March is making me MAD so read this!

I am in a rut with thousands of my Minnesota friends! The cold without snow, the clouds, the cold. Did I mention the cold? Ok. 

So all my internet trolling has not been a total waste. It is good to be a woman, even here in Minnesota, because so much is being written that shows we are making progress in how we understand each other and who we are as a gender. 

Here are a few good finds that have me thinking and writing. I really can't do one without the other so longer somethings are ahead. For now I want to share these great finds so you can do some thinking on your own. 

I found THIS really interesting except that I was bothered that it started out by saying, "Women are moody."  I have been trained enough as a writer to know the writer intended to get my attention and that she did. And yet that one sentence set me off in a more negative way than I had hoped because she is really encouraging us to examine and to some extent, embrace the moods we have, medication notwithstanding. It's complex. I can't get too far into it now, but THIS person has an interesting response that sort of gets at where I am. Stay tuned!

A spot of tea? Why yes! Or no. It's not all that complicated. I like how we can use simple things for a way to judge something as serious as understanding what CONSENT really means.If you don't click on a single one of my links please please please click on this one. Parents--share with your tweens and teens and talk, ok?  Read then talk. Ok, go!

The world of work and women is endlessly facinating. I am lucky enough to currently be around women of all ages and stages and there is much to learn from everyone. It's not always the case that women really embrace each other. I like how brave this woman is as she owns up to what she did not see before. It is one more step toward working with each other instead of against. Same team girls, right?

This program on Fear isn't gender specific or exactly about how I was terribly nervous about attending my first adult tap class, but think about it. Fear = thinking + time. If you take away either one, you can't have fear. See? There is a good reason for me to dash from one thing to the next. No time to worry! Please note that my socks did NOTHING to diminish my fear so I will try mad dashing next week.

So that's it. It is March and there is madness totally unrelated to basketball. I have gotten outside. I have used the light box. I have purchased tulips and I have walked and attended yoga and pilates. I have reduced sugar and increased Vitamin D. I have talked. I have written. I have read. I have giggled with my kids and cried in the shower. 


And this sums things up pretty well!   

A Time To Tell

I gather with a few writing friends every month or so.  We don't have a lot of writing to share, but just the meeting makes us feel like there is this one little part of us we simply refuse to let go. We have given ourselves over to the dance of parenting, work, and making a life for our familes knowing that another time will come when we can dance more fully in our writing. This does't stop us from being observers of our lives, from noticing and taking notes. We talk through where we are in life which lends itself to stories and metaphors that might show up later in our writing. In fact, the very act of talking provides all of us with much needed perspective, raises questions, and gives each one of us more to ponder, to stew, to check in with later. It is our form of pre-writing and brainstorming. This is a neccessary gift to our writing selves. 

Yesterday we meandered over how joy and grief are so closely linked. We don't feel big feelings about things that have not touched us. Whether we are letting go of a person or saying goodbye to a way of life or working through some tough things with children, the feelings present are in proportion to how much we care.

This conversation led me to think of an email exchange I was having with a new friend who said, "I believe all the broken people are the real ones."

This is truth. And we are all broken in some way. You can't live without getting dinged up just a bit. But not everyone is comfortable sharing the broken bits. It's a scary place to be- putting out there your pain, your insecurities, your biggest hurts and not all of us are called to be a voice. Writers feel called to share their broken bits in poems and stories and novels.

I am a truth-teller. I am my own truth-teller, and yet I care so much about trying to help others find ways to get theirs out in a time and space that feels good to them. My writing group has given me a safe space to practice this. 

Sometimes our conversations stop. There is silence and I love that silence. There is something magical in holding what was said and letting it sink in. Sometimes in a meandering conversation that seems to have lost it's footing we will stop and minutes later one of us will say, "There's your story."

Often that story is not the one we were intending to tell.

And that is the power of the pause. Sometimes I fear we don't use the pauses enough in our life. We rush from this to that or from the event to the response/reaction that we do not get any time in the middle.

And I really think that middle place is where the juicy stuff is. It's uncomfortable, sure, but is also rich and full of possibility and growth.

Sometimes in order to tell your truth, you do just have to let time do it's thing before it can fully shape what you see.  

So here I am, not trying to rush any of this or that. I am learning to say no when I need to and I am saying YES always to my writing group. It is a writing group very much in the middle, holding a place for what is yet to be created, a place where time will eventually lead to telling.  

We are all on the same team.

Being a mom is hard. Being a dad is hard. Being a single parent is hard. Being a parent with a partner is hard. Being a parent whose primary work falls outside the home is hard. Being a parent whose primary work falls inside the home is hard. Being a parent with no support from any other adult is terrifyingly difficult. Being a parent with a village surrounding you is still hard.

Some people parent while living with long-term illness, some battle depression, some work three jobs, some worry if they can make the rent or mortgage, some watch their kids being bullied, some get to take three vacations a year and some don't leave their town for months. Some are mothering or fathering children alone by choice. Some have six mouths to feed by choice. Some just can't stop thinking about adding one more to the brood, but it's not happening. Some have incurred thousands in debt just in order to get one child.

Once a child enters your life, no matter your circumstances, a whole new world of joy and pain is opened to you.

I am lucky. I am raising my kids in a best-case scenario. I have a steady income with a partner who can emotionally support me though most of the day-to-day grind falls to me. I am not worried about my ability to fill the fridge or send in the latest round of activity fees because I can afford to let my kids choose activities. I keep them updated on shots and dental visits and while the rest of the world is running from sugar, I have tuned them out in order to get my son out of bed each morning with creamy coffee laced with arsenic. I may or may not pay for it later, but it's my choice.

One thing I've noticed, in the mom-world in particular, is that we always seem to gage ourselves. My kids are now 11 and 13 and mothers with toddlers will look at me longingly as if to say, "Oh you are so lucky they can dress themselves." And I look back at them and think, "Isn't it nice that crayons and art supplies sing a siren's song to your little one's hands and body odor (unless it's a dirty diaper or wet pajamas from bedwetting) isn't making you grimace? How wonderful that your little sweetpeas are completely at home inside their perfect bodies? They do not care at all how others see them." What these parents don't yet know is that seemingly overnight puberty will change this joie de vivre . I keep this to myself because somethings have to be seen to be believed.

Each age and stage of a child's life brings joy and pain. I have noticed that as soon as you leave one stage, you forget the one prior so focused on getting through this next stage. I used to wonder how my mom didn't remember the stages. I know now. She didn't  necessarily want to. I was not a good parent to little kids. It was hard for me. I didn't sleep much, the real crux of why I didn't like it, and when I stumble upon talk of those early stages, I have to tune out because I don't really want to look back. But here is another thing. When you are in a stage, it feels like YOU are the ONLY one who has ever done this. News:  not true. We have all been there and we have all survived. If there is one thing I know, we all make it through the sleepless and frustrating bootcamp of early parenthood. It doesn't make it easier and it doesn't make it more fun, but the evidence suggests that those hard sleepless nights will pass and you will find yourself catching enough zs' to prepare yourself for a different sort of battle.

Another thing I know is that what we give focus to is what we become. To admit that it's hard is one thing. To focus on it is what it becomes.

There have been times when I have been so stuck in the mom story I was living that I did not understand I was also writing it. I could change how I looked at my story. In order to save my sanity, I had to tune out and bear down on the work to be done, my work, no one elses, and do what felt  right and true and good for my family within my own power. Sometimes what is within my power doesn't always align with what is in someone else's power in any given moment. I am grateful for the Katy Smith's of the world- leading the charge for those disadvantaged children and parents- the truly powerless of our ilk. They need the leg up we often forget we have.

When the going gets rough in our world, we do have choices to make. Sometimes we don't up feeling good about our choices and yet there is more essential choice we can make:  forgive yourself and move on.

This has been a revelation to me in so many aspects of my life;  health, relationships, parenting, even buying the freaking groceries. Never before has the grocery store felt so much like a landmine of rights and wrongs. And yet it is not just the grocery store. It is the screen time and the choice of schools and the test scores and the choices of activities that will best prepare your child for his or her future. This social media world we partake of has provided so many of us with voices and a chance to weigh in/judge all that we do. I think moms are particularly susceptible to feeling judged and needing to defend their choices. I fear we are failing to adhere to some basic principles of parenting and simply living:   following your gut and forgive yourself when you mess up.

Children are not projects and parents are not getting tested to see how well they achieved. You do not win and lose based on how you navigate each day. In fact, if you are reading this, it's pretty likely things are great for you. It means you are not picking rocks in a field with a 90 degree sun bearing down on your uncovered head with your kid strapped to your front or back.  It means you have a minute or two of sweet freedom and the choice to use it as you see fit.

Your "best" and my "best" are so wildly different. That we live in a place where this freedom exists
is pretty amazing in it's own right. It is richer, if we can just choose to see it that way, for all the ways in which we interpret our own personal bests.

Sleep deficits can make us crazy and angry and dull our reflexes and sharpen our tempers.  So too can all the ways in which feel the need to validate our choices, script our frustrations, and air the fact that it is so hard. I know it is. I really do. When you have kids, you give up that ticket to ride on "easy" street. To have kids means you will be gutted a thousand times over. That, sadly, is the truth.

I just want us to forgive ourselves for our mishaps, to listen sincerely to each other, and to create a narrative full of support and loud cheering when needed instead of the constant comparathon.

Recenly Big Man and I reached an impasse about something and I was reminded of something he told me earlier in our marriage when I was getting sucked into being right about who-knows-what. He let me rant and then he said, "Hey, we are on the same team."

Did you hear this? We are on the same team. I think we forget that sometimes.


It doesn't matter your circumstances. If you have a kid or care for a kid you are on our team!

It's a little bit less lonely knowing there are millions of others who will also fail and have to forgive themselves and then keep going all in the name of love for our children.

That is the kind of mom story I want to live, the one I want to write, the one I want to read. A story that is hard, yes, but also real and true and full of forgiveness and empathy. Let's write it on our own and then let's write it together, as a team.