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.

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.”

Who’s bad?


When I first started writing this blog, I struggled with the name Bad Parenting Moments. Not because I don’t believe that every parent who has ever felt the overwhelming and beautiful responsibility when first holding their child has never made a bad parenting decision or had a bad parenting moment, but, because I struggled with embracing the honesty of my own bad parenting moments. The fear I felt was palpable. I was branding myself a maker of mistakes, a loser of patience, a frequent wisher for early bedtimes and an imperfect parent struggling for balance and joy inside of my often difficult role as a mother. Would I be able to walk the walk of unflattering honesty? Would I be able to talk candidly about my failures, knowing the backlash would be swift and often? Would I be able to embrace my flaws? Would you? I was terrified.

Would honesty be freeing or would it become its own trap? Would speaking my truth become as heavy as the weight already shackled to my body, as big and as dark as the never discussed feeling in my soul and in the souls of all mothers; that there is something wrong with me if I am not in love with parenting every day and in every moment. That I am a failure if I am unhappy or sad or lose myself fully. If, at times, I have packed a bag in my mind while cutting crusts off of sandwiches or wiping away tears. That I don’t deserve my children if I say I need time and space and movement to replenish my core. That I don’t know what having it all means. That I am confused and often lonely. That I love my children so deeply that the mistakes I make, even the small, insignificant ones they do not notice, are worn like scarlett letters across my chest.

I decided I needed to live in my own truth. Pretending the picturesque shots in my sunny backyard were the entire picture weren’t doing me or my loved ones any favors. Perpetuating the myth that we were always smiling only made my failures more pronounced in my own mind. I finally admitted that even when I believed in pretending, it had never convinced me that everything was perfect. Because nothing is ever perfect.

I took a deep breath and jumped. Inside my truth, the strangest thing happened. That terrifying honesty became so freeing as mothers, young and old, in all stages of parenthood, were already waiting there to embrace and commiserate and laugh. We were the deep well of community that replenished each other. And then, I became a better mother.

I allowed myself to fail. Embracing my mistakes has made me a less fearful parent. A more patient parent. A more loving parent. A more present parent. Acknowledging that my best did not have to be match another mother’s standard of excellence, that we all functioned and succeeded and failed uniquely, as uniquely as every child we love and care for, is a beautiful thing.

I allowed myself to cut me some slack and more importanly, to respect the journey of other mothers. To laugh when I fell short instead of retreating into shame. To try and then try and then try again without the fear of failure, but, with a healthy respect for what it teaches. To look at Motherhood as a community of women sharing an experience but, never a path.

On my path, I am some days clearing the debris of personal storms out of my way. I can be found walking slowly and inhaling deeply. I can be found carrying children over uneven terrain or sideways under my arm. I can usually be found laughing.

I imagine the paths of other mothers and sometimes, I make the mistake of comparing the landscape. I wonder why nothing but dandelions grow on mine when I run across her tulips. I look at the curves wondering if her path is easier to walk.

I must always remind myself that the individual path of Motherhood is never easy to walk. The journey is long. The path is often rocky. The love is so deep that we continue to walk it with no end in sight and with no knowledge of what lay just around the next bend.

I can not begin to know the path of another mother just as I fully do not know my own. But, I do know that each path leads to a home where refrigerator art once hung sideways and fingerprints still decorate doorways and where love is given so freely that the mistakes made are as useless fretting over as is the guilt that you are failing them. You are not.

So, whatever your honesty, be it “bad” or “good”, when your path leads you up the walk, to your doorstep and into the rooms of your children at night, their voices, the only voices that really matter, tell you they love you.