prospered, and they lived happily and comfortably, enjoying their children and grandchildren. They even caught up on the dental care they’d neglected in their younger years. Grandmom had extensive work done to save teeth damaged by childhood malnutrition. And Grandad replaced several top teeth with those beautiful veneers.

In their retirement, they were able to purchase a second home on a lake in the valley where they had grown up. They were married fifty-nine years, three months and one week, and then my grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. He still wears his wedding band, and to this day, his eyes fill with tears at the mention of her name.

Several months after he pulled his own tooth, during our regular Friday lunch, conversation turned to how much money he had lost in the recent stock market declines.

“Nearly eleven thousand dollars,” he lamented, adding that the stock market would eventually come back but that he probably wouldn’t be around long enough to see it. Then he said, “I paid that much for a set of teeth one time, so I guess it’s all relative.”

It wasn’t the money, then. He had enough money, certainly, to pay a dentist to pull that tooth.

And it’s not like he didn’t have access to a dentist. Our family dentist is also a close family friend who on occasion makes house calls. For instance, my little niece Kate fell and nearly knocked out a front tooth when she was two. Her mother, my sister, called Dr. Al, who immediately jumped on his jet ski and came across the lake to look at her tooth. Early the next morning, he did an emergency root canal on a two year old to save a tooth that will soon fall out on its own. Why? “Because the baby needs to be beautiful,” he crooned in his sexy Cuban voice.

He would have done exactly the same thing for Grandad. So it wasn’t the lack of money or lack of access to dental care that prompted him to pull his own tooth. I wondered if perhaps the pain had been so intense Grandad couldn’t wait to see the doctor.

I don’t think so. Historically, our family members have possessed an extremely high pain threshold. My twin nieces, Faith and Grace, are so competitive that when they got a first loose tooth at the same time, Grace worked hers until she had it out just so that she could be the first to lose a tooth. Of course, we all laughed that we knew where she’d gotten the idea to pull the tooth out herself, and we offered thanks for the fact that she hadn’t had access to any pliers at the time.

But again, what would possess the man to pull a tooth with a pair of pliers?

I stared at the hole between his front lower teeth and realized that before me sat a man who had, as a child, wondered if he would go to bed hungry. He had marched into liberated concentration camps at the end of the Second World War and been assigned the gruesome task of helping bury the stacks of bodies. In his lifetime, he has experienced pain in many different forms.

He pulled his own tooth precisely because he was not afraid of the pain. Seven years before, he had helplessly watched as the love of his life suffered with pancreatic cancer, and that’s the kind of pain that gets to my Grandad, the particular pain he simply has no threshold for.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that kind of pain could be solved with a pair of pliers and some corn whiskey? Compared to the pain of losing Grandmom, pulling his own tooth was nothing. Just like he said, it’s all relative.

Seinfeld Schindler\’s List — watch the episode

I’m leaving Friday for a 10-day residency at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, part of the coursework for a Master of Fine Arts in Writing.  One of the assignments I had to complete prior to showing up in Louisville was to watch Schindler’s List.

I have a list of movies that I would rather be poked in the eye than ever see again.  Disney’s Wall-E is on that list along with Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, the kid’s movie about horses, because of the lack of dialogue in each film.

From what I remember, the only word in the Wall-E film is “Eva.”  And the only “word” in Spirit was the horses’ “Heeeeeeeee!”  I hate those movies.

Schindler’s List, however, is the best movie I’ve ever seen that I did not want to see again.   It’s brutal to watch.    And apparently, it was just as hard to write and to make.  Stephen Spielberg has said that he got so depressed while making the film that he went home at night and watched Seinfeld reruns to make him feel better, which is why Jerry Seinfeld says he wrote the episode about making out during Schindler’s List.

Oskar Schindler’s story had been around for almost 50 years when Steven Zallian decided to write the script.  And according to David Kipen, author of The Schreiber Theory, no one – screenwriter or director – wanted to touch it before that.  And the reason is  that Oskar Schindler went kind of crazy after World War Two.  It was hard to reconcile his greatness with what he became – a falling down drunk who failed at seven businesses and his marriage.

Zallian solved the problem with five words, Kipen writes.  The war had ended, and Schindler told the Jews in his factory that they were free to go.  As a member of the Nazi party, he was forced to flee Czechoslovakia. In the movie, as he says goodbye to “his” Jews, he begins to sob and say, “I could have done more.”  He points to his car and says, “It would have been worth ten more people.  I could have saved more.” He pulls a pin off his lapel and says, “This would have been worth one life.”

I realize that my take on the scene is odd, and I certainly mean no disrespect to the amazing story of Schindler and the 1,100 people he saved.  But I also can’t helping comparing Oskar Schindler to almost every mom I know.   We get up in the morning and feel guilty for taking the time to brush our teeth and change out of our pajamas before packing lunches, making a nutritious hot breakfast, and driving carpool or beginning the day’s homeschool lessons.  We sport ponytail hair because washing it takes too much time, time we need to make caterpillars out of egg cartons and to bake homemade cupcakes for the sixteenth class party this school year.  We eat the leftovers from our kids’ plates while simultaneously having a conference with the teacher, doing a load of laundry, and mopping up dog vomit.

But somehow, we fall into bed every night beating ourselves up because Stilton went to sleep without a bedtime story and Angelica will have to wear a store-bought Halloween costume because there was no time to sew one.

“I could have done more” is bullshit.   And thinking that way can make you crazy.  This evening, why not pour yourself a glass of wine, find a good Seinfeld rerun, and tell Gomek and Gwendolyn to put themselves to bed?  They’ll survive — I promise.

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