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Feb 28 2014

A Love Letter to My 7-Year-Old Teenager

By at 10:13 am

homework1

Dearest Sugar Bee,

It was your birthday yesterday and I fell in love with you again. We were out in the desert with friends and you were your beautiful, lively self, enjoying your family and friends and soaking in the sunshine. We spent a lot of time holding hands and swinging in a hammock and talking about life. I gave you your “7″ charm to wear around your neck this year. It’s the charm that I wore when I was 7 and Grandma wore and Aunt Lenore too. The charm that Grammy brought into our lives. Lucky seven. We are indeed lucky.

Flashback a week and we are fighting about homework. Again. You are giving me that look. Slack jawed, tongue forward, eyes rolled, wobbling your head like a car ornament. And I want to kill you. I feel my chest tighten and I want to shriek that I can’t stand you. That I don’t understand why you treat me the way you do. Why only me? I try to diffuse your frustration and anger which I have gotten pretty good at after this much practice. My encouragement falls on deaf ears. You are too far gone. I excuse myself from homework and give myself a time out in my bedroom and hold my head in my hands until my anger dissipates. When you calm down too you knock on my door and we hug. You give me the picture you drew of us together. I smile and thank you and add it to the pile. We continue to work; you finish your homework and peace is restored to our home. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 27 2013

My Son’s Concussion, My Mommy Fail

By at 2:01 pm

my son's concussion

I didn’t learn about my son’s concussion until a day after it had happened, when I saw the middle school phone number on my caller ID. “Daniel’s here,” Nurse Nancy said. “He apparently hit his head yesterday. He’s not feeling well.”

“My head hurts,” Daniel said in a soft whisper. “And this morning it was blurry when I read for too long.” My “mama bear” instincts went into overdrive even after he followed up with, “but I got some Tylenol and it’s starting to feel better.”

“When did you hit your head?” I asked. “Do you want to come home?” I couldn’t help but pepper him with questions, probably enough to reverse any effect the pain medication had already had. He wanted to stay in school, he said, go back to class and go on with his day. I stared out the front window, watching the leaves fall from the massive elm trees, making their way down to the ground in a dance of rust and oranges twirls. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 30 2013

When Do I Stop Being Naked in Front of My Kids?

By at 2:42 pm

bathrobe

Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s recent post on why she lets her kids see her naked reminded me of a piece I wrote almost two years ago about my family’s nudity policy (or lack thereof).

Unlike Sarah, I didn’t have a poetic, thoughtful, and profound reason for my decision to let my children see me (and their father) naked. My reason was pretty much the same reason I do all things; my belief that what’s easiest for me to do is ultimately best for my kids (a.k.a. I am Occam’s Mother).

But, when I wrote the above post, my oldest son was 12. And now he’s 14. There’s a big difference between 12 and 14–especially when he’s a boy. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 18 2013

Letting Go Before the Nest is Empty

By at 5:01 pm

closed bedroom doorIt’s only 8 at night, and when our 16-year-old son rambles home, we pounce. “Want to grab ice cream?” I invite. “What about a movie?” says my husband. Our son stares at us, impassive.

“I’m going to bed,” he says, and my husband and I exchange glances. We know that “going to bed” is code word for I’m-going-into-my-room-and-shutting-the-door-and-staying-up-for-hours-without-you. I hear the door close and even though my son is right upstairs, I miss him. And I know that he’s going off to college in two years and I’m going to miss him even more. 

I don’t know why I’m so surprised he’s independent. We wanted him to be that way. My parents had raised my sister and me to be dependent on them, to stay close to home, to reveal all our secrets. I, of course, balked and flew out on my own at 17, lived states away, and kept my thoughts locked up like a safe. Even now, my mom still scolds me for being “too independent for my own good” but I always considered that a plus.

Until I had a son. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 4 2013

Why I Won’t Let My Kids Do the Laundry

By at 9:45 am

laundry spin cyclePerhaps the most difficult thing about parenting teens is letting go–ceding control over their lives, or recognizing that you never really had any control–and preparing them to leave you. When my girls were toddlers, their wise grandparents told me this, but until I faced the challenge myself I didn’t understand a word of their sage advice.

My eldest’s recent acceptance to college was not only a source of pride; it also triggered some anxiety in me, which I tried to dispel with humor. I claimed my greatest fear was that she would bring her dirty laundry home for me to wash during her vacations. One friend’s shocked response of, “You don’t make her do her own laundry?!” made me wonder if my stranglehold on the family’s laundry signaled an inability to let go.  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 19 2013

Dealing with Toddler Tantrums & Teen Tantrums All at Once

By at 3:08 pm

toddler having a tantrum in cribOne of my favorite pictures I ever took of my daughter came during a tantrum.

She wasn’t quite 3. We were in the middle of a family party with our best friends–and their two kids, the de facto cousins. My daughter had just hit her BFF. I scooped her into my arms and carried her upstairs for a time-out. A photographer friend once advised me that photos of crying people were always good to take, aesthetically (you can quibble about the morals). There my daughter stood in her crib in a white satin dress-up princess frock. Her face, framed by tired pigtails, revealed the sadness and regret just beneath the frustrated, overtired impulsivity. Her dark eyes were slick and teary and her rounded cheeks appeared rounder, all pouty. And the camera happened to be around my neck. She was so freaking adorable I had to sneak in one quick shot.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 17 2013

My Daughter & Her Boyfriend’s Jeans

By at 2:54 pm

torn jeans with holeI’m standing at the kitchen sink when my eldest walks past me to the table to pack her lunch.

“What’s all over your pants?”

“They’re distressed.”

“Did you rip them?!”

“No, they came like that. It’s a style.” She pauses for effect. “And they’re not my pants. And you said I looked cute in them.”

Now I’m distressed. I look more closely at her pants. They are black jeans, ripped and frayed on both legs. I hadn’t noticed that–looking up from the bottom of the stairs–when I’d complimented her.

“Are you wearing [boyfriend name]‘s pants?!” Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 7 2013

Parenting Teens & Anxiety Dreams

By at 9:43 am

I have a recurring nightmare. It’s not a classic anxiety dream, like the ones where you find yourself standing naked at a podium with no notes or teleprompter. Mine is a maternal dream.

In my dream, my teenage daughter, my mother-in-law, and I are standing on the Golden Gate Bridge. The setting is disconcerting, as the three of us have never been in San Francisco at the same time. In fact, my teenager has only been there in utero.

My ordinarily soft-spoken mother-in-law is yelling at me. I look down and I feel queasy. Not unlike I felt when I was pregnant with my daughter. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 29 2012

News Roundup: Straight Talk About Vaginal Birth Risks, Middle School, and Breaking the Breast Milk Bank

By at 8:39 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


Here’s a yucky but important topic: vaginal tears that result from vaginal childbirth. Turns out they may be a lot more widespread than most doctors know or admit, and can cause fecal matter through the vagina, flatus incontinence, and pain. Learn more so you can talk about it with your doctor ahead of time. (Motherlode)

Pretty much everyone agrees that middle school is the worst. But no one is really trying to make it better. Now researchers are discovering that helping middle schoolers have a better time predicts whether or not they’ll stay in school, and how successful they’ll be. (Slate)

As a mom you’re probably taking pictures of your kids and family all the time. But how often do you get in front of the camera yourself? One mom reminds us that someday when we’re gone our kids will want pictures of us, and we shouldn’t be erasing ourselves from our family’s photographic history. (Huffington Post)

A mom in Texas made it to the Guinness book of world records for donating a whopping 87 gallons of breast milk to her local breast milk bank. (NY Daily News)

Oct 23 2012

Shopping for My Daughter’s First Bra

By at 9:45 am

white cotton braAs I cradled my 7-hour old dark-haired beauty in my weary arms, I imagined this day. My pre-teen (the term “tween” had yet to be invented) and I would have a quiet lunch in a café, talk about the exciting changes that awaited her, and then head to Nordstrom for her very first bra-fitting. Like with so many parts of parenting, what I imagined bore scant resemblance to reality.  And not for one moment did I ever imagine that our outing would take place in her 10th summer. Read the rest of this entry →

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