Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Your Shadow

Tonight, after he had fallen asleep,
While we were having our,
Much needed,
One-on-one time,
I stepped out to grab you a blanket.
I reentered to find you staring,
In utter joy,
At his little face.
What are you doing? I asked.
Your words came from
Your soul space.

I know it's not always easy,
Being the older brother.
I know having a shadow,
A copycat, an idolater,
Is a rough business.
But, my sweet boy,
It won't always be like this.

He won't always be at your heels.
You won't always be the one
To make up your collective mind,
To be the one to help him,
To set the example
In the not too distant future
He will make his own footprints,
Without having to step in yours.
You will turn around and see,
Not him, but the space he once occupied.
He will have gone his own way.
Made his own friends,
Made his own mind,
Helped his own self,
Set his own example.

It's a difficult season.
Fair warning, it will
Get harder before
It gets easier.
But it will get easier.
And you will,
Although hard to imagine now,
Miss this time.
Just as I will miss this time.
So, too, will you miss
Your shadow.

He will always be your little.
You will always be his big.
You have each other in your keepings.
You will go through it all,
You are siblings. Brothers.
Made of, literally
(Yes, in the literal sense of the word),
The same stuff.
What holds you together
Is blood. But it's also bond.
I see it already. It's there
Bubbling beneath the surface
Of frustration,
Of a need for space,
Of endless negotiations,
I see bond.
I see joy.
I see love.

What are you doing? I asked.
Just looking. You said.
He is so beautiful. 
I will never not love him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


My dearest BC,

My, how far we've come in 6 years. You're you and I'm me and we are figuring out this big, wide world together. I am trying, really trying, to be the best me I can, for the sake of you. And for your brother. Thank you for your generosity of spirit. And for reminding me to put those red rubber bands around my wrist.

"Did I ever tell you how much I love you?"

Yes. Yes, I have. And I do. A lot.

You sigh. "More than you can every say," you say.

"That's right," I say, "more than I can ever say."

Thank you for continuing to allow me to see your heart.

"Mama, I when I saw AL start to cry I just... I couldn't stand it. I helped him fix his Legos."

Thank you for keeping me laughing and, simultaneously, in awe with your wit.

"Are you ready for bed?"

"Not yet!"

"Why? What do you need to do?"

"Mama, don't ask the question if you don't want the answer."

When I told you about how inside a mother's brain are actual cells of her children, and how scientists aren't really sure why, you told me you didn't like to think about that gooey stuff but that you were glad I'd always be able to know you.

I will. Always.

Six years seems like an impossibility. Didn't we just meet? Wasn't I just feeling your dimpled hands, and sausage toes? Weren't we just beginning to figure out how to be in this new life, this new world, this holy relationship together? Now it's six years gone and, although your fingers are no longer dimpled, and your toes are no longer sausages, we are still figuring it all out. We are still meeting, as I suspect we will forever be. But I will always be able to know you. Always.

Happy Birthday, Sprout.


Friday, January 5, 2018


"The days are long but the years are short."

It's a new year. A new day. A new opportunity to shape these lives I get to hold as my children. It has been a frigid week here in New England (and, I gather, in many other places) and so we've spent a good deal of time indoors, much to all our chagrins. I'm trying to cut back on my toddler's nursing sessions for personal reasons. My husband has been working late in order to finish a side project with a looming deadline. These have been some long days. I'm not complaining. I'm stating. 

My children are 5, and 2. In truth, my oldest is closer to 6 than he is to 5. When I think about that, I mean really think about it, all I can do is shake my head. How? I wonder. It was yesterday that he was a babe in arms. It was. And it was a minute ago my now 2 year old boy wonder was a babe. And then I blink. And then I think. And then I look at them and swallow the lump in my throat (except when I don't and choose, instead, to let the lump rise to the corners of my eyes in liquid form). And then I breathe and smell the tops of their heads. And I play indoor soccer, and Batman and Robin of Batman, and shop, and I read books, and help with spelling out the words for the sign he's making for his new business, and help with figuring out scissors in his little hand, and blast the music for a dance party, and make spinach pudding for lunch and that's all, and stop short of losing my mind over toys on the floor and instead proclaim a race to pick up and put away and the one with the most things put away wins (and it works), and I scramble to think of what the prize will be, and I realize the only prize they want is a big "Yay!" from me, and okay, maybe an even bigger hug, and... The days are long. But the years are short. This chaotic, messy, sticky, loud, sweet, important time with them is going by so very fast. And, man, am I going to miss it. 


Monday, December 4, 2017

The One With The Hair

To my sweet boy,

You are two, TWO, today. You, son, are a bubbling ball of emotion. You are the epitome of happy-go-lucky, or emotional hurricane, depending on the moment. I'd say 87% of the time you're the prior, which makes life with you pretty grand. When I ask you, "Do you know how much I love you?" Your response, always the same, is "big." So big, my son. So big. Bigger than big. Bigger than this world can hold. 

You have the language and conversational skills of someone at least 12 months your senior (sometimes more), which makes the days with you fly by. You are the sweetest one, the fiercest one, the one who loves your brother more than "big", the one who will take every opportunity to hammer something, the one to make up songs about everything and nothing on the fly, the one to take every parental warning of a hazard as an invitation to try it, and the one to never miss a moment of watching and learning. And, oh my, you are the one with the hair. 

My wish for you this coming year is to keep on being you, to keep on singing those songs, hammering those bumps, watching and learning from those moments, and, even though it will mean more gray hairs for me, trying out those hazards. Be free. I sure do love being your Mama.

Happy Birthday.


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Rest of My Days

I'm not sure why 5 feels like such a milestone, but it does. Five years you've been earth-side. I look at you and see, suddenly, not a little child, but a kid. A five-year-old. You are strong of will and spirit, which challenges me daily, but makes me oh so proud of you. You are sweetness and sharpness all mingled together. Your sense of humor and gift for the nuance of language astound me. You, as your Grandmama would say, miss nothing. I am still learning all the wonder that is you. I get tripped up often. I misread your subtleties, misstep while guiding, and mistake your lack of years for lack of understanding (despite my best efforts). But I am grateful to be your Mama. My gratitude begins and ends with you and your brother. And so it will for all the rest of my days. Happy birthday, Sprout.


Sunday, March 19, 2017


I wanted to get the boys Easter baskets this year that would be ones we'd reuse year after year, like my Mama did for me and my brothers. The past 4 years I've just used whatever I could find: a wooden box, a plain "regular" basket, one year a sand bucket. But this year I was determined to find their "every year" basket for their Easter morning treasures. Then last week I saw online that a shop in-town was selling handmade fabric bins for Easter baskets. Proceeds from the sale would go to support a local mother who was battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Sold. I packed the boys into the car and we headed out.

As we were driving to buy the bins/baskets, I told BC where we were going.

"I need to go get your Easter baskets."
"Mama, you don't need to, you want to."

(Had he been paying attention, or what?)

"You're right. It is a want, not a need."
"Can't we just use our Halloween buckets?"
"We could. But the baskets I'm buying today have a special purpose."
"What special purpose?"
"Well, the money the shop raises from selling these baskets is going to help a woman, a mom, who is really sick. Because she's so sick, she can't work a job to make money. Also, she has a lot of medical expenses because she has to go to the doctor a lot."
"So I don't need to buy these particular Easter baskets, but doing so will help this mom."
"Mama, is my bank still in the car? Because I want to give my money to help that mom and her medical expenses."

While choking back tears I asked him if he was sure. "Really sure?" He was. He wanted to carry his bank in himself. He told the woman at the counter why he was there (I expanded/clarified). We got our baskets, she got a bowl. He dumped the contents of his bank into the bowl. I looked at him and could see his mixed emotions.

"Are you okay, buddy?"
"Yeah. It's just a a little hard seeing all my hard-earned money going away."

I waited.

"But I've decided. I'm doing it."

And that was that. My not-even-5-year-old donated his "hard-earned" money to a stranger, because he felt empathetically compelled.

So much of parenting is worry. Worrying about how best to bring up these small humans we are helping to shape. Worrying about whether or not someone like me should even be entrusted to shape a dog, let alone a human. Worrying about the thousands of little decisions that must be made on a daily basis. Worrying about the big decisions. Worrying about worrying too much, and worrying about not worrying enough. But in that moment I felt all that worry melt away. I knew that I must be doing something right. Not that the moment was about me. It wasn't. At all. It was about my wonderful, sweet, caring, big-hearted son, who in that moment worried about a woman he'd never even met.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Not While I'm Around

Nothing's gonna harm you
Not while I'm around
Nothing's gonna harm you
No sir, not while I'm around
Demons are prowling everywhere nowadays
I'll send them howling, I don't care, I've got ways
No one's gonna hurt you
No one's gonna dare
Others can desert you
Not to worry, whistle I'll be there
Demons'll charm you with a smile for a while
But in time
Nothing can harm you, not while I'm around
Being close and being clever
Ain't like being true
I don't need to, I would never 
Hide a thing from you
Like some
No one's gonna hurt you
No one's gonna dare
Others can desert you
Not a worry, whistle I'll be there
Demons'll charm you with a smile for awhile
But in time
Nothing can harm you
Not while I'm around
-S. Sondheim

It is next to impossible for me to fully understand, let alone explain, the depth of my sadness for this country right now. In what will surely go down as the strangest inauguration day in U.S. history, I am gut-wrenched at the thought of the term that is to follow. And the unsettling juxtaposition of the same week ending with this day that started on the day we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. cannot, for me, be understated. 

My oldest son and I had talked a lot about Dr. King and the importance of the third Monday in January recently. During those conversations I tried, deliberately, to keep the discussion relevant to today, instead of making it a "back in the day" topic. I was not always successful in doing so, however. Once, when I was attempting to explain again why some people don't believe in equality for all, my son asked me, "Mama, do we still have people like that?" I paused. "Yes," I said. "We just elected one of them president." Now, I didn't elect him president. A majority of voters didn't even elect him president. But I thought the electoral college was too off-topic and a bit much for my son at that moment. He is, after all, only four-and-a-half. 

I did not cast my vote for that man. Never. But I do have acquaintances and even family members who did. They cast a vote for a man who is an adversary to anyone who isn't a rich, white, male (I was going to make a list of those to whom he has shown to be an adversary to, but it's a long list). And that is over-stating it, because even if you are rich, white, and male, you still cannot be someone who disagrees with him. Anyone who disagrees with him is wrong, or stupid, or worse. And I know people who voted for him! And, yes, "your vote, your choice" and all of that. Except now I have to explain to my children why, in 2017 in The United States of America, we have a Commander in Chief who has been an outright asshole to, not just the marginalized, but anyone who doesn't agree with him. Like a toddler. Or a spoiled brat. Or a dictator.

I am at a loss. A loss for words, a loss for joy, a loss for hope. I so badly want to be one of those people who is rolling up her metaphorical sleeves to #nevernormalize and to fight like hell for the next two and four years (please, god, let's not even think of eight...). But I am at a loss. The only thing I can do is hold onto my children extra tight and fill them with all the love and security and hope and joy I am struggling to find for myself right now. I need them to know they are safe with me. They are my Reason. They are why I must, once my voice returns, speak of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Stonewall, and the NWSA, and the ADA, and BLM, and on and on. Because one day, when my son asks me if we still have people here in the Land of the Free who do not believe that all people are free, I want to be able to say, "Yes, but not for long."