Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The "F" word

Five has been a challenge. Five was a magical year and milestone when my daughter reached it, but every kid is so different. Five with my son has been full of surprises. He has had a difficult time adjusting to going to school all day, spends a lot of time cranky or hungry or both, and he has had bigger meltdowns this year than I have seen to date since being a mom. This past week included some pretty fantastic additions to the "I would like to forget some of this five stuff" list in my head. I know when I am calmer and perhaps less vain, I will be able to laugh at this week with the rest of you.

Wednesday when I picked my sweet innocent child up at school, he seemed to have received a hair cut during the Kindergarten day. When I asked him if he cut it, he denied it. I asked him if someone else cut it, and he said no. I asked him if we should go and see if his teacher and if maybe she knew anything about it, and he said, "OK, but I will play in the yard while you talk to her." I told him he had to come with me and when we got three feet away he confessed. His confessions always start the same way: "Please don't be mad but..." to which I thank him for his honesty and then try to redirect my anger.

His hair was bad. He had long hair in front and he started somewhere in the middle of his forehead and cut out to the side and then down. I'm not going to lie, it reminded me of Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber." His teacher explained that she was working one on one with another child when another child (bless the whistle blower) got her attention to tell her that three kids were cutting their hair. If they had anymore time to cut he might be bald now. Instead, the little girl got layers, he got weird bangs, and the other little boy, well he cut all the way to his head to his hairline and now sports a crew cut. We got my son's hair fixed this weekend too, but I am still sad because every time he gets a cut he seems to look less and less like my baby.

On the subject of not a baby anymore, in the car to get his hair fixed he asked me if "fuck" was a bad word. He said it so matter of fact and truly had no idea what the word was. My daughter in the back with him looked so surprised. She is quite in the know now with words like this, so she watched wide eyed how my husband and I were going to get out of this one. We said it was a bad word, yes. He then asked again using the word again. "What does fuck mean?" I explained that it was kind of a lazy word people use when they can't figure out what else to say. I am speaking quickly at this point and winging it.  We changed the subject and hoped that would be that.

Yesterday, he got a new stuffed animal, a dragon. He called it "Drugs" until his sister explained that drugs are kind of bad. I explained that drugs can be medicine so maybe you could pick a different name. He asked if he could call the dragon "Fuck," at which point I literally pulled over the car. He repeated the word, emphasizing every consonant, before my husband explained that it isn't a word we can just say. We talked a little more about why, and then tried to hide our laughter from the front seat. No denying it sounds pretty funny coming from a five year old.

All in all, we will survive this four letter word "five" and the other word I was hoping he wouldn't learn yet.  Five is not all bad. I still get the most amazing unsolicited hugs and kisses.  I am amazed at the wonder of how much he is learning. I treasure watching him learn to read, and the magic that happens when he picks up a book, His smiles are infectious and he can make me laugh hard. I am so sad we are nearing the end of the milestone of five and kindergarten. I want to hold on to my little one a little longer. Oh and also, I hope that he learns safer scissor skills and that if he is going to use the f-word that it should have been what he said when he saw his own haircut.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Snuggle Me!

Our children never slept in our bed with us when they were little. When we brought our newborn baby home from the hospital, we set up one of those cradles for her to sleep in between us. Within a few hours we both knew we'd never sleep well with her between us. Occasionally, on vacation or if one of our kiddos was sick, we would have them in our bed, but it never seemed to be conducive to actually sleeping. When I was a child though, there was nowhere safer than in between my parents in their bed. I wondered if my children would never feel that way, and then this summer something changed.

When my mother in law fell ill, my husband went down to San Diego to be with her. What started as a night here and there, turned into weeks and months of him out of town. Naturally, we all missed him. Within a few days my son asked if he could sleep in "daddy's spot".  Now he knows that when my husband is out of town, he gets to be the man of the house. Soon after he bunked with me, my daughter started a new tradition of setting her alarm a few minutes early so she could cuddle in the morning next to me. This has been a win-win for all of us. I absolutely love having them next to me when I wake up. It is something I am so grateful for these days, and I know it is fleeting.

Last week we went on the middle school tour, so we could get a sense of what next year will be like. I really don't understand how time seems to be flying by so fast that my baby is about to go to middle school. I definitely don't understand how I'm old enough to have a middle schooler, but regardless, the time is coming. With that, comes her moodiness, independence and a maturity that may have her choosing to stay in her own bed for those precious extra minutes next year. I hope I'm wrong, but in case I am, I am treasuring these snuggles.

In the middle of the night, my son will sometimes say "Mommy, snuggle me." I draw him close and kiss the top of his head. If he is cold he will hug me and no matter what, I'll never be the one to let go first. Even if he falls asleep on top of my arm, it's worth it. It is a pretty magical way to wake up in the morning, with my two children on either side of me. I breath them in, cuddle them close and take a moment before having to dreadfully get out of bed.

When my mother-in-law passed away, she took her last breath with all four of her children and her husband right next to her. I am not sure what she was thinking in that moment, but I know that she was in heaven just having them all next to her. Our experiences keep challenging and changing us. It can feel like a whirlwind, so when I can slow it down and hold my family close, I do. My prayer is that the last feeling of love for my mother-in-law lasts forever. Little by little our family is finding it's new normal and when all four of us get to snuggle together, everything feels right.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
-- George Bernard Shaw

If there is one area that needs much improvement in adult day to day interactions, it is communication. For any organization to work effectively, communication is key. Not everyone has to be on the same page, but everyone should at least know what page they are on. I have recently experienced the negative side effects of lack of communication in an organization, and it can be quite a bumpy ride when the truth falls off the tracks.

The larger the group of people the more easily misinformation spreads. Negativity is the first thing I notice. People feel in the dark so it's concerning. No one likes feeling out of the loop and it results in fearful thinking. That uneasy feeling breeds doubt and negative feelings towards their environment and it becomes and unhappy place to be. 
The second thing I notice is rumors. People don't get enough information they begin asking around, and if what they find out isn't enough they began to speculate. Those speculations are heard by someone as fact, and rumors begin. The longer the facts are withheld the more rumors start flying. 

The last thing I have noticed is a lack of productivity. No one feels inspired, driven or creative when they don't feel part of the group. If one doesn't know what is going on how can they step up and have any voice at all? There is no point in voicing up with half the facts. No one wants to ask questions about things they aren't sure of. Sure we were all taught in school there are no stupid questions, but that doesn't mean you won't feel stupid asking.

As this school year sets in, I reflect on what goes right for the parents, teachers, principal and students. There is a lot of good. There is so much I would not change, but communication is not one of those things. There are so many layers of leadership that go into making a school. There is so much that should remain behind closed doors until the door is meant to be opened. There are also so many whispers that get sent through the halls before the good intentions can even stand a chance of keeping up.
While my first hope is transparency whenever possible, my second hope is that people give others the benefit of the doubt. Think the best of people, and before you get upset try to imagine that leaders have the schools best interest at heart. Being an administrator, teacher, school counselor, or principal is not an easy job. There are so many pieces to the puzzle. Please try not to fill an open space just to make up a resolution. The answers will come. They always do, and most of the time it all works out in the end.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Boys And Girls

As a woman, and as the mother of a boy, I do not accept when I hear "boys will be boys" in response to a child's behavior. I do understand human nature is human nature. I also understand that no child come into the world knowing right from wrong. My son and many of his peers seem to be naturally drawn to wrestling, guns, and danger. As a parent I see it as my responsibility to strike a balance between play fighting and actually hurting another person. I don't condone my son's behavior just because of his gender, if it is lacking in kindness and gentleness. I don't understand when others give their sons the "boys will be boys" free pass.

As a woman, and as a mother of a daughter, I also don't accept when I hear "girl drama." Can girls be dramatic?  Sure, as they are learning to navigate social skills, friendships peer pressure and change. So are boys.  The categorizing of behavior in children is already linked to their gender at such a young age. It scares me. At this time in our country, we've gone backwards. It saddens and terrifies me to think that my daughter's rights are more in the hands of men than ever before. We teach our daughters today that women can do anything men can. Then over and over again, we see the inequality and it is challenging to believe our own words.

We recently saw a man being questions for his past actions, become unhinged. We saw him beg, plead, and cry. We watched as he portrayed himself a victim of injustice, and complained that his life was destroyed. Its not hard to imagine that if a woman said all the same words in the same manic tone, she would be described as emotionally unstable.

That same day we saw a woman recall the painful events of her past. She didn't want to come forward, but felt it was important for the country to know a man like this might not be the best person to be deciding the rights of people in our country, especially women's rights. Bravely she got under the glaring spotlight and recounted all she could remember from an unforgettable event in her life. She explained how this man in question had his hand over her mouth to silence her. For many years he succeeded.

All of us hear her now. Some choose not to listen, but they will have to soon enough. For my son, and my daughter I do not accept this behavior. Maybe someone long ago accepted this man's behavior and said "boys will be boys." We know many people describe this women's behavior as dramatic. I hope that our future generation of boys has better hearing, because when we empower our girls to speak up, we all better learn how to listen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Here We Go Again!

Sunday nights have never been a walk in the park for me. As a kid they were fraught with anxiety about the next day at school. As an adult Sunday nights brought the anxiety of work the next day. The end of the weekend, and the beginning of responsibility and expectations that I wasn't always able to measure up to. I got a reprieve the this weekly ritual when I first became a mother. I had no where to report each week, and no one to report to except my baby. I loved the lack of schedule and structure. That was very short lived of course because within a few years school entered my life once again. This time for my child.

My father once sent me a poem about Sundays and Mondays. He tried to help me embrace them with excitement and optimism. I really want to try and find that right about now. Last night that dreaded feeling reared it's head again. At first I thought I just had a stomach ache, and then I recognized it. Anxiety not being a stranger to my system, sometimes shows up before I can even place what I am anxious about. That was the case last night. It took me about an hour and then right before I got into bed my eyes started welling up. It felt a bit like Sam, the boy in  Mo Willams Leanardo books that finally explodes a page long rant of why he is crying.  I started with being tired, and got all the way to my babies are growing up. One is already done with Kindergarten and the other in the last year of elementary school. I am already anticipating the horrible unknown of middle school. It feels like every school year has some big monumental leap, or a bigger level of importance than the one before it.

My parent brain understands that I pass on any anxiety to my children. I do a great job of hiding this from them, but inside my won head it feels like a build up of all my first days of schools wrapped up into one and magnified when I send my kids off on that first day. Two years I sat down with a therapist to talk this through, but I knew in my heart of heart everything would be okay, and I was too cheap to pay someone else to say that to me. I also know that they have their own anxiety without any help from me. What I didn't know is how much I would feel their fears along with them.  This of course is par for the parenting course. I am learning to hear my own calming words that I relay to them and slowly I will believe in them too.

I am grateful I feel things so deeply. The flip side is that I have a passion for life, and feel intense joy most of the time. I just wish that every time my adrenaline kicked in it didn't feel like a punch in the gut. Here I am experiencing elementary school anxiety all over again for a second time. This time I am learning a lot more though.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mother Said

There will be days like this. Days when my feelings get so much bigger than my body has room for. Days when I feel so overwhelmed, that making a sandwich seems insurmountable. Days when being a parent has me regressing to my own childhood, calling my own mother so that she can tell me what to do. Yesterday was one of those days.

Part I:  While I was out with my son, my husband took my daughter out. He had been waiting a long time, until she was at the right age, to share with her that he had been married before. I had an opportunity when she asked how we met earlier in the week, but I felt he should be the one to tell her. I thought that I would be present for this, but we had a misunderstanding on that part. Later that afternoon when I saw her, my daughter said she had something she wanted me to know. She told me that she knows now, and gave me a smile and a wink. I looked over at my husband and he told me he told her, explained that she was really surprised, and then asked if that meant she had another mother. When he explained that she didn't, she then asked if his first wife was kind of like her step mom. By the time I got to her, I explained that I was her only mom and that all it meant really was that daddy chose someone who wasn't the right fit the first time around. None of this went the way I envisioned, but expectations, they get me every time.

Part II: My daughter didn't get a part in the play she auditioned for at school, but her friend did.  I'm not sure which of those facts was upsetting her, but likely both. To make matters worse I found this out moments before having to leave for the evening, leaving the kids with a babysitter. I tried to comfort her in the most time efficient way I could, but it just felt all wrong. In fact I think it left us both feeling worse. I reluctantly went out for the evening wishing I could reschedule the night and just go home and hold her. Her disappointment feels about ten times worse to me than any time I didn't get a part. Hurting on behalf of your children is just part of parenting, but wow it really stings sometimes.

Part III:  At the end of the night, I was so happy to get home. As promised, I planned on going straight in to give my sleeping daughter a hug.  Just needed to see off the sitter first.  When we chatted with her about how the night went she got very serious. She explained that she wanted to tell us that our son was very "inappropriate" with her. My husband and I asked her what she meant, and she began to explain that sometimes he takes his clothes off when she's babysitting. She said sometimes he pulls down his pants and "exposes" himself to her, and that the last time she babysat, he asked if he could see her breasts. As I stood listening to her speak, my stomach began churn. I wondered if my son was a predator in the making. I worried she was going to write her Me Too testimony and throw our whole family under the bus with it. She was speaking about it in such a formal uncomfortable way. She even explained that in her college Psychology class she read that kids his age are fascinated with bodies so she knows it's age appropriate, but that she wanted to let us know, because it was still really "inappropriate." I think she said she wanted to let us know about 7 times, and now we really know, because she really did let us know. Out of pure discomfort I asked her about her class and that if her take-away was that at his age this fell under normal curiosity, and I walked right into her saying "well, but his went a little further than that."  She also said that she explained to him that she may look young, but she is the authority and that he can't behave that way around her.

After thanking her for coming and Venmo-ing her $100 for her babysitting (and psychological evaluation), I wondered what part felt wrong to me. My son's behavior was inappropriate. Was my son's behavior really inappropriate? I don't disagree that he needs to better respect boundaries and others around him, but it still felt all wrong. I felt like I needed to wake him up to discuss consent with women, except that he is six. He doesn't know any of this yet and it is our job, as the adults around him, to teach him. Firmly, but also without shaming him. My husband and I felt kind of shamed by this sitter last night, so I wonder how much of that was leaning on him. We went to bed last night, wondering how to handle this all. When I woke up this morning I talked about boundaries, explained what is okay and what is not, and then dropped them off at school. As soon as I was alone, I called my mom. She listened, she laughed and then she said "there will be days like this." We will all be okay.  Sometimes you just need your mom to tell you that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

New Year, New Me

That title is misleading, I am not really making any big changes. I didn't cut my long hair (yet,) I am not eating some new way that will give me a ton of energy and glowing skin. I am not committing to a new exercise plan, starting a new career, or anything drastic, I am just giving myself a gift. A gift everyday of a little bit of time. I am committed to not racing around like a stress case being late, and I am not going to bite off more than I can chew.  I will learn to ask for help where I need it, and graciously accept it. I will also accept where I am in this present moment, without thinking about what my next career move is.

The truth is I like what I am doing now. I teach senior citizens in the water, and help them stay healthy. I teach my children how to be decent little humans. I prepare three meals a day for a family of four. I run several programs at my children's school including but not limited to starting a Spanish program, motivating kids to walk or bike to school, International week oh and helping run the PTA. I love writing and make a point to do it weekly. I love seeing my friends when I can, and spend weekends having fun with my family.

I love to read, see a good movie, and I love when the people I am closest to make me laugh so hard I cry. I don't want those things to take a back seat anymore. I commit to making room for them this year. I am excited to take it all in. My cup runneth over, so just when I feel like maybe I am still thirsty. I am going to assess just how full I am.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Long Lunches, Old Friends

Saturday, I took the day off. It wasn't intentional. I had a plan with some friends in the morning, and then another plan to meet a friend for an early dinner. My husband took the kids out for the morning, and when I got back home they were still out. I took a nice long shower, and they were still out. My friend asked me if I could move our plans a bit earlier so I got ready to leave just as my husband and kids pulled into the garage. I said hello and goodbye to my husband and daughter, and kissed my boy's sleeping head as he napped in the car. By the time I got back, it was nearly their bedtime. I highly recommend a day off like this once in a while.

I met with a friend that I haven't seen in quite some time. He lives on the other side of town, and in LA that may as well mean the other side of the country. I moved out here at the same time as he did twenty (gulp!) years ago. I drove out with his college friend, and after a few months, she returned to NY, and he and I stayed. We both were young when we made the move, we didn't know quite who we were yet, even though we thought we did. We have both come a long way since those days, and we have seen each other through a lot. There were also times we were not in each other's lives. We had more than one falling out. No blow-out fights or rage-fueled spewing at each other, but we had our disagreements that resulted in breaks in our communication. Two were differences in opinions, and one was just life taking us in such different directions. The last break was shortly after my son was born. We went over five years without seeing each other. When I ran into him, I had two kids standing next to me, and it was surreal to introduce them to him. We were standing in front of someone who I shared so much of my life with, and here are two of the most important people in my world, and they had no idea about each other.

We spent three hours catching up Saturday. We had long, intellectual, spiritual, and funny conversations. We somewhat jokingly made a list of topics to cover, and we actually succeeded in covering them all. For most people who know me, they know this is nearly impossible for me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

This Week

There is nothing better than stumbling into some inspiration. This week a friend shared with me a podcast about love, and how fear is the opposite of love. Being the anxious person that I can be, this worries me. Right off the bat, I guess I am screwed, but I kept listening. I couldn't have heard something at a better time for me. I listened as the speaker spoke about inner peace, and we are only our best true selves when we love ourselves. She spoke about finding love in yourself for others, even when they are the most irritating to you -- especially when they are most irritating to you.

She also told a story about when she was a little girl, and she observed her stay-at-home mother, that she hoped one day to be more than her mother. She realized after though how important a role her mother's was. As women, many of us are caretakers and nurturing to our young. Females in the animal kingdom take care of their young. The females protect them and then send them out into the world, then the females continue to make the world a safe place for their young, even after they are not with them. Woman today, even if they don't have children, often find some way to continue to make the earth better, and safer. It is an interesting instinct, although in my opinion we could use some more woman with those strong instincts. The planet could use a bit more TLC.

Yesterday I took my daughter to see a film with a friend and her daughter. The four of us have gone to women's rights marches, and other political events together, in the past. This time we went to see “RBG", the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It was so inspiring to watch this sitting next to our friends. The girls are nine and ten, and to have them see how Ruth Bader Ginsberg became who she was today will impact them. My daughter and I snuck a few elbow jabs and smiles through the film. At one point RBG talks about her mother being strict and loving when she grew up. She said her mother stayed on top of her about homework and practicing piano. That was a very helpful support to my parenting right there, worth the price of admission for that alone. She always gave her daughter this advice "She said two things: Be a lady and be independent. Be a lady meant don't give way to emotions that sap your energy, like anger. Take a deep breath and speak clearly." She took that advice and ran with it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Today, she says she ignores the haters, and gives the advice of becoming friends with people who don't agree with you. She and Antonin Scalia were buddies, in court and politically they had nothing in common, but they went to opera's together and made each other laugh. They agreed to disagree. She also advises to find a life partner who believes in you. Her husband was her biggest fan, and you could see it whenever he spoke about his wife. She also advised to care about matters other than work. She attributed her law school success to the fact that she was raising her infant daughter during law school. Once 4pm came and her Nanny went home, she played games with her daughter till she put her baby to bed, then she hit the books again. She allowed each part of her day to be a respite from the other.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sailboat Parenting

After having lunch with a few friends last week, I ran home to pull my copy of "The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee" I got the book as a hand me down gift years before I even had children. The pages yellowed and stiff from neglect, the cover colors are faded. Now, ten years into parenting, I am finally committed to reading it. The book offers teachings on how to raise self reliant children. I am not usually a fan of parenting books, but I'm am even less of a fan of what I am seeing happening in parenting styles now. Tiger parenting, helicopter parenting, lawn mower parenting, and even curling parenting all terms for parents who are hovering, and over protecting their children. I read an article on raising independent children, and the author mentioned that "parenting" wasn't even coined a term until the last few decades. When we grew up, our parents didn't take classes or attend workshops on how to raise us. They figured it out, and they made some mistakes too. There are many, many "right" ways to raise children. When I sat down to lunch with my friends last week, I got a wake up call on my own parenting. It would be nice if I was sailboating through parenting, and just going with the flow. I too am guilty at times of hovering, curling, and plowing.

We exchanged stories of letting our "saving" our kids. I have thought about the times when my youngest forgets his lunch, and I drop it off at school. Or when my daughter leaves homework, completed and on the table, I fight the urge to prevent her any disappointment, and question bringing it in to school for her. It doesn't take much to see that there is a lot of rescuing of kids going on. All I need to do is stand in our elementary school office, within the first hour after schools starts, and watch frazzled adults bringing, in water bottles, violins, lunches, and homework. We are not helping our children by rescuing them. In fact we are teaching them that they don't have to learn, or remember how to take care of themselves. We are giving them a sense of security that won't help them become independent adults.

I'd like to think I am balanced in my parenting, but I still have a long way to go. I catch myself taking over for my kids when they are trying to learn a new skill. I will grab the can opener out of my daughter's hand at the first sign of struggle. I will tell my son to come down when he is climbing too high on the play structure, I don't let them walk around on their own without trailing too far behind. In a time when free range parenting can result in a call to child protective services, it is hard to raise a kid and give them any freedom. We wonder why more children prefer to sit inside in front of a screen over playing outside. Well, chances are many folks are not letting their kids ride bikes till dusk anymore. Recently, my kids and I passed someone on the street who was smoking a cigarette and my son asked me if I had ever tried smoking. I told the truth, well the partial truth. I said I had, once, and that it was gross and burned my throat. When my daughter asked how old I was, I lied and told her I was in college. The truth is that I was nine when i smoked my first cigarette. In that moment, I realized I was a year younger than her when I started getting into trouble with friends. I am not condoning that she should experimenting tobacco use, but even if she wanted to walk alone to the candy store she couldn't. She is still being driven around in a booster seat.

I'm not sure what the answer is, or where the balance lies, but I do know that trying to prevent my kids having any failure, sadness or anxiety in their lives will never teach them how to actually deal with being afraid. If I don't let them mess up and fail, they will never learn how to pick themselves up. If I provide them with every single thing they need, they will not learn how to fend for themselves. I am learning to trust my own instinct, to know when and where to back off. In the past I would help my kids get out of their bad moods. I will always comfort them with a hug, if they ask, but I don't need to rescue them from their own feelings. That would be the biggest disservice to them. A few skinned knees and bruised egos, is exactly what children need to learn before adulthood. It is indeed a blessing, if I can teach my children that.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Ten and Six

As summer comes to a close (sob) I am soaking in my two kiddos before they start school.  This calm before the school storm is both my best and worst time of year. I don't like thinking about the first day of school. It still brings up the anxiety that I had when I was a kid. New teachers, new rules, responsibility, and routine. Every new school year felt like a threat to my personal freedom. My kids do not feel the same way I did, so I put on a good face for them. When their normal nerves pop up for them, it kind of sends me on high alert. It pains me to see them afraid, uncomfortable, or daunted by school. They handle such issues with much more grace than I ever did. I also love this time of year because we get to play just a bit longer. We take a few beach days, go to the movies, swim and leave the house when we want in the morning.

With more time spent together each day, I get to see every little change as they happen. Both kids are learning and changing so much and in such different ways too. Both my kids are very social so it is fun to watch them get excited about hanging out with their friends. It is also fun to watch the difference between what they both like to do. My son has a friend over and they go outside ride bikes or skateboard. They play with toys in his room and then they ask for snacks. My daughter either wants to write a story with her friends, or make a new iMovie, they like to walk around the area on their own, asserting a fairly new sense of independence.

At six my boy is definitely not quite as cuddly as he used to be. It seems I have to ask for a hug or kisses, when they used to come without prompting. When he does come in for a snuggle now I hold on as long as I can. He called out to me in the middle of the night recently, and by the third time, I asked him what was going on, and he replied"I just missded you." My exhaustion just melted away, as I was smitten by him all over again. My friend calls him Dennis The Menace. Originally because he looked like him, but now also because he pretty much is him. He is sneaky all the time, and when he gets caught he says"I didn't know." He does this  so well, its hard to argue with him, but argue we do.
He walks around referring to my husband as "bro-sky"and calls me "mamasita." He likes rap, at least the kid versions I let him hear. Recently a song came on and he told us we needed to change the song because he heard the f word and that it is inappropriate. Glad he has standards. He also shared his BIG NEWS announcement with us recently that he has his first wiggly tooth. He felt so relieved to no longer be the last friend he knew to have a wiggly tooth. Just like his sister, an adult tooth has poked up behind before the baby one is out. He now reads books to me, and although it requires a lot of patience, I treasure this time each day. He is a new first grader with two days under his belt, and I am so proud of him.

My daughter is ten, and is mostly lovely to be around. She can be sassy sometimes, and it is not something I was prepared for, but I am determined to figure out a response immediately. If she draws a line in the sand with an titanium pole when it's something she wants, or doesn't want, she is pretty weighed down and hard to move. Other than that and some normal sibling bickering, she is like a 35 year old in a ten year old body. She doesn't miss a beat on any conversation around her. She is sensitive and thoughtful. She is so bright and her insightfulness blows me away.

She is also into skateboarding right now. She plays the piano and I love hearing her practice, especially since she is playing some new songs now. She continues to love books, and our favorite thing to do before bed is lie reading our own books side by side. We have a mother daughter book club, and she loves planning the menus and activities with me. She just started her last year of elementary as a fifth grader and Oh the places she will go.

So soon enough we will be back in the swing of it all. We had to have a sugar and screen time detox before the first day. Both kiddos have a sweet tooth like me so we had to indulge in a few more ice cream cones before school started. We took in a few more adventures, a bit of sunshine and as many snuggles as they would let me squeeze in.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Uncharted Territory

Last week, the dreaded day we had hoped would never come, finally did. My mother in law, while surrounded by her husband and children, took her last breath. It doesn't seem to matter how much preparation we had that this loss was coming, the amount of hurt seems larger than we imagined.  Its a surreal time.  Although we are all relieved she is no longer in pain, things just don't feel quite right without her. My heart breaks for my husband and his sisters. They were all so close with their mom.  I know all of them spoke to her every day and now, each time they go to the phone to call, they get stung all over again. My heart breaks for my father-in-law, who can't seem to find peace in a world without his wife in it. So, we all begin this walk, this tread ahead into the unknown.

While heavy hearts pull them down, they are busy making plans. Funeral arrangements, newspaper announcements, hiring help for their ailing father. I watch them being so busy, while they are still so fragile. I helped one of my sister-in-laws go through a dresser of clothes. I always wondered how you could ever go through a loved ones clothes, and then you just do. It feels so invasive to go through someone's things. Even when they aren't here anymore. I couldn't enter her bedroom without crying. Her body isn't there but her spirit was impossible to miss. It seems you can only cry so much, and then you just busy yourself, until you cry again.

Like with any traumatic experience, mornings are so challenging. I watch as my husband is either awakened too early by his racing heart and mind, or sleeps deeply only to remember his sadness when he comes to. He is strong, logical, and understands that everything had to happen this way, but still, this is brutal. The pain of watching a spouse lose a loved one is proving to be incredibly difficult. Knowing when to be there to hold him up and when to let him fall apart, is tricky dance.  This was my husband's mother and it is uncharted territory for him to be on this planet without her. She was his rock and without that foundation he is treading water.

When I was pregnant, a friend shared a quote with me about becoming a parent. "To be a parent is to wear your heart on the outside of your body." It made sense to me the moment I had my daughter. It makes sense to me when I think of the type of mother my mother-in-law was to her children. They came first. She always had an ear to give them, advice to lend and was always their biggest advocate. They knew they came first for her and if their spirits were down, she would move mountains to lift them back up. In mourning someone you love, I feel that quote makes sense again. Only this time the heart is a bit broken and every memory is a bit of salt on the wound.

I am not sure what I believe about heaven, paradise or an afterlife. I do believe that when we close our eyes for the last time, we are peace. I believe that our loved ones want us to miss them, but want more that we live happily. Mostly, I believe that our loved ones live on in us. When a child loses a parent, since every cell of us is made from them, we continue to carry them on. I'm afraid that I will sink far down when I lose a parent, but I am hoping a glimpse in the mirror will remind me that they created who I am. I gently remind my husband of that now. I will remain here, available and ready for whatever emotion he feels. She created a great son. I am so grateful to her for that. I love him and I love her. I will do my best to emulate the kind of mother she was to her kids and raise mine in her honor.

Monday, August 20, 2018

My Hero

On Saturday my husband asked me last minute if I could get a sitter to go out. A friend was having a birthday gathering and so I started reaching out to sitters. I was a bit on the fence about going since I've been tired with end-of-school-year activities and I wasn't in the mood to get dressed up. I did want to be out with my husband though and after four attempts, we got a sitter.

We went out around eight or so and met our friends for some appetizers and chatting. After two hours I gently reminded my husband we should probably get home. We left around 10:45 and started driving home. We talked about needing to get cash, and I mentioned I needed some chocolate. That was the last thing I remember before my husband yelling from behind the wheel "Are you okay?" It took me a second to realize what was happening. The air bags were out and the car was spinning. He kept looking at me and saying "we are okay, we are okay." I kept thinking are we?

The car finally stopped spinning and came to a stop. It felt like the end of a really bad ride at an amusement park. The smoke from the airbags filled the car, and my husband told to me to get out. I wasn't able to move as quickly as he was. I didn't feel okay. I tried to push open the door but it was stuck. My hand was bleeding and my left leg hurt. He came around to my side and helped pry the door open. When I got to the curb I turned around and saw what we just survived.

We were driving through a green light when a pick up truck sped through a red in front of us. We hit the middle of his car, and he was first to be taken away by an ambulance. He did not fare as well as we did, and I don't think he looked conscious when they pulled him from his car. Our car was headed east on Pico Blvd, and we ended up facing north on another street. There were two cars also involved behind us that got hit. We do not know exactly what happened but there were several witness who came over when we got out of the car. An EMT driver asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. He checked my blood pressure and vitals, but I wasn't sure I was in need of a hospital. I turned down two offers for the ambulance, and sat down on the street. It was them that I realized I was in a lot of pain. We decided to call a Lyft and because it's LA and we weren't thinking straight we accidentally ordered a car pool car. A car pulled up to the scene of our accident, with a passenger in the back seat. Horrified, the girl in the back offered to get out and get another car. We thanked her and ordered a new ride. At the point, the pain was getting worse and I wished I could just be home in my bed, near my children.

It was pretty clear that it was going to be a very long night. I thought of our children safely asleep at home. The back of the car still with their car seats reminded me how thankful I was that they weren't with us. This was shocking and terrifying for me to process but for them it would be a nightmare. I asked my husband to call our friends that lived a few doors away and have them relieve our babysitter. We got to the hospital around midnight and finally got seen by a doctor closer to 3 am. An ER on a Saturday night is pretty awful. Lots of kids there who seem to not make very good partying decisions, a few bloody injuries and a lot of sad looking people. My eyes read some subtitles from the television and I caught a bit of the plots from episodes of Scandal and Castle. I stopped looking when it got to infomercials for face cream. I tried to close my eyes but I was still shaking from the shock and pain of the accident. The florescent lights above weren't conducive to the calming, comforting, mood I craved in that moment.

Eventually I was X-rayed and treated for pain. I had a fractured rib on my left side. My husband and I both have some minor cuts and bruises but otherwise we are as he said — "okay." I am definitely in pain and uncomfortable, but also aware of how lucky we are.  In 2002 I went through my first car accident and it was bad. It was before I met my husband and I flipped the car I was driving. I was afraid to drive for a month after. I also broke ribs, that time on the right side. Both accidents were awful and terrifying but this one was not as scary. I wasn't alone this time. I had my best friend, my biggest love, and my most important person right next to me telling me we were okay. We got through that night together. He never left my side, and is everything I could have ever wished for in a husband. We laughed, I cried, we replayed it all in our heads and processed it together. We talked about our children and how we would carefully tell them this news.

We got home at 5 am and thanked our friend for coming over. I carefully went upstairs and kissed both of our babies. This was the moment I looked forward to from the beginning of the night. I feel so unbelievably grateful that we were "okay." I was so happy to be home, with my children and husband..my hero.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Sum

Addition always came easier for me than subtraction. My son, who just finished Kindergarten, shares with me the struggle of understanding the concept of taking things away. As a grown up, I still wrestle with losing things, or worse people. I can wrap my head around someone giving birth and a new person joining the world, but I struggle to understand death. I know I am not alone in grappling with loss. It just seems that loss leaves you feeling most alone.

As loved ones around me struggle to make peace with illness and impending death, there is a reality that making peace is no easy feat. You can see the evidence, you can hear a doctor say "there is nothing left we can do," you can feel the person you know so well coming and going moment to moment. But nothing can prepare you for the final moment. The hard cold news that someone is never coming back.  I can clearly recall the punch to the gut I felt each time someone I loved took their last breath. My world subtracted a piece and I couldn't accept that piece was gone.

My husband and I are feeling the calm before the storm before someone we love very much passes on. We are all aware that the inevitable end is near, and yet the pain we feel now will soon only hurt more.  Time may heal, but the shock of that moment stings for a long time. Memories may echo forever, but the stillness and emptiness of that missing piece hits so hard.  Our muscle memory to pick up the phone gets so bruised when you remember that person will never be home again. It feels like the darkest storm when suffering and mourning, yet the skies could very well be clear. The heart is so heavy and yet people in the street keep smiling around you. Life seems to go on as if nothing changed, when everything looks different to you. The earth only has so many resources, and human life is meant to come and go. Math has never been my strongest subject though and I still just can't wrap my head around this equation.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Going Through It!

Sometimes the circumstances in our adult lives don't leave you in the mood for a fun day with your kids. Yet, having children forces you to stay on your feet even if you feel like falling. There is a lot going on right now for my family. My mother in law is not well, my father in law is not well, my aunt is struggling to stay alive and my uncle is alive physically but mentally seems to have let go already. There is nothing easy about any of this. My poor husband is trying to carry on balancing a new job, his family and a restaurant while the weight of his heart throws him inside out. His expression and posture right now speak louder than any words he could say.

When someone I love is suffering, I want to be able to help in some way, but none of my actions can take away his pain. I hold him when he breaks down and delicately try to toggle between optimistic and realistic. I listen as he goes between tears and pragmatic, matter of fact acceptance. We all ask questions that nobody can answer. We hang desperately on the words from doctors who deliver them way too harshly. We wait for the next appointment, hoping for some good news. All this while the world keeps turning, with children and jobs that need our attention, and forced smiles while we pretend to be "normal."

On Saturday night, we went out to dinner just the two of us. We had a party to go to afterward, but we took advantage of having a sitter and went out to dinner first. My husband's eyes filled when he thought of his family, and then we would go back to eating or talking about something else. It was actually a lovely evening, despite being a hard time. We were more present together than usual because we weren't distracted or interrupted by the kids and because we let real feelings come and go as they did. I wondered as we left to go to the party, if we should skip it. He wanted to go and was craving normalcy at that moment. It's a strange thing though, when people see you socially and say "how are you?" They don't really expect you to tell the truth. We all want to be authentic with one another, but if you respond with anything other than a smile or a "fine," people don't know what to say. It's no surprise that when things aren't OK in ones life, being around anyone who asks you how you are can send you running in the other direction.

A close friend of mine lost her father last year. She is the most pragmatic person I know. She works on herself constantly, and she was so aware of what was happening with her father's decline. She accepted he was dying with a unique peacefulness and understanding. I mentioned to her that no matter how prepared she was for him to die, that when it actually happened it might hit her harder than she expected. Indeed it did, and she had to go through it, as painful as it was. At some point or another we will all be in this group where we lose someone so close to us. For friends who have already experienced it, I know it isn't a fun club to be a part of. Some of us don't know all the right things to say or do. There should be no judgment or expectations on who responds and how to loss. It is uncomfortable territory for all involved. There is no right thing to say.

There is no rest for the weary, and weariness is exhausting. We don't know what each minute will bring let alone each day. I am doing my best to be a support to my husband. I am so sorry this is the here and now for him. It is painful to go through. It is my hope that the silver lining shines a glare so that it is easier to see in the dark. It might take a while to find.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


This past week many fathers in the country celebrated Father's day. While families barbecued, picnicked or played together, many parents were ripped away from their children. These parents brought their families to America to give them a better life. Now their American dream has turned into a horrible nightmare. America prides itself in taking care of other countries when in need. America portrays itself as "accepting" of all races and religions. America's message on the Statue of Liberty says "Give me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" America did wrong this week and lacked basic human kindness.

Over two thousand children are being held in detainee centers, away from their parents, separated from their siblings and in horrible conditions. The images of these detainee centers reminds me of photos of Japanese internment camps, or screaming children being separated from parents during the Holocaust. It is 2018 and we are having a human rights crisis right here in the United States of America. Border control and immigrant patrol is nothing new, but tearing apart families, and holding children in cages is an all time low.

Fathers day was bittersweet for me. I called my dad, and the kids and I showered my husband with homemade gifts.  But I feel a sadness for the state our country is in. It is hard to stand by and watch the news without doing something to help. Whatever one believes about refugees and rights, no one can deny that this is immoral. We need to do something. A baby was pulled from it's mother while she was nursing yesterday. This has already gone too far.  Hold your babies tight, and then go do something for those who can't.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Then and Now

My husband and I just celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary. We went out to dinner and celebrated, but we also renewed our vows. This time, we didn't have one hundred guests, we didn't rent a space, or have it catered. There were no floral arrangements, invitations, or DJ’s. We had a much smaller wedding this time and decided to invite only two guests: our children. 

All together, the four of us got dressed up. My husband wore the same suit he wore ten years ago on our wedding day — I wore my wedding dress. Our kids picked out their fanciest clothes, and we headed to the beach. I had hoped to do something like this, and mentioned it to my husband a few months ago. He decided he would plan it and kept the details from me. He kept it all light and said we were going to the beach and lets get dressed up. I love his surprises, and this time he knocked it out of the park. When we got to the beach, he opened up the trunk and pulled out two red balloons, and a big bag. We walked to the sand and opened up a blanket. The kids played while we enjoyed the beautiful horizon. At one point my husband had music playing and gathered us together at the blanket. 

Through laughter and tears, he read to all of us what he wrote about this day, ten years ago, and how everything he had ever wished for ten years ago had come true. We held hands and by the end of it we were both crying. Our kids were good sports but they definitely giggled at the sight of both their parents crying happy tears. I hadn't prepared anything to read, but I thanked him and agreed with what he said, and added that we are so very full, fortunate and blessed to have what we have. 

Ten years ago when we got married we knew we wanted a family. We only admitted to each other that we wanted a little girl first, and when she came out healthy and beautiful we screamed out as if we had won the lottery. I think the hospital thought we were crazy the way we were giving each other high fives. Not everything comes easy,  and having a baby did not come without a lot of hardship for us, so a few years later when friends had second babies we were a little scared to do it again. When we tried we were able to get pregnant right away, but lost the baby in the twelfth week.  It was a difficult sad time for us. A time that was healed only by the hope of trying again. Eventually we had our son. This time we held our breaths cautiously before we cheered, and when we heard his cry we cried tears of relief and joy that we were now complete: the four of us.

So now ten years later, there are hard days, and sad days, but they are out numbered by wonderful days. We are a strong crew the four of us, and we are not ignorant to life and the challenges it comes with. We know there is pain, loss, sadness and devastation ahead, but we have amazing parents who paved the road for us and we plan to do the best we can to keep paving it for our children. Looking forward to ten, twenty and fifty more years like these.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Partied Out!

This past weekend, I became that mom. The PTA mom, that hosts, plans, and puts on events. The mom that stays up way too late prepping for their son's birthday party. The mom that one of my close friends says she will never be, because she thinks some moms brag about how hard they work for their kids, as if it is a competition. So by day three of poster hanging, school dance purchases, and multiple batches of birthday cake baking, I took pause to reevaluate.

Perhaps, I could have thought out the timing of our school dance being before my son's birthday, but I knew it would be such a fun way to kick off the weekend. I also knew our school could use a fun dance, and wanted to be part of making that happen. My son really wanted ice cream cake for his birthday, and I also wanted to see that happen. Some might say that ice cream and cake can easily be purchased at the store, but I actually love baking. It gives me joy to do these things so it is not a sacrifice. For people who dislike baking, or party planning, well by all means don't do it. There are some of us who actually like putting on a party and there is zero competitiveness behind it. I am not out to impress other moms, I am only out to impress the birthday boy. 

During the school dance, the music was playing and the dance floor was full. Kids were having a great time and my friend and I who planned it all were happy. We both danced with the kids, there was a great turnout, and our candy choices were successful. It wasn't that hard to pull off, and in the middle of the night looking around, I actually said to her, "I really like doing this." There are plenty of school events I don't love to do, but this one wasn't one of them. This was fun for everyone. 

It's important to realize why we say yes to too much at times. I know I need to be more selective, and not make myself available to everything, just because something says "Volunteers Needed." Knowing my skill set, and also choosing to put my energy where I will be most effective is key. I don't have regrets about being spread too thin when its for things I am passionate about. I am proud of what the parents I know have accomplished this year at our school. Our kids are reaping the benefits of a lot of late night planning meetings. When you look at all of the faces, our tired eyes and their smiles say it all.

In the end I am happy to put in the time. I stay off of Pinterest as much as possible, since it seems to be where good intentions go to die, and I try to be creative as much as possible. Yes, I am guilty of staying up way too late icing cupcakes, an ice cream cake, and making a pinata ( my husband helped with that one, super easy but a bit time consuming) but I scored because the next day was Mother's Day. I got the best gift ever: ten hours of uninterrupted sleep. Win win!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Another One Almost Down

How is time moving so quickly? It is nearing the end of the school year. My daughter is finishing fourth grade and will soon be in her last year of elementary school. She reads books faster than I can choose what to start reading, she is taking more interest in style than every before, she loves spending time with her friends, and she can often be found listening to music with headphones. My son is nearing the end of Kindergarten, he learned to read, just mastered riding his two wheeler, and joins us in riding all the way to school. He loves his junk food, and anything skateboard-related. Since the school year began my husband opened up a restaurant with a friend, he continues his work in the music industry, signed a amazingly talented artist, and still managed to be an involved hands-on father. I started this year with a paying voice over job. It was short lived, but fun, I write, teach seniors a few times a week (they are actually teaching me) and participate more hours than I can count as a volunteer at my kid's school. This sounds a lot like an annual holiday card, but really I am writing this all to say that a lot happened this year. Mostly good, some difficult, but all in all it's life being lived to the fullest.

I am grateful for the accomplishments of this year. There have been some challenges with family health. While we go through another year of children growing, it also means our parents are getting another year older. Never before have I felt how precious life is — and how fleeting. We had the pleasure of having my parents stay with us for a few weeks recently. In all honesty, I was terrified at the thought of them staying with us for so long, but my husband encouraged it. We both know we won't always have the luxury of time with our parents, so we made it work. While my parents were here, my father got ill and ended up in hospital. Twice they had to extend their trip until he was well enough to get home to his own doctors. Dignity really goes out the window when you reach a certain age. He finally got to fly home, but had to do it with a catheter, er, attached. While they were here though, we enjoyed good food, countless games of mancala and Crazy Eights, piano playing, and laughing at James Cordon doing musicals in the crosswalk.

  As we enter these last few weeks of the year, I will continue to soak up every second, so that way maybe it won't seem to speed by. My little boy turns six next week. I took him to the store a few days ago and he saw the little coin operated ride at the exit, and said "I used to love that when I was a kid." It was only last year, but to him it was a long time ago. As long as they let me I am going to snuggle these two kiddos. I might hug them a little too close, and I will never be the one to let go first.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Golden Slumber!

I am not sleeping as much as I should be, and I don't exactly have a good excuse. There was a meme that I saw once of an exhausted looking woman and it said “Mombie — when everyone else is asleep but you because this is your only time alone.”

I so related at the time. I love those evening hours when the kids have gone to bed, and I can accomplish a task without interruption. During the day I am so interrupted by schedule, picks ups, drop offs, play dates, homework, and dinner — when it is all done it seems like it truly becomes my time. The problem is though, I don't want that time to end either so I often find it hard to stop what I am doing and go to bed.

Last year I only had two and a half hours a day to myself and three of those was spent teaching, so really five hours of alone time a week. I was always rushing around and life felt very chaotic. This year, I have three whole days to myself when both my children are in school, so clearly time shouldn't be an issue anymore, but somehow it it still is. Naturally, more time on my hands means I should take on more. So, I am working on a book, running several programs, creating a show, and the list goes on. I am never bored but I am always tired.

I love mostly everything I am doing, and I don't want to take anything off the table. I just want to stop taking on another project unless it is directly with my kids, or is going to pay. I simply cannot hot glue any more after 11pm, or I will get burned. It's daunting enough for me everyday to clean my kids lunch boxes and re-fill them with something other than what they ate the day before. Last week my husband gently demanded that I dumb down weeknight dinners since roasting squash for goat cheese and thyme crostinis is not time efficient, or appreciated by our children. The next night I made crescent roll dough wrapped hot dogs which also were sadly uneaten. Fortunately, I also made spiraled zucchini noodles with pesto (I can't help myself) which surprisingly my kids did like. I am not sure that they will ever be happy with foodwise, so I feel it's crucial to give them real food and then once in every seventeen tries they might just like it. I don't know what the right dinner is, but I am sure going to exhaust myself trying to figure it out.

Every day, I have my plan for what I want accomplish in the day. I give myself a little time before I have to pick up my kids. About an hour before I have it in my head that I will read and relax a bit before I get them. I actually plan for that time and keep planning for that time, and keep not taking that time every single day. I really want to read more, but I think of all these other things I need to get done before I get the kids that there is never any more time left to read. I then get into bed at night and think I will read then. Again, I am mocked for my efforts when the book hits me in the face when I fall asleep mid sentence. My husband is very entertained by the frequency of this nightly occurrence.

The time change doesn't help me, because all I do for a week following is think I have more time than I do again. Yesterday, I was out with my kids when I ran into a mom from school. She was alone with her two school aged daughters and her third newborn baby girl. I said hello and asked her how she was. Her reply was that she was tired. Now, she has every legitimate reason to be. I on the other hand, need to set an alarm to go to bed and then another one to wake up. Perhaps there is a sleep training class I could take. I am sure I could squeeze it into my day somewhere.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mostly A Mom

Back in the day when I was working as an actress (some of the time), I had a boyfriend who had a few married friends. He was a couple of years older than me and as his friends approached their thirties, they began getting married and starting families. At that moment in time, marriage and kids weren't even on my radar. I knew I wanted a family, but I was focused on my career and didn't feel I was ready to lose any focus. He was also an actor (the last I would date) and he said that he felt like all of his friends get married, have kids, and then give up their careers. I couldn't understand why anyone would do that. He looked down on their decisions, and saw them as giving up on themselves. At the time, I kind of agreed with him.

A few years later we both got married to other people. Soon after I had my daughter, and thought I could maintain my already challenging career. I brought my newborn with me to an audition and it seemed instantly apparent that I wasn't comfortable with multitasking motherhood and the entertainment industry. I was sensitive to having her around such a dismissive culture, so much of which is based on looks. I felt this impulse to protect her and keep her away. I chose to put my career on hold. If I said I never looked back, it would be a lie. I still work in fitness and have maintained part time work in that field, but I do miss acting. I just don't miss the industry.

Presently, I am trying to figure out what my next steps are. I am toying with the idea of going back into acting, but I also love being a full time parent, and have gotten very comfortable not dealing with the kind of rejection that comes with being an actor. Not to mention how terrifying it is to put yourself out there after years away. I used to be so confident, but my confidence is shaken and covered in dust. I've never let fear get in the way of anything I have done in the past, but I am resisting jumping in.

There are many things that I could do besides acting. I have never felt a shortage of ideas to reinvent myself. I am writing, I am teaching, I am volunteering my heart out at my kid's school, but I still feel like a non-practicing artist. I also feel like I could find a lot of careers that would be less self-serving, but I am mother raising two humans, and that has felt pretty selfless for the last nine years. When I think about not returning to acting, I hear that snide comment my ex-boyfriend made and it makes me mad. He was so wrong. There is so much meaning in raising children, and for some people it's hard to juggle it all. I am one of those people. I may still hold a torch to my old career, but I never regret focusing on being a parent. I just think I feel a slight fire starting under me now. I might put it out, but I might just make it burn higher.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Look Up!

This is going to be a learning year for me. I hope every year will be a learning year, but if I don't learn about time management and boundaries this year then I don't know if I ever will. My friend pulled me away from a conversation and reminded me that I asked her how I could extricate myself from conversations when I needed to go. I'm pretty sure she won't be there to help me out next time though.  I have a hard time transitioning from one thing to the next. I enjoy losing track of time, but I don't have the luxury of doing so very often. That's why Saturday mornings you are not likely to find me on the soccer field. I am trying to stay away from weekend sports activities as long as possible.

Leaving on time for everything is my goal. I don't like that running late feeling at all, but I also love squeezing as much life into my day as possible. I only get one go at this, and it is already going too fast.  I hear "slow down" and "hurry up" in my head all day long. I am supposed to take my time, but also be time efficient. It's very confusing and I don't remember learning it at school.  The one quote I remember though is"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." That one stuck with me. I just didn't really get the tools down for the preparation part, but I managed to not fail somehow, at least where grades are concerned. 

Interruptions are much more frequent now then when I was a kid. I didn't have a phone, or a computer to send me texts, emails or anything else that signals me to stop what I am doing and respond. These dings and dongs have triggered some serious addictive habits in me and I don't like how dependent I have become on communication this way. As I sit here and try to write this I keep stopping to pick up my phone to see the texts come in. It's hard to ignore it, but it's on my list of goals to at least not look at it every five minutes. Of course that to do list, is on my phone so there is that, but if I can remember how to use a pen and paper I should transfer it. I did learn how to write in school. 

I am the first to admit that I have taken on a bit too much. I need to practice saying "no" and clearing my plate more than I have been. I carve out quiet time every day, but not enough. I spend a lot of time with my kids, but a lot of that time is spent planning for them instead of being with them her and now. I need to stop ignoring my kids because my head is in a screen, and instead ignore my time sucking light box and look at my kids. After all, they are not going to be standing there waiting for me much longer if I keep looking down. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Future Is Female

Yesterday was Oscar Sunday, and we got to attend an award show. We love watching award shows on TV, we have snacks cuddle up and vote on who we think will win. We taped it yesterday, and when we sat down to watch my son didn't get the memo that you don't talk through the whole thing. He asked us questions, blocked our view, and interrupted punchlines. We eventually paused it and after he went to sleep we let our daughter stay up and watch the rest with us. She was really interested in why there was only one woman nominated for best director, especially because in her world there are no gender boundaries yet. The award ceremony we had been to earlier was for her where she received a medal for a film she made.

Only five women have ever been nominated for an Oscar in directing. Out of those five only one, Kathryn Bigelow, won. For ninety years of these awards occurring, that number is shockingly low. Greta Gerwig was nominated for Lady Bird this year, and although my daughter hasn't seen the movie, she is fascinated by the director. A few summers ago when we were back east visiting my parents, my daughter discovered iMovie on my phone, and she hasn't stopped making little shorts since. This fall, when our school had an arts contest through the PTA, she wanted to enter. She could have done any kind of submission, art, music, dance, or photography but she chose to enter for film. The theme was “Within Reach…", so she made a short about kids being able to be whatever they want when they grow up. She cast all of us, directed it and shot it on her own. She won for the City, then the district and got second place at the council level. 

At the ceremony yesterday, there were over 80 kids being honored for all of their hard work and talents. Out of that group there was one little girl who won a third place medal, a second place and a first, for three different categories. She was the only person there who had entered multiple categories, let alone win. The fact that she was a girl too made it all the more impressive to me. Nothing stood in her way. My daughter looked at me and said she didn't know you could enter more than one category. I could see her head planning for next year already. 

For all the limitations we feel as women, and for the inequality and unequal pay, we are paving the way for our daughters to demand more. I know the drop in female self-confidence doesn't really start to happen until closer to adolescence, but from what I see in the peers of my daughter, we are doing our best to offset that lack of confidence. I don't know if my daughter will continue making films, and follow Greta Gerwig's footsteps, but I do think she and her friends will do so much more than women have done before them. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Talk

My daughter is nine and we had "the talk” — the conversation that mothers plan for, and wonder how they will approach with their daughters. The same conversation Claire Huxtable had when she popped into an episode of "Blossom." Mrs. Huxtable, the ultimate mom, used a cake to draw explain baby making and cake decorating simultaneously. I vividly remember the conversation I had with my mother after watching a fourth grade film about our bodies at school.

My mom was pretty awesome when it came to talking about sex. She was approachable, and explained that two people when they have each other's consent, can have a give and take that will result in both people feeling good. She gently explained respecting my body, privacy, and the appropriate times to share it. That first conversation about what sex is, or how a baby is made, was nothing like Claire Huxtable though. I had heard in the school movie the words "egg, sperm, inseminate, and napkin" and since the film did a pretty amazing job of keeping it vague, I was seriously confused. A few days later when I was home eating a hard boiled egg that I held with a napkin, I asked my parents "how babies start."

Both my parents chuckled, but not enough at me that I was discouraged to press on. This is where I kind of remember my dad going into the kitchen and only coming in and out of the conversation. I am not sure if he was embarrassed or if it was just a conversation that was "supposed" to be had between mother and daughter. My mom began to explain to me the real way babies come to be. She recalls that my faced dropped and then I put down the egg I was eating. I asked if she and daddy did that, and when she said yes, I proceeded to go down the list of every couple I could think of. I was trying to visualize and process how so many people (even my grandparents) could do such a thing. It blew my mind and I didn't want to eat eggs for a long time after that.

Despite some bumps in the road between my late teens and well my late 20's, I have a pretty healthy comfort level when it comes to sex. It is my hope that when my daughter gets old enough, that she will as well. At the end of last year when she was 8, I found out from a few mom's that I know that they had already had the "talk" with reason girls. I thought about waiting until my daughter came to me to discuss this topic, but I was concerned that if I waited some of her friends might get to her first. One day after school when she and I had some time alone, I asked her what she knew about how babies begin. She thought that they were grown from love and that she remembered my husband and I explaining to her once that daddy has "seeds" and mommy has little eggs and when they get together they can begin to grow a baby. Then I asked her how she thought they got together. When I explained how her face looked like what I imagine mine did when I put down that egg. 

She didn't go down the list of people like I did, but she did ask if my husband and I had done this more than once (since she has a brother). She asked if people like it, and I said yes. She took a moment and said “Well, this is very interesting and kind of strange." I agreed that it was. She hasn't spoke much about it since, but she read a bit more in a book meant to help girls learn about such things. She asked more about what a period is and when will she get breasts. I think she is right where she should be with these questions. The best news of all though is that she asks them, and not only to me. She asked my husband yesterday what it means when a woman thinks she might be pregnant. She wanted to know how a woman could just think she was pregnant instead of just being pregnant. I am not sure how she even got to that thought process, but thankfully he navigated his way through that successfully. She even asked him if when she is over eighteen and misses her period will that mean she is pregnant. He explained that there are different reasons why a woman could miss her period -- as far as more details, there is plenty of time for that. For now we are both happy that she still liked eggs and that she can come to us with questions.