Do Opposites Attract?

He is a dog person. I like cats.

 

He rides motorcycles. I drive a minivan.

4000 Mile Motorcycle Trip - Colorado 2000

4000 Mile Motorcycle Trip – Colorado 2000

He eats meat. I like kale.

 

He drinks beer. I prefer wine.

 

He is a saver. I like a nice handbag. And shoes. And a new lamp. Maybe a cute new area rug. And I give to charity. A lot.

 

He leans right. I lean…no I am…left.

 

He is a night owl. He married an early bird.

 

He is a bicyclist. I am a runner.

 

He is Carthartts. I am Nordstrom.

 

He is hostels. I am a private shower kind of gal.

 

He is Game Of Thrones. I am Kimmy Schmidt.

 

He is going out. I am staying home.

 

He likes to just drop by. I like to make plans weeks in advance.

 

He is New England. I am Midwestern.

 

He is always late. I am always early.

 

He is Liberal Arts and Ivy League. I am night school and State school.

 

He is depth charge. I am au lait(skim).

 

He is naked. I am sleepinallthefleece.

 

He is Dave Matthews. I am SO.NOT.

 

He is Valdez. I am Paris.

 

He is lacrosse. I am golf.

 

He is racquetball. I am tennis.

 

He is “pure” – (his word). I am tattoos and piercings.

 

He is a scuba diver. I like to hang on the beach.

 

He likes dirt. I like soap.

 

He is milk. I am dark. (chocolate of course)

 

Yet, we have made a life together. 17 years ago we met on an airplane heading to Bangkok. His first line to me was “I went to Middlebury.” And my response was “Where?” And we laughed and talked for the 20 hour flight. He’s educated me on Middlebury. I’ve moved him to the Midwest.

 

I will not say that our life is one of compromise, but it is one of deep understanding and appreciation of what the other likes. And yes, sometimes I motorcycle..and yes he had to stay in a hotel in Paris…with a private shower. And he steals my dark chocolate while I sneak sips of his depth charge.

 

I think the key to our 17 years together and our 13 years of marriage(TODAY) is our willingness to try new things for each other, while buying beer for a spouse and falling in love with a nose piercing. And maybe sitting through a Dave Matthew’s concert.

 

You have to celebrate, appreciate and understand someone’s past before you can build a common future together.

 

May our love, our life, our appreciation, and our adventures continue together.

 

Happy Lucky 13. xo

 

Share

Parenting By Improvisation #GoodandHonest #Motts

This is a sponsored post by The Motherhood and Mott’s and their Good & Honest Campaign.

 

My own mother thinks that I’ve lost my mind. Ask my dad, and he’ll agree with her. I never thought we would be one of “those” families that spends every free moment that we have…well, not being free at all. During the school day I’m running errands for my kids – picking up equipment, forms, ingredients for baked goods and snacks, and then after school I’m driving them absolutely everywhere.

 

Last Saturday I spent exactly seven hours and 19 minutes in my car driving three kids here and there and everywhere. My car has become a giant receptacle of dirty clothes, uniforms, school work, snack wrappers, grocery bags, instruments, ballet shoes, and books that I read while I sit and wait and catch my breath.

honest-parenting

So my parents think that I’ve lost my mind for letting such a schedule happen. For having a to-do list a mile long written on small pieces of paper in my mess of a purse. For not saying no, you cannot run track this year.

 

Yet somehow – in this chaos of a life, this mess of a car, the mixed up brain that forgets so many things – well, we’re happy. Yes, we are happy between school pick-up and ballet drop-off, and that vocal concert, and the practicing of piano, and the track meet, and the dance recital, and the volunteering at the school AGAIN for eight hours this week.

 

And like everything from this childhood that I am witnessing – it will not last. In six years one will leave for college..and then another two years later..and in 12 years…gone. I can dedicate these 12 years to this. To this busy that middle school and high school brings. A different busy from six years ago when it was pushing someone on a swing and cleaning up breakfast dishes and wiping butts. At least this new busy gives me minutes here and there to read a book while I sit in a car, or check Facebook, or leave a kid at home while I run the others somewhere, or allow me to stop for groceries by myself sometimes.

 

And I don’t feel like my kids are running my life by all of us now choosing to be this busy. In someways we love it. And honestly, I think a busy kid has less downtime to get into trouble. Trust me – I know this from my own experience. So I can either embrace and maybe laugh at the crazy that we call our life, I can complain about it, or I can stop it if I feel that it’s wrong. But it’s not. It feels just so crazy right, right now.

 

What our new and crazy schedule has also taught me is to just let things go and improvise. We used to sit at the table together almost every night for dinner. Now, dinner is mainly on the go and I need to just click away and ignore all of the posts and research about how dinner together as a family most nights is so important. We did that for 12 years…so now it’s time for picnics in the car or on the dance studio lobby floor. And I’m calling it still pretty darn good as we are still together and hey, no dishes!

 

It feels good to just focus on what feels right for our family as we create our own memories and schedules and know that with balancing life, we are really just doing the best we can.

motts-good-honest

I love that Mott’s is giving all of us parents a break with their new Good & Honest Campaign. And can I just say that Mott’s Snack & Go Applesauce packets have been a lifesaver for easy and healthy snacks on the run for us!

Let’s be honest. Moms and dads work hard to be the best parents they can be. But they’re not afraid to admit that everything doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes we have to fudge it a little bit and just go with the flow. Even if that means straying a bit from the Parenting 101 Manual.

Spending quality time with kids is important, whether it’s doing homework, working on a fun project, reading or simply laughing at things that no one else could possibly understand. These are the very moments that create long-lasting memories, but sometimes in the balance of life, we falter and recognize that we can’t always be perfect.

The Good and Honest campaign is truly meant to uplift parents and acknowledge we improvise along the way. We celebrate and support those who are doing the best they can every day for their kids.

Now I’d love to here about your Good & Honest parenting moments - do you cut bedtime stories short by leaving out a few words…only pretend to listen to your child practice the piano…’forget’ to pack a lunch just to save some time in the morning? Fess up!

 

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Mott’s and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own. 
Share

Mom Mishaps – Things I Forget #SisterhoodUnite

Disclosure: “I’m a Sisterhood of Motherhood Blog Partner, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.”

My child was the one with bare feet during ballet class this past Saturday. The other girls had pink sheer tights and perfect shoes with bows, while mine had bare legs and feet because I forgot her ballet shoes. It wasn’t the first time I forgot. Nor the last. I can make that promise.

forgetful-parent

My child has also been the one eating the cheese sandwich for lunch because I forgot to send lunch money or pack her lunch.

 

My child has also been the one without the class snack when I’ve forgotten it was our snack day. Instead the teacher had to give snack from the cabinet. The cabinet that I fill for her when I remember. But of course I remember this when it’s not our snack day.

 

My child has been the one sitting outside of dance..forever waiting for me. And finally going back inside to call me to find out why I’m not there to pick her up. It’s because I forgot to pick her up. More than once I’ve jumped in my car – without shoes, maybe pants, without my purse, maybe my glasses, and rushed to pick up a forgotten child.

 

My child has been the one to almost miss field trips because of forgotten permission slips.

 

My child has gone without a yearbook because I missed the deadline to order(thank you, school for ordering extra for mothers like me).

 

My child has turned in empty reading logs because I forgot to fill them out.

 

When I started making the list of what I’ve forgotten for my children, I teetered between laughter and tears. I know some of what I’ve forgotten is so minor that they forgot and forgave within minutes. But some of these incidents will either hurt their hearts a bit longer or give them fuel for stories to share with their children. Hopefully stories that will make them laugh one day. Please let them laugh about it one day.

 

I want to sit with other moms and hear what they’ve forgotten, or how often they forget something. I know I forget little things almost daily. But big things are forgotten more often than I like to admit. I hope as parents we can give ourselves a little grace each day as our faults, mistakes, and things that we forgot or had to let go pile up, as parenting is messy and disorganized even on the best of days.

 

And while yes, you may forget snack day and maybe forget to pick up your child, and sure forget to pack the soccer shoes – it doesn’t mean you forget the more important things like that first morning hug, a smile from across the room, or an evening snuggle before fed.

 

Kids are smart enough to know what’s really important. And trust me, it’s not the snack you remembered for them in first grade.

 

By writing this, I’m giving myself some grace and I’m going to stop kicking myself for the forgotten shoes on Saturday.

 

What have you forgotten this week? Come on – spill it!

*****

sisterhood-of-motherhood-feature

Similac believes it’s time to embrace mothers who choose to embrace motherhood. Time to put down the fingers and the subtle suggestions. Because no two of us are the same, but we’re all in this together. The sisterhood has only one rule. Nourish each other the same way we nourish our children. And, just like the sister who’s got your back, we’re there to help you get through the first few days and months of motherhood with confidence — and zero judgment. The way it should be.

 

I would love for you to visit Similac’s new Sisterhood Of Motherhood site, learn more on Facebook.

 

Similac partnered with bloggers such as me for its Sisterhood of Motherhood Program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their words, Similac’s policies align with the WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission(FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.
Share

Twenty Six Minutes

Subterranean

 

Located or living underground.

 

Mediterraneus(Latin)

 

Enclosed or nearly enclosed by land.

 

Esther calls out 20 more vocabulary words from the backseat, getting 20 more responses from Eloise in the front. Astrid sings FourFiveSeconds the whole time. The whole time being ThirteenMinutes and 6 miles that the four of us are in the car in the morning.

 

I wonder if Astrid had quite a bender over the weekend that she was repenting about. But I don’t recall anything more than a maybe a little extra root beer in her float on Friday and a late night family viewing of The Hobbit on Saturday. So I just smile and sing along with her because damn it’s a soulful tune. And also because Paul McCartney. And Rihanna. And that other gentleman who is so damn talented..but still. And I pause once again to be grateful that Raffi’s music has not graced our car since 2006.

photo 1-1

Esther and Eloise finish the vocabulary words and now sing with us. Esther does air guitar and Eloise drums a beat on the dash.

 

I want to cry with happiness for these ThirteenMinutes each morning. And the ThirteenMinutes coming this afternoon.

 

The TwentySixMinutes that I was dreading when we moved. Our move meant moving out of the bus zone and into the land of driving the kids to school. TwentySixMinutes that I used for showering or working or for silence and for me. A compromise of mine for this move. I dreaded losing this time of mine. I dreaded being in the car more. I dreaded the environmental impact.

 

But instead I gained TwentySixMinutes with my kids. Sometimes the morning ride is filled with spelling words and plans for the day. Sometimes the radio is just turned up all the way and we sing and laugh. Sometimes we are tired and cranky and silent but together. Sometimes there’s a fight about the wrong shoes or forgetting a book. But always it’s us.

driving-carpool

The afternoon ride home is talking about their days. Homework that’s due. What’s for dinner. Sometimes long talks. Sometimes long tired silences. But they are here. With me. Together. TwentySixMinutes for us.

 

This extra time with my kids without interruptions possible is a gift I did not expect. Surprises will never cease in parenting. And I’m going to take any extra moment that I can with them. No regrets. No benders. No repenting. No dreading.

 

Our TwentySixMinutes together.

 

Because it’s #1 on our carpool playlist right now.

 

Share

Blurred Lines

I can no longer work on my laptop without wearing my readers. My cheaters. My stupid glasses that allow me to see things close-up. The glasses that make me feel like I should wear purple sweaters and red hats and have friends named Phyllis. I now play the game of putting my glasses on and off and on and off and on and off – and figuring out where to put them when I’m not wearing them – on my head, in my pocket, on the table, tucked in the neck hole of my top – somewhere close by because after I look up and remove them so I can see far again(albeit with 300 strength contact lenses) and talk to you, I then need to look again to my laptop or paper or phone and put my glasses back on.

 

But where are they? Did I put them in my purse, my shirt, the drawer, the bedside table, on my head, or HORROR – on some beaded chain around my neck. I have friends that now have bifocals. Not parents – not grandparents – not aunts or uncles…but friends that wear bifocals. I’ve laughed at them and their aging ways.

 

Until now. Now I face being closer to 50 than 40, have more friends over 50 than under 40, and feel so far removed from having babies in my house that I felt uncomfortable in the restaurant bathroom last week when a young mom was changing her son’s diaper. “People still do that?” I thought. Because you see, we do forget what it’s like to have little ones at home and what it takes to care for them and what needs to be done for them. We do. It just felt like more than three years ago when that was me in the bathroom changing a diaper. Now I spend more time dealing with my own accidents when I pee myself while laughing or sneezing. I even wonder if I would need my readers to change a diaper at this point.

 

And I was an “old” mother – still with an infant when I was 41. How can I feel already so detached from having babies at home. Maybe it’s because I can no longer keep track of my glasses, let alone a potential toddler on the loose or remembering to pack diapers and wipes. At the same time.

 

My only solace to my aging woes – besides the fact that most of my friends are older than I am for a reason – is that my husband is aging right along with me. After pulling the readers off my face nightly while I read, to use for himself, he finally broke down and bought his own glasses a few months ago. As someone who has never had glasses – this was a new adventure for him – a new fashion statement, a new thing to research, a new thing to be excitement about. Whereas glasses for me are something I’ve worried about for nearly thirty years and consider them more “have to” than “fun to.”

reading-glasses

And damn if this old man didn’t get hotter when he put his readers on. (Okay, maybe his growing man-bun helped a bit too). So this made me mad because guys always “win” at these things – this aging gracefully and all of that crap. They don’t worry about their graying hair, their stray hairs, their aging eyes, and they don’t they fill their medicine cabinets full of the latest wrinkle creams.  Where I now notice the friends who’ve had Botox and worry whether my latest hair color matches my original color so people don’t take notice. I don’t consider aging to be a measure of hotness or not, but I do see the measurement changing. Maybe that’s why our eyes go bad and readers are required to see any details. Maybe we are suppose to lose them in our purses, pockets, tables, and drawers so we can see the big picture and the beauty in the distance..and forget about those little imperfections that just blur into a beautiful face when we put our glasses down.

 

Share

She’s Just A Child

This post has been sitting in my draft folder for over a month. I’ve written it. I’ve deleted it. I’ve written it again. I’ve edited it. I’ve cried. I’ve yelled. I’ve been sad. I’ve been protective. I’ve been angry. I’ve tried to forget that I even started this post.

 

After I let it sit again – and by “it” I mean the encounter as well as my heart, I almost decided just to walk away and let this go. But I think that maybe it’s something that people should hear.

 

So I’m hitting publish right now. And I’m vowing not to walk away from this issue and be silent. I’m doing this for our daughters.

******

Dear Mom At The Gap,

 

She noticed you too. She did. My daughter did. My child. She heard you. She heard every word that you said. She saw the look on your face as you said it. And you hurt her.

 

And instead of being excited about a new jacket that I offered to buy for her for her birthday, she told me that she didn’t want it and asked if she could just wait for me outside of the store while I finished with my return. I asked to go with her, but she told me to just stay in the store and finish as she was fine.

 

I watched her through the store window. Her head down as she sat holding hands with her little sister. I kept my eyes closely on her as I stood in line. Wanting to be near her and explain what just happened. Because she’s a child. A child.

 

I thought about grabbing the jacket she loved again and buying it for her anyway as a surprise. But would it always remind her of what she heard. What you said.

 

Let me tell you a little bit about my child. My child that I’ve known for nearly 12 years. The child that you hurt – with your 10 second observation and shaming words.

 

My beautiful child was born a preemie. Weeks early in an emergency delivery, she was born tiny yet perfect in every single way to me. Her limbs were thin – without time in the womb to develop the beautiful baby-squish we all expect. She instead was angular, fragile, and fine. And even as she grew as a toddler and into grade school, her frame was always slight with beautiful and almost magical wispy limbs. Yet she grew tall.

 

You don’t have to look much further than her dad or to me to see where her body structure came from – we both have thinner frames, small bones if you will, and are tall.

 

My child is an incredible student. She’s grades ahead in math, was reading at a tenth grade level by first grade, and always finishes in the top during the school spelling bee. She also loves music and is a gifted pianist though you would never know as she only plays for herself(or for us if she thinks we aren’t listening).

skinny-shame

My child cares deeply for others – watching her sisters, insisting on taking turns, never going first, and volunteering on the school community service club.

 

My child is quiet and doesn’t like to be the center of attention. She encourages others to take the spotlight and is an incredible cheerleader.

 

And my child is a beautiful dancer. She’s been taking dance for nearly eight years at a studio that embraces all children who truly love the sport.

 

Yet sometimes my child comes home from dance sad. Because she feels different. Looks different. She’s turning 12 soon – hormones raging, middle school angst starting, uncertain about life as she starts to define who she is, what she loves, etc. You remember the time of uncertainty, right? Sometimes she comes home from dance in tears because her legs look different or she can’t make them do what she should be able to do. Her legs are so long and thin that they truly do not come together. Do not touch. Do not work in many ballet positions. She is frustrated, yet doesn’t give up.

 

And I have those talks with her that all mothers do – that she’s beautiful and perfect and brilliant just the way she is. That her body is just the way it’s suppose to be. I tell her stories about my own adolescence and my thin legs, and about her grandmother getting teased in middle school when she was told it looked like she was “walking on toothpicks.” We giggle at how absurd life can be. And for awhile she forgets that she feels she looks different or “wrong” compared to others.

 

You see, my child is 11 -almost 12, with no signs of puberty anywhere except for the fact that she’s grown about seven inches in the past year while barely gaining an ounce of weight. She’s become almost as tall as I am – yet with the waist of a five year old, no fat cells to speak off, no hips, no breasts, and no other indication that she’s becoming a woman soon.

 

And I can give you the benefit of the doubt with your statement that perhaps because of her height – that you mistook her for someone maybe 16 or 17 – but that doesn’t excuse what you said. What you thought. What she heard.

 

Because she is not you. She is not even me. She is an individual who deserves better. To not be “skinny shamed” if you must when you said to your daughter “My god, look at how skinny that girl is – she’s obviously sick and anorexic and needs help.”

 

You have no right to judge another person. A child. How dare you decide you have the right to shame anyone because of their body or mind or by how they look. Why as a society do we continue to belittle and judge other women because of their looks and their shapes. Why do we continue to feed this industry that is intent on making us all want to be perfect – whatever that means. And as mothers, I expect better of all of us.

 

So my daughter, my child, fled the store with her baby sister to get away from you, when just moments ago she was happy and looking in the mirror at her reflection – wearing a jacket that she fell in love with. She’s gotten so tall this year that she can now wear ladies tops, and this was our first trip into a store to try something on in that department. She’s had a hard year – growing tall so quickly – do you remember that weird stage when clothing didn’t fit right. Everything was either too short or too long or too small or too big – that year or so as you transitioned from girls department to juniors? Yeah, that’s where she is. And this is happening while she already feels somewhat uncomfortable with her thin legs and height. It’s a hard road to travel with these pre-adolescent girls. How we find these moments of joy between the moments of uncertainty. And you, you just made it a little tougher for her.

 

After my child walked out of the store, I approached you and told you that I heard you and that SHE heard you and that you had no right to do that my child nor to your child. I told you that my daughter was 11 – and about the inches she’s grown, and the puberty not starting. But I shouldn’t have to do all of that explaining, because you should never body shame a child, or anyone. And you kind of apologized with a quick “I had no idea she was not a teen.” – but I need you to know that it’s no excuse. I need you to know that when I walked out of the store and took my child in my arms and talked about what happened, and that she’s incredible, and I explained what anorexic means – that even though she smiled when I suggested a Starbucks so we could just move-on with her day – that this encounter will most likely stick in her mind forever. You still remember things like this from middle school, right?

 

Somehow dammit – as mothers we need to stop the vicious circle of judging and shaming – and start figuring out how to better send messages of health and self-acceptance and love. And I know that’s hard to do – with increased societal pressures and plastic surgery Groupons in our inbox daily. But I truly believe it can be done and if we all just take a simple first step as mothers and women and just stop being so damn hard on one another.

 

Tracy

 

Share

On Being 12

She surprises me with her hug from behind. Her arms around me and her head resting on my shoulder. She touches my hair slightly and whispers “I love you, Mom.” I pat her head awkwardly. I admit this freely. I’m not sure how to touch my daughter. My daughter who turns 12 today.

IMG_5747

I’m sitting on the dining room chair and she comes over and puts her bottom next to mine and pushes me over to make room for her. She’s touching me – leg to leg – and her head rests on my arm. She puts her hand on mine. I move away shocked almost. Not sure again how to touch her. What does she want? What is she doing?

 

The bus is coming. We’ve been at the bus stop now together for nearly seven years. It’s always the same. The bus turns the corner and comes towards our stop. Eloise walks away from me quickly – without a goodbye or a hug or kiss. I yell out “Have a good day, Mo! Love you!” But she never responds. Esther leans into me with a large hug and kiss like we may never see each other again. I watch the bus as it pulls away. Esther waves and blows kisses. Eloise is talking to friends – and never looks out the window.

IMG_5758

You might be reading this shocked. Appalled. Confused. I’m her mother. Her mother of all of her months, her weeks, her days, her minutes, her seconds, her every moment…how could I not know what do to when she touches me.

IMG_5752

But you see, I’ve respected her wishes, her body language, her distance from touch for her whole life. She was not a cuddly baby. Preferring to sleep in her swing or bouncy seat. To cry it out in her crib than to rock for hours. We bounced her and rocked her and held her for days it seems when she was colicky – but typically she only stopped crying when she was put down and was able to be alone. She was sensitive to touch, she didn’t love to be kissed, and when her baby sister was born – she loved her, but never showered her with affection. While other toddlers were “huggy” and “lovey” – she stood at the wall hoping that no one noticed her. She wasn’t much of a hand holder and tucking her into bed at night was with a quick kiss on the head. Many times, and for years, I tried to push for more. But she politely moved away from me. Until one day I just stopped trying out of respect.

 

Her affection was shown through sly smiles and kind deeds.

 

And for 12 years I’ve respected her space. And my place on the edge of it.

 

Waiting. Hoping.

 

So the past few months have startled me. Her touching me. Her seeking me out. Her telling me she loves me in return. Her wanting me to spend more time with her when I tell her good night. Inviting me to sit on her bed. My leg near her arm touching through the layer of blankets. She talks and I move a hair away from her eyes and she doesn’t stop me. Her want to share more books – and for us to sit so close on the couch as we talk. I find my body almost melting into her now as I feel I’ve waited so long to really get to know her. Yet I don’t want to ask her why.

 

So I project like mothers do. And if I had to guess I think she’s realizing that she needs something from me. That she’s not going to be a girl much longer and sees herself as becoming more like “me” and less like “them” – her sisters. Other children. And maybe, just maybe – getting closer to me will be the key and answers she needs for what’s happening. What it’s like. Or maybe she’s scared. Changes coming. Information overload. And she’s finally reaching for me. Like a baby needing comfort. And a mother finally able to do something emotionally useful.

IMG_5762

And I’m drinking it in like the finest French wine because what if it won’t last. I have no way to know this. To know all of the answers. To know everything or really anything about her. And I respect this woman-child too much to ask. So I just sit and enjoy each moment she will give me.

 

I think that’s what I love the most about parenthood – children are so beautifully unique and individual. They are not me or him. They are them. I can’t project me at 12 or you at 12. I can only just stand back from her or lean forward to hold her as she allows and marvel at how incredible 12 is for her.

 

How at times I see her and still see that curious toddler or that shy girl in kindergarten. But then see someone who at a glance is 17. Her future.

 

How she’s nearly my 5’7″ height and yet I don’t think has even started growing. And how maybe this new affection is because she wants to borrow my scarves and sweaters.

 

How she will never own enough books, and how I used to monitor her reading but now I could never keep up. She brings books to me that she knows I’ll enjoy.

 

How no one will ever have a heart as big as hers.

Mom, it's cold

Mom, it’s cold

How she’s brilliant at math. LIKE CRAZY brilliant high school math at 11 crazy brilliant at it. And how when I offer to help her with her homework she rolls her eyes at me because she knows I can’t figure out a slope to save my life.

 

How she’s a beautiful dancer.

 

And plays the piano so well I weep.

Desktop2

How she cares for her friends.

 

And sisters.

 

And keeps up on current events and likes to discuss the wrongs in the world.

IMG_5749-001

But celebrates the rights.

 

How she is organized and neat and finds my chaos exhausting.

 

How she wants and earns more independence yet is a homebody at heart.

 

How she is forgiving for everything.

IMG_5734

And wakes up each day with a smile.

 

How she loves to play with dolls.

 

Yet she begs for an instagram account and giggles as she texts her friends.

 

How she thinks boys are still pretty gross and stinky.

IMG_5735

How she makes me smile every single time she walks into a room.

 

Whether she leans in for a hug or not.

 

How today she is 12.

IMG_5754

And she teaches me how to be a better mom to her every single day.

 

And how I’ll never feel like I’ve thanked her enough for being just her – in any which way she wants to be.

IMG_5719

Share

Full Day Kindergarten

Two days.

 

Two days until it starts.

 

13 years of full school days.

full-day-kindergarten

We’ve had a good run.

 

I’ve had a child home with me most days for 12 years.

 

Until Monday.

 

Monday she starts full day kindergarten.

 

And my days are quiet from 8:30-3:30.

 

No more weekday trips to the zoo. The library. The coffee shop. The grocery store.

 

Together.

 

She’s ready.

 

I think I am too.

 

But I’m scared.

 

And so is she.

 

I’m not sure whether to celebrate.

 

Or mourn.

 

Or do a bit of both.

 

12 years of littles at home no more.

Share

The Ease Of Privilege

My plan last night was to keep the TV turned off, twitter shutdown, Facebook off, and make everyone just read a book.

 

Because I wanted to live for a night of sweet and privileged denial.

 

Because I already knew what the outcome would be.

 

Let’s just go ahead and say that we all did. Because you did. You knew.

 

And I could so easily just hide here in my white house with my white daughters and my white husband. Damn, even my white cat.

 

We can pretend as long as we want to pretend.

 

Because we can.

 

And we can pretend and hide. And I can sit here and say I just didn’t want to hear the outcome because I didn’t even want to take the pain of the mothers who grieve for their sons who are shot. Who are killed. Who are targeted. Who are wronged. Who have to teach their kids how exactly to talk and act around police – if that really even matters – because they want to see their children come home safely every single day. Because they HAVE to worry. Every single day. Hell, I can even ignore that my fellow moms get targeted just for being black. Yeah, I can ignore that as I act on my privilege.

white-privilege

But instead I turned on the TV, opened up my computer, and sat next to my children and watched, listened, and talked.

 

And what struck me last night was the twitter feed – and this from Karen.

tweet-ferguson

And you know what – it is uncomfortable to talk about it. Because while I feel like we are doing everything right to raise the next generation of loving, equality seeking, and working together children – I still wonder if I’m saying the right things, or doing the right things, or doing enough. Because holy hell why is this still the reality of 2014.

 

And you probably just have to sit down at your family Thanksgiving this week and listen – to know HOW and WHY it’s still going on.

 

How completely sad. AND WRONG.

 

So my words might be wrong. And my actions not enough. But I am present and active and vocal and I’m saying that until everyone owns up and says that dammit – it is about race, and sits down and talks about it – well there is nowhere we can really go with this.

 

As my dear friend Rox said last night…

“Race is sadly that huge elephant in the room that everyone tip toes around. Well for every person with a little hue in their skin, race is a topic. Race is a reminder. Race is the hot button issue. And race is a primary reason why Ferguson is prime time news right now. And the moment when we all stop tip toeing around it, is the moment when true dialogue and hopefully a better understanding will start to take place.”

 

Shutting down in silence and being comfortable that “Well, we don’t feel that way!” or “This doesn’t affect me or my kids!” IS WRONG.

 

It’s time to speak up, act boldly, and make a change for everyone.

 

Stop the silence and talk about that elephant in the room. No one is immune.

 

Share

My Tween

She turns 12 in about a week.

 

And she likes listening to Taylor Swift and wearing Converse.

 

She likes to hang with her friends.

 

And reading mature books.

 

And watching PG-13 movies.

 

Earrings and infinity scarves.

 

Skinny jeans and henna tattoos.

 

Begging for instagram and double piercings.

 

But she has littles sisters.

 

So she still plays with dolls.

 

And watching Doc McStuffins.

 

And plays with Play-Doh.

 

Makes littles breakfast.

 

Helps her get dressed.

 

And rides trains with her.

tweens

Even when it’s the most uncool thing to do.

 

Because when you have a little sister.

 

You are already cool.

 

Share

On Broadway

I watched Esther in a play today. Her first non-classroom-at-school kind of play. For years I’ve tried to convince her to do theater. She’s a good singer, a great dancer, has a face that lights up a room, and expressions to match. Her most amazing attribute though is her ability to quickly and completely memorize ANYTHING immediately. She’s one of those people that you meet once and she immediately knows your name and probably your sister’s name, and where you were born. I wouldn’t put it past her if she actually knows that names of all of the 1500 students in her school.

 

But she has resisted my efforts to gently push her into theater. She’s shy at heart. And an introvert. And one who hates being in the spotlight, and honestly has some serious doubts on her abilities.

on-broadway

So she very reluctantly tried theater this Fall. I even gave her an out. Typically once my kids sign up for something – I have a “no quitting” rule and they must fulfill the sessions that we’ve signed up for. Even if it means crying on the sidelines for five weeks(BEEN THERE!). But I told her that she could quit if she really felt uncomfortable.

 

But we didn’t have to worry about that, because theater has turned into one of her favorite things. And today she said that she has realized that she really likes acting and wants to do more.

photo-102

I’m so proud of her for stepping way out of her comfort zone. And for finding something she loves.

 

And maybe one day she’ll love seeing her name in lights and know that sometimes it’s okay to own the spotlight now and then.

 

What’s something that you would love to do but are afraid to try?

 

Share

The Anniversary

My parents celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary today. (STILL today for a just a few more hours..). 38 years you say – some strange math to have an almost 46 year old daughter. But that’s what I like about 2014. Unless you are over 40, this probably didn’t even cross your mind. Families these days are not the families of the 1940s. They are beautifully diverse. The definition of family in my vocabulary includes love and safety. That’s about all I need.

anniversary

But as a seven year old girl – whose parents had recently divorced. I’ll admit right now that I was less than thrilled when my mom told me she was marrying Jack. At seven I didn’t understand that he wasn’t coming in to replace my dad, or to take away my mom’s love for me, or to change our lives even more than I could handle at the time. And I still remember that conversation on our living room couch. Our living room with shag carpeting, orange curtains, and blue flocked wallpaper. I remember my mother telling me that she loved him and that we would love him too. And that he would never replace my dad.

 

I’ve written before that my parents did a lot of things right when it came to their divorce – how they still showed mutual respect for each other, never talked about each other in a bad way in front of us, selflessly let us decide where we wanted to spend our time, and when they were together  – they were friendly and cordial – and put us first. Always.

mom-and-jack

And what I quickly found out as Jack also became my dad – was that he wasn’t there to take anything away from my dad or to replace him – no, he was there to just give us even more love. Here was another person who would now love us like a father – and like his own kids. Now who doesn’t appreciate even more people to love them? And it wasn’t just him. It was his extended family. Now we had more aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins. I’ve never considered anyone a ‘step’ – just family.

 

For 38 years we’ve just had a bigger family. And more love. Because my mom married Jack.

 

I see them now – still so in love. In fact they went out to dinner last week and a young and newly engaged couple at the table next to them paid for their dinner because they found them so endearing and in love with each other and hope that they still find themselves so outwardly in love in nearly 40 years.

 

I hope you both had an amazing day. And I’m glad you told that little seven year old that things would work out just fine.

 

Because damn they sure did.

 

Love you guys.

 

Share

Happy 70th Birthday, Dad!

So maybe I was a little bit selfish for getting mad when my dad moved to St. Paul. I mean I love being near my dad – but when he left Montana to be HERE by US – well he ruined a perfectly good(amazing) and cheap(free) vacation spot for us. “Oh Dad, why would you leave Montana? You’ve been there for so long and it’s home to you. And so beautiful. And there’s skiing…and we like to come visit…”

 

So maybe I pouted for a year or two because of the loss of our vacation spot. But that quickly went away as I got used to having my dad living nearby. And I totally understood why he did it – to watch his granddaughter(not plural then) grow up.

photo-100

And now selfishly I don’t ever want my dad to leave. He’s a hands-on grandpa – diapers and babysitting, trips to the park and helping with carpool. Spoiling the girls with little surprises, and now with tickets to professional hockey.

 

And there’s a rarely a Saturday without a non-fat latte delivery from my dad for me.

 

I never grew-up with grandparents near – but still have amazing memories of visits together. So I’m frankly verklempt about the magical relationship our girls have with my dad….their Papa Aubie.

dad-bday

And I appreciate his patience and love for me as I’ve transitioned as a mother and how my time is now spent. Our mornings long ago of golf and tennis have now morphed into something completely different. For that I sometimes regret – but what I love the most about him is that he would never question my choices or challenge my decisions. There’s no one in my life as supportive, understanding, non-judgmental, and willing to just give me a place to lean if needed than my dad.
Everyone should have such a person in their lives.

 

And I’m forever grateful that he’s here. Close by.

 

Love you, Dad! Happy 70th. xoxo

 

 

Share

There’s No Such Thing As Normal

“Just stand like a normal person so I can get a quick picture before you leave with your friends.”

 

What’s NORMAL Mom?

 

“It’s not making faces at me and just standing still so we can be quick.”

 

Why do you want to take pictures of me anyway?

there-is-no-normal

“Because I want to remember you just like this at 11. My brain in getting mushy and old so I want pictures to remember 11.”

 

Well then you need to remember that I wasn’t normal at 11.

 

“No?”

tween-dance

Because nobody is normal. Normal doesn’t exist. Normal is nothing. I’m me. Just me and for sure not normal.

 

“Really? Do you like being not-normal?”

 

Yep – it’s always good to be not normal. Maybe we should not even say normal anymore. Maybe everyone should just be weird. Because EVERYBODY IS WEIRD! I’m weird. So weird. I like being weird. I like weird friends. I like weird people. What if we just replaced the word “normal” with “weird” and then like nothing else would matter. Because you’d be all “Hey, act weird(instead of normal) and I’d be all like “No problem” – I can just stand here and I’m weird because I am weird and then everyone would laugh. Because the word “weird” is kind of weird, right?

IMG_4868

“You’re weird.”

 

I KNOW, right? See, now I can pose “weird” for you – because I don’t know what normal means. But weird – everybody can love being weird. Normal is nothing.

 

“So we should remove normal from all the books, all the dictionaries, all of our vocabularies?”

IMG_4842

I think everyone would get along better if we did. Normal makes me worry, makes me compare, makes me feel bad. Weird makes me happy and I like when people call me weird. I like people who like being weird.

 

“Sometimes I wonder why you’ve never had the girl drama at school like I did growing up, or like I hear about from my friends and their tweens lately. Why do you think you don’t or I don’t hear about it at your school?”

IMG_4873

Because we’re all weird mom. And we like being weird. I think people worry and feel jealous when they try to be and define normal. When it’s not their normal. I’ll never be normal because it doesn’t exist. So I don’t think anyone else is normal either. I find their weird thing. I have lots of weird things. My friends and I laugh about all of the weird things.

 

“I love you.”

 

Because I’m weird?

IMG_4836

“Because you’re you.”

 

So do you want just one ‘normal’ pose. Your definition of a ‘normal’ pose?

IMG_4841

“No because I don’t think there’s such thing as a normal pose anymore.”

 

I can stand still you know. For you.

 

“Okay.”

IMG_4885

But now I’ve got to dance again because I’m weird.

tweens

 

Share

What You Learn In Preschool

For the past several weeks I’ve been procrastinating yet lovingly agonizing over the end of year preschool gifts for Astrid’s teachers.  Because what do you buy the women who’ve made this first and amazing school impression on your child? A trip to Paris? A cruise? A new house? A pony? A pony and a ranch? A housekeeper for life? What gift truly matches your undying gratitude for what they’ve done for your child over the last two years? That’s when a generous gift card and flowers just seem so trivial for the gift that you’ve been given.

first-day-0f-preschool

(First day of preschool)

I file Preschool teacher under the category of jobs called “I don’t know how they do it.” Also filed in this category are nurse, air traffic control, fighter pilot, and brain surgeon. And maybe junior high school teacher too. Because damn 13 year olds can be hard.

 

So the gift of Paris isn’t unreasonable at all.

IMG_4461

Astrid is more than ready for kindergarten. In fact at the playground last week she climbed straight up the highest wall without help. When she reached the top she yelled “I did it Mama! See I’m big enough for kindergarten now!!” And she is  – physically, socially, emotionally, mentally – she is ready.

 

And I’m ready for her. And I don’t wish her to stay little or to have just one more year of preschool. But I lament over the fact that we have to say goodbye to her teachers. That they won’t see the completion of what they’ve helped create – a learner, a thinker, a creator, a beautiful mind and soul. That on her high school graduation – they can look and know that they had a part in this amazing life. How do I let them know they helped do this?

 

How do we say goodbye this week?

 

I’ve cried over it for the past month. Whenever a note comes home with an ‘end of school year’ event – I cry. Whenever I walk into school and think ‘only four days left’ I cry. Each morning as I kiss Astrid goodbye and then hug her teacher – I cry.

IMG_4465

Because these are the people and teachers I want in my kids’ lives – the people who lift them up and inspire them…

To just really enjoy life.

To sing more and dance often.

To color outside the lines.

To wear silly hats and shoes or no shoes at all.

To be a good friend.

To serve others snack before serving yourself.

To greet your friends.

To share and take turns.

To hug more.

To read good books.

To make more messes.

To paint with your fingers.

To know love from another adult besides your family.

 

Time moves and we sometimes follow it reluctantly. And I’m dragging my feet as we end this chapter and begin another. Not because I want to stay behind and live in the past, but because I want to carry the beauty of the past with us.

IMG_4492

And remember how incredible preschool is.

 

May this be the beginning of the magic of a lifetime of learning and love. And a celebration of the teachers each year who will make an impact on her young life.

 

And I hope her teachers don’t mind that we stop by to just say hello once in awhile. Because I truly cannot imagine a life without any of them.

Share

My Sister My Gift

“Really Esther? Seriously, I cannot believe you just can’t do that for yourself!”

 

“Astrid, you’re doing it wrong!”

 

“I’m not going to play those silly baby games!”

 

“You’ll never get it – you’re just a baby!”

 

There’s been a shift at our house in recent months. Three girls – sisters – who’ve spent years in a beautiful and harmonious dance are now breaking free into more solo endeavors. What were once choruses of kind words – “Let me help you.” “Do you want to play dolls together?” “I love you the ‘mostest’ big sister.”  – have turned a corner of life that now includes controlling comments, insults, and exasperations.

 

The previous quiet and joyous times when the three of them would play for hours – with dolls, games, creating art projects, and taking turns on the swings  – have turned now into spending time alone in a bedroom, looking down at a tablet to iMessage friends, begging a sister to play, being told that dolls are now silly, and little girls running into my arms in tears.

 

These three best friends can now barely be in the same room with each other for 10 minutes before an insult is thrown and a tear is shed.

sisters

The whole parenting life I know was easy when it came to dealing with siblings – they just always got along. Now I have to choose between interfering in their fight, telling them to just ‘shut-it’, or to just go into the other room and silently cry for what I fear we’ve lost.

 

Because in my dream, in my world, in my mind – sisters are such a gift – how could you push them away like this. But telling a four and a nine and an eleven year old those words is just met with blank stares from short lives lived and lack of caring about the forever relationship they are currently pushing away.

 

And I know much of this current strife can be easily attributed to the Junior High School registration forms that we just completed. That my oldest daughter is changing and growing up, and that two year gap between and her and her sister is wider now than it ever has been. And I’m doing my best to give this older girl some grace and space during this time.

 

My mother has many stories to tell of living with sisters, as she has five of them. Six girls – split between two bedrooms and one bathroom. I know there were many typical sisterly fights in their house – about bathroom time, boys, clothes, and splitting up chores.  I witnessed a few of these fights as I was a child when many of my mom’s sisters were sill preteens and teens at home. And since I only had a brother – I longed to spend as much time as I could in my grandparent’s house of sisters, desperately wanting to be one of them.

 

I think most women look for connections in their lives with another women – a true confidant to talk late into the night with – someone who is an easy phone call away – someone you trust with your deepest truths – someone to have in your corner forever. And while friends can fit this and be this for you – no one knows you like a sister with your parallel growing up experiences.

 

My grandmother died eight years ago. My mom tells the story of her and her sisters(and their one brother) all holding vigil over their mother as she died. They played her favorite music and told stories of their shared past – holding their memories in the laughter and the many tears they shed that day. They held her hands, kissed her, and let their tears fall to her face as they all watched her pass together.

 

I watched them all from a distant during the next days of the funeral arrangements to the next months of deep and heavy mourning. The sisters worked together to plan everything and to make sure their dad was as okay as he could possibly be after losing the love of his life. And during this time I saw the words, jealousies, and hurts that many of them caused each other through the years of adolescence and adulthood just lift off their shoulders and hearts as they came together to mourn and to celebrate as a family unified. As sisters.

sisters-at-the-beach

A few months after their mother died – the six sisters took a trip together over Mother’s Day, as they knew how hard this day would be for them. And a new tradition was formed. And eight years later they now meet each year for a girl’s weekend to toast their mother and celebrate the gift that they were given with so many sisters.

 

Deep down I think my daughters already know the gift that they have here. And I can only hope that one day – after the teenage hormones are worked through, the boyfriend drama is over, they realize that they really didn’t have it so bad, and no one will ever know them and love them like a sister – that they will come together and celebrate the women who know them first and best.

 

I just hope they don’t wait until I’m gone to head to the beach each year – because I kind of want to join them.

 

Share