NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo NoMo

Photo: Liz West

Photo: Liz West

NaBloPoMo is over!  It was a mostly successful month this month, a few missed days here and there, but I no longer berate myself for lost posts.  Life happens, get over it, right?!

I’m taking a break for October.  We have a busy month planned because Autumn is my favorite time of all!  While I will miss the daily task of sitting down and putting ideas to keyboard, I will enjoy the freedom of not needing to do it every single day.

I’ll keep this short and sweet because there is a beautiful sunny day outside waiting for me and two sweet little faces begging to get out there and enjoy it.  Enjoy your day!

Every Writer Does This, Right?

Photo: Abhi Sharma

Photo: Abhi Sharma

I am a writer.  Often I’m off in my own little world, lost in thought, thinking up fantastic prose while I’m standing in the shower, nary a pen or dry paper in sight.  Currently I have 135 books checked out from my local library.  The last time I visited, it took three large canvas bags to carry all my books back to my car.  My husband jokes that the library wants their library back.  I write, I read.  Okay, more like I read, I read, I read, I read way too much, and I write sometimes.  I need a T-shirt that says I’d Rather be Reading. 

I have a quirk though that I naively assume all writers have.  I inspect the book I’m about to read.  It’s a bit like foreplay for bookworms.  First I have to read the author’s bio in the back of the book.  There must be a picture.  I need a face with the name.  No author picture makes me cranky.  Next, I read the acknowledgments.  I think it’s a tiny peek behind the velvet curtain.  You get a feel for who the author is, whether it’s serious and lengthy or short and light-hearted.  Jenny Offill promised a pony to her editorial staff at Knopf.  That made me love her before I’d read one single word of her novel.

Next I read the back cover for blurbs or whatever goodness the publisher has decided to grace us with.  I might skim the inside flap to get a feel for what I’m about to delve into, but mostly I like to be surprised.  A peek at the first few pages and then it’s time to read.  What about you?  What are your book reading rituals?

One of These Things is Just Like the Other

My husband and I have our own business.  It’s terrifying, exhilarating and a lot of work.  At the end of a long day’s work our feet hurt, our backs ache and we just want to collapse in bed.  Since we are the boss, we are in charge of making sure everyone is happy, satisfied and well fed.  We make mistakes, we stumble, but we learn from them and move one.  Being an entrepreneur is an organic process, full of discovery about one other and the world around us.  New tax forms to fill out, licenses to buy, social media plugs, inventory, notebooks organized by color and form.  Simply put, there is always much to do.

Owning your own business is very similar to parenting.  It is terrifying, exhilarating and a lot of work.  At the end of a long day’s work my feet hurt, my back aches and I just want to collapse in bed.  Since I am the boss, I am in charge of making sure everyone is happy, satisfied and well fed.  I make mistakes, I stumble, but I learn from them and move one.  Being a parent is an organic process, full of discovery about one other and the world around us.  School forms to fill out, soccer uniforms to buy, pack lunch, plan the day, scraped knees, laundry, dishes, playdates, homework.  Simply put, there is always much to do.

But we wouldn’t have it any other way would we?  It’s tough to run a business.  If it fails, the defeat falls in your lap.  Parenting is tough too.  If we fail, our children suffer the consequences.  But we don’t give up just because things get rough.  We are in this for the long haul.  A client skips out on their bill, the soufflé falls, the children argue, someone gets hit in the eye with a stick.  At the end of these days we are beat down, bloodied to a pulp by responsibilities and obligations, defeats and missteps.  But there is beauty in the hardship.  We get up to begin again, remembering the bright spots, the little victories, an unexpected check in the mail, the toddler running towards your legs with the biggest hug in the world, an I love you so, so much whispered in the dark, the sounds of laughter singing in the windows from the backyard.

We are blessed, flying high, tired but gratified, yet always wondering if we are up to task.  Can we really do this one hard thing?  What if we fail, make a fool of ourselves, do something unique and original despite all the naysayers?  Trust your authentic self.  In the end, even if you fail, you’ve succeeded just by persevering.

Here is a fantastic quote from Jenny Offill’s book Dept. of Speculation (which is fantastic, by the way) to sum up my reasoning for remaining steadfast in my calling.

A thought experiment courtesy of the Stoics.  If you are tired of everything you possess, imagine that you have lost all these things.

If it was all gone tomorrow, I’d never be the same again.  So I say a prayer of thanks for my many gifts and I keep on keeping on.  Tomorrow is a bright new day full of possibilities and those sweet moments of grace that make it all worth living.  Look closely and you’ll see them too.

I Feel Like An Amateur

Do you ever have one of those days, maybe your kids are playing at the park, giddily swinging, legs reaching for the clouds, singing a made-up song, while you watch from the bench? And on this day you look at your sweet little brood and wonder how the heck you got there? I mean, logistically you know, but really who decided you were grown up enough to be in charge of a gang of dependent little people?

I have these days every once in a while, as if I’m watching my own life in a dream. It’s a little hazy around the edges, feels a bit surreal, vibrant colors, it feels perfect and I wonder how I came to be a mother.

I have trouble waking up early, I’m impatient, I like quiet and solitude and time by myself. I can’t sew or fold a fitted sheet or make a homemade Halloween costume. I hate hearing babies cry, I loathe clunky, noisy, brightly hued plastic toys and playing Candy Land. Those qualities don’t make a perfect mother.

But on these dreamy days, every once in a while, I throw all my cares out the window. I take my sweet little clan to the park and watch them swing their legs up to the clouds, trying with all their might to touch the sky. And I look up too, the blue so big and bright, full of hope and possibilities. And I’m thankful. Thankful for being loved so perfectly, despite my imperfections.

Money Tree For Sale

Photo: Nickmom

Photo: Nickmom

To this list I’d like to add:

19. To go to Chuck E. Cheese
20. To move in with Grandma
21. One more minute in the pool
22. To put makeup on their little brother
23. Two braids in their hair when we are already 5 minutes late
24. Just one more book at bedtime
25. Donuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner

26. Kale chips? No?
27. Another episode of Wild Kratts
28. Way too much syrup on their pancakes
29. The most expensive toys (Lego sets, American Girl Dolls, anything in the Disney store)
30. For Mommy and Daddy to plant an orchard of money trees just for them

I’m Not A Sailor, But I Pretend To Be

I curse like a sailor.  An awful habit, I know.

  1. I’m terribly sorry.
  2. I’ll try to stop.
  3. 1 and 2 are lies.
  4. I won’t curse here.  I promise.
  5. 4 is probably a lie too.
  6. I should wrap this up before I say something I’ll regret.

 

These Make My Day

Nothing made me happier as a child than seeing a box of Count Chocula cereal in our kitchen cabinet. They were so good I’d inhale the box, barely chewing, shredding the roof of my mouth in the process, but I didn’t care. They were chocolate and they were for breakfast. Win, win.

Now they only make an appearance around Halloween. When I see them stacked high at the grocery store my heart still skips a beat. A relic from my childhood, here to be enjoyed again and passed down to the next eager generation. I’m not a huge fan of sugary cereal for breakfast, but for these I make an exception. If you love your kids, you will too.

Birthdays Are Big Around Here

birthday

We are celebrating a birthday!  I love birthdays, for the kids especially, but the one tough thing about birthdays is the emotional aspect. The kids are growing up, changing, getting older. I, too, am growing up, changing and definitely getting older. As the birthday girl’s face glowed in the light from her candles, I watched in wonder at this child, who just a few years ago could be held balanced on my forearm, nursed while I made dinner, slept in a mechanical swing that rocked her into sleepy oblivion.

As happy as I was for her, eyes sparkling, ready to delve into her stack of gifts and sprinkled birthday cake, I was mourning. Mourning who she was just yesterday, mourning the loss of the child she was, the one who couldn’t yet read or tie her shoes or stand to be away from Mommy ever.  I mourned for myself as well. I’m not going to be around for every birthday she will celebrate. Someday her father and I will be absent from the table as she looks wide-eyed in excitement at her cake and gifts. Will she be surrounded by people who love and care for her as deeply as I do now? If I could only know for sure the answer to that question would be yes.

But I keep my chin up, comfort myself with the fact that I’m here NOW. She will never be this girl again, tomorrow she will be a different girl from today, next week she will be growing and stretching her mind in new ways and I will struggle to keep up. In the pain of letting her go I am forced to confront my own mortality, but let go I must. It’s our job to watch them stand up in the nest, we encourage them to look around and explore, support their attempts at flying, patiently awaiting their return.

As my birthday girl closes her eyes, makes a wish and blows out her candles, I too make a silent wish in my own heart. I wish for her a happy, healthy, joy filled life, strengthened by faith and when I’m no longer around to sing Happy Birthday with tears in my eyes, I pray she has a room filled with her best friends and family who will do it for me.

A Few Seconds Out of Your Day

Sometimes the kindness of complete strangers restores my faith in humanity.  A door held open, a warm smile and nod, a wave to go ahead in traffic, a compliment bestowed on my littlest guy, offering change when I’m one-cent short, a helping hand with two carts heavy with groceries.  All these small gestures, volunteered out of sheer faith and goodwill, make me smile and feel thankful for the kindness of strangers.  What have you done for a total stranger today?

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Slowly

This idea applies to many things in life, slowing down to enjoy moments instead of rushing onto the next thing on our list. Eating ice cream, snuggling with your preschooler, relaxing in the shower, baking pumpkin bread, picking wildflowers, taking a walk, having sex, drinking coffee, reading a book, spending time just being present. Slow it down. It’s worth it.