Family, at All Costs

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When I was single, I indulged in Hemingway. I have always been equally fascinated and repulsed by his life. His words – the ones that alcoholism and recklessness produced – sang to me a song my heart knew so well: Love hurts.

Early in my blogging journey it became clear to me that I was no Hemingway – that the kind of sacrifices famous writers have made were no option for me.

My family will always win.

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Give Me Your Tired

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I was running late, which isn’t new, but I had never been so tardy to yoga. Twelve minutes had been forfeited, and I almost heard my body cry out in defeat when I settled into the mat.

Over the next 45 minutes, I really questioned my entire existence. My arms and legs were feeble, my concentration was muddled, and the outfit I had selected most certainly flashed the nearby maintenance worker during an inspired downward dog. Oops.

The truth is, I was unprepared for the consequences of being late. I’ve been doing yoga for years, but every session is unique, as is every teacher.

After I attempted my fourth new-to-me position, I felt my forehead hit the mat.

I’m tired of being an adult.

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A Birthday, Bittersweet

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“How was your day?” It’s a question I have found myself automatically asking my son on our ride home from preschool each afternoon.

[Silence]

For months, this has been his response…that is, until just a few days ago. The weather was obnoxiously humid and the kids – most inconveniently and unsurprisingly – wanted to play outside. I found respite on our porch swing and a blonde-haired boy quickly climbed up to join.

And in the swinging, this magical thing happened. He started talking.

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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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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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My Parent Self[ie]

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The picture was terrible. Just terrible. But, then again, selfies were likely invented by someone younger than I am.

After several chaotic hours with my children, I decided that the real cherry on top of our day should be special. Go hard or go home, right?

We ventured to the local Wildlife Center in a muggy 90 degrees for their daily show. Thirty minutes of educational entertainment for $0 sounded like the best idea I have had in weeks. My son was thrilled.

So excited, in fact, that he improvised and stuck his tongue out when my thumb finally found the capture button.

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To Potty Train A Parent

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It is NEVER a good idea to offer unsolicited potty training advice, especially when your audience is a mother strung out from a long night with a breastmilk addict.

One “sage advice” drive-by at our local grocery store comes to mind. I was staring off into space in the dairy aisle when an older gentleman made his presence known. At least the encounter began friendly.

“How old is your son?”

With these kinds of questions, the response goes one of two ways…

“Nine months.”

I remember readying myself for his next move. Senior citizens love touching babies.

“Wow, nine months! That was the age that I potty trained my son!”

[Insert polite head nods and a weak smile here.]

I remember parting amicably after he began to discuss that same son’s “issues” in adulthood.

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