Listen To Your Mother 2015

A HUGE announcement was made yesterday! LTYM announced their 2015 season with 39 cities!

 

And the Twin Cities will be back again for our THIRD show! Watch for dates, sponsorship opportunities, and information on submissions soon! We cannot wait to read and share your words that continue to give Motherhood A Microphone!!

 

The talented and incredible women that we have met over the past two seasons leave me verklempt – and with friends for life as we continue to connect and inspire each other to write more and share more.

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And I couldn’t live without my partners in crime(and in production) Galit and Vikki. My sisters in this journey. May we one day bring LTYM to a beach in Costa Rica where we can enjoy margaritas and an outdoor venue and a motto of pura vida..and no worries of making anyone mac-n-cheese. Love these ladies.

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You must watch the 2015 LTYM announcement video – and watch for details about a show near you soon.

 

And in case you can’t wait to hear all of the new pieces read – well go back and watch 2014 and 2013. Grab some tissues.

 

Happy almost 2015!!!

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Apple Picking

Astrid sat in the wagon like she always has. Esther typically does too. And then Eloise pushes or pulls and I do the other. It’s quite a climb up the hill from the barn and packing lot up to the lines of trees. Esther starting getting in and I told her that I would try, but didn’t think I could get the old and heavy wagon and both of them up the hill by myself. And half way up the hill Esther could tell I was struggling. She jumped out, got behind the wagon, and pushed Astrid up the big hill. I looked back at her to search her face – was she sad to not ride? But instead I found her smiling and asking Astrid if she enjoyed the ride. She looked proud. Big.

 

For the first time ever we went apple picking without Eloise. This is happening more and more. She’s invited to go places with friends. She has dance. She has to study. She wants to stay home by herself more.

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She turns 12 soon. And we all feel it. This middle school shift of her priorities.

 

Last weekend she went away for the whole weekend to a cabin with a friend. I asked her if she wanted us to wait to pick apples and pumpkins until she returned. But she told us no, to go ahead without her. Her request was that we pick out the largest pumpkin for her, and to pick a good amount of honey crisp for her to eat when she returned on Sunday.

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So we went without her. Reluctantly. She is always the one to grab Astrid’s hand and lead her around the farm – to feed the chickens, see the horse, jump in the hay, and to find the best pumpkin. She lifts her to pick the best apples, and she’d blow on her cider to get it cool enough to drink. Always the biggest sister and caretaker.

 

And I wasn’t sure how this day would go with this hole in our foursome.

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But Esther stepped up as the biggest sister. She held hands and helped. She jumped and ran and helped with snacks. The girls picked the best apples – talking about which ones Eloise would eat. And when we entered the pumpkin patch – I could hear them saying that they’d make sure Eloise’s pumpkin would be the biggest.

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It was okay. But my pictures still show something missing. Just like a part of my heart was gone that day.

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But it’s a dynamic we have to get used to. Because pretty soon she’ll be gone more than home…and then Esther too. And in 13 years will I still go to the orchard to pick apples?

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I guess maybe. But it will probably be without my camera.

 

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What We Keep

At about 3pm today I sat here in the family room just completely broken. Astrid was demanding my time – asking for scissors, or for me to look at a picture she made, or for clean socks, or something. But I just shushed her again and again. I put my hand up to keep her back.

 

So I could hear.

 

I had invited her to sit on my lap and watch and listen with me  – but the people on the screen didn’t interest her.

 

So I sat and watched and listened to history. My history. Their history. Our history. And I sobbed. Big loud and heavy tears type sobbing.

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As I was cleaning out our books and movies and music, I found the DVD that my uncle had burned from the video at my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary party in 1997.  I had never watched it before. I put it in and there on my screen were my grandparents. Just as I remember them. Now both gone, but there all of a sudden in front of me and so full of life like always.

 

I smiled and stood up to touch the screen at the place where I could touch my grandpa’s face. I used to sit on his lap and stroke his face – the whiskers and wrinkles – as he would hold me tight on his lap.

 

I watched the two of them making jokes with each other. Flirting like they always did. Making jokes with the Priest as he blessed their marriage again.

 

My tears were of joy because there they were in my home. Them. Their voices. Their friends. Alive.

 

But soon my hand covered my mouth to try to catch my first sob when I heard her laugh.

 

And I cry again now just typing that. When we talk about saving things as a memory – books, pictures, letters, trinkets – nothing I have of my grandma’s can truly bring her to a place of peace and love in heart. Nothing brings her back to be with me. NOTHING can replace the love she gave to everyone. There’s this void that I’ve felt for nearly nine years since she left us.

 

And at 3:11pm today I realized what it was.

 

Her laughter. Her laugh is like no other laugh. This quiet lady had such a big laugh. Unique laugh. Often laugh. And I sat here today hitting rewind -play- pause-rewind  – over and over and over again just to hear her laugh.

 

“It’s here, Astrid – It’s here – SHE’s here!” I kept saying again and again and again. “She’s right here! We have her. We can have her forever because we still have her laugh!”

 

And Astrid snuggled in my lap for a few minutes to listen and to meet the great-grandma that she never knew.

 

The anniversary party soon faded to black and I turned the TV off. My tears continued to fall and I kept wiping and wiping and wiping to no avail. I hugged Astrid tight and tried to make plans to capture more moments like that video. Now we capture such small snippets of life with our phones. But are we capturing what’s really important.  Are we capturing what their grandchildren will want to see and hear one day. They’ll want to remember what she was really like – when she hugged them, when she laughed, when she told funny stories.

 

It’s hard to guess what could capture that. Because loved ones leave us with these odd material things – furniture, linens, letters. But none of that matters because it’s not them. This helped me today as I made hard decisions to toss or keep. Because I know I have what’s really important. My grandma’s laughter forever in my heart.

 

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Welcome to November And NaBloPoMo

I decided to blog every single day in 2014. Do you remember that promise? Well I made it exactly two months and then quit. Because ain’t nobody got time for that. Well actually some people do – OMG – but I don’t. Yet I loved blogging everyday as it gave me a reason to sit down and clear my mind and write. Sometimes my writing wasn’t have bad. Sometimes my writing was just a bunch of random words about the day. Sometimes my writing was not really writing at all – but pictures of life. And sometimes I probably made some shit up. But every day I sat down and published something.

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So for November, I’m joining up with hundreds of other bloggers and BlogHer who promise to write every day for the month. And here I am with only about two hours before the end of day one and I’m struggling to get a post up. Because time. Where does the time go.

 

I’ll freely admit that I’m having a tough time writing lately. Time is not on my side. I’m being pulled and pushed in so many directions, and with my traveling over the last few months I am so behind in just everything. And then today we went and made a HUGE life-changing decision and I have even more on my plate – so hey, let’s also add blogging every day.

 

But I think I’ll need this outlet and enjoy this outlet again. To share more again. To give you tidbits and slices of our daily doings. And to give another excuse to get my camera out again.

 

And it’s time I get my blogging mojo back and enjoy it again like I really used to. And I bet with daily blogging that discipline will help me get the rest of my life some organization and discipline. Hey, maybe I’ll get laundry put away!

 

Or maybe not – instead maybe I’ll just spend the whole day putting on make-up for Halloween. And then wonder why I never get things done.

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Maybe prioritization is my issue? And this blogging every day is really bad idea?

 

Nah, that can’t be my problem.

 

But if you don’t see a post up one day and it’s pushing midnight – holy heck message me. Because I will probably be online shopping or binge watching Scandal or something equally as important.

 

 

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The Blank Page

I’ve started and deleted and stared for days now. Trying to document a conversation or something that happened or a funny story. Most of the time I get distracted by work emails or a snack that needs to be made or a hairball that our new cat coughed up. And the rest of the time I don’t even open my laptop. In fact this past weekend I left my laptop at home. Just like a did the weekend before. And the weekend before that I was at home – but never opened it.

 

I still enjoyed snippets of life and love and family and conversation on Facebook – but haven’t read blogs for weeks. And I’ve started feeling almost selfish for ‘making’ you read my stories, my conversations, my thoughts…because I’d rather you work on your tan or hit the beach or take a bike ride and not worry about me.

Family Picture - Watch out for the penguin.

Family Picture – Watch out for the penguin.

It’s weird how I can thrive off relationships but then get to a point of exhaustion when I just need to focus on what’s right here and touchable. My work is very busy – work that I LOVE and am more inspired by than ever before when I see the good this company does in the world. My kids are just the right kind of busy and I feel the need to be with them and near them, but just as an observer in a way as they play and enjoy a lazy summer together without early wake-ups or routines. My family room is filled with Calico Critters and My Little Ponys and Lego Friends and they play for hours. Or I find one of my girls reading alone on the porch. They’ve reached that age where they can run off down the block with friends, make their own lunches, and empty the dishwasher without a reminder.

 

I’m spending more time in a quiet and restful state when I’m home – and besides our family room – the house is clean and  I’ve read eight books since mid-June and delight in losing myself in a story almost feeling like I’m a high school girl again and I believe that fiction can come to life. And I’m running daily and using that time to push myself HARD and really feel what great things a body can do if you just don’t sit back and go with the flow.

 

I’m happy.

 

And I don’t want to do it all. My life is so beautifully boring right now and I’ve found no greater joy really. We’ve spent more time with family and we’ve laughed so hard.

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Jed said to me last night when he made a joke and I laughed my deep laugh that actually makes me sound like my brother “There’s nothing hotter than listening to you laugh.”

 

Good things are coming – I can feel it. Until then and September and The Busy – I’m just going to work on what feels right, parallel my kids’ joy in the ordinary, and fill my bedside table with more books.

 

And of course run like the wind(my own definition of wind).

 

Linking up with Heather.

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The Mommy Wars

I yelled up to Esther at 7:53am that she needed to get her butt downstairs NOW! The bus was coming in five minutes and I knew she still had to find her shoes, pack her backpack, and brush her hair.

 

But she didn’t respond, so I took the stairs by twos and ran down the hallway to her room. I found her standing completely still, staring forward and wiping tears from her cheeks, in front of her open closet door.

 

“M..M…Mo..Mom, I don’t have anything red to wear.”

 

Why do you need something red, my love?

 

“Be..be…be..b..be..cause it’s Listen To Your Mother day and I need to wear the colors for you.”

 

Oh love.. The words caught in my throat..You don’t need to wear red for me. I know you support me without wearing anything that matches the show.

 

“Bu..bu…but I want to because I’m so very proud of you.”

 

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I haven’t read or presented anything that I’ve written or created in front of a large audience since I worked and did glamorous marketing things for a Fortune 500 company. Back then I would give reports and presentations with a Power Point slideshow with all kinds of numbers and graphs to back up my talk. And I used fancy slides to make me look like I knew what I was doing. Because everyone knows that corporate presentation have a large percentage of fluff and bullshit. But it was comfortable and I was confident talking to a room of suits.

 

But sharing my personal writing – OUT LOUD – is something I have not done since high school.

 

So last week, on the night of our Listen To Your Mother show – to say that I was nervous, had to pee a zillion times, and had palms that no one should touch – would be a gross understatement.

 

Because what if no one liked my words? Because words aren’t numbers that you can make look pretty with a bar graph.

 

The piece I shared stemmed from a blog post I wrote several years ago when I sat one day completely exasperated reading ANOTHER article on the Mommy Wars. But I rewrote this piece to fit with the show, to relate to the other pieces we would hear, to close the show, and it needed to be funny and light.

 

No pressure.

 

And I also needed it to be personal – how I was mothered and how I mother. And I knew that my family would be in the audience listening.

 

Here’s the piece that I shared. The YouTube video will be out shortly. Thank you to everyone for your love and support – and for wearing red if you were so moved to do so.  If you’ve never been to a Listen To Your Mother Show – well you must put it on your calendar next year.

 

Oh, and here’s me eating a Hostess Ho-Ho on stage. I pretty much think anyone will nail a reading if eating a Ho-Ho is involved.

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I stand here today as a survivor. I was exclusively formula fed as a baby.I never co-slept with my mom.  I watched entirely too many episodes of The Brady Bunch and The Love Boat, and did not eat anything organic until I was 25. We enjoyed Hostess desserts and red Kool-Aid by the gallons. I come from divorced parents who both worked full-time, enforcing a childhood at that time that was labeled “latch key” and would now be called illegal please call CPS.

And I don’t remember what the other moms in the neighborhood even did- whether they worked or stayed home, or if we discussed if breast was best at any play-dates.

Because there weren’t play-dates.

There was “Just go out and play with your friends!”

I only remember one family that was a little different from the rest of us and I only recall this because of a very bad experience. You see one day I went to my friend’s house for a snack and I saw what I thought was a jar of chocolate pieces on the counter, and asked if I could please have a few. “Of course” my friend’s mom said and handed the jar to me. I reached in, shoved a few pieces in my little hungry mouth and promptly spit them onto her faded bell bottom jeans and brown etched leather clogs. “Don’t you like carob chips, my dear?” She asked.

No wonder this friend would come to our house and eat all of our Hostess treats.

Maybe back in the 70s we didn’t have Mommy Wars. No one acted like a parenting expert but instead just acted like a parent – of their own kids. Everyone pitched in and helped neighbors and kept an eye out for the kids that were all running around without supervision because it was what you just did. Maybe we drank our body weight in Tang each day because the astronauts told us too and that was good enough for my mom. Maybe the Mommy Wars didn’t exist because there wasn’t social media, Facebook, those pesky Mommy Bloggers to compare ourselves to, OR my nemesis, Pinterest.

But maybe those women were just wiser and had better things to worry about. Like the war, or whether Sam and Alice would ever marry and if they did would Alice leave the Brady Bunch or would Sam move in and how would they fit another square in the screen.

So I’m taking a lesson from my mother and her generation and believe it’s time we make the mommy wars go away by ignoring them, because they truthfully don’t exist if we just focus on doing what we need to do for our own families. Let’s make a pact today to stop talking about breast vs. bottle, sahm vs wahm, cry it out vs. co-sleep, and feeding organic vs feeding them a little Kraft Dinner once in awhile. Let’s start wars about more important things. I’ve been making a list of some things that bother me more than how others parent their own children.

Like…
Those moms  who read People Magazine or Us Weekly or InStyle instead of award winning and educational and thought-provoking books.. What are you(me?) teaching your children about the importance of where to focus their time. Also, did you know that celebrities are “JUST LIKE US!” and grocery shop and walk on sidewalks? These are the important things I know because I read People.

Or you moms who actually throw away your kid’s half-eaten Mac-n-Cheese.  This is wasteful…it is our job as moms to finish the plate as quickly as possible while standing at the sink and hoping the kids don’t come in and catch us. Don’t ruin this for the rest of us.

Or you moms driving your cool SUV’s or hybrid-eco-friendly cars like “oh I’m not going to be a sell-out and buy that Minivan even though I know it would be so much more convenient..but I’ll be damned if I can be one of ‘those’ soccer moms…”  Oh my SwaggerWagon set has you all figured out…I mean it took me 7 years of motherhood to finally give in to the minivan. But the in-floor storage, the auto-sliding doors, the seating for 8, the low clearance for easy loading and unloading.  I mean sure, when you do have that twice a year date night with your spouse – pulling up in the minivan in front of the new, hip vegan restaurant seems awkward on a Saturday night. But by Monday when you are driving carpool again, you forget your pain.

Now those are important subjects that I think we need to toast over a glass of wine. As long as we make it red wine. Because I don’t understand you moms who prefer white wine.

I am not my mother and made my own choices that surprised even me. I breast fed exclusively, co-slept, I quit my job to stay home with my kids full-time, yet I don’t keep a very clean house compared to her, I still don’t let my 11 year old ride her bike around the block by herself, and I mainly buy healthy snacks.

Until today. Because these Ho-Hos totally rock and I think I need to buy another package to share with my kids. I thank my mom for making sure these were always in the snack cabinet and not worrying about what others thought. She and others mothered without a manual, and I hope without a worry of whether they were doing it right, without comparison, without guilt, and without regret I believe, and thankfully without carob chips.

I think we can all take a lesson from the moms that came before us who didn’t live with the mommy war myth that is perpetuated by the media.

As mothers who have experienced loss, mothers who’ve made tough decisions, mothers who’ve overcome infertility, mothers who never thought they could experience such joy or such pain. And as daughters, all of us reading here today. We owe it to ourselves to just be at peace with our own choices.

So I toast you with my tang and my Hostess Treat that we just enjoy them together today as mothers, daughters and women who may have differences in practice and opinion but are unified in our celebration and experience. Unless carob chips and white wine are truly your poison. But I promise I won’t judge.

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Esther was late to school that day – and she was not wearing red. It’s true – she owns nothing red. But the extra time we spent together that morning meant more to both of us than her wearing the right shirt.

 

After the show my girls rushed to me with flowers and hugs and tales of the shows. Esther looked up at me and said “I love you mom – you were really funny!”

 

And then Lorna Landvik came over and asked if I’d ever consider writing or performing stand-up comedy.

 

After I picked myself up from the floor I realized that I too had a story(a personal story – not one that using bar graphs and numbers) that was a worth sharing. As do you. xo

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Listen To Your Mother has been a game changer for me and so many others. Thank you Ann Imig for your vision and love.  And to Vikki and Galit – my partners in LTYM Crime – girlfriends I love you and would totally move a body for you. xo

 

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How To Prioritize

I ran-hobbled down the basement stairs and grabbed a load of laundry from the dryer and transferred the next load in before carrying the heavy pile of clean clothes back up the stairs. I was still in my running shoes and clothes with my fuel and water belt strapped around my waist. As I was walking in the back door from my 18 mile training run I realized that I had left a wet load of laundry sit all night.

 

Typically when I come in from my long training runs I slip my shoes off, unsnap my fuel belt, pour a big glass of water, and lean into the kitchen counter to catch my breath.

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But last week, catching my breath seemed nearly as impossible as a ‘spa day’ or ‘lunch with a girlfriend’ or ‘shopping for new spring sandals in Milan.’

 

Last week was one of those weeks when you look at the calendar on Sunday and scan your eyes to the next Sunday and just hope that you make it through and it all comes together. That you don’t forget a child somewhere, that your four year old doesn’t mind sitting for hours for days as you have to bring them for work hours, volunteer hours, class hours, that you don’t disappoint someone because you just could not do it all, and my personal pet-peeve  – that you are late.

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And somehow – at 4pm yesterday when I walked in the door from the last ‘thing’ that was expected of all of us – we survived the week. And the last thing I wanted to do(all week really) was open my computer. Instead last night I poured a large cup of coffee, piled the two kids that were home on my lap, put blanket after blanket on us, and I took a nap while they happily damaged their brains watching Sam & Cat episodes OnDemand. It was bliss.

 

May is hard(I know, not May yet), but this still counts. From recitals, end of school projects, field trips, cleaning, wardrobe transitioning, school carnivals, yard work  and cleaning-up crap from the snow, finalizing camps, my own things – Listen To Your Mother, work, writing, making sure there are groceries and toilet paper, marathon training – life is busier than usual and we are surviving week by week and day by day.

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And I need to look at my own priorities or nothing will get done that should get done.

1. Family – Jed and the kids and all the school needs. Also the cat. It’s Astrid’s last year at home before school. If that means I play animal bingo 453 times a day until September, well that will be my priority.

2. Home – food and toilet paper and vacuuming and making it a relatively nice place to inhabit. I find that if I let our home go – it messes with my mind and overall happiness. I want to be here. I want to exhale when I enter our place. Lately I just want to slam the door and find another house that feels better.

3. Work – many of you probably don’t know I have a full-time job because I keep it separate from my blog and writing. But I do. With real hours and money. This is getting busier and it is what helps us have fun things as well as food – and my focus MUST be here before the blog – so I kind of think my focus is changing a lot as I put not only my time but more of my heart in what’s important. We have some pretty aggressive financial goals this year and this is where my focus needs to be.

4. Me – what feeds me right now – marathon training. I’m running a lot – nearly 60 miles last week and this will hopefully continue as long as I’m healthy and injury free. Working on LTYM – working with other writers, sponsors and our charity to give back. Friends. I miss having time for friends.

5. Taking pictures – I have the heart and equipment to do more with this. I need to carve out time. I’ve been saying this for nearly five years – and each year I say “THIS is the year!” and it’s not.

6. The blog and social media – I will still write(on paper)(on a word document) and submit other places – but I’m not sure what I’m going to have time on a regular basis here when I look at everything that comes above it. And maybe all these beautiful things always did come above this – but I wasn’t aligned with my own priorities – so I have words here but a house that is uncomfortably messy and too many email apologies to others for not getting a project done.

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I want the luxury of hobbling in after a long run knowing it’s okay to just lean and breathe at the counter for a moment. I want less emergency-I forgot trips to the laundry room and less last minute cereal and milk meals because life is too busy to slow down and focus on what I really should be doing. And if that means more silence here – than I need to have peace with that. And after this week of waytoomuch – I do.

 

But right now I need to get off of here and find a good and easy Bavarian cream recipe because I promised to make homemade eclairs for Eloise’s class tomorrow. WHY?????

 

Do you ever think and change and tweak your priorities. What comes first for you right now?

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My Writing Process

A beautiful chain-letter of writing has been circling the internet for the past few months. Typically, I’m not a fan of memes or chain letters, and I’m certain I’ve brought bad luck upon my family for not forwarding recipes to my seven best friends, or deleting emails I was suppose to give to 10 amazing women in my life, or hurt my child somehow by not mailing a book or something to eight of her friends.

 

But this chain intrigued me. As a blogger(and a writer) I love to learn more about my favorite writers and how they write exactly – their process, what they are working on, how they write, why they write, and how the hell are they so damn brilliant when some days I truthfully would rather watch a marathon of made for Netflix series than to even open my computer. Do others ever feel that way?

 

So I’ve been reading about writing processes and learning a lot, nodding my head in ‘yeah I do that too’ and taking notes on some brilliant ideas that they have shared.

 

I was honored when Denise of Universal Grit asked me to share my writing process next. I met Denise through our essays for This Is Childhood. I’ve been honestly overwhelmed being grouped with these amazing women and writers as their words humble me yet push me to write more and better.

 

So with that – I give you my writing process:

1. What am I working on?

Sadly not much lately. After writing a lot over the past six months I honestly am very busy right now with my co-production/direction of the Listen To Your Mother Show in the Twin Cities. I am actually reading an original piece for the show – so I did write that! I also have several essays in draft form that I need to revisit when I have the time as they are topics I really want to explore more. I’m finding that right now this isn’t a great time to write – the kids are busy, work is busy, Jed is busy, Spring is busy – that writing for me has hit the back burner hard this season.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I consider myself a blogger more than a writer – but I hope I do a decent job with both? I don’t know. This question is hard because I don’t feel like I’m different or stand-out from others – but what I do write is real – it’s me – and it will always be more for me(and my kids) than for you. Is that weird?

3.  Why do I write what I do?

I started my blog because I wanted to capture moments of what our lives are right now. Right here. And as a way to make connections. I’ve always tried to be transparent in my writing – but it’s hard sometimes because of the feeling of being less-than or judged. My worst days are when my husband receives a phone call from a family member questioning me or my decision to write what I do. Like it’s not okay to be vulnerable. But I think we can’t be strong without being vulnerable. I hope through my writing that my daughters will see and know that it’s okay to share and just be themselves. Worrying about what other people think will always kill your creativity and joy.

IMG_4105-0014. How does my writing process work?

Ha! What’s that? My process goes something like this…pay very close attention here as you will learn to better your process…

4:45 come up with brilliant story idea while out running

5:15 return home and forget brilliant story idea

5:30 pour coffee and remember story idea

5:32 sit down to write but open facebook

6:15 still on facebook

6:25 oh…pinterest…instagram….twitter…

6:35 read other blogs. think that I’ll never write anything that great…

6:40 brilliant story idea is not so brilliant

6:45 wake-up kids

8:00 wave good-bye to two kids after the last hour of DOING ALL THE THINGS FOR THE KIDS

8:05 stare at third child who is staring back at you. tell her that mommy needs to write for awhile – so just go play.

8:15 realize child will not go play. plan something to do that will exhaust her so she takes an afternoon nap.

9:00 go to zoo. try to act like I love the zoo

12:00 lunch of mac-n-cheese eaten right off the plate of my child because she ate like four noodles and just lives off of air.

12:30 child settles down to rest/nap/watch a show/generally just let MOMMY WORK for two hours

12:35 sit down to write

12:40 open facebook

12:45 “Mommy I’m bored.”

12:50 close computer, snuggle with child, fall asleep

2:30 SHIT – the other kids are getting home soon

2:35-3:15 do ALLTHETHINGS FOR THE HOUSE – laundry, kitchen, sweeping, bathrooms, prep dinner

3:15 kids home – ALLTHEHOMEWORK

4:00 cook all the dinner

5:00 eat dinner

5:30 shuttle allthekids to alltheactivities

7:30 get home from alltheactivities

8:00 littlest bedtime late tonight because of alltheactivities

8:30 big kids bedtime

8:35 sit down to write amazing story that maybe really is still amazing

8:40 check facebook

8:45 fall asleep on the couch

fade to black…

Next week the writing process continues with my sisters from another mister. Since nepotism is alive and well in the blogging-world -I am asking Galit Breen and Vikki Reich to share their writing stories. I love them both so much that I could dedicate hundreds of blog posts just to them – if I ever found the time to write. But they both have inspired me – as mothers and as writers to dedicate time to both amazing crafts(motherhood and writing), and I hope we are old and cranky and still hanging out together when we are 85.

 

Be sure to check-out their posts next Monday, April 28th.

 

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Six Years Of Blogging And Now A Book

My six year blogging anniversary passed quietly last week. Celebrating my six year ‘blogiversary’ is kind of like how I handled my 45th birthday – locked in the bathroom alone with a glass of red and a dark chocolate bar as I pondered what I’ve really accomplished.

 

I started my blog as a blog. It had five readers and I shared silly, daily stories of my girls and cats. It grew to something a little bit more as I shared stories of loss and hope and I found my voice in humor.

 

After six years of blogging – fame and fortune have not come my way – except for that one viral post that made me step back and be quite comfortable really without fame and fortune.

 

Actually, blogging has given me something much better than fame and fortune – it’s given me friends and the ability to be fearless.

 

And blogging has made me become a writer.

 

Six years ago – or even three years ago I would never say “I’m a writer.” Me, who went to school for business and engineering and took many math and economics classes, and took only speech and debate as my required and very painful English class.

 

I wasn’t always adverse to English classes. I was a voracious reader as a child and kept a journal since I was eight years old. During high school I filled notebooks with poems about asshole guys ,and I submitted short stories to magazine contests.

 

Until that year of AP English when my teacher sucked all the joy out of reading, appreciating good literature, and creative writing. I sat in the back of the class refusing to participate, listen or engage. I wanted every book to burned, every piece of paper to be shredded, and every English class in the world to cease immediately. That’s how much she made me hate literature and the beauty and power of words.

 

I was an A+ student and near the top of my class, and I still smile when I see that string of Ds on my report card from that year of AP English.

 

However, I still remember the one and only assignment I completed for her. The assignment was to write a personal essay about a difficult time in our lives. At first I resisted – because completing an assignment for her was like cleaning my room when my mom asked me to. I was 17 and liked to push her buttons just like any adult who told me what to do. I told her that I had nothing to write about and did not turn in my assignment. I still remember her coming over to my desk, kneeling down to be eye to eye with me, and saying “I’m giving you 24 hours to turn something in. Just try doing this – not for me – but for you. Don’t make me fail you because you’ve failed yourself.”

 

That evening I sat in my room with some nameless punk music blaring and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote about something very personal until my hand hurt and tears smeared the ink on my papers. I turned that first draft as my final paper into her that next day. The pages that were frayed, smudged, and with some margins filled in with edits – just like my life at the time. Imperfect and feeling still so incomplete.

 

Two days later she passed our essays back to us. I expected my usual ‘D’ as I did appreciate her effort to not fail me in her class, as god knows she wanted to see me again next year even less than I wanted to see her.

 

But instead there was a big red ‘A’ on the top of the page. Along with a note “Tracy, see what you can do when you write from your heart.”

 

And I find that still today – the best writing comes from my heart – and no, it won’t be with the best grammar or spelling, but it will always be me.

 

Which is why I’m thrilled to announce today that my words are in a book.

 

A little over a year ago, two amazing women came up with a writing series called “This Is Childhood.” They invited eight of us to join them to celebrate each year from age one to age 10.

 

I wrote about seven. My Esther at seven.

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Well Brain Child Magazine picked up our series of essays and has published them in a journal that launches today. This journal includes not only our essays of childhood, but also provides pages for parents to write their own thoughts as their children experience the joy (and the hard) of just being kids. It gives parents a place to write from their heart. Which is where all of our best writing comes from.

 

However, for me, being included in this book is just the frosting on the cake. The cake is made up of many layers of love from getting to know the nine other authors and moms. Over the past year they’ve become friends, mentors, and women I admire more than anything. They are brave, beautiful, and giving. I’m so grateful that blogging has given me the gift of incredibly talented ‘writerly’ friends, who don’t think my words aren’t worth publishing because I am ‘just a blogger.’

This Is Childhood cover

I stand among greatness my friends…

 

So thank you Allison – whom I’ve know the longest – for your friendship, your support in this endeavor, your brilliant writing, and the daily laughs and tears we have in this strange on-line space.

 

Lindsey, whose writing makes me want to write more. Her honestly and emotional availability and wisdom and talent come through in everything she writes. I’ve loved getting to know her and her beautiful family more.

 

Galit, my Minnesota sister and a ‘co-bringer’ of Listen To Your Mother to our fair state. We’ve become close, forever friends, and her writing will always inspire me to be more. I do not have the words to express my love for her. Also, she’s made me ‘almost’ like dogs.

 

Nina, another Minnesota friend. I’ve admired Nina’s writing for years, but now we are ‘in real life’ friends and I am forever grateful for her talents, kindness, honesty, and advice.

 

Denise  – whom I met through the ‘This Is Childhood’ series, and I am overwhelmed by her writing experiences and talents, and would follow her writing to the ends of the earth if she’d let me..in a non-stalkerish way of course.

 

Aidan – another mom of three girls and a truly beautiful soul. I admit to reading her blog archives because she is a master at her craft and deserves to be published everywhere. I’m honored to have my words close to hers. Also, I want to live in Manhattan.

 

Kristen’s writing inspires me, makes me think, and makes me want to hug her daily for asking the hard questions in a beautiful way. Her heart comes through in her essays in a way I can only dream of doing.

 

Bethany makes me laugh and cry and share with every word she writes. Her talents are immense and she almost..almost..makes me want to have a house full of boys. Almost. I find myself nodding along with her essays and wishing we could take a long run together. There would be so much laughter that just writing about that run makes me want to hop on a plane and show-up on her doorstep in a sparkly running tutu.

 

Amanda. Oh Amanda. Don’t tell her but I want to be her neighbor. I have these strange dreams of living next door to her, our six girls playing in the yard, our husbands enjoying a few beers together, while I run my fingers through her hair. OMG, I mean while we discuss life and writing, everything because I think we’re meant to be friends forever, and her words have forever changed me.

 

No matter what happens with  my writing and my blog. Whether I am published again, or I take my blog down before the 7th anniversary – I will always be grateful to count these women(and many others) as friends who’ve inspired me, challenged me, laughed and cried with me, and celebrated good things like being published in a book. SERIOUSLY GUYS, WE ARE IN A BOOK!

 

Buy it.

 

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Well THAT Was An Interesting Week

Well I’ve had an interesting week. One I’ve been trying to write about, but the words seem to fail me. Or they are just wrong. Or not as meaningful or deep as they are suppose to be. So I walk away from the internet and start putting hats on my cat. I’m not even kidding.

beret-cat

This week I’ve had bad words thrown at me and good words offered to me with incredible kindness. I’ve had letters full of ugliness and letters from strangers saying “me too” and “thank you for speaking up for us.”  Some strangers were 15 and some were 50.

 

I’ve had friends write posts about their struggles – and the silent struggles of moms just like us.

 

And it’s time that we aren’t quiet anymore. Or ashamed. Or just a statistic that we brush under the carpet and pretend that what we experience doesn’t exist.

 

I’ve heard radio stations talk about ME – when they think that I’m not listening or didn’t bother to do their homework to find out that maybe I’m in their backyard and they could CALL ME to discuss. Or maybe they’re afraid I’d come whack them with the pillow.

 

And the thing about everyone thinking they now know you because of your 800 words that went around the world – it takes what you feel and say when you felt strong enough to voice it, and it takes every layer of skin off of your body and leaves you naked and bleeding and exposed, and you spend awhile hunkered down thinking you may never get up again and maybe you should not have sent those words out – but sometime at about day three, you get up and get dressed and your heart grows about three sizes because of the people who matter, and you come out on the other side feeling even stronger than you did when you first wrote those words. And you think of about 2000 more words that you want to write because you were right to say those words. And no one can take your voice away. Also you write run-on sentences.

 

So today – I talked to people. I had a radio interview on our Top 40 station this morning - KDWB. It’s my kids’ favorite station and now I’ve probably ruined it for them because they interviewed THEIR MOTHER! It was not a great interview as it was at 7:15am and we were having a burnt waffle/lost hair bow/I need help with my homework/WHERE’S MY BOOT/Mommy I can’t find any undies kind of morning and on our way to missing the bus.

 

And then this afternoon I was on HuffPost Live, which was super fun and I met some great co-panelist. It was kind of awkward to do though as when you’re talking the screen goes white so I never knew where to look because there were no people to look at. Next time I have to remember to just stare at the white and pretend there are people.

And my internet stalker is back. Have I told you about my stalker. Well that’s a very long story for another day…

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Dear Nordstrom – About Your “Skinny Sleep” Pillow

Dear Nordstrom,

 

I posted a picture of me at 18 on Facebook the other day. It was from a time in my life that I didn’t love how I looked, but the picture was kind of funny with my huge 80s hair so I thought it was worth posting for a few laughs.

 

But only one person(my husband, the person closest to me), asked me what was up with my puffy cheeks in that picture. He could see from the rest of my body in the picture that I wasn’t overweight – so why were my cheeks so puffy.

 

He pointed out exactly why I hate all pictures of me for a period of four years, and almost 30 years later I couldn’t just tell him why I had puffy cheeks. I think I brushed off his question with an explanation of ‘left over baby fat’ and growing out of them eventually.

 

But my puffy cheeks were a symptom of my bulimia. And my bulimia started after suffering from anorexia and starving myself for months. Once I started to finally eat again – I purged for years.

 

And while I consider myself ‘better’ in that I don’t starve myself or purge my food – I will never feel thin enough. Ever. I still worry about everything I put in my mouth, how my clothing fits, and will catch glimpses of myself in every mirror looking for faults.

*****

My 10 year old threw a fit last year when I made her wear snow pants to an outdoor event. It was well below zero and there was no way we were going out without being bundled up from head to toe. “But Mom, my friends will be there and my snow pants make my butt look big.”

 

Your butt look big, Eloise? For one, that is impossible..and for two, everyone will be wearing snow pants..and for three, trust me, no one looks at snow pant butts.

 

My daughter is five feet tall and is lucky to weigh 60 pounds soaking wet and barely registers as having a  BMI. She could wear 10 pairs of snow pants without the worry of her butt looking big. But that fact doesn’t really matter, does it.

 

She’s a healthy eater, gets plenty of exercise as a dancer, and even though she has a mother who will probably never be totally past her eating disorder(what addict is), we still never talk or show unhealthy habits around our kids, and live in a home with healthy food and people who exercise regularly. We don’t own a scale.

 

And she has the same body I had at 10 and 11 – tall, seemingly impossibly thin, and with legs that go on for miles. I’m not worried about her – she’s a healthy girl – but to hear her worry about looking fat….

 

I sank. My heart broke for her into a million tiny pieces.

 

And I want to do everything to make sure my three daughters daughters do not become one of the 10 million Americans with eating disorders. Of which, 20% of those suffering will die.

 

I see the stick thin models on the runway, the supermodels on the cover of magazines(many photoshopped), ads everywhere on how to have a flat stomach and the importance of a thigh gap, and a diet ad on TV during almost every show. Daily I feel like I’m trying to push away the negative media images and reinforcing to my daughters what is really important – health and the importance of loving themselves.

 

As I whisper to myself – don’t be like your mother, don’t be like your mother.

*****

At this point you must be wondering why I’m writing this very personal letter to you, Nordstrom. Well, it’s because I was shopping with my daughters at your store(one of my favorite places to shop) on Friday and this pillow prominently displayed in your store stopped me in my tracks.

nordstrom-skinny-sleep-pillow

Actually, it stopped my daughter in her tracks… “People can get skinny by sleeping, Mom? I had no idea.”

 

No hon, you can’t get skinny when you sleep. You have good sleep because it makes you healthy and strong. That pillow was meant to be kind of a joke I think – and a horrible one at that.

 

Oh Nordstrom – we have skinny drinks and skinny food and skinny pills and see skinny ads and read skinny articles…and now, now you have to make our daughters think that there’s skinny sleep? We’re embroidering skinny dreams on our pillows now just like the ones that we can’t etch out of our hearts?

 

Please don’t send a message like this. It’s not okay. It’s not message we need. It’s not a message that they need. And if my daughter is asking about this – how many other daughters are asking their mothers the same question?

 

Did you know that approximately 40 percent of American girls ages 9 and 10 report being or having been on a diet to lose weight.

 

Let’s do better by our daughters and our sons and start making strides on focusing on healthy messages and giving them more positive images of what a real woman or man looks like. And should look like. I know we have a long way to go and daily we are bombarded with negative influences..so some might say “What’s the big deal about a pillow with a cute little saying.” And I’m saying – taking a pillow off the shelves is one little step in the direction where millions of steps still need to be taken if we are ever going to stop this cycle.

 

Having an eating disorder is like being a drug addict, this illness is always near the surface just waiting for the right trigger…and while one can survive without drugs or alcohol, a person with an eating disorder is faced with their biggest fear – food – every single day. So whether you want to believe it or not – even seeing the words ‘skinny sleep’ on a pillow can trigger us into thinking something is really possible. Just like my daughter asked me such an innocent question about it on Friday in your store.

 

Don’t make her even have to ask those questions. Don’t make her think that skinny is ‘in’ or that skinny is even important.

 

Don’t be responsible for adding to this devastating epidemic.

 

Thank you for listening,

 

Tracy Morrison

Woman, Wife, Mom of Three, Eating Disorder Survivor

*****

Update Sunday Night 1/26 – I received the following DM on Twitter from Nordstrom…

“We’re so sorry we disappointed you. This is a sensitive subject and we take what you’re saying seriously. We totally see your point here and would never want what was suppose to be a play on a well-known saying as sending a different message. We appreciate you sharing your perspective with us. We’d like to share this feedback with our buyers and get back to you.”

 

I’m glad Nordstrom responded so quickly – and I actually tweeted them about this three days ago – but now it’s time for them to remove the pillow from their stores. And it’s honestly a pretty sad ‘play’ on a well-known saying – that truthfully I already don’t love.

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So Much To Talk About This Week!

It’s suppose to be -24 on Monday morning. Actual temperature. Windchill will be about -786. Totally tolerable in my humble opinion and school should go on as planned. But I’m already preparing for another ‘snow day‘ and having the kids at home. Which is why I am still considering dropping them at Galit’s house.

 

Or I could just stay home and look at my daughter’s beautiful face.

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Jed and I(okay, maybe I’m still bitchy) are having a tough week. I would like to blame it on 1. Sure, maybe I’m bitchy and 2. One toilet in the house and 3. We’ve spent way too much time indoors this winter. Because COLD! We need more tolerable snow days to get outside and play. 4. Also, I might be bitchy because one toilet, the cold, too much time indoors. So I’m trying not to let it bother me and to accept his compliments even when I’m feeling gross and stinky.

 

I wrote an essay this week about one of the houses I lived in when I was little. It’s strange, the details you remember about a house from when you were only five years old. Sometimes I wonder what my kids will remember about the houses of their lives. And about how much this current house means to them – the only home Esther and Astrid have known. When I get mad at our house for being broken or old and too small-ish – I need to remember that children don’t care about any of that. It’s the people inside the house that matter.

 

But Eloise will probably only remember that we never let her have a guinea pig.

 

Since it’s the season to stay in – we are reading a lot. I just finished one of my dear friend’s books. Jennie – from A Lady In France just published her first book. It’s a stunning memoir of her incredible and extraordinary life spent all over the world, and her journey of faith. I yearn for the day when I can sit down with her in her home in France and have her tell me the stories of her life. I love Jennie dearly – and now her book has made me even closer to her.  Maybe I’m peeking in her kitchen window right now.

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You need a copy of her book – maybe two or three. A Lady in France is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle.

 

And if you are looking to work on your photography this year – I highly recommend following along Alison and Greta’s 52 week #ThroughTheLensThursday project. They are fun and easy weekly prompts and you can join in anytime!

 

One more thing – my friend Alexandra has published a beautiful and important piece on the Huffington Post about How Our Society Raises Young Boys. I suggest popping over there today.

 

AND one more week to submit your stories on motherhood for our Twin Cities Listen To Your Mother Show. We would be honored if you shared your words with us. xo

 

Happy Saturday!

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Keeping It Simple

Today the fabulous Twin Cities Mom Blog launched and I’m so completely thrilled to be a contributing writer! If you are local to the area – this will be an amazing resource filled with not only information on great happenings around the area, but also full of just personal and ‘real mom’ type stories that I hope you can relate to. And if you don’t live in the Twin Cities – well there are sister sites all over the country.

 

My first article went live today – and it’s about keeping it simple with your kids. How what we think is important about a vacation, an event, an activity, or a family project – you know the BIG that we want our kids to remember – usually isn’t what they remember the most.

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We spent a long weekend at a lake resort when I was about 10. I vaguely remember swimming in the pool, taking a few boat rides around the lake and staying in a very cool hotel room – but what I remember the most about the weekend was a a sandwich I ate. I don’t remember the location of the resort – the town, state or name of the lake, but damn that sandwich was incredible. All because my mom, in her typical quest to save money, decided we would eat a picnic lunch of simple sandwich fixings from the grocery store rather than eating in the expensive resort restaurant. She bought a loaf a bread, some lunch meat, cheese, lettuce, but instead of mayo she bought Kraft Sandwich Spread. If you’ve never had sandwich spread – it’s like the perfect mix of mayo and thousand island dressing all wrapped up in white trash perfection. I had never heard of it before, nor tasted anything so delightful before. And at that moment when I bit into that turkey and cheese on Wonder with the sandwich spread – well the rest of that weekend became a blur.

 

Still today when we reminisce as a family about moments we’ve shared, I still sometimes say “Gosh, do you all remember when we tried sandwich spread that one time when we took some lake vacation?” And my whole family gets a little quiet as they look off into the distance and remember how good those sandwiches tasted.

 

Now I wonder why I’ve never eaten it since? Tomorrow I must buy some sandwich spread.

 

But my point is – don’t stress about not being able to take a fancy lake vacation – just take your kids on a picnic in your backyard with a special treat that they’ve never tried before.

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Why I’m Blogging Every Single Day In 2014

I’m sorry.

 

That I’m probably driving you crazy.

 

If you subscribe to my blog you are probably unsubscribing BECAUSE SO MANY EMAILS. AND THINGS TO READ.

 

And for that I am sorry.

 

But I have decided to blog every day in 2014. I’ve been afraid to write this. Say this aloud. Or even whisper it in a friend’s ear. Or even think it inside of my own head. Because of possible and easy failure.

 

But there, it’s out there. I’m blogging every day in 2014. 365 posts.

blogging-every-day-2014

Some long, some short, some stories, some pictures. But it’s doubtful you will get recipes or craft ideas. If you start seeing craft ideas you know I’ve lost my mind and it’s time to stage an intervention and tell me to stop blogging completely. Take away my computer and my glue gun. Also if I start talking about Pinterest. Don’t let me talk about Pinterest. But just to make you crazy I’m including a pinnable image in this post.  Because I CAN!

 

Some things you will find boring. Silly. Why is she even filling space with this drivel?! And some I hope will be decent writing. Very decent. Good even. Share-worthy even. Because that’s mainly why I’m doing this. Just like photography – to take great pictures you first need to take more pictures..and I firmly believe that to become a better writer – well, you need to write more.

 

And in 2014 I’m doing both. So why not use my little blog to write and share pictures and stories with you all –  and at times just bore the crap out of you.

 

But I promise to never share crafts.

 

Maybe one or two recipes because I’m desperate. But never a craft.

 

And maybe to fill the space on a Saturday I will have to recap what I’ve written that week. Or maybe this will allow you to just read me once per week and you can stop hating me for blogging every single ding-dong day in 2014.

 

So here’s what’s going down…

 

I told you about the Happy Wives Club’s new book being released – and this was a perfect follow-up for my  on being vulnerable that was also  syndicated on BlogHer and now published on The Huffington Post. 

 

I’ve started Tumblr-ing about Po the Panda with Eloise.  If you like Pandas – follow us there. If you don’t like pandas, well we are no longer friends. Unfollow.

 

We have put out our annual call of submissions for Listen To Your Mother – Twin Cities. We want your words!

 

I’m trying to enjoy the messy corners of our lives..and appreciate the clutter and the people who hang so near to me.

 

And how to survive cold weather running and that I’m thankful it was cold enough to do the “throw boiling water in the air to turn it to vapor” trick!

 

And finally - Astrid’s eyelids are not orange.

 

So that, in a nutshell, is why I’ve been writing so much lately. May I call it writing and not blogging? Maybe a mix of both.

 

Only 354 posts to go….

** Taking inspiration from the blogging every.single.day  in 2013 superstar Casey from Life With Roozie.

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On Being Vulnerable

Jed has texted, called, emailed and smoke-signaled hundreds of middle-aged men over the past week with this simple message…

“If you want to get lucky in the bedroom, have heart surgery. Trust me on this one.”

 

Which is why every middle-aged man in Minnesota has been giving me this strange, knowing look all week. They point to me in the grocery store, whisper about me at the coffee shop, and give me a sly wave as I drive by in my minivan.

 

I am now an urban legend.

 

But truth be told – good sex has nothing to do with heart surgery or hospitals. It has more to do with remembering why we fell in love in the first place, and admitting to needing to be loved even after 16 years, three kids, and hundreds of cat puke piles cleaned off of the carpets.

 

But most importantly – being able to finally let go of our egos and be vulnerable again.

Vulnerable – leaving yourself open to emotional hurt.

 

Because I think that’s what is missing in our home. And frankly it’s exhausting when you cannot admit that you really need someone or something to get by with the big, but also the small tasks each day.

 

I mark my days as a mother in a kind of “I can do it myself so just get the fuck out of my way” attitude. From bringing home bacon to frying it up in a pan, to managing loads of laundry, mountains of bills, and an extracurricular schedule for three kids that would make a wedding planner in NYC cringe.  And in my own way I do okay with this. Maybe I truly don’t need help, but maybe just maybe Jed needs to be needed just a little bit more. Whether it’s letting him pick up groceries sometimes or putting Astrid to bed or not getting mad when he folds the towels wrong.

 

It’s okay for me to accept help and be vulnerable for him.

*****

love-and-marriage

I dropped Jed off at the hospital the day of his surgery. He told me he didn’t need me there and not to worry about trying to juggle the kids and burden friends or family just for him. But he looked very alone when I dropped him. So I took the kids to my aunt’s house and returned to the hospital. I gave the receptionist Jed’s information and that I was his ‘wife’ and was now there for him if there was news.

 

She acted like she expected me. This is what people do it turns out – married people – people in love – they are there for one another. The alternate plan that we had made – the one where I left him at the hospital alone was strange and uncomfortable like a coat two sizes too small bought at the thrift store that tugged awkwardly at my arms and didn’t quite zip.

 

This is not how a marriage is suppose to feel.

 

But as I sat in the waiting room -the room with other wives and husbands and children and loves – I felt a peace I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

 

The feeling of what it’s really like to love your spouse.

 

A few minutes later a nurse came out looking for “Mrs. Duncan” and asked if I wanted to see Jed before he went in. My strong sense of self and independence didn’t even rear its ugly head to correct the nurse’s error of ‘my’ name.  I was letting go.

 

When I saw Jed he was drugged, hooked up to numerous things, tubes and medication, and alone. And he reached for my hand and cried.

 

Vulnerable.

 

And that’s when I wanted to jump him right then in there in the surgery prep room. Not because he was weak(his words) or because this might be good-bye. But because we need each other more than we want to admit. And it shouldn’t take this to bring us to this new now. But it did. And it’s strange being grateful for a medical emergency to fix a marriage.

 

Maybe that’s why we focus on motherhood so much and forget about the work it takes to be married.  Kids need EVERYTHING – from food to shelter to boo-boo kissing to doll dressing to homework help. If my tween won’t let me kiss her anymore I can still whip up a bowl of popcorn with extra butter and she knows that I love her.

 

We are born vulnerable.

 

So when does it become a weakness to admit needing something.

 

I even find I stray from vulnerability when I write. I want to write the happy things, the clean things, the neat things, the easy things, the things that don’t ask for advice.

 

But when I’ve opened up about the hard things, the hard to admit things, and the messy-not-so-perfect things, I feel the weight lifted off of my chest. This weight that you all take from me piece by piece as loved ones do as you work in combination to carry a burden and protect me as I can finally be vulnerable and breathe again.

How long have I been holding my breath.

*****

I met Jed in the recovery room. I sat gently on his bed, kissed his forehead and put my head near his as I stroked his hair for a very long time. He slept on and off and I was just there. I didn’t think of him as weak in those moment – actually the exact opposite – that he was strong enough to want me to be there.

 

Being vulnerable is sexy.

 

A few days later I told Jed something that I needed. I haven’t asked Jed for anything in years, but for the first time in a long time I felt a level of trust, love, connection and mutual vulnerability that it felt freeing to truly ask him for something that was important to me.

 

“Jed, I need you to accept my past. To acknowledge and love me not only for now and the future with our family, but for what brought me to today.” I said quietly. “You fell in love with not just me, but what I’ve done – the good and bad, my life experiences, and the 29 years I had before life led me to you.”

 

Sometimes Jed likes to pretend he married a quiet, trust-funded, virginal, blond, Catholic girl from New England.

 

But Jed instead fell in love with an opinionated, middle-class, divorced and experienced, Atheist woman from the Midwest.

 

Now 16 years later he needs to finally be okay with that. And be vulnerable enough to know that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of my past – especially him.

 

Because if I cannot start talking about my whole life, then I will continue to live a closed-life that is lonely, full of walls and stifling to not just my creativity and ability to love, but to our relationship and future.

 

So I asked Jed to be vulnerable with me. To admit to mistakes and failures and to look for help and more hugs and to live true and messy lives together.

We are checking our egos at the door this year. We have to if we expect this marriage to last a lifetime.

 

And we’ve found each other again. Those two people who met on an airplane to Bangkok 16 years ago. And remembered the honest and open conversations we had for those 20 hours – about divorce and loves and heartbreaks and dreams.

 

And good sex is truly such a bonus. I just need to wear dark glasses now when I go to the grocery store.

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In The Nick Of Time

It’s December 10th really and we haven’t even put our tree up. I was at Target today and saw a pinkish fake tree on one sale for $69 and I was ‘this’ close to buying it but pictured Jed giving me a ‘whatthewhat’ look when he came home to the homage to Avon sitting in the middle of our living room. Living with four women is pink enough.

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But my dream is to own a true vintage pink flocked tree. Let me know if you’re getting rid of one.

 

In the meantime we will still buy a real tree – typically we go out and cut down a Christmas tree when it’s about 25 below zero – because that’s a fun holiday tradition with three kids.

 

But no matter if we cut down a tree or talk Jed into a pink one – a tree has yet to enter our living room. Nor any decorations and the elf will not move this year…because he’s tired of this job.

 

I also haven’t started Christmas shopping and honestly just realized that Christmas is just two weeks away.

 

And it’s not like I’m not in the Holiday Spirit. I am. I just don’t have time for the extra things – decorating, shopping, baking cookies, hanging mistletoe. And I wonder if we could push it all out until January.

 

The weird thing though is that my kids haven’t even asked about the tree – if or when we are getting one – or even about decorating and baking.

 

It’s strange when your kids get bigger and they have other things going on  – school, dance, sports, friends, homework, etc…and they don’t just sit at home begging for Christmas crafts and activities(thank god).

 

Their Christmas lists remain empty(except for the talking scale). So daily I pester them to give me ideas..to which they reply “Meh, I’m good.”

 

So instead I’m planning a shopping trip for all of us for Toys For Tots this weekend and I’m thankful this season that there’s not one thing in a catalog they are asking for this year.

 

I think of simple days – of one or two gifts – not the tens that kids can get today – or the hundreds of dollars spent.

 

I love my friends who do four gifts for each child – “Something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read” – and I know my girls would love this idea.

 

Simple.

 

Simple like a pink aluminum tree on sale at Target right now.

 

Now I just need to convince Jed that I haven’t lost my mind.

 

Just write.

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Shhh…I’m Listening

Just Write

 

She jumps around when we walk now – over sidewalk cracks and leaves and branches and probably imaginary hurdles. But she never lets go of my hand. My arms shakes erratically up and down as we stroll but I cannot imagine the alternative which is too still for me to take.

 

Typically as she jumps and walks, she also talks. Or rambles on. She notes nature and dogs passing by or sometimes tells me a story about preschool or shares a personal details of our home life that I didn’t know she quite grasped until it’s voiced. And then I worry about what she shares at school.

this-is-four

But yesterday she said to me “Mommy, do you know what I love the most about trees?”

 

“Trees?” I asked as again she pulled on my arm as she hurdled over a branch and then a crack and then bent down to inspect a very red leaf. She decided to bring it home and glue it into her notebook.

 

“Yes, trees.” She replied quite certain that I needed to know more about this love for trees. “I love trees because they are such good listeners. When I talk to them they stand tall and still and never move away. Trees are very, very still.”

 

And at that moment she let go of my hand and quite literally went and hugged the closest tree and rubbed her tiny, smooth hands over the rough and damp bark of the old ash tree.

 

As I stood, unmoving, and watched her I wondered if she was implying something. Was I ‘not a tree.’ Was I ‘not still enough.’ Or ‘not tall enough.’ And did I ‘move away’ when she talk.

 

Was I too busy to really listen. Because sometimes she says to me “Mommy, no I want your eyes on me when I’m showing you something so I know you really see me.” Does that mean that sometimes she knows my ears don’t really hear everything.

 

Does she know that sometimes she shares a story while I’m unloading the dishwasher and my “How nice!” and “What a great story.” and “I love that.” are just page fillers to make it seem like I’ve heard it all. Because can I really hear it all? And was I just fooling myself to think that kids really don’t know that we don’t pay attention all of the time? Was I failing in my continuous movement of not taking it all in.

 

And I wondered how I could be more like a tree for her. Can I plant my feet firmly on the floor in front of her to let her know I am strong and tall for her and still. So still. To always hear everything she has to say. Because if she has to say it, well it must be important.

 

As this is coming from someone who says very little. Having trained myself to only speak if it’s of the utmost importance – almost emergency like and even in an emergency I wonder if I could shout as I would hate to bother people. And with my quiet nature – I listen a lot. So it shocks me to hear that maybe I still don’t listen enough.

 

And maybe her comment has nothing to do with me. Maybe she just likes trees and sometimes just needs a strong, still, tall tree to talk to.

 

Don’t we all.

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