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.