Here’s a perfect example of the mental load I constantly carry:
I went out of town for a work retreat this past weekend so I was gone for three days. We always have a ton going on with the three girls so this is a pretty typical weekend schedule for us. And yet it’s ridiculously full of places to be, things to bring and people to coordinate with.
My husband is perfectly capable of handling the kids and their activities while I’m gone. He has all of this on his calendar just like I do. What he doesn’t have when I’m gone is what’s in my head and that’s why after 15 years of parenting together I leave him with an annotated schedule.
The world is burning yet the sun still shines. Smoke singes my nostrils, entangles itself in my unwashed hair. I drive the kids to school, an ominous glare in the sky. The traffic is as thick as the smoke. We are late. Then Sweet Child O’Mine comes on the radio and what else can we do but crank it up and belt it out?
The end of any given year is busy, no question. There are loose ends to be tied, emotional overwhelm and physical exhaustion — Shopping! Parties! Cooking! There is family to visit or host and gifts to be given and received. There are copious amounts of comfort food, sweets and warm-your-stomach drinks. There is merry, happy and joyous to embrace and also, for me, the possibility of falling under Melancholy’s gentle, blue spell.
When life gets chaotic for me, I tend to move my writing to the back-burner. I take on more tangible, simpler tasks that “need” to be done, like wrapping presents, making beds (oh, how I love a made bed), plumping pillows and replenishing the soap dispensers. This sort of detachment is usually how I deal with the last few weeks of the year, willing January 1 to come as quickly as possible. Last year, though, I did not abandon myself or my words. As difficult and tangly and not-pretty as it was, I dove into writing as much as possible. I started by signing up for Kat McNally’sReverb December Daily Prompt. Continue reading “Writing My Way Through the End of the Year”→
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 “When I Was 19: The Trial and Error of Becoming Our Full Selves”→
My 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.
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.
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 “Making Magic: Thoughts on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Big Magic”→