You’re a Grand Ole Flag

A few weeks back, my kids noticed a flag flying at half-staff and asked why the flag wasn’t flying at the top of the pole. As I was describing the different “rules” associated with flying our flag, it occurred to me that this would be a great post, as Memorial Day and summer approach – these are all great guidelines to teach your kids. There are many flag traditions that are not observed broadly by the general public even though, in theory, they are supposed to be. I have included some of those rules below in addition to rules for...

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S.O.S.

I’m coming off a hectic weekend of three birthday parties, gymnastics, soccer, baseball, hockey, and an art exhibition and I’m over here waving the white flag.  Most weekends around here are busy; however, this was definitely an extreme version.  It’s all good, but it’s also exhausting.  My husband and I ran from one field to the next, the bounce place to the roller skating rink and collapsed with Dairy Queen Blizzards Sunday evening when all was said and done.  I took yesterday off to “recover” (which really means I cleaned our neglected house and filled our empty fridge) and I still feel like I haven’t sat down in four days.  Aside from adrenaline, there were certainly some sweet moments that helped me push through the fatigue. Noah smiling through his soccer game, so proud of himself and his team. Zachary mastering the monkey bars, both stationary and swinging. Eliza taking a quick dancing break at a birthday party to kiss my hand and tell me that she loves me so much and in a flash, she’s back to twirling a scarf. A new friendship for Noah blossoming over a make shift checker game using rocks and acorn tops. Quick wit and well timed belly laughs courtesy of Zachary’s feisty personality. Eliza contently painting seashells. Two butterflies emerging from their chrysalides in our butterfly garden to the delight of my children. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a...

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Eighteen Years is Not Enough

In a few short weeks, we will be celebrating your 5th birthday.  YOUR FIFTH.  Last week we signed you up for Kindergarten.  I held it together the whole long hour of watching you go from table to table, meeting with different teachers (They called you “Jackson” and I didn’t even interrupt them to say you were actually my “Jacky” or “Jackaroni”).  You were so well-behaved and polite.  I watched you answer all the questions they asked you; watched you in that big chair, your feet dangling and swinging back and forth, never stopping.   They told me you scored 100% and that...

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Survival Mode

“Survival mode” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot among my mom friends.  In fact, search the CT Working Moms page, and you’ll find that there are three other posts that have this phrase just in their titles.  I’ve been a mom for 2.5 years now, so I think I’ve been telling everyone I’m in survival mode for probably three straight years.  There was this brief little sweet spot, I think those couple of months between when my older daughter started walking and I found out I was pregnant with #2, when I felt like I was holding things together alright.  Other than that, daily life inside the walls of my house has felt like some kind of messed up three-ring circus where the lions got loose, the clown car door won’t open, and the ringmaster is curled up in the corner in the fetal position. (In case you missed it, I’m the ringmaster in this metaphor.) Here’s a glimpse into my life with a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old: Eat. We rotate four no-brains-required, preservative- and GMO-laden dinners: frozen pizzas, spaghetti with frozen meatballs, chicken nuggets (frozen) with frozen broccoli/peas and rice, and mac ‘n cheese (boxed).  I don’t usually get it together enough to pack myself a lunch, so I’m often piecing together snacks from home and treats I find at school.  Needless to say, any weight loss...

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Be Still Together

This night…I’m as sleepless as I was five years ago, except this time she’s beside me instead of within me. But always within me; always a piece of me… It’s clear that one of my favorite times with my daughter is snuggling her to sleep at night. No matter what the day brought, it’s our chance to regroup and reconnect – a reset button for the day to come. It’s our chance to be still together, to lay quietly after the noise of the day. Tonight I lay beside her on her last night as a four year old. This time, five years ago, I laid in a hospital bed, not yet with her by my side. I’d been in labor for 24 hours already. I was tired and ready to meet her. Ready, yet terrified of them opening me up and bringing her out, leaving me raw and exposed. Motherhood can do that to you; leave you raw and exposed. They said it was time. It was my first difficult choice as a parent. It was the first time I had to put her needs ahead of my own. It was the first time it truly mattered that I had to push through the fear and do it anyway. We may have already bonded in those first nine months that I carried her with me inside my body,...

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Reconnecting Again and Again

I think and overthink my mothering all of the time. Am I too hard on them? Do I pay enough attention to them? Do I judge too quickly? Do I show my pride? Do I make them feel badly that they don’t have an artsy mom who bakes? Are they bummed about not having a dad? I’m not super cool, I’m not trendy, I’m not a fashionable or super crazy fun mom. I’m a mom who works a lot, over-commits her time to things, is terrible at budgeting, gets too anxious at ball games sometimes….I’m imperfect in so many ways. I worry about the long term affect of so many things, big or small. It’s ridiculous, this being responsible for the growth, development, well-being, safety and sanity of another human being. Sometimes, I think that having soon-to-be-20-yr-old twin stepdaughters has taught me something. And, I realize it truly has. Because I couldn’t give them much as a “parent”. But I think we did what we could and learned that the one thing we did give was love, belonging and connection. We promised them we’d always be here and we’d listen to them as judgment-free as possible (not an easy task and I wasn’t always successful at the judgment-free part). But we genuinely let them know they could trust us and would always be part of us. Then I flashed...

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Unresolved grief

It was almost two years ago now. It was my first trip back to Bolivia after I had made the heartbreaking decision to leave. We were in a taxi crawling slowly through the traffic-ridden streets of La Paz when Lucia turned to me from where she had been looking out the window and said, “Tu me dijiste que me ibas a cuidar para siempre”, “you said you were going to take care of me forever.” The comment caught me completely off guard and I stuttered something about it being “complicated” and turned away. That moment tears me up inside. I should have explained it to her. I should have told her how much I love her but had to take care of Inti and I. I should have said something, anything, but I didn’t. Lucia is my stepdaughter. I met her when she was two years old, and fell head over heels in love with her at the same time I was falling in love with her father. She was my daughter before I had my own child, and she was treated as my mother’s first grandchild and my grandmother’s first great-grandchild. Everyone in my family treated her as their own, and I believed, deep in my heart, that I treated her the same as I would treat my own children. Until I didn’t. Until I couldn’t. Until my...

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listen to the silence

I had my first encounter with hate this week from a family member, someone I loved and trusted. It shook me. The bathroom debate has stirred up a lot of fear, hate, and anger. Some of it from surprising places. Until I stop and think about it. And then…maybe not. We sent out cards to family and friends two and a half years ago, announcing Rose’s transition from boy to girl. Almost everyone who got a card took the time to send a message of love and support, and it was so welcome. Sending those announcements was scary as hell. But my aunt didn’t say anything. I should have listened to the silence. When she came to visit, she didn’t say anything. But there was an odd tension. She seemed angry with me, but wouldn’t say that she was, or why. I put it aside. Maybe I had said something thoughtless and offended her. I felt guilty and worried, because I didn’t know what I had done wrong. Fast forward. Another visit. Same thing. I felt nervous about leaving her alone with my children, but I couldn’t say why. So I didn’t. Even staying in the room, my 9-year-old sensitive, aware, autistic transgender child hid under a chair when she tried to talk to her. I should have listened to the silence. She broke the silence this week. In...

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Happy Other Mother’s Day

As the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child”.  All weekend I’ve been thinking about the village of people who helped raise me and the community of women who are helping me raise my children. I’d like to dedicate a day to those mothers.  The ones who mother everyone, not just their own children.  If I thought long and hard enough about these women it would certainly bring me to tears.  My life, and the lives of my children, depend on them. To Gloria, my mother’s best friend when I was a child.  Gloria was also a single mother and so she and my mom had each other’s backs.  She was the one who picked me up from school if I was sick, she took us overnight when my mom needed a break, she even taught me how to ride a bike. To Myra, the elderly women at church who must have known that I was missing the role of grandmother in my life and happily stepped in to provide some much needed wisdom that only comes with age. To my Aunt Chris, who has stepped up to remember all the holidays and birthdays and special occasions that my own grandmother would. To Rosie, my father in-law’s significant other, who has been a part of my children’s lives since before Kitten was born, who is a...

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Mommy Badge of Courage

Throughout the last twelve years of motherhood I like to think that I’ve earned many “mommy badges”. Like the Girl Scout I used to be, I have collected these badges and often talk of them to other mommies, proud of how I handled a certain challenge and honored that I earned that particular badge. For example, I earned the Bodily Fluids Badge that time when I was pregnant with my second child and my husband, my two-year-old, and I all came down with a nasty stomach virus. Two-year-olds don’t run for the bathroom when they are feeling nauseated so...

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