Remind Me

Remind me that I feel better when I do this.

Remind me that everything is improved with a trip outside.

Remind me that the world is more bright and lovely midday when I step into the grass rather than tuck my toes under on the couch.

Remind me that all I have to do – ALL I have to do – is to get out of the way. To be silent and wonder. To ask the question and wait. To not turn my somersaults of confusion and anxiety trying to twist myself into already knowing what I do not yet know. To not justify my every action when they are all wrong because the only right one is to listen.

Remind me that it cannot all be mine, but look at what is.

Remind me that I would be overwhelmed with more anyway.

Remind me that it is the space between: the cool air, the ghost outline of a mostly round moon in the afternoon, the pine needles oddly tinkling like the sound of icicles in the spring breeze, the new baby-green buds born on the old dogwood branches.

Remind me that those trees in my yard have been there long before my comings and goings, my doings and not-doings, and they’ll be there, watching, long after. They are neither joyed nor dismayed by the antics of people in their yard, just observant.

Remind me to be observant, too.

Remind me to rest my face in a half-smile so as not to frown as I concentrate. I want to smile at what I’m considering, because if I’m going to frown, I want to do it on purpose.

Remind me to ask people questions about their lives.

Remind me to not interrupt.

Remind me that the world is spinning, and the ozone, and gravity, and revolution, and isn’t that all amazing when I remember to not take it for granted?

Remind me to stop avoiding what is difficult, because hiding it behind my back just makes it harder to hold.

Remind me to be careful.

Remind me to be purposeful, because so often I am not, and I allow myself the ease of being carried on the momentum of how-things-happen, forgetting that I have options: agency or complacency.

Remind me that “one day” backwards is “day one”.

Remind me that my parents are proud of the adult I’ve become. Remind me that I don’t have to act childlike for them.

Remind me that there is no rush. But also remind me to do a little every day.

Remind me to spend some time cleaning out the dusty old notes, files, boxes, and unused things. Remind me to unclutter my head, too.

Remind me that I want to learn to garden. But that I can start with something familiar like lavender or forsythia, and wait to tackle vegetables another year.

Remind me to keep the pen moving.

Remind me I’ll miss it all when I’m gone: the quiet classroom, the chaos when it’s full. The young minds shooting thoughts out in every unorganized direction like fireworks. Too loud, too scary, too much, and my responsibility to reign all that flash and fire in and make it into a timed, bright show, on schedule and in order.

But I already know that when I look back, I’ll first remember all that color and light and beauty, and I’ll need to be reminded of the slog.


Chronicling Summer 2016

I find myself, everyday, making mental notes to myself to record the cute and wonderful things my kids are doing that I don’t want to forget.

Things that are so cute and wonderful it seems like I could never forget, but as I have learned from going through the early stages with Maya, do slip away. The immediate day to day routine incrementally adjusts to include the new skill that the baby acquires until it’s another norm taken for granted: Of course Cole can give hugs; I don’t remember a time when he couldn’t!

As much as I love going to my job, I am so grateful for this time home with my kids, so I can SEE these small advances and take note. It is miraculous to observe how things really do change day to day.

Cole is 13 1/2 months old.

Maya is 4 + a couple months.

  • Cole just started hugging for real within the past week or two. For as long as I can remember, he has “given hugs” by turning his face so that his cheek is on your chest,  tucking his arms down by his sides, and pressing into you. But recently, when he woke in the middle of the night because of whatever ghosts haunt a baby’s sleep, I went in to pick him up, coo, and settle him back down, and when I lifted him, he wrapped his wiry baby arms around my neck and squeezed with all of his little might. I may have teared up in the face of such beauty and reason for living.
  • He also, occasionally, will give what we call an “Ahhh-kiss”: two people put their open mouths together while saying “Ahhhhhh,” like we each have a tiny dentist in our mouths that needs to check out the other’s teeth. (Maya and I have a whole repertoire of kiss types that we run through at bedtime: Butterfly kisses, Vacuum kisses, Ahhh-kisses, Cheek kisses, Surprise kisses, Herbert kisses, Fish kisses…)
  • He will make a kiss face and smacking sound when sitting alone, but has not put that together with actually delivering a smooch yet.
  • Cole is starting to experiment with how forks and spoons work. This mostly results in food flying off of his plate/placemat and raining down a buffet of treats for the dog hovering under his high chair, but sometimes he gets food to his mouth while using a tool.
  • He’s tall. He can get things off of all counters now. Move the knives and coffee mugs back.
  • He really loves lift-the-flap books right now. He will carry a book over to me, then turn around and back himself up until he plops down on my lap. So damn cute.
  • He says “Mama, Dada, Maya, Nana, Gigi” but not always exactly with purpose. For example, he says “Dada” almost any time he is expressing joy. Or anytime he sees a truck. Or a car. Or a cloud. Or whatever. And he yells “Mamamamamama” if he is at all upset. A friend recently told me that that is where those terms came from: Fathers are “Dada” because that is the sound of joy that babies make, and this helps fathers to bond with their babies, and Mothers are “Mama” because that is the sound expressed when a babe is in need of comfort. I can’t officially cite this etymology, but it seems to hold true in our household.
  • He LOVES to dance. He sways back and forth, marches his feet, and pumps his arms up and down. It is so damn cute. He will dance to any Pandora station, theme songs on TV, or even low background music behind the long list of side effects in a prescription drug commercial. Or if I sing. Or if he sings to himself (Da, da, da, da, La, la, la, la).
  • His absolute favorite food is frozen blueberries. And he can drink an adult sized smoothie no problem. He also likes beans and sweet potatoes. He is not too keen on salty or garlicky foods yet.
  • He smiles all the time. He is a very happy kid.
  • He climbs and climbs and climbs and climbs. And has recently begun to consistently get himself down by putting his feet first. This has been a big step for me as it means I don’t have to constantly hover or jump across the room if he’s standing on Maya’s art table. I know now that he can get himself down.
  • He can bark like a dog (oof, oof), tweet like a bird (a high pitched eep, eep), growl like a bear, and hiss like a snake.
  • He can play peek-a-boo himself – when did this start!? I don’t know! But I do remember Maya playing this game with my scarf when she was 15 months old and we were on our CA road trip.
  • He has 8 teeth – 4 up top, 4 below.
  • He has started playing with our reactions if he screams at the highest possible pitch. Usually in a restaurant. Hilarious.
  • As I write this, he just opened the magazine on the dining room table, pointed at the Ralph Lauren Polo model and said, “Daddy”. You betcha, son.
  • He’s gentle with patting the dogs, but occasionally hits and bites Maya.
  • He knocks on the window and waves bye-bye to Daddy.
  • He will run up to us, hundreds of times a day, and hug us around our legs out of the blue.
  • He understands:
    • If I say, “Where is your paci?” he will point to where it fell/he threw it.
    • This morning, he brought me Maya’s detangling spray we use to coax the rat’s nest out of her lovely long hair, and then bowed his head and waited for me to spray his light tuft of wispy hair.
    • As I made Maya’s bed after Sean took her to school, Cole picked up the throw pillows one by one and stacked them on her bed, already having observed the job she usually does in the morning.

  • Pushing her toy baby stroller is his favorite thing to do. But he will also happily push the toy shopping cart, though it doesn’t handle turns as well as her lithe sports model wheels.
  • He naps (usually) twice a day: Once at 9am and again around 1:30/2pm. He wakes at 6am and goes to bed at 6:30pm. The clockwork of his schedule is just enough structure to keep my day moving productively. I’m not so great with wide open free time. I need something else to build the parameters. I do yoga when he goes down for morning nap. Period. No wavering or justifying. No doing the dishes first. Stick to the schedule.
  • Maya is capable of everything. Everything.

  • I love the way she says “Okay,” when she’s satisfied with an answer we’ve given her, her voice lifting at the end like she’s checking an item off of a list.
  • She has had walking pneumonia this past week (low fever and yucky cough, fixed with antibiotics), and having her home with me each day, I have learned that she really enjoys making her bed, helping me with mine, and is totally fine with picking things up and putting them away. I did not realize this when we were rushing to and from work/school and leaving detritus in our wake of getting ready for our outside-the-home lives.
  • She enjoys pushing her baby stroller (with Little Red Riding Hood – a doll she “found” (thanks to Gigi) in a rabbit hole in a tree out by the river behind my mom’s house) along side my big stroller as we take slow morning walks on the Morgan Creek Trail before the day gets too hot.
  • She can name a bunch of different birds and plants.
    • “I smell honeysuckle! Where is it? I want to drink it. Oh, there it is; too far down on the rocks to get to.”
    • “There’s a redbird! It’s a boy cardinal because it’s red. The girls are brown.”
    • She can identify the plants in our yard: eucalyptus, black-eyed susans, rosemary, irises (“Like my friend, Iris!”), day lilies (“like Aunt Lily!”), dogwood trees, a magnolia (“Like my friend, Magnolia!”), crepe myrtles, and a bradford pear that “smells like dirty socks.”
    • She asks me why she has mosquito bites or needs to look out for poison ivy. I tell her it’s because it’s North Carolina in the summer.
  • She still starts to cry at any bump, bruise, scrape, or stub, but the meltdown is much shorter and she seems to be confident in her body’s ability to heal quickly. She also finds comfort in band-aids and will reluctantly allow me to clean any cuts with hydrogen peroxide (“bubbles”). Though she will scream/cry the whole time, she will hold her own arm or leg out over the bathroom sink so that I can pour it over her boo-boo.
  • She asks us multiple times per day, “What are you going to do tomorrow?” and laughs like we’re the butt of a joke when we make a fake-exasperated face and give her the same answer we already gave 10 minutes prior.
  • I am currently trying to talk her into a hair trim – my main line of reasoning consists of using the theme from The Little Prince, which the two of us went to see at Carrboro High not so long ago – a wonderful student production. We must take care of our own “little planet” – this can mean picking up and cleaning our home, but also can mean taking care of our bodies by washing, brushing our hair/teeth, trimming our nails, and yes, even our hair. I also parallel it to pulling off the yellow and brown leaves from the plants on the porch – it’s good for the plant, and good for your hair to trim off the dying ends so more healthy hair can grow like Rapunzel’s. Yesterday she agreed to do it “when I’m 5”, but I suggested she may have to decide while she’s still 4.

15 Minute Writer?

Who said that thing about needing to work 10,000 hours in order to be an expert in your craft? I thought it was a Renaissance painter, or someone romantic, but Google says it was Malcolm Gladwell, who is a very much alive and current journalist – does that make the quote less timeless?

Google also has many many links to articles debunking the statement. But whatever the origin or veracity of the measurement, the basic idea behind it is true: if you want to get good at something, do it. A lot. You know, practice makes perfect and all.

A writer in my prompt writing group opened her piece this past week, and I am paraphrasing: I am scared. Now to sit and do the thing that I think about all day. She was referring to writing. And I was right there with her. The idea of writing is a constant on my mind – a tangle of desire and fear, need and doubt.

Part of the doubt and fear comes from the fact that the writing idea is jockeying for position with other desires and needs: running and/or yoga, cleaning, organizing, feeding myself, showering, and perhaps most loudly, sitting passively and consuming entertainment via a screen. And this long list only gets its turn on the agenda when the children are sleeping or otherwise occupied. All in all, I have 2 to 3 hours per day to do with what I will. And I have been very grateful this summer as I have realized how rich I am with time compared to last summer, when my responsibilities included all of the above PLUS a newborn with no set schedule. The fact that Cole naps consistently and reliably, and Maya is at school three days a week, has afforded me possibility and autonomy that seemed a distant and unattainable luxury not so long ago.

Do I feel my absolute best when I am writing? Yes. Do I long for the process when I am not doing it? Not exactly. I’m too tired. The only thing I long for is relaxation, the end of the day, quiet, sleeping kids, and perhaps American Ninja Warrior. See? Even in my downtime I can’t handle plot or story. Just pure mindless repetition.

The leader of my prompt group, Nancy Peacock, wrote in a Facebook post, ” I can only write a few hours each day…” and I add phrases like this to my long list of “Why I don’t write today” – because I cannot give the time it deserves.

It is a common issue I observe with myself: If I cannot give it my all, I will give nothing. If I cannot do the project in its entirety, I will do nothing. Even when it is so obvious that just a part of the whole would be a big improvement in my life. I can’t make it to the gym for an hour class? Then would only running one mile and dedicating 15 minutes be worth it? Better than nothing. I cannot deep clean the bathroom with a toddler underfoot, but I could at least wipe the toothpaste off the counter, right? Better than nothing. That’s going to have to be my new mantra: better than nothing. Of course I can’t give anything my all – heck, Maya is watching The Lego Movie and I’m batting Cole’s hands from the keyboard as I write this – so neither the kids nor this post is getting my full attention, but hey, I wrote this, and it’s better than nothing!

Perhaps the problem is that I have it in my head that I can only be writing when I can dedicate a string of hours, uninterrupted. So therefore, never. Perhaps if I see the process as something that CAN be done in starts and fits – in 15 minute increments, then maybe I can build something. A daily practice, small bits of flash fiction, pieces of a larger story, a familiarity with my characters…something; anything is better than nothing.

The End of an Era

Saturday, December 19, 2015: FAREWELL, PACIS

She picked a pink paper bag out of the gift bag stash and loaded all of her pacifiers into it in the morning. As I held the bag open for her, I teared up. It was such a big moment for my girl (and for me, who is so sentimental). My little baby has had an addiction to these little plastic suckers that I feared would warrant a Palm Springs rehab stint. But on this morning, purposefully and without hesitation, my girl plucked each beloved and cherished paci from the glass bowl (out of reach in the cupboard) and placed it into the gift bag.

The plan was that we would deliver these pacis to Santa Claus, who, in turn, would deliver them to babies in need.

In the car on the way to the mall, she chose a neon green and hot pink one to savor one last time. We picked up Nana, and she added her household’s stash to the pink paper bag.

We stood in line for half an hour. I went to the front and tried to explain our unusual request to the teenage boy managing the line and taking picture orders, but this momentous situation was so far out of his purview that he didn’t seem to fully understand what I was asking. I just wanted Santa to have a little heads up and to play along when my three-and-a-half-year-old handed him a gift bag before placing her own Christmas gift wish, but I was not confident that this young employee was going to play along.

Sean and I had a disagreement about whether or not to purchase pictures. I felt (perhaps unreasonably so) that we needed to compensate the Santa and his helpers for our special favor. Sean did not agree, thinking that our little request did not much put them out. Maya settled the dispute by throwing a mini tantrum – she did NOT want to have her picture taken. When I saw the price, I agreed with the two of them. And the tantrum gave me a good platform on which to refuse the promotional purchase.

Luckily, there was a shift change when we were third in line. Santa took a restroom break, his ankle bracelet of jingle bells chiming his walk through the crowd; he needed to be escorted to keep the Bieber-like throngs of children under 10 at bay as he mercifully took a breather.

I took this opportunity to speak with the new teenager in charge of line-flow. She caught my drift a little more quickly, smiled, and agreed to fill Santa in on the plan. She must have had some experience with a small child in her own life, and knew how important this kind of orchestrated transition would be for a three year old.

When it was our turn, the teen went over and whispered to Santa. Bless you, girl. And Santa turned and smiled at us. It was time.

Maya bravely went up and handed the bag of pacifiers over to Santa, who kindly took them and gave them to his assistant with a wink, “We are going to give these to babies that need them.” Bless you, Mall Santa.

And for the first time in her life, Maya then sat on Santa’s lap without a meltdown. She asked for a Cinderella Ballerina doll.

“Anything else?” Santa asked.

“No, that’s all.”

Then we went and had ice cream.

I had anticipated a few difficult nights as she missed her comforting pacis, but there has been nothing! Absolutely NO mention of them since handing them over to Santa.

I am so proud of my giving and unselfish girl. I have learned so much about her through this: if she plans ahead, talks it through, and is prepared, then she can handle a major change. I’m sure these lessons will prove most valuable as we move forward with her growth. She is a shrewd negotiator and will find the loophole in any give and take, so when it’s time for the end of an era, cold turkey decisiveness is the way to go for her to own it.

She is no baby anymore. And look! Santa brought her a Cinderella Ballerina doll for Christmas! Just what she wanted!

Happy Holidays, all!


Honey, Are You Okay?

November 18, 2015

I am sitting in the car in the grocery store parking lot, working on a short story while I let Cole finish his morning nap. I have to pee pretty badly; I may have to disrupt him soon.

But I look up to contemplate solving my bladder problem when I see a small, old, burnt orange hatchback pull in the space two down from me.

The woman driving, young – early 20’s maybe – pretty, long, shining black hair, pulls in and stares for a moment.

Is she looking at the car parked next to her on the other side? Does she know its owner?

Is she looking past the car to the Christmas trees, piled like kindling in front of the grocery? Is she debating, like I am, whether she can get away with buying one before Thanksgiving?

Does she have a clear view to the front doors of the store? Is she waiting for someone who needs a ride?

As I run through these questions, she stretches her arms straight out over the top of her steering wheel and rests her forehead on its center.



I look up again just now, and she’s sobbing into her hands; her fingers like flying buttresses bridging her nose.

Oh, honey.

I want to reach out to her. Would it be crossing a line if I went over and hugged her when she got out of the car?

She’s collecting herself, checking her mascara in the rearview mirror, wiping her cheeks of teary evidence. A deep breath and a sigh. It looks like resignation.

I would be taken aback if some stranger tried to hug me in a grocery store parking lot; I won’t force my well-intentioned empathy on her. But I want to reach out to her, to connect.

I have made up my mind to roll down my window and tell her I’m sorry, for whatever it is. But a dusty, large, old Chevy 1500 pulls into one of the spaces between us. Three enormously overweight men wearing camo hats and shorts climb out of the SUV. My view of her is completely gone. The connection is lost.

Was she ever even aware that I was here, sitting so near, bearing witness to her heartbreak?

I try to look for her through the SUV’s tinted windows. I’ll be able to see her shape if she gets out of her car.

But then the little hatchback is in reverse and she is pulling back, out, and away.


Instagram is bubbling over with shades of orange and pumpkin flavor – post after post of fallen golden and crimson leaves: #finallyautumn.

But I get it. It is so yummy to experience this time of year – you can hear the masses celebrating their sweaters and boots as they open their doors to hang twiggy wreaths and set out mums and pumpkins. Me included.

The weather is fine; I am most content in a layered outfit – with scarf, no jacket, so right now fits the bill just nicely. I like to posit that it’s my Bay Area roots that cause me to wave my hands in the air at the absence of humidity, but I think it’s rare that anyone turns her nose up at crisp fall air.

Saturday, we joined our friends at the pumpkin patch, Phillips Farm, in the Morrisville/Cary area. A farm that also grows strawberries and Christmas trees – they have your photo-op moments covered for every season!

When I was 22, I went for the haunted corn maze, but secretly, I was just as excited by the hay ride. So imagine my excitement that I now get to use my kids as an excuse to do ALL of the activities offered by the pumpkin patches!


I imagine that the staff members have a ball when all of the minivans are packed up and pulled out and they can go to town on all of these cool attractions “for kids” – at least I was fantasizing doing so if it were me there after hours. And I did as many as I could under the guise of “my three-year-old needs her hand held”.

Among the offerings at this particular patch were

  • a corn maze
  • petting zoo
  • water gun races
  • huge plastic pipes to race like hamster balls (I really wanted to do that!)
  • pumpkin chunkin’ slingshot
  • corn cob gun
  • a giant spiderweb hammock/jungle gym thing
  • a tunnel/swing made of that same huge pipe
  • a tunnel slide to match – so fast!
  • another potato sack slide
  • a fun house – Maya was informed it was too scary for anyone under 8; she obliged.
  • football and basketball games
  • cornhole
  • horseshoes
  • a huge bouncy house
  • a smaller bouncy house
  • a corn crib filled with dried corn kernels – I am installing one of these whenever I renovate my house – so luxurious to lounge in!
  • a giant trampoline that stumped us – was there underground piping keeping it inflated!?
  • a hay ride
  • the pumpkin patch, duh

I used to celebrate Halloween on Franklin Street with 100,000 other people without kids. Now, I am elated to jump on a mystery trampoline and watch as all of our kids run straight into the pumpkin patch and immediately fall on their faces because they didn’t realize the rows were raised. THAT was funny.


I am so grateful to my kids for opening this door onto fun – the cheesy kind of fun that doesn’t care if I look cool – though I look straight VIP with my bare toes dipped in unpopped corn.

Happy Pumpkin Season, everyone!


An Exaltation of Larks

I have never quite figured out what I want this blog to be. I know that I am happy with what has been collected here, but I also know that I have been inconsistent, and perhaps that inconsistency comes from a lack of focus for this medium.

I know that I want a space to say that the sky is beautiful today. That the air is clear and fresh, the clouds thin and light, and the blue, generous.

My dear friend, Mike, once gave me a book called “An Exaltation of Larks”, and that is what I saw this morning. I don’t think the birds were actually larks, but the group’s shared lifting felt like an exaltation. A lifting of the heart, on wing, in joy.

I am in it right now. I am deep in the muck of figuring out this new day to day life with Coltrane and Maya and without my traditional day job. And I feel like I am getting somewhere: I am writing most every day, though not so much here; I am trying different forms and different things to say, things for me, not ready to be put out there yet. But I am finding my process.

I am working on house and home, routines with children. These are challenges more often than not. But I am beginning to own it.

And I am happy. I get frustrated, but I see beauty here, and I have never been more grateful and more aware that I have everything I have ever wanted.

I am exalted about our future prospects and the expansion of our lives – the lifting of our selves in joy.


This is what greeted us as we pulled into the neighborhood - we had to pull over and catch it. No filter.
This is what greeted us as we pulled into the neighborhood – we had to pull over and catch it. No filter.

Chapel Hill was hanging out in the high 90’s for far too long, and we needed an escape the hot hot air, so we headed North, to Fries, in the mountains of Virginia, just over the border from North Carolina.

We took Sean’s mom with us. It was Felicity’s first time up at the cabin, and she not only facilitated me reading a book and having writing time (thank goodness for grandparents!) but she managed to read SEVEN books herself. It was that kind of week. One mostly spent just sitting on the porch, enjoying the milder temperatures and doing almost nothing.

We did make a couple of forays out – to the creek off of the New River where Maya sat with Sean on rocks mid-stream, to the wonderful consignment and antique stores in Galax, to the ice cream parlor, and to the grocery store. But that was it.

The cabin has very little phone service and no internet, so it opened up so much space for Maya to learn how to play dominoes, to do puzzles as a family, and to watch The Wizard of Oz with Maya for the first time. She loved it. She is not yet so technologically advanced and jaded that she scoffs at the old production value. It was still magical. Now she requests that I do the “bad witch” voice while she pretends to be Glenda or Dorothy. “I’ll get you, my pretty – and your little dog, too!”

We found pink beginner roller skates at the consignment store and Maya was on the moon. Thereafter, three or four times a day, she would suit herself up in the helmet, knee pads, and pull the skates over her white lace ballet flats and practice going back and forth on the porch. She graduated quickly from needing full support to scooting along on her own.

It has been a long time since the cabin has felt like a getaway for me – I haven’t been able to sit down and read with small children needing my hands, but this time, with more adults than kids, and Maya becoming so independent, it felt like a relaxing break.

Maya trudged, nude, up and down this hill between the cabins all day every day. THAT is vacation.


Nana with Maya


Lola, photo credit: Maya


I had no idea she was taking this. Photo credit: Maya
I had no idea she was taking this. Photo credit: Maya


Nina, photo credit: Maya
Nina, photo credit: Maya


Cole, photo credit: Maya
Cole, photo credit: Maya


Boo Boos

We called my little sister, Lily, “Boo-Boo” when she was a little kid because she was a total bruiser. Forever covered in Band-Aids and purple-brown bruises, she was banging herself up as she moved through the world, unphased.

When I was little, I was “Snuggle Bunny” because I so much loved being hugged, kissed, cradled, and soothed. I cried and cried if I stubbed my toe and milked the comfort and affection that came after.

I had always thought fondly back on this aspect of my personality as a child – I was so sweet, affectionate, and sensitive. And Lily was tough, obstinate, and brooding.

But we are now in the boo boo phase with Maya, and I am gaining a whole new perspective on the spectrum of dealing with life’s scrapes and scratches, bumps and bruises.

I know I may be looking a little too deeply into this as an indicator of who Maya will be as a person, but it seems like how one deals with setbacks, falling down, etc. shapes a lot of who they are. And I know she’s only three and this is normal for her age and development, and her attitude is nowhere near set in stone, but I do think that our narrative and response as parents is creating the vocabulary she will use when she has only her internal voice to comfort her after a fall.

When Sean and I were a new couple, we went to a Saturday in Saxapahaw: every weekend in the summer, the tiny but charming town has a festival on their town green with music, food trucks, activities for kids, etc.  We were standing and talking to a friend that we had run into (Hi, Jill!) when a little boy came racing past us and totally wiped out on the hill in front of us. My first reaction, and that of many adults, is to coo, “Oh, honey! Are you okay?” but Sean shouted out, “Nice fall, buddy! Great catch! Great landing!” and the kid picked himself up, brushed himself off and smiled at us, clearly proud. It was right then I decided that Sean would be a great dad.

When Maya was born, we agreed that this was the attitude we would take for daily bumps and bruises. Kids fall down all the time, and barring serious injury, we didn’t want that to slow her down.

This worked for the first few years. Time and time again, at the playground, the mall, the house, she would run past, wipe out, and Sean and/or I would barely cease our adult conversation to throw out a quick, “nice catch, kiddo!” and she would pick herself up, brush off, and move on. I secretly basked in the surprise of surrounding adults who were shocked at her lack of tears and sniffling.

But the last few months, Maya has been THE BIGGEST BABY about boo-boos. I thought at first it was just a ploy to get more Band-Aids, but now it’s getting out of hand.

I think it started when Maya was fearlessly running down our sloped, paved driveway in her bare feet. I love that fearlessness. But as she neared the bottom, she accidentally dragged her feet a bit and scraped most of the skin off of her big toe. Ouch! Yuck!

Of course, Sean was out of town.

I took her over to my mother in law’s; I needed an extra set of hands to help hold her down while I poured hydrogen peroxide on the wound. Nana cuddled her and cooed while I tortured her with looking at and cleaning her toe. Then I ran to the store to get Band-Aids. The kid was a gory mess and an emotional wreck, so I got princess Band-Aids: a desperate mama trying to distract her baby from pain and fear (and I really think her fear was way worse than the pain – the toe was pretty gross looking.)

Ever since then, the tiniest scratch has been a 30 minute cry fest. I remember how much I loved and needed the hugs and kisses when I felt hurt or vulnerable as a child. So I have been giving the hugs and kisses (Let’s be honest, I am still “Snuggle Bunny” so I am getting my fix on the affection as well), but once she has used up the available parent’s comfort reserves: “Okay, Maya, you’re okay; it’s not that bad,” she moves on to tearfully saying, “I want Nana,” or “I want Daddy,” or “I want Gigi,” and then we have to Facetime with that person to draw out the cooing and soothing time.

I look back now, and wonder whether it was a mistake to show how freaked out I was by her scraped-off toe. If I had just said, “Oh, that looks bad, but it’s no big deal,” would I have avoided setting off this dramatic boo-boo streak?

We have reverted back to our rhetoric about Maya being “tough as nails” and asking her what to do when she falls down. She still replies, “Get back up.”

I am hoping this is a phase, but I guess I turned out just fine – I still like cuddling and snuggling a whole lot; my mom jokes that I had kids just so I could continue to get my fill of hugs and kisses. And and I love that, after Sean puts her to bed, Maya asks me to snuggle for just a few minutes. Last night she said, “I love to sleep in your neck” and that is the most wonderful thing ever.

But Maya has always been tougher than me – and I don’t want her to be afraid of life. I want her to be more of a go getter than I ever have been. More like my sister, who also turned out just fine – better than fine. She is no longer brooding, but she is tough and hard working. She goes after exactly what she wants and she puts her strength behind it – be it intellectual, creative, or physical. In fact, Cole and I are traveling to NYC this weekend to see Lily in the season’s last roller derby tournament. She is Lil’ Mighty – part of the Gotham City Roller Girls – something I would NEVER do, no matter how much I like roller skates.


It Takes a Village…

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Yesterday, I took Maya and Cole to a play date at my friend Alys’ house. Our friend Liz was there with her two kids as well. We were all in our birthing class together when pregnant with our first born daughters. Now we each have two kids. Three three-year olds, an almost-two-year old, a newly-one-year old, and now brand new baby Cole. Six kids! We marveled at how much had changed in only three years.

As we were getting shoes on and bags packed up to get ready to go, Alys went outside to help Liz get her kids loaded up in the car. It was just Baldwin (Alys’ almost-two-year old), Maya, and me in the kitchen. I helped Baldwin get down off of a high stool he was on, and Maya said, “You’re the best mommy to everyone, Mommy!”

I melted right there on the spot.

I looked out the window, and I saw Alys starting my car so that it would be cool by the time my kids were ready (it was a 92 degree day), watched her hold the one-year old while Liz got her big kid buckled up, and I said to Maya, “We all help each other. Liz and Alys are the best mommies to everyone also. We are the best because we do it together.”

So so grateful for my wonderful friends and their families; I feel so lucky that our kids will grow up together.