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)

IMG_2136 IMG_2141 IMG_2143 IMG_2144-2 IMG_2146 IMG_2149 IMG_2151 IMG_2153 IMG_2154 IMG_2155 IMG_2159 IMG_2162 IMG_2169 IMG_2171 IMG_2172 IMG_2162 IMG_2176 IMG_2178 IMG_2180 IMG_2191 IMG_2197 IMG_2201 IMG_2203 IMG_2213 IMG_2214 IMG_2217 IMG_2225 IMG_2238 IMG_2241 IMG_2245 IMG_2246 IMG_2247 IMG_2248 IMG_2250 IMG_2251 IMG_2253 IMG_2254

IMG_2255 IMG_2256 IMG_2260 IMG_2262 IMG_2268 IMG_2270 IMG_2273 IMG_2275 IMG_2277 IMG_2287 IMG_2291 IMG_2292 IMG_2301 IMG_2309

 

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





That mom.

These last three weeks have been a test of something. I’m still trying to figure out what the universe is saying. I really am intently listening, but, her message is being drowned out by my perpetual yelling at my children.

We are at the tail end of the school year. We’re all proceeding as if we are in our last week of work after 50 years with the company. We’re physically present and emotionally in Aruba.

Every school morning has become a pained documentary about the world’s slowest and most mismanaged mile. School lunches have basically been reduced to a box of band-aids.

Like marathon runners in the home stretch, we are limping in and drenched in our own urine. We’re shutting the fuck down.

And, because of this, I have been “that mom” more often than usual. Which for me means, I’ve been “that mom” almost constantly.

I hate being “that mom”. But, they are being “those kids”. And this mom turns to THAT mom like a wildfire starts in the dry and brittle California hills.

We’re on the world’s most annoying roller coaster of all uphill and no sweet release of the easy and exhilarating down. Nothing has been easy.

I have fully given up my societal facade of decorum. “That mom” with the screaming two year old with only one shoe hanging sideways under her arm? Yep. Totally me. And, “that mom” carrying 3 backpacks and stomp-fuming toward the playground her children ran off to without telling her first? Nice to meet you!

And “that mom” running after her toddler who has developed a new obsession with parking lots…her thighs causing enough friction to create an electrical storm? Me again.

And, “that mom” trying to avoid after school play dates like the a middle school band concert? Also me.

And, “that mom” grounding everyone and then happily letting them go to parties and slumber parties because GET OUT OF HERE! Howdy.

And they are “those kids” with the constant whining and fighting and running off and the terrible case of doing whatever the hell we want-itis.

And I’m the one trying not to eat her young.

I know it’s the season of discontentment. They can taste summer. They are railing against structure and time constraints. They are done with school and not moving their bodies while the sun is shining through unopened school windows.

I can taste summer. I am railing against muffin baking and school fundraisers and kill-me-now packing lunches and not moving my body after a winter in which I ate my weight in bread and cheese and all of the buttered things.

I have to remind myself that the great thing about this time of perpetual deconstruction is that eventually we will hit rock bottom.

I love rock bottom.

That point at which the sand castle you built all year crumbles. The foundation is flat and you have no choice but to all look at each other and say, “Our home is gone. I love you. Let’s start again.”

We always rebuild.

I don’t know what our rock bottom this year will be. Will it be me completely flipping out at a Farmer’s Market when my 2 year old tries to steal someone’s goat? Will it be when I undoubtedly forget someone’s end of year school field trip and they vow to hate me forever?

I don’t know, but, I do know that when we sit surrounded by the ashes of this school year, we’ll come together like everyone does after defeat and complete devastation and the trauma of life and all of the hard things we share.

Like family. We may be “that mom” and “those kids”, but, we’re in this together.

I can’t wait to see next year’s castle. I hope it has an in-ground pool.





“You’re fine.”

After four children and several years of parenting, you could say my emotional responses to certain things have changed over time.

I know the particular sound a child makes when its foot is caught between two crib rails. I know the difference between hunger and boredom and I know, I know, I know when you are fake upset or fake crying.

I’m like a crying Yoda. The Navy Seal of crying. *Field of Dreams whisper* If you fake cry, I will not come.

Today my four year old was pretending to be very upset about something really, really, devastatingly unimportant. It was the usual wailing and coyote howls straight from the Tom Cruise school of over-acting.

I ignored her. That’s how I roll. I stirred my coffee very slowly and made no movement to rectify the obviously concocted plight.

She finally came downstairs and said, “MY STRIPED SHIRT IS DIRTY! IT IS MY FAVORITE! I CAN’T WEAR IT TODAY!” and then she melted into a puddle of tears and barely passible grief and I said, “You’re fine.”

Later today, a mock shriek of epic proportions came from the swing set. “MOMMY! MOMMMMMYYYYYYY!”

I continued to wash dishes.

She finally stomped in and said, “There is dirt on my feet!” and I said, “You’re fine.”

Four is a lot like really bad dinner theatre. The actors are really into it. This is their moment and they think that everyone filling the room is just as into it as they are. They often fail to notice that the filet looks like dog shit and that the attendees are hoping for a massive coronary, praying for a swift death. “Dear Lawd, please take me away from all this tragedy and terrible acting.”

Since she is my third 4 year old, I’m kind of like that friend you have who continues to lose really stupid bets. I’ve been here before and I’m not impressed by the terrible theatrics and yes, my filet will always look like dog shit.

A friend recently pointed me toward a magazine article that severely detailed the “10 things you should NEVER EVER say to your child!”. I found one of my stock answers, “You’re fine/ok” was among them.

And I had to excuse myself from the internet while I kicked a whole boat load of rocks.

Because,

1) Calm down, parenting magazines

but guess what, no biggie…

2) I’m fine.

and

3) She’s ok.

I tell my 4 year old that she is fine because she is and if that’s the kind of brash, harsh reality that I shouldn’t be exposing my children to then…oh well. I’m sure we’ll be fine.

It’s the same way I feel about lots of things people “should” you about. You should do this and you should do that and you should consider…” but, no thank you, I believe I will not.

I tell her that she is fine because she is and more than that, no matter what any magazine tells me my job is, I truly don’t believe my job is to make every tiny cardboard lizard into a terrible, ferocious fire breathing dragon. Sometimes, we do need to acknowledge that a dirty shirt isn’t the end of the world.

She fell off of the swing a few days ago. She was hurt and scared and a bit confused. The wind was knocked out of her. I ran over and scooped her up. She cried and buried her face in my hair. I said, “I’m here! I’m right here. I’m sorry you’re hurt. I love you.”

The world is like that. Humanity is like that. We don’t need our community to run to our aid over every teeny-tiny perceived threat to our psyche, but, when we’re really hurt, we really show up for each other. I like this model; recognizing the times that call for a soft shoulder while acknowledging that sometimes, that gnawing inconvenience is not the end of our world even if it may feel like it for a few minutes.

Someone is going to continue to stir their coffee when you complain about your shirt, but, they’re also going to scoop you up and love you when you fall.

And I’m going to continue to say that she’s fine when she is and I’m going to continue to love her through the hard stuff when she’s not.

I can live with that even if I’m doing it wrong.





The minutes and measure of a man.

On Saturday night, at a small restaurant at an even smaller table, four parents discussed parenting. That’s a big topic. Broad and cavernous – so full of the space between all our ideologies and thoughts. 4 parents. 4 philosophies. No matter how intertwined, when it comes right down to it, we are always and utterly in left field. There is no amount of sameness that makes parenting truly feel simpatico.

We were talking about the rapture of current parenting. This new-age “all in” prom. Everyday, all of the children are kings and queens and we’re there to make sure no one spikes the punch. It’s lovely and exhausting; our wanting to be fully involved while functioning on the same lack of sleep as our forefathers. Four score and seven cups of coffee ago.

With all of the supposed progress, it’s much the same except the stakes are so much higher. We MUST be present or, to our children’s chagrin, we are absentee. And, we worry so much more about being absentee even though we are perpetually and stunningly there. SO there. It’s nonsense this “not enough”. It’s nonsense.

Because…

Whenever I’m in the depths of the, “I don’t show up enough.”, I always think of my father.

My parents divorced when I was very young. I saw my father only during the summer. Still, he is my soft place to land. He is my humanity ground zero. When all is broken, he is the fullness of possibility and the truthful teller of the consequences of bad decisions. He is the parent I run to and he was rarely “there”.

There is subjective. There bends.

He was always and boldly working toward fulfilling his dream of being a musician. Our fleeting times with him were mostly spent with grandparents I’ve grown to idolize and homes I’ve grown to daily daydream of. His presence in his own life, never giving up on his life’s calling, led to a very rich carousel of love and presence in the family around us; yet, I can imagine that he felt the ugly tug of parenting guilt. He worked constantly and we did what latchkey kids do – we used our goddamn imagination.

Guess what? We’re ok.

My father taught me about the value of kindness, the bravery of a great adventure, the American songbook and the weight of your own decisions.

We probably spent, on average, roughly 90 quality minutes with him every day for two months once a year.

Yet, those 90 minutes are the cornerstone of who I am.

I think of the time I spend with my children…the kitchen that I seem to occupy with every spare breath I breathe. The meals that take on a life of their own and the pure function that overrides the fun. You can’t spell function without f-u-n. But, watch us try…

As I readied myself for this Saturday night dinner, my eldest daughter was showering while I put on make-up and we spoke for about 15 minutes about friendship and secrets. Those you should keep and those you should never keep. We talked about her growing up. We talked a little about me growing up. I’d been with her all day and yet, these 15 minutes, we were both THERE. We were both all in and I think, if I can just carve 15 minutes a day just like that into their lives, that will equal success.

It’s ok that I can’t be totally and 100% present every moment. It really is. Being there is about providing the cornerstone and there’s no manual on how much time builds the foundation.

It could be 15 minutes a day. There is something stunning about that. There is something beautiful. I’m giving myself permission to truly be there for 15 minutes a day – because right now, that’s the best I can do. That means that I also have to give myself permission to not worry about how much I’m messing it up the other hours of the day while writing, cooking, laundering or just, sometimes blindly, showing up.

90 minutes for 2 months a year taught me all of the good things I know about truth, love, life and the human experience. Maybe we should all relax a little.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.





Grace is the new black.

I’ve never aligned myself with any school of parenting. It’s just too tedious – to try and cram yourself into every tiny, open orifice, like that guy on Spring Break.

I’m not organic enough to qualify for much more than the frequent flyer club at Burger King. I turn the crowns into crafty shit though…so, I’ll pass on your sincere yet ill-timed childhood diabetes lecture to the next patron in line.

I admit, I’ve placed my child in car seats with the puffy coat on, but, I’ve also taken it off before rolling toward our next late appointment. All of us miserable either way – throwing granola and tantrums as we pull into the parking lot 20 minutes late to a local class we’ve undoubtedly overpaid for. But, don’t worry about my dedication to timeliness. Next week, I’ll roll to a near stop by the door 15 minutes early. It all works out in the end.

And, I promise, I’m not angry because you have something important to say or because you know something that could be of sincere use to me or because you’re a safety girl for car seats instead of condoms.

It’s not what you say, but, how you say it. And just like content of the soul equals the content of your character, the content of your assumptions equal the rate at which my eyes move into the slanted, death stare of my people – gently willing you to please, please stop. Please stop.

There is no one who loves my children more than I do. Not you. Not you. No, not you either. I will kill and steal and knock over your Lego tower. And, I’d be happy to hear your opinion on the subject, but, no one asked you. These are not your children. Lady Justice is kind and knowing because she makes sure I know nothing about your children either. It’s best this way – the general observance of humility. How we choose to turn our focus in instead of pushing out knowledge in the name of love dressed as sanctimony.

I know that hurts to hear because best intentions are the bridges we burn ourselves on.

And it’s not so much that I have a cross to bear, but, that you want to bear one for me; picking up my slack, while you instruct me and while your children watch television…hey, what do you know, just like mine.

We’re really not that different and, it’s not that we can’t learn from each other because we can and we do when it’s said with love and prefaced with a soft shoulder – if someone lost comes crying. But, remember, not all those who wander are lost – J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that. He was the shit. I think that’s something we can all agree on.

It wouldn’t hurt to extend some grace. Because brother; because sister…trust me, it all works out in the end.





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.





Imagine the world’s largest litter box.

Imagine that your children are home from school. Everyone you know is making plans to go pet wool covered animals that they will later shear and use that same organic wool to make hats and scarves, or they’re headed out to pick fruit directly from trees or, they’ve carved their family portrait into the face of the prize winning pumpkin from the Harvest festival and then made pies to deliver to orphans.

Now imagine that you are in pajamas. So are the children. The sun is shining, but, you’re barely interested. Then, a knock at the door. You’ve made plans to have friends over. And, you’ve completely forgotten. Nothing says, I’m so happy you’re here like actually saying, “Wait…were we supposed to get together? Come on in, I’ll be right back. I have to put a bra on. And some pants.”

Imagine this happened this morning. Because, it did.

Also imagine if you will the rest of these events. Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try…

After reading this, it will be even easier.

This weekend, my husband walked outside to discover one of our cats taking their daily constitutional in the sand box. As he slow-motion ran to the aid of the sandbox, he was hit with a wall of urine stench so powerful that he was blown backwards in time to the day several weeks ago when I forgot to cover the sandbox.

He spent the afternoon emptying the contents of the box and cursing my name under his breath. I spent the day saying helpful things like, “I wonder how long the kids were playing inside a giant litter box?”

Also making the list this week, my daughter brought home a piece of paper from her 2nd grade classroom asking us to draw the entire floor plan of our home for Fire Safety Awareness Month. We were supposed to illustrate all of the possible emergency exits in our home that could be used during a fire. I suggested she write, “DOORS!” in black sharpie on the center of the paper. When she complained about my under-zealous reaction to a homework assignment as annoying as a last minute frantic call from a school committee for baked goods, she wrote on the paper, “Sorry, too late in the night!” and turned it in to her teacher. I wonder if her teacher thought we meant a) By the time we got around to this assignment, it was too late at night.” or b) “If a fire hits, it will be too late in the night for an escape.”. Either way, it’s fun to keep people guessing.

Also this week, trying to channel the mother I want to be instead of the mother I am, I signed up to read a story to my son’s Kindergarten class. The “Secret Reader” program is a huge success unless you are hopelessly me. Then, the 20 children will clamor away from your general direction as you attempt to read a story everyone hates as much as you hate Fire Safety homework assignments. I talked loudly and then louder and then, ever louder as the children expressed their gratitude by saying, “I CAN’T SEE THE PICTURES!” and then crying for recess.

After the story, I made my way out to the playground with the class and placed my smallest child on a large, playground swing. As I made the very first push, I yelled “Hold on, little one!” in order to impress the teachers monitoring afternoon recess with my loud and compassionate care for my offspring. However, I said it so loudly that I startled the baby, she let go in mid-air and tumbled backwards to the ground. She lay in the swing ditch, crying covered in wood chips.

Then, the piece de resistance. This week’s parenting Sistine Chapel. We had a friend over in the afternoon for a quick play before heading to school to pick up the kids. It was idyllic, really. Until I saw the baby cradling something in her arms. She was holding it so tenderly saying, “It soft. I hold it. Pet, pet, pet.” I walked closer, each step bringing more and more dread. It was fluffy. It was an animal. Oh God, what is that? There she was, holding the tail of a squirrel. Just its tail. As I said, “Nooooooooooooooooo! NO! NO! NO!” she ran off knowing I was clearly after her prize. “NO, it mine! MINE! It soft! I HOLD IT!” I then had to have a tug of war with a squirrel tail…in my neighbor’s front lawn. While a friend watched in horror. When I finally wrestled the tail out of her aggrieved hands, I threw the tail as far as I could. Because, what else do you do with a severed squirrel tail? If you point me to some severed squirrel tail Pinterest board, I will burn down the internet.

This is just a snapshot of last week. Out of the minutes that turned into hours and then days, these were moments in time that started as calamity, but, later melted into comedy. I’m welcoming you to these moments so you can say either, a) Oh thank GOD, me too. or b) Holy shit, it could be worse. I could be this lady. or c) What does this woman have against Fire Safety Month? or d) Can one catch full blown rabies from a squirrel’s tail?

Whatever adventures you chose to celebrate this week, rest well knowing you did not have to wrestle a squirrel tail out of your baby’s hands. And, really, isn’t that enough?

Until next week, this is Bad Parenting Moments and her bleach burned, bleeding hands, over and out.





Everything you need.

I always hoped I would die young and beautiful. Thankfully, those days have already passed. I now wish to die incredibly old, having just said, “I love you.” to everyone who matters, and while in a deep sleep. Just as time changes the shape of my body and elasticity of my skin, it changes my perspective. I really listened to what time was whispering and it said, “Beauty is what remains after all of your external loveliness has faded.”

I always wanted to have five children. Then, I had four. When she was born, the hidden plastic thermometer that hides in your uterus and tells you when you are done having babies, suddenly popped in me. I didn’t even know it was there, but, I was thankful that I didn’t just hear it, but, that I really listened. It said, “Four. Four is what you can handle.”

I always felt like I had a huge capacity for forgiveness. Then, I realized the lack of stretch in the fibers of my heart. I could give and give and give, but, only up to a certain unknown point of no return. Then, the muscle would snap back in place as if you were never there. It could not be repaired by open heart surgery or even a complete transplant because the fiber of who I am is an elephant. I never forget. Like an elephant, I will grieve the loss of you, but, I will not forgive you. I want to, but, I really listened to my heart and it said, “It’s ok to not be ready. Let go and move on.”

I always wanted to be a lawyer. When I was eight, I read a book about Clarence Darrow. I would daydream of my words filling a quiet, serious room. The very thought of a pure and true fight finding a public stage felt like the most powerful and wonderful thing in the world. The closest I ever came to this imagined destiny was sitting in a quiet, serious room with a man I thought I would marry – watching him put together the closing argument for a case. My heart was beating out of my chest. I listened and I thought I heard it tell me that I could love the idea of us enough for the both of us. I was so young. Later, when I met my husband, the beating said, “THIS. IS. IT.”

I always wanted a brother. Instead, I had three sisters. When I found out that my second child was to be a son, I said, “What am I going to do with a boy?”. I was so terrified that I would fail him with my lack of male knowledge. Then he was born. I really listened to my fear and it said, “There is nothing to be afraid of. Love is love.”

And all of these pieces of me, they look and feel and taste different than I imagined. They sound different as well. That loud, jumble of life that pulses in and around me. Spinning and spinning until we all drop. If I really listen, it’s saying, “You don’t have everything you always wanted. Even better, you have everything you need.”





Let’s play pretend.

Everyone has, at some point or another, played “Pretend”. Either in a tree, a parking lot, the schoolyard, or, in bed with a person after concluding it was far too late to roll out, grab your blouse, shimmy across the floor like a wounded caribou and go home to make love to your DVR instead. It happens. Let’s not dwell on my, I mean THE past.

There’s something so genuinely innocent about watching children let their imaginations run wild. It reminds us to dream outside of our circular responsibility pattern. That loop that varies but, mostly remains consistent. It’s a wake-up call to think big, live big and yes, to buy the damn Powerball ticket because 50 million is a lot of money to not win simply because you didn’t try. And, sometimes lightning does strike and when it does and it hits your tree and that tree falls into your neighbor’s car and home, you’ll be happy you have your Powerball earnings to snuggle with at night.

I watch my children create fantasy worlds that vary completely even when given the same tools. A whisk has been a wand, a telescope, the key that opened a treasure chest and the last piece of bread that my boxcar children shared in their treehouse. Sometimes, kids who aren’t hungry pretend that they are. There is something about this particular play that strikes me as so human. Hunger means we share what we have. Kids innately know this without being told.

Pretend does not always take on the face of kindness. There is angry pretend. There is fearful pretend. I hear them work out their phobias in pretend play that shapes itself as drowning, falling, being left alone, being lost, being eaten by animals and a myriad of other highly-uncomfortable-to-watch scenarios. At the end of the game, all who are dead come back to life. Death is profound and forever. They are not ready to truly pretend that.

I play pretend as well. Grown-up pretend is never as much fun. Sometimes, my husband and I pretend that we aren’t upset that someone fell asleep before the other could make it upstairs and the other pretends they aren’t upset because they can’t help falling asleep. BORING. So, we pretend that everything is OK because it mostly is. For this kind of pretend, the answers can’t be found in a whisk.

I think about how pretend can either nourish or starve authenticity. How sometimes we really are the fire breathing dragon. Sometimes, we’re the benevolent queen. Sometimes, we’re the pirate raiding the treasure chest. Sometimes, we’re the evil dictator. These pieces can all live inside of us honestly if we embrace them, and still not be the whole of who we are. Denying the existence of my dragon would only decrease my % of benevolent queen. Science.

I watch my children embrace their subconscious fears. In play, I watch them go to the places that terrify them most. I watch them return from the dark with even more light. I am reminded to try to process my fears in this same way. Say it out loud, live there for a moment and then, let it go. Return to gratitude and happiness. Live authentically.

The masks we put on must find their way back to the play room shelf.

Now, has anyone seen my wand? I need to scramble some eggs.





Sibling Killvalry

Children number 2 and 3 are trying to kill each other. If I look back, oh lo those 3 years earlier, the signs of future discontentment were there. As I sat nursing my 2 week old, my son walked up, stared down at her tiny body, put his head on her shoulder ever so gingerly and said, “Go away.”

Love.

Since then, they have cultivated a moderate to surly disdain for each other in words and action. Every morning it’s the same:

Son: “She’s STARING AT ME!”

Me: “She’s sitting directly across from you at the table. People really have no choice but to look at you when they are directly across from you.”

I would then look in her direction to confirm the complete normalcy of the stare to find her in a Damien Omen gaze. Head down, wide, evil eyes fixed on him in a blinkless stare with the grin of Lucifer painted on her face.

The power of peas compels you!

The power of peas compels you!

I have found them running toward each other with safety scissors. I have found them in a mutual head lock so intense that I’ve changed the fabric of my cells from solid to semi-gas to pry myself into the spaces between their hatred of each other.

If they are awake, they are at each other’s throats as in, they are literally strangling each other.

Oh look, a sweet embrace.

Oh look, a sweet embrace.

Oh nevermind, it was just a vicious headlock. Proceed, young offspring.

Oh nevermind, it was just a vicious headlock. Proceed, young offspring.

On the brutal days, by the cocktail hour, I can be heard on our street, and possibly two counties over, screaming, “I give up! You can just figure it out. May the odds be ever in your favor!” and then, after the world’s longest drag on a spritzer, I’ll realize the error of my ways only to find them engaged in tactical war games; one having commandeered the tent, mapping strategy while the other sets the rope swing as a trip wire just outside the tent entrance.

Everyone always says, “Oh, it’s just a little sibling rivalry! They love each other! That’s what kids do!” and I say, “Help me. Please. I beg of you. Also, do you know how to undo a sheet-bend knot? I found the 3-year-old tied to the recycling bucket with a note saying, Free Sister. Warning: She bites.”

Until murderous rage turns into mild like and then something hopefully resembling love, I guess they’ll just have to ride this out in specially constructed fire-retardant suits – think Iron Man with access to where the heart should go so my good intentions can sprinkle, “LOVE EACH OTHER!” fairy dust on their current tiny, grinch-like sibling admiration.

Until that magical day, I will hold out hope that a random, dual run-in with a bear won’t play out like this: