Tuesday, December 2, 2014


"First you want to color the J and the jellyfish," our beloved children's librarian had instructed. "Then you can glue it to your paper.  Then you can add the yarn and ribbons to the jellyfish body as tentacles."

As I wrestled Little Sister back into her chair, held the mouthwash size paper cup of apple juice to her lips, and pulled the yellow  marker away from her lips, I looked up to see BG gluing her completely uncolored J to her paper - backwards - and haphazardly attaching ribbons around the edges of the paper.

All around me, mothers and grandmothers meticulously supervised their charges' work.  "I think you want to color the jellyfish a little more.  What colors do you think you should use? It could use more green." "Now lay the glue down in a nice even line here.  Yes, just like that."  "Here, let me curl the ribbons for you so it looks nicer."

"Hey sweetie? You wanna take a look at that J for a second? Does it look right to you?"

"What? Oh. Ha. It's backwards." She unceremoniously ripped the letter from the page and started applying glue to the other side.

Sometimes I wonder what the other moms think of me and my children at moments like this. As their perfectly groomed children sit squarely in their seats, making true to life jellyfish, mine throw splotches of marker across sheets of construction paper, calling out for the librarian by name (yes, the baby does too now) to come look at their work. I often feel embarrassed in situations like this, embarrassed by our messiness, by my seeming inattention, by their volume and enthusiasm.

Embarrassed, to some degree, by their joy and their complete indifference to certain social norms.

And so, in some ways, also proud.

If you had asked me two years ago, one year ago, six months ago, if I would wake up this morning and decide that we were going to make and paint salt dough ornaments in my kitchen, I would have said you were crazy. I'm not crafty. I'm not a pinterest mom. I'm a big old pinterest fail.

But a few years ago, even, I knew that I wanted my daughters to be creative, to love art, to have these skills, so I started getting them art supplies. Mostly I would just put the box of materials on the table and say, have at it kid. Do what you will. Because, really? I didn't care.

The purpose was the process.

When I asked a friend if I was crazy to make ornaments today, she said no. She said "they won't come out the way you want them too, but the kids will have fun."

And I realized, as we rolled out lumpy dough, six hands on the rolling pin, that I didn't want them to look like anything. I didn't want them to look like anything but my girls' own work.

And so, they came out perfect.

And this, I think, is what motherhood is teaching me again and again, what I am fighting against and slowly succumbing to. This lesson is my children's greatest gift.

It's already perfect.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


You know what would be great sometimes? If we could have a parenting co-op where we could take turns putting each other's kids to bed.

Because God knows our kids would never treat other moms the way they treat us.

But seriously, what would be amazing about this would be that when we said "omg, you will never believe..." And our friends said "I know," we would believe them. Really believe them. Because we would know that they truly saw us and that it wasn't really just us.

So let's just pretend that tonight your kid screamed at me and my kid sobbed on you and kicked and screamed all the way to bed.

It's not your fault. You're a good mom.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Quiet Time

The toddler had nestled into her crib after only moments of fussing, laughingly declaring. "Bed. Okay. Bye, mommy."

The preschooler was snuggled in her bed agreeably with a book, some wooden toys, and a timer.

As I walked down the stairs I thought to myself, Okay, now I have time to do all the things I really want to do. All the guilty fun, all the productivity, all the meaningful making, all the self improvement.  Okay, now I'm going to..

And as my butt hit the couch, my brain went completely blank.

I picked up my tablet.

I opened a google message box.

"What am I supposed to be doing?"

"Good question. Have you written yet today?"

"In my journal," can you mumble on google chat? "It didn't really work."

"Working isn't really what matters."

I closed my tablet case, as one does when one knows that one is wrong but wants to keep sulking.  I lay back on the couch and pulled a blanket over me. I closed my eyes.

This will work. This must be what I need. I just need to not be on for a minute.

The phone rang.

"Hi honey."

"Hi, did you finish the invitations for Little's birthday party?"

"Oh," I felt more groggy than I expected after 30 seconds with my eyes closed. "No, not yet. I'm going to - "

"Okay. And did you open all the Amazon boxes with the kids' gifts?"

"Oh. No. I should do that now while they're..."

"MOMMY!" came the extremely loud stage whisper from the top of the stairs.

"I, uh, I have to go. That's BG."

"Oh, okay, call later if you need me."

"Sweetie, what is it?"

"Come look at how I dressed my dolls."

"Sweetie, it's Quiet Time. If your clock isn't green, go back to your room. I'll look at them later."

"Oh. Right."

I went back to the couch. I closed my eyes. The washer buzzed.

I should switch that over. I should get those boxes. I should finish those ... I'll just close my eyes for another sec ...

"Mommy! I have to go potty!"

"I'll be right there."

There are only ten minutes left on her  quiet time timer when I put her back to bed. I head downstairs and throw a k cup in the coffee pot. I lug the boxes up to my closet. I throw the towels in the dryer.

"Mommy, my clock is green!"

"Come on down, baby. Let's play."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Now. I'm not one to disrespect the turkey. But I see you out there. I know you're around already, and I'm already being asked for Christmas lists. So I thought I'd make a list of  things I really want, a list I can't really give to the people I know but you, Santa, I know you'll understand.

Normally, when people ask what I want for Christmas, I tell them world peace and warm socks. And I still want those things, as I probably always will.

But there are a few more things I want this year too.

1. One full day when no one calls me solely by the name of a fictional character.
2. Several consecutive hours to binge watch whatever junk TV I want without anyone interrupting, judging, or commenting.
3. A morning when I can sleep as late as I want, get out of bed gradually, and sit quietly with my coffee without worrying about spilling it on anyone.
4. My laundry to be done.  Done. All of it. Ever.
5. My children to go a full hour without anyone pushing, hitting, screaming, or falling off of anything.
6. Something I write on my blog to go viral, get syndicated, win an award, generally be met with praise and applause.
7. A quiet brain, one that doesn't berate me when I make mistakes or paralyze me when I have choices to make.
8. A friend to sit on my couch and eat Oreos with me.

If I could get even a few of those things, Santa, I'd be pretty darn happy. But until then, I'm just gonna pick up some extra Oreos.


Sunday, November 9, 2014


It is ten o'clock on a Sunday night.  My kids are in bed, my laundry is folded, my house is cleanish, my coffee pot is set up for morning, my feet are up on the table.

And I suddenly look up from the children's shoe shopping I'm absentmindedly doing and say, "OH CRAP, I HAVE TO WRITE A BLOG POST."

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Last year, by this time I was doing amazing writing. I was in it. There was magic. I was writing narratives of things that had happened, weaving metaphors, tugging at heart strings. I felt like a writer. I felt like I knew what I was doing.

It was a fool's errand to go into this project this year trying to recreate that. Truly. I know this.  There's no way to recreate magic, to revisit a moment when something clicks and happens.  The moment I had an idea in my head of how this was supposed to go, of where it was supposed to end up, of what it was supposed to look like, I had failed.

That sucks, guys.

I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know where I am.  I am embarrassed that I am still STILL writing about writing, that I don't have anything to say.

I am so afraid of being unremarkable.

And that's the thing, isn't it? that's the thing that keeps me silent, that makes me small.  The fear of being small is what keeps me down. The belief that nothing I have to say is important, that no one will ever want to hear it, is what keeps me from reaching out and touching the people who may need to hear what I have to say.

I want to be funny. I want to be deep. I want to be interesting. I want to be perfect and good and great.

I want to be raw and vulnerable and honest without any danger of it not being liked.

I'm a mess, guys. My kids are a mess. My house is a mess. And in some ways, I'm not in any way afraid of sharing that because in this blogging world, it's okay to say those things. I know that no one reading this will think any of those mean I'm less than.

I have trouble being grateful sometimes. I struggle. I feel overwhelmed. I don't think I can keep parenting, keep writing, keep showing up and being a friend because it's AWFUL to care that much about anything.  Awful.

And it's okay to admit that here too.

So what is it I'm afraid to say? What am I hiding? Am I hiding that I think I"m good, that I want to be good, that I want to be seen? I think I've said all that here too, although that makes me very uncomfortable.

I'm afraid of being dismissed, of being one upped, of being brushed off and seen as whiny.  "Is that what you're feeling bad about? That''s nothing."

I'm afraid that I'm foolish to think I can ever be anything other than unremarkable.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

4 good things about today

1. My coffee was amazing this morning.
2. The four year old and I finished Beezus and Ramona tonight.
3. My kids got to hug people dressed like Anna and Elsa.
4. I'm having a glass of wine. A big one.

I ... That's all I've got. I'm thankful you're reading. Good night.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The next day

Today I feel overwhelmed.  I screwed up. I yelled too much. I lost control.

I'm embarrassed. Part of me feels like this is my punishment for earring yesterday that I was good at this.  Part of me feels like this is because I'm weak, bad at mothering. Like I'm just whining and saying I feel overwhelmed will make people not like me, think poorly of me.

I feel like the things that make me feel crazy: my kids roaring, big yelling that she hates me, little pulling an egg off the kitchen counter, like these things are really no big deal. That they wouldn't make other people feel overwhelmed.

But then I realize that if I don't say out loud how hard I find it, you might think you're the only one too.

You're not. I promise.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Today was a good day.

It didn't always feel that way.  At 1:30, when the toddler was crying in her bed, and the preschooler was sitting at the top of the stairs yelling, "MOMMY I'M SAD BECAUSE SISTER IS AWAKE AND I WANT SPECIAL MOMMY TIME" instead of listening to a book in her room, I was pretty sure the day would never end.

Then we had a tea party.  I blew up some balloons and watched my girls bat them around the living room. I threw some pillows on the floor in the upstairs hallway and let the girls jump back and forth across them while I folded two loads of laundry on my bed.  I let the little one smear glue aimlessly on a piece of construction paper, while the big one sorted pictures by vowel sound and I cooked smothered apple cider pork chops.

And we laughed.  And sang. And talked.

And holy crap, I wasn't awful at this.

A few months ago, Lindsay wrote a post in which she said that she admires stay at home moms because they are creative and I cringed.  I'm not creative. Does that mean I'm not a stay at home mom?

I confessed this to her because that's the kind of awkward, vulnerable, squishy relationship we have.

"You put on audio books for naps," she said. "You take your kids to classes and find activities for them. Creative doesn't mean pinterest, honey."

Today was the first day I really felt creative.

I've written before about being in survival mode.  Do you know what the next step is after surviving in Harold Wong's classroom management scale?  Mastery.  And at first, he says, you have to really think about what you're doing. You are constantly conscious of the choices you're making, but you are doing it. You know the right things to do and you are doing them.

Today, I felt like I achieved mastery.  And, man, it was hard work.  And I'm going to have a glass of wine and some pie and go to bed at 9:30.

But it's the best kind of exhausted I've felt in a while.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

All the feelings

This morning, as I was getting my littlest dressed, BG picked up her pants. Little sister got a look of outrage on her face.  "MY PANTS.  Put it down!" I did a double take.  When did she get this big? When did she get so articulate?

Last night, BG read a book to her grandmother on Skype.  A level B early reader.  That she had never laid eyes on before.

Today at swimming class, Little blew bubbles.  She spit out water.  She dove on her own.
Big stood on the side of the pool cheering us on, uncomplaining.  She helped the teacher clean up the toys on the side of the pool.

My girls, they are so amazing.  I am so proud.

And I can go from proud and in awe to exasperated to worried in under five seconds.

When I ask BG to do something, she runs in the opposite direction.  If I yell, she laughs too.  If I don't, it's as if I didn't say anything at all.

When I ask LS to do something, she looks me straight in the eye, makes sure I know she understands, and then does something completely different.

Today at school, BG had a meltdown because a teacher corrected her.  A few nights ago at a Halloween party, she told me she had "feelings [she] didn't know what to do with."


What am I going to do with them?  How am I going to survive all these feelings all the time?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The treadmill

Every morning, I get up, make coffee, and write in my journal while my kids watch hours of  a little TV.

I need this time. I deserve this time. I believe that this is important. I know that my day is better when I do it.

And it doesn't matter what I write. I give myself permission to write the worst garbage in the world.

But eventually, the idea is, I won't. I'll break through. I'll hit some piece of wisdom, some deeper level. I'll find the heart of the piece.

It hasn't been working that way.

I put in the time. And I sit with my notebook. I show up. But the heart of the piece doesn't.

I'm disappointed. I'm frustrated. I'm discouraged. I thought by now, by November 4th, I'd have broken through. I'd have something to say. I'd have moved past this writing about writing.

I haven't.

The lovely Anne Marie made a comment today about how not getting anywhere sounds like mothering. And she's right. It's the treadmill, waking up every day to the same laundry, the same dishes, the same discipline I did the day before. I show up. I do the work. But I don't get anywhere.

My little girls are watching me. And as much as sometimes I wish they wouldn't turn into me, I know they will.

So what me do I want them to be?

I want them to read. I want them to be kind. I want them to show up.

So, I guess it matters. I guess we're all actually getting somewhere together.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The fighting

BG kicked the pink and white soccer ball into the net.

"GOOOOOOOOAL!" I yelled, as she ran, jumped, and danced around the yard.

Behind me, little sister, with a huge smile on her face dribbled the old great soccer ball forward, directly into the net next to her sister's.  "Yay!" I yelled, and my tiny girl echoed "yay!" throwing her hands in the air.

BG was not so excited.  "No!  She can't! The game is over! I'm the best soccer team in the world, so I WIN."

"That's fine, honey, you win. She doesn't care about that. She just wants to play. And she's allowed to kick the ball too."

"Noooooo.". And she ran into the house.

I sighed, scooping up my toddler, the goal and both soccer balls and following in through the garage.

Every morning when BG wakes up, she asks if the baby is awake. If she is, my big girl runs back into her room screaming, as little sister follows her there, yelling her name.

She says that she wants to have some special one on one time with mommy. But it feels like no matter how much I give her, it will never be enough.

I want her to have enough. And I want her to not be spoiled, to share mommy, to love her sister, to be kind.

And little sister, now, has started fighting for what's hers. Grabbing things out of people's hands. Colonizing my lap and yelling MY MOMMY. There just isn't enough mommy to go around.

I know the stories I tell myself about what her behavior  means are a big part of the problem. I know it's "normal" for my kids to fight, that it doesn't really mean there's anything wrong.

But I feel every bit of their pain, and all rationality goes out the window.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

This is not a polished post

I don't know what to write about today.  I'm starting to wonder if signing up to blog every day for a month was actually a mistake.  I don't want to write about writing every day for a month, but the weight of this thing hanging over my head is such that if I'm no talking about the writing, I can't talk about anything else.  I can't stop thinking about it. 

I was hoping that this year, writing would be easy.  That it would break me out of the funk I've been feeling, the sense of despair and discouragement, the feeling of being convinced that I screw everything up, that I can't do anything right.

That I disappoint people.

I was hoping that, for this one month, this could be one thing I did right.

That's a lot of pressure, folks.  Let me just fix my whole life, my whole psychological profile of issues, with a blogging challenge.  Let me just redefine my relationship to myself and to everyone around me by tapping on my keyboard a little bit each day.  Let me just do this thing and then everything will be better.

I'm going to fail.

I'm not going to write anything good.

I disappoint people.
I disappoint people.
I disappoint people.

And it doesn't seem to matter how many times I tell myself that the point is writing, not good writing.  It doesn't seem to matter how many times I tell myself that the simple act of showing up is enough, that I don't need approval or congratulations to have worth as a human being.  It doesn't matter how many times my friends tell me they care about me.  I'm always going to find the evidence to prove that I, that my words, that my blog, that showing up doesn't matter at all.

I want to matter.

I said this yesterday and I'm going to say it again today, and I'm probably going to have to keep saying it again and again until I believe it.  Or maybe I won't ever believe it.

I want to show up, even if it doesn't "do" anything.  I want to be here because here is the place I belong.  I want to do this just to do it, not to get anywhere or accomplish anything.

And it's true.  And it isn't.

And that's okay.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hi, November. Hi, resistance.

So.  It's November again.

Last year, I decided to do NaBloPoMo approximately 5 minutes before I started doing it. I had a jolt telling me to do it, and a downpour of resistance following.  I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do.

And it was.  I did some of the most amazing writing of my life during that month.  I wrote every day, without fail, and it felt good.  Really good.  The more I wrote, the less scary it was, the more free I felt to write.

So, it worked.  But it didn't.  Because it didn't last.  Just like I was afraid of, it didn't change anything.  When the month ended, I stopped writing again.

So this year, when I saw the conversation start, I thought, Well, what's the point?

What's the point.  This is a question I ask myself a lot.  And it's a question that I've been trying to get away from.

Because the point is to do it, of course.  The point is to write.  The point is that I'm a writer, and writer's gotta write, yo.  That's it.  That's the whole point.  Anything else that comes from it is outside of my control, and that's okay.

And once again, of course, that thought is terrifying.

Because I really, really want to be appreciated.  I want to be congratulated.  I want to be admired.  I want to be good.

And I know, I KNOW, that that's exactly how I get in my own way.  That's where the fear comes from and the anger and the silence.  That's what gets in the way of the words.

So, once again, here I am, starting again, writing, trusting the words.  It's all I can do.

And maybe this time, it will be enough.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Guilty pleasures

This afternoon, while my four year old was at school and my so-nearly-two-i-can-taste-it year old was napping, I watched an episode of One Tree Hill.

Yuppers, I watched a teen soap from 10 years ago.

For forty five minutes in the middle of the afternoon, I accomplished nothing.  Twitchily.

I should have been cleaning the bathrooms. I should have been emptying the dishwasher. I should have been planning activities for my kids to get us through to bedtime. I should have been reading, writing, exercising. I should have been obsessively making myself into a better parent/person.

I didn't.

I don't know anymore. It felt good to not be responsible. And also dumb? Frivolous? Silly? Embarrassing?

Is this how self care is supposed to be? Not the desperate drive to fix oneself but the simple, guilty pleasures? Do other people already know this? Is this how one has fun?

Am I thinking too much?

Well, One Tree Hill is likely to cure that last one.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My tiny teacher

I am in the kitchen, reheating soup from the freezer and handing the toddler quartered grape tomatoes in her high chair to keep her from screaming.

BG comes in, holding the marble notebook I gave her.

"Mommy,  can I write in my journal?"

Pause. "Yes! Yes, of course. " I hand her a pen.

"I haven't written in a while."

"I ... Me neither."

"I just have to work in my poetry. I'm going to be a famous writer, so I do my very best each day."

"That's wonderful honey. Keep working hard."


Monday, September 29, 2014

The fundamental fiction of my parenting

It is 2:30 in the afternoon. The house is quiet.  My oldest is at preschool, my youngest is asleep in my bed.

And I?  Am filled with dread.

Any minute now, I need to go wake up my toddler to pick .up her sister.  After a shortened nap for one and an afternoon of school for the other, they are likely to both be overtired.  The  crankiness is haunting me.  I can think of nothing else as my brain shifts into doing mode, fix it mode.

I wonder if stopping at the playground will make it better or worse.

This is the fundamental fiction that defines my life: I can control the moods of my children.

If I could just get the formula right.  More exercise.  No, more rest.  More choices.  More limits.  More something.

This approach would work very well if it weren't for one little problem.  These children?  Are people.

If a train is leaving for Meltdownville at 99 miles per hour, and someone else is driving it, why in the hell am I even bothering to do calculations?

Of course, the first. problem with this fiction is that it doesn't work.  There's no formula for the perfect day.  There's no way to ensure that my children are happy and pleasant and socially appropriate all the time.  And really, even if there were, would I really want those Stepford children in my life?

The other part of the problem, though, is this.  If I have the power to control their moods with my parenting, then I am RESPONSIBLE for all their worst moments.  Because clearly every misbehavior or tantrum is a sign that I am in some way inherently lacking in my role as parent.  That I'm doing it wrong and am therefore letting them down.

And this leads to shame, which is when I lose my temper.  It's why I could discipline a class of 20 high school kids (err, well, at least mostly), but I can't handle my two without spinning out of control.  Because when those kids weren't mine, it wasn't my fault.

But of course it isn't my fault anyway.  So how do I learn to create that distance?  To absolve myself of that power and responsibility?  To just see all the ups and downs and react to them appropriately without making grand judgments about the course and importance of my life?  To do all the right things without expecting those things. to "do anything" ... so that when they don't, I can do them all again tomorrow anyway instead of giving up and disappearing into my couch?

How do I begin to redefine my story?

Sunday, September 28, 2014


I miss writing.  Part of me has been waiting for lightning to strike, for a good idea to come to me.

But that's backwards, isn't it? Because the lightning comes from writing.

I've been thinking I don't have anything to say, but really I haven't been writing and posting because I'm afraid. Because once I post, all I can do is wait to see how people respond. And how people respond defines me. It shouldn't. It does.

Other people's approval is everything to me. Is the only way I know how to define my worth. The risk of putting "bad" writing out there is real.

Because if I'm rejected or criticized? I am nothing.

So instead, I disappear.

I don't think that's better.

But I don't know what else to do.

I don't like my approval seeking. I'm embarrassed of it. I'm afraid it means I'm doing something wrong, it in and of itself makes me less worthy.

So, here I am. Writing. Good or bad. Sending it out into the world.

It's all I can do.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


It starts small.
Little mistakes, errors in judgment
Missed opportunities
Disappointed looks that melt the thin veneer
of control in which I've been masking terror.

Changes weigh down
as I trudge forward
keeping my head up
enough to choke on the rain a little.

The trudging slows.
I start to sink.
Until I can't remember how to move anymore
And all I see
are looks of disappointment.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

For the days when you don't feel good enough

Dear mama,

It's okay.

I know that some days you wake up and you just don't want to do it.  You let your kids watch more TV than you meant to. You don't know how your coffee cup got empty (again). You just feel ANGRY, and you aren't even sure why.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

It's okay.

There are days when instead of thinking "this is the best job I've ever had!" You think, "How did I end up here? How is this my life?"

It's okay.

You want to be grateful.  You want to catch all the moments. You want to be present.  You want to be fulfilled by motherhood.

And you want everyone to just shut up for five minutes.

It's okay.

I often wonder if the internet is to blame.  I mean, I really don't Ma Ingalls sat around wondering Am I present enough?

And on days like this, even the posts on the Internet that tell you why you're doing enough, why your work as a mother matters even on bad days, they can feel like condemnations too.  You hear in your head the voice that says "but that doesn't really mean me.  If they knew what I looked like on the inside, they would see how I'll never be enough."

I know.  Me too. Me too.

Doubting yourself isn't a fault. Feeling disappointed and discouraged isn't a fault.

Feelings are never a fault.

Be who you are, mama. Be the imperfect, messy, tired, insecure, people pleasing, grouchy, angry, overachieving, ULTIMATELY LOVEABLE person who you really are.

You aren't ungrateful. You aren't missing anything. You aren't doing it wrong.

In this global Internet village which is such a blessing and a curse, all I have to offer you us my truth and my listening ears.  Both are yours.  I see you and I hear you, the good and the bad.  It's all real. It's all important.

You're the kind of you I need, your kids need, the world needs. Right now. Messy. Incomplete.

Come be messy with me.  It's enough.

All the love in the world,


Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I sat on the couch, my feet tucked under me, my baby curled into my chest.  This is the way all my stories start.

But yesterday, after patting me possessively on the chest and saying "mommy," my littlest looked up at me inquisitively and said, "sister?"

"She's sleeping, baby. Should we go wake her?"

"Sister," she agreed, nodding emphatically.

The museum had been exhausting.  Both girls had run from room to room, touching everything. They'd climbed, they'd built, they'd crafted.

And at some point, halfway through the day, I'd let go.

BG was sitting at the circuit table with the teenage volunteer, pinching the leads of tiny wires to batteries, switches, lightbulbs, asking the same questions again and again. Little sister was sitting at the building table, dropping a nail repeatedly through the hole in a block, furiously shaking off my attempts to help.

So, I sat. And I watched.

And I realized my baby was figuring out more than I could ever teach her as she patiently and diligently experimented. And I realized BG was charming the volunteer and not annoying him. And I realized there was no hurry, no agenda, no need to push or control anything. And I sat. And I breathed.

I was happy.

But now I was home. We three piled on the couch had nothing left.  I turned on Martha Speaks.  And, unfortunately, Facebook.

All weekend, I'd seen BlogHer posts, and although I wanted to hug my friends, I hadn't really been jealous. I've come to terms with who I am, with my way, with my identity. I know that truly? I wouldn't love a conference like that.

I know who I am.  I am trying to believe that being who I am is okay, that it isn't a fault. That my way is no worse than anyone else's. I'm working on it.


Yesterday, when I was collapsing into my couch, both of my children now fusing with my body, I felt jealous. And what I found was that I wasn't jealous of the parties, of the accolades, even of the connections.

I was jealous of the direction. The certainty. The clarity of purpose.

I wanted to feel sure of something.

Sitting on the floor of the museum, the only thing I'd been sure of was that I wasn't in control.  And that was okay.

I guess I have to learn to do that here too.

And to remember that my way isn't wrong.

Friday, July 25, 2014


She reaches up with her right hand first, grabbing the next rung of the tallest ladder in the playground, grunting as she hoists her right foot up to the next step. I stand on the ground behind her, cheering, encouraging, coaching.

"That's it, baby. You've got it. Now your other foot."

As she pulls herself onto her stomach on the platform, she lets out a high pitched shriek of joy, which little sister, arriving at the platform from the steps, echoes.

As she gets to her feet, raising her hands in triumph, she says, "mommy, am I strong like Kacy?"

"Yes, baby. You are."

Better writers than I have talked about how enjoying every minute isn't a requirement of motherhood, but still I feel the pressure. I think we all do.

And those of us who value honesty, authenticity, vulnerability, we want our readers to know it's hard. We don't want to write just about the moments when we look like heroes. We don't want to make others feel bad by celebrating too much or for too long.

A few months ago, my tiny ninja warrior participated in a study on how children of parents with depression process their own positive emotions differently than those with mentally healthy mothers.  I don't know the outcome. I'm afraid to hear it.

I don't want my girls to ever do anything but shriek for not when they get to the top.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One of my shame stories

Several months ago, I wrote a post about how I sometimes wish my blog were bigger.  I got a comment from a very well meaning, kind, and successful blogger asking why I wanted that and if I was sure that being big would be worth my time.

And it sent me into a shame spiral.  Which I haven't come out of.

Several months ago.

(This is not intended to call anyone out. Don't dig through the archives to find the comment. You probably wouldn't hear it the way I did anyway.)

I have a lot of shame wrapped around the idea of trying, of wanting.  It was hard for me to say I wanted to be bigger and so I felt like I'd been slapped. Being successful was good enough for this person, but me? I didn't deserve it. I should stay small.  Who did I think I was anyway?

Which of course isn't what she really said.

It was hard for me to say (and so, well, I didn't) "what I do here is important to me. I value it. I think it matters. And because I think it matters, I want it to be seen and heard.  I want people to hear my voice because my voice MATTERS.  It's worthy.  People need to hear me.

I have a story that matters, and when people heart it, they will be better for having heard it." [SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP, scream my demons, IT'S NOT OKAY TO SAY THIS. EVERYONE WILL HEAR YOU. EVERYONE WILL *KNOW.*  YOU ARE WRONG. YOU AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE???]

I know she was asking me an actual question. I heard it as a rebuke.  I thought I was being punched in the stomach.

"Why do you want to be bigger?"

Because I want connection. Like all humans do.  Because I want people to hear me and think, me too. Because I think there are so many more people out there who would think that if only they heard me, if only I stepped out of the shadows.  Because I can change the world. With my words.

"Is it worth your time?"

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

Months of that festering in my stomach. We have to tell our shame stories out loud or they own us. The only way out is through.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Being and doing

What if being here doesn't actually mean I have to DO anything?

I sit on the floor with my kids.  The big one is putting a pot in her toy oven and prattling away; the little one is stirring in an upside down early shaker with a spatula.  She hands me a teacup and says "drink! Drink!" I drink.

I am not in charge. I am not in control. I am not doing anything.

I'm more here than I have been in a long time.

And in my head, in my writing, in every aspect of my life, what would happen if I stopped doing, stopped looking ahead, stored trying to get somewhere and was just here?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Equal and Opposite

Clack, clack, clack, the plastic of the Little People hits the bottom of the plastic storage container as BG drops them from her full 40 inches.  Then, with one foot, she steps on the side of the container, sending them all flying through the air.

And begins again.

I am sitting on the couch, my knees curled into my chest, a book in my lap.  Slowly, I lift my head.

"Honey, why are you doing that?"

"Because, see, when I put my foot here, this goes down and the people go flying."

Equal and Opposite Reaction.  Newton's third law.  I am familiar.

"I mean, why are you choosing to do that?"

"Because it's fun."


My littlest trots over and places my sneaker on my chest.  I kiss her forehead, which is cool to the touch.

Twelve hours ago, when I collected her crying self from her crib, it was not.

"It isn't dangerous," the emergency nurse had told me on the phone, of the 104.5 degree temperature.  "Just try to get her comfortable so she can get back to sleep."

I held her in my arms like I did when she was a baby, the burning skin of her face nestling into my neck.  I sshhhed softly, hoping her whimpering wouldn't wake up big sister.  

"Do you want your tablet or book or something?" asked DH.

"No," I said.  "She's enough."

Little sister, back to her normal shenanigans, sidles over to see what big sister is doing.  Gleefully, she picks up Cinderella and Batman and drops them into the box.

"What is she doing?"

"Playing with you.  She's playing with you.  Because she loves you.  You love each other."

BG seems convinced and goes back to her task.

This morning, when I woke up with my sick baby in my bed, I felt calm.  When BG woke up, tromped into my room and announced herself, I felt level.  I understood my job.  My place.  The appropriate level of reaction.

I glance down at my book.  I realize I haven't read a word of what I've spent the past ten minutes reading.  As Belle and Wonder Woman go flying through the air, I cringe.  I hold my breath.  I hold back.  I don't know if this is a test.  I don't know if this is a boundary I need to establish or a battle I need to choose.  Both girls are giggling as they push either other, each one falling back with an amount of force proportional to the size of the pushing child.

I want to scream at them.  I want to ignore them.  I want to be present.  I want to disappear into this book.  I want to be seen as patient and creative.  I want to be seen as laid back and mellow.  I want to be seen as knowing how to mother my kids.

Does anyone know how to mother her kids?

I watch them play, I watch them invent their games, I wonder how much of the sass, of the stubborness is a direct reaction to my own.  Equal in force, opposite in direction.

All I can control is my own reactions.  And even then, I'm not sure I have as much power over it as I'd like to think.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I sat in a student desk next to her.  "Here," I said, pointing at the page. "This is where your story is. This is the heart of the piece.  I get why you had to write this other part first" I bracketed off an entire page with my purple pen.  "It's important.  It matters to you.  But it doesn't get us where the story is going."

She nodded.  "Yeah.  I can totally see that.  So, I should talk more about this instead?"

"Yeah.  Your piece is really about the mothers.  All the mothers in your life.  Stay with them.  You did an amazing job with that."

She was 15.  I was 23.  God.

Sometimes I feel like that life was a prologue to this one.

Every voice matters, I tell people.  I say it all the time.  I listen. I encourage.  I draw out.  Every voice matters.

Except, I don't really mean mine.

So much of my life has been dedicated to helping other people thrive.  To showing other people their worth.  To other people's life work.  And I'm good at it.  It's a gift.  I'm proud.

But maybe sometimes I want to write my own piece.  I want my own life's work.  I want to create and not just discover.

Mr. Holland's opus was the kids he taught, the amazing work he did in teaching, the way he changed the world one student at a time.  And it was amazing.

But don't you think sometimes he just wanted to finish writing the damn symphony?

Do we get to do both?

At that desk, ten years ago, she looked up from the memoir and smiled at me.  "You remind me of my mom, too, you know. That's how I know you're going to be a great mom."

You just have to find the heart of the piece.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Sometimes, when I try to take a deep breath, it feels like it catches in my throat.  Like something is physically blocking the air.  And I know, with every logical part of my brain and body, that I should know how to breathe.  That breathing should be easy.  That I shouldn't have to muscle my way through it, to force it, that it shouldn't take any effort at all.

But still I gasp and sigh and yawn and gulp air as of my life depends on it.

Sometimes writing feels the same way.  And parenting.  And, yknow, life.

I'm feeling stuck lately.  Like my life is catching in my throat.  I am feeling irrelevant and useless and lonely and outside and just ... Sad.

I know that I'm supposed to be grateful for my life.  That I'm supposed to recognize the value of the little everyday things I do. That I just need to remember who I am, that the things I've chosen not to do are okay.  That I don't have to live up to anyone else's standards to be good enough.

I know.  I know this.


Friday, June 6, 2014

My kid

In the back of the car, BG is sobbing and wailing, "but I don't want peanut butter and jelly!  I won't eat anything! No one will eat anything!"

We pushed back lunch and quiet time, so I'm pretty sure the meltdown is only nominally about the menu.

I breathe out my exasperation and rising rage.

"You're having a hard time, huh, sweetie?"

She immediately quiets. "Being a kid is hard."

I barely suppress a giggle and affect my most sympathetic voice. "I hear you.  Being a kid IS hard."

"Being a baby is hard. Being a grown up is hard."

Now I'm grinning. "You are so right, kiddo."

She continues. "Being a dinosaur is hard.  Being a robot is hard."

And that about says it all, folks.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The thing about birds

I opened the garage door to get some light, and BG ran outside instead of to her side of the car.  The toddler on my left hip leaned forward, reaching toward her sister, and I set her down on the ground rather than drop the casserole dish in my right hand.

She ran out the door and started spinning in circles.

Deep breath.

We were already late.

I set down my diaper bag and my potluck contribution, opened both back doors of the car, and walked outside slowly.

Both my girls ran to me and hugged my legs.

"Mommy, can you help me catch the birds?  They keep flying away every time I chase them."

"Sweetie, the thing about the birds is, they're really fast.  And they can fly, and we can't.  And when you run at them, they feel scared, and they fly away.  So, really, the more you run at them, the ... faster they're ... going ... to fly away."


BG didn't notice me trailing off and was hanging on my every word.

"So, I guess, if instead of chasing after the birds, you just stand still and look at them, you'll see them better."

"And maybe they'll fly to me!"

"Well.  Maybe.  I guess it could happen."

"Okay, mommy.  Let's get in the car now."

And both girls held my hands and walked back into the garage.


Monday, May 19, 2014

The Margins

"If they give you ruled paper, write the other way."  Juan Ramon Jimenez 
Right now, both of my children are watching Wild Kratts.  We are all wearing pajamas.  I pulled a bag of mini-bagels out of my freezer instead of baking something for the playgroup we're going to this morning.

And I'm writing.

A few months ago someone, I wish I remembered who, tweeted "I like to write in the ______."  I replied "Margins."  I was trying to be cute.  I meant it literally.

And I do.  In my journal, I fill the whole page, top to bottom, left to right.  My script runs off the side of the page.  And it's okay.  I don't mind it.  I don't need to follow the rules or stay within the lines.

But the more I reflected on it, the more I realized how true it was.

I like to write in the margins.

I've been trying to build the life I want, with everything I love in it, by organizing.  By scheduling.  By asking for help.  By being efficient.  I've been believing that I needed to schedule in large blocks of time in which to parent.  Large blocks of time in which to write.  Large blocks of time in which to be a person, to exercise, to rest, to develop myself into a better, more self actualized, happier person.  I believed that if I couldn't find a way to block out this time, like other people did, then I would never find a way to be happy.  I despaired..

But that's not who I am.

I like to write in the margins. In the spare minutes of time I find throughout my day.  And I parent in the margins too.  When I'm patiently answering the long string of questions that BG fires at me on the drive to and from the library or grocery store.  When the fights or the moments of joy come up while I'm cooking dinner and I pause for a second to address it.  To teach.

That's the good stuff.

I've been fighting with myself.  I've been trying to impose my will on my life.  I've been resenting and struggling and worrying about the large swaths of life that were getting in the way of me creating a life.

But all the good stuff, it happens in the margins.  And you need the lines in order to have the margins.


It's funny because for the past few months, I've had a different post in my head that also had the title margins.  It was about needing to leave more margin in my day.

One day, this winter, I had the brilliant idea of scheduling both my kids for a free trial class at Gymboree.  I felt like the mom of the year.

And then a new mom friend asked if I wanted to meet her at the library for baby storytime, and I felt like I should say yes.  She hadn't asked me to hang out before.  I knew she was struggling a little and needed some support.  The library was close to the Gymboree studio.  There were 10 minutes in between.

And then I scheduled my grocery pick up for after that.

I felt like a genius.  I was the most efficient mom ever.  At least I planned it that way.

Well, you know how that goes.

All through the class, instead of enjoying my children, I was eyeing the clock.  We were going to be late for storytime. My friend was going to be waiting for me.  We couldn't sneak out of class early or everyone would judge us.  I clock watched anxiously as my children bounced and jumped and ran and giggled.  I missed it all because of the junk in my head.

And then when we were late at the library (and not even the latest!) I was so embarrassed that I didn't enjoy that either.  And I started worrying about if I'd get my groceries on time.

I think I held my breath that whole morning.  So much for efficiency.

That was the morning that I realized I needed to create margin.  I'm someone who just can't be that closely scheduled.  I need space to have peace.

But then I forget again.

The margins are where all the good stuff happen.  I need to get things done, but I need to create space.  I know this.  But then I start to fill that margin.  I get anxious, I get uneasy.  I worry about not being enough.  I fritter away the moments, thinking that if I just fill them with more activity, more productivity, more work, more personal development, more play, then that will fix the problem, fix me.

I need to find my own way.  I need to stop asking other people how to create my life because I really already know. I  keep circling around it, and then I lose it again, and that's okay.  That's how we do it, isn't it?  We get get closer and closer and then we get further again.

I don't need to create margin so I have space for more stuff.  The margins are the point.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

All planned out

I had it all planned out.

We had a playgroup this morning, so I scheduled BG's haircut for after it.  I would take the girls out for lunch after, and they'd both fall asleep in the car on the way home.   I'd be the best mom ever, we'd all have fun, and I'd get a break.  It was perfect.

Or, you know, it would have been.  If reality hadn't gotten in the way.

My friend had a family emergency and had to cancel the playgroup.  I was disappointed.

And if I have an emotion, you can pretty much multiply it by one hundred and that's where my eldest daughter is.


"I know, baby.  I wanted to go too.  It's disappointing.  I know.  We can do something else though.". I looked out the window. It was pouring rain.  "How about open gym time?"


"well.  Okay.  We can do nothing."

An hour and a half of nothing later, she turned to me, "Okay, are we going to the gym now?'

" Oh.  Umm.  It's already 11.  Your hair cut is at 12.  There isn't really time."



I somehow convinced her to get into the car without any promises about where we would go.  Five minutes later, both my children were asleep.



No one was talking to me.

No one was asking anything of me.

I turned off the Elmo music.

I got myself a drive through coffee and put on my audio book.

Guys?  It was a veritable vacation.


The hair cut went great.  No kicking, no screaming, no complaining.  So I sprung for the lunch.

And in the parking lot of max and Erma's, BG jumped in a giant puddle.  Repeatedly.  Before lunch.


And guys?  I don't know how it happened, maybe it was the coffee and the book, but I was possessed by the spirit of someone calm and rational.

"I know.  That's because you jumped in the puzzle.  How's your pizza?"

"Not good because my feet are wet."

"Oh, that's too bad. Can your sister have your melon if you aren't going to eat it?"

"Yes.  But, mommy?  Jumping in puddles is fun."

"I can see that, honey.  But then you have wet feet. May I suggest something?"

"Uh, yes, mommy?"

"Maybe next time, if you really want to jump in a puddle, you should do it at home.  Not, you know, before lunch in a restaurant."

So. I guess I should have expected that when I let her out of her car seat at home she would immediately run outside and jump in a puddle.

And I guess I should have expected that when she did that, little sister would run outside too, bouncing at the knees and laughing out loud.

What I didn't expect is that when BG said, "come on, mommy!" I would walk outside, stand in the rain, and jump.

And, there in that moment, letting go of all the plans, I realized that I was the best mom ever, and today has turned out perfect after all.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

So, apparently I'm a person (AND A GIVEWAWAY! DUDE!)

So, you guys know I'm a Power of Moms groupie, right?

I was skimming through their programs and classes, and I saw one that spoke to me, right to my very soul, to the part of me that has been struggling and lost lately.

It was called, wait for it

Mommy is a Person


So I emailed them and asked if they would be willing to give me a copy of the training to review and one to give away to my LOVELY AND MORE THAN DESERVING READERS WHO ARE ALL ALSO PEOPLE.  And they said yes.

(Guys?  I've never done that before.  Asked for something.  Could everyone pat me on the back please?  Thanks.)

This training is amazing. It was based on this article, which you must go read.  And while you're at it, listen to this podcast.  You will not regret it.  For a single second.

Wait, did I just send my whole audience away?  Oops.  Okay, I'll wait.


So, let's talk about this training.  The training consists of a series of videos on a number of different aspects of viewing yourself as a person, such as the motherhood bill of rights, how to get more quiet time for yourself, how to cherish the moments.  After each video, you are invited to stop and write down what actions you can take in the next week or so.

The videos were the kind of talk about motherhood that makes me exhale.  That builds mothers up.  That admits that we're not perfect and that's fantastic.  And it gives practical tips for how to start to assert your personhood in day to day life.

Maybe my favorite part of the program though, is that it includes a lifetime subscription to the Bloom Game.  The Bloom Game prompts you to set weekly goals in the areas of "for me," "for my family," and "beyond" and then check in when you've completed them.  Every three months, it prompts you to take a self assessment to see if you are meeting all of your own needs.

It's exactly what I need.

So, here's the part where I give you something.  I have a copy of the training to give away!  To enter, simply leave a comment telling me what you need more of in your life to feel like a person.

(And even if you don't win and don't decide to buy this training, you should really register at Power of Moms.  They have so much free content, and the welcome member package includes even more!)

(Have you entered yet?  What on earth are you waiting for?)

Giveaway will close Monday at 10 am.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

So lucky

I close my eyes and I draw a deep breath in.  My feet are on my coffee table, my laptop balanced in my lap, my coffee balanced between my hip and the armrest of my couch in a way that is probably very ill advised.  

On the monitor, I can hear the baby toddler murmuring and occasionally the three year old calls out, "MOMMY I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED SOMETHING."

And I stay on the couch.  Eyes fixed ahead.  Staring at the blank window on my screen.

Nothing is different.  There's nothing to say.  I want to start with the physical, to wrie where I am, but it's more of the same.  I've said it all before.  I've been here before.  I am always here.

Outside my window, the sun is miraculously bright.  I remembered to open my blinds this morning, so light is pouring into my living room and washing over me.  This is good.

"HEY!" yells BG from her room.  I feel my chest stiffen, my throat close a little.  Breathe in, breathe out.

She's fine.

Before quiet time, we watched Peg Plus Cat, all three of us piled on the couch.  Little melted into my chest and Big nested herself into a stack of pillows and blankets next to me, laying her head against my shoulder.

This is what I thought motherhood would be.  The cuddling.  The quiet.  The softness.

And for a minute I let myself soften into it instead of feeling guilty about the TV.

Quiet time will end and there will be noise.  There will be fighting.  There will be 20 minute power struggles over shoes.  There will be girls pushing each other onto the floor because they both want to sit in the same chair.  There will be bossing.  There will be whining.  

And sometimes, it's too much for me. I feel like I should (SHOT) love every minute of it, love the noise as much as the cuddles, love the yelling and the pushing and the running in circles and the grabbing and the climbing.

And I don't.  I don't love that part.

But yesterday, while I was making dinner, Little pushed Big out of her chair.  Big threw herself dramatically backwards on the floor, sobbing and screaming that it was not okay to hit and that nothing would make her feel better.

I looked my one year old in the face and said, "Tell your sister you're sorry."

And she walked over to big sister, climbed on top of her, straddled her chest and said, "Hi!" before throwing herself forward in an embrace.

BG looked at me befuddled.  "Mommy, she's not saying sorry, she's just saying hi."

"Sweetie, look how much she loves you.  You're so lucky to have a sister.  You're both so lucky."

And BG giggled. "Oh, sister." 

And she wrapped her arms around her.  And they got to their feet, holding hands.  Played three rounds of Ring Around the Rosie, giggling like mad the whole time.

I want to be here.  And if I sometimes sound negative, if I sometimes sound like I am unhappy with my life, like doing this, mothering my children isn't enough, it's not because I want to be somewhere else.

They're lucky to have each other, even when they are smacking each other in the face, even when they are pushing each other out of chairs, even when they are knocking over towers.

And I'm lucky to have them, even when they are loud and whining and fighting me on every thing I suggest.

And they're lucky to have me.  Me.  The me with my feet up on the table who is lifting the empty coffee cup to her lips again.  The me that reads four books at a time and scribbles in a journal, and does yoga.  The me that doesn't know for sure what the next right thing to do is, who feels lost sometimes, who has big feelings and big reactions.

I don't need permission to be me.  It's not an option, it's an obligation.  And I don't need practice or work at being me.  I am already good enough at being me. Already, right now, without any other work.

And I?  Am so lucky to have me too.  Truly.  Even when I'm kicking my own ass.

Monday, May 12, 2014

And so we begin

The only part that makes 100% of sense all the time is the actual writing, so I'll start with that.

I'm someone who worries a lot about the why, about the what's next, about what people are going to think.  I'm someone who wants to be in control of things, who likes to know what the whole plan is before I start.  I'm someone who gets hurt easily, who doesn't take criticism well, who doesn't adjust well to change.

I don't want to be ashamed of those things.  I want to accept them. And I want to slowly let them go.

I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that if I put myself out there and I'm real then I might hurt someone's feelings.  Then I might get rejected. Then I might make a fool of myself when everyone realizes that I'm actually no good, have no worth, am really at my core just messy and useless and small.

I don't wanna.  I don't wanna.  I don't wanna.

When I was in tenth grade, my English class did a project where we had to create a utopia.  In the first part, we were to imagine we were stranded on a desert island.  We were given a list of other survivors and had to choose which of them we would bring.  A doctor, a teacher, a sailor.  There were more.  I don't remember.

What I remember is this.  I looked my teacher in the face and said "This is absurd.  We wouldn't be picking them. They'd be picking us.  We're all the same.  We all have the same things to offer."

I liked to be an intellectual troublemaker.  I liked to be tough.  I liked to be seen as willing to stand up for something.

That was a long time ago.

But what he did next was to tell us that we all had to take a piece of paper and write down what unique thing we had to offer.  And I was stubborn.  I was prideful.  I wrote "I said I had nothing. I meant it."

This is my biggest fear.  That I don't have anything to offer.  That I'm not special.  That I'm never going to be special.

I pour the words onto the page or onto the screen and I let them go.  It's the only thing I can do.

I am a mom.  But I am more than a mom.  Somewhere, deep inside and long forgotten, there is someone else. And I want to believe that I can be a mom and a person at the same time.

I want to believe.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Love and hope to you for Mother's Day

I am so honored to have a letter up as part of the Postpartum Progress Mom's Day Rally.   Please hop on over there and check out my post.  And while you're at it, check out some of the other posts by the amazing writers whose company I am humbled to be in.

Friday, May 9, 2014

and that's okay.

Dear self,

So. That tantrum happened. Ahem.

And that's okay.

It's so much easier to say this to other people than it I'd to yourself. Which is probably why you're writing in second person.

You matter.  What you want matters.  Your feelings matter.

It's always okay to care.

It's okay to be who you are.

And when you feel jealous or disappointed or frustrated or unfulfilled, those feelings are okay too. They aren't shameful. They don't make you less.

It's your choice what to do with those feelings.

And sometimes?  You're gonna wallow on your couch and eat chocolate for a while. And that's okay.

You aren't broken. You don't need to fix it.  Your feelings are just fine.

Much love,


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

if self pity annoys you, you should probably skip this post

I don't want to write today. In fact, it's probably the last thing I want to do.  I don't really want to write ever again.

I feel discouraged. I feel disappointed. I feel overwhelmingly sad, like I'm mourning something.  And I think what I'm mourning is my dream.

My whole life I wanted to be a writer.

It's not going to happen.

Blah, blah, but I'm already a writer, blah blah.

It's not going to happen in any way that matters.  What's the point? My blog could disappear tomorrow, and maybe three people would notice.  And if you're one of those three people, sorry.  But we can just talk somewhere else.  We probably already do.

I'm not good enough. I'm not interesting enough. I'm not special.

I'm never going to be loud. I'm never going to show up and be in people's faces.  I'm just never going to be that person.

And I thought I had talent. And I thought that it was enough that I had talent.  And it's not, even if I do.

I'm sad. And I need to let the dream go.  I'm never going to be somebody. All I'm ever going to be is someone who helps other people be somebody.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Let it go (or why concealing your feelings always ends with your homeland frozen)

Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal don't feel, don't let them know.
(Spoilers present.  But since I'm probably the last blogger human on Earth to see the movie, we're probably all okay here.  Right?  Right.)

The Easter bunny brought my girls Frozen.


I knew a little about the movie, but not enough to prepare me for the emotional reaction I had to it.

Ever since she is a little girl, Elsa is taught to hide her powers.  Think about that for a second.  Her POWERS.  Not her weaknesses.  Not her flaws.  Her iciness is what makes her special, what makes her amazing, what makes her beautiful.

But she's so afraid of it.  So ashamed.

But she learns, like we all do, that what we resist persists.  And the more she tries to fight it, the less she can.  The more she refuses to accept who she is, the more it comes out and controls her life.  The more alone she is.

Until she can't hide it anymore. Until it comes out, despite all her best efforts, and everything falls apart.

(Sound like anyone you know?  Oh, you too?)

And what she does is brave.  She stands on her own and says that she isn't turning back, that she isn't afraid anymore, that she accepts who she is.

But everything is still frozen.

In the end, it is her sister's love, her unconditional love despite all the mistakes, all the ice, despite any injuries Elsa had done her, that breaks through to her.  That makes her understand.

But Anna loved her all along.  Anna sat outside her door for years, begging Elsa to let herself be loved.  But as long as she wouldn't admit who she was, as long as she stayed inside, Elsa couldn't accept that love.  She didn't think she deserved it.  She thought, if she really knew.

(Yes.  Yes.  Me too, Elsa.  Me too.)

And in the end it isn't Anna's love that saves her and everyone else.  It's her own.  It is when she realizes that she can love herself that everything thaws.

But, the movie makes sure we realize, she still is who she is.  She still has ice in her.  But it's beautiful.  It's a gift.  Like it always was.

I'm deep.  I'm dark.  I'm sensitive.  I'm fragile.  I feel things deeply.  I overthink and overanalyze.

And I love that.  I don't need to hide that.  I don't want to be afraid of my power anymore.

The cold never bothered me anyway.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Scoring baseball tickets with Score Big

A few months ago, BG started asking if she could go to a baseball game.  I'm not really sure where it came from.  It might have started after she saw the baseball Curious George episode.  Wherever the idea started, though, she became (as usual) fixated on it.  She asks a few times a week.

So, I was thrilled when someone from Score Big contacted me and asked if I wanted to write a review in exchange for a site credit.  Score Big is a site on which you can bid the price you want to pay for tickets to major events in your area.  You choose the section you want and name your price, and you instantly get a response as to whether your offer is accepted.  By choosing a section instead of a specific seat, you give Score Big the flexibility to find a seat for what you want to pay.

My husband and I logged on and created an account a few nights ago after the girls were in bed.  We chose the best section, named a really reasonable price for baseball tickets, and immediately got a response that my bid was accepted.  Our tickets are right behind the first base line!  I got them by email a few days later.

I am so thrilled to be able to take my girls to a baseball game.  I don't know if BG will be as thrilled once she's there and realizes how long baseball takes, but for now we're all giddy about it!

Disclaimer: I was given a $100 credit to Score Big in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I want to remember how to dream.

And I don't mean dream like that recurring one where I'm somehow back in school and haven't gone to one of my classes for the entire semester and now it's time for finals and I realize I'm about to fail.  Wait, everyone has that one, right?

No, I mean the kind of dream that involves thinking big, aspiring high, wanting and believing in something meaningful and profound.

I've been thinking a lot about how much it hurts when people don't respect my dreams, when I as a person feel invalidated, when my dreams aren't as important as everyone else's needs.  And I started thinking maybe the problem was that I don't speak up for myself and tell people those dreams.  But when I decided that I would woman up and own up to my dreams, to put them out there, to demand they be respected and appreciated and considered important by anyone who claims to be in my corner, I realized I had a more fundamental problem.

I didn't have anything to tell.

I don't remember when I stopped dreaming, when having a want bigger than "I want a moment to breathe" or "I want the toys in here picked up" seemed worth having.  It might have been longer ago than I think.  It might have happened well before I had kids.

I remember teaching kids to write memoirs, and realizing how long it had been since I'd put a pen to a paper of my own, and written anything more profound than the words "This is good, but you could flesh this idea out more."

I remember the freshman girls crying in my room at lunch, I remember giving up that free time willingly and graciously and uncomplainingly.  I remember the warmth of that feeling of being needed.

I remember sitting in senior seminar discussing Toni Morrison's Paradise, feeling like everything in my life was effortless, feeling the gentleness and the ease with which the words came out of my mouth, pushing back gently but firmly, making sure my voice was heard, feeling like I was entirely in my element.

But I don't remember wanting.

I don't remember imagining something amazing and believing I could be it.

When I was six, I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up.  I was a terrible dancer.  I was clumsy, I was awkward, I was chubby. I had no idea.  I went to dance class every week, and I smiled and I practiced.

When I was ... always, I wrote stories and poems in notebooks.  I had a notebook in my room in first grade. I filled books and books in high school.  I took creative writing classes in college.

I wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to be a mother.  With all my heart, I wanted those things.  I still do.

But there's a difference between wanting and dreaming.  Between being and aspiring.  I can be happy in my heart with where and who I am and feel like my soul needs more.  To reach.  To grow.

But I don't remember how to know which way to reach.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On patience

"It's hard to wait, baby.  I know," I tell my sweet eldest girl, at least once a day.

Trust me, I know.

As a mother, I know it's part of my job to teach my kids how to do things for themselves.  To let them try, even if they can't get it right.  To build in them a sense of competence, of power and control, of independence.  I believe that it's important, maybe one of the most important things we do.  I value it.

But good Lord, I don't have the patience.

"It's time to get dressed," I said cheerfully.  "Choose your pants and shirt."  I opened the drawer in BG's dresser and then walked away.  Scooped up little sister and left the room.

Because if I'd stood there and watched her do it?  I would have screamed.

Ten minutes later, my youngest and I both dressed, I came back.  There stood my spirited first born, in her underwear, drawer still open, dancing in a circle.

"Hi mommy!  I'm doing my pattern dance."


"Did you choose pants and a shirt?"



"Well, let me know if you need help.  I can choose them if you want to."


I nodded.  And I walked away.

This was a good day.   She found me in the hallway a few minutes later with the shirt pulled halfway over her head, giggling and telling me she had lost her head.  I pulled it down, and she disappeared back into her room to finish dressing.  Which she did.

I didn't yell. I  didn't nag.  It was a freaking miracle.

We've started getting dressed earlier in the morning.  I plan in a 20 minute margin to put on shoes.  I give several reminders, a time limit and a consequence on picking up toys.  I walk away a lot.

I don't want to yell anymore.

The monologue in the back of my head screams "You know how to do this!  Why are you acting like this?  Why are you making this harder?  It would be so much easier just to take over and do this for you.  But I can't!  I shouldn't!  I'm a terrible mother!  Why am I so freaking impatient?"

It shouldn't matter if we are a few minutes late to library story time.  It shouldn't be a big deal if it takes us 20 minutes to put on shoes instead of 2.  I should enjoy my little girl while she's little.  I should find her performances endearing and hilarious instead of maddening.

But I am who I am.  I like to be on time.  I like to be efficient.  When we're doing things, I like to do them.

The question is, is that who I want her to be?

Or do I want her to know that no matter how much mommy really just freaking wants to get out the door and get to nature class, that I value her humor and her charm?  That I am listening to every word that she says?  That I am willing to stop and enjoy the moment instead of rushing off to the next thing?

And maybe that's what I want for myself too.

Where do I get more patience?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On three year olds and power struggles

Yesterday, I sat on the floor with both my children, playing blocks, soaking in the joy of watching then play together, of being able to be with them.

Until baby sister knocked over the tower.

"No, baby sister, no!  We do not knock over our big sister's towers!" Scolded BG, slapping the floor with her hand.

And my littlest, with a huge grin, slapped the floor and yelled, "buh!"


You see,  I explained, this is why you need to set a good example for your sister.  When you yell and hit things, you teach her to yell and hit things.

This morning, in the parking lot of the community college where we were taking a nature class, I was holding an umbrella against the snow and hiking my one year old up on my hip as I said, a little more sharply than I would have liked, "you have to hold my hand."

"SHUT UP.  JUST SHUT UP!" BG retorted.

I held my breath until we got to the car.

"Sweetie.  Those words make me feel sad."

"I'm sorry mommy.  That's why you shouldn't yell at me.  You teach me to yell."

Touché.  And that's no blunt point on your sword there, girl.

I've been yelling a lot lately.  I lose my temper.  I lose control.  I hate it.  I feel so ashamed.

BG knows where every one of my buttons is.  She knows exactly how to elicit a power struggle, and lately it seems like she thinks everything merits one.

I know I shouldn't yell.  I know I shouldn't react.  I know I shouldn't take it personally.

I guess beating myself up for that isn't helping anything.

I read something the other day about making sure your kids' attention bucket and power bucket are filled.

Who is filling my power bucket?

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I've been feeling stuck lately.  I've been having a hard time putting a finger on or a name to what it is that I want.

Then I found the Power of Moms site and podcast, and I had a name for what it is I've been looking for.  Deliberate.

I want to be deliberate.  In everything I do.  In all my choices.  

I am tired of stumbling through life.  I am tired of surviving until bedtime.  I am tired of feeling distracted and overwhelmed and out of sorts and torn in different directions.  

I am tired of fiddling with my tablet or worrying about the housework when I'm supposed to be playing with my kids.  I am tired of feeling guilty about not paying attention to my kids when I'm writing (or not writing.  Which is what usually happens.)  I am tired of feeling resentful about being a maid when I'm doing the housework and tired of feeling frustrated and sloppy when I don't get it done.

I am tired of sitting down at naptime and not having any idea what it is that I want to do, what will fill my cup, and then finding that naptime is over and I haven't done a damn thing for myself or anyone else and feeling grumpy as I go collect my kids and dump them in front of the TV.

I want to do better.  But I'm tired of thinking I'm not good enough.

I want to take ownership of everything I do.  To sit down and consciously take care of myself when that's what I"m doing and to consciously be with my kids when that's what I want.  

And that is what I want.  I know what I want.  I can take care of myself, I can take care of my family.

I just have to decide to.

(Disclosure: I was chosen as an Ambassador for Power of Moms.  But they aren't paying me, and they didn't ask me to write this.  I just think they're awesome.)

Friday, April 11, 2014

There is no normal

One of the biggest things depression took away from me is my ability to trust myself and my own feelings.

That bitch.

I've known this for a while, but when I was talking to a friend the other day I realized how insidious the language we use to talk to each other (and ourselves) can be.

"I worry a lot about other people, is that normal?"
"I resent my kids sometimes, is that normal?"
"I lose my temper when my kids are whining and yelling at me, is that normal?"
"I feel tired, like I need a break, and I don't want to do aaaaaaanything, is that normal?"
"Wait, are other people worried about these things.  I'm not.  Is that normal?"

I find myself reality checking every thought and every feeling.  Is this real?  Is this rational?  Is it just the depression?  Do other people feel this way?

Is it normal?

If I feel this way, is there something wrong with me?


There is no normal.

We all want validation.  We all want to feel like we aren't alone.  We all want to be part of something bigger, to feel a sense of connection with those around us.

Those things are okay.  Those things are natural.  Human.  Nothing to be ashamed of.

But here's the thing.  None of it is anything to be ashamed of.

None of our feelings are wrong.  We can't beat them out of ourselves.  We can't reality check ourselves into not wanting something.

We feel what we feel.  We want what we want.  And all we really need to hear from each other is, "You, right now, are safe and loved, just the way you are."

That's as normal as it gets.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fullmindedness. Wait, that's not right.

"Your kids are fine, moms.  Don't worry about them.  Maintain your focus.  Reach your arms up.  Breathe in and out.  You know if you forget to breathe in yoga, you're going to forget to breathe when your kids are yelling at you."

I fix my eyes on a light switch on the front wall and slowly breathe, in through my nose, out through my nose.  My little one wraps her arms around my shins.

"Yoooooga teeaacher," I hear BG trill the incredibly descriptive direct address.  "The babies keep knocking over the tooooweeers."

In through my nose, out through my nose.

"That's okay," answers the instructor.  "That's part of the practice.  To keep going even though things get knocked down.  Want to do this pose with me?  Moms, sit back in Utkatasana."

The air that comes out through my nose as I sit back into chair pose comes from somewhere deep inside me where I didn't know I was holding it.  My little one reaches her arms up with a whimper, and I scoop her up and hold her against my chest as I squeeze my knees together and tuck my tailbone.  Still breathing.  Still focusing on the light switch.

It's only for this one moment, in this one place, but it matters.


Before yoga class, I sat on the floor with both girls to play.  I'd shut off all my social media.  I wanted to just be there.  I wanted to be present, to be fully in the moment.  

In the back of my head were dinner plans.  Worries about the laundry and the dishes.  Wishes for some time for myself.

And I saw them, and I waved at them, and I pushed them away.  Again and again and again.

And I tried not to judge myself.  And I tried not to judge myself for judging myself.  (I've said this before.  I'll probably say it again.  It will be a long time before I'm there.)

"Moooommmmy, what should I doooo?"  "Mommmmmmmmmy, my baby sister is knocking over my towers."  "Moommmmmmy."

I moved the baby out of the way, again and again and again.  I tried to distract her with different toys, to build separate towers for her to knock down. But again and again, she zeroed in on what BG was building and began to take it apart, shrieking and crying when I pulled her back.

I closed my eyes.  I couldn't breathe.  There was no way to make both of my children happy.  There may not have been any way to make either of them happy.  Was I doing it wrong?  I wanted to be anywhere but here.  Being present is overrated.


I've just finished reading Jon Kabat Zin's The Mindful Way Through Depression.  It made a lot  of sense to me.  It resonated with me.  It spoke to a lot of places I've been going in my head lately, without research.

I want to be in just one place at a time.

I want to give my thoughts their space, let them come up where they will, without letting them take over my life.  I want to love myself, to have permission to be who I am.  I want to have a space that is completely without judgment.  And I want to not judge myself when I do judge (see, I told you I'd say it again).

At the end of the book there was an 8 week guided plan for building mindfulness skills.

In the first week, it suggested, you are to do a 20 minute body scan, three 3 minute breathing spaces, and mindfully attend to one daily task, every day.

What the flying ....?

How was I supposed to do all that?  How was I supposed to add that to the day I already have?  How was I supposed to find 20 minutes when no one was touching me or talking to me?

I was never going to get it right.  I was never going to be fixed.


I don't need to be fixed.   Just like my writing, just like my parenting, my life is happening right now.  Whether I'm ready or not.  Whether I've exercised my neuroplasticity or not.

I'm here.  Now.

And that's enough.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ready or not

I am piled on the couch with both my children.  The little one is laying across my stomach, and the big one is leaning on my shoulder and tickling her sister.  They are both giggling.

And I am reading articles on how to parent.

I've been thinking and talking a lot about showing up before I'm ready, about being brave, about putting myself out there while I'm still imperfect.  But mostly when I do that, I'm talking about writing.  I"m talking about advocacy.  I'm talking about things that happen outside my house.

But the raw truth is that the thing in my life that requires the most courage is happening right here on my couch.

Loving my kids is terrifying.

Right now, there are two people, two of the people most important to me in the world, who rely on me for everything.  For whose lives and development I am 100% responsible. Who I have to nurture and educate and love and cherish 24 hours of every day.

And sometimes, I really don't wanna.

And it isn't because I don't enjoy my children.  It isn't because they bore me really or because there's something else I'd rather be doing.  It's because I am so scared of screwing it up.

I read books and articles, and I ask advice.  I make lists, and I obsess over decisions.  I curl up into myself, researching and learning, preparing myself to parent.  When I'm ready, when I'm perfect, when there is no chance of making a mistake, when there is no danger to anyone I love, that's when I will show up.

But parenting is happening right now.  It is happening right now, when my one year old is brushing her own hair with her sister's brush, when my three year old is sitting next to me in butterfly pose (just like mama) and summarizing for me the Curious George episode she just watched.  It's happening whether I am ready or not.

I'm scared.  I'm allowed to be scared.  I'm allowed to not enjoy every minute.  I'm trying not to judge myself for not being present in the moment every moment, and I'm trying not to judge myself for judging myself for that.

My big girl is pretending to take my temperature now.  "Are you sick today mommy?  I think you're about to have a fever.  I need to give you a special shot!"

My little girl has a toy phone balanced between her shoulder and ear and is stirring the tiny coffee pot she's put on the play stove.

I am smiling at them.  I am closing my eyes and thinking happy thoughts for my shot.  I am echoing the baby's babbling and signing back to her. I am writing.

This is my real life.  It's not a dress rehearsal.  I'm already doing it.

What a scary thought.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Believe in me

We all want to be big stars
But we don't know why
And we don't know how.
-Counting Crows

I want my blog to be successful, I say.  I hear myself say it and I realize that I find it incredibly frustrating.  It feels hopeless, out of reach, undefinable.  There's no goal, no benchmark by which I can define this success for which I'm striving.

Because what I really mean is I want my blog to make me feel successful.


Life is disappointing.   That feels like an awful thing for a mother to say.  It feels like I'm saying I don't want to be where I am.  It feels like something I need to apologize for, to justify, to explain.  It feels like something I'm not supposed to say.

But the truth is, life is disappointing.  I'ts unfulfilling a lot of the time.  It's hard and overwhelming and boring.  It's tedious.

I get discouraged easily.  I try to make some big broad gesture, to clean my entire house in one day with both kids underfoot or to bake a pie or to do an elaborate craft or plan an outlandish day trip.  And then it "doesn't work."

Doesn't work.

Because so much of the time, so many of the things I'm doing are really just another way of trying to prove something.  Because I think that if I just get things right, just work hard enough, just find the exact right combination, then everything will go right and I will finally stop feeling like a failure.

But that's not what happens.

Even if I somehow manage to accomplish the benchmark I set before myself, the thing that I thought "if I just do this, it will mean I am a good enough mom/wife/homemaker/writer,"  nothing changes.

Nothing changes.

It doesn't work.

It doesn't make me into something better.

And in the back of my head, I hear Brene Brown's voice, and the voices of my wiser, braver friends, telling me that I should show up because I'm already worthy and not to win my worthiness.  And I think "YOU IDIOT, YOU'RE NOT EVEN GOOD ENOUGH AT THINKING YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH.  YOU'RE NOT DOING ANY OF THIS RIGHT."

But that's not right either, is it?

I want to raise kids who are healthy and happy and smart and kind.  I want a house that is clean and organized and comfortable and welcoming.  I want a blog that helps people, that speaks to people's hearts, that lets other people know they are not alone.

And I know that other people see all that in me already.  But I don't see it.  I can't.  I don't know how to know when I'm doing it.

I have piles right now.  We've watched a lot of TV.  I haven't been writing.  I've been gorging myself on junk food.

I feel like a failure.

I want to feel like a success.  I want to be a star.  I want to be able to define myself in one way as a winner, to be seen as having it all together.  I want everybody to love me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

8 things I wish they'd told me

One of my dearest, oldest friends has a 6 week old, and she's having a bit of a hard time, so I thought it was time to 'fess up to her about my blog.  Welcome to my crazy, K.  We're all hot messes here.

So for K, and for all of us, here are 8 things I wish they'd told me about motherhood when I was starting.

1.  Babies cry. It's not you.  It's their brains.  Sometimes there is no logical explanation and therefore nothing you can do.  I want to tell you not to blame yourself or take it personally, but it will only help so much.  It's almost impossible not to take things personally when they come from your children.  For more on this, see anything I've written, ever.  And while we're on the topic?  Babies cry. And toddlers throw tantrums.  And preschoolers have power struggles.  And teenagers rebel.  And mothers doubt themselves

It's not your fault.  We're all just doing what we're supposed to do.

2.  It is possible to feel two completely contradictory emotions at the same time.  In fact, I've become convinced that for moms this is the norm.  You will feel both bored and overwhelmed.  You will want both to never be touched again and to never put your sweet baby down. You will likely both love and hate every single stage. There's absolutely no reason to feel guilty about this.  It's part and parcel of being a mom.  And because you don't have the emotional capacity of a teacup, you will be just fine.  I promise.

3.  Sometimes, you just need to get out of the house.  Target is excellent for this.  To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever found a definitive scientific reason for this, but wandering the aisles of Target with your pre-verbal baby feels like absolute magic.  You may want to avoid this step if you are on a budget though because of the distinct possibility of buying all the things.

4.  Whatever you do is enriching your baby, so do what you want to do.  Strap him in a sling and check out a museum.  Go sit at a coffee house.  Go to story time at the library even though he's way too young to care, not because you are doing anything for his language development but because it's free and there are books and other grown ups there.

5.  Making new mom friends is worse than dating.  Unfortunately, having kids the same age as yours is not sufficient to forming real and meaningful bonds.  If you don't click with someone, it's always them.  Never you.

6.  Read.  Always have a book nearby when you are feeding your baby.  Fill your beautiful brain.

7.  This is hard.  Enjoying every minute isn't mandatory.  You still get to say you love being a mom.  It's in the contract.

8.  You are not alone.  Ever ever.  Reach out.  Tell the truth.  Don't let shame take hold.  We are all in this together.  I double promise.

What advice do you have for my sweet friend?