Month: October 2015

The Story

Once upon a time, I was on TV.

tv1

I wore blazers over a myriad of colorful camisoles. Caked on foundation two shades too dark for my skin tone. Straightened and hairsprayed my highlighted should-length “anchor cut.” Five mornings a week, I clipped a mic onto my lapel, wiggled an earpiece into my left ear, and delivered the news from behind a sea of tungsten lights.

And I was good at it.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t destined for network news, but I enjoyed what I was doing and felt comfortable doing it. Even though it was barely 6am (and I’m decidedly not a morning person), when the camera’s little red light blinked to life, I came alive, too. Covering the news from the anchor desk and out in the field as a reporter was different every day. It was fast-paced. It was fun. There’s something endlessly fascinating about telling people’s stories, and at its heart, that’s what journalism is really about.

But, when my husband and I had our first baby, I signed off the airwaves for good. Motherhood was a job I felt deeply called to do, and I took on the assignment of my life without looking back.

Today, I enjoy what I’m doing–and I think I’m pretty good at it most days.

Motherhood is different every day. It’s fast-paced. Fun. Endlessly fascinating.

Come to think of it, parenting is a lot like TV, but on this side of the desk, I’m doing more than telling a story–I’m creating one with my husband, our children, and the family and friends woven into the story our life.

Motherhood is about creating your family's story

This is a place for that story–the good, the bad, the triumphs, and the trials–to be shared.

Thanks for tuning in.

The Target Sorority

Early mornings at Target are reserved for mothers with small children. It’s our store, don’t bother us.

It’s 9AM, and I spot a friend I haven’t seen in awhile in the Target parking lot. She’s alone, lifting an unwieldy carseat from her cart into an empty SUV, her two older kids deposited at school half an hour earlier. We say hello and spend a few minutes exclaiming over her one-week-old daughter, how much hair, what long eyelashes, how much she looks like her sisters. We talk about breastfeeding, how no one is getting any quality sleep, and laugh a little too forcefully. Wishing her luck, I take her discarded cart and head inside.

Thank you, The One Spot, for your just-inside-the-doors placement that guarantees my preschooler NEEDS to immediately stop and shop there.

My son instantly asks for a toy (darn you, “The One Spot” and your strategic entryway placement!). My toddler stiffens her legs in protest as I try to wrestle her into the unthinkable prison of a child seat. In an attempt to pacify both, I veer into the dollar section and hastily grab a book of miniature stickers, which they immediately demand to be opened. Sighing, I decide the prospect of a screaming 18-month-old and a whining four-year-old outweighs whatever fight there is in me to require waiting until we’ve actually paid for them. Seconds later, stickers dot the cart handle, my purse, our faces.

Recovering from a terrible morning in the comforting aisles of Target

For the moment, the kids are occupied and I take my attention off them for the first time since entering the store. Just ahead, I see another woman with a little boy crying in her cart, an infant strapped to her chest. She glances up as I pass by, and our eyes meet above his tear-streaked cheeks and my daughter’s stickered hair. We raise our eyebrows and give a tiny shrug, instant understanding passing between us. We don’t say a word—what is there to say?—we’re living the same life in the early morning aisles of Target.

Target: home. Indeed, it is.

Khaki- and red-clad employees straighten shelves and chat in the checkout lanes as they wait for business to pick up. The population here is dominated by others wearing an optional but just as obvious uniform. Yoga pants, ponytails, and yesterday’s makeup identify us as mothers just as much as the kids we corral—one, usually two, in varying states of dress and frown.

I bump into another friend near the baby section. Her baby, she sighs, is finally—mercifully—asleep. We just had to get out of the house, she explains, gesturing broadly to the cart in front of her that holds only her two children, despite the surrounding aisles of obvious necessities. It’s a glorified stroller on a morning like this, when sanity seems so fragile and the day already too long by breakfast. I nod reassuringly, recounting our own disastrous morning that included spilled milk, a forgotten backpack, and deep scowls all around. “Livin’ the dream!” I quip, as we share a tired chuckle and part ways, feeling strangely buoyed.

How dare you constrain me in this cart?

I love my kids, my husband, my life. But the women here well before lunchtime, whose dark-circled eyes match my own? These are my people. For a brief, glorious hour, we are rulers of our own fluorescent kingdom. We wander, sometimes completely aimlessly, through comfortable company that simply gets it.

I’m sure CEOs and managers and corporate headquarters think they own this place, but in these moments, this is our turf. We walk through the sliding doors, load our reluctant tagalongs into oversized red carts, pull wrinkled lists scrawled in crayon out of diaper bags that double as purses—and search for sanity amid diapers and detergent.

The carts were queued by the entrance with care, in hopes that frazzled mothers soon would be there.

What we don’t find is judgment. None of us will toss dirty looks at the three-year-old throwing a mammoth tantrum in the Lego aisle; he could just as easily belong to us (and maybe he does). We won’t shake our heads at the woman who wears no makeup, morning hair shoved haphazardly under a hat; we are her. Etched on our faces isn’t shame or embarrassment; it’s pride because we’re here. It’s understanding. It’s sisterhood. Motherhood is hard, but in spite of the difficult mornings, the restless infants, the elusive showers, we’re here—and that’s worth celebrating.

A young worker, a college student, perhaps, greets me at the checkout with a slightly funny look. “Did you find everything you needed…?” she asks, her eyes not quite meeting mine. Suddenly, I remember: there’s a sticker that says “WOW” stuck to my cheek, gleefully placed aisles ago by a giggling toddler. I touch it with a smile, leave it right where it is, and tell her yes, I found exactly what I needed.

The Target sorority is worth all the stickers my toddler can stick on me

This post was originally published on Bison Booties 

To My Middle Child

from a mom to her middle child, a loving message about love and family

Back-to-school buzz is everywhere, isn’t it? I know you’ve noticed—you sat in the shopping cart while we picked out school supplies for your big sister, frowning over all the brand new pencils, notebooks, and markers (“Can I just have the orange one?”). You watched as we labeled and packed them up in her backpack, and dutifully tagged along as we dropped her off on her first day of first grade.

As the second born, it probably feels like you’re constantly playing second fiddle. Your sister is older, taller, more self-assured. When she does something big like heading off to school for the first time, your dad and I can get a little carried away because it’s a milestone we’ve never experienced as parents either.

But I want to remind you of something really, really important: your firsts matter just as much as hers.

Right now, you’re too young to grasp what it means to be the middle child, sandwiched between the pioneering oldest and the “awfercute” youngest. Believe me, I get it—I’m in the middle, too. People will tell you how lucky you are to be second, how you’ll benefit from having more experienced parents, skirt the coddling as the baby of the family. Well-meaning teachers will compare you to your older sister, say how much they loved having her in class, what a great student she was. Strangers will gush over your adorable little sister, exclaim how fun it must be to have her around to play with.

Sometimes, it will feel like it’s always about them, and never about you.

It’s not.

In a few days, you’ll start preschool. Your dad and I are veterans this time, of course, having sent your sister a few years ago into the very same room. We know the teachers, and they’ll remember your early morning perma-scowl (it’s why we enrolled you in the afternoon session, by the way). But what they don’t know, what your dad and I haven’t yet experienced, is you in this moment. Not your uncertain half smile as you pose outside the door for a ceremonial photo. Not your finger painted wobbly letters and gluey macaroni art. Not your puffed-out chest distributing cheese crackers as the designated “snackee” of the day. It’s all new to you, which will make it all new to us.

Because even though this path has been blazed by your older sister, you’re making it wider. You’re adding unexpected detours and giving us beautiful new views.

Before you were two years old, you talked in complete sentences. I remember us standing in line at a department store one day; we’d just dropped your sister off at school, and you started jabbering in your tiny toddler voice. A woman ahead of us glanced back, then did a quick double-take when she saw it was you doing the talking. “How old is he?” she asked, incredulous that such a small person could carry on such conversation. When I told her, she shook her head and smiled down at you. “What a smart boy you are, with so much to say!”

How right she was: you have much to contribute. You have stories to tell and pictures to paint of things we thought we’d already seen. From your spot in the middle, you’re discovering the joys of life in a new way—in your own way—and helping us discover them again, too.

And that, my child, is something only you can do.

This post was originally published on Bison Booties