Because life
never stops teaching.

Journaling for awareness. Growing for life.
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 I had my engagement ring cleaned recently. There seemed to be some residual play dough and lotion stuck in between the prongs. The jeweler was sweet, complimenting the setting and asking about how my husband had proposed sixteen years ago. She casually noticed a little flaw in the diamond and told me that if I ever intended to replace it, they could fit a new diamond into my existing setting. I smiled politely and bit back the urge to explain why that wouldn’t be necessary. My husband bought my ring at age twenty-three with his savings, and I couldn’t imagine ever replacing it. The moment felt similar to the time I had walked into the dermatologist for some hydrating cream and walked out with a recommendation for laser treatment. (Sigh.) I know everyone loves a good upgrade, but wouldn’t it be nice to find happiness in what already is without the ongoing scramble for perfection?

Forgive the symbolism, but in a way, I am my ring. Solid, pretty sparkly, a show of love, and… imperfect. If I were to go for every upgrade, I’d be living a stressful life, one set up for disappointment. My problem is that I have a tendency toward behaving like a human doing instead of a human being. I have a busy mind, I like to get things done, and for better or worse, I put my heart into everything—no half-assing over here. So it would be very easy for me to get on the perfectionism highway if I didn’t have a firm grip on my own compass. The reason I took up meditation was because I needed to make myself sit still and breathe, to appreciate a moment before anticipating the next moment. But it is difficult to be present and not try to improve upon every little thing, when the world is screaming, you should be doing better; you should be doing more!

I am amazed everyday by what people can accomplish. Professional business cards now done multi-hyphenates such as CEO – Interior Designer – Spin Instructor, or Sales Associate – Business Coach – Personal Closet Organizer. Parents balance careers and managing a household with PTA meetings, private lessons, game schedules, and talent show bake sales. (And I’m running around somewhere in there, in awe of the energy, creativity, and commitment of my peers.) I am so grateful for the hard work of my community, of my friends and family. But I’m okay if everyone takes one “should” off the to-do list—something that doesn’t bring them more alive or more at peace. There are so many things to strive for, beautiful things, and what if we made one of those things taking time to hold a mug of tea, to hold a child, to walk with someone in need of a friend, to laugh at our imperfections, and strive simply to be sparkling symbols of love. We work so hard, but do we notice what is at work? We strive to be balanced, but do we feel a sense of balance? We want to be accomplished, but are we accomplishing what really matters? We aim for radical self-care, to stay healthy, young and beautiful, but do we recognize the real beauty in our lives? And when the flaws become apparent, do we go for a trade-in, hoping it will be a better version? Or do we deepen in awareness and in affection for what we have, flaws and all?

Let me digress for just a minute. My son, six years old, is a little artist. He goes through phases with his art, often drawing a series of pictures related to one topic. I have collected six weeks of skyscrapers, four weeks of ships, and now we are on to sea creatures. This afternoon, while I drew a green fish, he worked meticulously on a blue whale. It had all the important details, but he couldn’t get the shape of the tale to match the image in his mind. This was frustrating for him. We talked about artists’ interpretation—how it doesn’t need to be exact—but he erased and drew, erased and drew. Finally it was good enough and he decided to color it in, but in the process he got a spot of orange where it didn’t belong. At that point, he was ready to throw the drawing away. It just wasn’t what he’d hoped it would be. I convinced him to let me hang the whale in the kitchen, but I noticed how he would look away from it when he passed through.

I thought to myself, it’s terrific that he wants to be great at something he loves to do, but what is that tipping point into taking it too far? Is it relative to when the inner critic takes over? Is it when we develop the need to be more than we are… to be perfect? And just what makes a flaw, a flaw?

I went back to the art table where my fish was laying among scattered pencils and markers, and I drew a bright orange mark on his back. Then I hung it on the wall next to my son’s colorful whale with the orange spot. When he noticed it, he said, “It has an orange dot, Mama.” “I know,” I said, “It’s my favorite part.” He smiled up at me. A few moments later, he was back at the table making a whole school of fish and whales with orange dots. His drawing’s flaw was no longer a flaw, his problem was no longer a problem; the orange dots became one of the most creative parts of his day.

This little moment with my kiddo is one I hope to learn from myself. I suppose the trick to warding off our cultural tendency towards perfection, is to celebrate the process, not just the outcome. And then to accept the outcome as a part of an even bigger process—growth that never ends. The roads we’ve tread, the lives we’ve touched, the story we’re writing as we step into one thing, and then the next, is a story to celebrate. Even the miss-steps. Because they set us on colorful new paths. The mistakes become beautiful. The spots on what we create remind us to think outside the box and carve new adventures. (And the spots on our faces can remind us of sunshine—they don’t all need to be lasered. Yes?!) The joy is in the journey, in the expression, in finding solutions to the challenges, and in embracing new perspectives!

We will never be everything until we can really be something—until we can be who we are. Not like all the others, but spotted with creative difference. I believe I’ve earned every nick, every wrinkle… and I am still enough. So I will not be upgrading my diamond. You see, that little flaw is my favorite part!

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Darling,

Each day that I drop you off at school, I say to you cheerfully, “Go learn something and have some fun.” And everyday when I pick you up, I look at you to check and see if your heart is okay. This week you came home one day with heavy steps and slumped shoulders. You said you were fine. You weren’t ready to talk. Later at home when the tears collected and brought out the green in your eyes, my heart whispered to yours, don’t swallow them back; let them fall. You’ve been through some bumps before, but this was new. This was bigger. You told me what happened, expressed feelings of pain and sadness, and I knew this would be a moment that you would always remember. It is a moment that I will always remember too. You see, my darling, I may have given birth to you, but you continue to give birth to aspects of me. And this week the Mother Warrior was born. I have always fought for you—I was a fighter getting you into the world; I have been a hero for your health and safety and a liberator for your feelings and ideas—but I now find myself called into a profound new position. I will be the warrior for your heart.

I know I cannot hover above you, propellers spinning, and shield you from all pain. Nor can I just sit back each day and watch you march off into the glorious battle of growing up. So I will put on a suit of armor glitter-glued together from every gift of kindness you’ve ever given me—popsicle sticks and feathers and love—and I will fight for kindness in your world. There will be days when I will want to bundle your joyful spirit in bubble wrap, but I know I cannot. Instead I will draw from every experience of heartache that I’ve had—every time I was pushed down, left behind, treated unfairly, emotionally bruised or beaten—and they will become bandages in my pack, saturated with understanding. When you fall down, I will wrap your pain in loving awareness. I will listen to you and help you turn your pain into wisdom. I will celebrate your incredible compassion and forgiveness, your power to heal yourself, as you too grow wildly into experience. I will be a warrior for your heart.

You are strong. You will weather many storms on your own. Still there will be days when I will want to run like a banshee into the streets, screaming, “Do not hurt my child.” Some days, I might have to. But my greatest defense will be gentle and will come from a treasure trove deeper than any hope chest, where I’ve stored every kiss you’ve ever given me, every I love you, your every spark of light and bounce of joy. And I will reach in and grab hold, and with my bow, I will sail your light across the sky like fire. I will reflect the light you have given me right back to you, and I will help you find your way by reminding you of who you are. I will whisper to you softly (and sometimes shout across a great distance), “You are precious!” I will remind you that you deserve love. I will be a warrior for your heart.

You may remember this week for a long time to come. But please also remember this: I may have wrapped my arms around you, but it was your own inner strength that returned your laughter. I may have sent a flair of light up into the sky and demanded kindness from your world, but it was your own light, and it guided you back onto your path. You are strong, my darling. And you will never be alone. I will wear my beautiful, glittery armor proudly, because it is you who gave it to me—my reminder that one can only fight for kindness and beauty in this world with kindness and inner beauty. I will carry my pack filled with bandages of understanding and pints of ice cream, and no pain will go unattended. Nothing will bring me greater joy, because you are my heart. And I will be a warrior for yours.

Love,

Mom

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I had a dream that I was a bear. I often have vivid dreams, but I’d never experienced myself as an animal before. I was running from hunters in a wooded camping site—scaring everyone with my bear-ness. I saw my husband Kevin (still human), and he said, “Get behind me and I’ll hide you.” I tried to make myself small behind him, but the hunters saw me and chased me further into the woods. Again I saw Kevin, and he said, “Get behind me.” It felt hopeless; it would never work. But then I saw my grandmother—my beloved grandmother who’s been dead for two years—and she said, “Chris, get behind us both.” And with that she linked arms with Kevin and they made a protective barrier that I could hide behind. The hunters did not see me. I woke moments later, very happy not to be a bear.

The dream stayed with me for a few days. I decided it made sense that my husband, my protector, and my grandmother, my angel, would be the ones to keep me from harm. But then a wise friend reminded me that the people in our dreams all represent an aspect of the self. And I began to wonder if there was something more to consider. Was there a quality within Kevin and within my Grandmother that I needed to own in myself in order to feel safe, not hunted? I chewed on that one for a while.

Kevin and I have been married fifteen years now, and I’ve been reflecting on that journey quite a lot this month. It still blows my mind that at such a young age I found a man that I could be compatible with for the long haul. Of course, as with most couples, it took us a little dancing before we found a steady groove. In the first month of marriage, I came home from work one day, ran to jump into Kevin’s arms, accidently kneed him in the crotch, and got dropped on my tailbone. Painful. Metaphoric. We knew we wanted to take a leap into love. We just hadn’t mastered the grace in which to connect.

We grew. Unevenly at times, but overall, more closely together. Perhaps the beauty in getting married young was that there were no great discussions of compromise. Neither of us had to ask the other to give something up. (There was no wagon wheel coffee table to try to put out to the trash.) We simply started from scratch. We had nothing to build on other than the things we loved and respected in each other—things we needed from each other in order to find balance. When one of us had a surplus of intensity, the other was overflowing with gentleness, and so on. And when we stumbled and felt deficient, there was the other to help us recall our strengths.

When I chose Kevin to co-author this life with me, I had no idea what our story would hold. In many ways it has already surpassed dreams, but it has also presented challenges we couldn’t have possibly anticipated. Those moments become some of the most important—the times that force us to deepen when we want to stay above the edge of change, that require us to stay strong when we want to fall apart. They are the times that invite us to connect with grace. They teach us who we are and just who we can be.

I have learned a lot about who I am and who I can be over the last fifteen years. I have grown wildly into awareness and grown madly more in love with life. I have recognized where I’ve fallen short and have put in work to become more balanced as a person. One quality that I have felt deficient in at times is a quality my husband has never seemed to have a shortage of: resilience. The definition I like for this word is from Webster: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc. Let’s just say that Kevin can bounce back to his original shape in no time at all. He brushes himself off and moves on. My grandmother also knew resilience; she weathered many storms in her life as a single mother. Perhaps she and Kevin are some of my greatest teachers of resilience. It seems perfect that they would have been the ones helping me in my dream—one male and one female (the anima and animus) collecting me into a state of consciousness, inviting me to step into my own great capacity for resilience. When I feel like a scared bear—strong in character, but perhaps a bit too vulnerable—I can draw from the strength of those who love me in order to find my own strength. The dream reminds me that in my marriage, I can stand in my own vulnerability and be invited to find the strength within that. And what a gift that is.

There are going to be bumps and bruised tailbones occasionally as we go along. But we continue to take great leaps, because the other has made it safe to do so. We continue to reach out and catch, because everyone feels like a scared bear at some point. We continue to deepen, reminding each other how beautifully resilient we are together. That is love. That is the grace. That is the story we can write with every day of our lives.

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In honor of Women’s Equality Day and the efforts still being made to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (92 years after it was written) to ensure that “liberty and justice for all” includes women in the US constitution, I want to congratulate the courageous, creative, brilliant women around the world who are shining the way toward true equality. But I also want to raise a difficult question: Why are women so hard on each other? We have a better chance of rising up from limitations, labels, abuse and inopportunity as a group, if we stop limiting each other, labeling each other, and keeping each other down.

I hear about real world “mean girls” way too much these days. Female bosses who don’t want to see other women rise to the top. Mothers who balance careers or volunteer work while criticizing other mothers for balancing life differently. Mothers putting down their daughters. Daughters disrespecting their mothers. Women speaking wounds, speaking insecurity, speaking jealousy or resentment—putting down other women in hopes that they’ll feel better about themselves. But it never works.

We have to work towards working together. We need to recognize the beauty in our sisters—in what is unique and powerful in each individual—and then hold them up for the world to see. We need to celebrate each other and begin speaking gratitude, honor, tolerance and real equality. Then we would really see change.

I am blessed with amazing girl friends who support me and inspire me. But every once in a while I find myself in the pathway of another woman’s wild insecurities or aggressions, and I have to be careful not to let such negativity shake my own self-confidence. I have to keep my heart wide open.

As a woman, I want to pave a road of healthy self-esteem and connectedness. As a mother, I want to guide my sons and my daughter down this path. For the purposes of this post, I will focus on the subject of bringing up girls—raising women—as I believe great strides need to be taken in changing women’s relationships. There are seven objectives I want to raise in hopes that it might help us all rise together.

  1. Raising Awareness

Some of us are born with it—the ability to recognize the disheartened woman standing at the bus stop or the discouraged young girl in the back of the classroom. Some of us sit in traffic behind a car accident and feel concern for those who were involved and not just frustration for being delayed. Some of us are so self-aware, that we can name the reasons why we feel afraid or insecure or let down. While some of us need to work at our awareness—to see beyond the scope of one experience and into another.

Awareness is, of course, key to growing at any age. We can only leave our limitations behind once we have named what they are. We need to know what boxes we’ve put ourselves into, what labels we’ve slapped on others, before we can liberate any woman in this world. Awareness is something we have to model, teach and continually work at. If we all keep our eyes, ears and hearts open, refuse to ignore the issues no matter how difficult or uncomfortable, no woman will stand alone and disheartened. No young girl will be resigned to a life of discouragement. If we are going to work towards working together, it all begins with awareness. We each have our own unique histories. Let’s not use our stories against each other, but as a way of understanding each other and finding compassion.

  1. Raising Emotional Resilience

When my neighbor’s lost dog was found, my six-year-old’s eyes glazed over with emotion, and he said, “I do cry happy tears.” Apparently, he’d been wondering why he didn’t tear up easily. My six year old is built with a different level of emotional resilience than his older sister. But being resilient does not equate to not having a sensitive side or experiencing things deeply. It just varies the emotional response. And being emotionally resilient is not a male characteristic—it’s a human characteristic.

Girls often get a reputation of being sensitive or even overly emotional. When I was a child, I was told many times when upset by something, “You’re too sensitive.” This comment was made in an effort to get me to pull up my bootstraps, to buck up, to rub some dirt on it, and so on. Ironically, what I see now is a need for more sensitive children—children who care about their peers, who can develop healthy emotional responses to others, who can cry happy tears when moved by something. Sensitive children are often the most thoughtful children, but they can become wounded adults if emotional resilience is not developed.

Some of us girls are built a little tougher than others. But we all need to allow ourselves to feel exactly where we are in our lives—happy tears, sad tears, or just plain joy. And we all need to allow our circumstances to grow us—to accept we are just where we are, even if it’s not where we want to be. Instead of fighting our way through the world with passive aggressive responses to frustration, we can strengthen ourselves emotionally by expanding our resiliency. We can learn to cope. We can take responsibility for our actions, have compassion for ourselves, and learn to let go. And we can model this for our children.

Letting go is something children often find easier than adults. (And not just because they listened to the Frozen soundtrack one too many times.) But as they get older, more and more they might harbor negative feelings. So how do we raise a young woman to let go of the ideas that do not bring her more alive, without hardening that beautiful sensitivity that she came into the world with? We teach her to forgive.

  1. Raising Forgiveness

Nothing makes me prouder than seeing my children hug after an argument without having prompted them to do so. It reminds me of how easy it is to put my arms around another person. I’m a hugger, but I know we could all put our arms out more than we do.

Many of the great divides between women come down to an inability to forgive. I know some wounds run deep. Some experiences are hard to bounce back from. I could go a step further and say that some people may not easily merit forgiveness. And yet, we are all forgivable.

I was raised Catholic, and when I was seven I received the sacrament of reconciliation—an experience that frightened me, as I was to put my sins before God and asked to be forgiven. At that age, the only sin I’d committed was maybe stealing a sticker from my sister’s sticker book. I’m not sure I took a whole lot away from the sacrament. But when my daughter went through the process last year, it was presented completely differently. It was a celebration of forgiveness, meant to be taken home and celebrated everyday. Forgiveness is now a core value in my home. It is something we practice with genuine resolving hugs and important conversations. I know that my children will be hurt many times over, but I hope their hearts will be free of the burden of anger or resentment. Forgiveness is even more freeing for the forgiver than the one who needs to be forgiven.

But when forgiveness becomes something one has to practice with the same individual over and over, a new, healthier boundary might need to be put on that relationship. We don’t necessarily have to cut people out of our lives—often we simply cannot—but we can proceed with awareness. We can be wise, place our hearts in trustworthy hands, while maintaining our faith in other people.

  1. Raising People Who Fall

When my daughter was first learning to walk, I was a mess. I wanted to catch her every misstep, until someone grabbed my hand and said, let her fall. I kept my hands outstretched, but did indeed let her fall. She’s nine now, and it’s the same. Me with my arms out and my face winced, trying to let her stride out on her own, falls and all.

When I was a child, I was guided to play it safe and steady. Don’t run with scissors, don’t reach too far, don’t outshine another, don’t take anything for granted. I grew, I stumbled, I fell, I got back up. And by the time I got to college, I was ready to take a few risks. I pushed myself past my comfort zones. I reached further than I ever thought I could. I shined.

The generation that followed mine was guided by a new set of guidelines. Some have called it helicopter parenting. Children were pushed toward larger goals. They didn’t fall quite as much, because parents were there to catch. That’s a pretty great thing, unless the child doesn’t learn how to get back up on her own.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get it exactly right as parents. But I also don’t know if we can ever get it totally wrong so long as there is love. I want my kids to have confidence; I want them to believe that they can achieve anything they want to achieve. But at the same time, I don’t want to hand them a trophy for just showing up. I want them to work hard and to sometimes fall short so they can learn what it is to push forward. There needs to be bumps and bruises. We need to raise girls who fall, so that they know how to get back up.

We need to raise up the fallen by letting them know that they’re not alone, by sharing in our frailties and in our triumphs. By reaching further than we thought possible and inspiring each other.

Life is rhythmic; we all rise and fall. If we as women can find a way to ride that tide together with our heads up, we’ll be on our way. Let’s not just play it safe, but take a leap of faith together.

  1. Raising Equality

When my daughter tried her hand at soccer, we knew right away that it wasn’t her calling. The coach would say, “Just run hard. Try to steal the ball and go for the goal.” One day after practice she said to me, “Mom, I’m not used to stealing balls,” and it was all I could do not to laugh. As a gentle-hearted rule-follower who’d been told for the first several years of her life not to shove or take, the game was counterintuitive for her at first. One afternoon, a mother of one of her teammates sat down next to her and said, “Honey, you’re a special part of that team whether you can kick the ball or not.” And onto the field my little girl charged in her pink jersey… to pick daisies.

It’s important to give our girls permission to be themselves with equal significance. We each have our unique gifts. Though my daughter hasn’t chosen soccer as her sport, she has respect for those who go out there and get in the game.

We likely all have ideas about equality. Perhaps these ideas are influenced by education, values, experience, or success. We’ve likely all looked down on someone or had someone treat us as though we were lesser. Why? Insecurity? Resentment? How can we raise the bar for ourselves and our girls if we are wearing labels that say we are not enough? Labels we put there. Labels we put on each other.

If we want to take a step closer to equality as women and as people, we need to ask ourselves if we see our self-worth alongside the worth of others. Are we each our own worst enemy—our most critical voice? Or do we treat ourselves with love?

We can help our daughters develop a healthy self-esteem, careful not to throw off the balance and inflate their egos. The household cannot be built to revolve around the child, but rather the child must be an integral part of the household—a family unit where joy and disappointment, time and experience, are shared. Our girls must not think that everything is about them. We can move away from the archetypes of Princess and Martyr and embrace that of Mentor and Companion. We can raise generous citizens of the world.

Equality starts at home. As mothers we can’t put unrealistic expectations on our daughters. We can’t favor one daughter over another. We can’t stick labels on our girls—“she’s the smart one,” “she’s the athlete,” “she’s shy and not as skilled.” With our support, our girls will determine just who they are. And when they do, we cannot behave with disappointment or pity or envy for the paths they choose. We’ll do them great service if we simply empower them.

My husband and I have always asked our kids at dinner what their happiest moment was in that day. But about a year ago, we added the question, “What made you happy for someone else today?” The best part of my day is always hearing my children celebrating others—celebrating milestones in other people’s lives, not just in their own.

As women, let’s model true love by allowing other people’s happiness to be equal to our own, and shine light on the significance of each life we encounter.

  1. Raising Respect

A friend of mine was in a situation recently where she stayed in an unhealthy conversation longer than she should have. She stayed out of respect for the other, but she forgot about respecting herself. She forgot that it is okay to walk away when you feel disrespected.

Can we expect our daughters to get up and walk out of bad situations, bad conversations, or even bad relationships, if we are still struggling with it ourselves? How do we teach respecting one’s self enough to walk away without loosing the other big piece—respecting others at all times.

I am often reminding my children that there is a nice way to say everything. And I suppose that is the answer.

Raising respect then includes raising the filter. Where did all our filters go? When did it become all right to express every feeling we have every second we have them without considering how we affect others? We teach our kids to share their feelings, but are we teaching them how to share their feelings? When and with whom?

With “Batdad” flooding Facebook with inappropriate quips said by his kids and sitcoms stimulating us with eccentric characters speaking over each other in stream-of-consciousness, it is hard to maintain that any of us have filters. It’s one thing if we’re getting a laugh (and don’t get me wrong, a lot of that stuff is funny), but it’s another when the contrary is occurring. What happened to the old adage, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Call me old school.

I have great hopes that our women of tomorrow will feel compassion and celebration for their differences and speak with kindness. I have great hopes that they’ll respect others enough to walk in where they are needed and respect themselves enough to walk out when they are disrespected. We just have to keep shining the way.

  1. Raising Action

We raise our girls with the endeavor of teaching them independence, so that they can eventually go off into the world and take care of themselves. They’ll know how to get a job, maybe even beat out the competition in their field and rise to the top. They’ll know how to plunge a toilet, maybe even roast a chicken or change a tire. But is being self-sufficient the whole goal?

What if the goal was to raise action-oriented women and allow that to include both independence and otherness. Working toward working together means actually working together. At home, in school, in the work place, in the world. We could be powerful if we worked together more communally and pulled each other up on our rise to our utmost dreams. We are women with goals and passions who can make a real impact if we stick together and act with purpose.

 

I have tremendous admiration and respect for every woman in this world, because every woman has something unique and beautiful to offer to this very moment. Every woman is living her own story—the good, the bad and the beautiful—the best she knows how. I believe in the women of tomorrow, because I know the women of today can do anything they put their hearts and minds to. We are models of ambition, but also of gratitude. We are models of family and of community. Of love. We are leaders in knowledge and in change. We are liberators and mentors and mothers and sisters. We are half the world. So let us shine on. And tomorrow will be bright.

 

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When the New Year began, I put away all my holiday decorations, took a deep breath, and thought, now things will calm down. But suddenly there were birthdays to celebrate, doctors to see, school variety show acts to coordinate, Girl Scout Cookies to help sell, home projects to complete, and other excitement to instigate. Life is full… wonderful.

A morning last month, Brennan (now four and a half) asked me if I’d play trucks with him—one of his favorite things to do. At the time I was in the middle of making lunch and cleaning out the refrigerator. “I can’t right now; maybe in just a little bit,” I told him, “Why don’t you help me make lunch.” But by the afternoon I was driving Keegan to his guitar lesson and helping Adeline with homework. “Can you please play trucks with me?” Brennan asked again as I was cleaning up after dinner and trying to get the dog out of the clean laundry basket. “Oh buddy, I can’t right now. I will in just a little bit. Would you like to help me put the laundry away?” I asked him. We played hotel while putting the laundry away. But when I went to read him his bedtime story, I realized I hadn’t played trucks with him. Not once that whole day.

When I set out to do my student-mother project in 2009 (to try to be present as a mom and see what my kids had to teach me about being at peace), I had two little ones at my feet. While there were more sleepless nights back then, there were also fewer distractions, less places to have to be, less school and sports related activities to volunteer for and participate in. As the kids get older, being present as a mother poses new challenges. It’s something I have to keep working at.

That’s why that night, after I tucked the kids into bed, and got a phone call from an organization I love, asking if I’d help spearhead a fundraiser, I graciously told the woman, “I can’t right now.” It was the third time I’d said those words that day and the first time they felt right. “I’ve got another big project going on at the moment,” I explained.

I love this project I’m working on—raising these kids. It’s hard for me to not want to do it all, but sometimes I just need to stop and play trucks. Brennan will be in school every day next year, so I’m going to savor this time with him.

Today Brennan wants to paint. “What should we paint?” I asked him over breakfast. “The marshmallow sky,” he told me. So I’ll let the dishes sit, and I’ll let the dog sleep in the laundry basket. Because what could be better than painting and finding marshmallows in the sky?

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