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”

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”

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”

The 5 Most Important Rules for Toddlers

Most Important Rules for Toddlers

1. Clothing is your greatest enemy.

Whatever you do – do not allow your parents to dress you! You must refuse and you must resist. Do not take this responsibility lightly. Your own body is your best defense: arch your back, flip over, and run away. Your teeth and fingernails are your weapons. Use them wisely and use them often. Continue reading “The 5 Most Important Rules for Toddlers”

A Judgmental Mother Visits McDonald’s

I used to be a very judgmental mother.

I was the perfect parent, except for one thing – I didn’t have any children yet. Well, I had one baby. One. He was a really easy baby. He smiled at everyone and was never grumpy, even when we changed his schedule. Looking back now, I realize that my life was pretty simple and I didn’t even know it. All I knew is that I was the mother of one easygoing baby and yet, I thought that I was an expert on all aspects of parenting. Continue reading “A Judgmental Mother Visits McDonald’s”

Three Terrible Days in Montreal

Recently our family took a trip to Montreal.

My husband and I thought it would be the perfect mini-vacation because it’s the closest city to where we live and even though it’s still cold outside, there is a lot to see and do. The highlight of the trip was supposed to be the Biodome, which is sort of like an indoor zoo.

The first problem occurred even before we left our house when I realized that my passport had expired a month ago. Everyone over the age of 16 needs a valid passport or enhanced driver’s license to get into Canada and back into the United States. Having an expired passport was really bad. It should have been an omen for what to expect from the rest of the trip. But we had already booked and paid to rent an Airbnb in Montreal. There was no changing the plans or cancelling. We would just have to drive up to the border and try our luck. Continue reading “Three Terrible Days in Montreal”

I Regret Telling My Child There Is No Easter Bunny

It’s not easy to admit you’ve made a mistake. As a parent, it’s even harder. What I did was wrong and I can’t even apologize to my son because I don’t want to remind him that for years, I told him that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real. I put my own ideals before the needs of my child. I strongly believe that lying to kids is wrong, but I let that get in the way of being a good mother. My little boy wanted to believe in magic. He wanted to be like the other kids and I didn’t allow that. Instead, I put myself first. Continue reading “I Regret Telling My Child There Is No Easter Bunny”

To the Woman Who Told My Son to Share

Perhaps you remember me and my son. I most certainly remember you. Remember how your son took something my kid was playing with and then you yelled at my kid that he needed to “share”?

Well, just in case, let me refresh your memory. Continue reading “To the Woman Who Told My Son to Share”