Category Archives: Kids

Yeah, I’m Still Here

I bet you thought you’d seen the last of me. Ha ha ha (that’s an evil laugh). Just when you think I’m gone for good I’ll resurface, like lice or horsetails.

I started a post a few weeks ago that was supposed to be a recap of what has been going on around here for the last six months. I kept holding back from hitting the ‘publish’ button though, and I realized what was bothering me. What I wrote was hideously boring. So I’m going to spare you most of the bitching and moaning and trim it down to just the basics, so that we are caught up and I can move on to other subjects.

The fall was a dynamic few months. And by ‘dynamic’ I mean that there was a strict Advil, adrenaline and red wine diet enforced around here. Robert and I finished the house we were building to sell even though it felt like swimming upstream though mud to get it done. In the end we were really happy with how it turned out and it sold right away. Though we vowed at one point to never again take on a project like that, it was successful and well received so who knows. We’re kinda dumb like that. Those of you that I know in real life have seen pictures of the project, but here it is anyway, proof that I was busy for a while:

After the house, the holidays came and wreaked havoc, leaving the usual exhaustion and apathy in their wake. I love Christmas, I think I do anyway, but truly, it makes me and everyone else crazy. I didn’t get my one perfect moment this year, because perfect is perhaps just a little hard to attain, and I was resentful about it. But we made it through. Next year I will have to just obsess a little more and control things a little more tightly because that is the key to happiness. (I’m kidding, totally kidding. Like 97% kidding.)

I can’t do a summary of the last while without touching on the darkness that has permeated our collective consciousness since November 8th. It is so hard for those of us who live in our liberal bubbles to understand how we ended up in such a mess. The thought that our country is not safe from tyrannical rule, that it only takes one charismatic man and his lackeys, no matter how unstable, to upend everything, goes against what I always believed about my country. As flawed as it is, I thought the system would work. I’m afraid for us. But I have also found hope in the fact that a fire has been lit in so many, including myself, who have been complacent. For the first time in my life I have been moved to tears by the bravery and goodness of my governor, I have grappled with explaining white privilege to my daughter, I have stuttered my way through calls to senators asking to be heard, and I have marched with my family and a hundred thousand others. My kids and theirs may have to work for years to repair the damage done by this administration, but they are going to know how to stand up for what is right. Kindness and fairness, these are the values we will defend. Onward.

 

Noteworthy 8/1/16

So much to catch up on. This poor blog has been neglected not because I have lost interest but because of all the other things screaming louder for my attention. Have any of you noticed that during summer vacation the kids don’t go to school? Yeah. And this whole ‘building a house to sell and trying to make money at it’ thing we’ve got going on is a little intense. In a soul sucking sort of way.

But here I am, for the moment anyway, and I have many posts worth of things to share. Just to get some of the cute kid stuff out of the way I’m doing a Noteworthy post first.

  • I know parents say it all the time, but “It’s a good thing my kids make me laugh because otherwise I’d kill them,” might just be the truest truth out there. To make up for the strife they’ve been causing lately the kids have given me some real gems.

Me: “Felix, what do you think we should have for dinner?” Felix, without missing a beat: “Chicken fried butt cheek.” And yet I complain that no one ever helps me come up with ideas for dinner.

From the 12 year old who still dresses up to play Little House on the Prairie we get this evidence that no one is immune to the power of Hamilton: Me: “Lola, it’s time to set the table.” Lola: “In a minute, I need to have a rap battle with Pop first.”

Felix: “I have a joke!” Me: “Tell me.” Felix: “Why did the monster cross the road? Because he bumped into a bar and he asked the bartender, ‘Do you have a hammer?’ and the bartender said, ‘No.’ and he said ‘Do you have an engine tractor?’ and the bartender said, ‘No.'” He’s got a future as a stand up comedian, that one.

Felix: “I’m going to go into the closet and put on this watch so you won’t recognize me.” Then five minutes later I was just minding my own business and this strange kid with a watch on showed up out of nowhere and he’s been living with us ever since.

  • I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but this grouping of things Felix has slept with is just too good to not share:       IMG_2124  And yes, I’m totally serious about every single one of those things. Even the clogs. Even the frying pan. Even the dinosaur puzzle. And the skeleton, who has been hanging out with us a lot lately. His name is Charles Poopin.
  • I had something amazing happen to me; you’re not going to believe it. I was making BLTs for dinner and putting the bacon on a sheet pan to cook it. You know how this goes, it never quite fits on there right and you have overlapping pieces or pieces you have to cut or whatever. But look at this, just look.  IMG_2039 That is an entire package of bacon. It fit perfectly. If you can’t appreciate the magnificence of that then I don’t think we can be friends. And I know that the picture itself is crooked and that kind of ruins it, but just try to imagine what it felt like to look at that glorious sight in the moment. Like cool water in the desert, that’s what.
  • I can be a bit controlling when it comes to cooking. (No shit Ivy, really?!) I suck at having small kids work with me in the kitchen because I can’t handle the mess and the eating of batter and the ugliness of the finished product. It’s a major fault of mine. But I let Felix help me make Robert’s birthday cake and I was pretty proud of myself for the level of not giving a rat’s ass that I achieved. I decided we would just make a cake, not a pastry chef cake. It was sort of liberating to make a sheet cake and ice it right in the pan without needing to prove anything. I even let Fe pick out the mismatched candles and put them on wherever he wanted and it was perfectly fitting.  IMG_1963IMG_1970Next thing you know I’ll be making cake from a mix. And you know what? Probably no one would care. There is a lesson there, but I don’t think I’m ready to learn it quite yet.

Noteworthy 5/26/16

  • More things my kid has slept with recently. Lest you think I’m a horrible mother, I want to say that most of these things he doesn’t actually sleep with. He falls asleep holding them and then I extract them from his sweaty little paws so he won’t lose an eye or sever an artery while napping.IMG_1952
  • You know those days when you just loose all control around 2:00 p.m. and start shoving sweet stuff in your mouth? I really try to keep my sugar consumption in check for the most part, but I had an attack so bad the other day that there was no use fighting it. I knew we were low on goodies, but there is always something hanging around so I went to the top shelf hiding spot and, wow, the selection was dismal. There were some beat up chocolate covered raisins, a mini Krackel from Easter 2014, a partially eaten salted honeycomb chocolate bar that had fallen down behind the lazy susan, and a handful of flavored honey sticks that moved here with us six years ago. The honeycomb bar was chewy instead of crisp but I ate it anyway. Then I rummaged through the freezer and found a bag of crumbs that used to be Christmas cookies. I ate the biggest crumbs even though they were freezer burned. And then…then I ate two of the ancient honey sticks. Not only did those things move here with us, they were old when they moved. And I ate them. Not a proud moment for me, and yet here I am, sharing it with you. Why? God knows. There are some things I really should keep to myself.
  • Things you can never have too many of: 1. Lilacs. 2. Purple things that make you think of Prince.IMG_2328
  • I don’t write much about my big kid these days because she is old enough to have opinions on who knows what about her and I want to respect her privacy. She also reads this from time to time and will give me hell as only a 12 year old can if I embarrass her. This little tidbit falls into a gray area of acceptability but we were laughing about it a lot together and I think she’ll forgive me. The momentary fad in the sixth grade right now is learning sign language and talking to your friends without actually talking. Lola was practicing so much that she actually strained a muscle in her thumb. I can now add sign language to the list entitled Crazy Ways My Daughter Has Hurt Herself. Also included are gems like ‘sitting at the table’, ‘starting the microwave’, and ‘drinking from a glass’. In this house we have many strengths, but coordination is not one. Felix may be the one to break our long, glorious streak of no organized sports, and I’m starting to think he might not be related to the rest of us.
  • I bought a pair of high waisted jeans. Because I’m sexy like that. Every time I put them on I think of the mom jeans skit from Saturday Night Live. They are certainly helpful with muffin top issues, but I’m afraid of where this might lead. Next I’ll be wearing pale blue sweatshirts with pictures of geese on the front and knee-high pantyhose with my Aerosoles. I’d also like to sign up for a laughing class at the senior center (doesn’t that sound awesome?!) but I’m not over 55.
  • There are a lot of things I don’t like about having a three year old in my bed at night. The grabbing and thrashing and talking and clawing at me means that I’m woken up repeatedly. I actually can’t even fathom what it would be like to sleep all the way through the night anymore. But I tell you, when the snuggling is good, it is so good. I woke up in the early morning hours last week and found my little guy soundly sleeping with his back against my stomach, head nestled under my chin. The air was cool, the bed was warm and my pillow was just right. And my boy was still. Still. As in not moving except to breathe. It was one of those perfect moments when I’m glad I’ve been lazy about teaching him how to sleep on his own. He’s changing so quickly right now and I know that his sleep routine is going to change too. Our snuggly nights together are numbered. It will happen gradually, and we will all be ready, but I want to soak up the sweetness while it lasts; sleeping with my kids has been one of the most precious parts of motherhood for me.

Mediocre Human Being Seeking Like Minded Individuals For Camaraderie

This one is going to come back to bite me in the butt, I just know it. I’m trying to decide if I should just post it quietly or share it on Facebook as usual. In any case it’s just a matter of time before I end up shunned in the school parking lot.

A few days ago I attended the sweetest, dearest, most delightful May Day festival at my kid’s school. It was a heartwarming day, our spritely children dancing around the may pole while we gathered together as a community of like-minded families. So heartwarming in fact that it made me want to stab myself in the eye. A slight exaggeration, but it definitely raised questions about my goodness as a human being and where I belong.

I love a lot of things about the little Waldorf school that Felix has attended for the last two years. I love how they make the everyday world magical for the kids, I love the dedication of the staff, the beautiful wooden toys, the way that the innocence of childhood is protected there. These things are important. These things are good. But I’m a sucky person, and sometimes I just can’t stand the earnestness of it all.

The night before the event I got myself worked into an unflattering state knowing that we were supposed to dress in festive spring garb and pack a picnic lunch. You’d think that would be right up my alley – I LOVE picnics, I LOVE spring garb. But I also love sarcasm and snarky humor, neither of which are welcome at the May Day celebration. All the floppy hats and picnic blankets in the world can’t make up for a lack of bad attitude. When I realized that I had spent more time thinking about how my picnic would be looked on by others than I did about what we might actually want to eat I started feeling pretty pissy. The little spark of rebellion inside me was being fanned.

I behave appropriately in most situations, I’m never looking to rock the boat. But unspoken rules about how one is supposed to live give me a case of the red ass, as my friend T would say. The pressure to conform to being non-conformist pushes my buttons. I wanted so badly to show up at this nouveau hippy gathering wearing hot pants and unpack a picnic of Lunchables, Doritos and Diet Pepsi. Maybe light up a smoke and offer my neighbor a wine cooler to go with her hummus and kale chips. I managed to keep myself in line, wear a flowery blouse and not swear but it was hard, so hard. My picnic was passable – we had sandwiches on real bread (bad) but the bread had lots of seeds in it (good). There were vegetables and fruit slices for dessert. I even remembered an extra sweater for my kid. But of course, I’m me, and I had to forget something so we ended up in the hot sun with no sunblock or hats. Felix wanted to enjoy the party in the nude and made a stink about it but I insisted he keep his pants on. In the midst of all that non-conformity, my kid was the only one trying to strip, and just about the only one without a sunhat. We weren’t kicked out but I’m sure a few eyebrows were raised in our direction.IMG_2398

Most of the Waldorf philosophy resonates with me, but the rigidity does not. That part feels contrived and formulaic. When kids are all wearing the same counter-culture clothes and everyone has similar eating habits and toys and modern pioneer lifestyles it starts to smell cultish. I want the best, most magical childhood possible for my kids, we all do, but sometimes, a lot of times, just making it through the day unscathed is the best I can do. In theory it would be awesome if I could be outside with my children felting gnome houses and gardening with mindfulness everyday, but my reality is that sometimes I’m precariously close to cracking up. Putting on a movie to shut the little twits up for a few minutes while I make a dinner of frozen chicken strips isn’t ideal, but it has been known to happen because a mom who runs away from home is even less ideal. I don’t feel like I could ever admit that at a school function without truly upsetting some people and that raises red flags and hackles all over the place for me. There is a balance to strike with all things, especially with parenting, and we do each other a disservice when we don’t acknowledge the struggle and imperfection that comes with the job.

Truly, this is my problem, and I fully realize that. I’m a jerk and shouldn’t be allowed around nice people. I have reached the conclusion that it just isn’t the right community for me, though I adore a number of the people who are involved there. There are many gentle souls raising good, kind children and I have the utmost respect for that. But my life is full of chaos and compromise and small failures. It’s entirely possible that everyone else has their act together more than I do, and they never run out of stories to tell about fairies or succumb to the allure of frozen pizza. Maybe they never fear that their ears will start to bleed if their child doesn’t stop talking. If it’s fake or if it’s real, it doesn’t matter, that is not my tribe. Purity is not attractive to me. I’m still trying to find more of my people, I guess. They are the ones trying their best in a less angelic, more irreverent way. They are doing well and then messing up, over and over again, and being honest about it. They love their babies fiercely and still feel okay about calling them assholes from time to time. Behind their backs of course, I’m not a monster.

Noteworthy 3/28/16

  • Do you ever feel like you live under a tyrannical dictator? A crazy one that makes impossible demands of everyone around him and goes berzerk when those demands are not met immediately? One whose abusive behavior you forgive the second he shows an ounce of tenderness or remorse? One that makes you wait on him hand and foot and has you convinced that his bad behavior is all your fault? No? Well then you must not live with a three year old.
  • I have a new job! This is good and bad because my kid free time is so limited and I’m feeling spread a little thin, but it feels good to be working again. I’m doing some (part time) personal chef type cooking for two lovely families and so far I’m really enjoying it. It may be a temporary thing and that is okay too. I’ve said for a while now that I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life but I don’t want to go back to cooking for money. This feels different though, because I’m cooking food the way I want to, being creative and using high quality ingredients. It’s kind of like cooking for my friends or family except I get paid for it. It has cut into my writing time though and I’m a little bummed about that.
  • The best toy EVER is the vacuum cleaner I bought a few weeks ago. It has gotten more hours of play than all the Christmas toys combined have gotten in three months. The down side is that it lives in the middle of the floor with attachments scattered everywhere and yet I don’t get to use it to clean up because it is always in use.IMG_1904Wait a second, what does that sticker on there say?!IMG_1909Uh…IMG_1907
  • Nothing says true love like spending your 15th anniversary doing taxes so you can meet with the accountant the next morning. We had planned to celebrate the weekend after, when we could get a sitter and go out, but fate had other plans. We all got the flu for two weeks, then the sitter was booked up, then sick again, and now Felix is going through some separation anxiety that makes leaving him, shall we say, difficult. We ended up last weekend (a month after the anniversary) having lunch together at home and calling it a celebration. Felix was napping and we threatened Lola with chores if she didn’t keep quiet for half an hour. And this is what life and marriage are like. We’ve had an anniversary in Tuscany, an anniversary where I was at a birth, an anniversary in Marrakech, romantic dinners out, romantic dinners in, and now an anniversary spent with receipts at the kitchen counter. You win some, you lose some, you cry and laugh and carry on.
  • Things my kid has slept with recently: IMG_1899  Not that I blame him, I mean, who wouldn’t want to snuggle with a Microplane or pieces of a Shop Vac? So cozy!
  • These last few weeks have felt long for a million stupid little reasons that I can’t quite cope with. There was a particularly rough stretch mid month that just seemed to drag on forfreakingever. Normally I make a proper Irish spread for St. Patrick’s day, something like shepherd’s pie or colcannon or Irish stew and soda bread (no corned beef, I just can’t, it smells too much like armpit) but this year I was totally spent. It felt like it had been Thursday for like 18 days, and it was still Thursday. So this year’s St. Patty’s dinner looked like this:IMG_1892No, not really. I pulled it together and and made these sandwiches. Grilled Irish cheddar, bacon and yellow heirloom tomato on white bread (remind me to explain my love of white bread sometime). They were tasty, and special because I didn’t kill anyone that day.IMG_1894
  • You know what’s adorable? When a small person wearing sweatpants, mismatched socks and sandals on the wrong feet tells you that you’re adorable. My exhausted, anxious, brow-beaten heart can still be melted.   IMG_2245

You Know You’re a Mom When…

…you find someone else’s booger smeared on the side of your cup of tea (your cold cup of tea), and you just scrape it off and move on, happy it wasn’t in the tea.

‘You Know You’re a Mom When…’ might be a feature here from now on. Since these will be short, I won’t share them on Facebook. You can subscribe at the bottom of the page if you want to stay up to date, or you can just check in from time to time.

Noteworthy 10/2/15

Some highlights from the last couple of weeks:

  • The coyotes have been noisy lately, howling up a storm every night in the open space right across the street from us. It’s loud and a little creepy, especially when there are what sounds like 40 of them yipping and yowling and probably killing something a hundred feet from our house. Felix was scared of the sound the other evening and we told him that the coyotes are just wild animals that live in the bushes and like to sing. He was quiet for a bit and then he said, “I like wild animals that live in the bushes and don’t sing.”
  • Orthodontia. We paid $5600 for the privilege of looking at this on a daily basis:IMG_1940 I have to get to crank this apparatus every evening in order to “expand Lola’s palate” over the next month. Do any of you have a fear of going crazy and doing something horrible some day? It’s one of my worst phobias, and for whatever reason this device triggers it in a serious way, maybe because it seems like such an instrument of torture. I’m afraid I’ll lose it and crank the thing too much, ripping the poor girl’s face in half. I promise I won’t though.
  • Birthday week. Lola turned 12 and made some brag worthy birthday dinner choices. First, she chose to have macaroni and cheese, not unusual for a kid, but she likes this version that is over the top and adult in every way. I use this recipe as a guide, but switch up the cheeses to accommodate what I have on hand, I up the nutmeg a bit and use white pepper instead of the black. Does that make me a pepper racist? I hope not. I also grind the bread crumbs in the food processor because I like them a little finer. I don’t make this very often because we would all weight 500 pounds if I did, but it’s a pretty great choice for a birthday dinner. IMG_1278  For dessert she wanted a salted caramel chocolate cake (can you imagine how that makes my pastry chef heart swell with pride?) No food coloring, no gaudy decorations, just a sprinkle of fleur de sel and a couple of perfect garden roses. IMG_1287
  • Lola is a remarkable gift getter. She loves all presents, and is especially appreciative of ones that are homemade or from the heart. Her enthusiasm and gratitude are delightful, one of her best qualities. I loved hearing her whoop with joy when she opened this one from my aunt:   IMG_1335 That there is a box of freshly picked chanterelle mushrooms. For a 12 year old’s birthday present. And do you see that smile? I can use this picture as proof that I’ve done at least one thing right in raising this girl. The mushrooms were the firmest most meaty ones I’ve ever seen and I cooked them into a lovely risotto with a bit of crispy pork belly on top for day two of birthday fest 2015. IMG_1341
  • As some of you know, Robert and I were a little freaked out when we found out I was pregnant with a boy the second time around. We joked in a very politically incorrect way that even though we know that you can’t turn a person gay we were sure going to try. The idea of raising a stereotypically gay son was much easier to get my head around than a team sports playing, non-showering, sloppy dressing, rough and tumble straight boy. But I overheard this conversation between Robert and Felix the other morning and I think Mother Nature has made her call. Robert: “Why don’t you ever snuggle with me in the night?” Felix: “I like to snuggle with Mama.” Robert: “Why?” Felix: “Because Mama has boobs. I love boobs.” God help me.
  • This fall weather got me feeling like making bread again so I got my sourdough starter all freshened up and made this loaf. If you are local and want some starter with which to make your own let me know, I’m happy to share.                     IMG_1401                             IMG_1410

To comprehend the incomprehensible

This is a long one, with no pictures, but about something that has been on my mind. Kudos to you if you make it through. And I’d love your thoughts in the comments if you have any wisdom to impart.

I read a news story a couple of weeks that just wrecked me. I feel haunted by the horribleness of it and I have to vigilantly push the details out of my mind. There is so much bad news, always, and especially of late. We hear so many sad stories, but from time to time there is one that just cuts me to the quick. We all have our triggers, the things that work their way into our core and cause an actual physical hurt. For some people it’s stories of domestic violence, for some it’s animal cruelty. For me, it’s children who are hungry. And other stuff too, but that’s the big one.

I remember my family eating dinner in front of the TV news when I was probably about eight years old and seeing pictures of starving kids in Ethiopia. I can still feel the way my stomach churned and my mouth went dry and bitter, my body’s reaction to something so horrific. And the shame. The shame of sitting there with my baked chicken thighs watching people starve on the screen in front of me.

That feeling of nausea and shame still rises up upon hearing some piece of gut-wrenching news and I had it the other day. I won’t go into the details because I know that many people have a hard time when bombarded with this kind of information, but I will talk about it in a general way because it has brought up a lot of questions for me in regards to my kids and how to talk with them about atrocities both close to home and far away.

The story I read was on Humans of New York. If you haven’t ever seen Brandon’s blog, I highly recommend it, even though it can be incredibly sad at times. He takes very moving photographs of ordinary people, in New York and around the world, and pairs them with snippets of interviews with that person. He has an rare gift for getting people to reveal the most personal parts of themselves and I’m struck whenever I look at his work by the fact that every one of us is ordinary, and also extraordinary. Everyone has pain and tragedy and beauty in them and it’s inspiring to see that captured in such an artful way. He was traveling in Pakistan last month and did a whole series on people who are entrapped in modern day slavery there. He also interviewed a woman whose organization works to end bonded labor. One story she told about a family that she had helped was what had me in such a state. I wasn’t the only one, Brandon set up a fundraiser for her organization that raised two million dollars in three days (that is the good news here).

My husband, bless his heart, is as sensitive as I am when it comes to this kind of thing. We usually try to protect each other from news that we know the other one can’t bear to hear, but I did tell him about this one while we were on a walk the other evening, and we both burst into tears. While we were hugging each other in the street, Lola rode up on her bike and asked what was going on. I told her that we were just talking about a sad story that I had read and that I didn’t want to tell her about it because it was too terrible. She pushed a little and I told her that in some places in the world slavery still exists and that I had heard about an amazing woman in Pakistan who is like a present day Harriet Tubman, trying to help people be free. That was the right amount of information for her at the moment, but it has me wondering how and what to say about the horrible things that happen in the world.

If I could pick one quality for my kids, it would be compassion. I think compassion is  the only thing that can really lead us to peace, globally, and within our own selves. When I see my dear ones tenderhearted and full of empathy, I’m as proud of them as I could ever be. But for those people with sensitive souls, and that is most of us, it’s detrimental to have no way to turn it off. I struggle to balance being an informed citizen of the world and protecting myself from knowledge that only causes me grief. We have so much access to information these days, but my ability to process it seems stuck a few hundred years ago, when we only knew the news from our own immediate area. How do we compartmentalize atrocities that we have no control over? Do we really need to be desensitized in order to live our lives without being constantly wrenched? And how we can possibly ask our kids to hold that kind of information when, as a grown woman, I struggle to hold it myself?

I’m baffled as to how I can help ease my daughter into this part of her adulthood. I want her to understand the privilege/responsibility/life lottery conundrum without just being filled with guilt. And I want her to be prepared when she hears some horrible story and I’m not there to hold her while she cries. I definitely feel like she is not ready to handle this kind of information but at some point in the next five years she is going to have to. Do I wait until she finds it on her own and deal with the aftermath then or do I start introducing the horrors of the world a little at a time?

All this has been floating around in my head for a week or so now, and then today I read this from Anne Lamott. She has been snooping around inside my head and then written about the things on my mind much more eloquently than I ever could. (She has done this before, and I have to say, Anne, it’s a little disconcerting.) Her writing is always insightful and charming and smart, but being a staunch agnostic, I don’t have her faith that God has our backs. I wish I did, and I wish I could tell my children to pray and have faith and that would be good enough. But that feels like a cop-out to me. A God that had control over such horribleness but allowed it to happen is not a God who is going to do anything because we pray.

The part of me that is full of shame wants to feel sick and guilty and foul as payment for winning the life lottery. And yet, to indulge in that is so very selfish and ugly. So what can we do? Donate money to whatever tragedy touches us? Yes. But it will never be enough to stop the suffering in the world. Suffering will continue as long as there are beings here to endure it.

I stood at the kitchen sink the other night, peeling carrots, and sent my best hopes for healing and peace to the family I had read about. A prayer, you could call it, I suppose. I looked around at my healthy children, my steadfast husband, my beautiful house and my table that has never once lacked for food and I cried some tears of gratitude. The only conclusion I can come to is this: small acts of goodness or love in our own lives work to shift the balance of good and bad in the world. Trying to tip the scale toward kindness might be the best we can do.

Both Ends of the Chain

I was not at my best yesterday. Not even at my so-soest. I woke up groggy after a bad night of sleep in which Felix nursed and scratched me with his too-long toenails for what seemed like hours on end. We snuggled a bit in the bed and I thought to myself, “What if today is my last day? What if I knew that tomorrow I would be dead, how would I use this last bit of time?” It brought tears to my eyes and I kissed Felix’s dirty hair and felt the tenderness rise up in me.

Two hours later I was losing my shit. There was arguing, there were raspberries spilled all over the floor, there was adolescent ugliness. We were out of milk. Of course the kids wanted cereal so I let them have cream on it to keep the peace but I bet you can guess that it didn’t work. I was summoned halfway through my bath to get out and help Felix on the toilet. He went downstairs to be with Lola after that and I thought I might be able to rinse the soap off in a leisurely fashion, but they lasted about two minutes before they were fighting and yelling at each other and screaming for me to save them. I HATE trying to talk with someone on a different floor of the house, and two someones is even worse. (I mean seriously, come to me if you need to talk to me, right?) Having to go downstairs in a towel to break up a sibling fight (between my kids who are 9 1/2 years apart, mind you) makes me feel a little, uh, short tempered you might say. Felix was throwing Bananagrams at Lola. She was having the kind of overreactive flip out that only an eleven year old girl can have and he thought it was super fantastic to have such power. And so the morning went. We had plans to go somewhere to play, but could. not. get. out. the. door. So I gave up. And even so, there continued to be complaining and wailing and tantrums about popsicles.

Things looked like this:

IMG_1808

I was not liking my job. I turned snappy and crabby and felt not the tenderness but the martyrdom rise up. A headache built steadily and I nagged at Lola, pointing out a whole slew of things she had forgotten to do. I did some quiet begging with desperation in my voice. I shoved the laundry into the washer while yelling for the eighteenth time, “If you want to talk to me, come to the room where I am for God’s sake!”

We had lunch. We read about sharks. I got Felix ready for his nap. Brushing his teeth sucks 90% of the time and today it sucked. He wouldn’t open his mouth and I didn’t have much patient cajoling left in me. When he bit the toothbrush yet again I yelled, “Felix! Knock it off!” and finished the rest of the toothbrushing in a quick, rough way.

Then I remembered. What if I’m not here tomorrow? What if my children are motherless after today? Or, and it hurts to even type the words, what if I am left without them? And that’s when I felt that pull on both ends of the mothering chain. Simultaneously frustrated enough to worry for my sanity, and entirely vulnerable because of my love for them. It’s the hardest, hardest part about being a mom for me, that juxtaposition. There’s the intensity of putting your own needs on hold and the intensity of being available, and willing, most all the time, but neither of those compare to the intensity of being laid bare by love. It’s not something you can escape from or harden yourself to. The only respite is distraction.

The rest of the day continued to be defeating. I’d like to say that I turned things around and we had a great afternoon where I appreciated the hell out of my kids, but the nap was short, the fighting and whining continued, the headache worked it’s way into my jaw and we didn’t even set foot outside the house until 3:00. But we did finally have the coveted popsicles together in the yard and I looked on my children with alternating annoyance and affection. The humanness of it all is humbling.