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Category: life goes on

Dear Men…Take the Photo

Take the Photo!

Forgiveness for the Non-Sporting Child

ball sport child

I don’t care for sports. I never have. During childhood, I spent my time roller skating and riding bikes with kids from the neighborhood. I was active, but it wasn’t the competitive, organized kind of active.

One summer my mother signed me up for soccer. I spent the practices—the TWO that I actually showed up for prior to dropping out—watching the other kids have fun. I participated slowly and grudgingly, wiping sweat from my brow and constantly checking my watch. I jogged along with lethargy, hoping I’d never actually contact the ball.

I vowed my own children would be more active. My husband and I moved to a semi-rural area when our son was young and our daughter was an infant. We were sure the piney woods and coastal landscapes of the area would inspire all sorts of outdoor activity. We were sure our kids would want to hike,

It Will All Be OK: Assurances to My Infant Son

Nicholas-June-8-2016

It’s shortly after 8:00 pm, and my six-month-old, Nicholas, is inconsolable.

He’s been changed, fed and burped. He’s been read to in a soothing, upbeat tone in comedic contrast to his panicky, bloody-murder shrieks. He is up on my shoulder, snug in his sleep sack, wailing away as I gently pat his back.

My voice drops to a half-notch above a whisper as I nuzzle my mouth next to Nicholas’ ear.

“It’s all gonna be OK,” I promise, unconvincingly.

It will all be OK. This, like all moments big and small, shall pass. You’ll settle down, do your adorable little stretch-yawn, and sleep. And when you wake up, you’ll have the benefit, exclusive to infancy, of having remembered none of this trauma.

It will all be OK. Considering the desperate or downtrodden environments into which you could have been born, you lucked out. You have two married parents, each of whom has good jobs. You

Why You Are Not My Favorite Child

Fried-Parents-with-their-Top-Ten-Children

Our children insist we have a favorite child. I’ve explained countless times that there is no such thing. I’ve tried sharing that I, too, used to think my parents had a favorite, but now that I’m a parent… yada yada yada (they stop listening).

My husband’s favorite line is to tell one of our kids that they are “Top Ten.”

We have ten kids.

Now our lovely children enjoy debating who is in the Top Five. Sometimes one will call out a sibling saying, “You definitely made the Top Five today!” Others deem that they will remain bottom five always. It goes on and on. Honestly, it’s getting old.

So I have decided to tell my children how I really feel.

Dear Children,I’ve come to realize that none of you are my favorite and here’s why:

I’ve come to realize that none of you are my favorite and here’s why:

The reason why it takes me so

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Toddler Who Wants A Pony Toothbrush

Photo: Flickr CC: Krystian Olszanski

My daughter is very sweet. She’s downright precious. And I have had several people tell me how well-behaved she is and how happy, and they are right.

But she’s not always that way. She saves those moments for when it’s just me, her, and a couple hundred pairs of eyes at Walmart. She has thrown some

A Promise To My Daughter (Regarding Donald Trump)

photo by: NAGANO TOYOKAZU

Dear Sophia,

Even now, days after the election, I’m struggling with what to tell you about Donald Trump.

We’ve talked about him before. We laughed at him at first; you thought his hair was funny. You thought the way he spoke was annoying and I agreed.

Then he became the Republican nominee and we started to talk about what he was saying. We talked about how he wants to build a wall to separate people. About how he thinks that only people who look and think exactly like him deserve to be treated with respect and equality.

We talked (without going into much detail, because you’re only six) about the things he said about women and the things he had done to them. Even then, I didn’t take him seriously.

I thought I was setting the groundwork for a lesson about how the bad guys, the ones who think and say these kinds of things,

Once Upon a Time at the Department of Public Safety

Driver's License

This is a true story. (Cue the “Law and Order” music: DUN DUN!!!!)

This is my rendition of our trip to the Department of Public Safety.

Or as I commonly call it: Hades.

My daughter finished Driver’s Ed and had been driving with her permit for about a year. We were ready to take the final road test and get her license.

All my friends had given me advice. Somehow, Friend A just “walked on in” to this office and was out in 20 minutes. Friend B arrived very early to the Supercenter and was one of the first ten “walk-ins” so they were in and out quickly.

Apparently, I am Friend C, because I didn’t have this skip-into-the-office-with-a-basket-of-goodies-and-come-out-with-a-shiny-new-driver’s-license-for-my-child experience.

It began on the phone—not talking to anyone, mind you—just listening to ringing, busy signals and a system that tells you to press this and press that and then transfers you to an office in Botswana that

The Forgetting

Photo: Moyan Brenn

My husband recently came up with a piece of parenting wisdom that I am trying to live by. “Most of what we do is going to be wrong,” he said, “so let’s try to do as little as possible.”

It was brilliant. It was also shorter and simpler than the advice from all those parenting books I was reading.

He came up with this aphorism while I was engaged in a power struggle with my oldest son, Ari. I am often engaged in a power struggle with Ari. To say that Ari is stubborn is putting it mildly. He came out of the womb with his own agenda and there hasn’t been a moment when his persistence and determination (read: stubbornness) is not fiercely asserted.

This one was over piano practice. Doing the practice, practicing long enough, practicing with concentration, practicing without complaining. Nothing worked—not asking nicely, not threatening, not keeping him from

College Tour: You Can’t Go Home Again

Photo by: Ken Zirkel (Flickr CC)

As our Corolla rounded the last turn on the Maine country road, unresplendent now with foliage as ground cover, my alma mater’s monolithic athletic complex cropped up suddenly, separating the boondocks from academia.

The gym was my savior in the bitterly cold Maine winters, when even on a sunny day the sun was a slacker. Unlike a lot of my outdoorsy classmates who loved the winter for the skiing, skating, snow-shoeing and snow-yellowing, I was an indoor guy. I would have gone stir crazy without nights of pick-up B-ball with my friends in the cozy gym. It was a luxury to work up an enjoyable sweat in a -15 degree world.

But the real fun was getting back to my dorm in the Martian environment that awaited outside. The athletic complex was a campus outpost, several icy walkways and parking lots from the dorm. Even dressed in my artic parka, the trek

Parenting Confession: Budgie Has Left the Building

kid-pet problems

Parenting Confession #1:

Two years ago I accidentally let my daughter’s new budgie bird escape out the window (and presumably into the jaws of a nearby cat). Yeah, not my best day.

She was beside herself with distress. So I came up with a Plan. I spent hours making panicked phone calls to every budgie breeder in the area, then told her that her budgie had been found and I was going out to pick it up.

I made my husband, her sister and all my friends swear blind that the budgie I returned with (bigger, with totally different feather patterns) was definitely 100% hers.

I explained to her that the Budgie Catcher Man had caught it by driving his special Budgie Catching Van (complete with radar and budgie tracking equipment). And that its feathering had changed because it must have lost some by getting caught in hedges. And that the feathers that had

Lose the Battle, Win the War

Photo: Flickr CC: Krystian Olszanski

There I am. Standing in the budget section of the grocery store. Arms piled high in frozen dinners I’ll be lucky enough to enjoy, let alone cook, the remainder of the week. I’ve missed at least two shifts in two days of my two part time jobs. The few things I can afford to splurge on are fresh fruit and yogurt for Zoey.

And there she is. She’s running down the aisle screaming “No!!! Mine!!!!,” strewing raspberries along her path. A few people look at me, obviously wondering why I’m not disciplining her. A few others wonder why I’m not chasing her and bargaining with her.

All I can do is choose between laughing and crying.

I’m defeated.

It’s been a long couple of days and I’ll need my energy for the dinner-time battle, the bath-time war, and the bed-time hell. I calmly look at her and say, “Dude… Here’s the rest of the

Why Moms Shouldn’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Mom Resolutions New Year

 

As a new year rolls around, I have some hard-won advice for moms making New Year’s resolutions: Just stop. Don’t do it. It’s a bad idea. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Instead, take a look at your day-to-day life: packing lunches, paying bills, doing laundry, potty training, the baby’s nap, breakfast, clean up, lunch, clean up, dinner, clean up, dry cleaning, phone calls, and on and on.

Obviously, Moms shouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions.

Here are the top eight reasons why:

1)  You’re already bombarded with everyone’s schedules and goals—you don’t need a new set for yourself.

2) If you’re talking fitness, moms do more lifting than most. Up the stairs with 35 pounds of screaming toddler, and down the stairs with 15 pounds of baby.

3) If you want to set a goal to get more sleep, that’s a very bad idea. You’ll never make this goal—not for 18+ years.

4)

Parenting Lessons: Take One

Parenting Lessons Learned

Our son gave me a funny look as he sat across the table from me. We were eating breakfast when he sneezed.

A huge glob of nasty nose fluid hung suspended in mid-air from the tip of his face.

He started to freak out. He cried as if the world were ending. He was on the brink of hysteria.

I sprang

Morning Comes Too Early

Morning Comes Too Soon with Kids

The cell phone alarm chimes at 6 a.m. I can never locate my cell phone at 6 a.m. At some point in the night the phone fairy came into my room and moved it like a chess pawn.

I find the source of my annoyance and slap it to “SNOOZE.” Eight more minutes of blissful sleep.

But 6:08 a.m. rolls around. It’s time to wake the sleeping bear.

There was a time when I couldn’t wait to wake up my son, even for all of the hell he put me through as a newborn, toddler and preschooler: The countless hours of wakefulness during the middle of the night. The days when he decided he was simply done with naps. The nights when he just wasn’t tired and insisted on staying up. “Just five more minutes, PLEASE?”

Walking him back to his room, I would chant over and over again: “I can’t wait until I

Port-a-Potty Parenting 101

Port-a-Potty Parenting 101

I’m always on potty watch. It’s my God-given duty to take care of the dooty. I can’t stand it. It’s the bane of my existence. Anything pleasurable to me is a trigger for them. Sitting down to a movie, pouring a cup of fresh coffee taking that first bite of ice cream; someone always has to poop. It’s always an emergency, and if we’re out of the house, it’s always in the most vile latrine I’ve ever seen and smelled.

Independence Day, 2014. I knew it would happen. I planned ahead. I made sure all children went potty before we left. I forced them to poop. I threatened to take away toys, I threatened to take away TV. I was serious.

Satisfied that all poops were out, we joyfully set up camp along the lakeshore to enjoy the annual celebratory fireworks. It was a beautiful evening; hot and clear, no bugs, a

Depths of a Mother’s Love

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When my two older children became capable swimmers and no longer needed me to hover over them in the water, I created a new parenting rule for myself. I decided I would wear a swimsuit whenever I accompanied them to the pool or the lake, even if I didn’t plan to get into the water. Being prepared to play the role of lifeguard was a way to hedge my bets and ward off the unthinkable.

One morning, I broke my own rule. We had traveled from Minnesota to Phoenix so my husband could attend a work conference and we could soak up some sun. When seven-year-old Louisa and five-year-old Sebastian made their request—could they “please, please go to the pool” for a quick swim before lunch?—I was already dressed. It seemed like a hassle to put on my faded swimsuit, only to change back into regular clothes an hour later. Besides, their

Aftershocks

red heart on the palms of a woman

“I can’t believe what you went through,” my friend said, welling up with tears after reading an essay about the molar pregnancy* I had ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t believe it either. All I wanted was a baby, but I got cancer instead. When that clusterfuck of a pregnancy–my first one–robbed me of everything I believed to be real and good and safe and normal, the earth tore open and swallowed me whole.

Still, her sympathy caught me off guard. Even though my molar pregnancy is a topic that often comes up in my writing, it doesn’t elicit the tremors of misery that it once did. The experience undoubtedly shaped the person and mother I’ve thankfully become–in good ways (perspective) and in bad (anxiety)–but it’s no longer a wound that throbs. It’s a memory of an awful thing that knocked me down, but also of one that taught me

Can I Have a Popsicle?

Photo by: Eden, Janine and Jim

When my foster daughter was about four we were in a super store at the cashier. She reached into my purse, pulled out a tampon and holding it high in the air, yelled, “Hey Mom, can I have this popsicle?”

Good thing other shoppers have a good sense of humor and children of their own.

Photo: Eden,

Gluten-Free Pizza is a Fire Hazard

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kankan/34059923/in/photolist

Eight years into motherhood, I like to think that I’ve hit my stride. I’m not a perfect mother, but most days my family staggers through its routine without collapsing. Then as inevitable as laundry, I trip and fall – often taking my family with me. The most recent pothole in my path – gluten-free pizza.

Gluten-free pizza became my nemesis on a day that seemed ordinary until dinner. I put chicken in the crockpot late in the afternoon. At 5:30 it was time to roast vegetables. I opened a package of cut butternut squash and discovered that it had welcomed a new friend into its package–mold.

Since mold isn’t on the list of foods my daughters will actually eat, I threw it and the squash away. We couldn’t have a dinner of just chicken, so what to do? Plan B was to serve focaccia bread and broccoli as sides. I pulled both

This Father’s Day, Appreciation for my Co-Parent

photo by John McElhenney

I’m divorced, with two wonderful kids (ages 14 and 12). This Father’s Day, I’m giving respect and love to the mother of my children. She’s a hard working, strong loving and efficient woman. As our kids’ counselor said, “It takes two strong parents to raise such smart and happy children.”

She’s always been clear about providing the best experience and opportunities for our kids. Maybe that’s how the divorce came to light for her. Somehow, along the way, she decided that “apart” would be healthier for her and for the kids.

We did our best, but we didn’t anticipate some of the changes that would take place in our marriage. We don’t always deal with them very well. At least now, the arrangements will be spoken and negotiated in the open.

We had money issues in the marriage. We have money issues as co-parents. Perhaps it was this issue that caused the divorce