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.