Book Review: The Rules of Inheritance

I have often said — and firmly believe — that the Munchkin changed my life in many ways. Some are hard and lonely and not so happy. Others? They make me who I am; strong and determined and compassionate. The time when I got pregnant, of course, was not exactly the best time of my life. It was turbulent. But I came out changed and on a path that was different than the one I was meandering when I got pregnant.

Claire Bidwell Smith’s memoir, The Rules of Inheritance, hit me in various ways. Books about grief always do. However, the one that hit me the most was actually the story about her abortion at the age of 19. I didn’t have an abortion; it was never an option in my head or heart even though I’m pro-life. I knew, when I saw the two pink lines, that I would have a baby. I didn’t know I would relinquish her, but I knew she would come to be.

But there was a part in Claire’s recollection of her abortion that let me know we are all not so very different.

Mother dies at eighteen.

Abortion at nineteen.


It’s as though I don’t have a choice.

But we always have choices.

It won’t be until over a decade later, when I am well into the actual world of parenthood, frazzled and overwhelmed with love and impatience for the tiny creature I have created, that I will realize that if I had actually had a baby at age nineteen it might have been the very thing that would have kept me from the years and years of misery and destruction ahead of me.

I firmly believe that the Munchkin pushed me down another fork in the road, away from the misery and self-loathing that I was knee deep in at the time. I experienced a whole different world of misery and self-loathing and grief, but I was absolutely determined to stay on the straight and narrow path because I wanted my daughter to be proud of me someday. She changed me. She changed my path in life. And I am forever grateful.

You can read more about The Rules of Inheritance at The BlogHer Book Club.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.


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It’s Pink Day!

Pinecone Love

Pink Day



Just setting himself apart from those other hard-working preschoolers — and being awesome while doing it. Or, being himself which is awesome as well, hence the one pant leg up, pink button up striped shirt paired with firefighter boots. He is not quite Barney Stinson, but he sure does know how to suit up in his own way.

Coming to You From High Atop College Hill

One afternoon at pick up, BigBrother’s teacher approached me.

I’ve been wanting to talk to you.

My first thought was, “Oh crap!” I searched my brain for something that I forgot to do, forgot to send in with the kid. I couldn’t come up with anything, but still I figured it was some short-coming on my end rather than something BigBrother had done wrong. I forced a smile and said, “What’s up?

She explained that they had chosen BigBrother to record a radio spot in support of the school levy we’re trying to pass in March. Since we had been active with support with the November levy (which failed), she figured we would approve. There’s a moment of realization that you are not in trouble when the feeling returns to your toes. There’s also a moment of heart-fluttering when you look down at your son’s smiling face and realize that other people think he’s awesome too. I told her that we would love to be involved and happily wiggled my toes with a skip-happy-heart on the way back to the car.

Over the following couple of weeks, BigBrother worked on memorizing his little speech. When I say worked on it, I just mean repeated because that kid had it memorized before he got home that first day. He was excited. He felt special. He was excited to be helping again. I helped him with inflection, helped him slow down the word “elementary” and applauded each time he nailed it.

Today was his special day at the radio station.

Radio Station

And he nailed it again.

Radio Station


And again.

Radio Station

13 years ago, I stepped into my college radio station and fell in love. 18-year-old me could think of nothing better than a captive audience. Add in some 90’s music, the fact that no one could bother me for two hours at a time (except for my roommates who would call and request more 90’s music) and the sound of my own voice talking and it was a blast. I willingly woke up at stupid hours to carry a morning show with another freshman student, something that wasn’t usually bestowed upon students until later on. I felt special.

As a side note, the head professor of our department was a diehard radio fanatic and swore, up and down, that satellite radio would never take off. I think of him every time I drive my car that came preinstalled with Sirius/XM. I wonder what he thinks about Spotify. I digress.

I watched joy spread across my oldest son’s face this afternoon. All because he got to talk into a microphone… on the radio. I knew what he was feeling. I actually knew what he was feeling. I followed the length of his eyelashes to the tips of his nose to the curve of his lip to the microphone and knew that, for fifteen minutes when he was six, I knew what he was feeling. I might not understand what he’s feeling when he’s 16 — in fact, I expect not to — but I knew it today.

He told me afterward, “Mommy! I want to be a radio guy when I get to be a grown up!

I gave him the pat line — “You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up, even a radio guy!” — but I smiled. Firefighters and astronauts and scientists. They’ve all been glimmers of his dad or Buzz Lightyear or Dr. Doofenshmirtz. But today, I saw a glimmer of myself.

Radio Station

I’m so proud of this little boy, not only for liking something that is a part of me but for continuing to happily support a school that he has come to love so very much. He is a shining example of using your voice — quite literally — to foster change. He inspires me to use mine as well.