He Liked Food

Our dog, Newton, died on Monday.

I’ve been told I write a pretty good pet obituary (I’ll add that to my resume) but the words are not coming this time.

Maybe it’s because his departure took much longer than we originally expected, but was still very sudden in the end.

Maybe it’s the pain of my empath brain being overtaken with the image of my sobbing husband.

Maybe it’s guilt for viewing him as a burden, with incontinence and blindness and deafness and expensive vet bills and so many prescriptions and his penchant for wandering away from the house if he got out and forgetting who and where he was until we found him. Now, none of that seems to matter at all, and I wish I had lamented it much less.

We had been married only about 6 months when we got Newton. So he was basically our first kid. We had the cats of course, but cats are so independent. A dog is more like a permanent toddler. I think that’s what makes it the hardest—a whole era of our marriage has ended.

The house feels empty without him. Three kids and two cats and the house feels empty. Which is a pretty good way to describe his personality to you.

Everything I used to be irritated with is what I miss now. His face in my lap when I ate. Him barking every time the doorbell rang. The clickety-clack of his nails and the slapping of the doggie door in the middle of the night. The way he smelled if we went too long without a bath. The habit he had of going into the shower after we got out, and licking the floor.

The girls at the vet’s office loved him. He was a frequent flyer so they really got to know him. They were telling us cute stories as they inserted his IV for the euthanasia, which made it a little more tolerable. I know they will grieve him too. He made friends and had fans literally everywhere he went.

I am surprisingly handling this loss like I’m not a completely broken person. Which is refreshing. It still sucks, don’t get me wrong. I started sobbing when I set the dinner table tonight because the floor has just gotten so sticky and dirty this week. It made me remember how much he “helped out” with the cleaning around here. But, I’m a little more put together these days. I understand grief more, and how to unpack it. And then pack it back up.

I joked that his tombstone should read, “He liked food.” In classic beagle fashion, he was very…enthusiastic about food. In the end, I couldn’t even get him to take his pills with a glob of peanut butter. And you know what? I didn’t force it. That was when I knew he was really done. He wasn’t the same old Newton anymore.

It’s still so hard to believe he’s gone. We will miss him so much. Finley still asks where he is. And I’m pretty sure the cats are looking for him.

His ashes are home now, and he sits on the shelf next to his late, great cat brother Nashua. May they meet up over the rainbow bridge and snuggle in the sun together forever.

Goodbye love. You were so wonderful.


On the Eve of My 40th Birthday

I am thinking of you.


Since the day they took

that chunk of my leg away,

I have thought of you often.

How much more you suffered.


I’m 40 tomorrow

which feels like cheating.

Sneaking away,

getting away with something.


There is a part of you in me.

I know this because

they found it.

In a lab.

On a slide.


We’d have nothing in common today.

You a traditionalist and

me a wild, untamed spirit.

But I’d love to chat anyway.

To get to know you as a person

and not just part of my DNA.


You did not see 40.

Or your grandchildren.

I was first, but there were throngs to follow.

Though you are gone,

your legacy grows and grows.


Perhaps you can see all of us from somewhere.

But we can’t see you. I never saw you.

But under that dark cloud,

we are kindred spirits.


Year End Review 2018

I know, it’s February. But, there’s still time to reflect. And it’s one of my favorite posts to write because I really get myself thinking and I get optimistic for the year ahead. Better late than never.

I’m taking a new approach this year. I found a new list of questions to answer about my year. 2018 started out pretty ok for me, but ended in a heap of burning trash. So, onto a new year, a new start. I hope that you all had a prosperous 2018 and that 2019 has even better to come for you.

1. What is the single best thing that happened this past year? The single best thing that happened in 2018. It is very hard to choose just one. Just one. What was the most magical? What brought me the most joy? There was our trip to San Francisco. It was lovely. It felt like we never left, which is in some ways not good but I’ll focus on the good. Scrunchies and Caboodles made a comeback. That’s pretty special. Bowie went to SARSEF (Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation) and took home a 3rd place trophy in his grade and category. VERY proud mama bear moment there. I also hit the 5 year post-melanoma mark. Odds of survival at this point are extremely good. I also got to go to Florida to see my brother and go to a small, special wedding, and see old friend and family members I hadn’t seen in a long time. See, how do you pick just one thing?

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? A great many challenging things happened this year. Too many to list. Too many that are personal. Too many, and you will get bored of my pity party. But, most of it culminated in a year-end relapse of my alcoholism. Which in and of itself I do believe is the most challenging thing. I don’t know why it is, exactly, that I turn to alcohol in times of trouble, knowing full well that it won’t fix things, and often makes them worse. My psychiatrist has this amazing way of explaining things to me about the brain chemistry of it that makes me feel less morally irresponsible. For starters, an alcoholic’s brain is wired differently than a non-addicts brain, and the dopamine blasts we get are heavier. Which can explain the desire to go back for more. The downside of that is certain neurons die off in this process, making it harder and harder for us to handle our feelings logically, which explains why we continue after one short lapse, and it evolves into a relapse. Those neurons grow back quickly, but we have to maintain sobriety in order for that to happen. And those first few days are hell. And no matter what all the books and all the counselors say, you will never shake that feeling that maybe someday you will have fixed yourself and can have a drink and not go overboard or use it as a crutch. It will never happen, but you always wonder. I now have another month fully sober. I’m back at it, and have learned a lot from it. I am lucky to have a support system to help me when I fall. There are some people in my life that I feel get involved in their own self-interests, “Look at me! I know someone who is a train wreck and I’m helping!” But for the most part, people really do want to see me get better.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year? When I went to visit my brother, I got to see him and his wife as parents. It was amazing. He is 8 years younger than me, and sometimes I still see him as a 10 year old kid. He’s a grown up now, and a dad, and I loved seeing him in that role. It filled me with such joy.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle? I made a decision that was right for me. Good for me. Beneficial to others around me. And in the process, I hurt someone’s feelings. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong by making my decision. And no decision we make in life leaves everyone feeling happy for us. I know this. But this person is close to me and I thought that they would understand, and the reaction left me blindsided. I would never go to them and say, “I regret making that decision. I shouldn’t have done that.” I won’t ever regret it. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I will forever treasure the result. I will never regret it. I have to live with that, and I hope someday they may understand and also be able to live with it.

5. Pick three words to describe this past year. Milestones. Chaos. Travel.

6. Pick three words your partner or close friend would use to describe your year. Growth. Progress. Vulnerability.

7. Pick three words your partner or close friend would use to describe their year. Hectic. Challenging. Adventurous.

8. What were the best books you read this year? Technically I finished it this year, but I really enjoyed Big Little Lies. Yes I finally got around to reading it. And I would love to get my hands on the show. Hallelujah Anyway was great. Anne Lamott is absolutely my favorite author and this book did not disappoint. She has such a way of describing life, getting older, sobriety, it’s touching. If you’ve never read her books, I suggest Bird by Bird, especially if you are a writer or Operating Instructions, especially if you are a mom. My third book would have to be I am a Bunny. It’s Finley’s absolute favorite, and I love watching her face light up at each page, even though we must have read it at least 100 times by now. And at the end when she says “night night” to the bunny, I melt.

9. Who were your most valuable relationships with? Both of my brothers, letting me talk through a particular issue I was grappling with. Each person brings their own special perspective, and I find crowdsourcing that stuff to be very helpful. My husband, for always being by my side and always wanting the best for me, even though I scoff and roll my eyes at some of his suggestions. My friend Kathleen who has been there for me, though she herself has a lot going on too. We share the journey of sobriety (which we did not know when we first met) and it’s is crucial to have someone in your life who is also on the sober path to talk to. They get it in a way no one else will. The people that listened when I talked. The people that provided me support when they really had very little left to give. The people that pulled me out of the quicksand. That’s who I value the most.

10. What was your biggest personal change? I’m fully out of the muck of having a baby, and I have a toddler now. Life feels more open, and I am doing more for myself. The idea of “self care” seemed so self-indulgent and selfish. But really, it’s not. I’ve learned how important it really is. It has become a buzz word lately, I see it on all the magazine covers. But, self care has been a concept for me since my first day at rehab. You must, must, must take care of yourself. You don’t always have to put yourself first. And self care doesn’t mean ignoring life taking a nap. It doesn’t mean filling your void by shopping for new things. And getting a trip to the grocery store alone doesn’t count. I used to count my therapy sessions as self care, but no. That’s for my health. Just carve out time that’s just for you. Then fill that time with creative outlets, exercise, having coffee with friends, or even alone. Time to breathe. Time to reflect. And when you go back to your hectic life, you appreciate things more.

11. In what ways did you grow emotionally? I have stopped letting people walk all over me. I have stopped letting people manipulate my thoughts and feelings. I have begun to understand that it’s ok to step up for myself when it’s necessary. I was, and still am a bit, a complete pushover. I would rather see everyone else in my life be happy and get what they want than to do anything for myself. I’m not perfect at this yet, but I am finding more balance.

12. In what ways did you grow spiritually? It would shock a lot of family members reading this right now, but I’ve let go of the idea of the Christian God I was raised to believe in. I just try to be a good person, do the right thing. In AA there is a heavy emphasis on having a “higher power” and I feel like spreading kindness is my higher power. I have come to terms with the idea that we all have a purpose here, and I feel that my purpose is to raise my children to also be good, well-rounded, healthy adults. Finding my place in the universe used to feel so overwhelming, but then I discovered that my place can be small and simple. Not unimportant, just smaller. I’m at peace with that idea.

13. In what ways did you grow physically? I have tried to find balance in my diet. I’m not looking for perfection here, just some balance. Technically I started early this year, but I have been going to hot yoga classes. I have found a tremendous amount of strength and determination that I didn’t know I had. I am also sleeping better at night, which gives me the stamina to take on my crazy, hectic days.

14. In what ways did you grow in your relationships with others? I have learned to stand my ground with problematic people. I have learned to open up to others, rather than keep things bottled up inside. I have learned to see marriage as a friendship, a partnership. When the romance fades, and it will, your focus should be more on creating and maintaining a healthy and loving relationship with your partner. This is how marriages last. You don’t fall out of love, you just lose touch with them. Keep in touch with them.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)? “Professionally” I am an Airbnb host. It is a very good source of extra income for us, especially November through February. So, I’m really in the thick of it right now. I like that I send most guests off feeling very good about their stay and vowing to stay with us again. I have taken some things into account that can be improved in the space and am excited to implement them. At home? Well, that’s my real profession I suppose. The most enjoyable part of that has been watching Finley go from baby to toddler, and really coming into her own. Her personality is strong and is showing in the funniest ways. I have also enjoyed watching Bowie grow into a little man. Yes, he’s hormonal and kind of a pill to deal with most of the time. But, he’s making decisions, he forming opinions, he’s making close friends, he has ideas for what he’d like to do with his future. It’s amazing. He’s a person and I made him. Ferris cannot be left out of this exchange. He is a man who knows what he wants and is not afraid to ask for it. Which can be a little harrowing at times. Like, “I hope I never get fat!” when I am pushing my cart at Target behind an overweight person. Overall, I’ve put more effort into making our house a home. The move here was hard for me, and for a while it was just a house, protection from the elements, a place for the kids to reside and feel safe. But, as I start making small areas the way I’d like them to be, it starts to feel more like our home.

16. What has been the most challenging part of your work? Each of my children is in a different life phase. Toddler, Kindergartner, and prepping for middle school. So, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all of that. Not to expect too much from the younger ones, and not to underestimate the oldest. It’s like walking a tightrope. I’ve also fallen into a rut when it comes to cooking. I have to meet all of these criteria: a) at least marginally healthy b) something the children will deign to allow to touch their lips c) my husband won’t complain that I’m feeding him kid food again and d) won’t break the bank. So, it can be difficult. Sometimes I just say f@&$ all and make whatever I want and they can all just deal with it. Keeping up with cleaning is hard too. I spend so much of my time meticulously cleaning the Airbnb that it feels exhausting to try to come back to the house and do the same thing. I try to concentrate on one thing a day. The floors. The bathrooms. The boys’ toys. And there’s laundry every day of course.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? Oh my gosh. It’s this farm game I have on my phone. It’s called Hay Day. I love keeping an eye on the farm, making this and that, checking on the animals, it’s fun. I spend too much time doing it though. And not enough time reading, writing, cleaning, all the things one really should be doing.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Volunteering at the boys’ school. Taking Finley to the park or the Children’s Museum. Taking time to go out and write without kids around. Journaling.

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? I have learned that no matter how daunting the day ahead of you may seem, and how impossible it all feels, you will get it done. You will do it, because that’s just what we do. And even looking back, we don’t know how we did it, but we did. Human endurance and drive are amazing. Even when you are depressed and feel like you have no drive, you can still manage to get done what you need to. Shower. Work. Buy groceries. Sneak in some social time. And all the microscopic things we all do each and every day that seem like nothing, but do take a toll. I learned that I am determined and resilient, even when I don’t feel like it.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I hope your 2019 is already moving along swimmingly and I hope it has great things in store for all of us. Happy (late) new year to you all!

If you are still reading! Comment here or find me on Twitter (@verybloggybeth) and AMA (ask me anything)! I’d love to answer people’s questions in future posts. I’m also crowdsourcing ideas for posts on my Top 5 Favorite [fill in the blank]. Pass on those ideas too!

Third. Tri. Mes. Ter.

You read that right. We’re in the home stretch now! Monday marked the beginning of my 28th week, and the THIRD TRIMESTER!

Current hobbies include: popping Tums non-stop, eating non-stop, sleeeeeeping, but not really sleeping, peeing non-stop, Braxton Hicksing like it’s going out of style, getting all nostalgic when someone asks if it’s my first, waddling, staring wistfully at regular sized clothing and wondering what size I’ll end up being this time.

Also, thanks to pregnancy brain, I enjoy treating stop signs like stoplights, walking around with my phone in my hand wondering where my phone is, never knowing what day it is, trying to put one kids’ shoes on the other kid’s feet, and forgetting to buy stuff even when I remember my shopping list.

It’s been a real humdinger, this pregnancy. Totally unexpected from the start, and leaving me more tired and more sore than I ever remember being with the boys. I feel enormous, I’m measuring a week ahead. The heartburn has always been a pregnancy thing for me, but now I’ve got reflux! A fancy word for puking in your mouth if you lay the wrong way. Or make any sudden movements. Or have just eaten a big meal. (But not really that big because you are full after four bites, and hungry again 10 minutes later, repeat for all of eternity.)

But, I am trying not to complain too much. I’m trying to remember the good parts of pregnancy. Like the fact that there’s a baby coming. That’s fun and exciting. Yeah, I feel like crap and we have no idea where she will sleep when she outgrows her infant bed and both boys are regressing like crazy and I can hardly move but have two kids to take care of….but…it’s going to be over with in three months. And it will all work itself out one way or another.

After my miscarriage, I had a few women in my life that became unexpectedly pregnant (well, it felt like the WHOLE WORLD was pregnant and I wasn’t) and they just whined and complained. I’m not ready for this, pregnancy sucks, blah blah blah. And I hated them. I hated them so much. How could they not be overflowing with joy at the life growing inside them? This gift that was just handed to them?

Well, now I see their side. But I am also trying so hard to be positive about this. Because I know some women out there are wishing it was them. Trying so hard and getting nowhere only to see someone get it without trying at all. I’m so sorry if you’re in that position. And rest assured, I know what a wonderful gift I have been given. And I will be fine, my sons will be fine, my husband will be fine, we will welcome our little girl with open arms.

Three more months. THREE MORE MONTHS.

28 weeks

More Than We Had

My kids are so lucky. They have way more than I did when I was a kid. We are not rich, by any means. We have more than some people, less than others. I suppose I would categorize us as Upper Middle Class.

I grew up pretty well in the Lower Middle Class category. My parents worked hard and provided us with everything we needed. But we went without a lot of the luxuries that my peers took for granted. Especially after my parents’ divorce. Money was tight.

I’ll never forget this one time back to school shopping, we were at Wal-Mart and my mom and I had a knock down drag out fight because I wanted the $18 tennis shoes, and she wanted to get me some cheaper ones. I knew even the $18 ones couldn’t compare with what all the cool kids would be wearing, but I had a fighting chance with them, not so much with the cheaper ones. Eventually she caved, but I always felt guilty about it.

My kids have a lot more luxury items than I did. We can afford to buy them a lot of toys, the “cool” toys, video game systems, cool clothes and shoes, the cool lunchbox goods like Gogurt and Goldfish. Stuff I could never have had at their age.

And I’m proud to be able to provide for them in this way. It makes me feel good that they can completely surpass the keeping up with the cool kids trauma. I mean, my kids are unlikely to actually be the cool kids, but they’re less likely to be made fun of than I was. There will just be less pressure there for them. I’d like to teach them that none of that matters, but we all remember what it was like to want to fit in. And at least if my kids feel like they sort of fit in, then that won’t distract them from doing well in school, making real and lasting friendships and overall just growing up and adjusting.

But, at some point, we have to draw a line. The boys are getting to an age where they could easily fall into the spoiled camp. We don’t always get them the things that they want. And we are still very frugal shoppers. A treat now and then, and expensive Christmas and birthday gifts, but not every day showering them with goodies.

I’ll get them the $18 shoes, because I can. I’ll get them the nice things they want, within reason. And any big, expensive gift usually comes with a long conversation (poor kids) about the reason we’re buying the item, and how we will care for it to ensure that it lasts. Because, even if we were to get them every little thing they want, I still want them to respect their stuff and take care of things and know the value of that. I don’t want them to get caught up in the throwaway culture that I see so much of these days.

We’re also trying to teach them the value of a dollar. And the idea that things must be earned. Too many high school and college aged kids these days are more entitled than they could even understand. It’s not their fault. It’s not even their parents’ fault. It’s just living in a society where parents want their children to have more, do more, and make it further than they did. But too often, this manifests in parents giving and giving and doing without asking for anything in return, and ignoring every teachable moment that comes along.

I want my boys to have more than I had. I’m proud to be able to offer them more than I had. But, I also want them to know the value of things, they way that I learned growing up. I want them to value experiences over possessions. I want them to know the difference between wants and needs. And true needs. I want them to approach consumerism with caution. I want them to be savvy with money, and be smart about their purchases.

Someday, I have to send them off into this world. And I don’t want them to be greedy. Or to be careless shoppers. Or to feel like money is more important than it is. I want them to look back and know they had everything they needed, and more. But, I want them to be well grounded and realistic about money and life. So that they too can provide more for their own children.

Closing Day

It’s closing day on our new house. In TUCSON. For some reason, it makes me think of that 90s song, Closing Time. Which is somewhat appropriate, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

We’re moving. We’re moving far. We’re leaving our beloved San Francisco for the heat and the cheap housing in Tucson. We closed on a great house. It’s all set.

My emotions are so up and down. On the one hand, we’re super excited to go. It’s exciting to be homeowners. It’s exciting to be moving to a new city and opening a new chapter in our lives. But on the other hand, it’s terrifying. We’re leaving San Francisco, which we ADORE, and we’ve lived here for 11 years. So, it’s a bummer. A big, fat bummer. And if only it were even just slightly cheaper to live here, we’d stay.

I moved around a lot when I was a kid, and I kind of wanted to avoid doing that to my own kids. Bowie gets to finish the school year here, but I’m afraid for him when he starts a new school. I remember how confusing and scary that was. I know he’ll be fine and he’ll make friends, but I still worry.

It’s the right move for us right now, it just is. We’ll be able to give the boys so much more by leaving one of the most expensive cities in the country. We will have the security of owning our home. Renting in San Francisco is stressful as hell, not knowing if tomorrow your landlord will boot you out or raise your rent sky high to get you out. And when you have kids, that’s mega stressful.

We will have space. We will have opportunity. We will be happier in the end.

I will certainly leave my proverbial heart in San Francisco. Six months ago, my husband brought up the idea of leaving, and I said, “never!” through tears. But over time I got used to the idea, and was able to see the pros offered to us if we did move. I love it here though. The way everyone should have the opportunity to love where they live. If you’ve ever had the urge to hug a bridge, or wanted to get a cup of coffee with the fog, you might understand what I mean.

I’m excited for Tucson. It’s a great city with great people and lots of fun stuff to do. It will just be different. A good different, but still, different.

Off we go.

Older Generations: 9 Ways Parenting is Way Harder for Me than it Was for You

The world I grew up in was not what it is today. Parents now are charged with raising children in a vastly different world than parents of past generations. Life was simpler, and it showed. It’s not just that parents today need to “calm down.” There’s a reason we’re total basket cases. There’s a reason there are helicopter parents and a need for free-range parenting. This gig is tough! Childhood abductions are down. Childhood mortality, in the First World, is down. But there’s still a lot to contend with. Here are some ways I’ve had to adjust my parenting style from the examples I had as a kid.

  1. Raising my kids in a country where there’s at least one mass shooting per day. Whatever side of the fence you are on when it comes to gun control, you can’t deny that the United States has a problem. Random gun violence is everywhere, and there’s little a parent can do. The odds of being a victim of these random public mass shootings is low, but too high for comfort. And we always have that fear in the back of our heads. My son’s elementary school has lockdown drills. We certainly didn’t have lockdown drills when I was a kid. They make bullet proof blankets for schools to give kids in the event of a shooting. I have to raise my babies in a world where bullet proof blankets are a thing!
  2. Caring for an infant in a sea of unvaccinated children. I try really hard to not judge other parents for their parenting choices. But, when my kids are put in danger as a result, I get miffed. Infants who are too young to receive vaccinations are at a high risk for contracting possibly fatal diseases, and even school aged children who are vaccinated can be put at risk if vaccination levels are too low. So, I do my best to safeguard my child’s health, but in the end it might not matter anyway.
  3. Childhood food allergies have risen 50% in the past 20 years. My kids don’t have food allergies. That I know of. But, many of their peers do. And though I’m careful not to send nuts to our schools, I still wonder sometimes, “Did I forget to wipe the peanut butter off his face before sending him off?” And, allergies have this awesome ability to crop up at any point in our lives. Meaning, just because my sons don’t have life-threatening allergies right now doesn’t mean they won’t develop.
  4. Raising girls is a shit show. People think this isn’t an issue for me because I don’t have daughters. But, parents of sons have to raise them to be respectful of women, and to treat women as equals. And to not be intimidated by empowered women. As a mom, especially a stay at home mom, it’s easy to fall into the role of doormat. But it’s important to stand strong and give your boys a good example of womanhood. I don’t even know how parents raise their daughters to be strong in a world that tells them to play weak. To simultaneously be proud of their sexuality, but also to guard it with their lives. To be open and honest in a world full of victim-blaming. My hat is off to you, parents of girls.
  5. Parental guilt is at an all time high. Hospital birth or home birth. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Starting solids too early. Starting solids too late. Vaccinating or not vaccinating. Preschool or no preschool. Circumcised or uncircumcised. Non-organic food. Fast food. Television. Cell phones. No matter what choices you make, someone is going to (verbosely) criticize you for it. We have the Internet to thank for that. And before you even have kids, there are people telling you how to raise them. People who don’t even have their own kids! It’s treacherous. You literally never know if you’re making the right choice or not. You just have to close your eyes and point to make the choice, and then just cross your fingers and hope you won’t fail. And grow a super thick skin for all the mean words coming your way.
  6. Other people will try to parent your children. And I don’t mean making them follow the rules. I mean, the choices you make as a parent could get you in trouble, even if you’re not really putting your kid in any kind of danger. Leave your kid in the car while you run into the store? Send your kid outside to play without you? Put a soda in your kid’s lunchbox? You get fined. Or CPS takes them away. Or you could even go to jail! So much for making your own choices, there’s always someone looking over your shoulder.
  7. Raising my kids to be present and in the moment in the age of technology. Screens are everywhere these days. Admittedly, I spend too much time staring at my phone. And I use the TV as a babysitter more often than I’d like to admit. Silicon Valley is basically our backyard, so technology is pretty prevalent here. And it’s hard to find a balance between taking advantage of all that technology allows us these days, and not using it too much. We have to teach our children when to be present, and when screen time is ok. We have to filter what they watch, because left unsupervised, they can stumble on some pretty scary stuff. But we have to allow them to learn how to use technology because their world demands tech savviness.
  8. The media will have you believe your kid can, and will, be snatched from you. Even though abductions are actually less common than they were when I was a child, the media coverage of kidnappings is rampant. One kidnapping story can be their focus for weeks. And it’s not just the TV news, it’s newspapers, magazines, and social media. You can barely make it through a day without seeing reports of yet another child gone missing. I had to stop watching the news altogether to calm myself. And this is why people turn into such busybodies when they see your kid more than five feet away from you (see #6). The fear has permeated our generation of parents.
  9. College is basically a necessity, but also completely unaffordable. If you don’t start saving your money before you even have kids, it’s unlikely that you will be able to pay their way. And if you don’t pay it for them, you send them off into the world already dragging around the largest debt of their lifetime. And even if they do well and get a good degree, there’s no guarantee that they’ll land a job. As the population grows, the job market doesn’t. Not to mention the ups and downs of our unstable economy. If they don’t go to college, they walk a rough road. If they go to college, they walk a rough road. There’s just no winning. It’s tough to help them decide what to do, because you don’t even know the answer yourself.

The Manual for Motherhood

That’s a misleading title, and I’m sorry if I tricked you into clicking on it. There happens to be NO manual for motherhood. UNENDING shelves of books out there, written by “experts” and books written from one particular mom’s experience, but no full-on manual where you can look up all the crazy situations you’ll find yourself in.

I have an “older” kid (almost 7) and a preschooler. Some of the new moms at preschool will ask me, “How did you handle that with Bowie?”, “Was Bowie like that?”, “Did you ever do xyz with Bowie?”

And based on my replies, sometimes I get very flattering responses. “Wow, you’re so good at that!” “What an amazing idea!” “How do you find the time to do that?” “Wow, I wish I was as patient as you!”

But, I take these responses with a grain of salt. I’m just another mom, doing the best with what she has where she is (to refer to a Teddy Roosevelt quote). And we all are. That’s the thing.

When they hand you that tiny, pink, wiggly-wriggly, screaming and (in Bowie’s case) poop-covered thing, you’re like, what the heck am I supposed to do with this? And if you have a hospital birth, that day they kick you out you’re like, “Seriously?! You’re going to trust me to take this home and actually be responsible for its survival?!?”

But you get it. Somewhere along the line, it clicks. You’re in mom gear now. And you always know what to do. Even when “what to do” means consulting Dr. Spock, calling the pediatrician or handing the baby to your husband and saying “take this.” You still did it, you still figured it out.

You do also make mistakes. It’s completely inevitable. But also survivable. That’s how you learn. Those questions that the newer moms ask me? Most of my answers were not innate, they were learned. It’s a process. Sometimes you just plain improvise. It might work, it might not. But, you had a problem, and you came up with a possible solution.

Also, and this is probably the most important thing, you DO NOT have to be perfect. Not one of us is. None of us. Not even the impeccably dressed mother at the park sipping her Starbucks, brushing her clean, tangle-free hair from her perfectly made-up face, browsing NPR on her expensive smart phone while her children stay near and play amicably with one another, and all the kids. Not even she is perfect. Really.

We all have the mornings where school lunch is pizza and fruit snacks (but they were organic, dammit).

We all get to the public restroom changing table only to realize this session involves poop and we have no wipes. So we use some wet paper towels and move on with it.

We’ve all done a spit shine to the kid’s face on picture day to remove the ketchup stain that’s been on his face for three days.

We’ve all hidden in our bedroom closet to enjoy a Snickers bar, because the same child that doesn’t respond when you yell his name 2 feet from him can hear a cellophane wrapper from 6 miles away.

We’ve all used a baby wipe to mop the sticky spots up off the floor before company comes over.

We’ve all been at Walgreens on February 13 digging through the reject pile of Valentines for the kid’s class.

We’ve all told the landlord the hole in the wall was there when we moved in. (That one rarely works, but we try it anyway.)

We’ve all told the pediatrician about the gallons of water they drink every day, even though it’s mostly milk with a little Capri Sun mixed in.

We’ve all been in an in-depth phone conversation about “what Sally did this time” when our kid falls 5 feet off the slide, and only find out when a very judgy other mom brings him to us.

I say, “we all”, but I guess some of you really haven’t done this stuff. Kudos to you! But the day may come. And I’m sure you’ve got a list of your own.

The point is, sometimes we’re Claire Huxtable. Sometimes we’re more like a clueless hobo that’s been left in charge of feral animals. But, we love our kids, and we figure it out. Every damn time. Pat yourself on the back more. And stop worrying if you’re a “good enough” mom. You’re the best!