31 for 21: Day 14

I was having a moment. Apparently I was being overly affectionate with the Quail. Setting my coffee down on the kitchen counter, I had reached for her as she danced into the room with her backpack in one hand, a baby doll in the other and her favorite owl shaped hat tucked over her freckled forehead. As I pulled her to me, she pushed herself back away.

“Momma Top”

“Stop kissing you?” I asked with a raised eyebrow, reaching again for my coffee mug.

“Ye-s. Tooooo much wet. No touch, Momma. No cake. Time out”

She doesn’t like to hug me post run or post shower. She’s made that clear in the last year. Certainly she doesn’t mind getting wet and splashing until there is more water passively cleaning our bathroom floor than there is left in the tub most nights. But heaven forbid I should have a drop on me when I come near her. Every morning that I’ve gone for a run this summer, I can typically find her either peeking out the back porch screen door looking for me or hiding behind the kitchen door ready to ask me if I was running. Each month as the heat index rose, I found the will to get myself out of bed before sunrise to run laps in my driveway. An easy enough feat once I realized my phone could still connect to our Netflix from the driveway and the vocal stylings of a Benedict Cumberbatch flick or the rumblings of the Braverman family could spur me on. I grew to love this time of day where I could wake up on my own and get a shot of adrenaline coursing through me before I had anyone asking anything of me. Then the girls began to notice that I was up and not telling them to do anything. The prior months of explicit instructions, threats, warnings and sticker charts instructing them to stay in bed until 6 a.m. came into a state of peril. They knew I was up, and even if I didn’t feel like parenting, they felt like kidding. And besides, I hadn’t cared when they joined me in a yoga or work-out video. Hadn’t I loved it when Zuzu would scream her motivations from behind me as I keeled over to the latest Jillian Michael’s work-out?  Zuzu, who, over the summer had developed an affinity for athletic clothes started suddenly popping into my line of sight in neon pink from head to toe full of the day’s questions before I could pause my audio. Then the Quail started noticing that neither her sister nor I were in the house and started investigating. A time or two she even joined me, which as I started yet another lap would devolve into a flurry of complaints for me to stop. Come back. No momma. No run. Eat. Watch TV.


Not exactly the cause for a heart-rate increase I was waking early for. Eventually they started to realize it wasn’t as much fun to watch Mom run and talk at her as it was to attempt to confiscate the remote or My Little Pony dolls before her sister got to it. I tell ya, I’m not on my parenting game at 5:00 in the morning.

Impressed with the Quail’s calm and carefully worded explanation to me as to why I couldn’t kiss her this time I leaned down in front of her careful to not drip; “Ok- Abs- thanks for telling me.” I couldn’t help myself though from making my own pouty face at not having gotten my way or a kiss.

As she scooted around my bended knee she paused, leaned in, kissed me on the cheek and scurried off to begin her day.

31 for 21: Day 12


“You angy Mommie? Angy at me Mommie?”

Her voice is small and impartial. Yet it rings out full of wonder like she asked me why the sky is blue. No preconceived notions or baggage with her observation- just that- an observation. We had been running late and I had raised my voice at the chaos around me while we tried to get where we were going in a somewhat timely fashion. My raised voice had been met by a wall of silence. An overreaction on my part? Probably. People are late. I should get over it. It’s hard to think and process in a calm and orderly fashion when the daily three-ring circus has its tent up over you.

And then, Sugarplum’s small voice innocently stepped in and I cringed. It broke through that angry red veil covering what I saw. That sheet of anger that once it is rolled out, bleeds into your interpretation of what’s going on around you. You stop just seeing the situation as something to just be in and you start judging and complaining.

“No Sugarplum. I’m not angry at you. Sorry I raised my voice. I was just frustrated that we hadn’t already left.”

“You angy Daddy?”

And then I get it. She’s asking me why I’m acting the way I am- why my voice was loud and my face contorted and why the steam came out of my ears- or maybe I the only one who saw that part. And she’s internalizing my answer. Out of our three children who I have felt love, anger, frustration, sadness and every emotion under the sun from and with she’s the first one to ask me how I feel and why in her little girl way. She’s learning how this world works around her and what we should do in a given situation. At such a young age she is already so reflective. She’s always been that way though. Since she could hoist herself up on her own two small feet, you could find her with her hands entwined behind her back watching from the fringe of the ruckus and actually deciding whether or not to jump in. She has a similar emotional intelligence to the Quail. I don’t want her to learn to be angry when things don’t go her way. I don’t want her to feel that the right thing to do when you are frustrated is to yell. I don’t want her to think that I can’t own my own feelings and blame them on her or her sisters. Or her Daddy. And suddenly the important thing in that moment is no longer the rush to get where we are going. The important thing in that moment is to say sorry because I got something wrong. Not wrong for feeling angry- but wrong in my choice of what to do with it.

People are kind. When you tell stories like this, people are quick to tell about how they hate to be late, and how it’s hard to be calm when you are tired from a long day. And how they don’t know how you do it. And while I appreciate those validators. I still need to control my reactions better. I don’t hit. I explain the whys, and whens and hows and whats. Sometimes calmly. Sometimes angrily. Sometimes after the third time-out and sometimes after getting sucked into a circular debate around it during the time-out.

“I said put that down now!” With anger in my voice, I reach over and pull the beeping timer that has been set off out of Sugarplum’s small hands. I was doing some exercise for 1.5 minutes of my morning before the sun came up. And as I planked breathing deeply with my eyes closed I heard the time I had set beeping too soon. When I opened them in frustration the first word out of my mouth is, “No. Put it back. No. Stop.” I didn’t reach over and take it right away. I felt angry that my personal minute was being wrenched out of my grasp. The minute my frustration morphed into anger it registered across Sugarplum’s small face as every small muscle contorted in disappointment and a crocodile tear splashed on to the carpet. She was just curious. Not naughty. Not obstinate. Not even mischievous. Just curious. And that isn’t something to be angry over. I closed my eyes, set down the timer and sat up. The minute my legs crossed, she pooled herself into them, her small piggy-tail poking me in the nose as I cradled her closer to me. I waited for her breathing to soften and told her that I was angry that time that she didn’t hand back the timer when I had asked her to. That mommy was using it and needed to finish before I could play with her. She sniffled and pressed her wet face into my neck and I said a silent prayer of gratitude that she can still fling herself into me after an upset. Because that doesn’t always happen so easily anymore as they grow up and away from me. The Quail, she stands her ground. Zuzu when she’s angry though, now moves physically away rather than towards me. It’s this developmental progression that I’m sad to witness. It’s one that I worry how I’m influencing. It’s a model for the girls that I’m not happy with and want to change.

I’ve talked about anger before on here. Others talk about anger and it makes me feel so very much better. To know that we aren’t in it alone. That wanting to be different is half the battle. It would be dishonest to pretend it doesn’t have a presence in our lives. The key is making sure it isn’t an overwhelming presence. And I don’t think that it is for us. Beyond the obvious cares we need to take with our health and wellness, I think the key is in talking about it and moving on. To not ruminate over it. To not be ashamed for being, and well; feeling human. To take that humanity and validate it in ourselves as well as others. To not let it consume my interpretation of how good of a mother I am or am even capable of being. To not let the mere fact of it arrest my own development in this journey. Because it is a journey. None of us are born mothers. I think talking about when we feel angry can lead to…happiness. Not happiness ever after- but an internal calm and ability to not make each molehill a mountain that we can’t bare to climb down from.

Anger happens.

Happiness happens.

Each day happens.

And hopefully the next day does too. There are no perfect mothers, just perfect moments within motherhood. And if we can climb down off our mountain those days will be there waiting for us- and if we can’t get to dinner on time yet again, hopefully we’ll at least find our way off the mountain in time to begin again.

corner view: inner child

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!


I think my inner child has been playing hide-and-seek for the last decade or so- but in the last year- I’ve had many happy experiences that remind me of the happiness of childhood- running, reading, giggling, playing make-believe, drawing, exploring….now that my girls are moving their way out of the intensive baby years I seem to be able to relax and enjoy both my time with them and my time that’s just for myself much, much more.

corner view: gift

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

Frankly, I was embarrassed and disappointed at my lack of control in how last year’s Mothers Day went. Why is it that when upsets happen on a holiday it makes them all the more poignant and easy to over-articulate meaning in to them that maybe, really wasn’t. This practice I have- of trying to ruffle the small bits of gratitude for individual moments- it is just that- a practice. Sometimes it is so very hard to just sit and let something be, to not read anymore into it and give it power that wasn’t inherently there. Over time, the good, the bad, the ugly- it all dissipates- so why not hold on to the sweet, good and kind and let the rest go it’s natural way. This year, I was very conscious of my part in the day- conscious to not place overarching expectation- to just sit with and receive where we were as it came. My seven-year old- she is so very expressive. She made six separate cards for me- but the one that is probably the most raw in the expression of her feelings for me is below- honest, unconditional love. Little ones- they say what they think- they have no problem staying in the moment. We paced our sweet day much better this year- and the gifts- they were lovely and heartfelt and those of you who helped to make them- you have a place in my momma heart as well.


corner view: Collections

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!



I’m a bit of a hoarder by nature so what I have one of, I tend to have, well a collection by default. But one thing I seek out and collect on purpose- Salt!

corner view: what makes me happy

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!

Decaf coffee with milk. A run in the morning. A yoga practice. A story being read to me. Time to think and write. Laughter. Humor. Wit. Speculation. Sugar. Weight loss. Kindness. Knowing I matter. Effort- my own and those whom I love. Netflix. MGD 64. A bakery run. Benedict Cumberbatch’s English charm. My BFF moving back. My husband hanging out with me. A meal cooked for me. A day that is far too busy. A day with absolutely nothing planned. A schedule and routine. A sour cream rhubarb pie baked by Lovey in my oven and the smell of it when I enter the kitchen at the end of the day. And then breaking that same schedule and routine spontaneously. Pictures. Bounce houses. Reading with Sugarplum. Flowers. Sherlock. Invitations. Learning to draw with Zuzu and the pictures she gives me. The little dip of her head as Sugarplum shyly guesses the color I’m holding up. The house momentarily cleaned up and decluttered. The wide-open charismatic grin of the Quail. Friday night pizza picnic & movies in the living room. Grilling to Pandora and the sounds of the girls splashing in the kiddie-pool. The enunciation of the last syllable on the Quail’s words. Running with Zuzu. The purposeful stride, giggle and sparkle in the eye of Sugarplum as she runs after her sisters. The brutally honest, unconditional love of a seven-year old who manages to let me know I should be less mean and never die in the space of one paragraph. The giggling of the sister’s antics from the front porch. The baby’s insistence that she also get her hair cut, get her face painted, climb into and buckle her own carseat, use a fork just like her sisters. Time to internet surf. Chocolate covered caramels with sea-salt. Seasonal expectations to hunt easter eggs, strawberries and blueberries and apples and pumpkins and holiday trees. Inclusion. Too many books and blogs and articles to ever read. The expectation of a coming vacation. A day trip to the mountains. New friends. My life right now.

corner view: something to celebrate!

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!


I’ve put a lot of effort into reclaiming myself this past year. After almost 8 years of mothering I’ve been feeling more than a bit, well, not myself. My energy level has waned, my weight has bloomed, I’m irritable, scattered and tired. So 6 months ago I started the Couch to 5K program during my lunch hour. I figured that since I had spent over 3 years of lunch hours pumping milk for the babies I could  spend that time exercising for me- and also for them- happy mom = happy kiddos and all that. After 4 months of regular running and upping my walking time outside of that though, I lost 6 inches around my waist but no real change with my weight. So in February I restarted Weight Watchers- fast forward 7 weeks and I’m down 12 pounds- I’m on my way! In February members of my on-line fitness group that I had started last fall when I began running decided we needed to create a team for the upcoming Color Run which was scheduled for April in our town for the first time. In total there were 40 of us Tired Tiger Moms and our little runners. And the day was great! If you’ve never done a Color Run or any kind of race- take this from a tired momma who has yet to feel a runner’s high- sign up for a Color Run! This world-wide phenomenon of a 5k raises money for your local charities and offers a light-hearted emphasis on fun and fitness. When my friends first mentioned it I was fairly certain I was not going to join in. After completing the C25K program I found I really didn’t enjoy running for 20-30 minutes straight and I was constantly looking for excuses to not go out and run. So I switched over to a more Jeff Galloway- type approach and settled in with doing a 5 minute warm-up and cool down with 10 intervals of 2 minutes run/1 minute walking in between three times a week. While I’ve managed to keep it up, I’ve yet to say I truly enjoy it while I’m doing it. I’ve tried audio books, Netflix and Pandora to keep my interest up. There has been a noticeable benefit in trying to keep up with the kiddos and not feeling winded, cranky and exhausted playing with them. Then the thermometer rose to 76 degrees and the end of my outdoor running stretch was clearly in sight. I’m already up at 6 am and I barely have time to use the loo on my own in the evenings- so switching to a cooler time of day is not likely. I had a little on-line temper tantrum “announcing” that I was done running until the autumn, and then, what do you know- the thermometer and I kept at it.

This past weekend came The Color Run. Zuzu and I had agreed to join in but we both had our own set of worries. For Zuzu- she was convinced a bear would appear on the race course and spent the morning of the race plotting how she would finagle getting up on the bear to ride him the remainder of the course. For me the thought of being up early on one of the two mornings I get to sleep my exhausted self in so that I could run in the cool morning air and have paint thrown at me was just not appealing. Zuzu also had created an image of buckets of liquid paint being thrown at us as we tried to run away. Yet, bless her devoted little heart- in spite of bear and paint attacks she applied her HAPPY arm tattoo, donned her Color Run glasses and anxiously followed her beloved mother out to the car. When we arrived at the scene of what can only be described as a rock concert- both of our eyes widened- mine in excitement, hers in alarm as I tried to herd over to the run’s mascot- the Runicorn. Shaking and clinging like a baby monkey to me she absolutely refused to go anywhere near her favorite animal in the world. Let’s just say she was insistent enough that I am clear it would be folly to pay for a trip to Disney for this child. We tried to join in the warm-up work-out but in spite of the pop music and enthusiasm around us she remained stricken at the thought of the paint and bears. Once we were on the course her typical anxiety acts started in, she alternated telling me her heart and tummy hurt and that she didn’t want to wear the fluorescent tutu I had gotten her with pointing out how ridiculous men looked in tutus. She was so-not-happy. And then we got to the first color area. As we ran through the fine mist of powder and wiped it off of our glasses she looked down trying to spy the streaks of yellow. About a half-mile out from there when we spotted the pink station her pace picked up and her complaints faded as she ran up to the people cheering to be sprayed. From that point on she was sold. This was fun! We alternated walking and running per her requests and six months of prep-work let me keep up with her. After we got our water and kind bars and the paint throws in the finish galley started she perked up and asked to get up on my shoulders to cheer and eventually got herself over the fencing and up on stage to join the little runners in their celebration. Full throttle this girl of mine- all or nothing. Win big or stay home. Next year- we’re bringing the whole family. Fitness seems to be the new us. My first race at age 41, Zuzu’s first race at 7. Now that’s something to celebrate!


Ps- Oh and I also gave up caffeine last week. While I’m not quite ready to celebrate this experiment, I am pretty impressed with how good I feel without it- I see a new more focused, calm, happy energized family life coming my way in this next year.

Next week- Back to a regular yoga practice. Yay!


five minute friday: fly

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.


2 leavesI look down at my phone just as the digits turn to the 7 minute mark. The grin that starts to spread across my cheeks so wide and bright, it actually hurts. The grin hurts. Not my feet, my legs, my 3-times-a-momma-belly or butt. I can do this. I can run. Kicking up a pile of yellow leaves from a puddle as I turn and dart across the street I make my way back past the charming North Main houses I have been running by for the past 5 weeks.

I’m 40 now. I’m not getting any younger. Or thinner. Or fitter. Or more energized. I eat my vegetables. I drink my water and take my medication. I go to work and pay my bills. I can take care of this body of mine so that I live a long life full of the privilege of cuddling the grandchildren I one day long to have and hold. It’s not about me.

And yet it is.

I wasn’t a strong swimmer. I had to take the Red Cross swim classes more than one time to pass them in the town tunneled into the upper mitten of Michigan. I wasn’t an athletic gym student. I was the last one to come up the line of the mile run every Friday of high school gym class. As a post-college grad, my well-meaning and good-living Midwestern friends were so clever to kidnap me and pay the fee so that I would be on the soccer team they loved. Each week, pulling into the parking lot of the Big Bend studio in St. Louis, I was always huffing and puffing, ever in a hurry, to settle in and relax through my yoga class at the end of the day, despite my redundant promises to be better prepared next time

I’m not competitive. I‘ve never looked forward to sweating.

But now…

That grin was the second I’ve experienced in this past month.  It brought back the squeal of excitement as I raced across the first grade school playground jumping effortlessly onto the merry-go-round joining the schoolgirl chant, “Boys push! Boys push!” The exhilaration as my hands smoothed over the ancient metal bars on the third grade playground as my friends and I wound around them in penny-drop after penny-drop. The smell and feel of the wind streaming my brown locks out behind me as I pumped the pedals of my bicycle across town to the pool each summer afternoon. That wild and free feeling of enjoying my own momentum. My own ability to fly. To be fully present in the years of my own children’s swift growth, that’s what I want to own once again. That’s what I’m after. That’s why I want to fly. That’s why I run.


five minute friday: truth

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.



Her hand reached out and slapped mine with a quick reflex reaction to my own hands reaching out to turn off the TV. We had just gotten home from work and school and I wanted everyone in the tubby to wash off the mental anxiety brought in with cold and flu season. They know the routine. This has been an expectation for years now. But still. She has to push. She has to assert. She has to insist that she doesn’t HAVE to do what I want when I want it. In my own flash of anger I smacked back at her small hand as it struck mine a second time. The moment we touched each other I felt the bewilderment of what she was feeling wash over me. I stepped back turning the TV off as I went.

“To time-out. Now. Time to cool down.”

Her voice rose in protest as big tears leaked out of her sad eyes. Her anger had flared at me in the blink of an eye. Just 5 minutes earlier she had been leaping over the piles of oak leaves in our driveway as she chattered on about how she was chosen to run for president in her first grade classroom. The time change this past week, it means it is dark and they are tired when we pull up at home each weeknight. It means we feel an urgency to get in the house and hibernate with no obligations ahead of us for the night. It means we want to eat and read books and watch TV cuddled up together on the living room couch. The order we do that in though, well it matters to me. But pretty much only to me. I want us to come home and get done the things we have to get done before we do the things we want to do. The truth is- that’s all me. The truth is- I’m not as flexible about it as the girls would like. The truth is, I have reasons why I make us do things in the order I do each night. The truth is, those reasons don’t mean much to the independent and strong-willed seven-year-old I live with. She’s spent the day, the week, the month doing what her teachers ask. And at the end of the day spent apart from Momma, she doesn’t always want to hand those reigns of independence back over. She knows she’s capable of making her own good decisions.

This give and take as she grows, it’s hard on me just as much as it’s hard on her. How to not discuss Every. Single. Living. Thing. But how to discuss enough of the things so that she knows her opinions matter. How to teach her to respect others’ authority, while not just believing everything she hears. How to know truth when she hears it and tell it from the fiction that circles her world. How to talk and how to listen.

Our anger set the baby off. She ran to me to be picked up, only to then lean in and bite my shoulder in protest. Setting her down in a second time-out spot I turned to the Quail. She with her high emotional intelligence looked at me solemnly. “Zuzu angry. “ I nodded as her sign for angry shifted to a tracing of tears down her own dry cheeks.  “Sug sad.” These weren’t questions. They were observations. Crossing my legs to sit down on the floor in front of her she leans over and wraps her arms around my neck. “My momma.”

My momma. Their momma. I hug her back and go to call the other two out of time out, turn on the water to the tub and begin again.