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. Read more...

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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. Read more...

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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. Read more...

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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. Read more...

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This Is The Me They Love

 If I’m being totally honest, I was planning on deleting it when he wasn’t looking. That’s the problem with modern technology, digital photography, smartphones and filters: We can instantaneously erase anything that isn’t “perfect.” We can keep reviewing and critiquing and recreating a picture over and over again until we get what we want. Read more...

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Tony Bennett UVA basketball

It is hard to watch your children do something that you know will hurt them, even if they love it more than anything in the world. It is hard to allow them the space to make their own choices, even if you know how those choices will turn out.

But a big part of parenting is doing just that. We spend so long believing that the hardest part of parenting is holding on.

Holding on to a newborn you are sure is going to slip from your clumsy hands. Holding on to your sanity as you fumble through the day on no sleep. Holding on to a spoon, slippery with mushy peas. Holding on to a toddler’s hand as they take wobbly steps. Holding on to art work and memories of misspoken words. Holding on until they are just a little older. Read more...

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They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Lynn Brubaker

I was reminded yesterday that it was Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday. I grew up with Ella playing on scratchy LPs as I danced around the den on top of my father’s feet, listening to him sing off-key.

My father had eclectic taste in music, and he clearly felt it was one of his greatest parental obligations to introduce us to all of it.

Music, for my father, was more than a song. It was a story.

He would play the staples of his college days–The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel–and tell us the story of the anti-war movement, the drug culture, and the sexual revolution. He would play Broadway show tunes and tell us about political corruption in Chicago, the gangsters and bootleggers of the 30’s, or wartime in London. He would play Motown and tell us of growing up in the south and how music changed his generation’s views on race. He would play some new band and remind us that songwriters are the poets of modern society. Read more...

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Joy Comes in the Morning

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The night my father died, I did not sleep. My mind was humming with the kind of things you think about after your dad dies.  But mostly I was thinking about how to tell my children. How to tell them that everything had changed but that everything would be okay. How to counter the blows which their faith in God, still nascent and unquestioning, would suffer. How to protect their innocence, their joy.

I sat on a sofa, waiting for them to come around the corner. My 7 year was the first one down, his hair askew, holding his blanket around his neck like a superhero cape. The child whom, a few hours earlier, I had held while the paramedics tried to resuscitate my father. The child who believed the reassuring words I had whispered in his ear to muffle the sounds of the static on their radios. He rounded the corner cautiously, afraid of what he might find, yet positive, in the way that only a child can be, that there was a happy ending.  My 5 year old followed him, blissfully unaware that the world he knew when he fell asleep was no longer the same. Read more...

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The Weight of Time


**Update: See this post featured on Scary Mommy!

Ten is the number of months that I was pregnant. Ten months of constant sickness, sleeplessness, and anxiety about whether I would be a good mother weighed on me much more than the thirty pounds I carried on my frame.

Four is the number of hours that I slept each night when my babies were new. The nights before your body becomes inured to sleep deprivation seem endless. And those four hours, cobbled together in snippets of brief respite, weighed on me during the day as I struggled to have a lucid conversation or stay awake while that tiny creature rested on my shoulder. Read more...

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A Love Letter to Preschool

06 10 15_0040 Yesterday my baby graduated from preschool.

I know he probably doesn’t look like a baby, with his shaggy hair and the new hole in his grin where a tooth used to be. But when I look at his face I don’t see the six year old boy that you do. I see the tiny wrinkly face of the newborn that nuzzled my shoulder in the wee hours of the night. I see the face covered in pureed carrots, the wobbly first steps he took in Palm Beach, the tear-streaked face that watched me walk out the door on his first day of preschool, the pain of skinned knees and blisters, the determination in his face before he threw his first spiral. Read more...

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Sometimes It’s More Than a Game: Why I Took My Kids Out of School for a Basketball Game

Someone gently reminded me the other day that I have been uncharacteristically quiet since Christmas.  And I gently reminded my friend that the Lucky Orange Pants have been busy with more important things.  Like basketball  season.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Virginia is one of two undefeated teams left in college basketball and ranked second in the country.

Second.  In the whole country.  For someone with a massive fear of heights, and a long memory of crashing and burning, this is a scary place to be. Read more...

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The Little Boy Who Made Us Complete

Six years ago today, I became a mother of boys.  Plural.  And it wasn’t long after Billy put our second baby boy in my arms that the questions began.

“Wow.  Two boys.  You must be….busy.”

“Are you going to try for a third?”  Third is always code for girl.

“At least you don’t have to pay for any weddings!” (always said with a chuckle).

The comments and questions come in many variations, with different tilts of the head, raised eyebrows, and innuendos hidden by smiles.  And every time I hear one, my blood boils.

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Three Boys and a Girl

There were three little boys at my brother’s wedding this weekend.  Two of them were mine.

That night, filled with so many firsts, was the greatest night in their little lives.  The night they were no longer just children in a sea of adults.  The night they were grownups too.   They donned tuxedos and bow ties just like all the big boys did and checked the football scores while they waited.

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They solemnly walked down the aisle of the church, clutching the rings in their sweaty anxious hands.  Halfway down they forgot to be nervous, briefly breaking character to wave and smile at familiar faces in the crowd.   They sat in the pew – the very first pew – and poured over the wedding program, tracing over their names again and again with fidgety fingers. Read more...

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What Do You Say When Words Aren’t Enough?: A Sister’s Love Letter to Her Brother

Ever since my brother got engaged 4 months ago, I have been thinking about my rehearsal dinner toast.  But every time I sit down to write, my attempts come up feebly short and I go back to mainlining M&Ms and coffee.  I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I have been at a loss for words (this is the fourth in case you’re curious) and I don’t know why.   It might be because I subconsciously feel the need to overcompensate for the absence of our witty and eloquent father, who no doubt would have given the greatest toast ever.  It might be because I am trying to figure out how to get through the whole thing without blubbering. Read more...

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I Will Always Know

According to National Geographic Kids, 97% of parents secretly eat their kids’ Halloween candy.   Which means that 3% of the population is just lying.
One of the underappreciated privileges of parenthood is raiding your children’s candy stash after they go to bed.  The trick is to pick things that they (1) don’t like or (2) have a plethora of.  For years, the boys only liked fruit candy (Skittles, Starbursts, gummy anything) which left me free to enjoy all of the chocolate based items with impunity.  Billy, who shares tastes similar to the boys, had to be more circumspect. Read more...

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