How to Be Brave

Boy in red shirt
When my son, Wolfy was learning to walk, he would fall and then cry pitifully, reaching his arms out to be helped up.

 “Don’t go to him,” people said, “Don’t pick him up when he acts like that. He needs to learn.” 

He needs to learn what? That his mama won’t come to him when he’s hurting? That when he’s feeling uncertain and trying something new, he’s all on his own? Nope. No thank you. Those weren’t lessons that I was trying to teach. 

Instead I wanted my son to know that I am here for him, no matter what. That I’m not perfect but that I always try to do my best. So over and over again, I reached back and grabbed those little arms. I hugged the little person that changed from a squishy baby to a stout toddler and then the lean body of a young boy. I’ve kissed countless boo boos – both real and imagined. 

There is a sweetness to being so needed by my little boy but there’s a downside. 

Sometimes I get frustrated. Wolfy cries frequently over seemingly insignificant things. He can be whiny at times.  And now that he’s five years old, he’s reluctant to ride his bike and jump off the side of the pool. I began to question whether always comforting him was the best thing. Maybe I wasnt doing my son any favors. Maybe all the attention was turning him soft. 

Then I thought about my second child, my daughter Ada. She is a fearless, rough-and-tumble girl. At 2yo she’s already obsessed with super heroes and playing dinosaurs. The other day she fell off the chest-high stone wall at our house and popped right back up complaining that she had bitten her tongue. It was bleeding but my little girl shed no tears. Ada came into the world like this.  I didn’t teach her to be tough or fearless. She just is. 

And that made me realize that my other child…just isn’t. His nature is soft and sensitive. He gets easily hurt and that’s okay. 

Recently Wolfy has become obsessed with the Magic School Bus television show. The other day at the breakfast he randomly told me, “Arnold is my favorite character because he’s so brave.” 

“What makes Arnold brave?” I asked. 

“He’s always scared to do something but then he does it anyway.” 

I told my son, you’re brave like that too. Being brave doesn’t mean being fearless. It means conquering your fears. 

I know that in Wolfy’s life, many things will scare him. But that is just more opportunities for him to be brave. And my job is to support him. And kiss his boo-boos sometimes too. 

She Is Perfection


She is perfection. 

A real life sleeping beauty. From the curve of her mouth to the wisps of hair lying across her cheeks. Her smooth skin unblemished by the hardships of the world. 
Sometimes I try to view the world through her eyes. Remarkable and immense. There is so much she doesn’t know. And yet she astonishes me with her ability to grasp the nuances of human interaction. The way her voice can suddenly shift and take on the cadence of someone much older than her two years. Where did she learn that? Is she imitating me? Someone else? Or is this something she has come to all on her own and much too quickly. 

She is perfection. 

Her short hair in ponytails. Wearing two kinds of mismatched polka dots. I pretty, Mommy. Yes. Yes, you are sweetheart. You are the most beautiful girl. And I hope she always know that. But someday she won’t and she won’t believe me when I remind her. Never mind. I don’t want to think about that now. I just want to watch the way my girl dances whenever she hears music. Spinning in circles. Arms flailing. So pleased with herself because when she jumps, both feet come up off the ground. 

She is perfection. 

Toddling down the long hallway of a hotel, the pink tutu of her bathing suit swaying back and forth with her clumsy gait. She is running as fast as her small, chubby legs will carry her. She is trying to catch up with her older brother and even though that’s impossible. Even though she will never be as fast as him, she shrieks with delight. And I just want to freeze time. Freeze the moment so that I can always go back and visit this child of mine. This girl who is ready to take on the world. 

She is perfection. 

I Divorced My Cat

fluffy cat

It was love at first sight.

I was scrolling through Facebook when I stumbled upon a photograph of kittens, so young their eyes weren’t even open yet. “I neeeeeeed one of those!” I commented. And I did. Six months earlier, our beloved orange tabby cat had been eaten by a wild animal. I missed her. I missed living with a cat. Also, mice were invading our farmhouse.

A few weeks later, we brought home one of the kittens from the photo, a fluffy gray tabby with big blue-ish eyes. Our three-year-old son named the tiny ball of fur, Runaway. Continue reading “I Divorced My Cat”

7 Weird Things All First-Time Moms Worry About

Being a first-time mom was the hardest transition I’ve ever made.

It was harder than going to college, harder than getting married, harder than buying a house. After my son was born, I think I went a little Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs for a little while there. Maybe I am still crazy. Maybe this is just who I am now.

I’ve always been worrywart, but becoming a mother put all of my neurosis into overdrive. So if as a new mother, you find yourself having a meltdown over which diaper cream to buy or wondering why your baby makes so much noise while they are supposedly sleeping, don’t worry. You’re in good company. Okay, well you might not be in good company but at least you’re not alone. Continue reading “7 Weird Things All First-Time Moms Worry About”

How Santa Started Visiting Our House

santa bear

When I became a mother, I never wanted to pretend to be Santa Claus.

I didn’t want to participate in the big lie. Instead of magic, I thought the Santa myth was a bunch of overrated bologna. It didn’t make sense to me to buy presents for my kids and then pretend that some fictional character had actually given those gifts. I didn’t want to put my kids on a stranger man’s lap. And I never wanted to convince them that someone would sneak into our house at night while we were sleeping and knew if they had been naughty or nice. The whole pseudo-omniscience thing just really didn’t sit well with me.

I didn’t want anything to do with Santa. Or his sleigh. Or his reindeer. Or any of it. But it turned out, this whole Santa thing actually had very little to do with me.  Continue reading “How Santa Started Visiting Our House”

Moana: An Authentic Role Model for Our Daughters

Did you know that some people are very angry about Disney’s new movie, Moana?

They are arguing that the main character, Moana, is a bad example for young girls because she is more “realistically bodied” than previous Disney princesses. Instead of an exploding bust and itty-bitty waist, Moana looks more like a regular girl.

In one article, Moana was called obese and said to promote bad eating habits. A woman wrote this. A woman. If she looks at Moana’s flat chest and slender hips and thinks “obese”, I don’t even want to know what that woman considers skinny. All the girl does is eat bananas, coconuts, and fish while she’s swinging around on a tiny boat and battling evil monsters!

But seriously, words matter. And when we judge woman, even animated women, by their bodies, our children are listening.

Moana is healthy. She is athletic. And she is strong.

I was raised watching movies of featuring princesses who’s ultimate goal was to find true love. That’s it. Find true love and…the end. Moana isn’t looking for love. She’s trying to save her people. In an age when children’s toys and media are becoming increasingly sexualized and unrealistic, it’s refreshing that Disney is bucking the trend. Moana joins company with other strong female characters like Mulan and Elsa. And that is something to celebrate.

I’m not raising my daughter to be a princess and finding true love is most certainly not going to be the end of her story. She might grow up to be a doctor, a teacher, a wife, a mother, or who knows what. I’m focusing on raising a person that is brave, strong, confident, and kind. Finally our daughters have role models that portray these characteristics.

So instead of bashing these princesses not being skinny enough or being too headstrong, we should hold them up and raise our daughters up along with them.

Why I’m Open About My Son’s Speech Therapy

chalk-1551565_1920

At my son’s three year check-up, our pediatrician pointed to a picture in a book: “What color is this bird?”

“Boo,” my son, Wolfy, whispered. The bird was blue.

The doctor turned the page. “And what color is this bird?” he asked, pointing to a yellow bird.

“Leh-woe,” my son whispered. My son was speaking so softly that I’m not even sure the doctor knew he had answered the question. Continue reading “Why I’m Open About My Son’s Speech Therapy”

8 Reasons Raising Children in a Small Town is Awesome

raising children small town

Raising children in a small town can be challenging.

There aren’t zoos or museums or giant parks or festivals. Our town doesn’t even have its own playground. Often I am asked why I live here and why we choose to raise our children here. People tell me, “I would go crazy if I were you.” Continue reading “8 Reasons Raising Children in a Small Town is Awesome”

19 Summer Memories to Share with Your Kids

Remember summertime when you were a child? Do you remember the little things like the magic of letting a caterpillar crawl across your hand? Or how startling it was to be woken up by a thunderstorm?

rainboots and umbrella

It’s time to share some of those summer memories with your own kid. Go ahead, get nostalgic.

Continue reading “19 Summer Memories to Share with Your Kids”