Thursday, February 22, 2018

Magic in the little things

I think all parents believe there are things about our children that we'll never forget, but if there's anything I've learned this far, it's that the magical little moments slip away without even leaving a void. I think that's part of why I cherish photographs and videos and kid quotes and blog posts so very much. I hate the idea of forgetting, although I know it's happening.

Today, the littles were playing outside in the yard. C came to the door, shouting about poop. 

"You want me to help you clean up the dog poop, bud?" I asked. 

"Yeah! Yeah! POOOOOP, Mama!" came the enthusiastic reply. 

Laughing, I hauled myself outside. 

My sweet, hilarious little 2 year old loves pointing out dog poop. It used to be our daily ritual, until I broke my leg 4 weeks ago. Now it happens... considerably less often. 

But out he ran into the grass, ready for me to bring the rake and bucket. Who knew that I'd ever find cleaning up dog waste adorable? 

"Righ' dere, Mama! Poop dere!" He exclaimed, running up to the first poop pile he found with determined elbows and marching knees, then shuffling his feet up as close to the poop as he could get, all while pointing emphatically. I noticed his shoes were on the wrong feet and smiled to myself. 

After I raked up the first couple, he wove all around the far end of the yard, poop-hunting. 

"Poooooop, are you?!" He hasn't learned to say 'where' yet. It's fantastic. "Ah HAH! Dere you are! Righ' dere, Mama! Yeah!" 

He has such an earnest little face, this one. So sweet and so utterly unapologetic about his interests, even if one of them is picking up poop. Turning his face up to mine, he shrugs his little shoulders and lifts his hands into the air. "All done, Mama? No more poop?" 

"I think we got it all, love. Thank you for your help!" 

"Welcome!" I hear faintly on the breeze he leaves behind, as he's already running onto the patio to remind me where the bucket and rake belong. 

I wish I could keep the sound of his darling toddler voice and funny words in my mind, but I know they'll fade. One day, all I'll have is this blog. 

Future self: Today is just another day. A day in a long line of days during which I know all the following: My children are inescapably amazing. They are unerringly bright. But they're also challenging, as children are meant to be. Sometimes I get beyond my own ability to be reasonable, so how could I expect them to manage better than myself? Today is just another day. Work. Kids. Housework. Dinner. Bed. Rinse, repeat. Looking at my days that way doesn't tell the true story, though. 

The magic is in the little things. In E's amazed discovery of a new nasturtium bud; in C's complete devotion to keeping the yard clear of dog poop. In E's pride over having helped sew her own Belle apron and wearing it over a blue dress so she looks just like Belle. In C's happiness over climbing out of the car by himself and touching the garage door remote to close it. In eating warm homemade banana bread fresh from the oven. In the joy my ridiculous children have when they learn we're to have grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner - again. 

So I beg the universe again. Please let me keep this. Please let their places in my heart and mind live forever. 

Let me keep the magic. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Today is your second birthday, sweet child. Yet your birth feels no further away than the flutter of the bluebird's wing. Reconciling the two can sometimes be a challenge for me, but all I have to do is watch you solve a problem, climb a tree, or say something surprising and I see the child in front of me, no longer the baby of my body.

It's been raining and chilly this week. But today, the sun unfurled his cloak and smiled gladly upon us as we celebrated you. We are a very lucky family to have so many people who love and care for us. Many friends and loved ones joined us this afternoon to wish you well as you step forward into your third adventure around the sun. 

Mom and I had somewhat of a contradictory day. As your parents, it's logical that we should spend this day with you, remembering the last two years. But as your birthday party was this afternoon, unfortunately, we spent the morning trying to get ready for the party. Maybe someday we'll have everything done enough in advance so that we're not rushing until the last moment. The odds don't seem in our favor though, so please don't get your hopes too high. So the morning and early afternoon were a bit hectic, but the party was truly lovely. 

There is something that always moves me deeply when everyone gathers around the lit candles on your cake and in one breath, sings Happy Birthday. In this moment, I feel completely unified with all the people who surround you, little one. This large group of people, of mixed backgrounds and ages, all came together to wish one little person well. To share their love with our family. To lend support and to join together in mutual joy. This circle of voices carries warmth and love and such a sense of  peace and comfort. I watched your small face glowing in the light of the candle on your cupcake and I saw your smile of shy pleasure as you looked around at all the faces singing to you. I hope you know how loved you are, and how precious you are to us. Sometimes, it still takes my breath away to know you're mine and I'm equally yours. 

You're on your way, my love! My big two year old. You beautiful soul. 

Happy Birthday! 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mothering humanity

Dearest children of mine,

I love writing to you. I love the thought that one day, an adult version of you, maybe even a parent yourself, will read my words from a time when you were still small and young. Perhaps you'll learn something about me you didn't know. I dream that maybe my words will help your current situation, whatever it may be. At the very least, I hope you can feel the love I carry for you always. 

But sometimes... I am filled with uncertainty about what I should write. To be honest? How honest? How much should I protect future-you from present-me?

The world is filled with unimaginable beauty and good, my loves. I want you to know all of it. There are good people everywhere, we call them "The Helpers". In every city, town, and community, there are The Helpers. Mom and I are some of them. You'll grow to become them, too. In some ways, you're already The Helpers, because of your good and joyful hearts. 

But today, this week... I'm struggling. I nearly wrote that I'm struggling to find my path forward, but that's untrue. You two are my path forward. You're the answer to every question I ask. But current events and the current political climate together create a country that I'm often disappointed in. Sometimes, I find the accumulation of terrible events and deeds happening daily to weigh heavily upon my shoulders. 

Right now, we have the most unqualified person in history sitting in the Oval Office, pulling strings and making decisions as if he truly represents the people of the United States. He's selfish and cruel, uncaring about the plight of the poor and middle-classed; unable to sympathize with desperation and heartbreak that come with disasters that have wreaked havoc in the lives of millions of people. His agenda includes taking affordable health care away from the masses, building a huge wall across the US/Mexico border, preventing anyone of the Muslim faith from entering our country, refusing to aid refugees fleeing murder and devastation in their home countries, handing tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and removing the ability for women to make our own decisions about our reproductive health, among other things. 

Earthquakes broke apart the earth and killed hundreds of people in Mexico; hurricanes and flooding ravaged Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands. Months later, much of Puerto Rico is without power and water and food and the death toll continues to climb. Much of northern California and the northwestern part of the States fell victim to fire after blazing fire, burning up homes and businesses and lives. In October, a man mass-murdered 50 people at an outdoor music festival in Vegas from a 32nd floor hotel room with automatic weapons. A few weeks later, another man rented a truck and drove it onto a pedestrian path in Manhattan, killing 8 people. In November, another man mass-murdered 26 people inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas with a semi-automatic rifle. That was 6 days ago. Since then, we're learning about the horrific things that men in power have done to women just because they wanted to and they could. Huge names in politics and entertainment are falling from grace as countless women step forward to share stories long hidden and held close for fear of personal and professional consequences.  

I carry so much empathy and compassion for others that reading and listening to accounts from victims of any one of these issues is taxing. As a whole, the cumulative experiences of pain and suffering are crippling. At the end of all of it, through the haze of knowing that these things have happened and are happening, the thought I'm left with is: 

What if these things happen to MY babies, like they happen to other people's babies every day? 

I'm living on a thin edge between the planes of confidence and fear, my loves. Every decision I make is calculated to help you become the best adult you can possibly be but also to keep you as safe as I can. Having lived through middle school and high school myself, I know that being a kid on the fringe or being an "outcast" from whomever happens to be popular, can be character-building experiences. I also realize that for some kids, these terrible experiences have ended their lives. Ultimately, I don't get to choose what experiences you get and which you don't. We both just have to live with what comes to us. 

I know I make mistakes. I'll make more. I'm sorry for what I don't get right. 

Just know that everything I do... it's borne of my absolute love and devotion for each of you. 

So grow. Learn. Conquer. Seek. Step forward into the light and find your paths. Be bold and confident, children of mine, and together we will do our best to keep the fear and darkness at bay. Together, we will help create a culture, a country, a world that's a better place to be than it is today. 

I will always be behind you. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Hard Day

Hard days come in lots of flavors. Problems at work. Not enough sleep. All the right buttons being pushed.

Today was different.

It started like most days, getting the kids ready for school.  While E finished her breakfast, I was changing C.  I sat down on his floor and got him dressed and then he sat in my lap to get socks on.

The first pang.

It is one of my favorite things- when they start coming over and plopping down in your lap. It makes my heart warm. But it holds memories of the other little boy who used to run over to sit in my lap. Bold and proud.

"Ba!" he yells. Pointing at the ball across the room. His socks on, he runs over to grab it. We've always been careful to say "ball" instead of "a ball," but it is still a little tickle in the back of my mind. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if my mind hadn't already been there.

He's bouncing the ball in the kitchen. "Ba! Ba! A ba!"


I'm about to go to Mothers' Day Tea at E's preschool, but I'm stuck in the feedback loop of our first Mothers' Day.  The one that felt like we weren't supposed to celebrate, like we weren't real mothers.

So this is for that first little boy. The one who tackled me to sit in my lap on Halloween. The one we took to the pumpkin patch and it exclaimed "A ba! A BA! A BA! A BALL!" as he picked up the pumpkins. 

Him and his sister. And the little girl before them. The kids who taught me to be a mother. My heart will always be broken, but its worth it knowing you each have a little piece of it with you.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Sweet boy.

It's a gorgeous spring day. The sun is out; there are big, fluffy white clouds dotting the perfect blue sky, and there's a slightly cool breeze. We're outside playing in our backyard, and you are exploring your world and abilities.

I have indescribable joy in my heart, just watching you. You study the rocks, looking for and choosing the right one carefully. You try to climb up the ladder to the slide, but find it difficult. You work at it doggedly until you conquer it and slide down into the grass again. You touch the bricks, the dirt, run your chubby fingers through the tall blades of grass with wonder in your eyes.

Sometimes, it might seem silly to take joy in watching a toddler choose a rock, which you know will immediately go into his mouth. Perhaps if you have children of your own one day, you'll understand better.

But for right now, for today... and for always. May you always have the breeze at your back and the sun to warm your face. May you approach life with wonder. May you know the sweet results of hard work. May you continue to choose carefully.

Love always,

Friday, February 24, 2017

A year ago; Today

A year ago this evening, I held you close and whispered reassurances into your ear as a NICU nurse finally, after hours of attempts, set an IV catheter into a vein in your scalp. Our littlest unicorn baby.

Today, I arrived home from work and you ran to me, arms outstretched. I picked you up and swung you around and grinned at your squealing laughter.

A year ago, you wailed in frustration and fear, unable to easily latch on to nurse with all the complications the hospital brings (and an undiagnosed tongue tie, to boot). I cried alongside you because I couldn't fix any of it.

Today, you lie next to me, sweetly sleeping and making tiny, contented noises. Body curled towards me, hand laid upon my breast; you're a much sturdier and larger boy than a year ago. The only tears I shed today are those used to remember the fear and sorrow from last year, and the loving gratitude I feel today.

I wish I could hug myself a year ago. "This will pass. You'll get through it. It's going to get so much better."

But we made it through without that future knowledge.

And it is so good.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

One Year

One year ago, you were a gleam in my eye and a swelling in my belly.

Pregnancy was a different experience than I anticipated. Logic and science told me that my body was growing a tiny human. I felt you all the time, swimming along with me as I trucked through the final days of sharing a body with you. I could identify your bottom, your knees and feet; I could feel your clenched hands reaching and pushing and exploring. Clearly, there was a baby inside me, but I didn't know you. I didn't know who you'd be, what you would look like, how you would change everything. It was shocking when you made your way into the world - you were real and perfect and you'd finally arrived. I struggled to reconcile this tiny, gorgeous babe in my arms with the exuberant fetus who had been using my bladder as a trampoline.

The evening before you were born, I was getting your sister ready for bed when I realized that your debut was imminent. She wanted me to lay next to her in bed and cuddle, but I couldn't do that. My muscles were clenching and releasing, starting to make space for you. I told Mom that you were on your way - she was still at work, but we were doing fine.

I got E tucked in, dinner dishes cleared, dishwasher humming along quietly. I left the light above our wooden table glowing and turned the rest of the lights out. I glanced back down the hall as I padded to the bedroom. The soft amber light gently lit our colorful kitchen and dining room. I recall feeling that our lovely little home seemed... expectant. A wave of gratitude washed over me that your first address would be this house that had seen so many wonderful moments in my life.

I labored through the night and into the morning. I saw my last sunrise without you in my arms. Your grandparents arrived, we went to the Birth Center, and a few hours later, you were born.

Sometimes it seems that it's only been a few hours since that happened.

But now we are celebrating your first birthday, son of mine. One whole trip around the sun. A year of love and laughter and joy and gratitude.

On the day of your birth and every anniversary after, the February sun will rise and its warmth will tease open the first brave gold poppies. The globemallow and brittlebush will bloom and as they do, I will always think that they are celebrating the time when you entered this world and set your own path into the earth.

You are a magical child, C. You are everything and more that we didn't even know we needed. Your smile lights up the room. Your squeaking laugh is impossible to not join in on. You are incredibly loving and sweet. You are ravenously curious and intelligent. You are bold and confident and strong and determined.

This world needs you. It needs you and your sister. I believe we are all here to do important work. We are here to love deeply. To be kind and generous. To be selfless and to serve one another. To be compassionate and empathetic to our fellow humans and the creatures who share this planet with us.

I don't care what you do with this life of yours, my darling boy, as long as you find joy in it. The small things are what matter. Not how much money you make or how successful others believe you to be. No one can determine your worth but YOU.

I am elated to be your Mama and to be given the privilege of walking beside you.

We are so glad you've come!