Saturday, November 30, 2013

And, in the end, the love you take

Today is the last day of November.  That means I made it.

I'm not sure how I feel.

I'm proud that I finished NaBloPoMo.  I'm proud that I wrote every day.  I feel stronger, better, more disciplined, more willing to write.

I worry that maybe I cheated a little.  That some of my posts weren't really very good.  That I phoned it in from time to time, dashed off something quick, didn't really put in the work.  To some extent I regret those days.  I know I could have done more, done better with those posts.  Better for myself, better for my craft.  I could have gotten further, made something more, moved farther into it.

And also not.

Also, it was good for me to put  posts out there that weren't always great.  Weren't polished.  Weren't finished.  Didn't feel important.  It was good for me to put those posts out there and have it be okay.

Sometimes, I get so caught up in my good ideas that I'm afraid of my not good ideas. I get so caught up in the possibilities associated with greatness that I forget about what is good.  I try to write something good instead of just trying to write.  Instead of just writing.

You never know where greatness is going to appear.  You never know what words will lead you somewhere you didn't expect.  You never know which words will be the ones someone else needs to hear.

All you have to give is who you are.  So you have to give it.  Even when it doesn't feel like anything special.

Even when I don't feel like I'm anything special.

I am.

I'm tired of giving myself permission not to write.  I'm tired of giving myself permission not to try too hard at anything in my life.  I don't need to be let off the hook anymore.  I need to be on the hook.

I don't know if I'm going to write tomorrow.

We'll see.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

And that's all I really have to say about that.

I don't really do Black Friday shopping.  I mean, I'm not a big fan of crowds.  And I'm not even a huge fan of stuff.  The day after Thanksgiving, what I really want to be doing is watching football and eating lots of pie on my couch with my feet up.

Somehow, that's not what I did today.  I'm not really clear on what I did today.  We went grocery shopping.  I made pancakes.  Somehow the house is a disaster and I don't really even remember any of us being here all day.  Except I couldn't really tell you where else we were all day.

This day, it seems to have just gotten lost.  I didn't put my tree up.  I didn't eat any leftover turkey.

I don't feel incredibly bad about this.  It's just 9:23 and I'm wondering how that happened.

And that's all I really have to say about today.

.... Oh.  Were you expecting something deep and insightful today?



I think, I've been waiting for someone to come  and take care of me.  I want to be nurtured and snuggled and accepted and told that my feelings are okay.  I want someone to get me some cake and a glass of water.  And sometimes I'm just really angry at the world that that doesn't seem to happen.  Why doesn't anyone take care of me?  Why doesn't anyone come stroke my hair and tuck me in and say "There, there" and "num num num"?

And I think, maybe I need to stop waiting for someone to do it and just start taking care of myself.  That rush of panic in my throat as I typed that probably means that it's the truth.

And that's all I really have to say about that.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I'm thankful for my warm house.

I'm thankful for a husband who is usually what I need and who is often everything  I'm not.  In a good way.

I'm thankful for two little girls who think I'm the most important thing in the world.  Even when it means they think I'm the most important thing in the world.

I'm thankful for friends who I've met in high school, in college, working, online, at playgroups.  Friends who let me be who I am and who see me better than I give them credit for.

I'm thankful for books, for words, for blank paper, for blogs.

I'm thankful for fluffy socks.

I'm thankful for pie.

I'm thankful that November is almost over.

I'm thankful for my messy life, mistakes and all.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jump in. let's go

I am sitting in the front passenger seat of my husband's car on the way home from Chik Fil A.  Behind me, my youngest has presumably fallen asleep or at least stopped crying.  My oldest is prattling away about what she sees out her window.

There is snow.  There are trees.  There are Christmas lights.

Tonight is beautiful.

I am startled from my dreaminess by DH unexpectedly yelling, "Ooohhhhhh SNAP!"  (What?) "BG, I bet you haven't even heard this song."

He turns up the radio.

I turn to him, the love of my life, with one eyebrow raised.  He grins ear to ear.

Uncharacteristically, I start singing along.

I hitched a ride with a vending machine repair man.

I can't remember a time when I was more acutely aware of being simply happy.


"They've had the cough for about 3 weeks now," I told the phone nurse at 8:15 this morning.

"We have walk in hours from 8 to 9.  Can you make it in?"

I looked from my to do list to the clock to my pajamas to the banana covered baby in the high chair to the pantsless threenager watching Sid the Science kid on the couch.


As I pulled on pants, I mapped out the best way to maximize the morning.  We could pop into CVS to pick up deals, catch the 10:00 story time if it wasn't canceled, and then maybe get Chick Fil A for lunch before coming home to make the three sides I'd committed to for Thanksgiving.  I could still totally win at today.

Halfway there, I realized I didn't have the library books, my CVS card and coupons, or my phone.

"Maybe we'll just go home."

Back home, with the doctor's pretty all clear on health, I asked BG what she wanted to do.  "Play a game with me, go out in the snow?  Playdough?  Dot paint?"

"I think I just want to watch TV, mommy," she said, melting into the couch.

I sighed, turned on Sesame Street, kissed her on the head, set the baby on the floor and started chopping celery and onions.


After a second cup of coffee, with my sides made and my bathrooms cleaned and my children both miraculously napping, I wrote.  I sat down with my notebook, set a timer for 15 minutes and filled pages.  I wrote about loss and fear and longing.  I sat in the quiet house and stared at the wall for a few minutes after.

Then I broke my Internet fast.  Checked in on twitter and facebook and google chat.  Felt relieved and ashamed and anxious and desperate to please and grateful and all the usual feelings that if anyone felt them all at the same time, they'd explode.

I didn't explode.

I messaged a dear friend and had a vulnerable conversation.  I worried that I'd said the wrong thing.  I was grateful for her presence in my life, grateful for the Internet and social media that made it possible for me to know such amazing people, even as it filled me with doubt and confusion and hustling.  Grateful and confused and happy.

I looked around the house, at the uncolored Thanksgiving coloring pages I had printed, at the half folded laundry on the hallway floor, at the full dishwasher and the dinner uncooked, at the Thanksgiving sides I had made, at my two coughing and sniffly but otherwise perfect  little girls, at the computer containing my work and my world and my dear dear friends and half my sanity.

DH called.  "Do you want to go out for dinner?"

"Maybe, yeah.  I promised the girls Chick Fil A earlier."

Every day is a winding road.
I get a little bit closer
Every day is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine. NaBloPoMo November 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Head above water

Today started with my sweet, sweet smallest girl waking up covered in dried vomit.  She hadn't cried.  I hadn't heard her wake up at all, or even cough last night.  She woke up at 6, looked confused, and quietly snuggled as I whisked her into the shower, brushed her teeth and handed her off to daddy so I could change her sheets.

Today didn't start great.

There was snow on the ground when I woke up, and snow falling from the sky too for that matter.  My biggest girl, who woke up by 6:30, wanted to go out and play but I told her we'd have to wait to see if Little Sister felt better later.

So we watched TV.  We played games on my computer.  We marched laps around the coffee table.  We built with blocks.  We sang "Where is Thumbkin?" We painted.  We cut.  We glued.  We watched more TV.

I reluctantly put my sweet baby girl in her crib for her nap after briefly considering promising to never ever make her go to that awful place again.

She was fine.

We were all fine.

This morning, I felt myself spiraling.  I felt myself losing control.  I'd been so happy that she'd slept, and then to find her how I did, I just thought I must be the worst mother who'd ever lived.

I'm not.

My stomach still hurts.  My big girl and I have a little bit of snowed in cabin fever.  My sweet baby is still sick.

And we're all okay anyway.

Because whatever I can do today is just going to have to be enough, so it is enough.

But maybe whatever I can do every day is enough too.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Are you my audience?

And then the little blogger linked up with the popular bloggers and told a cute story about her kid.

Are you my audience?

But the cute mommy bloggers just looked at her and didn't say a word.  So the little blogger went on.

And then she linked up with the memoir bloggers and told a poignant story from her childhood.

Are you my audience?

"We are not your audience.  We are memoir bloggers.  How could we be your audience?"

So the little blogger went on.

And then the little blogger linked up with the mental health bloggers and wrote about her depression.

Are you my audience?

"Well we like you a whole lot.  Is that the same thing?"

Kinda.  And the little blogger went on.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say.  As a writer, as a mother, and as a human, I am still looking for my place.  I don't fit in a box.  I don't want to fit in a box.  And I guess, I need to learn to believe that the people for whom my words make sense are the people for whom I am meant to write.  That I can't be anyone but me, even if I think "me" is small and unimportant and boring.  That I just have to say whatever it is I have to say, and trust the magical fairies that live in the Internet to bring the right people to me.

C'mon magical fairies.  Any day now.

(Kidding.  Mostly. ;)  Smooches, dear readers.  Thanks for being my mother audience.)

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Let's call this a post

You know what's worse than word vomit?

Actual vomit.

I'm on my third pair of yoga pants of the day.

I'm going to call this a post and call it a day.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Shutting down.

Every day I wake up thinking, I'm going to do better today.

I'm going to exercise.
I'm going to write.
I'm going to shower.
I'm going to get the baby's laundry that's been in the basket all week put away.
I'm going to clean out my closet.
I'm going to read.
I'm going to play with the kids.
I'm going to unplug.
I'm going to turn the TV off.
I'm going to get the house clean.
I'm going to bake.
I'm going to do cool projects or science experiments with BG (wait, what?  She's 3).
I'm going to get my errands done.

And then because I can't do all of those things in one day, I don't do any of it.  And I sit on the couch zoning out on the computer while BG watches TV.  And I beat myself up.  And I pout. 

I sit there, trying to map out in my head how to do everything.  I try something and screw it up or get overwhelmed and anxious and I quit.

(Yes.  Now I have Ramon from Peg + Cat singing "You can never [words I don't remember] by saying 'I give up'" in my head.  I do what I can.)

I beat myself up for shutting down.  I label myself a failure, worthless, broken.  I become convinced that I'll never get better, that I'll never be good enough, that I'll never have any value or be successful at anything.

Then I call myself a drama queen for thinking all of that.

I don't know how to stop the madness.  I'm tired.  I'm tired from the baby getting up at night and thinking that coming to my bed at 3 means we're going to have an early morning buffet.  I'm tired from my 3 year old running into me and the walls and singing and yelling.  I'm tired from loving my kids so freaking much.  But mostly I think I'm tired from all the effort that kicking my own ass takes every day.

Rationally I know that I should just do *something*.  That the longer I sit still the more overwhelming and impossible life is going to seem.  That it's okay to sit still and recharge and it's okay to only get a few things done.  That it's okay to feel frustrated and discouraged and disappointed sometimes. 


I'm so afraid.  I don't even know what I'm afraid of.   I'm afraid of being a failure.  I'm afraid of no one loving me anymore.  I'm afraid of being seen as negative, whiny, dramatic.  I'm afraid of never getting better.  I'm afraid that this is as good as it gets.  I'm afraid that I am letting my kids down.  I'm afraid that I will never be good enough for them.  I'm afraid that I'm making mistakes, making the wrong choices.  

So I shut down instead.  

I need to figure out how to turn myself back on.  Errr, that didn't sound right. 

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

5 things I never thought I'd hear myself say until I was a parent

1.  No, you may not sit on your sister's head.
2.  Don't lick the car.
3.  No, this is the bathroom.  This is not where we come to dance.  It's just where we come to use the potty.
4.  I am not now, nor ever have been, the silly beast.
5.  It's okay that you want to be pretty, but stop smearing spit on your face.  That's not what people do.

And that was just today.  Ahem.

What have you recently been heard saying?

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Just a mommy

A few months ago, something got in my husband's head, and he told BG that I was a teacher.  It's true, I suppose.  It will always be true, whether I'm in a classroom or not.

But it sounds weird.

Every time she asks me "Mommy, are you a teacher?" I twitch a little.  It feels untrue, unearned.  She takes it a step further by thinking that this means I can teach her anything.  "You can teach me baseball, mommy, because you're a teacher!"

One day, a few weeks ago, I was in the kitchen cleaning up dinner while DH played with the girls. "I have all the bears!" he said.  "But not mommy.  Is mommy a bear?"

"No!" said BG.  "She's just a mommy!"

"Yup!" I chorused, sarcastically, from the kitchen "JUST A MOMMY."

"Oh," she said.  "Are you a teacher, mommy?  I forgot."

And I sat down on the kitchen floor and cried.

When I say things like this, I always want to apologize for them.  I want to say "But that doesn't mean I want to go back to work.  That doesn't mean I want to be anywhere other than where I am right now.  That doesn't mean that being a mommy isn't enough, that I want to change something about my life right now."  I want to soften, to justify what I'm saying.

I want to be where I am.  I want to be with my girls all day.  I want to be a mommy.

But sometimes?  I'm really sad.

I miss my big kids.
I miss my colleagues.
I miss the books and even the essays sometimes.
I miss being good at something, being respected and admired.
I miss feeling like I was making a difference every day.

And you're going to want to tell me I'm still making a difference every day.  And I am.  I know I am.  I guess I know that mothering is worthy work, work worth doing.  I guess I realize that I'm doing enough.

But sometimes it doesn't feel like enough for me.

Which isn't to say I want to be anywhere else.

I did it again.

I want to be a full time mommy, but I don't want to be just a mommy.  I want to be me, to be a person, to do important work, to be smart and competent and valued.

I don't really know what that means yet.  But I'm working on it.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My work

I kind of feel like lately I've been showing my ass on here a little.

I mean, my process.  Showing my process.  Ahem.

I am writing about writing, a lot.  I am thinking about writing a lot, so I guess that makes sense, but it feels a little bit like naval gazing.  It feels a little self interested, a little small, a little like something no one cares to hear.

So, here I am writing about writing about writing.  D'oh.

But here's what I'm trying to say.

I think when I'm writing about writing, I'm not really writing about writing.

I'm writing about being who you are.

I am a writer.  This is my work.  That is a scary thing to say.

This is my work, and it's my work if I get one comment or a million, if it gets syndicated or not.  It's my work and it matters.

And when I try to pretend it doesn't matter, when I am so afraid to admit I want it to matter that I don't do it at all, then I am doing the world a disservice.

And here's the part where this post gets a little preachy and self-helpy.

Because you need to do your work, too.

And it's scary.

In fact, I think the scarier it is, the more certain you can be that it's the right thing for you to do.

I want to be successful at this, and by successful I mean that I want my words to touch people's hearts and change their lives.

But I want to do this even if I'm not successful.

Remind me that I said this on December 1st when I'm gorging myself on chocolate and not writing a blog post.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Last Monday I went to my doctor for a med check.  When I upped my dose, she'd told me she wanted me to come back in a month to make sure I was doing better.

"But," she'd said. "I think what you really need is a break.  I want you to go out by yourself, even just to get a cup of coffee or read a book in the park, twice before you come back next month.  Or at least once.  Okay?"

I totally didn't do my homework.

I walked into the office, sheepishly, trying not to hang my head or avoid eye contact because I didn't want to look suspicious.  Bro nurse asked me about the local hockey team.  I smiled and nodded.

She asked how I was.  I said I was better.  She told me to come back in 3 months.

She didn't ask about the breaks.

Whew.  Kinda.


On Saturday night, I went to Mom's Night Out for the first time.  I'd RSVP'd yes, but right up until 10 minutes before I was supposed to be there, I was totally planning to back out.  I mean, dinner and drinks with other adults?  Scary stuff.  And even though these are the moms I have playgroups with every week, I wouldn't have my extroverted daughter to hide behind.

"I better text them and say  I'm not coming."

"What?" asked my ever compassionate husband. "No.  You were crazy today.  Stop being ridiculous and go."

"Hey.  I wasn't crazy.  I ... WHY ARE YOU ALL TOUCHING ME? ... I should go."

I went.  I got a Cosmo.  We had Hibachi.  We talked about our kids and our husbands, about our former lives, about Downton Abbey (HUH, so THAT'S what grown ups talk about).  We laughed.  Apparently, I'm funny sometimes.

When I realized they were cleaning up the restaurant around us, I glanced at my phone to check the time.  11:40.  My breath caught in my throat a little.  I'd been away from home that long?  Was everything okay?  I didn't have any messages.  Had BG gone to bed okay?  What had my husband done all night without me?

After we paid the bill and said goodnight, I walked to my car.  It wasn't a pumpkin.

I was grateful I had gone. Or so I kept reminding myself as the vulnerability crept up into my brain.


Lately, I've been hearing it a lot.  "You need to get a break, girl."  "You deserve a break."

And I guess I'm just wondering, Why do I deserve it?

People are saying this to me as I'm sitting on my couch, typing on my laptop while my baby climbs my leg and my three year old bangs on her cat piano, making up a song about how mad she is that Baby Sister broke her styrofoam plane.

And the people who are saying this to me are often at work.

It's not that I don't think that being with my kids is worthy work.  Not really.  And yes, I get peopled out.  I get overwhelmed.  I get crazy.

But deep down inside, it really doesn't feel like I deserve a break.


My girls napped this afternoon. Both of them, at the same time.  And even though I wanted to clean my kitchen, get a jump start on dinner, fold the laundry, exercise, I couldn't keep my eyes open, so I lay down too.  I slept for an hour.  And it was okay.  Everything that needed to be done got done.  And I felt less crazy.

It still feels a little bit like a failure or a weakness, though. NaBloPoMo November 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

On Self Compassion. Or not.

Last week, I started reading Self Compassion by Kristen Neff.


I'm supposed to be nice to myself?  And I'm even supposed to be nice to myself about how I'm not really very nice to myself?


One of the things that the book suggests is that when things are hard, you need to treat yourself with kindness.  Say something gentle to yourself.  Acknowledge that you are feeling pain and deserve kindness for it.  Give yourself a hug and stroke your own hair.

Just not, y'know, if you're in public.

Here's the thing.  You're even supposed to be compassionate to yourself when your pain is because of your own screw up.

Especially if it's because of your own screw up.

I'll be over here in the corner hugging myself.


NaBloPoMo November 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The one where my eyes aren't open all the way

I'm hoping right now that my fingers know the way through this post better than my brain does.  Because right now all that's going on in my head is "Grrrrr, arrrrrgh, gguuuuuuuuhhhhh."  But if I just keep my fingers moving across the keyboard, maybe something magical will happen.  I'ts happened before.

My eyes are kind of blurry right now so I can't even see the words as they appear on my keyboard.  I know I probably just need to blink and shift them into focus again but I don't know that I particularly want to.

My feet are up on the coffee table, my ankles crosses.  My engagement ring is turned 45 degrees to the left of center so that my princess diamond skims my pinkie when I start really moving across the keys.  I know that I could fix it, but I don't think I really want to.

I stopped typing for a second there, and I just stopped.  Wasn't sure how to start again.  Stared off into space with not a single thing coming into my head.

Quiet in my head is usually a good thing.

There are things stirring around in there, though.  When we got home tonight, the power was out, and aside from the fleeting thought "Oh, I still need to write a blog post," I was kind of glad.  We talked and played and then the power came back on in time to bathe the kids and put them to bed.

I know that I don't need to wait for the power to be off to turn everything off.

I kinda know.

I want to write about going to Mom's Night Out last night.  And I will write about it.  But I won't write about it today, at 9:53 at night, when I haven't processed it, when it's still a jumble and confusing and my eyes aren't open all the way.  It has to cook in my head a little more.

I want to write about the baby, about what a surprise she still is to me, about how she defaults to happy and that is not something I'm used to.  About how much I love her to my core.  About how she's hardly a baby anymore.

I'm tired.

But you knew that already.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On compliments and shame

I don't take compliments well.

They're hard for me to hear.  They kind of send me on a spiral.

I don't mind when people compliment my work.  Actually, I really like it.  It's when people compliment *me* and my self and my worth that I get all squirmy.

I want to contradict them.  I want to tell them that clearly they've made a mistake.  That they don't see how worthless I am, how lazy and unambitious and boring and uncool I am.  That they somehow missed the fact that I'm a failure and a loser.

But contradicting compliments is rude.  And it sounds whiny and dramatic, and I don't want to be seen as dramatic.  So I try to just say "Thank you."

But in my head I'm thinking, Man, I fooled them again.

They don't know.

They don't see the real me.

No one ever really sees me.

Sweet, sweet friends try to help me by telling me I'm a good mother, I'm a good friend, I'm a good person.  They tell me I inspire them, that I impress them.

And all I can think is I thought they knew me.

Because in my head there are only two possible explanations for the compliments. Either 1) They are patronizing and pitying me or 2) They are drastically and unequivocally deceived about me.

And it feels lonely.  Instead of feeling loved, I feel more alone.  More distant.  More apart.  Because clearly these people who say things like "You always impress me" haven't been listening when I've been describing my life.

And then I only have 3 choices.  Hustle to try to live up to their expectations.  Contradict and then swirl into a self-pitying, defensive mess.  Or disappear.


This post sounds self-pitying.  Maybe it is.  It sounds like it's fishing for compliments, which it definitely ISN'T.  It sounds like I totally hate myself and beat myself up all the time, which isn't really true either.  I'm probably going to want to disappear from the Internet forever as soon as I click publish.

But I suspect (SIDE EYE, friends) that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring

Knock, knock.

Who's there?


Me who?

Me.  You know, me.  Standing on your doorstep.  And therefore, by definition, not phoning it in.

Okay.  As jokes go, that isn't one.  And as posts go, this is only kinda one.

I had a rough day.  A long day.  I wanted to do everything right, to turn the TV off, to be present, to unplug, to go out, to do art, to have me time, to exercise, to read, to write.

The reality is never the same as the fantasy.

We did art.  We got groceries.  We read books.

We also watched TV.  I got kicked.  I got screamed at. I got bathwater dumped on me. I yelled.  I hid online to numb the feelings of how much I couldn't handle all the feelings in my house.  I beat myself up.  I apologized to my kids.  I apologized to myself.

I made it to the end of the day.  And I published a blog post.

 You're welcome.

  NaBloPoMo November 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm a good parent and I want to parent better

1 par·ent noun \ˈper-ənt\
: a person who is a father or mother : a person who has a child

2  parent verb
: to be or act as a parent

Merriam Webster

Parent is a noun.   It is my role, my identity.  It is [part of] who I am.  I am a parent.

I am a good parent.

I know this in my bones, to the core of me.  I know that I am the parent my kids need, even when I feel like I don't deserve to have kids as great as they are.  I know that I love them, and they love me.  I know that I am where I belong and that they belong with me.  I know that I am good at being the person who is their parent.

Parent is a verb.  To parent.  I am parenting my children.  It's what I do all day, every day.

I'm not always especially good at that part.

Parenting is a set of skills, and they aren't skills that come naturally to everyone.  I wonder if they come naturally to anyone.  I wonder where we get the idea that these things are supposed to be easy, that without any training or practice we're supposed to know how to educate, socialize, discipline, clean, dress, feed, and converse with these small people who come suddenly into our lives and insist on changing constantly forever.

It's hard.  Parenting is hard.  I don't have all the skills.  I don't know how to do all these things.

I'm not used to not knowing how to do things.

Sometimes, I get the two confused.  I think that because I am not always good at parenting that I am not a good parent.  I think that my actions define my identity.

I feel ashamed.  I shut off.  I don't like not being good at things.

But if parenting is a set of skills, then acquiring those skills is part of the job.  On the job training.  Learning.  Growing.  Changing.  I want to keep reading, I want to keep listening, I want to figure out how to parent better.

Because I think that's what makes someone a good parent.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

10 Ridiculous things I pin my worth on

  1. How many hours of TV we watched today.
  2. What kind of mood my 3 year old is in.
  3. How many vegetables my kids ate this week.
  4. How quickly the baby meets her milestones.
  5. The nap schedule the baby doesn't have at all.
  6. How many mentions I have on twitter when I check in.
  7. How many comments my blog posts get.
  8. Whether my laundry is done (Spoiler alert: It isn't.)
  9. How much money I saved at the grocery store.
  10. How many wise and cute and clever things I've said to people today.
How about you?

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


There was snow on the ground when we woke up this morning.

The baby had been in my bed since 4, the preschooler woke up before 6.  I stumbled around, pouring cereal, making coffee.

BG saw the snow.  "SNOW SNOW SNOW.  It's winter!"

We finished our breakfast.  Got dressed.  Pulled on boots and baby carriers and coats and stepped out the door.

"Mommy.  Can we make a snowman?"

"There's not really enough snow for that honey.  We can make footprints."

"Okay, mommy.  You walk in my footprints."

Breathe in, breathe out.  The baby strapped to my chest is trying to pull on her socks, not wearing the shoes we bought her on Sunday because she still curls her feet too much to get them on.  The big girl needs a new hat because the one she's trying to pull onto her head is noticeably too small.  I follow her around the yard, stomping, stepping, trotting.  We walk in circles.

I haven't written yet today.  I don't know what's happening on twitter.  I want to have a second cup of coffee.

BG claps her hands, throwing snow onto me.  I keep following her footprints.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013


Normally when I write, I start one of two ways.  I start with an idea or story and mull it over in my head until I hear it work.  Or, I start in the moment and write where I am and see where I end up.

I don't have an idea today.  And if I start in the moment, with my fluffy red socks, with Peg Plus Cat on the TV, with my pajama clad daughter's foot on my stomach, with the empty coffee cup I keep absentmindedly lifting to my lips, with the overflowing laundry basket in the middle of the room, if I tell the truth as it is now, will anyone still be reading?

There's truth and then there's Truth.

Every morning, I'm on the couch.  The TV's on.  I stare absent-mindedly at Twitter, longing for a time when Twitter felt like playing, like I was at a party where everyone liked me, where it felt like a break instead of feeling like nothing.

Every day I empty my dishwasher.  Every day I fold laundry.  Every day I get dressed.  I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I watch my daughter color.  I read Olivia, Green Eggs and Ham, Madeline.

That's what I do.

That's not who I am.

I am a mother.  I am a reader.  I am a writer.  I am compassionate and empathic.  I am wise.  I am goofy.  I like wordplay.  I like crossword puzzles.  I like psychology and brain theory.  I live in my head and in the computer and in the world.  I believe in the power of words and the power of love.  I believe that the ordinary things matter as much as the extraordinary.

I am someone.  I am not what I do.

I want to write the truth, I want to be authentic.  I want to be the same me everywhere I go.  I want to live a life out loud, to not be ashamed or afraid.  But I'm not my laundry, and I'm not my depression, and (even though I really forget this one) I'm not my kids.

I want to tell the truth, but I don't even really know what it is.  There's something in my head that I desperately want to get out there but I don't know how to say it or how to even hear it.  I want to be seen.  Me.  The real me.  Sometimes I feel like the more I talk, the less people understand.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On sponges and walls

I'm kind of a sponge.

I suppose you could call me "sensitive" or "empathic."  I prefer sponge.  

But whatever you call me, if you have a feeling and I'm in your near emotional vicinity, I'm probably going to have it too.  And sometimes I forget that it isn't my feeling.

My oldest daughter is a bit of a sponge too.  THAT makes for some interesting days together, with the two of us feeding off each other, winding each other up, and then getting mushy lovey-doveyness all over each other.  While the baby eats crayons.   Or cheerfully climbs on her sister's head, while BG yells "NO I DON'T WANT THE BABY."

I asked  Jenny once what it means if I feel like myself again, but only when my kids are asleep.  She said that means I'm normal.  Huh. (And THAT would be a first.) ;)

But in all seriousness, sometimes I really need a break.

I just need to be away from my daughter for 20 minutes.  20 minutes when I can listen to an audiobook, empty my dishwasher, eat pizza on my couch, stare at a wall.  Just not be talked to or climbed on for a little while.  Just not be overcome by all the love and all the craziness all the time.  

But she doesn't see it that way.

I hate naptime.  It is the worst time of the day.  It is the time of the day when BG and I are most at odds out of our entire lives.  I am in favor.  She is not.

And as much as my logical brain tells me that whether she sleeps or not, the space and quiet time is good for both of us, I can't help but feel I am banishing her because I am selfish.  Because she only wants me.

But she's three.  And I'm 32.  I need to trust that I'm the one who knows what's best.

That's a hard thing to trust sometimes.


Speaking of people in my immediate emotional vicinity.  (Weren't we speaking of that?  I swear we were.)  Here's the thing I love hate  struggle with most about social media.

You're all up in my space all the time.  And you don't even know it.

I read your words and I hear you.  I feel you.  I get it.  I am fully immersed in all of you.  I write?  And I put all of my feelings out there in a way I NEVER would do if you were in front of me.  The emotional space between us is narrower and narrower.  Almost as narrow as it is with the three year old who spends her days with her nose a centimeter away from mine.

It's an amazing feeling.  Closeness.  Connection.  Belonging.  And it's scary as hell.  And it's totally and completely overwhelming.  Sometimes I get lost in it.  So lost that I forget I have my own feelings that are not being beamed into my head from across the interwebz.

That's the part that's probably not so good.

Putting up walls is my go to move.  Running away and retreating into myself is my comfort position.   I don't want to go there.  I don't want to be under my desk.

But I need to breathe.

What's the difference between a boundary and a wall?

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Because you have to laugh

Last night, I took BG to the bathroom in a restaurant.  It had been a long day, and I was feeling stressed and emotional and a little resentful because I just wanted to eat my dinner.  But she was doing so well, and I was proud of her for telling me she had to go, so I pretended to be cheerful.

As she was sitting on the toilet, someone went into the stall next to us.

"Mommy, there's another kid in here, peeing just like I am."

"Well maybe, honey.  It could be a kid.  Or it could be a grownup."

"Or it COULD be a kid."

The woman in the stall next to us cracked up laughing, flushed the toilet, and click clacked her heels to the sink to wash her hands.

"Mommy, there's a grown up in here."

"Yes, honey."

"The kid turned into a grown up!"

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Just a quick post

Just a short post today because my in-laws are visiting and I hear someone in the shower which means that my morning quiet time while BG watches TV is about to be over earlier than it usually is.


The three year old is sitting on my head.  The baby is nursing.  As usual.  I'm typing frantically.  Writing as if my life depends on it.

I'm not good at a lot of things.  One of the things I'm not very good at is making my own needs known, taking care of myself.   I've been feeling really self conscious about this, like it was a fault.  Like I should be ashamed of not doing enough self care. Like it meant I wasn't serious about my recovery, wasn't working hard enough, wasn't ever going to get better.

Oh hi brain.  You're being a jerk again.

Grabbing tight to the things that matter.  Finding a minute to write.   Reaching out to help people I love.  Giggling with the baby for 5 seconds without worrying about whether it's the right thing to do.

Grabbing on tight to myself.

I've got this.  I've totally got this.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

An off day

I'm sitting on the couch with my feet up on the table.  My tea is Pomegranate Pizzazz.  The three year old is sitting next to me, her feet occasionally on top of me, drawing on her Doodle Pro board while she watches the Sid the Science Kid episode about rollie pollies.  The baby is carefully examining a bag of Mega Bloks with a critical and patient eye that always surprises and impresses me.

Yesterday, I didn't get of the couch all day.  I was on my computer all day, zoning out and wasting time.  The TV was on all day.  I felt tired and burned out and useless.

I was sick.  I had a cough and a runny nose.

But it felt like depression.

Even though it wasn't.

So.  That's weird.

I'm realizing that I'm afraid to need a break.  I'm afraid to rest.  I'm afraid to have an off day.  And it isn't guilt, and it isn't that it feels like I'm a failure.  It's that it feels like I'm falling apart.

Every rational part of my brain knows that everyone has off days.  Knows that when you haven't slept enough, you feel tired.  That when I'm meeting everyone else's needs and no one is meeting mine, I can get resentful and angry and that isn't pathological.

But that's how it feels.  It's scary.  I'm always afraid that I am right on the edge of the pit.

And so I try to fix it.  I try to make myself feel useful when I want to take a nap.  I try to keep running all the time, to try to outrun all the gross feelings.  I show up.  I host playgroups.  I write every day.  I check on everyone else.

And those things are good for me.  They really are.  I don't regret the time I spend doing those things.

But sometimes I get run down.  Of course I do.  Sometimes I get sick, sometimes I get tired, sometimes I just need a break.

And those things are okay too.

And when I try to explain it, when I try to work through in my head WHY I don't want to get off the couch, when I analyze and justify and fight with myself, that's where the spiral starts.  I get sucked into social media hoping to find reassurance that I'm not falling apart and when I don't find it (because where on earth would I find it there?) I get sucked in further.  I spin down.  I get scared and lonely and sad.  I worry that I'm too whiny and self involved, that no one will ever love me again.  I try harder to help everyone else other than me, and if there's no one to help I feel even more useless.  I feel even more alone and hopeless and lost.

It's okay to have an off day.

And the truth is I did get off my couch yesterday.  I made baked ziti.  I played hide and seek.  I cleaned my bathroom.  Why don't I remember those things when I try to describe the day?

My depression is a very real presence in my life.   It's always talking to me, always making me doubt myself, always threatening to overtake me.

But. That doesn't mean I'm not getting better.  It doesn't mean that the stories I tell myself about sinking and being lost and never feeling better are true.

I'm so much better.  I get up and do the things that need to be done and I see the good things around me and I write.  Even when I'm having an off day.

So there, depression.  Take that.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

10 Excuses not to write today

1.  I have that kind of cough where you're never 100% sure whether junk is going to come up in your throat.
2.  My kids both woke up at 4 AM.  For the day.  For the second day in a row.
3.  I wrote yesterday.
4.  I have to clean the bathrooms.
5.  BG didn't nap.  Again.
6.  Someone said something to me which could be remotely seen as insulting and hurtful.  If you squint.
7.  My coffee wasn't very good this morning.
8.  I'm making pasta for dinner.
9.  It's cloudy and gross out.  Or maybe it's sunny, actually.  But that's not what's important.
10.  Words are scary and mean and hard.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dear friend, you are winning

One morning last week, I decided I was going to commit to really spending more unplugged time being present with my kids.

I sat on the floor.  The baby handed me a toy, and I couldn't help but smile.  BG and I did a puzzle.  I thought, Man I'm totally winning at parenting.

Then she decided the game she wanted to play was to hide the shark puzzle in her toybox, peek at it, run across the room and throw herself with full force into my lap, giggle screaming directly in my face that there was a shark in the toybox.

It was funny and endearing.  Once.

We did that for another twenty minutes.

I'm not going to lie.  I didn't love it.  But I did it.  And I laughed.  And I screamed.  Every time.

And after 20 minutes of that I was spent, and I turned the TV back on.

There was a second when I felt like a rockstar.  I was winning at motherhood. I had played peek a boo with the shark.

And then that other voice kicked in.  Are you freaking kidding me?  Twenty minutes?  Out of your whole day?  That's all the time you can spend on the floor with your kids?  And you didn't even enjoy it.  Why aren't you enjoying it?  You're supposed to enjoy it.

Yesterday, BG wanted to color in the morning.  She'd gotten a new art set this weekend, and she wanted to try all the crayons, the markers, the paints.  She sat there prattling away to me and coloring.  I asked her questions, cleaned the kitchen around her.  I sat down and painted with her.   I was a total rockstar.

This is what you're proud of?  This?  This is nothing.  You should be doing this all the time.  You should be doing more.

Every time I hold the baby or wear her and she reaches up and pets my face and I kiss her, I am overcome with joy.  For about five seconds.

Your poor baby.  She never gets your undivided attention.  You hardly ever even write about her.  She's going to think you don't love her as much.  She just gets dragged around after everyone else, and she's so sweet about it.  You don't deserve her, mama.  She's too good for you.

Oh for the love of coffee.

My daughters are so loved.  So loved.  And they are crazy about me because I'm their mom.  And they're happy and smart and kind because of the time I've spent with them and the things I've modeled for them.  I listen to them, let them lead the way, watch and acknowledge what they create, listen to their stories, play their games.  I am here, all the time, more than I ever give myself credit for.

I am winning.

And you, mama, you are winning too.  Even when you don't feel like it.  Even when that voice tells you that it isn't enough, tells you that you don't have anything to be proud of, that it's not okay for you to be happy.  Even when the wheels are coming off the chains and everyone is screaming in your face and you want to put your head through the wall.

It's never going to be perfect.  You're never going to get it all right.  You aren't going to be able to do everything, at least not all at the same time.

Thank God for that.

When I am writing while my daughter colors in her journal, that is winning.  I am being true to myself and modeling being a human being with depth.  When I stare into space and sip coffee while the girls cuddle me and watch TV, that is winning.  Because, cuddling.  And coffee.  Obviously.   When I yell and then apologize that is winning.  Because losing your temper is human and apologizing is an important life skill.

When all I can do is the next right thing and get through the day until bedtime, I am winning.  Because I made it.

You are winning, mama.  Every day.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

I don't want to write

I don't want to write today.

All I want to do is sit on my couch and cry.

I'm tired of feeling like a failure. I'm tired of caring what other people think. I'm tired of being ashamed of wanting things, of being ashamed of trying. I'm tired of trying to look cool, trying to look like I don't really care all that much.

I'm tired of talking in circles around what I really want to say.

I'm tired of being sad when I rally want to be angry.

I'm tired of being tired.

I'm tired of shrinking.

I'm tired of hiding my light, of hiding under the table, of being afraid to admit that I think I'm good.

I am sad. I am hurt. I am angry. I want to be a real writer. I want to write things that people connect to. I want my words to matter to people. I want to have a bigger platform, a taller pedestal because I think what I am saying matters.

I want to help people because that's what I'm good at. Because I'm damn good at it.

My daughter has her nose on my nose right now and I am typing without looking at the screen as she asks me for the fiftieth time if she can use my computer to play a game.

I'm sorry, baby, I'm writing.

I write.

I'm a writer.


(That was the part of the post where she said she really wanted to help.)

The baby is on the floor of the kitchen, probably eating crayons.

This is who I am. This is what I do. I press my nose on my daughter's nose, I stop the baby from eating crayons, I write.

I don't want to be ashamed of that anymore.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dancing alone

My family and I went to a party last night. (Screeeeech.  Full stop.  Me?  A party?  Yeah.)  It was a fundraiser for a rare genetic disorder that one of BG's friends has.  Which, in theory is a sad thing, but he's doing really well, so it was a good news, celebratory kind of night.  Three hundred people (eep!) were there to support this family and to help find a cure for this disease.  As ways to spend a Saturday, it was pretty rad.

We walked in the door, and I looked nervously around for someone I knew to sit with.  BG heard music and ran straight to the dance floor.  I stood on the edge and watched as my three year old girl ran right into the middle of things and started busting a move.  There was music, there were kids, she was dancing.  For her, there was never a question, never a hesitation.

I loaded up a plate with fried chicken and pasta. BG danced.   I had a beer and a cupcake. BG ran around with a friend.  I fed the baby.   BG played.  I don't remember saying more than 5 words to other moms that were anything other than "Look at them go, they're so cute."  And that was okay.

With the baby on my hip, I stood on the edge of the dance floor swaying and singing along to Dancing Queen.  I wasn't really worried about who was watching me.  It was okay to be a little silly.

As the night wore on, most of the kids we knew started leaving, or at least running out of steam and sitting down.  The dance floor started being more and more dominated by a group of slightly older - maybe 5 or 6 years old - who seemed to all know each other, holding hands in a circle, and playing rambunctiously.

My little girl wanted nothing more than to be in that circle.

She ran over and stood near them, smiling expectantly. They kept playing as if they didn't even see her.  Maybe they didn't.  They broke the circle and ran, laughing uproariously, across the room.  BG chased after them.  Still, no one acknowledged her.  They rejoined hands, and still no one took her hand.  She stood on the outside of the circle and started to frown.

I put my hand on her shoulder and said "Do you want to dance with me?"

"Nooooo!" she screamed and sat down on the floor in the middle of the dance floor.

I sat down next to her, balancing little sister on my knee.

"Why doesn't anyone want to dance with me?"

No one had done anything wrong.  No one was intentionally snubbing my little girl.  No one owed anyone an apology.  But here was BG, sitting on the floor in the middle of a party, on the outside. My heart, it split open a little.

What could I say that would fix this?  "But they're older.  I think they know each other already.  You can play with me, with little sister.  We can go find someone you know and sit with them."

It was late.

It was hot.

It was loud.

She hadn't napped.

She'd had too much sugar, maybe, and not enough dinner.

None of that was why it hurt.

My daughter is brave.  She is kind.  She is vulnerable and open and confident.  She loves everyone she meets.  All she wants to do is dance, play, laugh.

I'm so afraid the world is going to break her.  I don't want her to turn into me.

So I just sat there with her and said "I know.  I know."  I know.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

But what's the Point?

Ever since I can remember, I've had a particular problem. I have been saying lately that it's a relic of my teaching days, but probably in reality it goes back further than that and my teacherness was just another symptom of the same issue.

Hi. My name is story, and I'm an objective-aholic.

It appears at times you wouldn't expect. When I'm wandering through the toy aisles at Target, when I'm sitting on the floor with my daughters, on the rare occasions that I'm browsing Pinterest, when I sit down and put my feet up to watch junk TV at the end of the night, the same question swims through my brain.

"But what's the point?"

I look at crafts with an eye to what BG will actually get out of it. When I play with the baby, in the back of my head I'm analyzing the developmental benefits of Peek a boo versus Pat-a-cake. When I sit down at my computer to mess around and kill some time, I'm twitching for something to accomplish.

My in laws bought BG a Power Wheels car for her birthday. She loves it. But every time we get it out, my brow furrows a little. I don't understand. She isn't learning anything. She isn't getting any exercise driving it. She isn't interacting with anyone.

So what's the point?

Sometimes, as my three year old understands so much better than I do, the point is just to play. Or to rest. The point is that it's fun.


The other day, when looking for something else, I found this quote from Brene Brown about play:
Then I found some research by Dr. Stuart Brown. He said that play is something you did "that caused you to lose track of time." Which I called work. He called play "time spent without purpose." Which I called an anxiety attack.

So much of what I do is a fake busy-ness really. A busy-ness designed to numb the vulnerability of the quiet and the stillness. To make me feel like I'm accomplishing something, like I'm not a failure. To dispel the frustration and the disappointment that is really a natural part of being a stay at home parent, a natural part of being a human probably.

And when I constantly drown out the stillness, drown out the moment, drown out the scary feelings of not doing anything, of not getting anywhere? I lose out on a lot of the good stuff too. I don't give myself a chance to fail, but I don't give myself a chance to do much of anything else either.

So what's the point of all this NaNoBloPo nonsense? Is it to grow my readership? Build my writing skills? Reach some huge realization about myself? Get famous? Get someone to save me from myself?

No. It's not any of those things. It's just to do it. Just to write a blog post every day. There's no objective. There's no end goal. There is only now, in the moment, doing this thing, and that's okay.

I'm writing. And then I'm going to go sit on the floor for a while.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

In which I ramble on, hate on myself, and decide to do NaBloPoMo anyway

The thing about writing is that I really, really love it.

And also, I totally and completely hate it.

I mull over things in my head, I turn them over and turn them over until I hear the words start to fall into place.  I sit down at my computer and click clack click clack heave it all onto the screen in front of me.    I watch the lines lay themselves on top of each other and want to reach out and touch them on the screen, to pet them and tell them they did a good job.  For the briefest of moments, I take a deep breath.  Things make sense.  All is right with the world.  My mind and my heart and the universe outside are all in alignment.

And then I hit publish.

And then I go crawl under my coffee table for a while.

I rage at the universe.  I get an uncharacteristic amount of laundry folded.  I sulk and I pout and I ponder throwing my computer out the window.

And then, for reasons that escape me, the next day I do it again.

I have a marble notebook.  (Clearly.) I have a lot of them.  I use my words to process.  But this space, this space is for something different.  It's for connecting.  It's for being out in the world.  And the world?  Sucks.  It's scary.  It's dangerous.

And this isn't me whining about not having enough readers or enough comments.  Not at all.  Sometimes I wish that more people were reading, that more people were seeing and hearing and understanding me.  But at the same time, I realize that if more people read there would be more of a chance of people not seeing, not hearing, not understanding.

So this is what I do.  I post and I publish and I sulk.  Every other day I dream about my blog being "bigger" and on the in between days I want to take the whole thing down in a big dramatic fit.

Yesterday was the latter kind of day.

I wanted to take the blog down, in some way that people would really notice (although also in the back of my head I was sure no one would).  I wanted to never write again.  I wanted to wrap myself in a blanket and stop being vulnerable, stop being sensitive, stop giving people and their thoughts and feelings and silence any power over me.  I wanted to stay in my own little world, in my head, and taco punch anyone who said anything about being brave and overcoming your fears and stepping outside your comfort zone (sorry, friends).  I wanted to have a huge pity party and shut out the world and stop thinking that anything about my writing or my blog was important or ever would be.

And then, I saw some people on twitter talking about National Blog Posting Month.  And I thought I want to do that. 

And immediately I thought "Well, that's just stupid."

You'll run out of things to say.

You'll fail.

You aren't good enough.

Nobody cares about your blog.

You'll do it, and nothing will change, and you'll just be disappointed.

And in that moment, I knew I really needed to do it.

It makes sense, I promise.

Shut up.

NaBloPoMo November 2013