Monday, May 27, 2013

Guest Contributor: Rattle & Pen

I am honored to announce that I am the first guest contributor over at the amazing Rattle & Pen.  Please take a moment to read my essay, "Raising Feminist Sons," here.

I am a huge fan of the talented women writers at Rattle & Pen and I feel privileged to join them.  The pieces found here speak to the experiences of so many of us.  Read through and see for yourself.


Saturday, May 25, 2013


photo credit: katy tuttle photography

The Big One turned to me today- out of nowhere, in the middle of lunch- and said, "Mommy?  When I'm big, can I go everywhere with my family?  I want to stay with my family.  I don't want to be alone.  I'm scared to be all alone."

And then my heart broke into a million little pieces.

*   *   *

Earlier today, he and the Little One ran ahead of my husband and me in the hallway.  They jumped into the elevator before we even turned the corner.  They are normally so good about waiting for us.  But this time, this time they forgot.  And as we turned the corner and the elevator doors closed, I heard the Big One yell quietly in surprise, "Nooooo!!!!"  

We ran as fast as we could, but we couldn't get to the elevator before it started moving.  They had already pushed the buttons inside when the doors closed.  My husband bolted down the staircase and I waited where I was, in case they followed the directions I had once given them to stay where they were.  I was hoping they would come right back.  But they didn't.  I could hear the Big One whimpering softly.  He was scared.  I listened as the elevator stopped at this floor, and then that one.  I didn't know which.  And then I couldn't hear them anymore.  And I couldn't hear my husband.  

I started to yell through the elevator doors, hoping they could hear me.  

"Are you okay?  Boys?!?  Babe, do you have them?"

Nobody answered.

I opened the door to the concrete stairwell and yelled down the staircase.

"Did you get them?  Are they there?  BOYS?!?"

Still nothing.  

I had no idea what to do.  The elevator was still moving up and down, up and down, but I couldn't hear them anymore.  Was I supposed to stay?  Should I run down and try to find them?  What do I do?

I was pressing the elevator button and trying to listen in the stairwell and the elevator shaft, when I finally heard them.  I heard my husband quietly telling them that he was frightened.  How scary that was.  That they mustn't ever do that again.

The doors opened.  The Big One walked out, looking stunned, and wrapped his arms around my legs.

"Mommy.  I was lost.  I didn't want to be alone.  I lost my family."  

I knelt down and hugged him.  I told him how scary that was.  How I didn't know where he was or how to get to him.  I told him that he must never do that again.  

The Little One bounded around us, unfazed and babbling excitedly about his adventure.  

"Mommy!  Lost!"

We talked about what happened with the Big One as we walked back down the hallway- how he shouldn't have run ahead, how we've talked about this before.  We told him he'd done a good job staying with his little brother and that he kept him safe, and that was good.  

I asked my husband where he'd found them, and he told me they were the first place he looked- the lobby of our building.  We never go to the lobby.  I have no idea why they got off there.  I asked my husband why he went there first, since it seemed most likely that they'd have gone to the garage where we were headed.  He shrugged.  Said he had no idea.  He just went there first because it was the closest to the street.  And if they'd gone out into the street...

I shook my head.  That wouldn't have been where I would have looked.  I'm glad he went down the stairs instead of me.  I told the Big One it might have taken me a while to find them, and that scared me.  I asked him to please, please, never do that again.  He nodded, but he just kept saying the same thing over and over.

"I lost my family.  I was alone.  I lost my family."

*   *   *

I see so much of myself in this little big boy of mine.  Some of it fills me with pride, and some of it makes me worry for him.  

I know his fear of being alone.  I had the very same fear when I was a little girl.  In some ways, I still do.

I got lost riding my bike to a park one day when I was seven and very nearly lost my little mind.  I was inconsolable.  People stopped their cars on the street to see if I was okay.  I wasn't.

They helped me find my way, eventually, but the seed was already planted.  I could get left behind.  I could be left alone.

When I was eight, my parents tried to leave me home alone for a reasonably short period of time because they couldn't find a babysitter.  I was a responsible little girl and was perfectly capable of staying home alone for a little while.  But I had never stayed home alone, and I was terrified.  I begged my mother to stay home, to find me a sitter, anything but leave me alone.  I remember so clearly the feeling of panic, tears streaming down my face as I pleaded not to be left alone.  As I tried to explain how frightened I was.

When my mom tried to leave, I completely lost it.  I sobbed and screamed and shook and implored.  She tried to reason with me, to tell me that I would be fine.  That it would be okay.  I didn't believe her.  

Eventually, she made the 400 necessary phone calls and found someone who was willing to drop everything and come over.  And I can still feel the absolute relief I felt at that moment- the solace of knowing that I would not be alone.

I don't know how this fear became so entrenched in me, and I don't know how I managed to pass it along to my son.  I hope I can teach him that it's okay to be alone.  That, sometimes, alone is wonderful. 

But until then, I will teach him that I am here.  That he is loved and supported by his family.  That we are watching out for him.  And that even when those elevator doors close on him, we'll be waiting on the other side.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sometimes, There is Good

Oh, hi!!!  How are you?!?  I know.  It's been a while.  We really need to do this more often.

This week has sucked.  The kids have been sick with fevers and coughing and have been exhausted human barnacles.  And now we're on to the aftermath of the sick which involves all of the whining, but none of the reasoning.  It sucks and I'm drained and it sucks.  But rather than talking about the suck (the whining... SO MUCH WHINING), I'm going to talk about something else.  Because I've had enough of the suck for today.

Instead, I'm going to talk about some things I've noticed lately.  Good things.  Silly things.  Things that make me smile.  Because really, those are the things I'll remember (and want to remember) in the long run.  So here they are. Some things that don't suck.

- The other day I told the Big One that I used to love to eat frozen peas when I was a kid.  He looked intrigued, so I gave him some in his school lunch.  He ate every last frozen pea.  I gave them to him again today, and the grown-up at his table at preschool raised his eyebrows and said, "Frozen peas, huh?"  And he smiled and said, "Yup!"  And I smiled, because, yup.  That's my guy.

- Kid perspective is awesome.  It is only after having kids that you get to hear things like this:
Big One - "Sometimes? Beans look like they're barfing."

- I noticed a little while ago that the Little One says, "Okay" in a very specific, adorable way.  I realized about a week ago that he says it just like me when I'm trying to comfort them.  I realized yesterday that I say it (and, therefore, the Little One says it) exactly like my grandmother says it.  I love it so much more now.

- Parenthood makes you realize weird things about yourself.  For example, I have learned that when I am pissed off or anxious, I clean the kitchen.  Why?  Dunno.  It makes me feel less anxious, certainly, but I think it also gives me an outlet for my anger.  (So many pots to bang around and stubborn counter stains to scrub at!!)  I just saved myself $500 in therapy!  Good job, me!

-Also, the sun came out (in May!  In Seattle!) and these things happened.  And they were good.

 Kid yoga is awesome.  We are stars.

 I am not as angry at the juice pouch as I look.

As you can see here, I am part vampire.