What Is Small

Everything is chaos until I tuck my daughter into bed. She is so calm, so sweet, so complacent, as she snuggles down in her big bed under fluffy covers. I smooth her hair, hand her the two tattered lovies that she sleeps with every night, and lie down next to her.

Every other night I pray and sing, but tonight there is a lump in my throat and it’s too big to let anything out. I just lie there in the dark and listen to her sweet toddler voice as she says take a bath, go to bed over and over and I think to myself maybe this is all I need to be well.

Maybe when life feels too big I need to focus on what is small.


Pure joy.

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I Choose To Be Thankful.

Today, I choose to be thankful.

I am thankful because my children are alive and even though one of them always seems to have some sort of affliction that requires a trip across town to our pediatrician’s office, I am thankful to have a car to drive them in because otherwise I would be forced to depend on the kindness of others or the public transportation system.

I am thankful that we have a safe home to live in, even though it’s not ideal and rent is ridiculous and every time I walk down the hallway I get disgusted with myself for not following through and hanging the remainder of the family photos that are stacked in my bedroom, because I am thankful to have a family to take pictures of.

I am thankful to have a body that works, even though I wish it was maybe a little less fat, but really I don’t even care about that because my body allows me to live my life in whatever manner I feel like on any given day.

I am thankful to be a woman in America in 2015 who has the freedom to make choices. I am thankful that I have chosen to bear three children and then shut down the baby factory, and my husband and I made that informed decision with the knowledge that it was right for us and it was no one else’s decision to make.

I am thankful that I can stay home with my children and wear an apron with pockets and even though I feel like my life would be easier if I had a housekeeper, sometimes I am thankful that I can stand back with pride and look at a bathroom I just cleaned and know that for the next 3.2 seconds it is pristine because I MADE IT SO.

I am thankful for being. For life. For joy and love and yes, even grief, because feeling those things means I am still alive.


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Negative Moms Prevent Pin Worms.

My 7-year-old informed me the other night at dinner that I’m “kind of a negative person.” I think Robbie saw the crazy flash in my eyes, so he immediately said “YOUR MOTHER IS SUPER FUN.” (No one believed him.)

I want my kids to see my fun side, but it’s hard to show it — especially for people like me who are very goal-oriented and focused on results.

Okay, FINE. I’m uptight.

In my defense, someone has to be. I mean, if I were as laid-back as my husband … I really don’t know what would happen. Probably nothing. But also, maybe something terrible. Like pin worms.

I think this picture proves that I'm not COMPLETELY uptight.

I think this picture proves that I’m not COMPLETELY uptight.

Every day in parenthood, there are approximately 67 tiny goals to accomplish between the time I get up and the time I go to bed. Put on clothes that make me look like a mother and not a hooker. Ingest coffee while it’s still hot. Pack three semi-nutritious lunches.

School drop-off presents its own unique set of goals: Keep my composure in the face of tantrums. Refrain from screaming at the woman who damn near ran over my child. Try not to look too excited as I hurry back home.

Back at home, I begin my next set: Write. Laundry. Call my mother.

You get the picture.

I am regimented and focused and uptight, but it’s not because I’m unhappy. It’s because I have a lot of worries. I worry about my children. I worry about my parents. I try not to talk about it too much, but my mother has cancer. That’s concerning. Maybe men do a better job of compartmentalizing everything, but my entire life is a jumbled up heap that tumbles around in my brain like shoes in a dryer.

I have a lot of joy in my life, but I have lot of stress as well.

Until I figure out how to keep my worries from manifesting in negativity towards my immediate family, I will be referring to myself in the third person. Hi, I’m Negative Mommy. For example, “You don’t want to miss the bus today, Maverick, and end up stuck with NEGATIVE MOMMY all day.”

I tested this out a few mornings ago when he was dragging his feet.

He got on the bus.

Maybe I can make this work out in my favor after all.

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Making Bitterness My Bitch.

Today I took my 3-year-old and my 1-year-old into a public bathroom, not because I wanted to, but because I weighed the options and public bathroom won out over let’s roll the dice and see if we can make it home.

Ironically, because I was so valiant in my effort to keep them from touching every surface within reach, my little girl tripped over my foot and belly-flopped onto the floor of the bathroom stall. Her face may have actually made contact with the tile … it’s unclear because I have already stricken the details from memory.

While I worked to lift her upright and mentally checked into my safe place, my son busied himself with touching every single part of the toilet. Apparently he saw the opportunity to send me over the edge and ran with it.

20150315_161351 20150315_161331

After almost four years of being a full-time stay-at-home-mom, I’m tired. My nerves are raw. I feel frayed, just like the green blanket that my child has rubbed and loved on until there is nothing left but a mangled, nubby wad of material. A friend told me when I first quit working that there would be a honeymoon period, followed by an adjustment period and settling in. And then, I would either love it or I would hate it.

I feel like maybe I’m in a transitional time where I’m not sure how I feel about it. I do know that I need to do a better job of being grateful for the privilege of being home. At the beginning of all this, I told Robbie on a daily basis how grateful I was to him for working so hard and allowing me to focus solely on raising our children. Somehow, over time, that has shifted to bitterness. Four years of cooking, shopping, and cleaning — all things that I used to enjoy — changed me.

What happened?

I have allowed myself to get bogged down in responsibilities, and I have lost sight of the reasons why I wanted to do this job in the first place. And remembering WHY I AM DOING THIS is where I find my peace and my joy.

So, you know what? Screw bitterness. I’m going to make bitterness my bitch.

I am grateful that I am the one who gets to wrangle my children in bathrooms outside of our home … because no one else could scrub their little hands as thoroughly, and with as much love.

I am grateful that I am the one who wipes their noses a million times a day, because someone else might not notice, or worse — let it run freely (shudder).

I am grateful that I oversee everything that happens in this house, because while that may be an exhausting endeavor, I know things are done well here. No one will get Salmonella on my watch.

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

When I take the time to think those words, roll them over in my mind, and write them, I realize they are true. I really am grateful. I just don’t take the time to say it enough.

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This Holiday.

Since none of the retailers seem to be selling self-respect, sanity, or nannies who are both legal and willing work for free, I’m just going to sit this Cyber Monday out.

While the rest of you frantically put up holiday decorations over the weekend, I was trapped in an enclosed space with four other humans who can’t control their gasses. When we finally got home, I declared Thanksgiving officially over and switched out the wreaths on our front door.

10458214_10155116112855508_734467617946772132_nThis Christmas, I REFUSE to try to make everyone happy. That is an impossible task that is rarely accomplished by anyone, and even if you somehow manage to make it happen and all the people are happy … then you probably aren’t.

I don’t care to make anyone happy except for the people who live in my house. Their happiness is my top priority, and I won’t apologize for it. I hope that doesn’t hurt your feelings, but if it does, you should turn to the people in your own house for comfort.

There will be tacky decorations. There will be hot cocoa. There will be beverages containing alcohol. We will listen for reindeer. We will bake cookies. I will probably yell and then feel bad about it.

The likelihood of me sending out Christmas cards is very, very low. I probably could pull it off if I really put my mind to it and acted like a crazy person for the next few days, but it’s not worth it to me. I just spent the past week of my life acting crazy. I think it’s time to put a stop to that.

There will be no last-minute rush to the store for gifts for so-and-so because we just found out they’re coming over. Nope. No adults will get a gift from us this year, not only because we don’t have the money for it, but because I also do not have the wherewithal to Pinterest some handmade bullshit to wrap up and give away to everyone. I just don’t. I’m not sorry. If you’re expecting a gift, don’t come over.

If you do come over, here’s what you can expect: a very low-key holiday experience full of laughter and the occasional high-pitched screech. There will also be crying, because my kids are small and someone is always crying. You may also get a whiff of a poop or pee smell. I’m sorry about that. The good news is that, overall, my house will smell nice because my mother-in-law gave me some awesome Yankee candles that are “Autumn Leaf” scented and they mask the poop odor like a boss.

It will be cozy here. The floor will be strewn with toys. Something will be baking. The cups will be plastic and the plates will be paper. No one will be camera-ready except for me, because I have a deep, irrational need to look nice when people come over. It’s the one remaining thing I have control over, so don’t hate on the fact that I spent an hour on my hair. I did it because no one in my life is predictable … except for my curling iron.

We have dance parties here. You can join in if you like.

This year, I’m TAKING BACK MY JOY. Starting now. Happy December 1!