You’re only as good as your words no one listens to.

After kind-of intently listening to my children for the last thiscloseto 8 years, I consider myself to be an avid semi-listener. Like cliff notes, I mostly have a firm grasp of the topic you’re spent 3 hours of our 3 hour drive detailing. There’s no real reason for them to know that I learned to sleep with my eyes open 5 years ago.

Here’s the thing, while generally they are speaking in code recognized only by Tom Cruise and senior Scientology overlords, I am actually saying important things like:

“Hey, you’re about to get hit by a car.”

and

“Yes, and that car too. In fact, all of the cars are driving in your general direction. You’re seriously running in a parking lot.”

and

“OH MY GOD, STOP RUNNING IN THE PARKING LOT. PEOPLE DIE!!!”

and

“Fine. Fine. Run in the parking lot. NO, SERIOUSLY…STOP RUNNING!”

and then my face combusts and through clenched teeth, I whisper-spit, “Get. In. The. CAR!”

And then we all go home and mommy cries.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying different methods of getting the children to acknowledge my existence and none of them work. I’ve tried the Mother of the Child/Mother of the Earth method: “Hey, I’m coming to you from a place of promise and understanding, OK? I just, I feel like you need to truly accept the words I’m about to say because, it’s important that we communicate authentically; soul to soul. So, could you please stop throwing Crispix at me? It’s a fair request and, if you search your heart, I think you’ll agree. Namaste, child of my loins.”

I have a corneal abrasion from breakfast cereal.

I’ve tried the Batshit Crazy: “If you put your underwear under the couch one more time, I’m going to burn your underwear outside in a bonfire that can be seen from space and I will invite every single one of your school friends over to watch your underwear burn. And, I won’t even get a local fire permit. I will illegally burn your drawers on the front lawn. DO YOU HEAR ME?”

Underwear? Still under my couch.

I’ve tried The Interventionist: If you promise to go to cookie rehab today, I will drop all cookie-related charges. I will not charge you for breaking into my secret stash or, for the rug you ruined when you turned on the food processor in the living room…without the lid. I’m willing to let this all go, but, you have to stop hiding and shame eating cookies. Can you do that? Can you make this promise to me today? Are you ready to come with me right now? Let go of the Oreos. We love you and we want you to LIVE…without diabetes.

Yeah, there are still cookies all over this bitch.

What’s a woman without options, but possibly with bi-polar disorder to do? That’s right…you give up.

I was tired of the sound of my own voice anyway.

Namaste, motherfuckers.





The changing of the guard.

This current stage of parenting seems less fragile. We’ve made a silent step over a menacing crevasse. It wasn’t that we weren’t paying attention. We were. It was blinding, fanatical attention. Every detail in our face like cartoon violence. It was too absurd to ignore. There were years of perpetual pregnancy and sleep deprivation. There were stories that we only felt comfortable telling in the confines of our dark room. Our confessions would come pouring out in guilty, hushed complaints to each other . We were the luckiest of the lucky with four perfectly healthy children, small and beautiful, driving us to the farthest reaches of our abilities and sanity. It was wonderful and tragic. It was beautiful and horrific. We were grateful and ingrates. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

All of the ill-at-ease and fumbling have turned into softer days. The throngs of little people have started to pair off. Two big and two little. Two big and two little. We are over the hump.

I say this not with melancholy, but, with wonder. I did not enjoy every precious moment. Let me be clear, they were not all precious. I can say this definitively. It is no longer my theory that every moment need not be graciously celebrated. You will know the moments that demand celebration. They refuse to be ignored. The other moments are war paint or prison tattoos on your neck. They are about grit and the only beauty to be found in those moments is the deep well of your inner strength. They are not lovely and don’t tell me I will miss them. I do not. I can say this because they are gone.

I miss my high-school metabolism. I miss wearing a size 7 shoe. I miss the expensive, delicious breve latte I would drink on my way to work in my corporate days. I will not miss carrying a screaming newborn in the throes of colic. I will not miss waking up in a pool of my own breast milk. I will not miss projectile vomit or the paralyzing fear I felt as a brand new mother. I remember these things. I am grateful for my stripes, but, I will not miss them. Goodbye.

I will miss the better-than-anything smell of my babies’ newborn heads. I will miss the first 24 hours in the hospital when you stare and they stare and you are struck silent in absolute awe of one another. I will miss the smallness of their bodies in my arms and lap. I will not miss my feelings of inadequacy. I will not miss my jealousy watching the ease of seasoned mothers. I will not miss the lack of sex and the overwhelming fear of my new maternal body. I remember these things. I am grateful, but, I’m ready to turn the page.

Two days a week, I have one child at home. My season of herding sheep has come to a close. I know I should say that I’m heartsick. I know I should tell you to cherish the season. I know I should be full of immaculate 20/20 hindsight, but, I’m happy. I’m celebrating this new moment.

Besides, who am I to tell you what should make your list of misses and not to be missed?

Enjoy your moments, whatever they be, break a champagne bottle against the stern of the rest as they make their voyage out to sea and, join me as I take a deep breath and embrace the words of poet Robert Browning, “The best is yet to be.”





Unidentified Flying Childhood

On the way home, I caught sight of a falling item through the bare branches lining the highway. It appeared to be hurtling through the sky. Ready to crash land at any moment. I continued to drive.  The item continued to fall with the same speed and ferocity while never reaching a target. I was mesmerized. I drove. It fell. I watched. It fell. The smoke trailing behind the object serving as the only indication of motion. A picture of perpetual movement with no visible progress. I know that feeling.

I am not the kind of mother who spends all day quietly crafting in the evergreen scented warmth of my kitchen, oven slightly ajar to release heat and the smells of baking. I do not cry when my children leave to begin a new school year or lose a tooth. I am a believer in progress. I am thankful for each new phase. Stepping stones signaling passage from dependence to independence. I celebrate forward motion as I watch them create a life, separate from me and my expectations of who they are. I watch their light bulb moments with curiosity and eagerness. Some days, it seems as if it is moving so quickly. Some days, perpetual movement with no visible progress. We become stuck in the day to day minutia.

I have been in varying stages of parenting young children since I first stepped into the role in 2006. Every two years, another infant. Every two years, a rearranging of the family structure. A re-learning of infancy. A re-tooling of our resources, abilities and boundaries with ourselves and each other. Every two years, my well defined parenting taste buds mature and I must further develop my palate.

When pregnant with our last, I knew we were pushing the reaches of our abilities and resources. I knew we were done.  Thus began a new vision of parenting. A model where another baby would not come home in a striped hat of pink and blue. Things are changing. The baby on my chest is the last. The chalk throwing 2 year old looks older. The 4 year old seems tall, lanky with no sign of his baby cheeks. The 6 year old, a shorter and wittier version of young adult me. Time has finally started moving. Swiftly.

I used to feel unable to say that the fully dependent times are trying. It is difficult to admit that, on some days, you feel like you are hurtling through space, in a dark void filled with only screams, dirty diapers and the incessant need of you.

We are a society that is so focused on the past and future that we neglect our present. In either judgmental hindsight or thoughtful foreshadowing, we ignore the now in its hideous imperfection. The hindsighters who watch you navigate moments of DEFCON 1 parenting and, with lustful implication, say, “Oh enjoy it, it goes by so fast.” In hindsight, do we all view childhood as a shooting star? Beautiful, rare and blindingly brief.

Perhaps, in some ways, this is true. We pine for what is gone. We long for what is just outside our future reach. In the present though, we are frozen in lack of noticeable progress. We look forward to the abilities, competencies and skills they have yet to grow into. We pine for full cheeks, soft bellies and toothless grins.

I don’t like to drink from the, “This is as good as it gets.” fountain. I cherish the soft days of baby. I laugh through the wild rumpus of toddlerhood, I marvel at the knowledge of my newly school aged children’s vivid understanding of the complicated world around them. I watch as they embrace every moment as it is happening; maybe children are the only ones who are truly able to.

Peter Pan never wanted to grow up. Wendy, Michael and John, even after the adventure of Neverland, wanted to go home to their mother. I think we all carry a bit of this as we fly through life. Half child/Half grown-up emotion hoping our children slow down, believe in fairies and, no matter where they are in the adventure, always fly home.

Life is happening while we court the great reckoning of longing versus progress. And, while we’re here in this daily fall of non-visible momentum, the smoke is signaling that we’re traveling. Swiftly.