Six Word Friday: Wishing

It's Friday, and that means it's time for Six-Word Friday with Making Things Up! Today's topic is wishing. So here's some things I often find myself wishing for...

I would like a housekeeper, please.
And plumbing that isn't always broken.
A landscaper would be very appreciated.
I wouldn't mind a nanny, either.

Want to publish my new novel?
I have to write it first.
But I promise it will rock.
Maybe I'll just stick to blogging...
I'll keep working on it, though.

Anyone know of a magic button
That'll stop my thighs from jiggling?
I'll get right on that "exercise."
Right after the nanny gets here.


Warning: Your Mommy is Overheating

Maybe it's because we've spent the last two days stuck inside while it's raining out, or maybe it's because I have a tendency to let my anger simmer until it suddenly boils over, but I'm having a terrible Mommy evening.

I just screamed at my (almost) 2-year-old. This is when Mommy knows she needs a break.

He filled his Little People bus with all of the wipes from the wipe container. Which might have been funny, if this hadn't been the millionth time. He's been in trouble for it before, but it was the gentle, "I don't want to see this happen again" kind of trouble. Today, he got "Emergency: Mommy Malfunction. Please step away from the Mommy" type of trouble.

I've also been pretty short with my older son today; I've given a lot more lazy "no's" than I have in a while. No sitting on my lap. No I will not make you more chocolate milk until you find your Thomas cup. No I don't want to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And you don't either. NO NO NO.

When I get this way, I feel a little sick on the inside. I know I am being irrational and need to just chill out and regroup. But it's SO HARD once you get in the downward spiral. I've had a terrible time getting myself motivated today, the kids are driving me up a wall (2 days indoors tends to make them a little rambunctious), and even my husband is annoying me with his random snippets of chitchat about the computer cases he's drooling over on the internet.

The thing is, I feel like I've had a lot of "breaks" lately. I mean, people beg to take my kids overnight (we have a lot of family in the area). Why do I feel like I don't have time to think?

Maybe I've let myself have too much time and I've spoiled myself a bit? Maybe I need to buck up and get off the Emo train? I'm not sure.

But right now,

I feel




Bring on the bubble bath and cosmos.


Why I Hate Public Restrooms

Today, I was guilt tripped invited to go out to lunch with my Gram to meet my great-aunt's granddaughter (I am still not clear on what that makes her to me? third cousin or something?). Gram, having the crazy old lady impeccable taste that she has, picked a crappy little diner with a menu chock-full of bacon. You know the kind of place, I suppose you'd call it a "greasy spoon," the seats stick to you, the waitresses are old and cranky, and if the food isn't good, you pretend it is anyway. 'Coz you don't wanna get shanked on your way out.

Now, considering the grimy texture of the table and chairs, I could very easily guess what the bathroom was going to look like. I was secretly praying that I wouldn't hear "Mommy!! I have to go potty!" during this little adventure. I mean, it was only going to be an hour or so. Surely my children could make it an hour without needing to use the bathroom.

But no. That would be too easy. A sudden foul smell from Jacob told me I was going to have to visit the nasty restroom, at least to change a diaper. And of course, when I got up to excuse myself to do that, James decided he also had to go. Perfect.

We enter the restroom. On the surface it's not too bad, except for the terrible decorating choice of peach-colored paint, dusty fake flowers, and an overabundance of brass. It definitely had that I-haven't-been-cleaned-in-a-while smell, but the fruity air freshener hiding somewhere in the room covered it up a little. Actually, the worst thing I noticed when I walked in to the bathroom was no changing table. Oh, God. The floor certainly would not do, and there wasn't even enough counter space to stick him up there to change him. There were two stalls, so I thought, hmm, maybe the changing table is in the handicap stall?

Of course, it was occupied. No problem, I can wait a minute, I thought to myself. James went in the other stall, and I thanked my lucky stars that he stands up to pee, because I didn't even want to think about how gross the toilet seat was. By the time James was done going, I was still waiting outside for the second stall to open up. I was starting to think it was a lost cause when I heard a flush!

No one came out.

Now I didn't want to go in THERE either, because if that lady had to flush before she was even done...yikes. I was considering just going out to the car to change Jacob's diaper, but of course, The War On Pants had already made my decision for me--Jake had his diaper half off already. And it was...probably about as disgusting as what the lady in the other stall was doing. No pulling it back up and taking him outside.

Changing a diaper while a child is standing up is a fine art. For some reason, it's extremely difficult to wrap my mind around the way their little butts look standing up compared to when they're laying down. So many little folds of baby fat! What normally takes one wipe takes at least three when I have to do this. And then there's the part where you have to put a new diaper on. It always bunches and never goes on straight. You'd think it would be a simple task, but it isn't. At least not in my world.

Add to this the fact that I made James stay in the tiny stall with us, and he spent the entire time yelling, "Look, Mommy! My pee is bigger than Jake's! His is tiny! Mine is bigger! Look!" (I can only imagine what the woman in the other stall was thinking).

This was, to say the least, one of the worst public restroom experiences I've had in a while. It very nearly tops the time I was a housekeeper and discovered a toilet tank--the TANK!-- full of brown chunks (don't worry, it turned out just to be a chocolate cookie. But it was an awkward few minutes until I figured that out).

When I finally managed to get Jake cleaned and re-diapered, we thoroughly washed our hands and left. The second stall? Still occupied.


An Award! Shiny!!

Melissa at Making Things Up has honored me with this cute little "Versatile Blogger" award! To truly earn it, though, I have to tell you 7 facts about myself and then nominate some other bloggers to do the same.

Ok. The intro was the easy part. Now to think of seven things to tell you about myself...

1) I have lived in Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, and Washington, and even though I was born in Georgia, I consider Illinois most like "home." (Although now that I've lived in Washington a while it is starting to grow on me).

2) I have a BA in Sociology from Gonzaga University with a concentration in Women's Studies. And 5 years after graduation, I still have no idea why I chose that course of study.

3) I desperately want to have a baby girl. But I don't want more than three children. So...if I get pregnant soon, please cross your fingers for me! :p

4) My favorite bands are The Beatles, Weezer, and Cake. I have to list all three because I can't quite choose an ultimate favorite.

5) I hate shopping. I don't know why exactly I hate it so much, but it makes me crabby. And tonight, my husband made me go to the mall for THREE HOURS. With kids that hadn't eaten dinner yet. And one who skipped his nap.

6) My husband and I have grand fantasies about moving to Portland, OR. We love it there. It's kind of funny, because it's not a city you usually associate with "grand fantasies," but it's our dream town.

7) I have a dog named Chewie who didn't bark for the first 2 years we owned him. In fact, he still doesn't really "bark," he just has this silly-sounding howl thing that reminds me of a hound dog's. And he only does it to the mailman.

8) After writing poems and stories for at least the last 15 years of my life, I've finally figured out that what I really want to do is write. I don't know how I didn't pick up on it earlier.

9) I look exactly like my mom, except her hair was dark brown and she wore glasses. Sometimes I catch my Gram looking at me in this sad, nostalgic way and I just know she's seeing her daughter standing there instead of me.

10) I love to bake. Especially bread. And my very favorite is Challah (and if you have a good recipe for it, leave a comment/email me, and I will love you forever!).

Well, there you have it! Now for the fun part: giving out some Versatile Blogger awards of my own!

Rebecca Mullen at Altared are a great writer and my "happiness hero!"

Amanda at My Thoughts...I miss you IRL. Quit having real life stuff happen so we can hang out.

Rudri at Being Rudri write engaging posts and you leave good comments. <3

MidnightCafe at Midnight have so much insight and wisdom, I love reading your blog.

Kate at small medium and large...I'm still laughing about your aversion to owning a minivan.

Congrats on your award, get to writing! :p


Took off my Mommy hat, hope no one noticed the boogers on my shoulder

I spent this weekend pretending I wasn't a mommy. I didn't outwardly deny my mommy status, but I did quite a few things that reminded me just what this blog was meant to be about: who I was before, and how I've changed post-"mommy."

I stayed up late on Friday. I had donuts for breakfast AND lunch. My husband and I had some..."alone time" (wink, wink) in the middle of the day. I TOOK A NAP. I took a shower (without an audience!!!), brushed my hair (and didn't put it in a ponytail!!!), wore a skirt (I forgot other clothes besides jeans existed!!!), and even put on makeup. I had dinner at a restaurant without having to ask for booster seats, a kid menu, or extra napkins. And then I went to an awesome concert with my big sister.

We stayed out too late, but I got to sleep in! I woke up in time for a cup of coffee, my usual blog crawling, and then I headed off to a writing club (where I pretended that I actually know how to write and stuff). I pretended I was completely used to hanging out in an organic coffee shop, even though my "mommy self" thinks coffee comes from the drip at home or a drive-through. After two hours of some awesome writing exercises and meeting a bunch of other writers (can I call myself that?), I headed off to ANOTHER organic coffee shop for a book club.

I met more people today than I've probably met since I was in college. And I even spoke without getting red in the face or stuttering (although by the end my stomach hurt so bad from nerves that I thought I was going to be sick!). It was, overall, an amazing weekend. I'm proud of myself for letting go of my mommyhood for a little while. I needed this break; I needed to embrace the woman I am without relying on my identity as a mother.

At the end of the day, though...I did really, really miss my kids. I almost cried when I came home and saw them; it was like they'd been gone for a year though it was only two days. We took a long walk, pretended to be explorers hunting dragons in the jungle, and played catch in the front yard. It felt good to put my mommy skin back on.

Nothing like a little time away to remind you how good you have it.

This is me, breathing a giant sigh of contentment.


The War on Pants

My children have started a War on Pants.

I'm not sure exactly what pants have done to them, but my, oh my, they are putting up one hell of a fight!

I dress them in the morning. Shirt, underwear/diaper, pants. Within an hour, at least one has removed his pants, and if one does it, the other is likely to follow suit. Furthermore, the one still wearing a diaper believes that diapers are ALSO the enemy. Usually right after he's pooped. Which makes for awesome clean up (no one thinks about the innocent bystanders in these kind of conflicts!!).

Last week, I was outside working in the garden. My hands were covered with mud because I'd just finished planting something. Out comes Jacob, his bottom half completely naked...and let's just say his bottom matched my muddy hands. Ew.

Of course, this would be an appropriate time for the neighbor to walk up and say hello. He didn't notice the pantslessness of my child at very first.

"Oh, hi, Jake! Are you working in the yard with mom?" (Not so casual glance down, double take between Jake and my muddy hands) "Uhh, have fun! Talk to you later!"

Why. Me.

Yesterday, my older son was playing with the hose and his pants got wet. He runs inside immediately and then re-emerges with his snazzy Spiderman skivvies on display for the world to see! I ask him to go put pants on. He tells me they're too wet. As we're arguing about how much laundry Mommy has to do and he should just put the pants back on because they weren't really THAT wet, my other son derobes. He doesn't back down when a battle with the enemy ensues. He's always there to remove his pants if his brother has!

I put pants back on them both.

As soon as I'm not looking, the pants are again removed.

We go through this process often, and I am really at my wit's end. It never fails that they decide to take off their pants right before a guest shows up or the mailman comes in the yard or something. No, it's not "end-of-the-world" embarrassing or anything, but it is frustrating.

My Gram laughs and tells me I was worse when I was their age. And she has the naked baby pictures to prove it. I know she's right; I know it's not anything to be worried about. I guess at least they haven't tried to do it in public. But. Still. At the very least my laundry basket is angry because of all the extra pants it's had lately.

I give up; I'm not cut out for war.

smaller hippie baby


Six-Word Fridays: The Unexpected

Melissa at Making Things Up has started a new Friday series called Six-Word Fridays. And you know what? Sentences with only six words is trickier than it sounds. Anyway, here's my stab at it. Go over and participate if you have time!

I never thought we'd be here.
Not the first time we met.
You filled an empty, broken heart.
I was scared to let go.
Once I tried to break up.
You told me you'd stick around.
You said being friends was ok.
And that's when my love grew.
I knew you weren't going away.

And now we have two children.
We have a mortgage and yard.
We love and fight and reconcile.
Thank you for not letting go.
Thank you for giving me time.
You were very unexpected back then.
And even now you surprise me.


The Search

It's 7:30 am when I hear two little feet hit the floor upstairs and pitter-patter down the staircase. I take a deep breath and quickly gulp down the rest of my coffee. Once I hear those little feet, there is no longer time to sip.

Before he even hits the last step, James is calling to me. Even though I love those little feet, and that little voice, this first interaction of the morning is often difficult for me. Not because it means the end of my quiet coffee-sipping morning time, though. It's difficult because, nine times out of ten, the first words from James' mouth are, "MOMMYYYYY! I WANT SOME MILK!"

No, there is nothing inherently wrong with my son wanting milk as soon as he wakes up. There are worse things he could ask for (which he sometimes does, also...cookies or crackers or whatever other weird non-breakfast food he can think of). The problem with this request as he jumps to the floor, skipping the last step completely is this: there is only ONE CUP that will do for that milk. And this one cup is, on most days, nowhere to be found. Thus begins the search.

James was fairly young when I stopped giving him a sippy cup, and he really did quite well using a regular cup. I knew it was better to stop letting him use a sippy cup as soon as possible, and since there was just him around, there wasn't as many opportunities for his cup to be spilled. It wasn't until I had my second child and started babysitting that he became attached to this one certain sippy cup. I started giving all the kids their own cup, all with lids, because after the first day of giving them cups without lids I wanted to throw my mop out of a window. I think James took my speech about "This is your cup, please don't drink out of anyone elses' cup" a little too literally. For the past year and a half, now, I have trouble getting him to drink if the "Thomas Cup" cannot be found. Unfortunately, for as attached as he is to it, he very often loses the "Thomas Cup," haphazardly setting it aside after he empties it. Attempts at instigating a "put-your-cup-in-the-sink" rule work sometimes, and we continue to reiterate it. But when there's playing to be done, who has time to run all the way to the sink to throw in their cup?!

The search starts out with a simple request. Chocolate milk. IN MY THOMAS CUP. Please.

I check the sink. No Thomas Cup. I sigh.

The search usually begins in the living room. I ask James if he remembers where he saw it last. "In the sink!" he swears, apparently remembering the rule NOW that the cup is missing. I shrug.

There are places I know to look. By the couch. On the piano. Near the TV stand. Even though he loses his cup often, he seems to "lose" it in the same spots--as if in his little mind, these are OK places to leave it. Some are not so typical. Inside a backpack. In the garden. Behind the couch, buried under three blankets. Still, these are places I know to search. We do this way too often.

Today, I wander the house three times. I've checked all the usual spots, and I try to go over my mental list one more time. When was the last cup of chocolate milk issued yesterday? Was it BEFORE or AFTER I closed the front door for the night? Should I check outside the fence? I'm certain he had milk after the door was closed...but it doesn't seem to be in any of the "inside" hiding places. I'm starting to panic, imagining the Thomas Cup being lost for a week, and finding it later with disgusting, week-old chocolate milk still in it. Plus, James is still asking me for a drink every two minutes.

As I search, I marvel at all the hiding places this house has. It doesn't seem that big until we lose something. I stop searching, telling James he can have his milk in another cup. I sit down and try to think about something else. But now I'm just as obsessed with finding the cup as James is about using it. I decide to look one more time.

I've made my circuit around the house, my eyes panning slowly over every room, searching for that familiar blue hunk of plastic. As I enter the final room on my list, I'm nearly pulling my hair out, loudly announcing that there's NO WAY I missed it this time, it must be in this room...and I still don't find it. My heart sinks. But then I have a thought--I looked in all the normal spots, but I didn't look any further. Sure enough, three steps further in to the room, hidden behind Daddy's chair in the office, I spot it. I was looking hard enough, but I wasn't looking in the right spots.

It's easy to get caught up in your daily routine, and to stretch your mind only far enough to include what you already know. Most of us are tired and stressed enough that the energy to think outside of the box isn't always readily available. Fortunately, our children still have plenty of energy to spare. I started out my morning obsessively searching for a cheap plastic sippy cup, but in the midst of my struggle, I learned a lesson from my son.

The search never ends, and the answers can't always be found in the usual spots.

Maybe he loses his cup on purpose, to keep Mom's brain from falling in to a rut?


Oh, Yes- You've Discovered My Nemesis

I have a hard time saying no. In fact, it is 12:30 am right now, and I am still awake making invitations, reply cards, and "we're registered at" inserts for my brother-in-law and his fiancee. Why? Because of yes. Because it slips through my lips when I least expect it.

"Yes" has me up hours past my bedtime, my head pounding and my fingers ink-stained and paper-cut. "Yes" also has me scheduled to babysit another child on top of my own tomorrow (I am going to need a REALLY BIG cup of coffee).

"Yes" scheduled me to go to a book club, a writing club, and a concert on Saturday even though I'm supposed to be working in my yard (for yet another "yes": hosting the reception for the wedding I mentioned earlier).

"Yes" does this to me a lot. Me and "yes"... we have lifelong issues. I'm the kind of girl who would do someone else's homework for them in grade school--but not because I was afraid...just because I couldn't say no. I can't seem to help it. It's always been a struggle for me.

You'd think considering all the trouble "yes" gets me in to, I'd learn to say it a little less. But I won't. And here's why:

"Yes" made a very stressed bride-to-be stop crying after she opened up her "wedding invitations" and discovered "Save the Date" cards in the wrong colors with only 4 weeks to go until the wedding.

"Yes" gives my very good friend a chance to spend time alone with her husband on their anniversary, which is an especially large commodity considering they work opposite shifts and have only one day off together, anyway.

"Yes" is feeding my desire to read, write, and listen to good music on Saturday, and it's giving me a chance to rest my perma-dirty feet for a day. Grass doesn't grow that fast. I can take a day off.

For all the reasons I have to dislike my inability to say no, I have equal reasons to remember why I like to say "yes." Even when it isn't ideal for me personally, I really, truly, enjoy helping other people. This isn't to say I shouldn't curb my desire for "yes" sometimes; I need a break from it about as much as I need a break from anything else that I love.

Tomorrow, when I give my soon-to-be sister in law these invitations, I'm guessing she's going to ask for help addressing all of them. And, despite my desire to burn the next wedding invitation I get in the mail, you know what I'll say.



A Kiss

Just one more
is all I ask of you,
but I know that one is
never enough.
I can't stop myself
from wanting you-
I don't want to.
for now, I'm alone
(although never without
thoughts of you)
and I can't help but wish
for one more kiss
just one more before
I close my eyes
and dream
of many more
to come.


to my mother.

in a small corner of my mind,
in my brain where synapses fire and chemicals react,
it's still there. and it manifests
as a numb emptiness in the center of my chest.

i shut out the world.
i close my eyes and try to see--try to feel--
but it isn't the same.
no dull ache; no heavy breath; no sobbing sadness.

it's there--i know it is!
but time and trials and tears
have buried it like so many leaves turned to dirt
on a quiet forest floor.

sometimes there are flashes--smoke signals to lead my way:
when i hear your voice from my mouth, or see your smile in my mirror
but always, always, i find a dead end
when i thought i had found the trail.

how heartless of my brain to hide you.
how my heart wills my mind to uncover!
i fear i've lost you on purpose, to soothe my pain,
but all the same it seems so cruel.

i have you, but i don't have you.
all i have is what remains.
and with each minute, day, month, and year,
the memory is farther away.


A Moment

Something about today just feels good. For the first time in months, it's warm enough to have breakfast in the backyard. All the springtime flowers are blooming. A pleasant breeze carries the spicy-sweet scents of hyacinth and lilacs. The sun is hot already. My skin drinks it in, and even my bones feel warm. At 9 am, I've already turned on the hose for the boys to play in.

Nothing compares to the bubbling, innocent laughter of my children. In a rare moment of cooperation, they are sharing the hose. James is fiercely possessive, and teaching him to share (especially with his little brother) has been an immense challenge. Just now, though, he's forgotten that everything is HIS. Jacob presses the button on the sprayer of the hose, then gets frustrated that it won't stay on. James, ever so gently, puts a hand on his little brother's shoulder.

"It's ok, Jake. Lemme show you how it works."

James slowly presses the button that holds open the valve deliberately-- slowly so his brother can see. He coos softly to Jacob as he does it, explaining, "There you go. Just like that. Now it'll work, Jake."

"Tankoo!" Jacob replies, a glowing smile returning to his face.

I know this little moment won't last, so I drink it in, letting it fill my heart with joy. I say a little prayer that my boys will always remember to be so kind to each other. I know they will fight and make ME want to scream and cry, but I also know there are more of these tender moments to come. These snapshots of happiness make all the trials of motherhood worth it. They remind me why I chose to be a parent.

My children are happiness, wrapped in skin and bone and clothed in 3T board shorts. I hope I never forget it.


Without Fear

The year that my mother died was one of the hardest years of my life. So much changed in such a small amount of time that when I think back on it, much of what happened is fairly blurry. I was 16, and my biggest worries up until then were what I was doing with my boyfriend this weekend, or what I was going to wear to school the next day. The course of my life was suddenly and swiftly altered, and I felt fairly out of control. Things seemed to be happening around me without my permission. It was during this hectic year, however, that I first took a stand for myself, and made a bold move that I have never regretted.

For the first couple of months after my mother died, my family tried to go back to "normal," at least as normal as we possibly could be. Despite my family's pleas that I move to Washington to live with my grandmother, I stayed in our home in Michigan with my little brother and my stepdad. Things were tense, but bearable. My stepfather could be a very volatile person; for much of my life I had been very afraid of him. It was easy to send him in to a tirade, and the stress of our current situation did not help him at all.

To say I was frightened of my stepdad would be an understatement. I was terrified to be left in the same room alone with him. He had never physically hurt me, although I had seen the bruises he left on my sister. I was always scared that I was going to make him angry. For much of my life, I had relied on my mom and my big sister to "protect" me from his tirades--he would get angry for the smallest things, and his fury could last quite a long while. With my mom gone and my sister away at college, there was now no "buffer" to protect me from him. I lived every day in fear that I would make him angry, make him scream and call me horrible names and possibly hurt me.

One day, my sister was visiting my brother and I and she took us to the movies. We left a note for my stepfather telling him when we would return. Unfortunately, the movie we went to see was sold out, so we went to a later showing. We returned home half an hour later than we intended. My stepfather greeted us with a screaming match. How inconsiderate of us to be late! Why didn't we call? He couldn't believe how we could do this to him! As usual, my sister took the brunt of his anger--for every scream he threw at her, she yelled back, doing her best to keep his attention on herself and away from me and my little brother. She stormed out of the house, him following after, screaming at her. She asked me to come with her, but I said no. I couldn't imagine how angry that would make him, but I didn't want to find out. Instead, I sulked away and hid in my room. He stopped yelling after my sister left, and he also stopped speaking to me.

About a week later, after a week of silence from my stepdad, I came home from school just like any other day. By this point, I had stopped trying to speak to him, since the only response I got was a cold shoulder and silence. He was sitting in the living room, and I walked past and went to my bedroom, where I had been spending the majority of my time lately. A few minutes passed when my bedroom door burst open, and my stepdad stood there, his eyes bulging out of his head and his face bright red with fury.

"You come home and you don't even bother to say HELLO?" He roared at me.

I looked at him blankly, my heart starting to race. I had no idea how to respond, so I tried to be honest.

"You haven't spoken to me for a week. Why would I say hello to you?"

Unfortunately, this only managed to anger him further.

"You ungrateful bitch. You never even said sorry for being late on Sunday. It's like you don't even love me anymore..."

Typically, this kind of language from my stepdad, and the lengthy tirade that followed it, would do nothing but reduce me to tears. I would cry and curl up in a ball until he was done, and hope that he would calm down. But today was different. I'm still not sure why it was different--maybe because it was the first time I'd really faced him completely on my own. This day, I didn't stand down and wait for the storm to pass. This day, I decided to fight back.

I gave my stepfather a tirade of my own. I told him how terrified he had made me for the last 13 years of my life. I told him how there was never a day that I wasn't afraid to be left alone with him. And I told him he was right, that I had no love left in my heart, no patience left to deal with his tyranny.

My words took the wind out of my stepfather's sails. He left my room, still angry, but no longer screaming. I sat on my bed staring at the door, in shock. I wasn't certain what to do next, but something told me I didn't have much time to decide. I thought of going to him and apologizing, trying to make everything better. But I also knew if I did that, we would have to go through this same thing another day, for some different silly reason that made him angry. At that moment, I made one of the craziest decisions of my life. I decided to walk away.

I quickly packed everything that I could fit in a suitcase and my backpack. I had no idea where I was going to go, but I knew that it was the right time to leave. As I was walking out of my bedroom, my stepfather was walking back down the hall, starting to scream at me again. I gave him one last goodbye, as calmly as I could muster, and told him I wouldn't be back. I walked out my front door, dragging a suitcase behind me, and headed down the road.

Part of me said I should turn back, but most of me felt like this was the bravest decision I could have made. I walked down the road, not sure of what I would do next, but certain I had done what was right for me. Even though I was technically "running away," I felt like I was running toward a better future--one where I didn't have to be afraid all the time.

I left that house and I have never looked back. I stayed with friends until my sister and I could get an apartment together. I managed to finish my last two years of high school in relative normalcy. Although I still struggle with it, that fateful day I learned that I can stand up for myself. It was like fighting a battle with my arch nemesis and winning. I was free in more ways than one that day that I walked down a busy highway dragging a suitcase behind me. I was free to live my life without fear.


Educating the people the world needs most

Back in the day when I was in college at Gonzaga, the university started a new ad campaign. For an entire semester, there were stickers, buttons, and posters all over campus that read "WHY GONZAGA?" It was so prolific that it became a campus joke--"WHY GONZAGA? Because the cafeteria food is awesome!" "WHY GONZAGA? Because I can ALWAYS find a parking spot on campus!" We were all ready to find out what the punchline was by the time their "big reveal" happened--a gigantic pep rally where they finally announced their answer to the question:

"Why Gonzaga? Because we're educating the people the world needs most."

At the time, I thought it was at best a grandiose overstatement of the importance of the university. Lately, though, that tagline has been going through my head quite a bit--but not because I've been pining over my alma mater.

A few weeks ago, as I was pulling out my hair trying to pay the bills, my mind started to wander (as it often does during bill-paying). I started worrying about the future--about the fact that by the time my children are in school, I will have been out of the workforce for 6 years, which will leave me with no resume and depleted Social Security funds. As I was brooding, I went from worried to angry, beginning to question why these should even be concerns in the first place. I'm not changing the world directly right now, but I do believe that I'm doing one of the world's most important--and severely underrated--jobs.

I started searching for more information about this and found this book, which I am very anxious to read. The more I researched and read, the more fired up I got. Lately, I've been daydreaming about writing an extensive research paper on stay-at-home parents and envisioning a stay-at-home rights movement while doing the dishes. And this brings me back to that great slogan once coined by Gonzaga that keeps running through my head.

Higher education is undoubtedly important, and it certainly produces many of the specialists that the world "needs" to run. But I keep thinking how sorely this slogan misses the mark in my current situation. It actually highlights the lack of respect for child-rearing quite starkly now in my mind. Yes, universities are responsible for giving their students the specialized knowledge they need to pursue a career, but I think when it comes down to it, much of an adult's essential education is learned much earlier. It is from our parents that we learn our values and morals--that's where we start to develop our sense of what is important and what WE think the world "needs." So I've been imagining that Gonzaga's ad slogan could be much better used like this:

WHY PARENTS? Because we're educating the people the world needs most.

It's my new personal motivational slogan. I keep reminding myself of it every time I start to get stressed or when I feel like I'm not really doing anything of value being at home with the kids. I think that our society could do with a little reminding of exactly how important the task of parenting is. People give it lip service, especially around holidays like Mother's Day and Father's Day, but the proof is in the pudding, and my bowl is empty. No one is in the least bit interested in giving parents the time they need to raise their children, because it isn't (directly) economically viable. And whether you are blessed with the opportunity to stay at home with your children or if you are working full time, our first and most important job right now is to be parents to our children.

I'm not saying everyone should quit their jobs and stay at home with their children, but I AM proposing that it should be a more realistic option for a greater majority of our society. I can remind myself all I want that I am "educating the people the world needs most," but how many other people see it that way? And how many people think I'm just watching soap operas and eating bonbons?

Ok, I think I'm done here on my soapbox for now. I fear this post was a little more scattered than I intended, but I really needed to get this off my chest. And the next time you're knee-deep in dirty diapers and laundry, just remind yourself that "you're educating people the world needs most." Maybe it'll help.


Dear 22 Month Old,

Hi, Sweetie. Sweetie?

(snapping fingers and rolling eyes)

SWEETIE! Ok. Now that I have your attention. Ahem.

Hi, Sweetie. Erm...honey...don't climb that. Mommy REALLY doesn't want to take a trip to the hospital today, I haven't even paid the bill from our last visit yet. Don't make me get out of this chair. Don't you do it!

(smack on the floor and inconsolable wailing)

Grrr...Didn't I tell you NOT to do that? I know you understand me! Why don't you listen. Oh, stop, you're fine. Alright, one hug, but really I don't think you deserve it. That was totally preventable.

(wiping copious amounts of snot from shoulder)


Sweet, beautiful, energetic little baby boy--
It's probably time to stop calling you "baby." You are, after all, very nearly two. But I just wanted to write you this little note to remind you: You're not two yet! I've got two months left, precious, and I'd really like to enjoy them. I'm getting sick of having to apologetically announce to shocked onlookers in stores and restaurants, "He's two," when it's not even true yet! Couldn't you give me just a *little* more time? My bruises haven't all quite healed since your brother turned two. I demand at least a one-week notice before "The Terrible Twos" commence.

Don't look at me with that blank stare. You know what I'm talking about. No? How about last week at the playground, when I TOLD you not to hang off the top of the big toy, and then you did it on purpose (I KNOW it was on purpose, damnit) and when you fell you screamed at me like it was my fault? Since when does warning someone that they're going to get hurt constitute liability when it actually happens? It's not like I'm psychic or have kinetic powers that I used to push you off the toy (because if I did, life would be a lot more exciting for both of us).

Still not impressed? Still don't think you've been behaving badly? Hmm...ok. What about Friday when we were at the restaurant? You spent the entire time trying to wriggle out of your seat, and when you finally succeeded, you screamed, "NO, MOMMY! NO LIKE MOMMY!" and ran away screaming. Just because everyone in the restaurant laughed does NOT make it funny. Just so you know, I was ready to crawl in a corner and die. And if that happened, who would feed you? I'd like to remind you that Daddy does NOT know how to cook.

Alright, I can see you're still not getting the picture here. So let's go over one more example. This morning, when you woke me up at 5 am? I asked you not to put your hands in the fishbowl. I asked more times that I should have because I was tired and annoyed at being awake that early. And when I finally just yelled, "NO!" to get your attention and make you stop, what did you do? YOU BIT ME.

That last one alone is enough proof for me. You are cute, cuddly, and very sweet. Please, please, PLEASE stay that way just a little bit longer. I've ordered full body armor to protect myself and it takes two weeks to deliver. Can we at least wait that long?

Love you, Sweetie. Now stop jumping on the couch and eat your breakfast.

Love, Mommy