When I Was 19: The Trial and Error of Becoming Our Full Selves


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When I was 19, I breathed in the sweet North Carolina air, still sticky and humid in September, cool and glorious by November. Southern Sugar Maple trees offered up their fine broad leaves, first in vibrant green, then in gold and rust. For the first time in 10 years, I lived in a place where it didn’t snow in the winter. Still, the ground hardened in the colder end-of-year weather and we wore wool coats, but the down parka I was used to was out of the question. Elegant Dogwoods flowered white and soft pink in the spring. I took on a subtle southern drawl, seamlessly blending “y’all” into my everyday lingo.

When I was 19, I was failing Econ, in lust with a gorgeous, born-again baseball player and after seven months at college still filling my belly with way too much alcohol weekend after weekend, often throwing up before crawling to bed, always stumbling down to the cafeteria in the morning for a bowl of creamy grits smothered in butter. Continue reading

Mothering Through The Darkness: Reflection and Review

MOTHERINGTHRUDARKThe first two months of Ella’s life, I barely left the house. Nursing was difficult, neither one of us knowing exactly what was expected and what we were simply supposed to know. Ella cried a lot and I couldn’t seem to soothe her. I alternated between bouts of acute joy and entire days of sadness and anger. I remember sitting on the ivory rug of our bedroom in the middle of the night, back again the wall pumping my swollen boobs, crying silently, aching, bewildered while Josh and Ella slept. Was this how it was supposed to be? Continue reading

On Brain, Child: Is It Okay Not To Invite Young Children To Your Wedding or Special Event?

Sisters2 3-14My husband and I sat in the front row nervously holding hands as the sanctuary filled with family and friends. In a few minutes, an emotional year of learning and planning would all come together as our eldest daughter chanted from the sacred scrolls to mark her bat mitzvah. Our two younger daughters, ages ten and four, were sitting with us. Well, the ten-year-old was sitting. The four-year-old was squirming around as she set up her miniature princess dolls. At least she wasn’t making too much noise—yet. Ten minutes into the service, however, she decided to crawl under the seats to look for the sparkly silver flats she’d immediately shucked when we came in.

“Here they are Mommy!” she yelped, flinging them excitedly in my lap.

“You have to sit down honey,” I whisper-yelled. “Your sister is about to start.” She gave me that classic you-can’t-make-me grin and took off up the main aisle. My husband and I looked at each other, exasperated, the decision made. I followed her out the double doors and took her down to childcare. She’d lasted all of 12 minutes.

True story.

I love my three girls and pretty much kids in general. That doesn’t mean I think they need to be included in every grown-up event. Children, especially little ones, can be distracting to both parents and hosts, whether it’s with boisterous laughter, a spontaneous game of chase or the request for a snack. It’s not fair of us to expect them to behave event-appropriately when they’re doing their best to simply behave age-appropriately. Plus, it’s stressful. So, I’m not offended when the host makes the “no kids” request. In fact, I’m kind of relieved.

You can read more on my perspective on why it’s okay not to invite kids to grown-up events — and the case for the other side by Debi Lewis of Swallow My Sunshine — on Brain, Child. Have an opinion? Leave a comment and join us on Twitter this Thursday, 11/5/15, at 1:00 EST for a discussion on this issue. Please remember to use the hashtag #braindebate.

Making Magic: Thoughts on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Big Magic

Lately I have found myself in the kitchen. This is not traditionally the room in my house I prefer to hang out in for any longer than I have to, yet there I am, baking a plum tart or tomato-basil quiche and just this week homemade brownies from a friend’s family recipe.

It’s not just baking that’s going on in the kitchen, though. I’m rearranging the serving dishes and the wooden spoons, casting out the overused ones. I’m sorting through years of the kids’ artwork that’s piled up in the three baskets above the shared desk. I am clearing and cleaning, sudsing and rinsing, wiping down and sweeping up. These are not tasks that generally rate high on my pleasure scale. Until recently, I’ve always felt compelled to put my house in order before I could tackle any other activity, including writing. Often, I never got around to the writing. Continue reading

Mothering Ma Belle Fille From a Distance

Ella-LouvreTonight Ella returns from a weeklong trip to Paris with my parents, their bat mitzvah gift to her. Before she left, I wanted to write her a going away card and hide it in her suitcase for her to discover on her first night in the City of Lights. Something meaningful and rife with insight. Words of revelation offering shining life lessons.

“Don’t just look out across the Seine; look deep down into it. Catch a glimpse of yourself as you are right in that moment. This is you in Paris.” Continue reading

When the Everyday Calls For Super Powers and a Good Plum Tart

Last Thursday, I woke to ants swarming the dog bowl and marching triumphantly along my kitchen counters, down the wall and across the hall into the family room. One can of Raid (I know it’s toxic; don’t judge), endless expletives and a marathon cleaning session later, they were mostly dead and disposed of. They reappeared Friday when one of my kids left their lunchbox on the floor of the entryway. More swarming and spraying and cleaning. That afternoon when I watered our drought-abused flowers, I discovered them in droves on the deck. I strode purposefully back into the house and called Bill, the pest exterminator guy.

“It’s the heat,” said Bill. “Drives them indoors.” It had been in the 90s almost all week. The heat drove everyone indoors. After three hours with nary an ant sighting, I relaxed a little. Josh fixed us gin and tonics. We sat down for a fight-free dinner, a rarity for my three girls on a Friday night. Unfortunately the calm didn’t last long. Continue reading

What I’ll Miss About This Summer

IMG_7018I often end up conflicted about summer. In June I’m like a wide-eyed toddler about to chomp down on her first lollipop, all excited and can’t wait and finally! By mid-August I’m more like a disgruntled teenager who just wants to be alone.

The first two months of summer brought visits with old friends, a trip to Disneyland with Lilah, time on the East coast at the sea and then the lake and a weekend away for me at a writing retreat with the most marvelous people. Once home, I reluctantly agreed to let Ella and Ruby stay home and do nothing the last two weeks of summer vacation. They bickered and didn’t make their beds and wanted to be carted to this friend’s house and that movie and this mall. Without meaning to, I morphed from The Laid Back Mom Who Digs Summer into The Mom Who Can’t Wait For School To Start Because My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy. Continue reading