Resisting the Seven-Year Itch

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My husband and I designed our home to be a space of freedom and exploration for our children, but one area remains off-limits: the corner of our main hallway. In this nook resides our wedding invitation and my dried bouquet. They rest upon a table built by my groom – an anniversary gift.

It didn’t take long for our little ones to learn: Do not touch something so sacred.

And the great irony is this: I wish I had been so careful with my actual marriage these last seven years.

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To Redshirt, or Not to Redshirt

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That is the question that emerges most often in conversations regarding my children’s education. They both have late July birthdays, and this means they will either be the oldest or the youngest in their classes.

To be honest, I was not familiar with the term until a few years ago. Thank you, Malcolm Gladwell. But, I’ll admit, the idea of sidelining our kids to further their academic, social, and personal growth sounds pretty wonderful.

But is it the right fit for our family?

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The Career Not Taken

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When you are a parent, first birthdays always have a way of misting the eyes and evoking strong emotions. Just yesterday my little girl was afraid to take a step, and today she is sprinting. Twelve short months and all that remains are the final traces of a precious baby, our last.

I told myself I had it together. I told myself I could do this. But, the truth is, I have regrets.

I didn’t read enough stories.

I didn’t savor the middle-of-the-night embraces.

I didn’t slow down.

And – here on the other side of one – is where I begin to ponder other roads not taken.

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Date Night, within Reach

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“We’ll go on a date night.”

It’s a lie we tell ourselves over and over and over again. The truth is, when our parents are in town, we get a little selfish. We, too, want attention – to be taken care of.

When you are raising your children several hours from your closest blood relative, it feels like all the hard decisions are yours to make:

Who will care for my child while I work?

Can we really afford what our family needs?

And how will I make it through the day without a backup quarterback?

In my own mothering, I have reached the danger zone: I want to give up.

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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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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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