A decade of motherhood

I couldn’t sleep one night a couple of weeks ago because I felt guilty that I hadn’t done enough for Garrett’s tenth birthday.  We had a cake and dinner, but he didn’t want a party – he isn’t a very social kid – and his one gift was expensive and on back order. I even forgot candles.  I let it slide beneath the tide of a million other small day-to-day responsibilities.  I wanted Matt to disagree, I think, to say that birthdays aren’t what matter, but he didn’t.  He said (or I heard) that he thought I was too busy and my priorities swerve off course when I’m overwhelmed.  It cut deep.  True things do.

The very next day, as if a higher power taunted me, saying of course you can do more, a social worker I know fairly well called and asked if we might be willing to take a newborn baby girl.  We had a past relationship with the young momma and had worked well together.  We agonized, both Matt and I care about the momma and wanted to help, but finally said no for a lot of reasons – most importantly we aren’t a permanent option for a baby any more.  No, we can’t.  It’s only a boundary and an honest one, but sometimes that little word feels like disappointing the entire universe.

One half of my brain reminds me that we need less not more of everything.  Less demands on our time.  Less running around.  Less stuff. Less scheduling.  I already lie awake and worry about birthdays and rushed evenings and missed family dinners.  The other half says really?  What’s more important your schedule or a safe home for newborn baby?  Convenience or sharing what we have?  What do you want to teach your children?  Is it too much or do you just like where you are now?  A few days to myself a week, time to write, think, and plan classes.  Time for book club and dinner with friends.

I do like where I am – angst and all.  I also like being involved and busy, so I know cutting the activities I love to sit home with a newborn is not a good idea for me and keeping this pace with a newborn is not going to work.  That’s okay.  I mean that. I’m not looking for permission.  We’ve sat with it and we feel sad to say no, sad to have to turn away from this struggling momma, but it’s okay.  There are other incredible people out there who said yes this time.

A few nights later, a virus in the house kept me up all night bouncing between a puking Nate and a crying Xavier.  In between cursing the evolution of vomiting – there has to be a better way – I had a moment of profound gratefulness NOT to have a newborn baby girl.  It’s funny what you learn about yourself at 3:00 a.m.

It’s important to us to build a longer table and let our family’s plenty and stable routine be a part of these little lives, so it’s hard to teach our kids that there are limits to what we can do, but of course there are.  Of course.  Knowing your limits might, in the end, be the more important side of the lesson.

Nate brought me his “All About Me” sheet for his class the other day.  He answered the whole thing all by himself and he just needed pictures.


Obviously there’s some bias, but I think he’s a special kid for a million reasons.  His reason made me a little teary.  I still suck at birthdays. And cooking dinner.  And any kind of request for baked goods of any kind.  Mopping isn’t a strength either if you want the truth.  In one sentence, though, he reminded me that some things around here are all right.




They are people now.  People who can talk to me with cohesive persuasive arguments and fascinating insights.  People who can make me laugh. Interesting people with thoughts and opinions. Poorly emotionally regulated people, at times, with impulse control problems, who slam doors and hit each other and say hurtful things. I finally get it, why…

Pajama day

The kids had squabbled over the last of the good cereal at the kitchen island.  Milk puddled on the granite and dripped steadily down the side of the counter from an overfilled bowl.  She wiped with a wet paper towel, mid-scold, “not those pajamas, not the ones you slept in.” “But it’s pajama day,” Nate…

Invincibility cloaks

My only writing for months has been for a writing group that formed after last year’s LTYM show.  I adore it.  A lot of my words for that group of ladies don’t feel safe to share here.  I like the intimacy and the trust born in mutual vulnerability, but our recent prompt was “a time…

Shortcuts to intimacy

On days like today when the fog fills the deep, narrow valley to the west of us and every pine needle is individually coated in ice, I feel like the witless victim of an impending Stephen King plot.  The creatures in the mist are not going to get us this time though … we will escape…

Making a wish on a passing car

She’s talking to angels, counting the stars Making a wish on a passing car She’s dancing with strangers, falling apart Waiting for Superman to pick her up In his arms, in his arms Waiting for Superman — Daughtry   I finished cutting the construction paper parts for fifty-four parrots a few minutes ago and that’s…

My rugged heart

I’ll love you long after you’re gone And long after you’re gone, gone, gone. You’re my back bone. You’re my cornerstone. You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving. You’re my head start. You’re my rugged heart. You’re the pulse that I’ve always needed.  –Gone, Gone, Gone, Phillip Phillips   It’s funny how different a…


I mopped the living room floor this morning.  When I’m in a bad mood, mopping strikes me as the ultimate act of depressing futility.  It must be mopped, but it will not stay mopped.  Futility doesn’t seem to matter as much in your thirties.  Possibility still exists for floor mopping and surfing in Bali.  Drudgery…

Truth or dare

I walked yesterday with someone I trust more than anyone in this world and she said, “but you’re feeling better? it seems like you’re feeling better.” And I lied. I can’t think of when I’ve ever really lied to her.   I laughed and I said yes, lots, like it wasn’t an issue any more…

Summer Loving

Summer of 2014 We walked down our boulevard under the cathedral canopy of maple trees, the evening sunlight trickling through to the ground in leaf green splashes.   The kids talked all at once, rivaling the murder of ravens squawking a grisly tune above our heads.  Nate from the stroller on my left lisped a story…

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