Tag Archives: Parenting

On the road to find out…

I did not want to run today. That happens to me if I take a day off. In my heart of hearts I am not an Exerciser. I am a creature of Habit. I like to do whatever I have been doing.  Yesterday I slept in and skipped a workout.  Hence, I wanted to do the same today.

I peeled myself out of bed and poured myself into running clothes, anyway.

For the first two miles I was only going to run four.  During the third and fourth mile I thought maybe I might run seven.  Somewhere in there my headphones died and I found myself in this weird, inexplicably flat neighborhood that I have never seen before.  And I ran and smiled and ran and smiled and marvelled at the flatness.  And then I checked the map and realized that in order to get home from there I would be running nearly nine and a half miles.

So, I settled on ten and and for the second time this weekend I just looked at the leaves and thought about what a ridiculous phrase “fall foliage” is if you say it a bunch of times in a row.

And I ran.  And I smiled some more and I sang to myself.

The seconds tick the time out.  There’s so much left to know and I’m on the road to find out.  Then I found my head one day when I wasn’t even trying and here I have to say ’cause there is no use in lying, lying.  Yes, the answer lies within.  So why not take a look now? ~ Cat Stevens

I didn’t have anything on my mind when I left the house.  Sometimes I will use a long run to tease some Truth out of whatever mess I have in my head.  But today, I was smiling when I left the house. And I just ran.  And smiled.  I stopped twice and took two pictures.



When I turned down my street to head home I had the runner’s high smile.  I felt good.  Really good.  I was still singing.

Oh I’m on my way, I know I am, somewhere not so far from here.  All I know is all I feel right now, I feel the power growing in my hair.  ~Cat Stevens

Sometimes I have to work hard to make sense of my day. Today was an easy day. I run to find my Truth.  I am now and hope to always be “on the road to find out.”  Right now the road is a literal road and my feet carry me mile after mile, sometimes closer to the Truth and sometimes not.   My Truth, whatever it is that I cling to in order to stay sane, “it lies within.”  And when I feel like I am drifting above my life and not really feeling it or participating all I need to do is Locate Love and before I know it I will be almost home.

I feel pretty lucky today.  I feel pretty lucky most days.

The Tooth Fairy

It’s a gamble to take a shower with a toddler in your house.  As desperately as I want to get clean I know that I must also want to Magic Erase crayon from a wall, scoop dog food out of the water bowl, re-roll a roll of toilet paper…. something.

I got out of the shower and I heard her start running.  She was up to something.  “Luuuuucy,” I cried. “What are you doing?”

I did not hear her customary response, “Nothing.” Instead I heard her dive-bomb onto the couch.  “Are you hiding?” No response.

I peeked into the living room to see a pile of blankets on the couch and assumed (correctly) that Lucy was hiding with some kind of contraband.  Whatever it was, she already had it.  I figured I could quickly get dressed while she was hiding.  I threw my clothes on and took a deep breath and prepared to find out what she had been up to during my 87 second long shower.

“Lucy, where are youuuu?” From under the blanket I heard her “Hiding!” only it sounded more garbled than usual.

“Do you have something in your mouth, Lu?” She pulled the blanket down, eyes shining. “What do you have in your mouth, Lu? Spit it out.”  I put my hand in front of her face the way a parent does and steeled myself for halloween candy, a beetle, part of a magazine.

“Rocks!” she announced triumphantly as she spit into my hand eight teeth.  Yes.  TEETH.  Two days before Halloween Lucy was living out some kind of twisted horror movie and she spit into my hand a mouthful of TEETH.

They weren’t bloody.  She wasn’t crying.  And yet still for a brief moment I thought “This kid astounds me.  She has fallen and busted out all of her teeth in the time it took me take a shower and it didn’t even slow her down.”  I am not sure what made me turn back and look into my bedroom.  But there on my dresser was my jewelry box.  It was open and on it was a small blue box.  I started to laugh.  In 87 seconds she had climbed up to open my jewelry box, dig to the back where I hide Emily’s teeth after the Tooth Fairy does her thing, stolen them and shoved them all in her mouth.

With a fistful of spitty teeth I started to laugh.  “Yes.  Rocks.  Do not put rocks in your mouth.”  And I started to count.  I counted the “rocks” and I dug through the couch and carefully ran my hand along my white bedroom carpeting until I had accounted for all of the missing teeth.  Teeth safely returned to their hiding spot I all but forgot she had done this.  (Now that is indicative of how absurd life with an almost three year old truly is, she spit teeth into my hand that she had stolen from jewelry box and I all but forgot it happened hours later.)


Emily got off the bus later that afternoon.  “Look at this, this tooth is loose.”  We had the usual “Let me wiggle it” “No, don’t pull it” “I am not going to pull it, just let me wiggle it” argument.  It wasn’t very loose.  Nevertheless, an hour later she came back downstairs with a fresh gap and a bloody tooth.  “It was a one day process! Loose tooth to missing tooth, Mom! Just one day!”

The world is weird.  That night as I reminded her to put her tooth where the the Tooth Fairy would be sure to find it she smiled at me.  “You’re the Tooth Fairy, too, right?”

“No.  Go to bed.  I love you.”

“But you’re the Tooth Fairy, right?”

“No.  Go to bed.”

“I know that you are.  You can tell me.”

“Do you want your dollar? The Tooth Fairy won’t come if she hears you talking like this.” She smiled and pulled her blankets up to her pierced nine-year-old ears.

In the morning she came down and said “Dad, I got a dollar coin from the Tooth Fairy.” He asked if it was Sacagawea or Susan B.  Without thinking I responded “Susan B, 1979.”

Em just smiled at me and said “Yep. Silver. From the Tooth Fairy.”


Unsolicited Parenting #2: Virginity

If you happen to listen to Madonna while you do the dishes and your 8-year-old daughter happens to ask you what a virgin is – be careful what you tell her.  Don’t tell her that a virgin is someone who has never done “something” before or else she will loudly announce “I am a virgin!” whenever you enter a store she has never been in or eat a meal she has never had before.

And maybe you’ve already anticipated this – but I was rather taken aback when my sweet 8-year-old daughter shouted “I’m not a virgin anymore!” after she left the store and after she set down her fork.

It’s my recommendation that you go with a more specific explanation of the word “virgin” when your child asks you.  And since I am no longer an “Explaining the word virgin to your sweet daughter” virgin – you should really take my advice.


Inherent Worth & Dignity

Unitarian Universalists promote seven principles.  The first principle is the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  This week I was reminded that my eight year old is a far superior Unitarian Universalist than I may ever be.  Because after she told me what happened to her on the school bus I was really struggling to see the inherent worth and dignity in one particular little girl.

She was crying when she came up to the front door so it took me a short while to get an answer.  “Did something happen at school, Em?”

“Mom, she said I am a bad person.  She said I can’t be a Girl Scout if I don’t believe in God. She said if I don’t have God in my heart than I have the devil in my heart.”

I wrapped my arms around her tightly while she caught her breath.  And the words, the words that came tumbling from her lips next made me more proud than I have perhaps ever been. “I told them that I am a Unitarian.  And that I do go to a church actually. And that my church says you can believe in whatever you want.  I am a good person.  I am.  How could that God want to punish me when I didn’t even say anything mean when they were telling me that I was a bad person?”

The part of me that wants to start talking and never stop when I don’t know what to say exactly worked hard to stay quiet.  The less I said the more she spoke and the more I realized I needed to say nothing.

“The Girl Scout pledge says God but so does the Pledge of Allegiance. You don’t have to believe in God to be an American so I don’t think you do to be a Girl Scout.”

I kept quiet.  I was waiting for the shame, for the doubt, for the “what if they are right, Mom?”

“There is only one thing that I wish was different about our church.  I wish it wasn’t in the woods.  It’s kind of hiding and if we were right next to the road more people would know about us and more people would come because I bet a lot of people actually think that it is okay to believe whatever you want and just be a good person.”

She knows.  She knows she is a good person.  And it doesn’t matter what the Girl Scouts think.  Or a kid on the bus.  Or God.  She just knows.

In the last year I have thought frequently about our first principle as it applies to others.  I think about it in the moments that I try to apply my reality to another person and I see them coming up short.  I remind myself that they are their own person, they live their own reality, they have their own inherent worth and dignity.  It never dawned on me that if you believe in your heart of hearts in your own worth, in your own dignity, if you do not have self-doubt – it is so much easier not to condemn others.

My sweet Emily June, you have taught me more in your eight years than I may ever teach you.  This can’t be your first rodeo, kid.


Unsolicited Parenting Advice #1

I’m not a quiet girl.  If you’ve met me in person I will give you a minute to wipe that “no shit” look off of your face.

I have a new parenting technique and it doesn’t feel right to keep it to myself.

One of the hardest things about being home with the kids full-time is the noise.  It is constant.  It is relentless.  There is a never-ending hum of sound. I think that is how parents end up being yellers.  We just have to compete to get heard.

I really don’t want to be a yeller. But I have a two year old.

Solution:  Quiet Riot. Specifically “Cum on Feel the Noize.

Scenario:  I am cutting chicken.  Shit always hits the fan when I have raw chicken on my hands. I have said “Lucy please stop banging that lid on the oven door” several times at a reasonable volume level.   She has interpreted this to me “Start yelling along with the slamming.”

Here is where I employ my new technique.  Instead of screaming “For the love of all that is holy, STOP with the banging for one blessed second!  I can not pick you up so do not start crying like I have ruined your life, I have chicken on my hands, RAW CHICKEN.  Jeeezus, stop crying.  I didn’t do anything, I just asked you to stop with the banging, Go.  Bang.  Bang all the lids.  Do whatever you want.  Nobody listens to me!!!” n0t that I have ever had this sort of situation go down. I, personally, never, ever lose my cool.

Instead, at the moment that I feel the crazy start to make its way up my throat and tickle my yelling muscles I open my mouth and I shriek “CUM ON FEEL THE NOIZE!” and I smile.  You have to smile while you do it or it is just like screaming at your kid. Remember, you are singing. You are FunTime Mom.  You are the mom that loves it when your kid bangs lids on the oven door.

“Girls, Rock the boys!  We’ll get wild, wild wild!! Wild, wild wild!!”  Take a minute. Catch your breath. If you’re doing it right your kid has stopped dead in their tracks.  They are staring at you like they have no idea what is going to happen next.

So, you think I’ve got an evil mind… that is the next line.  That isn’t a question.

That’s it.  This is my new Toddler Parenting Technique.  Go ahead and yell.  But yell a song, shake your hips and smile, smile, smile and you can pretend you are dancing, singing Fun Mom.  It works. It is the latest and greatest in my Fake It Til You Make It life plan.

Try it.  I suggest 80s hair metal, but I suppose any tune will do. Twister Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is a hit in our house. Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes” will work. But you have to start right in with “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” and you have to really put your hips into it.

Come back and tell me your favorite song to scream, I mean, sing at your kids.

This kid is nuts.

This kid is nuts.


In February of 2010 Emily was little.  She was unabashed.  She danced in the driveway and she didn’t take long to get dressed.  She had bangs.  She liked zip-up hoodies and sunglasses and the more accessories, the better.  The Universe was all Emily’s.  She wasn’t selfish but the only life she had ever known was one that was all about her.  Today she went to a book fair at school and came home with several books for Lucy. “Because just because she is too little for school doesn’t mean she doesn’t get books, right?” 


I don’t know exactly why I went digging through old pictures. Emily said something hilarious and followed it up with “Don’t put that on the Internet.” And I tried to remember when she became self aware.  Was it last year?  The year before? The year before that?  She has changed more in the years since Lucy was born than she did in her entire life prior.  She became something new.  She is a Big Sister now.

Maybe that is what is different.

I tell her she is still my little girl.  I tell her that she is lucky that she had me all to herself for so many years.  I tell her that I love her.  But sometimes I fear she will read through these posts someday and wonder where she is…. all this schmaltz about Lucy, what about me?

Emily June,

I am writing my story so I don’t forget.  And when you looked at me on New Year’s Eve after I took a perfectly hilarious video of you and said “Don’t put that on the Internet” it crushed me a little bit.  Not because I wanted to show the whole damn world how hilarious you are (well, maybe a little) but because I am afraid that as you get bigger and your story becomes yours to tell and I write less of it down… I will forget.  I will forget the moments, the details, perhaps, but I won’t forget the Big Stuff.  I promise.

You and I have butt heads this week. Big time.  We had the first of many screaming matches that ended with us both in tears and me saying “Listen, Em, I’m not your friend, I am your mother.  I know you are mad, and I am sorry.  If I knew a way to be your mother without making you mad I’d do it.  I am making this up as I go along, kid, and I don’t know much but I know I am supposed to be your mom first.  I can be your friend in between the cracks, but my first job is to be your mom.”  And you hugged me and you cried and you told me that it is so confusing.  You told me that you do respect me and you’re sorry that you get so mouthy but sometimes it just feels like you are with your friend when we are together.

I held you tight and I cried a little louder.  Because when you said I feel like your friend I felt like I was failing you as your mother.  But succeeding as a person.

I don’t know what I am doing exactly, Em.  You might as well know that. It is easy to teach Lucy the colors and the alphabet song. I have no idea how to teach you when it is hilarious to mock me openly and when it is disrespectful to even sort of roll your eyes.  It is confusing.  You’re right.   But I am doing the best I can.  And so far it has been good enough.

When you read all this some day and you wonder why I spilled my guts (and maybe a little of yours no matter how hard I try to protect your privacy) I hope you just ask me.  Maybe I will be able to give you an answer by then.  Because today?  Today I can’t explain why.  Writing it down makes things make more sense.  And sharing it makes it all less lonely.  Maybe you will understand that.  Weird that in this time of my life when I am never, ever, ever alone – well, it is the loneliest damn time.

I am watching you play with your sister right now.  You just looked up at me and said “Are you crying because of those old pictures? Don’t cry, Mom. I’m still little!” And you shook your tiny little butt and you smiled.

Yes.  You are.  For today.  But you are bigger than you were yesterday and you don’t show signs of slowing down.



Oh, the future slipping past…

It is best not to try too hard.  But sometimes an opportunity presents itself and I just can’t help myself. Sitting on the couch on a cold and rainy night I am flipping through the recorded television options.

Austin City Limits.  Widespread Panic.  “You know this is the band your dad and I used to go and see all of the time.  I saw them when I was pregnant with you even.”

A million months pregnant with Emily, Panic in Portsmouth 2005

A million months pregnant with Emily, Panic in Portsmouth 2005. I had not yet blossomed in to the quiet, restrained woman that I am now.

Emily looked at me and with a sigh of resignation she leaned against me.  She was willing to go for this parental ride.  “Up all night, ohhh, been up all night…the best thing about New Years is the Christmas lights…” J.B. is singing and I am tickled. This was a seasonally appropriate moment!

I am pointing at Jimmy.  “That’s Jimmy Herring right there.  Oh!  And that is Sunny.  Watch him play drums, Em. It is unreal. That is Jojo and there’s Todd behind the drums.  That’s Schools.  We liked to stand Schools’ side.”

I am smiling. Nice little opportunity to share something with my big girl before she gets too big.  This was a Moment.

“So.  They’re a boy band?”

No.  No, they are not a boy band.  Moment over.

*Title taken from Saint Ex by WSP

And for your listenin’ pleasure, Widespread Panic on ACL

Existential Parenting

Lucy looks like a happy kid.  Here we see her heading in to the gym to see her pals.  She enjoys coloring, playing with the large legos and chatting it up with the other small people.  On the way out of the gym she receives a dixie cup filled with animal crackers or goldfish, after she washes her hands, of course.  This is typically a highlight of our day.

By all accounts, life is pretty good.


When not mingling with her kind she enjoys a little solitary time.  My girl likes to relax.  She kicks back and takes in the world. Life is simple.

But I fear that underneath Lucy’s happy exterior lurks something deeper.  I think she is struggling to do more than just exist.  She is finding her essence, perhaps this life of coloring and taking walks is just not enough.  What gives me this idea?

Take a look at Lucy’s bookshelf.  A good look.

No Exit

Right there between Eric Carle’s “With Us, on the Earth and Sea” and the mind numbing rhyming of “Hop on Pop” we have Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit and Three Other Plays.”

This kid is going to be hell in her teenage years.

“Criminals together. We’re in hell, my little friend, and there’s never any mistake there. People are not damned for nothing.” – Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

Mama said there’d be days like this….

You know that old saying about how mothers don’t get sick days. It’s the truth. They don’t get sick nights, either. When Lucy slipped out of bed to come and stare at me in the bathroom at 2 am I had an inkling of what my day would look like today.

I don’t talk bathroom as much as my friend Karen. But I am not afraid of it. Truth is, I guess, is that the bathroom doesn’t play a big part in my life. I am chronically full of shit, I suppose. I just don’t spend an awful lot of time in there. So, when I was camped out in there most of last night, save for the twenty times I put Lucy back to bed, I kind of figured maybe I was just getting it all out of my system.

Wrong. This morning was no picnic, either.

Eventually I braved leaving the house. I figured I’d run a few errands and catch some zzzz’s in the afternoon when Lucy took her nap. Wrong, again. Instead we had the dreaded ten minute car nap.

I tried to put her back down. I did. I snuggled. I cajoled. I begged. I was firm. I pretended to be asleep.

Lucy cycled through several responses. None of them were sleep. She screamed at me “Nooooo! No nap! No!” She tried to distract me, efforts were made to convince me there was some kind of a tooth brushing emergency “Teeeeeth!” Eventually she calmly repeated “Mama. Out. Thank you.”

We are now reading books on the couch. I give up. Lucy wins. As noted in the video below she is “happy, happy.”

You can call me Mom, the Yes Man

Sometimes you want to be the parent that says yes.  So this morning when Em said “Can we go to Dunkin Donuts?” I just said “Sure” before I could change my mind.

Thirty minutes later we were eating donuts and hanging out at the swanky truck stop near our house when she said “Do you think I will ever get to play that game?” and pointed to the money robbing machine where you put a dollar in and try to grab a stuffed animal with the crane.  I said yes again.

It was a good morning.  Em was talking us up. Hopped up on donuts and orange juice she was even chattier than normal.

“Why do they make those machines so that you can never win? The man that owns that machine should just do something and get a job to make money instead of taking everyone’s dollars.  Do you think I should pack three or four outfits for while we are gone.  I think four.  Do you know why I always pack an extra outfit?”

“In case you pee your pants?” I said.

“No, because…”

And MQD interrupts to say “I once knew a DJ named MC Pee Pants”

And she burst in to tears.

“Why can’t I ever finish what I am saying without getting interrupted?  You guys are constantly acting crazy and saying crazy things and I am just being normal?!!”

And so it has begun.  We are no longer funny.  Poor kid.  It is going to get so much worse before it gets better.

From earlier this morning, when I was still funny.

From earlier this morning, when I was still funny.