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’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.





I dreamed a dream.

Every time I meet a woman, we go over the basic 4:

What is your name?
What do you do?
Are you in a relationship?
Do you have children?

Inevitably, if they have children, we sink into a warm bath of camaraderie. Thank God, we speak the same language.

It’s the silk blouse of a woman’s pant suit and it’s also Eve’s apple – the full implication of guilt, knowing we connect ourselves to others by only the idea of who we are.

We are mothers.

And that means we do things like pretend that is all we are.

It’s easier for conversation.

I met this incredibly intense and interesting woman and I was drawn to her. And, when gifted with a lobster BLT and all of the time in the world, I still drew back to something in common. I started talking about my son’s inability to wipe himself and my feigned disgust – because, as a mother, there is nothing truly disgusting about “the cling”. We loathe it and embrace it so fully that we are nothing short of comical. GROW, but also, never leave. We are insane.

So, we are talking about ass wiping and I realize…my God, I am “that woman”.

I actually have thoughts outside of my maternal realm. But, it’s hard to step outside of that box. We paint our Motherhood on our bodies so completely that, by the end of every day, as much as we rail against the idea of, “I am not ONLY a mother.” (And, by the way, how fucking dare you for even implying it!), we are just that – in thought, word and deed.

And, it must be true because when a beautiful, intelligent woman corners me into conversation, I… talk about wiping asses.

So, I invited her over for processed cheese because that is what one does when forced with being authentic. You can only offer up the least real part of yourself as tribute. “I eat processed cheese. It’s not even food. Hence, I have shown you my weakness.” and then you hopefully talk about shit other than wiping your 6 year old’s ass.

I dreamed the dream. *cue starving (yet very humble) Les Mis understudies*

I made a pact with myself for Tuesday. We will not once talk about our children. We will talk about failed romance and drinking too much and the sight of our thighs in those fucking, god awful Target mirrors or a million other things. But, I have sworn to not talk about my kids. We have more to say to each other.

SHIT.

We must have so much more to say to each other.

Here’s to mold breaking and “processed cheese product”.





Desperately Seeking Ingalls

Often, as I’m sitting with the children, I’ll start thinking about parenting in general. When this happens, I usually find myself pouring over the stories of the idolized families of my youth. The Ingalls, in particular.

No one ever yelled when things went wrong, there were plenty of bedside or kitchen table chats and we all learned something.

It was a beautiful life, but, not without heartache. It was as real as I wanted real life to be. It was flawed and difficult, but, love conquered all. Everyone wore their insides as clearly as the bonnets or coats dressing their bodies. The love for each other so obvious it was their most beautiful accessory.

This world of parenting is so starkly different in comparison. The access to absolutely everything we need and most of what we want. With so much to be thankful for, I find myself lusting after those days of less.

Carrie running down the hill and quiet evenings in dark rooms with the squeaking of the bunk bed stairs signaling some naughty adventure. I would not sew, but, my husband and I would bond over a table he made. Possible, but, not realistic. The world has changed. We have adapted.

I know, intellectually, it is not living like the Ingalls that makes one an Ingalls. It is living a genuinely giving and loving life. Family first. Family forever.

I love my children. There is no doubt. Like an internal bleed; you can not find the source, this love is everywhere. But, I am constantly comparing my reality to the pie baking, cart and horse mother lodged in my subconscious. Parenting does not look the way I imagined. It sometimes feels more routine than full of grace and spectacular teaching moments. There are hazy days and days when I wonder if I’ve been connecting at all as we wander through moments that feels like yesterday and every day.

How can something that looks so different still be authentic? Still be good enough? Can I be a both a great writer and a great mother? When they say, “Mommy, you’re the best mommy ever?”, will I ever believe them?

I have to remind myself that I am their Ma Ingalls even with my typing fingers and my flaws and I may not make them clothes, but, I write their stories. We are all part of each other and we need each other desperately even though I can not always mend hemlines and hearts over only the light of the hearth.

And, it is indeed a beautiful life, but, not without heartache. It is flawed and difficult, but, I still think love conquers all.

This reality is just as real as my beloved Little House on the Prairie, though it looks and feels different to the touch; this family is perfect in its own way in this home where family is forever and kitchen table chats bring laughter, spilled milk and so-and-so dipped in my ketchup and yes, even sometimes, those big moments when we all learn something.





Haiku for Future Parents

When my husband and I first started dating, we had everything in common. He was hilarious. I was adorable. We had the same philosophies on children and child-rearing which was really astounding considering we had no children of our own.

Aside from all our good intentions and well formed ideas about topics we knew nothing about, we were positive we were still right. We were wrong. Let me be clear, we were dunces. Granted, we were fancy dunces with designer jeans and lofty ideas and diamond encrusted dunce caps. And, when I adjusted my scholarly know-nothing glasses, I looked really smart. We were idiots.

Back then, we had youth, time and arms unencumbered by screaming children or diaper bags on and by our side. We had plenty of time to recline knowingly in chairs and judge the parenting of others. What we didn’t have was children. Or experience. Or, a fucking clue.

We had a horrible case of Parenting Dysmorphia. It’s a condition that affects the brain and often the mouth. It occurs when you speak with conviction about a topic you know nothing about. The only known cure is experience and enough sleep deprivation to awake-dream about going back in time to punch your former self in the face.

Sure, we didn’t have children, but, we were planning on it. Wasn’t that close enough? No. How different could it be from watching parents while you sipped a hot latte? Shockingly so.

I’m of the opinion that the best health and welfare measures are always preventative. So, without further ado, I give you, Haiku for Future Parents:

Child screams on a bus
Do not stare and be a dick
Smile, wave or say Hi

You see the stroller
Hold the fucking door open
Karma is a bitch

Your kid will scream too
I would lower your eyebrow
My kid might grab it

Watching is easy
That hot latte in your hand
It may be your last

Be kind to Mothers
When you need a nursing pad
It’s good to have friends

Practice makes perfect
Volunteer to babysit
Parents need sex too

“She let herself go”
Is a phrase you will regret
While you fight with Spanx

Namaste, mother fuckers.

Namaste, mother fuckers.





My Mother’s Helper – A story of maternal redemption.

I have been seriously considering bringing a third party into my home for months. Someone young, with no sense of their real, monetary value who would be 70% Maria Von Trapp, 25% Soleil Moon Frye and 5% Roseanne. Someone who would be all the things I desperately want to be to my children; a playmate, a puppet maker, an executor of Playmobil pirates and an outside of the lines colorer of papers and ideas. I dream of this as I lay trapped underneath 27 pounds of unfolded laundry and the 99 cent sausage that must be cooked tonight or, we will all die of food poisoning.

Recently, I had an epiphany. My husband may call it a psychotic break, but, why argue semantics.

On a loop of kitchen to laundry room to grocery store to kitchen more endless than the spinning ballerina atop a jewelry box, I was losing steam and my mind.

What I needed was respite. A few hours a week to knock out some of the more mundane and more pressing creative tasks in order to be a mother I could be proud of or, more realistically, tolerate. A few hours a week. It seems so simple. It seems so logical. It seems like an idea planted in so much common sense. It was also rife with guilt. If I admit I need help, I have failed. Being at one with my daily failures, I decided I could live with this.

So began the search. Finding a young person that embodies the qualities you are looking for is akin to a search for the Holy Grail. They must be fun, but, not so fun that you are rendered functionally useless. They must be kind and generous, but, not so kind and generous that your children walk all over them. They must be funny, but, not so funny that your children don’t roll their eyes at their jokes. They must be patient, but, not so patient that you appear more and more like a prison warden by comparison. They must be able to craft and sing songs, but, not teach 3-part-harmony because, seriously, give me a fucking break. Lastly, they must be inexpensive. This is key.

I’m happy to say I have found her. She is, dare I say, perfect. To illustrate:

Text received from her mother today: Grace wanted to check and see if she made up some bunny ears/coloring crafts if she could do that with the kids. She knows not everyone does the whole Easter Bunny gig and she didn’t want to offend.

RIGHT? Right. Perfect.

And then, there was her resume. She sent me a full resume with wit and experience bounding off the screen. Like that love song on a radio that just happens to play during your first real make-out session. This was fate.

Grace, mistakenly under the impression that anyone reads my blog, has given me permission to post her resume in the hopes that she secures more work. May I just say, BACK OFF. I FOUND HER FIRST.

Enjoy the resume of my unicorn. My four-leaf clover. My shooting star. My Mother’s Helper. I did NOT embellish or add. This is her resume. Yes, she has a merit badge in ironing. Who doesn’t? *Raises hand* Me. I don’t.

Grace (Like Cher or Madonna, she is now a one-name celebrity.)

Education

Kindergarten at Christian heritage school
First grade to Present 8th grade Home-school

Relevant experience
2004 to Present

Grace is been an active member in the girls group called “Keepers of the Faith”. It includes extensive skills for practical living, and creative handiwork. Grace holds the honor of being awarded the most merit badges as well as perfect attendance several years. She also worked as an assistant with the younger groups last year. Listed below are just some of the merit badges that Grace has been awarded.

Baking, etiquette, storytelling, hospitality, ironing, photography, scrap booking, grandparents (dying to know how one merit badges in Grandparents), art, sewing, child care, hygiene, first aid, cleaning, knitting, cake decorating, sign language.

2011 to Present

Grace is actively working at her church as a teacher’s assistant in the 2 to 5 -year-old classroom.
She also has great computer skills as she runs the projection system for the church worship weekly.

March 16 – 2011

Grace completed the requirements for the American Red Cross Babysitting training And First aid.

June through August of 2012

Childcare Assistant five days a week from 11 AM to 4 PM.
Grace worked as an assistant in her grandmother’s registered state childcare for their summer camps program. She assisted mostly with the preschoolers and infants. Her responsibilities included supervising toddlers on the playground and kiddie pool. She also helped serve lunch to a group of 10 – 14 children of various ages from infant to age 11.

Personal interests and information

Music particularly One Direction and Taylor Swift
Fashion design she hopes to become a personal stylist one day Like Rachael Zoe
Rabbits. She owns a two-year-old Holland lop named Annabelle. She has proven herself responsible with caring for Annabelle’s everyday needs.
Writing and acting out stories.
Reading
Grace’s personality is shy at first but opens up when she warms up and feels comfortable. Works best when she’s told directly what to do and having a detailed list but also can improvise if need be.
Grace enjoys making up new games, acting out stories, dressing up in costumes and dance parties. She has a wonderful imagination – crafts crafts crafts! Give Grace cardboard a roll of duct tape and sharpies. You will be her new best friend.

Grace is left home often to supervise her two younger brothers. She always does a stellar job. By stellar I mean the house is not burned down and no one is dead.

Why I want this job

1. I really need a job

2. I enjoy spending time with children. I find them hilarious.

3. I have nothing to do and no life, I’m hoping this job will give me something to do and little money to buy a life.

Thank you for this opportunity I look forward to speaking with you soon. I hope this will be the start of a beautiful friendship. And by friendship I mean, you being the boss of me.

writer’s post-script: Are you following me on Bloglovin? It’s easy to do. Make me happy. You know you want to. xo, BPM

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