Proposing Motherhood

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“Well, open it.”

I looked from my boyfriend to my parents. Frankly, I felt framed.

It was Christmas 2007. I wasn’t ready to be married. But there my boyfriend sat expectantly. I had just unwrapped a cherry jewelry box.

No, really, I don’t want to look inside. Please don’t make me look inside.

“Okay,” I resigned. I feigned a smile with the understanding that – if a ring was inside – I would have a choice to make. A public choice. An immediate choice. A forced choice. 

The writing on the wall, however, had been revealed to me approximately nine months prior – during my first international service trip.

Nicaragua. Orphans. And a promise to give up sweets for Lent.  Continue reading “Proposing Motherhood”

Advice for the Tree Hugger

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“I don’t know.”

It’s a response I get often from college students when I inquire about their goals for the future. They frequently come to me frustrated by the taste of adulthood that freshman year offers.

Decisions – the ones that we know really count – can paralyze us.

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Why You’ll Become That Parent

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You know, the parent who annoys you before you have children…or before you have as many kids as they do. In your eyes, they get it all wrong.

How could they do that?

Why don’t they just do this?

I’ll never…

For myself, I can chase personal guilt back to an observation of “failed” discipline at a nice restaurant early in my first pregnancy. The scene was Silicon Valley, and the parents were older (a cultural norm in the Bay Area). They have no control, I remember thinking to myself. Their unwillingness to face the little giant in the high chair really got under my skin. Before you have children, you can really believe you have all the answers.

But if you are a parent long enough, a realization will stop you in your tracks. In my case, I had to accept an uncomfortable reality: my kids are their own people. They won’t always behave at dinner – no matter how much money or effort you expend.

And, in due time, I did that thing I said I never would.

I learned to let little things go.

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The Day I Lost the Cape

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I know my husband and I have gotten too busy when we begin to bicker through text messaging. A few weeks ago, such was the case.

Our morning began with a small request made lovingly.

“When you dress A, please remember to put the barrette in her hair.”

I may live in the genteel South, but my daughter’s barrettes serve more than an ornamental purpose: they hold back her untamed mane. If I don’t have the time for a real conversation with my husband, then scheduling a haircut is a luxury out of reach.

With a rushed family goodbye, I departed for my 8 a.m. class. And just before my second class began, I heard the vibration. In addition to the barrette, I had also asked my husband to snap a picture of the kids at preschool drop-off. Nothing brings sadness quite like missing Pajama Day. But, alas, a picture!

Only my screen seemed to validate distrust and incite a surprising anger.

Two kids. Two smiles. And no barrette.

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Now What?

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In every parenting journey, there is a moment when the unthinkable happens.

You decide to stop having children.

For our family, the curtain call came five months after our daughter was born. No more babies. Slowly, our lives adjusted, my body mostly returned, and our careers settled.

But a question has increasingly haunted me: Now what?

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