Preschool vs. Teenager Mom

img_3394

Few things bring anxiety like sitting down to Google “preschool crafts”. Really, I love creativity. I love artistic expression. But my brain just isn’t wired to seek out toddler activities when mental space opens.

Which leads me to consider advice I gained from a mommy mentor of mine just last year. I had recently shared my personal struggle in falling short of my own dreams for mothering two small children.

“Don’t beat yourself up. There are preschool moms and there are teenager moms.”

The relief, I must admit, was instant. But lately, that very idea has come to haunt me.

Am I okay with being one or the other?

Continue reading “Preschool vs. Teenager Mom”

A Birthday, Bittersweet

img_3384

“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.

Continue reading “A Birthday, Bittersweet”

Embracing Discomfort (My First Year Blogging)

img_3271

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.

Continue reading “Embracing Discomfort (My First Year Blogging)”

Happy Trails

IMG_8866

The week after my freshman year of college, my first love broke my heart. He ripped it out, used it as target practice, and urinated on the tiny fragments of my innocence.

So I agreed to an overnight camping adventure with my childhood friends. Tears were shed, alcohol was consumed, and a battle of the sexes resulted in toilet paper and Pop-Tarts being burned beyond recognition. I needed to remember how to laugh again.

Most vivid, however, was my endless night in a poorly pitched tent. I tossed. I turned. Despite my best efforts, I could not escape a jagged rock beneath the nylon.

Yet, somehow, I found healing in the midst of my life’s first mental crisis. And – just before sunrise – the mountains closed their arms around me.

You are home.

Continue reading “Happy Trails”

Duel Realities

IMG_3180

It was the “I’m in pain” cry, and it stole my breath. As I bolted to my daughter on the other side of the house, I began blaming myself for the encounter.

Moments earlier, my son had spotted a poorly hidden toy that grandma had surprised him with months ago. Now there was pain, tears, and guilt.

Somewhere along the way, my life had turned into a game of Clue: It was my son…in the front bathroom…with the plastic purple pistol.

Continue reading “Duel Realities”

Finding Hope in Our Homework

14086291_10104634086789783_2604387045784506596_o

“Homework will make your life better.” It’s a line I shared with my students over and over when I taught high school English. But, the truth is, that was before I was really an adult – and long before I had children.

From my own perspective, homework opened the doors of opportunity. The classroom environment has always produced considerable stress in me, but – on my bed late at night – I found the freedom to work through problems and write papers without the pressure of feeling that everyone else knew more than me. Homework, in many ways, was my safe space.

Just this week a note for parents from a teacher in Texas went viral, as she boldly announced an end to “formally assigned homework” in her class. The Internet may have rejoiced, but the teacher in me has serious questions: What, then, will fill that homework time?

Continue reading “Finding Hope in Our Homework”

The Baby Doll Effect

IMG_3120

You know you are the mother of a toddler when you have your first temper tantrum – that moment when you desperately want your child to do something, and they simply refuse.

Such was the scene in my son’s preschool earlier this week when each child was lovingly gifted a handmade pillow by the crafting ladies of the church. It was a beautiful gesture. Really.

Except my son didn’t want the pale blue pillow placed in his cubby. He wanted the vibrant floral one…with the obnoxious lace ruffle. His kind teachers allowed him to switch. And just when I thought I could let it go, I snapped.

I felt the need to justify his choice to every parent we encountered down the hall.

“Oh, yes, his sister will inherit this one!”

Clearly, something deep was happening. Why couldn’t I support my son’s decision?

Continue reading “The Baby Doll Effect”

The Great Purge

IMG_3110

Our Saturday morning began just like any other. We didn’t sleep in, the kids dragged their feet, and we departed our home at approximately 9 a.m. to peruse the local farmer’s market.

To the outside eye, it may have even looked like we had it together. After all, I teach an environmental health research class, we drive a Subaru, and we pay each month for curbside recycling. An air of confidence swept over me: We are saving the Earth.

Only my husband decided – at that very moment of peace – to remind me of reality: there was a mildewed child’s mattress in our trunk that needed to be thrown away. The mission itself seemed simple enough until we saw – quite literally – the writing on the fence: “No household or bulk waste.”

A bit stunned, my husband and I looked from the sign to one another. What are we going to do with our trash?

Continue reading “The Great Purge”

To Redshirt, or Not to Redshirt

IMG_1510

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?

Continue reading “To Redshirt, or Not to Redshirt”

The Career Not Taken

IMG_0718

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.

Continue reading “The Career Not Taken”