What Every Mother Wants to Say (My Second Year Blogging)

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When I started my blog two years ago, I was convinced that I would be the mouthpiece for all mothers – those who work and stay-at-home alike.

Wrong. Dead wrong.

As it turns out, my “you don’t fit neatly into any category” identity followed me into parenthood as well.

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Write Club

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The first rule of write club is you don’t talk about write club.

Truly, it’s a secret society of sorts – to be a writer in a sea of non-writers. It’s like every time I pick up a pen or sit down at the monitor, I take an oath of silence.

It’s painful not to talk about what you’re planning to write – what you aspire to communicate to a wider audience. I come up with at least one new book idea every day. But I’m a mom and a teacher, so those ideas don’t necessarily have an appropriate place to be entertained. And time, well, what’s that?

If you, too, are a writer, perhaps you also mull over ideas, stories – really any inspiration that strikes you – for infinite weeks?

Should I write a book?

How can I blog and write a book at the same time?

Should I just try something shorter like poetry?

This is the great difficulty with writing: you spend your days battling words, the very things that – once fully realized – can bring peace.

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A Christmas Present

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As a mother, I often feel like I am on the front lines of culture wars. This year I didn’t go Black Friday shopping. But two days later, I was forced to brave Walmart for milk (no blizzard pending).

The scene was so quiet, so serene, and the Christmas aisle was like my own pine-scented paradise. Except I was all alone. There was no warmth.

The whole endeavor to find an advent calendar was fruitless. In fact, I found nothing among the Christmas items but gift-related products. Wrapping paper, bows, gift tags, and tape.

Isn’t Christmas about spending time together?

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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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A Centennial Confession

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In this, my 100th post, I feel compelled to come clean.

I have been running…and not in the good way. But, first, let me explain.

The trouble all started a year and a half ago when I extracted pure gold from my favorite used bookstore back home: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. The book was published in 1986, and I harbored strong initial doubts. Six dollars, however, wouldn’t break me, so I took a chance. And, truthfully, I have not been able to put the paperback down since.

Perhaps most striking of all in Goldberg’s inspired wisdom is the following passage:

You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration…[y]ou train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle…you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop.

Her message is quite simple: Keep writing.

A month after reading these words, I signed up for WordPress. Two months later, readers began to follow my writing.

And seven months later, my book found me.

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Letting in the Sunshine: 13 Questions

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My husband and I never do things the traditional way. Take, for example, our 2010 World Cup-inspired mission trip to South Africa. I mean, what better way to celebrate your first year of marriage than with vuvuzelas and chicken feet, right?

When I reflect on this adventure, I think back to the dozens of questions that the village children asked me each morning.

“I hear there is a bin for paper, plastic, and tin. Is this true?”

“How old are you?”

And perhaps my favorite of all: “Are you married to the scientist?”

The wonder in their eyes was almost tangible. And, in full transparency, their attention made me feel like a million dollars. I want to see the world this way.

But, alas, I was forced to return to my old life, my old habits, my old attitudes. And only in my matured adult years have I come to see that that perfect African sunset was never meant to be left behind – it was designed to become a part of me.

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The STEM Needs the Flower

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Oh, Ronald Reagan. In 1983 his administration presented A Nation at Risk, a report that would forever change the game in American education.

In short, it claimed we had everything to fear. We were falling behind. Our teachers weren’t good enough.

And so began our collective sprint to a finish line where all children succeed, where domination in math and science would be as natural as breathing. To achieve these goals, however, we had to shed the excess – the nonessential.

And, just like that, the STEM virus began.

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Embracing Discomfort (My First Year Blogging)

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I think blogs breed narcissism. But, then again, what social media account doesn’t?

Ironically, this is one of the reasons why I began my blog in the first place. By my third year of parenthood (shortly after my daughter’s birth), I started to feel particularly weary from endless “perfect child”/“perfect mother” musings that I encountered throughout Facebook.

When you are raising your children hours away from family and find yourself daily questioning your parenting abilities, this environment is, quite frankly, damaging.

So I had a pretty bold idea. Why not use a blog to work through my own struggles? Why not highlight how I am coming to peace with imperfection? Why not share my story to, perhaps, empower others?

Except what I didn’t know then is this: Honesty makes people uncomfortable.

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What’s Your Best Blogging Advice?

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Kids will try anything. Really. Just a few weeks ago, my son turned three and we surprised him with the ultimate old soul gift: a hula hoop. Immediately, he was intent on mastering the toy.

If I remember nothing else in all my life, I will forever retain his laughter bouncing off the walls in our home. With each attempt, he learned a new technique. With each attempt, he gained confidence. With each attempt, he overcame his mistakes.

Yesterday evening – just as the sun was fading – I peered at my son with a jealous eye as the hoop made six complete rotations: I want to be that kind of writer.

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