Wednesday, August 30, 2017

This is parenting

I'm on my hands and knees scrubbing the sticky part of my kitchen floor with a yellow microfiber cloth because I can't remember where I put my mop, and I remember the stories of how my grandmother cleaned her entire house top to bottom every weekend, scrubbing the kitchen floor with a brush every week of her adult life. I look up at the pile of dishes in my sink. One of my daughters, then the other, both of whom I have put to bed at least twice yells from the top of the stairs that they need me RIGHT NOW. This is parenting. I am sitting on my couch with my four year old snuggled into my chest telling me about the strange dream she had ("My sister stole my sandals and I was really mad!") I echo her, affirming it, and laughing with her at how strange it was, then press my nose into the warm top of her knotted hair. "You're the best mom a kid could have," she tells me. This is parenting. My little one is asleep on the couch with fifteen minutes left before her sister gets off the bus from first grade, and I am sitting alone in a quiet house with the windows open, spinning a little in my desk chair, as my fingers glide across the keyboard, smarter than I am, catching at all these truths before they fly away into nothingness. This is parenting too.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Getting still

BG is at her second day of first grade (I KNOW), and LS just fell asleep on the couch at 11:30 in the morning. It is quiet in my house. I feel like I've been waiting for this quiet for a long time. But even so, I find that I am searching for ways to fill the quiet, ways to keep busy, things to do. I have books to read, audio classes to listen to, facebook lives to watch. I have to clean my house, I have to write, I have to get everything done because I don't know when I'm going to have this space and this stillness again and if I don't do it all now I don't know if I'll ever do it. I don't know when I'll have this space and this stillness again. A few days ago, my kids were playing with their Little People quietly together without me (oh miracle of miracles) and I asked some friends on FB which of the things on my massive self care and personal development checklist would be the best use of my time. One of my friends asked me what my gut said. The truth was, my gut said to do nothing, and surely that couldn't be the right answer. Maybe it is. Maybe I just need to get still for a little while, to stop doing, to be here now alone in the quiet. Maybe that's the most productive use of my time after all.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The voice in my head says

What if I never have anything worth writing about ever again? I want to write every day, I want to get back to a place where writing is just part of who I  am, but the more I do it, the more I hate everything that comes out of me.

I wanted to write about mothering and life, to connect and relate to people, to make people feel less alone, to know they were doing okay. I wanted to create meaning in everyday life, I wanted to be seen and heard.

But it doesn't feel like that's what I'm doing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

This morning

I woke up this morning not wanting to do anything. And my kids woke up this morning wanting to do all the things.


"Can we paint our nails?"

"No, not today."

"If you let us paint our nails, we'll be extra nice."

"Why wouldn't you be nice anyway??"

"Can we use the pottery wheel?"


"Can we do karaoke?"


"How about pottery?"

Giant mom head explosion.

I don't know if it's me or if it's them. I'm tired of saying no, tired of saying not now. I don't want my kids to remember me as the mom who always said no not now.

I don't want to be counting down days until school starts. But I kind of am.

We're at library story time now because I needed a break. I hate that I needed a break. And I hate that even though I sat in the back corner to try to read, I haven't gone 5 minutes without a child on top of me.

Monday, August 21, 2017

What happened when I didn't write

Less than a week ago, I committed to writing 100 or more words every day for the next thirty days. And then for the past two days, I didn't.

It sucked, guys. And it didn't.

The truth is the pressure was pretty bad, and the idea that the world was going to end if I didn't write, that it was going to be proof that I wasn't meant to be a writer, that I was going to be a failure for the rest of my life, that something was inherently wrong with me was heavy. So damn heavy.

And what happened on the day when I didn't write?

I was disappointed. I was sad. I felt like I maybe could have done better, like I needed to do a better job at putting what was important to me at the forefront.

But. The world didn't end. Life kept going. And as much as my brain told me that this was proof that I was never going to really be a writer, I sat down today and wrote again. And that part sucked. I'm embarrassed. I'm ashamed.

What happened when I didn't write is that I gave myself another opportunity to practice grace. And, as BG says when it's time to sit down at the piano, I HATE PRACTICING. PRACTICING IS BORING.

But that's how you get better. You practice. You sit down. You keep going when you make mistakes. And you give yourself grace.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

In which I am like Super Grover 2.0

Today the tiredness is catching up to me. My kids have been watching Elena of Avalor for two hours and I am dipping some kind of incomprehensible fizzy carbonated water thing. I want to be eloquent, I want to be wise, to be dripping with insight and heart. But right now all I can really think to say is that I'm tired.

Sometimes when I feel like this I get scared that it's the depression sinking back in on me. That I don't want to do anything because of this illness that I can never seem to get out from under. And when I feel that way it makes me want to sink into the floor even more, to disappear.

But the important thing is to show up, to keep showing up, to not worry about whether it is any good or what anyone will think. To convince myself that my failure is not as inevitable as I have been telling myself it is. And to get it out of the way because until I do I'm going to be so busy not writing that I'm not going to do anything else.

So now that I've written I'm going to go clean up my house a little and then snuggle my kids and get on with my day. Because I'm not a failure. And I don't need to beat myself to the punch by giving up before I get a chance to be rejected. I just need to show up.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

And then she saw me

Today is hard.

I went to the grocery store and forgot to buy what I mostly went for. I spent 15 minutes on the phone trying to get BG registered for a class she wants to take, and turned around to find LS soaked to the skin and a swimming pool on my bathroom floor where she'd been splashing in the sink. Everywhere I look, there is something on my floor that doesn't belong there, even though I spent 3 hours cleaning on Sunday afternoon, and my in laws are coming to visit tomorrow. BG has been asking me every thirty seconds to paint or throw pottery or do something that will create as big a mess as possible, and my answer is always "Not now, not now," and I HATE that.

I'm having a hard time breathing right now.

I yelled at my kids and BG stomped off to her room indignantly. But then. But then.

She poked her head back downstairs and immediately started asking again if she could do something incredibly complicated, requiring my undivided attention, and taking twice as long to clean up as it would actually take to do.

"BG," I said, "I'm not doing great. There's a tornado in my brain. So many tornadoes." This is how my sweet six year old describes her own anxiety to me.

She stopped. She petted my hair. "I'm sorry mommy. It's okay. Go to your room and read, that always helps me. I'll take care of everything."

And so I started to cry. Because she saw me and heard me and I can't remember the last time I felt genuinely seen and heard and validated.

And I started to laugh because there was no way in heck I could leave her in charge of the house and her sister.

And I breathed. And I hugged her. And I kept on trying.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Worth trying

I have trouble trying new things.

These days, I'm a hot mess just muddling through, but at one point in my life (long, long ago) I was good at things.

Certain things.

I never tried out for theater in high school, even though I really wanted to. I didn't even ever tell anyone that I wanted to. Because what if I wasn't good? What if I didn't make it or succeed? So the best thing was to just keep my wanting to myself.

If I didn't already know I'd be perfect, it wasn't worth trying. Trying was a problem. Trying too hard was of course an even bigger problem.

In a former life, I was a teacher. And I enjoyed it. So a lot of the time, when I'm home with my kids and I don't know what else to do, I teach them stuff. It's what I do. It's who I am.

So last week, I started a new project. I started a blog called This Mom teaches where I could share books we've read, videos we've watched, projects we've done. It's not stuff I created, really, it's mostly just curating content.

I'm good at that. I've always been good at that. And I like it.

And I'm overcome with major impostor syndrome.

Why do I think I am? Why do I have a right to do this? Why would anyone care what I have to say? What will people think of me when they see this? Will they think this is silly, that I'm silly?

Those voices, they're so real. They're in my head all the time. But this time, I'm not going to let them make me give up. I'm going to try.

It's worth trying.

Monday, August 14, 2017


In eighth grade PE class, we ran a mile once a month, as a way to assess our fitness and to gauge progress. In order to keep us all from running into each other on the track, we were split up into start times based on our previous month's pace. There was a 6-9 minute group, a 9-12, and a 12-15 minute group.

I was in the 12-15 minute group, and I hated it.

The athletes were in the first group. The pretty and popular girls were all in the second group. I was in the group that was barely going fast enough to get a passing grade. "You can walk it in 15 minutes if you hustle," said our teacher, "There's no reason to not be able to finish in that time."

I wanted nothing more than to get into one of the faster groups. I was ashamed.

That was the year I started jogging in place while I watched TV at night. I lost over 10 pounds, probably not in the healthiest of ways. I wanted to be different, to be part of a group where deep in my gut I would never believe I belonged.

I got into the middle group. Then I got my mile time under 10 minutes, a goal that meant more to me than it probably should have.

And it didn't change anything. It didn't fill any of the void in my heart. It didn't make me feel less lonely or cooler or special.

I've been running again this summer. Last night I ran 2.5 miles. My pace hovers just above an 11 minute mile. I'm so much stronger than I was at 13, so much smarter. There's a part of me, though, that still believes that in order to be someone I need to get my pace under 10 minutes. I need to be able to run the whole 5k and get it in under 30 minutes. There's a part of me that thinks that it's not real, that I am not doing it until I get there, until I hit that goal, until I fit into that group.

That's not why I run. I know this. It matters that I get out there and put in the time more than it matters how far or how fast I go. Showing up matters. Until I can get that deep into my skull, can convince that scared 13 year old girl inside me who still just really wants to belong, it will never really change anything. I'll always be running from myself instead of running for myself.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Autumn is coming

It's almost the end of summer. Part of me is relieved, excited, counting down the days until my girls go back to school. But another part of me is disappointed, discouraged, guilty. This summer I was going to do all the things with my kids. We were going to go to the zoo, museums, parks, spray parks, pools. We were going to enjoy each other and really be together.

This is the part where I need Daniel Tiger to sing to me "Sometimes you feel two feelings at the same time, and that's okay."

We spent a lot of the summer, it seems, in the house. We watched a lot of TV. We snuggled some, they fought some, I lost my temper some. I wish I was the kind of mom who had my kids at the pool every day or who played outside with them all the time. But usually I'm the kind of mom who needs to retreat to a quiet room and just not be around her kids for a chunk of the day.

I'm sad about that.

BG is starting first grade this year (I know, right?!!?) and it's her first day of going to school all day every day. Most of the time, I think that's a good thing. I think there's a lot about first grade that she'll love, and I'm looking forward to working in more pockets of time to myself when Little Sister is at preschool, too. But sometimes this sense comes over me like a cloud that I missed it. That was the end of her childhood. I didn't do all the things I wanted to do before they took her from me and now it's too late. 

I failed.

She's six.

My rational brain is telling me that it isn't over, that there's an awful lot of parenting left to do. I know this, in my head.  But.

Back to school has always been a complicated time for me. It's when I miss teaching most. It's when I feel like the year really starts, like I can have goals and new beginnings, like everything is fresh and new and terrifying.

This year, I just want to hold my big girl a little longer, even if it means we're snuggling on the couch and watching Pippi instead of exploring all the national parks. For just a little while, I want time to slow down.

Until they both start climbing on my head and hitting each other and screaming. Then it can speed up again.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


I am sitting on my bathroom floor right now typing this on my phone, earbuds in my ears with nothing playing on them.

I have decided that I'm going to write.

I have decided this before. I have failed before. I have given up before anyone had a chance to not like me before.

I have decided that this time I'm going to do it anyway.

I'm going to write every day for the next thirty days and I'm going to do it not to try to accomplish anything concrete but because the work itself has value. Because writing and sharing are important to me and because that matters. Because I want to be seen and heard, and because it's okay to want to be seen and heard.  Because Liz Gilbert says that any talent that isn't used becomes a burden and because life has been feeling awfully heavy lately and I'm ready to lay this one down.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I want this, that this matters to me, and I think it's important to say that too. There's a lot of baggage about wanting things.

So I'm going to sit down and write every day, for the next thirty days. Even if some days that's just a stream of consciousness sitting on a tile floor with a bath towel skimming the top of my head.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Sometimes it's still hard

When my babies were babies, I was bored. I didn't know what to do all day long. I was lonely. I didn't know why my newborns wouldn't just talk to me. That was when my depression was really obvious to me, really clear. I sat in my house with my screaming infant on my chest and cried.

It's different now. My kids are four and six. (I know! How did that happen??) They talk to me now. In fact, sometimes I wish they would just stop talking to me for a little while so I could think.

You know what though? Sometimes I'm still bored. 

Because chauffering them to activities isn't fun or interesting. Because I don't always want to read the same picture book again and again all day long. Because I don't wanna clean the house, wash the dishes, fold the laundry.

And somehow, in my brain, bored has turned into boring.

I haven't written because I'm afraid that I'm boring, that no one will care what I have to say.

Today, I remembered something. I remembered how important truth was to me in those early days when I knew I was depressed. I remember how the key for me came from reaching out, from admitting that parenting was hard, from being seen and heard, from having people say "me too."

I remembered that in those early days, I didn't try to be interesting. I didn't wonder how what I had to say was different from what anyone else had to say. I just wrote and published, told the truth, connected. I said that sometimes, it was hard.

Sometimes it's still hard. I bet I'm not the only one who thinks that sometimes their kids are boring, sometimes they want some quiet, sometimes they need to create something themselves or they're going to explode. I have a feeling you're all still out there and you all need truth as much as you ever did, whether you know it or not.

And even if you don't, I need to be here. I need to be telling truth. Hi.