Story

Story Name

I get some pretty interesting looks when I introduce my daughter. “Dory?” they say, trying to force a name that their brains can recognize as a name. “No. Story.” I smile and wait patiently as they, maybe not accept, but at least comprehend it. “Oh . . . How do you spell that?”

I took a risk with Story’s name. I put a lot of pressure on the poor kid. What if she grew up to be as dull as a dormouse? What if she had nothing at all to say? And what if she never learned to read and write a story? An illiterate Story.

I needn’t have worried. From the outset, I knew I had chosen correctly. Story was a very verbal baby. Not having been around many babies, I thought all her noises were the norm. Not so much. She didn’t cry; she negotiated. She didn’t sigh; she sang. She didn’t snore; she cooed. Constant sound. As any good mother would do, I quickly learned to tune most of it out. (Of course, I became immediately fearful if the sound stopped, but luckily that didn’t happen often.)

One day while shopping and trying to tune out my poor daughter so I could concentrate, I suddenly realized that there was a specific pattern to her noises. Story was alternating between a high-pitched babble with an inflection of fear and a deep, gruff, almost-roaring sound. As I listened and watched her most-expressive face, I realized she was telling a story. A little girl was being accosted by a monster.

It’s impossible for me to put these sounds into words, so have a listen. First, the little girl:

 

Now the monster:

 

Before I reveal the ending to my tale, let me tell you what Story’s middle name is. It is Fae. Fae is the root word for fairy, so Story Fae is my little fairy tale. All modern fairy tales have a happy ending, and every mom wants that for her child, right? Well, it seems that Story prefers the grim, oral versions of old.

The little girl’s voice grew softer and softer as her pleas died with a slump of Story’s shoulders. In the next moment, the monster RAWRed triumphantly and my precious cherub-faced little girl laughed wickedly.

Story is now five years old, and the sounds have turned into words. So many words. She has embraced her name with a fervor that I could only dream of applying to my life. Still she cannot write, but at least I know she can tell a story.

Riley

 When I found out that I was haRileyving a girl, I had a very clear image in my mind of who she would be and was sure that choosing the right name for her was essential to making that happen. She would be a leader—someone who knew who she was, who would make the world what she wanted it to be, and who would not compromise on what she believed in. She’d be spunky. I drove straight to Walmart after my doctor’s appointment and picked up a book that promised me 100,000 names. The right one had to be in it. I spent two nights with a bowl of popcorn highlighting, circling, and making lists. I gave other names a chance, but there was always one name that embodied everything that I was looking for. Riley.

Now, I must admit, when I was envisioning this perfect little bundle of girl power, I did not think about the steps that it might take to mold these characteristics or how those traits she would need to have would manifest in a baby, or a toddler, or a small child. But when my tiny eight-month-old first sat in the middle of the room smiling at me while screaming with such force and pitch that I was sure the neighbors would call social services, I knew. While ideal in an adult, those innate strong-willed traits that she possesses would be the makings of a humbling parenting adventure.

Presently, she is three. The terrible twos (which lasted eighteen months, not a year) have come and gone. Life twisted and turned the way that it always does, and we now call a mid-sized Indiana town home.  I began a new job, which required Riley to begin daycare for the first time. She had been lucky enough to stay home with family previously. Besides the natural fear of leaving her with teachers I didn’t know very well, I also worried about how she would get along with the other kids. After all, her first interaction with another kid included her running full speed toward him, screeching, and then standing next to him and awkwardly laying her head on his shoulder. Neither the little boy nor his mother knew what to say, and the experience left me slightly concerned. My worries were soothed when one day she took the hand of another little girl and they walked into the daycare together. Her name was Story. I knew her mother only as another daycare mother and a coworker of mine. Again, life twisted and turned the way that it does. Now, Story and Riley fight and laugh like sisters and that coworker of mine is my best friend and confidant. And also the woman who wrote the book that named Riley.

This blog is an adventure﹘a misadventure, at times﹘about two families learning and growing together. Two single moms, Ali and Lesley, are determined to raise their very individual daughters, Maddie, Riley, and Story, to be true to their natures and gifts while still contributing to a polite society. No easy task. The Fey, those mischievous little imps, are messy, expressive, and so very imaginative. Like most children, they aren’t easily compartmentalized, and each requires a different battle plan﹘ahem, parenting strategy.

Here, Ali and Lesley share their wins and fails in the magical world of single moms, including stories of food, fixes, and family. Welcome to the clusterlove: three strong-willed girls, two single moms, one continuous adventure.