Over the past year I have become increasingly fearful.  Of a lot of things but mostly the state of things.  But over the past two weeks I have begun to realize that many of the people I fear are also operating from a place of fear.  

Fear is a powerful emotion.  When you are neck deep and sinking you begin to grab at others to pull yourself up.  That is what is happening.  And I, too, am guilty.  When you are afraid it is easy to make assumptions, use labels, call names, all to keep from sinking.

But in the end it doesn’t work.  Everyone drowns.  

Today I am choosing to relax and float for a second.  Get some rest so I can swim stronger.  You see I have these children at home I have to protect and I need to be strong for that.  I need to make them strong.  Because people will pull them down and they must be strong enough to resist without retaliating.  That is my job.  

Today I did two absolutely amazing things.  I stopped and just stood in complete appreciation of this Earth.  This overwhelming rebirth that is spring.

Then, I did something that leaves me choked up every time I do it.  I voted.  Despite all of our differences—-despite all of our FEAR—we walked into a polling place and voted.  AND we were respectful to each other, greeted by the sweet poll workers, and we all did what we have been blessed with the opportunity to do.  We participated.


I hate making decisions.

We are nearing another pivotal point in both our lives and the lives of our children.  The school they currently attend ends at 6th grade.  8 years ago we visited several schools and after much worry and debate made the decision to send them to an independent private school.  Mostly because it was the most amazing place I’ve ever visited.  Seriously—this place is freaking magical. This decision meant a lot of things.  It meant I would have to work full time. It meant we would not be getting new cars unless ours were completely dead to the world.  It meant we would have to get creative if we were going to do any vacations.  It meant a LOT of time would be spent in the car.   I do not love these things.  I have tried to find the silver lining in most of them but honestly—life would be easier in a lot of ways if we had made a different decision.  

But I regret absolutely nothing.  Because it also meant our children would be completely in love with school.  It meant they would experience joyful learning from day one.  It meant they would learn to creatively solve problems and to do so with grit and teamwork.  It meant they would learn compassion.  They have discussed topics that adults struggle to discuss without it becoming a yelling match.  They have learned empathy.  And not just empathy for those who closely resemble themselves. They have learned to value ALL people.  They have learned to question the majority and to think for themselves. And they have done all of that in a safe supportive space.

So now what?  It is time to decide once again…  Do we move and send them to an amazing public school.  One with a billion class and activity options where they can meet so many new people.  The school is diverse, it performs well.  We walked the halls and the kids seemed like good kids.  They would have friends who lived in the same town and we would certainly have more money than we are used to.  We could take cool vacations.  We would not be spending an hour of each day in the car…  

But it is also HUGE.  What if they fall through the cracks?  Get lost in the bureaucratic shuffle?  I know we will be on top of it, but would the school back us up?

We also visited another private school.  Once again I saw students who were being pushed both cognitively and creatively.  Who were coming up with solutions to problems adults are struggling with.  Who are learning some serious ethics and what that means in all aspects of life.  Who were allowed to come up with their own projects and see them through with support.  It was amazing.  And by amazing I mean these kids are going to be world changers. 

But it comes at a cost.  An astronomical cost, in fact.  Which would mean all the sacrifices we are making already plus more.  I am not sure we have any more to sacrifice… 

So here we are.  One year and two months away from a life change.  And we are not sure what that change will look like yet.  I will be sitting in this discomfort that entire time.  But I will not forget how blessed we are to have this decision to make in the first place.

Pain sponge

I am currently listening to “What is the What” in my car as I drive to work and school and dance and wherever else my life takes me.  I am finding myself easily lost in and completely overwhelmed by this story.  I have cried I am not sure how many times and I am not even halfway through.  But I can’t stop.  And as I think about that fact I realize that I do this all the time.  I am drawn to heartbreak and pain. Not because I enjoy it. Not because I can fix it. I don’t think it’s a sub conscience effort to punish myself.  But maybe it is. Would I be able to recognize that if it’s sub conscience?

Whatever the reason I surround myself with the stories of people.  And sometimes actual people.  And I listen to their story.  And I feel their pain.  I listen to the pain of Sudanese boys in a civil war, then listen to the pain of American middle schoolers who are sometimes struggling to meet their basic needs.  The suffering is different but it is still suffering.  And I feel it. Each time.

Maybe I do it out of privileged guilt?

Maybe it is because of my ability to isolate myself in my own suffering once upon a time and my realization that NO ONE should do that.  We must have a hand to hold. Maybe I can be that hand?

But I am not holding any hands of the now grown adults from Sudan.  I am just listening to their pain.  Maybe the purpose of that is to carry the story and make sure it is not forgotten?  Perhaps there is no purpose.
Either way I will not stop.  

Thanks—I think…

Boomer:  Who is the most awesome person you know?

Me:  Me!   I am awesome!

Boomer:  You are awesome.  Because you do the most cooking, then the dishes, then clean the house.

Me:  But I’m actually just a regular person—I’m not actually good at any of those things.

Boomer:  But that’s what makes you unique.  You are not good at them but you keep doing them anyway—you have grit!!!

Mom:  Thanks?


Tomorrow is my last day and I am feeling ALL OF THE THINGS!  I am sad and excited and terrified and heartbroken and hesitant and confident and unsure.  I am not the same person I was 6 years ago.  I have been changed by every single person, the grown up ones and the not so grown up ones.  I have been present.  That is what I have learned to do.  To just BE PRESENT.  I have been present for laughter and first whispered words at school and tears for mom and primal terror related to unbearable past traumas and sometimes current traumas.  I have been present for loss.  Loss of homes and pets and family structures and siblings and life itself.  I have been present for frustration and anger and the building up of walls to protect hearts and the slow and steady chipping away as those walls have come down.  I have been present for good days and proud moments and pure joy.

I have felt inferior.  And completely useless.  Irritated, frustrated, and just plain angry.  But I have also laughed.  Every. single. day.

I have made friends who believed in me.  Which, in turn, made me believe in me.  I was given a backbone.  And for that I am grateful.

I am starting over.  But I am starting over as someone who does not know everything but does know some things.  Someone who is not afraid to try.

I have done an amazing job of staying busy enough that the actual leaving part did not immediately sink in.  Until a student walked away this week carrying a physical piece of my heart.  Saying goodbye can be really hard.  And then an entire classroom of 5th graders sang “Don’t you forget about me.”  It’s hard not to think about saying goodbye when that happens!  Tomorrow is coming.  And I will give hugs to the grown ups and the not so grown ups.  And I will come home missing a significant portion of my heart because I can’t help but hand it out.  But it will grow back.  It always does.  And Monday I will start a new path.  And I will meet new grown ups and not so grown ups who will each change me in their own way.  I will be both afraid and not afraid.  Look out Cahokia, I’m coming!  :)

And… It’s over.

Sweet, sweet summer.  You will never know just how much I love you.  I love the days of binge-reading and endless Animaniacs watching and swimming and 4-square and basketball and random “let’s go out for dinner” nights.  Every year you go by so fast and here we are looking school smack in the face.  But we are refreshed and ready because you made us that way.  Honestly, if summer were any longer I would end up a mess as I do like a little routine and structure.  And other grown ups.   But I have enjoyed every last second.  

I will miss you.  It will be a long day—without you my friend.  But I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.ūüėČ

On parenting

Some days this whole parenting thing leaves me curled up on the floor of my bedroom gasping for breath as the tears fall uncontrollably. ¬†I feel terrified I am making unfixable mistakes—or already have—or am going to tomorrow. ¬†I do not know the right way to respond—or to answer—or to even approach. ¬†I wonder why everyone else I know is so much better at this. ¬†I feel confused—and lost—and like I have no idea what I am doing. ¬†I feel isolated—that our challenges are somehow different than everyone else so I am therefore unable to talk about them—or ask for help—or even ask for someone to listen. ¬†I am defeated.

And yet…

Some days are beautiful. ¬†They are filled with laughter—and hand-holding—and quiet snuggling—and inside jokes—and non-stop play. ¬†With moments where I stare at their beautiful faces and try as hard as I can to sear them into my memory—exactly as they are at this moment. ¬†Moments where I am asked a thousand questions and I try my best to answer them all while filled with awe of this intense hunt for knowledge and understanding. ¬†Moments where I observe kindness when they don’t even know I am watching. ¬†Days where I go to bed with a heart that is so painfully full of love I am not sure I will be able to sleep.

I am thankful that my beautiful days outnumber my broken ones. ¬†While I am not perfect I think it is important that I am able to recognize that and allow it to drive me towards being better. ¬†I am working SO hard at this and will not be stopping. ¬†I am a mom. ¬†A mom!!! ¬†To this day, almost 11 years after the birth of our daughter, that still amazes me!!! ¬†I am so in love with these kids—if I allow myself a moment to stop and just think about it for a minute I quickly become overwhelmed.

Today was a good day.

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