Like this unrepentant Chairman Mom member, I absolutely overdosed on family during their holiday break—Paul’s family, my family and especially Eli and Evie. I can’t remember a time I had that much quality time with them (despite some pretty heavy work stuff going on). 

As is usual with the creatively overloaded duo, we had several stuffies with rich backstories joining us along the way. In Memphis, Eli and Evie took four of our adorable little French, handmade “mouseys.” Aldea, a story on Valencia we love, carries them, and we’ve slowly collected these over the last six years or so. They come in little matchboxes and cigar boxes, and they are everything I would have wanted as a child, but my parents definitely would have never been able to afford. I even found a chef mouse and a king mouse from the same line while I was traveling in Italy last year. 

When I was cleaning out a closet recently I found a nondescript brown paper bag that I almost tossed without looking inside. I’m glad I didn’t! I found about 16 of these mice! Apparently our house cleaner had been stashing them there when she found them around the house for years. Eli and Evie—delighted—decorated the entire Christmas tree with them. Meantime, I realized—somewhat to my “oh, that’s why I’m so broke” shock—we have 22 of these mice!

They decided to take Grandma and Grandpa mousey to Memphis since they were going to see their grandparents. They also took Bride and Groom mousey—the next generation of the family, although it’s unclear whose kid is whose. Also, somehow I am the mom of the grandparent mice which means mice age more rapidly than humans or I’m reaaaaaalllyyy, reallllllyyyy old. 

Bride and Groom mousey have been a fascinating study in how my kids internalize gender roles. 

At one point we thought we’d lost Groom. (He was in the paper bag.) Eli tried to convince me to buy another set, panicked at poor Miss Havisham bride mouse still awaiting her happy ending. I was not about to spend the money again, as Bride and Groom are one of the more expensive ones. In the store, I was like “Hey! She doesn’t need a dude to make her happy! She’s got a whole family of mice!” Eli looked straight into my eyes and said emphatically, “Mom, you may not need a dude to be happy, but that’s not everyone. I’m telling you right now, I. Need. A. Dude.” 

Whoa. Noted. 

Even though Bride is defined by her any-minute marriage vows, she’s clearly the mouse modeled after me. She runs a company called Chairman Mouse. She also wrote a book called A Mommy Mouse Is Not a Louse, and has held multiple book signings. Her daughter, Rosa, helps sign them, just like Eli did when my book A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug came out. So I guess Bride mouse has found a way to have “a dude” and topple the mouse patriarchy all at once. Good for her. 

It’s amazing how much what you do when your kids are at school can still shape their view of what women are capable of. That may be a more important reason for women to start companies than any hope of an exit. If nothing else, it’s something to hold onto on rough days: This whole journey has already been worth it. 

FWIW, Grandma is no slouch either. She and Grandpa are famous inventors in the mouse world. They’ve made all sorts of sophisticated gadgets like this “picker” that carried Grandpa an entire mile in Memphis, with Grandma controlling the computer part at the top. 

This stick thing helped the mice stay stealth and move through Memphis more rapidly than they could on foot, which I was told, is important because Memphis is the headquarters of “Meat Mashup.” 

According to Evie, Meat Mashup is the largest, carnivorous fast food chain on the planet, specializing in Mouse-on-a-Stick and Roasted Toasted Fox on Toast. (Its rival is called “Vegetarian Village.”) 

The bosses at Meat Mashup have been trying to capture Grandma and Grandpa for years because all of their inventions keep untold mice out of the chain’s clutches, thwarting their ability to meet the insatiable public demand for Mouse-on-a-Stick. 

With a drama like this, is it any wonder that my kids waved off their tablets on our cross country flights, playing with mice instead?

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

* * * *