Walking Boots

My father grew up walking the country roads of rural Georgia. He spent his childhood walking everywhere–to town, to school, to the neighbor’s farm that was miles away. He passed down his love of walking to me and now I’m hoping to share it with my daughters. They’re finally old enough that we don’t need a stroller anymore, which is nice, but stressful in different ways. They’re loose and I’m outnumbered and there are no sidewalks here and I have to corral them like wild turkeys.

When we were young, my brothers and I went for walks with our dad almost every night after dinner, now that I think about it, it was probably to give my mom a break from our constant noise because normally she stayed behind.

We’d set off on our usual route and along the way I had my small detours like balancing along the bricks of a certain driveway or a shortcut through another. We always passed The Purple Lady’s house, where, I kid you not, every single thing was purple–the house, the car, the flowers, even her hair!

Strolling along, I’d ask Papa to tell me stories from his childhood. Sometimes he’d tell me all about going to school in a tiny one room schoolhouse, walking however many miles with a group of kids he could still name as if he’d seen them the day before. And he’d tell me about the first pair of glasses he got and how he was so amazed he could finally see ants on the ground. Or how he and his older brother JR got into all sorts of mischief, pulling pranks on everyone. Toward the end of our walk, I’d run ahead and put my hands and feet in the imprints on the sidewalk on Lancaster St. right before saying hello to the yellow lab that always barked at us as we passed by.

We forget pieces of our childhood until we have children of our own and they remind us what it used to be like. I hadn’t thought about these walks for a long time until I took my girls for one yesterday. Just like my detours, they found their own along a rocky pathway, where I followed behind, feeling that long-lost spark of adventure. Then they hopped from one stepping stone to the next at the house on the corner. The big one pointed out pretty white blossoms blooming on a tree while the little one picked dandelions to carry, and I felt like a kid again, which is to say, happy.

on a walk

5 Years Later…

Dear my sweetest E,

Happy 5th Birthday to the girl who makes me smile with my whole face and laugh with my whole body! You are the ultimate gift, my hilarious lil spitfire, and I’m so lucky that you’re mine. It’s unfathomable that five years have gone by so quickly, and you’ve grown and morphed into this person who I couldn’t be more proud of and more excited to know. You surprise me and delight me (and frustrate me) to my limits, but that’s how I know you’re mine because I see myself in you and I see all the ways you’re not like me too. It’s all these other ways that I’m so grateful for. Because that’s the best part of this parenting business…finding out who you are gonna be regardless of my influence, all the ways you’re not like me. The way you’re obsessed with horses to the way you take charge of a situation and speak your mind. Never stop doing that.

You deserve the absolute best birthdays and I hope this one didn’t disappoint. Shoot, it might be the first one you remember. Realizing that just gave me a mini heart attack. I think it went pretty well though. From the balloons to the pancakes to the trip to the museum and the butterfly grove, and then the chocolate cupcakes with our friends, and of course, THE PRESENTS, and more cupcakes and ice cream, I’d say, you enjoyed yourself. And don’t forget my favorite part, dancing and twirling just the two of us in the kitchen. I’m not sure if you were aware, but I was committing it to memory, the feel of your hand in mine, the way you laughed, the ease of the moment.

You’re 5 now. I’m almost 35. There might as well be a million years between us, yet you remind me of what it’s like to be thirty years younger every time I look at your marvelous face. Happy Birthday to you, Miss E! We love you like crazy!

Memory Lane

Parenthood is the ultimate plot twist. It starts out as trying to protect a helpless little baby from the big bad world, providing everything she needs to survive until one day she turns into a clever, strong-willed child with a mind of her own, and then it’s the parents who need help surviving.

My baby turns five soon. So naturally I’ve been looking back on my first five years as a parent. It’s mind-boggling to think how much living and learning this tiny person has brought along with her. I keep hearing my mom’s voice in the back of my head like a mantra, “It’ll get easier. It’ll get easier…” Yes mama, it has gotten easier, but it’s gotten much harder in much different ways.

The first year of my daughter’s life was based on survival, hers more than mine, but both of ours together. I remember not knowing a damn thing about being a parent and having to figure everything out from scratch and on very little sleep. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and happy. It was a ton of work, but I remembering loving (almost) every minute of it.

The second year of my daughter’s life was based on safety, in the most basic definition of the word. This was when she was unsteady on her feet and charging the world like a wild stallion–fearless and curious and full of wonder. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and didn’t crack open her head.

The third year of my daughter’s life was based on surrender, meaning I had to give up a little bit of control. This was when she started preschool, interacting with other kids, being exposed to more than just our little bubble. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and didn’t bite anyone.

The fourth year of my daughter’s life was based on surprise, meaning I was surprised at just how difficult she could be. This was when she really started to come into her own–her own ideas, her own choices, her own way of doing things. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and that I didn’t strangle her for never listening to me.

The fifth year…well, that’s this year ahead of us. I’m not sure what it will be based on yet or what all it holds for her, but I’m hopeful that it’s full of love and lots of laughter. Because if I know my daughter it definitely will be. There’s nothing she loves more than making us laugh, and there’s nothing I love more than laughing with her.

Chip off the Ol’ Block

It’s when you see yourself in your children that you really start to worry for their future.

I’m officially worried.

My four year old is exactly like me; she’s a sensitive spitfire full of piss and vinegar who takes things too personally, wears her heart on her sleeve, and does everything possible just to get a reaction. Karma is in full force, people. Now I know exactly where that expression, “chip off the old block” comes from!

People say that it’s great to have a strong-willed child because she’ll stick up for herself and be driven later on in life, but that does nothing to help me put up with her ridiculous attitude until we get to that point (if we even make it to that point). And how do I know if she’s strong-willed and not just an A-hole? Or is that one and the same?

One of the best things about having kids is seeing pieces of yourself in them, but it’s also the worst. In one moment it’s endearing how much my daughter sounds and looks just like me. The way she says, “Seriously!” after dropping something on the floor, to how she responds, “What a bummer!” finding out McDonald’s ice cream maker isn’t working. I especially see myself when she throws her head back and laughs, eyes twinkling with silliness. She’s like a cuter, smarter, funnier caricature of me. These are the moments when it all makes sense.

But then there are the other moments, like when she throws a fit because not everything goes her way, which is my signature move. Or when she scrunches up her face in a terrifying scowl, crossing her arms in disgust before stomping off because it’s not her turn to choose a movie. Or when she bursts into tears because that little line on her sock isn’t lined up just so. These are the moments when I’m confronted with my own terrible behavior.

It scares us to see our children act like us because we want them to be so much better than us, to be everything we’re not, to not make our mistakes, and to know a happiness we’ve never known. And then despite all our exhaustive efforts, they end up exactly like us anyway.

My daughter and I are going to clash our whole lives because we’re too much alike. One day I hope we’ll sit and laugh about how she was as stubborn and feisty as her mama, and it’ll make me proud instead of crazy. But until then, as soon as her father gets home, she’s his problem. Come to think of it, that was exactly what my mom did with me, and once again it hits me that I’m more like her than I’ll ever know or admit.

Buh-Bye Babyhood

When I was pregnant I couldn’t wait for my babies to get here. It seemed to take for-ev-er. Then they were born, life fast forwarded four and a half years, and now they’re so grown up. The little one just turned three, and now she’s a full-blown miniature person, leaving her babyhood in the dust.

She’s hitting huge milestones back to back, and I guess that’s why it feels like this chapter is done. We just gave her a “big girl bed,” and she’s so in love with it. She asks me to come look at it no fewer than ten times a day. I’m only mildly bittersweet about it, I say, tears streaming down my face.

Parenthood is this weird limbo. You’re stuck between wanting to keep them your babies forever, and wanting them to grow up and leave the nest sooner than later. Believe me, I’m absolutely DONE having babies, and needing to care and nurture one, but I’m not done holding onto them as if it was the first time.

I’m ecstatic they’re gaining more independence, doing more for themselves because that means I don’t have to do every single little thing for them, although most of the time that’s exactly how it feels. Baby steps, I guess.

So adios, diapers! Arrivederci, crib! Au revoir, babyhood! It was fun while it lasted, not to mention life-changing in every way imaginable.

 

3 Candles

Dear S,

Happy 3rd Birthday, darling girl! It seems impossible that you’re three years old already, yet here we are.

Where does the time go? Probably the same place where my sanity and all the missing socks end up. I say this every time another birthday rolls around, but I can’t believe you’re another year older. Time is rushing away from me, refusing to slow down, just like you. Each day you’re getting a little taller, your hair a little longer, you’re changing and maturing right before my eyes. Please stop.

You are a delight in every sense of the word. Just seeing your little face with your plump cherub cheeks and your huge expressive eyes makes me smile. You are quite the character, and as much as it pains me to admit it, you’re already such a little diva. You furrow your brow, cross your arms, and roll your eyes just like a pro. (I have no idea where you get it from.) I’m so afraid when you become a teenager. Please don’t.

You love doing everything with your big sister: “barrel racing” in the front yard, coloring pictures together, playing horses and Barbies. The two of you together is everything. The other night you asked to sleep in her bed, and while it didn’t last all night, I thought that was the sweetest thing in the world.

Every night I put you to sleep, reading, rocking, and singing to you. It’s my favorite part of the day. Your body curled up in my arms with your tiny arms wrapped around me. Your little voice telling me you love me back. I’m always so exhausted by this time that sometimes I just want it to be over so I can rest, but then I realize there’s no better place than in your parent’s arms, so I rock you a little longer and squeeze you a little tighter because you won’t always let me hold you like this, although I hope you prove me wrong.

We have big plans for your birthday today. A trip to the zoo, and then a party with friends and family, even a rainbow donkey pinata that you’re head over heels in love with. Something tells me you’re gonna be more in love with what’s inside the ill-fated rainbow donkey.

Wishing you a magical 3rd birthday, Sweet Pea. You truly are my sunshine. We love you!

Sunshine

 

Making Memories

Memories have always been important to me, and now even more that I’m a parent. I’m always taking pictures of my kids, recording videos, trying to capture a specific moment in time. For what though? So we can show them when they’re older? Look here, see, you loved smearing food all over your face, and here’s the time you were running around the front yard naked. I guess it’s to remind ourselves of everything because we’re too busy living it to remember it.

It’s interesting what triggers our memories. The other day I saw a navy blue S that reminded me of going to the bank with my father when I was little. The bank’s logo was a blue S that somehow engrained itself in my memory and popped up out of nowhere. All of a sudden I was standing inside that dark, musty bank playing with the metal chain holding the pen in place at the counter, running my fingers down the felt ropes as we waited in line, and hopping on one foot to the other envisioning the donut I would soon select. I hadn’t thought about going to the bank with my father for 30 years, so it seemed like a strange thing to remember, but I was glad that this forgotten time and place came back to me. I didn’t even realize it was still in there, and all triggered by this random blue S.

We took our girls to see Inside Out awhile ago. It was the little one’s first trip to the movie theater, so naturally I committed it to memory. She loved it all: the popcorn, the fruit punch, and the giant TV, as she called it. Her little face was lit with excitement the entire time.

As much as the movie is about memories, it’s also about emotions —  joy, anger, disgust, fear, and sadness to be exact. Even though my girls are young, they’re walking, talking, screaming, fighting, loving bundles of emotion, so the movie thrilled and terrified me, giving me a look inside their crazy, little heads. I know as they get older things will only get more complicated and I should just enjoy this time where everything can be fixed with a snuggle. Way easier said than done.

As parents, we try so hard to give our children the best of everything thinking it will ensure an amazing upbringing. It’s one of the reasons why parenthood is so difficult because things aren’t always so easy and nothing ever really goes as planned and we worry too much. Writing this it dawned on me that what made going to the bank with my father special was not what we were doing, or that I got a donut out of the deal, but that I was with him, holding his hand, being his little sidekick. It all seems so simple then. Hold their hands, be with them, and they’ll remember that more than anything. And also, take them to get a donut every now and then.

 

 

The Big Book of Parenting Tweets

I refuse to believe that Twitter is a complete waste of time. I mean, it is, but it did lead to something as awesome as The Big Book of Parenting Tweets.

BBPT

When I first started Twitter, my husband would jokingly ask, “Are you making money doing that yet?” To which my response was always an exaggerated eye roll. Like anyone would ever pay me for my rantings on motherhood. Well, never say never.

For me, Twitter has always been an outlet, a distraction from the monotony of life. As a mom, my life is ALL about monotony, so between the playdates, the runny noses, the diaper changes, and the meltdowns, I look to Twitter to make me laugh, to inspire me, to make me think about anything other than my children, which is ironic because they are all I tweet about. I started tweeting one year ago in January of 2014, and had no idea what I was doing including using the dreaded hashtag in my first dozen tweets, wondering how anyone ever received one star let alone thousands of them. Slowly, I got the hang of it, and now it’s not so much an outlet, but a full-blown addiction.

As a writer, I’ve dreamed about being published and now thanks to The Big Book of Parenting Tweets, I can say that I am, even though my name is not on the front cover, it’s listed on the back among all the amazing contributors, and it’s not so much my name as my Twitter handle, but you get the point. Something I wrote is in a book, therefore I’m published.

Find my @

Find my @

Needless to say, I’ll be riding this high for quite awhile. The best part of being published is that I didn’t even have to do all the hard work, a talented writer and fellow funny mummy, Kate “Whine” Hall , along with Science of Parenthood’s, Jessica Ziegler and Norine Dworkin-McDaniel, worked tirelessly for weeks curating the best parenting tweets and chose some of mine. I’m honored and so proud to be a part of this project.

It’s the perfect book because you can read a couple pages, then set it down to do one of the hundred things your children need you to do, then pick it right back up and be laughing again in seconds before you have to do the next hundred things for your children. There are even amazing, hysterical illustrations that really bring the tweets to life.

Of course mine is about poop, of course.

Of course mine is about poop, of course.

The Big Book of Parenting Tweets isn’t just for parents, it’s for anyone who loves to laugh. I’m always surprised that someone who doesn’t have children finds anything I say about being a parent as funny or entertaining but somehow they do, so I’m sure everyone will find something to laugh at in this book. It’s just THAT great! So go get a copy now!

It’ll make you laugh, I promise!

Motherhood, Interrupted

We went, we selfied, we danced…because that’s what you do when you go to Las Vegas as a married mother of two.

Moms Gone Mild, Sin City 2014

My mom friends and I loaded up our Mom-mobile stocked with every snack and necessity known to man (cause we’re moms)…

before

On the Road

…not to mention practically every shoe from our closets (cause we’re girls)…

Never Enough Shoes

Never Enough Shoes

…and headed to Vegas this past weekend. None of us cared that the drive would take several hours, in fact, we welcomed it. We were happy to finish one conversation and only take care of ourselves. It didn’t matter what we were doing as long as it involved getting away from our children. We love them to death, but when you spend as much time with them as we do, you need a break. So that’s just what we got, and it was the best time ever!

My Girlz

My Girlz

We were able to forget the very thing that brought us all together in the first place (motherhood) and enjoy our freedom. We got our hair done, we shared clothes and jewelry, and never stopped talking or laughing. We danced the night away into the wee hours of the morning, (my feet still have the blisters to prove it.) Surprisingly, no one lost anything, except our voices, and there was not one moment of drama, but plenty of inside jokes and new dance moves.

Getting Down

Hershey Rollin’

For three stress-free days we didn’t have to be moms. We didn’t have to worry about the things we worry about on a daily basis, and it was exactly what the four of us needed. Now it’s back to our regularly scheduled lives of playdates, tantrums, and bedtimes, but for those three days when motherhood was interrupted, man, did we live it up.

Cheeeeese!

Cheeeeese!

And So It Begins…

The day my three year old started preschool was a momentous moment in my motherhood career. I was finally going to get a little break and a breather while she was at school for three glorious, whine-free hours. I wasn’t going to be one of those moms crying her eyes out because she couldn’t leave her child, but I was going to be one of those moms with tears of joy streaming down her face doing a happy dance of freedom.

happy dance

Just like this

The morning of my daughter’s first day, she got dressed, donned her horsey backpack, and stood in front of the fireplace to have her picture taken. Once she would finally listen to my direction, and I was able to get a good one, we then took another one standing by the front door. And another one next to the car. Now that I think about it, I was trying to stop time, capture every moment before she was officially a student.

Driving her to school, I was nervous. How would she do at drop off? She’d never been to daycare and had only been left with family members up until then. Would she cry and scream? Throw a tantrum? To calm my nerves, I turned on the music. And wouldn’t you know it, that damn Frozen soundtrack was playing. Of course it was on, Let it Go. Of course.

let it go

But not the movie version, the Demi Lovato version, which made it all even worse. My eyes filled with tears. What the hell was wrong with me? I told myself I wasn’t going to cry. And there I was driving my daughter to her first day of school, realizing that this was the beginning of the end, and she’d be off to college before I knew it. Which doesn’t sound all that bad now, but let’s face it, it’s terrible. I’ll be so old and exhausted by then, that is, if I even survive the teenage years.

It was not so long ago that my little girl was a little baby, and now she was going to school for the first time, and the enormity hit me like a gust of icy wind. Here I was releasing her into the real world, sending her off to make her own path, and it was too much to process. Luckily, whenever I get emotional and overwhelmed by the feelings of motherhood, my kids know just how to distract me by having a complete meltdown or needing one of their million needs met. They keep me from over-thinking things, or thinking things at all, really.

So by the time we pulled into the parking lot, my avalanche of emotion stopped short by their cries to get out of their seats, and I was able to collect myself. We went inside her classroom, only after taking more pictures outside the door. Everything went well. She didn’t cry, she wasn’t afraid, she was a little unsure, but it didn’t stop her from sitting at the table and playing with the freshly made playdough. It went better than I imagined. She was ready, the only thing I had to do was let. her. go. Oh god, here come the waterworks again. Damn hormones.

And so begins her journey to success, and Mummy’s journey to freedom.

Why I Cried

Why I Cried