Wagging Goodbye

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When my husband and I started dating, I was a single mother. A Yorkshire terrier puppy named Wharton had stolen my heart just two months prior.

In the midst of graduate school and multiple jobs, I think owning a dog gave me permission to be maternal. At 22, I was nowhere near ready to have children.

But I liked to think that one day it still might happen. A dog, I believed, would give me practice.

And, it’s true, I endured all of the frustrating stages required of little creatures.

Bladder control (often in the wee hours of morning).

Destruction of property.

Boundaries.

If I’m honest, I think my dog represented something even deeper: my fear of being alone.

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You Can Do This

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“You can do this.” It’s become a mantra in our relationship.

First, it was sweet encouragement my husband and I whispered to one another during our tenure in graduate school. Eventually, we walked across the stage – just minutes apart.

Next, it was yelled by my husband over intense labor pains. Truthfully, I thought our children might be stuck forever. Eventually, two little people entered the world.

And, just this weekend, I found myself mentally replaying the words.

For the first time, we trusted a non-grandparent caregiver to put both children to bed.

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A Veteran’s Lesson in Courage

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Excited to share my first guest post! Thank you to Grinia at Mirror & Soul for the opportunity and to all the veteran students who have made me a better teacher, mother, and learner.

“A Veteran’s Lesson in Courage”

I could tell he was nervous. There is this dance of eye contact aversion that my quietest students have perfected. But I teach at the college level – composition, to be exact – and public speaking is a rite of passage.

In full disclosure, I had been anticipating this moment for over 24 hours. The student, a veteran in his mid-20s, had a story to tell.

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We’ve forgotten how to use our hands

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My father’s hands were always calloused – filthy from the day’s work. His meal ticket wasn’t a college degree but back-breaking labor. In all of my life, I have never seen anyone work harder.

Which is why he readily accepts projects during visits to our home. This past December he removed rotten wood and adhesive from our front steps and completely replaced our laundry room flooring. In the process, he ruined a well-used long-sleeved T-shirt with Virginia Tech, my alma mater, written across it.

My father’s four-year plan ended prematurely, and he didn’t finish college.

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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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5 Keys to Work-Life Balance (Mom Edition)

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Last fall the walls were about to cave in. Really. In many ways, my world was coming apart.

If you’re a mother, you know exactly what I mean:

  • Exhaustion: Check
  • Countless meals out: Check
  • Irritability: Check
  • An inability to do ANYTHING well: Check

Truly, you can only hold on like this for so long. When last semester ended, I did what any sane teacher mom would do. I disconnected.

No social media pressure. No play date merry-go-round. No books about parenting. And no cheap, meaningless conversation.

In short, I returned to all the little things that I had forgotten along the busy motherhood way. And, in this, I focused on a work-life reset.

So what is the “secret” that helped me pull through?

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