Motivated for Motherhood


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"I can't wait 'til I'm a mom," said my 8-year-old daughter, Marie, one evening many years ago. Any assigned task would bring out her philosophical side, and she and her 4-year-old sister, Sally, were making a career out of clearing the dinner table, one fork at a time. My wife, Betsy, had taken the baby into the living room to watch Jeopardy, Betsy's favorite TV show.

"Why so eager for kids?" I asked Marie.

"So I can answer their questions," she said, "but not dumb questions like Sally's." (The day before, she'd heard Sally ask me whether feathers contain "flat meat.")

"Sally asks good questions," I said loyally.

Sally was ignoring us, making a big show of lugging a 1-ton container of milk toward the refrigerator, her impression of a Hebrew slave building the pyramids. The bowed back and shuffling steps were theatrical ploys, not signs of a humble spirit.

Milk stowed away, Sally asked, "Daddy, can I have a cookie?"

"Ask Mommy. She's in charge of that," I said.

Sally also wants to be a mother. But for her, it's all about power. She zeroes in on power like a babysitter closing in on your last pint of Ben & Jerry's. "What are you in charge of?" she asked.

Actually, I'm in charge of lots of things. Well, two anyway — the family finances and opening tight jar lids. But I retorted, "I'm in charge of you." An impotent lie, transparent to anyone. Sally imagines that her mother wields awesome power and pictures herself on the throne of a similar empire someday.

Although Betsy does reign over Sally, only Sally sees that as a glamorous job. Here's an oil painting of the queen lounging in her salon one Tuesday evening:

Marie is demonstrating to her mother how to write the entire alphabet in cursive, drawing each letter in the air. Betsy, trying to watch Jeopardy, is underwhelmed by Marie's relentless exhibition of aerial penmanship. Besides, she has her lap full of our 1-year-old, who is thrusting her face into Betsy's face, babbling insistently in Martian.

"...And this is how I do an F," Marie says, as if she has an audience. "Oh! I messed up," she says, wiping the air with her other hand, impressive as a talking mime.

Sally, who has recently been hollered at for knocking over the baby, sulks behind the couch, emerging every two minutes to remind Betsy, "I'm still not talking to you!"

Because I was at work while all this was going on, I had to reconstruct it from my wife's testimony and a couple of indignant phoned-in bulletins from Sally. On weekday evenings when I was home, I would keep the bigger kids away from Betsy for a half-hour so she could enjoy the quiz show and shout her answers at the TV set. While doing the dishes, we'd hear their mother's intellect running rampant in the next room. "The Grapes of Wrath!" she'd yell. Or: "Mussolini!"

Like Marie, Betsy thinks it's fun to answer children's questions, but each evening for half an hour, just for a change of pace, she wants the questions to be asked by Alex Trebek. During a commercial, it was my turn to ask Betsy a question: "Why did you want to be a mother?"

"I thought it'd be fun," she said.

That's like getting into a tiger's cage because you like stripes. You need a more compelling reason for such a big commitment.

I'm reminded of Biology 101 and its theme that all living things — germs, oaks, manatees — are here primarily to reproduce. All an amoeba wants to do is get big, then split in two. Bing! Biological imperative satisfied! For humans, though, the development of viable offspring takes decades and requires the expenditure of huge amounts of effort, emotion and money to produce someone who may or may not remember to text you on Mother's Day.

Biology causes parents to have babies when their reasons wouldn't even support getting a hamster. But once the children arrive, something wonderful happens — their own little selves become reason enough.

Rick Epstein can be reached at rickepstein@yahoo.com.

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June 2019

Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $12/person. Free for ages 2 and younger.

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Enjoy food, activities, music, and water sprayer fun for kids. Sixteen vendors will offer African clothing, jewelry, beauty products, voter registration, HIV/AIDS education and testing,...

Cost: Free

Where:
East End Community
Wake Forest, NC  27587


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p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 15.0px Calibri; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} Safely view the Sun through a solar telescope, hear about how...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Learn more about our amazing star, the Sun. Safely view the Sun through a solar telescope, hear about how the Sun and other stars affect life on planets, and about current solar science...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
121 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Discover Historic Yates Mill - a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (6 - under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Nido: Coworking & Childcare
902 Broad St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Durham Refugee Day celebrates the contributions and cultures of our refugee and immigrant communities and provides an opportunity to stand in solidarity with these neighbors. This is a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Make colorful jellyfish with wiggly tentacles. Age 2-6 with caregiver. Register online. Choose course #125005.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
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Drop by the cybrary for storytime with a librarian. Activity Room 4. Preschool and kindergarten ages. No registration necessary. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Cybrary
100 N Greensboro St
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-918-7387
Contact Name: Cybrary
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: Free

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East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Ages 11 and older with special needs sing favorite songs, karaoke-style. Register online. Choose course #125030.

Cost: $3/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Cost: $3/person

Where:
Carrboro Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Sally Ride will take audiences on the ride of their life in this dynamic performance about space exploration. Through music, audience participation, and narrative, kids will see just how far...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Orange County Main Library
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Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
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Sally Ride will take audiences on the ride of their life in this dynamic performance about space exploration. Through music, audience participation, and narrative, kids will see just how far...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Orange County Main Library
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Cost: Free

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N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Marti Kane
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Explore the ocean through books and trivia. Make your own travel-sized magnetic fishing game. Grades 3-5.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Ages 11 and older with special needs play bocce, cornhole, croquet and more on the lawn. Register online. Choose course #125353.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Page-Walker Arts & History Center
119 Ambassador Loop
Cary, NC  27511
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Walk through the Cretaceous period, the Jurassic Period and the Triassic period and experience what it was like to be among living dinosaurs. See life-size replicas of adult and baby dinosaurs, dig...

Cost: $22-$36

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Ages 4-10 enjoy an evening with hiking, crafts, music, games and s'mores. Register online. Choose course #124331.

Cost: $23/parent and child pair; $12 additional child

Where:
Bond Park, Kiwanis Shelter
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Cost: General Admission

Where:
TreeRunner Raleigh
12804 Norwood Rd
Raleigh, NC  27613
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Sponsor: N/A
Telephone: 919-410-7347

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Walk through the Cretaceous period, the Jurassic Period and the Triassic period and experience what it was like to be among living dinosaurs. See life-size replicas of adult and baby dinosaurs, dig...

Cost: $22-$36

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $20-$70

Where:
Kerr Scott Building of NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Cost: Free

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh , NC  27607
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Website »

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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. Choose course #124952.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Please join us for the SouthEast Crab Feast event this summer in Raleigh, NC.  This event offers the Low Country Coastal Heritage of outdoor cooking of fresh seafood.  This highly...

Cost: $10-$30

Where:
Lake Wheeler Park
6404 Lake Wheeler Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: SouthEast Crab Feast Inc.
Telephone: 980-202-1142
Contact Name: Jamell Hamilton
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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Search wetlands and forests for birds. Ages 13-15. Register online. Choose course #124934.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Hemlock Bluffs/Stevens Nature Center
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (ages 6-under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Launch Ministries
3013 Barrow Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27616
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Telephone: (919) 225-1020
Contact Name: Yolanda Morgan
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