A Promise To My Second Born

It is trite now to offer up written apologies to latter born children. To catalogue all the ways in which we have relaxed the rules the second (or third or fourth) time around. To humorously list the words they’ve learned too early, the movies they’ve seen too soon, the crappy food they’ve eaten.

In fact most of these articles aren’t apologies at all but thinly veiled parental pats on the back for being so nonchalant, so easy going.

Here’s the truth if we’re willing to admit it. The innocence of our latter born children is all too often sacrificed on the altar of their older siblings. It just is.

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Be the Change You March For

All politics is local, my dad was fond of saying. I’ve always subscribed to that theory in a metaphorical way.

Yes, change is wrought from inside great marbled halls. But my friends it is not born there.

It is not dreamed up on the spot by a well-meaning legislator who has a cartoon light bulb suddenly appear over his head in the midst of routine parliamentary procedure.

No. Change is born in the mind of a 4 year old, unencumbered by what he has been taught to believe, to make fun of, to be afraid of.

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Why I Hate New Years…

Judging by social media over the last few days, 2016 was apparently the worst year in all of humanity. The rash of posts and tweets heralding New Year’s Eve as the end of all the ills that have befallen the world left me a little befuddled (which, admittedly, is not hard to do).

This symbolic adherence to New Years as the closing of one door and the opening of another has always struck me as a little contrived.

Maybe it’s because I have always marked the passing of time by the school year, not the calendar year.

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Believing in the Magic of Christmas: The Truth About Santa

It happened the other night. An off-the-cuff remark: “I know you’re really the Elf mom.” Then a pause and, more tentatively, “I know you’re Santa.”

He’s made those casual comments a few times before. But his voice – which is always so resolute and certain when he is making a pronouncement about the leading rusher in the NFL or the way to reduce fractions – shakes a little when he tests the waters of doubt.

I know, in the way that you always know your child, that what he wants is for me to tell him he is wrong. Dead wrong. That the Tooth Fairy flies into his room and Santa Claus shimmies down the chimney and I am not the Elf. I know this because if he didn’t, he would simply ask me point blank, the way he does with everything else. No, what he wants me to do is tell him magic is real.

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Be The Inkeeper Who Opens The Door

Be the Innkeeper Who Opens The Door. Mary and Joseph. Be the Good. Christmas Kindness. All Year Long. LuckyOrangePants.com
One year ago tonight, I took the boys to dinner. As Jack was making his salad, an elderly gentleman with a walker was trying with some effort to open the door.

Without my prompting, the boys rushed to open the door for him. He seemed genuinely touched and told me what gentlemen they were.

For some reason, I could not stop glancing over at the man as he waited for his takeout order at a nearby table. Perhaps it was his eyes which bespoke a quiet, gentle loneliness. I know that look.

I have felt it.

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How To Love Hard When It’s Hard

This is my week perfectly captured in one picture.
Bikes falling over love hard
It was one of those weeks that was derailed by too many deadlines and not enough time, high expectations followed by staggering disappointments, the pressure to do the things that were supposed to bring me joy and the realization that everything was making me unhappy. It was unfortunately also a week where my insomnia kicked into high gear, leaving me unable to rationally cope with all of those things.

Trying to salvage some good from the week, I went to buy 2 bikes for our Angel Tree angels. Just when I started to feel a little bit lighter, I accidentally knocked down a row of 20 bikes.

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Pressing the Reset Button: Family, The Election, and A More Perfect Union

Friday was a tough morning in our house. For no apparent reason everyone was cranky and flippant and hostile. Including me. Our chance day off from school turned from a world full of possibilities into an inexplicable fracas about where we were going and why.

Instead of engaging in a reasonable discussion where differing viewpoints were acknowledged and debated respectfully, my household was filled with a barrage of insults, voices shouting over one another, and eye rolls.

Frankly it reminded me a lot of how the entire country is behaving right now.

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Almost 8 and Almost 10

almost 8 almost 10 adolescence is harder than having a baby parenthood

To all of you in the throes of babyhood and toddler madness, please let me assure you that you will get through this.

And when you do, you will get down on your knees and pray to the gods of squeaky toys and late night feedings to go back.

I remember. I remember the sleep deprivation, the constant trail of unidentifiable gunk on your shirt and wondering bemusedly whether it was applesauce or poop, the endless delays because I can do it by MYSELF mommy, and the throw down tantrums in the middle of Target.

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A Girl, Her Dad, and a Boy

One year ago, I woke up to Facebook reminding me, as I was still groggy and only half awake, to wish my dad a happy birthday.

And for a minute, it felt like salt in my wounds because he’s not here anymore damnit and I silently cursed myself for forgetting to delete his account again.

But then I went on a field trip with 20 first grade boys who were silly and sweet and wanted to feel and touch and learn.

And one of them – one who always has trouble staying out of trouble – seemed to need my attention. So I held his hand while we walked and I gave him my sandwich when he asked if he could have it because he didn’t like his own and I played games with him on the bus to distract him from hitting the other boys.

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Redefining Grateful

Grateful-notepad-serendip-love-thankfulness

I walked into Serendip the other day to buy some lamps (which I did by the way and they’re really fucking cool). As I was checking out, the owner slipped this into my hands and said “For the boys. I don’t really know them but from everything I can see, they’ve got their priorities right.”

Gaaaah.

That one hit me hard. Part of what has been causing me anguish over the last few weeks is a deep-seeded concern that despite all my efforts to show them what really matters, they have become ungrateful and unappreciative. That despite my best efforts to show them what loving hard looks like, their outlook was becoming harsh and negative.

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Staying Close

Stay-close-to-anything-that-makes-you-glad-you-are-alive-love

Over the last few weeks, I have been open about the internal doubts and crisis of confidence that brought me to my knees. For all I know you are tired of hearing about it. And that’s totally fine.

But I’m going to keep talking about it for two reasons. The first, and entirely selfish reason, is that, as previously noted, I am a talker. I say what I am feeling the moment I feel it. And as this is my space, the one place where I get to make all the decisions, well, I get to talk.

The second, and more important reason, is that I have learned over the last few weeks that so many of you have faced the same questions. And that has given me great comfort.

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Doubt, Faith, and Summer’s End

doubt faith love summer beach

Today marks the unofficial end of summer.

Those of us with kids already in school saw summer come to an abrupt and unpalatable end with a blaring alarm clock and the return of homework. Of course those of us in coastal towns also know that the best beach days actually still lie ahead thanks to an inevitable Indian summer and the absence of tourist traffic.

Nonetheless there is something symbolic about Labor Day. So today we found ourselves drawn to the beach, trying to hold on to summer’s final gasp as we reveled in the post-hurricane surf.

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7 Things I Want My Kids To Know On The First Day Of School

Things I want my kids to know on the first day of school

As you lie in your beds on this – the night before the first day of school – I know you are dutifully trying to sleep despite the anxious thoughts creeping through your minds. My mind is racing too. Trying to remember what it is like to go 8 hours without seeing your faces. Trying to remember what 8 hours of silence sounds like. Trying not to mourn the end of our lazy mornings, our big adventures, and time that belongs to no one but us.

I promise when we walk through those double doors tomorrow, you will forget all the doubts and fears that are keeping you awake tonight.

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Believing When It Is Hard to Believe

I am, and always have been, an open book. I say the things I think the exact moment I think them. Apparently I write that way too. There is no filter, no editing, no careful selection of facts and emotions to create a picture of a theoretical existence.

And if being an open book means talking about the myriad times I have chosen to find joy even in heartbreak, it also means talking about the times when I could not.

Maybe it’s not pretty. Maybe it’s uncomfortable. But it’s real. Besides, a good book always makes you a little uncomfortable, doesn’t it?

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New LOP Article On Babble: Summer Ain’t Over Yet

Babble Summer Ain't Over Yet Screw You Back to school displaysI typically don’t write a lot in the summer because, well, I like summer just as much as my kids. I did manage to write about that for Babble so please click here to read the article!

“When I was a kid, the end of the school year was brutal. I was ready for summer vacation by mid-April. My brain, which generally fired on all four cylinders, was torturously limping toward the finish line on a flat tire and a crappy suspension. And the idea of finishing my last school project (inevitably a diorama of some kind) was more torturous than being trapped in a pit of snakes.

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