Tag Archives: writing

An exclusive club

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Oh, transcription for those who can’t make it out:
HAYDEN ONLY.
REBCCA ONLY TOO.
RACHEL ONLY TOO.
DADY ONLY TOO.
MOMY ONLY TOO.
HAYDEN’S ROOM ONLY.
.A.N.T. JASMINE TOO ONLY!
NANA AND RARA P POPO PO [Papa/Poppa]

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This one little thing

Every once in a while, I get fixated on this one little thing. It might be having my son participate in his preschool Christmas program, or my daughter take dance lessons (okay, that one hasn’t happened yet). I want my child to do this thing that really isn’t all that important in the long run, but for some reason it means something to me, like singing “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” in front of 75 strangers proves I’m raising a well-adjusted three-year-old.

Um, no?

Yes, it’s not asking much. But it seems like when I get so excited about these supposedly fun little things, they never go how I want.

The same thing seems to happen with little things that might not be so little—the small gestures I anticipate, like that first smile or first Mother’s day card will be the one little thing that convinces me this motherhood thing is worth it, that I’m not driving myself nuts watching Curious George and teaching the alphabet and trying to get! them! to! share! completely in vain.

Those are the little things that are really dangerous, because I can become so fixated on them that they become the reason for motherhood itself. And when they don’t come—and it seems like they never do—I’m so ready to give up. “All I wanted,” I want to scream at the heavens, “was this one stupid little thing. This one gesture to tell me I’m doing the right thing—one tiny tender mercy. Why are you withholding it from me?”

I’ve gotten better about these little things, but sometimes they sneak up on me. Hayden was “keeping a secret” about his Mother’s day gift at school (not really at all): a book he was writing for me. (It’s his second. He’s pretty prolific; he gets it from me. 😉 ) It was supposed to be a book about how great I am.

I knew better than to get my hopes up. I mean, the child is six. For Christmas, he got me an airhorn at the dollar store, an “attention-er,” he called it. I’ve never received a gift that filled me with so much guilt: my first thought was that he was under the impression that I yelled all the time and needed the help. (Ryan set me straight: he was five. He thought it would be fun. Therefore, he reasoned, I must have thought it would be fun. Child logic.)

Still, Hayden was very excited about his book. A few days before Mother’s day, I arrived to pick him up, and he was distraught. “The wind blew your book away!” he pouted. And it had, the staff verified: this four page book he’d spent all week on had been taken by the (surprisingly stiff) wind.

I was not going to accept this! We marched four blocks, scouring in yards and under cars, looking for that book. And I’ll admit it, my mind really wanted to go to that “Why are you taking this one stupid little thing from me?” place. That “Why can’t I get the smallest vote of ‘thanks, Mom, nice job’?” place. That “Do you not care?” place.

The search seemed to mollify Hayden, at least—my biggest concern at the time (yes, it was). He told me what the book said (I’m a great cook and I give him hugs), and said he’d make another at school the next day.

After we’d been home for a while, I remembered his teacher was sending home a certificate for some award he’d earned. I didn’t know what it was, exactly, so I was pretty surprised to find the president’s signature on the certificate:

As proud and as happy as that made me, though, it paled in comparison to the other homework he brought home:

Yep.

It’s not about these little things. It’s about the sentiment behind them. And that will be there whether I get the book or the air horn or nothing at all.

How have you found fulfillment this week?

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Hayden’s a ham

Hayden should start working on his stand up routine. This is from the last week:

“I’m a fan of Phineas and Ferb. I have been since I was born.”

Discussing weather appropriate attire: . . . “Short sleeves, which I’m wearing, and short pants, which I’m not wearing. . . .”

“I’m a fan of monkeys.”

“Why do you always have to go putting the brakes on my fun?”

But I don’t find this funny at all—I find it adorable:

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Living your dreams now

Maybe I just follow too many fans of the Catholic Register (or just Jen at Conversion Diary), but I’ve heard such good things about Simcha Fisher (Sigh.) I’m a big fan of Jennifer Fulwiler, author of Conversion Diary and a column at the Catholic Register, but it took my dad sending me this link to read her article “The Time to Thrive Is Now“:

Certainly the “trenches” of motherhood are a time of sacrifice, and a woman in that phase of life can drive both herself and her family crazy by trying to have the same lifestyle as her neighbor whose youngest child is 12. It would be hard for, say, a mom with a baby and a toddler to do everything on the list above. But I think we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, and in many cases the message has morphed from “you shouldn’t try to do too much when you have young children,” to “you shouldn’t try to do anything when you have young children.” And I think that that’s a problem.

It’s definitely true that raising children is a bit time consuming 😉 . But I think Simcha is right—there perception in popular culture has shifted from “time consuming” to “all consuming.”

I am a mother. 24/7, always on call, never get a vacation mom.

But while my children are so much of my life—figurative and literally—I am still a person. I have three small kids, but I can do more than just change diapers, ready preschool books and sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” (It’s a fave.)

I have dreams—the big one of writing, of course. In the last four and a half years, I’ve written seven novels (hoping to make that eight soon). While having one two three kids at home full time or nearly so. Some of my dreams will have to wait until my children are older—but my whole life doesn’t have to wait.

What are you doing to capture your dreams today?

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Dreaming away today

In case you missed it, I’m a writer. (Shameless plug: I can now say “my book is coming out next year”!) So I was instantly drawn to a guest post by a fellow forthcoming-in-2013 author on the Power of Moms yesterday. I was so drawn to it, in fact, that I tracked down the author’s blog and discovered that we’ll be sharing a publisher (awesome!).

But even more awesome was her essay. I have been thinking about this very topic a lot. As a writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about imaginary people with imaginary problems who live their imaginary lives all in my head. Yes, it does get crowded. So crowded that I spend a good deal of time thinking about what I need to do for this story, how I’ll plot out that story, how I’ll edit another story—even when I have three flesh-and-blood (albeit quite small) people right here in front of me. Shouting at me. Tugging on me. They’re hard to forget, and yet somehow, sometimes, I do.

One of the things that astounded me as a new mother was how much my baby could need me. And he wasn’t one of those children who instantly quiets in the arms of his mother. (The opposite: he was pretty quiet in general, unless he was starving, and getting near his mommy at those times meant he was going to eat soon, SO HURRY IT UP!!)

Somehow, this little lump of a human, less expressive than our house cat, needed me all the time. For eating ever 90 minutes, yes, but somehow even then, I felt the emotional draw of his utter dependence.

My children aren’t quite so dependent on me these days—they’ve discovered the refrigerator—but still, the one thing they need the most from me isn’t games or toys or food or stimulation. What they need most from me . . . is me.

So one of the things I’m going to try to focus on this year is being more mindful of the present. We spend so much of our lives filtering our existence. I want to look up from my camera and my computer and into the eyes of my children. I might even get off the couch.

And hopefully, I’ll be able to come to the same conclusion as Jenny has:

Often days, even weeks, go by without writing a single word. Days that are full of not just the routine maintenance and care of a home and family, but with homework helping, piano teaching, baby building, book reading, game playing, story listening and many other rich and rewarding things that I’m simply not willing to give up. I will not give them up because I want to be present in my children’s lives; and because I know that in the grand scheme of things, my children, not the number of books I’ve published, will be my greatest prize.

This raising of a family is God’s work. I know this. I feel it in my heart, in my bones, and even in the very words that I write. I do not think it coincidental that those moments that have brought me closest to God are moments I’ve experienced as a mother. Writing is rewarding in its own right, but mothering? Mothering is sanctifying.

Amen.

How do you focus on the present? (Or how do you dream and wish your life away?)

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Hayden’s writing, too!

Hayden isn’t just reading—he’s writing, too. He was rambling about putting a period at the end of a sentence, and I stopped him long enough to understand that he knows what a period is.

Then I found this in his backpack: illustrated and written by Hayden himself.

It says “I ate spagetti.” AKA “I a A.” Note the table, plate, and fork in the picture.

So I promptly sat him down at the table and had him write a sentence, using two sight words, a word from a story we’d read that afternoon, and a word he could sound out.

Then we sounded out/practiced his full name on the back and left the note for Dad on his pillow. He was pretty pleased (and surprised!) to get it.

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