Empty fridge and broken hangers.

Right now I have an empty fridge and I don’t mean an “Oh my God, please excuse the mess!” when your house is fucking perfect-empty kind of fridge. I mean, if you opened the door, there would be several bottles of salad dressing and some pickles and the sad soup I tried to make out of our Thanksgiving leftovers that I’m just going to call, “Well, I tried.” Come on over and get your hot, fresh cup of Well, I tried!

I could have gone to the store today, but, instead, I spent the entire morning putting away clothes. 3 hours of bin sorting and shirt shaking and hangers under beds including the few broken ones I found hidden in the stuffed animal bin because my kids know that I will, in fact, flip out if you break perfectly good hangers because you are too lazy to lift your hanger out of your closet.

By the way, money still does not grow on trees kids and even your crappy plastic hangers are worth something.

But, I can’t blame them because we’re all lazy right now. They’re too lazy not to pull their clothes off of hangers with such force that plastic shatters and I’m too lazy to go to the store. I’m finding we’re all shifting our priorities.

For dinner, I found a bag of frozen ravioli in the back of the freezer and I took the last of the very stale bread and made croutons for the sad, lonely bag of pre-chopped lettuce that expires tomorrow. And this is the best I can do today.

Also, we got the tree today. The tree this year is small in comparison and eldest complained about the size and I was disappointed that lately I see my failures in her words and action. Because that shit stings. Seeing your failure and then riding home with it and then tucking it into bed and still telling it you love it because you do and because you have to. It’s yours, after all.

So, I have this feeling of “Whoa.” now that the small-ish tree is up and those kids are finally in bed and I don’t have to face my failure again until tomorrow morning.

And for anyone reading this thinking, “Stop being so hard on yourself!”, please know that I’m not disappointed with how things are going. This is where you say, “What?” No really, I’m actually quite pleased with the empty fridge and the little bit of growing pains/attitude from the small person I sometimes want to strangle.

It’s all so fantastic and awful all at once. I know she won’t remember complaining about the tree and they won’t remember the empty fridge. Shit, they’ll probably even sing my praises to their college roomies, “My mom made her own croutons!” like it was more Pinterest-y than Necessity.

And even with the empty fridge and the sometimes shitty kids, we want for nothing. We have it all. The little house and a lot of love and those crappy moments are so startling because, really, they just aren’t happening enough to become our normal.

The fact that the empty fridge and shitty attitudes still startle me is good. It means we’re mostly not empty and shitty.

And something about that feels so right.





Are those Mom Jeans or are you just terribly unhappy to see me.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The drunk cooking, the thinly veiled passive aggressive comments from your mother-in-law about the state of your marriage, and all of the knock-down, drag-out street fights on the Food Network about whether to brine your turkey or just smear 15 pounds of butter on your ass and call it a day.

Tradition.

The other tradition in my home is to pull out my hidden pair of maternity jeggings, to match them with an oversized blouse and pretend not to be ashamed of myself while I have, “Ok, just one more teeny-tiny slice of pie.”

Thanksgiving pants. They’re a thing.

Thanksgiving pants made me think about mom jeans and thinking about mom jeans made me happy. Because I’m a kid of the 80s; don’t judge me.

And the only thing that could make me happier than thinking about mom jeans is asking my friends to actually put on their hidden mom jeans and send me pictures.

So, I partnered with my brilliant, comedienne friend Nicole Leigh Shaw to bring the sexy back to mom jeans.

We’re bringing mom jeans back
Them other pants, they don’t know how to act
We think it’s special, where’s your fanny pack?
Please put it on because your waistband’s whack

Sorry, JT.

Without further ado, here’s your slice of Thanksgiving happy with a side of implied camel toe.

Welcome to She Said/She Said, the Mom Jean Edition!

Acid Washed Magazine Spread Janel

She said: This reminds me of that scene in Blazing SaddleBags. Wait, that’s not a real movie, right? Well, after seeing this, it should be. HAWT. @BPMbadassmama

She said: The 80s called, they want their hair band mixed tape back. @NicoleLeighShaw

Every Inch Mom Magazine Spread Jess

She Said: Talk about a serious case of the dingleberries. @BPMbadassmama

She Said: You’ve got a little something . . . right . . . everywhere. @NicoleLeighShaw

Jorts Magazine Spread Rebecca

She Said: It’s a crocheted Christmas vest miracle. @BPMbadassmama

She Said: I had the same turtleneck! When I was 10! @NicoleLeighShaw

Elastic Magazine Spread Kim 2

She Said: The V in the front of these mom jeans is great because I know I always want people to have their eyes directed toward my vagina. @BPMbadassmama

She Said: There’s a fine line between sassy mother and unmedicated mother. @NicoleLeighShaw

Retro High Waist Magazine Spread Ellen

She Said: I think we should just skip to the punchline and call these the Levis 5-0-NationalGeographic. @BPMbadassmama

She Said: When you absolutely, positively, need to keep your saggy belly in check. @NicoleLeighShaw

Maternity Magazine Spread Robyn

She Said: Listen, people get all bent out of shape if you wear maternity pants when you’re not pregnant but, that’s only because they didn’t think of it first. #HatersGonnaHate @BPMbadassmama

She Said: Maybe she’s 4 months pregnant, maybe she had a baby four years ago, only her OB knows for sure. @NicoleLeighShaw

Tight White Magazine Spread Susan

She Said: This mom is on FIRE. No, I mean seriously…her crotch is on fire. @BPMbadassmama

She Said: Now this is how you toast a muffin top. @NicoleLeighShaw

Cut Offs Magazine Spread Bethany

She Said: Having my husband help me with this photo shoot is just another form of birth control. Thanks, Mom Jorts! @BPMbadassmama

She Said: Remember ladies: the best accessory for high-waisted cut-offs is a manic expression. @NicoleLeighShaw

Jeggings Magazine Spread Nicole

She Said: You could fit so many bad decisions in the extended crotch length of these pants. @BPMbadassmama

She Said: Jeggings are a mom’s way of saying, “At least they aren’t yoga pants.” @NicoleLeighShaw

Vest Belt Roll Magazine Spread Kerry

She Said: This brings back so many suppressed memories. What therapy couldn’t uncover, this tight-roll did. @BPMbadassmama

She Said: It’s not everyone who can pull of a sweater vest, puffed cap sleeves, a tight roll, and a belted mom jean. Wait, no, that’s not right. I remember now. It’s not ANYONE who can do that. @NicoleLeighShaw

Get MORE Thanksgiving on with Nicole Leigh Shaw here: http://www.nicoleleighshaw.com/2014/11/what-to-do-if-your-turkey-is-jacked-up.html





And there you have it.

Balance, the myth and the wonder.

When I was home full-time, my house was a mess. I had days of complete shut-down. I’d be in my pajamas, working constantly and unwilling to work on myself. Showering was optional. The laundry would get done. The chaos would swirl as swiftly as I let it. I was so busy keeping people alive; literally catching children as they jumped off of counters that were too high for them to climb. It was all or nothing. At the end of the day, I’d collapse into a pile of flannel and think about what I’d accomplished. We all lived another day. Success.

I’m at work full-time now. My house is a mess. The laundry trails down stairways, but, my hair looks awesome. I’m working constantly and not showering isn’t an option anymore. I have to look presentable even while my home life resembles ancient ruins. Something resembling organization once happened here. Now, it’s the constant clicking of a clock telling us we’re late…again. We’re always late and it’s bills I find under other neglected mail and they are, for the first time in years, well, what do you know…late. It’s missed doctors appointments and mildew on a shower curtain that I painfully and purposefully ignore; hoping I find some internal well of give-a-shit that loves bleach and the pride that comes after cleaning things.

I’ve been on this hamster wheel for a long time and I’ve begged the universe, internet and friends for answers. Balance…I want it. I need it. It doesn’t fucking exist.

The thing about this whole idea of being everywhere and everything to everyone at the same time OR, the further idea of doing pieces of all of these things in a timely manner and, by the way, exceptionally well is my own personal, pretty unicorn.

It’s like someone once wrote on my brain with permanent marker: “Balance is rewarded to those who try the mostest hardest!” and I’ve been staring at this unkind graffiti for so long that I actually believe it.

Because if I just worked harder or longer or cleaned more efficiently or ate more locally sourced food or gave more of my income to charity or knew more about the political landscape or stopped buying Honey Nut Cheerios or invested in the right pair of jeans for my ass size, I’d be a better person. I’d be a more balanced person.

But, despite the brainffiti, the thing that life and this world keep telling me is that in order to do something, you must give something else up and when you give something up, you can’t be expected to find some sort of suppressed ZEN in doing something you once did really well in a really half assed way. You can’t do all things well because the world gives and takes and perfection must always be denied. Because we’re human and it needs to be this way for us to grow.

I imagine that one day my house will be incredibly clean and I’ll have really nice stoneware. I imagine we’ll travel and eat fancy cheese and maybe one or both of us will have gotten our shit together enough to have a viable retirement plan. I can see this. And, I can also see that my kids will be gone and a part of me will probably really want to see dirty socks trailing down my stairs. But, you can’t have it all. Balance is absurd.

Right now, I just want to figure out how to grocery shop on a Wednesday instead of a Saturday and how to make sure we don’t get down to just one diaper before realizing we’re also out of toilet paper.

It’s just going to have to be chaos and no matter how desperately I look for balance, it’s never going to return my calls.

It would probably call right at dinner and try to sell me something anyway.





Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.

My son melted the frickety-fuck down at a Target check-out last weekend. But, that’s ok because it was the day after Halloween and the entire world was there to buy Goldfish crackers at a deep discount because there were bats on the packaging. I’m not going to lie, a lot of frugal shoppers witnessed our ceremonial dance.

Pre-meltdown: I offered popcorn. He whined about wanting vanilla milk. I said, “Ok, nothing then.” and he was displeased.

Hulk-level displeased.

He began screaming and proceeded to do a quick *wap-wap-wap* like a friendly knock on the door…except he was knocking on my stomach…with his head. The looks immediately started. I’m used to all of the looks. They are as consistent as the rising sun.

1) Pity
2) Disgust
3) “My child would NEVER.”

and my favorite

4) Amusement

In these moments – when I find myself firmly between a rock and hard place; I canvas the crowd, searching for just one amused face.

Because life is amusing. Even when your son is physically assaulting you in a sea of Halloween markdowns.

One amused face reminded me to loosen my death grip on my son’s wrist. I was dragging. He was pulling. We were getting nowhere.

One lady was smiling. It spoke to me and it said important stuff about wisdom and the passage of time. Someone else had survived something similar and something about watching us lock horns churned up some sort of happiness in her.

The woman in the far right check-out line looked right at me and smiled, lowered her head back toward her basket, chuckled and kept right on living.

Like it was no big deal.

I leaned down and did my best impression of a person with lockjaw. “Don’t you EVER hit me again. Ever.”

I was so damn angry. I could barely see straight. Still, that woman’s smile was as comforting as hot cocoa right after ice skating.

Life’s too short to be so damn worried about the lady at Target with the screaming kid and it’s definitely too short to scan the crowds for judgment and pity.

And, besides all of that, it’s much too lonely if you don’t search for the amused face in the crowd.

You can count on two things. Someone will be judging you and, someone will be laughing while you drag a toddler wearing one shoe from underneath a garment rack. Look for the smiling people.

My son better not ever hit me again. But, if he loses his shit in a Payless and clubs me with a shoe horn, somebody…throw a girl a chuckle.

Yours in good times and bad,
BPM





A raging case of The Mondays.

When Mommy Shorts contacted me about participating in her Monday Mornings campaign with Allstate, I was admittedly on the fence. But, there was something so lovely about the transparency of the series that spoke to me. Ilana of Mommy Shorts started Monday Mornings to showcase the hidden beauty in the Monday morning routines and rituals of families through the literal lens of another. It often takes a totally foreign perspective to get us to say, “I’m a good mom. I’m doing alright with my small people.” So, I said, “Yes” and Allstate said, “A woman named Bad Parenting Moments? What could possibly go wrong? Yes!” and like that, an unlikely partnership formed.

As I drew closer to my Monday morning coffee date with all of you, I started to get unbelievably and insanely nervous. Photos of the piles of shoes on our floor? Photos of my bedhead? Photos of me pouring cereal when I should’ve, could’ve made scrambled eggs? The inevitable photo of me pointing with utter exasperation to the back door – 5 minutes late and no one has their damn socks on? Why? Why would I do that?

And then I said, why wouldn’t I do that? I share so much with all of you. Why wouldn’t I share my family and our bruised and battered Monday? So, here it is. Our Monday morning with cream and 1 sugar.

Through the chaos, I found moments of real beauty; emphasis on the REAL. And it struck me how Allstate’s mantra of Keeping you in Good Hands and Helping you live the Good Life, is eerily similar to my Monday morning mantra. In the few, minuscule moments of quiet; before the house stumbles awake, I always ask for patience. I ask for the ability to be the best mother I can be. I ask for the grace to forgive myself when I, undoubtedly, fail. I ask for the good life for my children. I ask for the universe to hold them safely in her hands. I ask for the ability to find joy in simplicity and I ask for my children to thrive despite my many shortcomings. I fit a lot of asking into those two minutes.

So, here we go….

A big pile of my family’s Monday on your doorstep. Thank you for being a part of our day. (photo credit and huge, loving thanks to Belinda Lashway)

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Want more? Of course you do. Here are a few of my absolute favorite Monday Morning posts:

Monday morning with Shaneka

Monday morning with Sara

Monday morning with Laura





“Why I do that?”

There was this PBS documentary mini-series titled: Mormons.  I had to watch it. I was two glasses of wine in and walking the line between buzzed and pretentious buzzed. “Oh yes, a PBS documentary. What else would I watch?” *adjusts imaginary glasses*

Because if you watch a PBS documentary while buzzed, and no one is there to admire your choice in programming, does the tree falling in the middle of an empty forest make a sound?

I argue that of course it still counts when you incorrectly recount the facts of said documentary later that year at holiday parties. It still counts.

And I wondered if I was watching the documentary because I wanted to or because someone once told me that well-rounded people watch documentaries. Honestly, I couldn’t be sure exactly why I was watching it. I couldn’t differentiate between my likes and desires and the desires of “the panel”. I always imagine there is an invisible panel…monitoring the decisions we make. Holding up numbers; grading our performance.

Grilled cheese and carrot sticks for dinner? 4.5

Cereal? 0.9

PBS documentary watching? 7.5

I’ve never medaled in anything.

But this whole idea of why we do things…this has been consistently gnawing at me for a few months. Do I do anything for the pure joy of it? Do I stop and say, “Fuck it! I don’t care that laundry is smothering my will to live. I don’t care that my toilet bowl looks like a Before shot. I don’t fucking care!”

But, I do care. I just don’t know why I care.

So, I’ve been breaking it down. I’ve been thinking, hard, about why and to what benefit and, how this relates to womanhood and personhood and motherhood.

I’ve been mostly considering how it relates to my reign as dictator over these four, small people. It’s not a democracy. They had no choice. It’s just me. I’m the hand they were dealt.

And because my desire to become a mother was so primal, it felt less like a choice than a reckoning. I HAD to be a mother. It wasn’t a choice. It was a calling. My bones told me I had to be one and so, I obliged. You don’t ever say no to your bones.

But, the rest of motherhood doesn’t feel like that. It taunts you because there are no right answers. You don’t feel it “in your bones” when it’s time to talk to them about sex or drugs or toxic friendships. Your bones don’t jump in to help when they tell you they hate you or ask you to stop dancing because the mere idea of you moving makes them want to dig their eyes out with a spoon. Your bones forsake you and then, it’s just YOU and THEM and nobody has the answers (no matter how many organic crackers you bought when they were toddlers).

And they are always asking you “WHY?” as well. Like we have any idea at all.

When my eldest was about 16 months old, she ate her own poop. I walked in and she was in a shit covered room, with a shit filled diaper turned upside down on a shit stained floor. She was in hysterics screaming, “I eat it! WHY I DO THAT?”

My bones didn’t help out then either.

That’s just it, we don’t know “why we do that”.

And we are always looking for answers. Begging for answers. TELL ME THE PARENTING ANSWERS. Fuck it. There are none.

There’s just your toddler eating poop and you wondering if you can bleach your baby and then figuring it out as you go.

There is no why. There are no answers.

Fuck it. You can do laundry tomorrow.

Your bones will help you push the “dry-clean only” comforter into the washing machine.

 

 

 





1/3 of a cup.

1/3 of a cup. That’s all it takes.

I was rinsing out a pesto jar. It was greasy and filthy and I was tired of making dinner. I filled it 1/3rd of the way with warm water, gave it a few “I mean it” swishes and, voila, clean. It’s like nothing every happened. It’s like it was always new and clean and waiting to be filled.

All in all, yesterday was a great first day of school. Except that my son had to be peeled from my body. I rushed our goodbye hug so I could hug crying grandmothers as they dropped off their school-aged grandchildren.

I did not cry.

I did, however, make a few mistakes at work. I neglected to order lunch for the same son that so desperately needed me to not forget his lunch. I was too busy ordering the lunches for the crying grandmothers’ grandchildren. Lunchtime came and my son’s teacher let me know, “Don’t even worry about it. There was an extra sandwich.” But, of course I worried. One day in, I’m the mom who forgot lunch.

Still, I did not cry.

I also forgot snacks. For all four of my children. At this point, I looked down at my dress and my appropriately-high-heels and I wondered if I was selfish that morning; I took the extra 10 minutes to look good. If I’d spent 5 less minutes trying to cover the 8-year-old bags under my eyes, would I have remembered snacks?

It’s doubtful.

Now would have been a great time to cry. Even still, no tears.

I pulled as far as I could into the driveway of my youngest’s daycare. I put the air on full blast and ran to the back gate just 10 feet and a world away from my car. I left the other children in their seats. I couldn’t even entertain the idea of having them enter the yard with happy, sunbathed toddlers. I could see the future – my next 40 minutes bribing children to leave a swing set. My heels had already lived their 8 hours and an eternity on my feet. I said, “I’ll be right back.” and with an ever so small eye twitch, I walked away from the car. Fortunately, the “baby” ran right to me. I grabbed her, waved and left. I barely acknowledged the women who had loved my daughter all day long.

Even still, the kids are all fine. No snack? No lunch? No problem.

But, there was something about the way the pesto left the jar.

I cried.

If you just consider what we have to work with and how much we have to do…my insides felt so sticky. The more I tried to succeed, the more I failed. And while failure is so very human, it is also so very disappointing.

But still, failure is key.

Huddled masses of new people watched me fail. I had two choices: I could accept it or, I could deny it. I chose to admit it…hopeful that with acceptance came the 1/3rd cup of water that would rinse me clean.

I don’t feel quite so sticky anymore.

This morning, I ordered my son’s lunch. I remembered snacks. I am still human. I am still flawed.

And this new school year brought so much growth. Instead of trying to be perfect, I said, “Here I am, all sticky and imperfect! I forget my kids’ lunches and I’m sometimes a mess. I like you just the way you are. I hope you’ll like me just the way I am too.”

I promise I’ll forget snacks at least 45 more times until June.

I love my kids. My kids love me just the way I am.

And it only takes just the tiniest bit of water to wash ourselves clean.

Hello, my name is Bethany and I’m going to sometimes get it right. I’ll mostly get it wrong. I like you just the way you are. I hope you’ll like me just the way I am too.





You may remember me from Walmart.

I’ve never told this story in print. It’s my own version of the (sub)urban legend; that time everything goes stunningly wrong to the point of absurdity.

I’m telling it now because frankly, I can’t remember where I put my keys and, I want my great-great grandchildren to one day sit around a fire-lit room and give thanks that I’ve long since passed and am no longer around to serve as a constant scourge on our lineage.

I was pregnant. I was in Walmart. I was wearing a see-though dress. Hold up, this sounds like the beginning of a country song!

I was pregnant
In the Walmart
Folks saw my panties
Oh the shame
Oh the shame
Ohhhh the shaaaaaaaaaaaame

I’ll get back to those lyrics later.

So, I was pregnant inside of a Walmart. So far, so good. Pretty par for the course. I was in a see-through dress. Well…still not that atypical. I mean, Walmart. BUT, what was atypical about my People of Walmart experience is that I didn’t know my dress was see-through.

AHA! FUN!

I also was wearing my very last pair of underwear because I had been too ill to do laundry. It was an adorable pair of incredibly stretchy boy short undies that I’d bought before I got married. They were black and had giant, white bubble letters printed on the ass that said: I LOVE ROBERT!

So, I’m hobbling through the Walmart proclaiming my ass’s love for Robert when all of a sudden, I feel ill. I mean, really ill; leave the shopping cart full of cheese and Preparation-H in the aisle and run to the bathroom ill. I made it just in time to vomit in a stall with the door wide open….with a baby strapped to my chest.

Oh, I didn’t mention the baby. Right. I had a baby in a pack strapped to my body.

I was pregnant
In a Walmart
Folks saw my panties
I then vomited
In the stall
With my baaaaaaaaaaaa-aaaa-bbbbb-y

This song is getting really good.

I stumbled to the sink, rinsed out my mouth, re-adjusted my baby and went back to my cart.

Then, people started to stare. I must have really looked ill. I can only image. Thankfully, I didn’t need to imagine for long. I passed a mirror in the Home Goods section. My neck was bleeding – blood was all over my neck and my baby’s hand. Apparently, while I was vomiting, she’d scratched a mole on my neck.

To recap: I was pregnant, carrying a baby with a bloody hand. I had blood dripping down my neck. I had just vomited. My ass loves Robert and everyone knows it. This is all happening in Walmart. We all on the same page?

Good.

I ran back to the same bathroom and cleaned off my neck. Nothing else could possibly go wrong now.

Oh, what a silly woman I am.

At check-out, the young cashier seemed very uncomfortable. I chalked it up to breath. I realized she’d probably seen worse. I was still feeling pretty good about myself until she said, “Ma’am, your…ummm…dress.”

I looked down and one breast was hanging out. A complete breast. At some point between blood clean-up and check out, my baby had pulled down one side of my dress. How long had I been walking around with an exposed breast? Some of life’s mysteries are better left unanswered.

I fixed my dress, mumbled something about the day I was having and sauntered off letting her and everyone get one last look at my Robert lovin’ ass.

I arrived back at my sister-in-law’s house. As I relayed this story she said, “Do you know your dress is completely see-through?” and I laughed and said, “Yeah right. That’s hilarious.” and she said, “No. Really. I can see your underwear.” and it was at this moment that I realized that not only was I eligible for the People of Walmart website, I was the People of Walmart President. You can call me Madame President, thank you very much.

I was pregnant
The day my baby
Scratched my neck mole
And I puked in a public restroom
STAAAAAAAhhhhhhL
Then my boob, it was out
While I wandered about
And my rear
Told the secrets of my heart

I was pregnant
In a Walmart
I had hemorrhoids
My baby
Made me bleed
In the aisles
It wouldn’t be so bad
If I had just stayed in bed
Now I’m President
Of People of Walmart

Ok guys, is this good enough to sing now?

Until next time, you’ve never shown your panties in a Walmart and you’re a lady goddammit.

Yours until the end of time,
Bad Parenting Moments





Give up a little.

I’m going to talk a bit about marriage. If you haven’t started rolling your eyes yet, just give me 2 minutes. Hang in there.

My husband and I are entering our 10th year of marriage. It does not get easier. It’s a little like the sand in the bottom of your shoes at the end of a beach day. Persistent and sometimes annoying and mostly, a lovely reminder of that great day at the beach.

And then there’s the changing. No one is ever done changing. As Michelangelo said at age 87, “Ancora imparo. [I am still learning.]”

We were 25 and 32.

We are now 35 and almost 42.

A lot of learning happens. A lot of changing happens. And yet, we’re still here.

The thing about binding yourself in perpetuity to another is really the whole permanence of it. Our generation is not one of sticking. We are into growing and changing. We are into development. We are into our kids; epically into our kids. We are not so much into ourselves. We are not so much into each other. Therefore, we stick like those craft googly eyes to yarn – not very well.

Many of our parents divorced. Hey, we all turned out alright. And, we did. It’s true. We turned to Annie and The Neverending Story and E.T. – the real-life stories of broken homes healed us. We found a way to be resilient. And it worked because our parents were happier apart than they were together. We learned that if you cannot be happy in your own skin, you should never inhabit the skin of another.

And like elephants, we remember.

Marriage is hard. It’s give and take and mostly, it feels like you’re the one doing all the giving. Of course, both parties feel this way. It’s love and unrequited love and both parties take turns feeling the pangs of rejection. It’s the day-to-day with small children and nights when you want to talk, but, then sleep wins. Because sleep always wins.

It’s sex and no sex and not enough sex. The sex, it matters.

And it’s hard. And, it’s wonderful. And, it’s fucking hard.

Then, there are times when you come to a cross-road. It’s not about one thing. It’s about all things. You look at that face you know so well and wonder if you really know it at all. You do a lot of wondering…

The changing is happening every moment. You have very little control over how you change and how you grow. You just do and you expect the people you love to come with you.

Sometimes, they don’t. But, sometimes…they insist upon it.

I’ve only packed a bag once and I meant it.

And yet, we’re still here.

It’s not perfect and it never will be, but, it’s really quite beautiful in its difficulty.

My husband and I had a stand-off last week; a This Is Who I Am vs. I May Not Like Who You Are Becoming. It was intense and there was no give.

And then, there was give. Because someone gives instead of giving up. It’s part of the growing. It’s not all synchronized swimming. It’s bloody knees and stopping to help each other back up.

This is my marriage. It’s ugly and beautiful and hard and ultimately, perfect.

But, it’s never easy.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.





“Just go in your underwear!”

“Just go in your underwear!”

I can still hear my grandmother’s voice. Clear, jolly and amused by our lack of ingenuity. No bathing suits? Just go in your underwear. In the early 80s, this was the answer to most water play dilemmas. Truth be told, it is still my first response when a child arrives at my home unprepared to be wet. I channel the woman who never lacked common sense.

A bathing suit isn’t a necessity. Plans aren’t a necessity. Dirt is necessary. The sprinkler is necessary.

My grandmother would place the sprinkler on her small, rectangular patch of Southern California front lawn. We would run until the wet was down to our bones.

There wasn’t anything as good as that feeling. Stringy hair in our eyes and pools of muddy water around our feet; pushing one foot down until you could only see your ankle.

My grandmother was inside doing…something. Or nothing. We never knew. Sometimes, sandwiches would magically appear.

We’d make elaborate mud pies with the tin plates she’d given up on. If you wanted to know which special event you were celebrating, you had to count the rocks on your pie. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8! Happy 8th Birthday!

Time moved like partially solidified honey and it was just as sweet.

At night, we’d run around the back porch, a blanket draped loosely over our backs and tied with those thin, red rubber bands all grandmothers kept in their junk drawer. We were still in our underwear; dried mud on our feet.

They had a few glasses of Wild Turkey on the rocks in the evenings. My grandmother’s leg resting on a small table. They would chat and laugh and observe. We were clearly their world, but, we weren’t their entire world.

We slept on the floor on carefully arranged couch cushions; the lilac air freshener doubling as “monster spray” protecting us as we slept.

At 6:00 a.m., I would hear her slippered feet in the hallway. At 6:15, the smell of her coffee entered the room before her. Folgers.

When my children tell me they hate the sprinkler, I wonder how it is possible that my deep love of those summers wasn’t transferred genetically.

“Don’t you want to hear about my summers with Grandma Marylee?”

“Who?”

I wonder how it is possible that my deep love of her wasn’t transferred genetically.

She would pass by my tousled hair peeking out from under a blanket on her way to the back porch; her coffee in hand, ” Are you up? Do you want to join me for coffee?”

After she drank her coffee, we’d start all over again.

“Grandma, I don’t have a bathing suit!”

“Just go in your underwear!”