Category Archives: Parenting

Moments Become Memories

A few months ago, I went to a baby shower where they asked attendees to write down some advice about parenting. I went back and forth between wanting to write down little tidbits of info I’d learned over the years versus saying my advice is to ignore all the advice. I ended up writing nothing.

But I’ve been thinking about it a lot since then, so here is my advice:

Live one moment at a time and appreciate each moment for what it is.

There will be good moments and bad moments and happy moments and sad moments.
And there will be some moments you want to remember for ever
and some moments you want to forget.
All those moments put together are what make you the parent you become.

When my kids were little,
I had so many people tell me that I would one day look back and miss it.
That hasn’t been true for me.
Sure, I get melancholic sometimes and old pictures can make tears sting my eyes,
But it doesn’t make me sad
And I don’t wish that I could go back to when they were little.
I think that’s because when I was in the moment, I realized it was a moment.
In an effort to make sure I remembered everything,
I photographed and I wrote and I bottled up as many memories as I could.
Do I remember it all?
Of course not.
But can I recall the feeling of a newborn having the hiccups while lying on my chest,
And the joy of seeing that first smile,
And the pure frustration a baby who never.stops.crying.
I can hear the giggles of toddlers watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
I can close my eyes and go back to those early days of homeschooling where I wasn’t sure we were doing it right, and I feel the excitement and uncertainty wrapped up in each other.

I can’t remember it all, but I can remember the moments who made me me,
the moments that made us us.

And I hope I’m doing the same thing now.
Our life is so incredibly busy.
We’re constantly running from one rehearsal to another practice to another meeting.
But I still take things one moment at a time.
I look for the beautiful moments and put them in my pocket.
Buying 8 different syrups to make lattes together.
Waving hand-made pom-poms at a band competition.
Laughing together at TikTok.
Listening to them “play” Twinkle, Twinkle with the dryer buttons.
Watching Stranger Things with kids piled on top of me even though the sofa is big enough for us to all have our own seats.

I like to think that one day I’ll feel about these days like I do about the early days of motherhood.
I hope that I’ll remember more of the good than the bad.
I hope that I’ll think, “That was beautiful and wonderful and fun, but I’m glad it’s done.”
I hope I am living these moments to the fullest so that there’s nothing to look back on and wonder if I could have done more.

If I wished myself a superpower
I would make this moment last for hours
If I had my will, time would just stand still
Wait for me until I find some magic film
To take a photograph and live inside

I need some way to prove that this was real
A memory is not enough
I’m scared that I’ll forget the way it feels
To be young and in love

Let me stay right here
Just a moment longer
The picture is so clear
Please let this last forever

“Photograph” by Cody Fry

always and forever

She wanted to go shopping.
For clothes.
A change from using her money to buy crafts and games.
A change at the beginning of many changes.
A change from little girl to young woman.
And I’m ready for it, really.
And yet not.

As we are homeward bound, one song ends, and another quietly begins.
From the driver’s seat, I see her watching me,
Really studying me.
And I hold my breath so as not to break the moment.
Don’t look.Don’t look.Don’t look.

“Thanks for taking me, Mommy,” she whispers.
And I take the chance to look at her eyes and I see myself,
My melancholic, nostalgic, sentimental self.
And I can tell that she’s drinking it all in –
Just as I have done with her a million times.
Mental pictures filed away,
Ready to be pulled out on a rainy day.

We needed this,
She and I.
Laughing together
Without distraction.
Talking about school and friends
And thoughts and dreams.
So many things that get lost in the shuffle.
(There’s always shuffling with a family of six).

And then our song begins to play.
{Go listen to it.
No, really. Go}

And though I may will let her down sometimes,
I hope she always knows that I have her back.
That I’m always here,
Waiting and ready,
When she needs someone to believe in,
And is reaching for a hand to guide her home.

Always and forever, my sweet girl.
Always and forever.


I don’t care so much…

There was a “Stand Against Hate” rally in my town tonight. I had every intention of going, but this damn cold has knocked my feet out from under me and after a full day of work I was worn out. I crawled in bed to read for a few minutes before dinner, and a little person came and snuggled up next to me. The next thing I know I’m blinking awake with bleary eyes and feeling the ins and outs of her breath on my back. 7:03. I could have hopped up, thrown on some clothes, and rushed to the rally. Instead I sat there, just staring at this beautiful, innocent little face.

I wonder so, so often if I’m doing it right, this whole parenting thing. This whole life thing, really. Am I showing my children how to be brave and speak up against injustice? Oh, I tell them, for sure, but what is it they see in me, from me? Is it enough to talk to them about racism and sexism and other inequalities that abound in our world? Is it enough to not hide the news from them, to not shelter them from the hate, to let them see the sadness and the anger and the hurt that even my grown heart sometimes can’t handle? Is it enough to look at the news and denounce the ugly that they see? Is it enough to share the stories that have been shared with me from my friends who are people of color, and to talk with them about how and why things could and should be different?

I wanted to go. I wanted to take them, to show them activism in action. I wanted to show them that it’s not okay to crawl in bed and cover up your head, which I ended up literally doing. I wanted them to know that supporting the good things and condemning the bad is about more than just words. I wanted to show them that there are no excuses to not stand up for what is good, what is right. And yet…here I am in bed.

I haven’t written here in so long. What has driven me to write now? Maybe I’m writing out of guilt, trying to convince myself that it’s okay we didn’t go. Maybe I’m writing to fill the void that’s left by my inaction. But I like to think that I’m writing because I’ve remembered that words are powerful, that words can change the world. And yet…and yet I can’t help but wonder if maybe I’m being a bit selfish, and I’m writing instead of rallying because this, this moment with her beautiful little eyelashes resting gently on her still-baby little cheeks, seems like the most important thing in the world in this moment.                                                                         

Tonight I’ll sit and wonder if I’m doing this right – this parenting thing, this living thing? This being a grown-up stuff is kinda tricky sometimes. Head and heart (and health) sometimes clash. And the parenting gig? Whew! I never knew quite how hard it would be. But I hope and pray that my tiny(ish) humans will one day look back and know that I tried – with both words and actions – to teach them how to love each other and to share that love with the world. I hope they’ll remember the words they so often hear me say: “I don’t care so much about what you become, but who you become. I don’t care so much if you are the best or the smartest or the fastest, but if you are the kindest and you show love to others and always help when you can.”

All About Mommy

Remember when your kids were little and somewhere around Mother’s Day they’d fill out a little questionnaire about you and the teacher would write it up and you’d save it because it was just so darn adorable? Well, we haven’t done that in a long time so when I saw these 14 questions floating around on Facebook, I decided to ask all of my children individually. None of them heard the others’ answers.


T, age 11  •  E, age 9  •  L, age 7   •  LJ, age 5


1. What is something I always say to you?

T – I love you!
E – I love you!
L – I love you!
LJ – That you love me


2. What makes me happy?

T – When I make a meal
E – Daddy and us and my class, even though sometimes they make you mad
L – Hugs and kisses
LJ – Sharing love and sharing toys with other people (even people you didn’t know for a long time) and cleaning the house and brooming the house


3. What makes me sad?

T – When the house is dirty
E – Maggie being gone
L – That’s really hard
LJ – When we are sick


4. How do I make you laugh?

T – With jokes
E – Tickle me
L – Tickle
LJ – Doing funny things like telling jokes


5. What was I like when I was your age?

T – (big eyes) Umm…creative
E – Funny
L – Hmmm…happy?
LJ – Your mother was my Gramama. You didn’t have as many freckles


6. How old am I?

T – 36
E – 36
L – 33
LJ – 25

7. How tall am I?

T – 5’3″
E – How far can you stand in the pool? 5 feet?
L – 12 feet
LJ – 12 inches


8. What is my favorite thing to do?

T – Play games with us
E – Read
L – Help people
LJ – Stay with us


9. What do I do when you’re not around?

T – Watch shows that we’re not allowed to see
E – Read and sleep
L – Watch TV
LJ – Love on daddy and eat snacks while daddy plays his iPad


10. What am I really good at?

T – Subbing. No! I want to change my answer! Can I change my answer? Farting.
E – Teaching
L – Taking pictures
LJ – Driving


11. What is something I’m not good at?

T – Wanting to get in the lake
E – (nervous laughter) That’s too hard.
L – Doing laundry
LJ – I don’t know what to say


12. What do I do for a job?

T – Sub
E – Substitute
L – I don’t know
LJ – School subbing


13. What is my favorite food?

T – Spaghetti
E – Not fish. Not seafood. Um…chicken
L – Pizza
LJ – Rice, grits, and mashed potatoes


14. What do you enjoy doing with me?

T – Play games
E – Cuddle
L – Play
LJ – Have a meeting with snacks and go to store

a mama’s heart


Standing by the crib with my hand upon her back,
I feel the rush of life push in and out,
in and out,
and in and out again.

My heart wooshes and aches and pushes the limits of my chest.
The warmth of the moment – so secretly shared – flushes warmth to every inch of me.
My skin is electric and alert.

I hear each sound and try to hold it in my head,
but I know that – no matter what I do –  it will slip away.
So instead I close my eyes and listen with my heart.



She doesn’t need me right now.
The fever is down and she’s sleeping.
She doesn’t need me, I remind myself.
But you, my love, need her…whispers my soul.

And as I crawl into bed beside her,
I feel the rush of life push in and out,
in and out,
and in and out again.

A mama’s heart never forgets.
My heart wooshes and aches and pushes the limits of my chest.
And that same warmth settles in my soul.

Oh my baby, my sweet girl.
I look at her and millions of moments gather in my heart,
and fill it up all the way into my throat.
Memories both happy and sad roll down my cheeks and onto her hair.
She stirs just enough that I fear that I’ve over-tempted fate, and I hold my breath.
One twist and one turn and she settles herself into the crook of my arm
like a puzzle piece falling into place.

I slip my hand into hers, her perfect chubby little hand.
And I squeeze a little harder.
And I stay a little longer.
And I feel all the old moments welcome the new.
And they settle deep into my heart.
Where forever, I pray, they’ll stay.

one fraction at a time.

A hundredth of a second. That teeny, tiny moment before she says the words that you know are coming, the words you see in her eyes. A hundredth of a second and a hundred years all at once.

I think I want to go to “real” school.

I think I want you to go to “real” school, too.

And so it was.

And ever-so-quickly we made the calls, signed the papers, provided the proof that yes, we are indeed alive and living and in this place at this moment…something that on paper sounds simple, but is it really?

We both knew, in a hundredth of a second, that she was right, that our heart-guts were searching for answers and then oof just like that, our truths collided and we both knew this was the right thing to do.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Seven hundredths of a degree. That’s how far we moved. Seven hundredth of a degree to the north and just under three tenths of a degree east. A hop and a skip and a leap and a bound all at once.

I think we should move.

Me, too.

Words uttered months ago, maybe even years ago, in the darkness of a quiet room long after the chaos of life died down. 

The slow and arduous process began, and we found what we were looking for – or thought we did – until it was ripped from under us and we walked away with drooping shoulders and moist eyes.

And then doors opened, and fate – or something like it – stepped in. One bit of truth after another sang to me, to us. My heart-gut heard, and I said yes.

And we moved.

A world apart, but only the smallest part of the world.
And yet somehow still a whole, wide world apart.

Life changed, continues to change.
As it should.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Two hundredths of an inch. A movement so small, just barely there. That shift in your heart and in your head. The changing of who you are, bit by tiny bit. Ever-changing, we are. Millions of moments of milliseconds that make up a lifetime.

I’ve always been me.
I will always be me.

I know this to be true.

And yet I wonder.

We change, all of us.
And as we change, are we still us?
Is there a point, some magical point, when we have changed so much
me is no longer me, but someone else entirely?

Who I am and what I was.
Ever-changing and never-changing.

Defining and then redefining.
Fundamental changes expected, yet not.
The rush and go of life, the tumbles up and down…

Knocking away the rough edges gradually, almost imperceptibly.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

This is the story of our lives
Of all of me and all of you.
A package full of fractions waiting to be made whole.


my yesterday, your tomorrow

crying babyI see you there, new mama, with that worn-out, weary look and I want to whisper to you: I’ve been there. And the moment you are in is terrible and beautiful and wonderful and exhausting. But it gets better. It gets better and better. Those little babies grow into toddlers that will try your patience in ways you never knew were possible, but you will love them even more fiercely than you do now. And those toddlers grow into preschoolers with their maddening I-do-its and unexplainable tantrums. And you will be weary of the whining, but you will love them even more fiercely than you did when they were babies or toddlers. And then those preschoolers slowly and suddenly blossom into kids. Real kids who can have a conversation with you and come up with jokes that actually make sense. Sometimes they’re even funny. You’ll have weird conversations when their uninhibited mind rushes and gushes with ideas that you know probably won’t work, but you let them dream anyway…because you never know, right? And they get bigger and bigger and your love for them grows as they grow and you think your love for them is as big as it can get and yet it keeps stretching the limits of your heart so much that sometimes it crushes your lungs and you just.can’t.breathe.

I see you there, new mama, and I want to tell you these things. And as much as you try to listen and understand, you won’t be able to. But you’ll hear the words and file them away and maybe one day you’ll find yourself dragging your screaming preschooler through the bookstore, trying your best to balance discipline and total embarrassment and you’ll remember. It gets better. And this will pass. And some will tell you that you’ll miss it one day, and you know what? You may or you may not. And that’s okay. (I, for one, don’t miss those early days where everyone was tired and screaming…myself included). But either way, I can tell you that you both make it through and you both love each other more today than you did yesterday.

And, new mama, I want to tell you that I don’t know it all. Not even close. And I, too, am learning from those who have travelled these roads before us. Those mamas who have pulled and pushed and dragged and cuddled and loved and lived these years where you and I currently have our feet firmly planted. And they made it. Their beautiful, beautiful babies are now beautiful, beautiful adults and they’re telling us their story so that we can hear it from farther down the road and they’re shouting and cheering and praying us on, just as you will do for others.

Depending on the day, the moment, you may not be able to hear me over the crying, the screaming, the tears. Or maybe you can’t hear me because you are cradling that glorious piece of your heart in your arms and the you feel your blood course through your veins and hers and every ounce of both of you beats as one and there is nothing in the world but the two of you. Maybe you can’t hear me, but the words are there, waiting for you to catch them. Hundreds of thousands of mothers have prayed the same prayers and uttered the same thanksgivings. Listen, and you will hear. When you need it most, it’ll be here; a host of hopes and dreams and plans and promises and wisdom. It’s here, waiting on you. You’ve got this, mama. I promise you do.

dashing in the dark

He was in his chair and I on the sofa, both fast asleep. They came in and out and in and out and in and out of the house. (This place where we are, this place where they still need me but not all of my attention all of the time, deserves a few hundred words of its own). It’s been a long day preceded by two long nights. Marshall is doing as well as one can do after having an appendectomy in the middle of the night, but we are weary.

I stepped out onto the front porch for a little piece of peace. And, as usual, the homing signal went off and the little stinkers crowded around me, wanting to know what I was doing. We sat on the steps and saw something shinning at us from the sky. With SkyView app, binoculars, and a telescope in hand we went to seek answers.

It feels so delightfully perfect outside. The wind blows but can’t get the heaviness of the humidity off of my skin. It does bring in dreams of spring, lightnin’ bugs, and fresh cut grass. And they can feel it in the air, and it whooshes over their little big hearts with excitement that just can’t stop. In the dusk-to-dark they laugh and run and play. They race in pairs, in fair pairs, and they cheer for each other and it makes my chest thump with pride.

Marsh and I are mentally and physically exhausted. But their wild and wacky energy wound its way to me and lifted me slowly and carefully. I could do nothing but smile as I watched them race back and forth and back and forth and back and forth again.

(Lest you think our life is as pretty as this picture, I must confess that after a handful of these lovely little moments I was screaming a little too loudly. And by the time the tears of resistance came I was so frustrated I turned and walked away. With the good there is always the bad. How would we truly know one without the other?)

twenty-one seconds

This morning as we were rushing out the door – we’re always rushing out the door – the littlest cried, “I don’t have my hat!” She was already buckled in so I darted back inside to grab it. It was in my bathroom, of course, because who doesn’t leave their hat in someone else’s bathroom? As I was coming back out, my big girl shouted, “Can you get my Amelia Earhart hat?” Ugh! She didn’t even say please. (She’s going to be Amelia Earhart for a school presentation in the spring and we’re grabbing bits and pieces of costume as we go along).

One of my biggest parenting goals is to teach my children to be self-sufficient while also having enough self-confidence to ask for help when they get stuck and really can’t do it on their own. Dancing around the details of exactly how to do that, I often find myself tripping over my own feet. It’s a major struggle for me as a mother, and I get so incredibly frustrated with them about it. So when she called out to me, my initial reaction dripped with bitter extract de annoyance. I caught myself just before I screamed at her to get it herself. Then I decided that maybe I should just pretend that I never heard her. If she went in to get it, it would take forever. If I went back in, it’d probably take half as long but still…we were late! Late, I tell you! But, ya know…we’re always late, I thought to myself. So as my foot hit the last step, I turned sharply and dashed back up the stairs.

It took me twenty-one seconds to run up the stairs, grab the hat, and come back down. Twenty-one seconds. I know because I counted. And with each second I realized that we were going to be late anyway, so what would twenty-one seconds matter? Or thirty-one? Or even ninety-one or more? We’re not talking about a life or death situation here. Just preschool drop-off.

I hit my arm on the car door as I jumped into my seat, mumbled a bad word, and tossed the hat back to her. She smiled and said thanks. As I drove I started thinking about how many times I’ve asked people to do things that I’m perfectly capable of doing myself, of how many times I’ve quickly tossed out a, “Hey! Could you grab my (phone, drink, book, etc.)?” It doesn’t mean that I’m not self-sufficient. It doesn’t mean that I’m rude and lazy. It’s just something we do for the ones we love.  And I want to teach my children that, too. Maybe the dance is beginning to get just a little bit easier.

(P.S. She didn’t even wear the damn hat).

I can do hard things!

She is a very diligent student. She is thorough and determined. She’s also incredibly sensitive. And when she doesn’t understand something, even a brand new something, she gets upset about it. I don’t know where she gets that. 😉 And it’s difficult for me. I don’t want to downplay her fears and feelings, but at the same time I don’t want to not push her. If we’re never pushed, we never move forward. It’s tricky.

Sometimes I take pictures when my children are feeling vulnerable, when they are struggling with something. These are pictures I never share with others. These are sacred moments between mother and child. These are pictures of conflict that beg for resolution. I don’t capture these moments to be mean, I do it so that I can show these pictures to them later. I want to remind them that once upon a time walking was hard for them. Once upon a time riding a bike was hard. Once upon a time adding seemed impossible. And look at you! You did those things! Was it easy to start walking, riding, or adding? No. But you did it! You did hard things! And it’s then…then they can really see themselves for who they are: someone who can do hard things.

On the dreadfully difficult days, this becomes our mantra: I can do hard things. It usually starts with me saying it quietly, reminding this determined little child of mine that she can indeed do whatever it is that we’re working on. I prod a few times and she whispers it along with me. We say it again, a little stronger this time. And stronger and stronger and stronger…until the tears are gone and we believe it. We both really believe it! And even once we’ve reached the pinnacle of belief, we keep shouting because once you know that you can do hard things, it’s hard to stop.

*This phrase isn’t just between me and my 8 year old, though she’s the one mentioned here. Some days find all 5 of us chanting it, cheering each other on. And I can promise you that there are days when I am shouting loudest of all.