When Hovering Hurts

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Every time I cut a watermelon, I have to ask myself an important question: Are you a helicopter parent?

My mother said it all began with my great grandmother Martha. She loved to give us little ones sweet treats, but my favorite of all was the melon she so religiously extracted the seeds from. What I remember most is her selfless smile when summer’s juices ran down our chins.

But, here in the twenty-first century kitchen, I weld a sharp knife whose blade mirrors the painstaking care I take in eliminating challenge for my children: watermelon seeds.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder: Do I have it all wrong?

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The Sweet Enemy

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I am a mother. I have two young children. And every birthday party I attend feels like one giant lie.

To be honest, I am one who has always prided herself on control.

I maintained two very healthy pregnancies.

I lost the baby weight.

I prioritize exercise.

But, deep within, there is a secret: I have a toxic relationship with sugar. And – when no one is watching – I binge.

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A Wall, Our Peril

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I saw a young man walk into a wall at the park last week. No joke.

The Pokémon Go craze has almost (yes, almost) intrigued me enough to learn how I, too, can walk into walls and run away in shame.

But, let’s be honest, we have bigger things upon which to focus. Take the 2016 Republican National Convention. Even if you haven’t watched it (I haven’t), I’m sure you’ve heard the highlights:

Trump said something inappropriate!

Protests took place outside!

Cruz got booed!

So in the midst of much excitement (i.e. drama), why then are thousands of people choosing to escape into an augmented reality game?

Because, quite simply, we are already living the game – all of us.

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Frozen Joy

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Last week, we were ushered into California by the whimsical music of a local ice cream truck. My son’s eyes widened with curiosity, for he had never heard such a sound.

“What’s that, Mommy?!”

The truth is, we were all pretty excited for a two-week adventure in California. My husband would do research, and the kids and I would seek out new experiences with Bay Area friends.

But children will be children…and there will be messes.

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To Climb a Mountain

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If you’re not careful, you’ll come to fear everything when you’re a mother.

I was reminded of this most recently during an active shooter training at the university where I work. It was a brilliant idea, really: listen to 90 minutes of gunshots and panic protocol two days before flying across the country with an infant and a toddler.

But the problem with ideas is that they are powerful and nearly impossible to derail. My worries about protecting two children in California only increased as our departure grew near.

Who will try to steal my kids when I am not looking?

Will I survive Bay Area traffic?

And, perhaps most outrageously, will I die in a mass shooting?

Things grew grim. And I’m not going to lie – the leash backpack was pretty tempting.

Somehow, amazingly, I mustered the strength to silence my mentally constructed catastrophes long enough to allow our family to board the plane.

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California Screamin’

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“If you’re going to San Francisco…”

…I highly recommend leaving your pride at home.

How long can my child possibly scream? I can’t tell you how many times I asked myself this question on our recent cross-country flight to California. It was a first for our family: two children on an airplane. Before the aircraft even moved, regret set in.

Beneath a suffocating red Delta blanket, I repeatedly tried to calm my daughter through nursing, but it seemed no soul could find rest. And it was there – right in the middle of the plane, with my chest half-exposed – that life commanded I listen: you don’t have all the answers.

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Mother, with Child

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“Whatever you do, don’t drop it!”

Such was my silent prayer two weeks ago when my husband and I braved a new world: keeping our son with us during an entire worship service. With the flip of a toddler wrist, a Walmart gift card – the only “toy” I could locate in my purse – held the potential to fly over the balcony and inspire a heart attack in an elderly member below. Would Jesus forgive us?

The fact is, we didn’t plan ahead. On Sundays, our goal is quite simple: make it to church with two children clothed and fed (Mom and Dad being such is a bonus!). For a few months, our son had joined us for 30 melodic minutes of praise before the inevitable wiggles ensued. But, as his behavior improved each week, we gained confidence and perhaps grew overly ambitious.

How difficult could it be to keep a toddler occupied AND quiet for just a little longer?

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To Grow, Write

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“I don’t get your blog.” Oh, the honesty of a 20-year-old! He is a former student of mine, and our relationship is one built on sarcasm and criticism – offered lovingly, of course.

“I’m writing for myself.”

With no words, his puzzled expression seemed to ask: Then why are you sharing it?

In truth, it’s a fair question. Why in the world would a mother with two children under the age of three spend hours each week writing – when the demands of the house and the career never cease?

Quite simply, I am on a journey of reconciling my story.

With the blog, I am accountable.

With the blog, I am honest.

With the blog, I can’t escape myself.

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