July 6, 2015
by Tricia
1 Comment

Our happy 4th

happy 4th

I almost forgot that it was a holiday.

It was cloudy when we woke up. We went out for muffins and cappuccinos because it was a holiday but then we came home. Did the obligatory Saturday morning cartoon thing during which I make grocery lists and to-do lists and eavesdrop on Sophia and Curious George so that I can jump in with pointed questions that my children never hear on the first round and answer reluctantly only after I repeat myself (Me: “Should Sophia have lied to her Mommy about letting the wee sprites in or was it good that she told the truth?” Her: “I knew you were going to ask that!”). We then darted through the raindrops for our new routine: Saturday morning grocery shopping.

And then I remembered. It was just any holiday. It was the holiday when we usually decorate bikes and parade around the park with neighbors and friends.

I checked in as we drove to the store and saw that the outlook for the parade was hazy. I checked in again on the way home, in a downpour, to find out it was on. The rain was expected to pass. The parade would be delayed but it would happen.

Now typically, such a thing would ignite a fire in me. A parade in the rain! Grab the rain boots and sneakers and raincoats and should we wear swim suits because there will be puddles to jump in?! Rain unites people, it makes memories this is going to be fun, we’ll remember it forever! Can’t you just see us looking back!? Remember that time we paraded in the rain and the ribbons and streamers on the bikes got all soggy and the stickers wouldn’t stick and we came home a complete mess but we still had a great time! Typically this would feel like an experience my kids needed to have and I’d run forth full of holiday-fueled gusto to make it happen.

But there was no such fire on Saturday morning.

There was, instead, the absolute certainty that we should skip the parade.

I’m starting to see that there is a reality that comes from not only knowing my children but accepting them. It’s not a bad reality. It’s actually quite helpful. In a split second of considering going to the parade I foresaw whining over pulling on boots and being forced to wear sneakers instead of flip flops. I saw complaints of “I’m hot” and “This is wet.” and “I want to go home.” that would ruin the peaceful morning we had already settled into. I saw frazzled nerves and uncomfortable kids and an experience that we just weren’t going to make sparkle. And I saw two kids (and two adults) who were just as happy to stay home.

After five years of trying to make my dreams a reality I am beginning to see that, more often than not, my reality is often the dream if I just lean into the curve.

So we stayed home. The boys baked a chocolate cake. My girl and I made fireworks with paint using straws and glitter glue. We decorated our playroom with festive construction paper and ate chocolate cake for dessert after lunch. Both kids were engaged, excited, smiling. They were happy. And both adults were engaged, calm, and smiling. Happy.

And I feel a little strange saying it but I didn’t feel badly about this. I didn’t feel as though I had denied my children an opportunity for fun or that I had interrupted a multi-year tradition of 4th of July bike parading, even though, technically, those things are true. I didn’t worry that I had made the wrong decision or waffle right up to the point when we should have departed. I didn’t blame myself later for raining out the holiday or not giving us the chance to be festive. I felt absolute certainty that I had made the right call. I didn’t feel guilty. I felt proud.

It can be hard enough to figure out what, of the world of possibilities, is right for our family on a grand scale and in the race of the everyday. Letting ourselves be consumed by guilt when we follow our instincts and do what we know is right is something we just don’t have time to indulge in. I’m starting to appreciate that. Doing what everyone else is doing, or even what we’ve always done, is not the way to make my family happy or help us thrive. If I’m honest with myself and if I give myself the small bit of quiet time to think it through, I know what makes us happy, makes us thrive. It comes to me simply and easily and without question.

And in this world of parenting, in which I question every other step every single day, that feels pretty good.

July 2, 2015
by Tricia
7 Comments

Currently / Lately

Lately, I have not been here much. I’ve been in other places. Like on tire swings.

IMG_3635

Lately, I’ve been very much in my head and, at the same time, scrambling to gather a few minutes to think. And since writing is really just thinking, the writing has been hard.

Currently I am looking for the road back in. Or roads, as the case may be. I’m looking for the paths that lead back to where the thinking happens and the words begin to form again. And I’ve been struggling because the path seems so crowded. I’ve lived a lot in the time I’ve spent away from here and when I sit down to write, all of that life bubbles over the top and I feel compelled to write about it all, in order, in detail, because I like to be methodical. But writing doesn’t really work like that. Or, at least, not for me. For me, the story I need to tell at any given moment is the story that has just caught a spark and has taken on a life of it’s own and demands to be told or else. But there’s too much here for a spark to ignite and I don’t know how to clear it all away and begin again.

lately I am catching up on photos from way back in early spring

lately I am catching up on photos from way back in early spring

So I’m taking the path that appeared on Tamara’s blog last week. A “Currently” post. A sort of catch all of all of the things that are (or aren’t) swirling. A way to get it all out so that the stories can begin to breathe in their own space in my heart and mind and maybe even catch fire. Shall we see if this works?

Currently, I am… working. A lot. But not too much. I’m working consistently and well and I’m in a rhythm and it feels really good. It’s starting to feel how I always imagined work as a freelance writer would be.

Currently I am writing a lot but not writing a lot all at once. I’m writing a lot of copy and headlines and concepts for a major hotel company and I’m realizing that working for a hotel is really, really exciting to me. To be honest, dreaming of far away places and travel and a night in a hotel room all to myself, and then getting to translate that dreaming into inspiration for a world of people, is a perfectly lovely way to spend my day. I wouldn’t have guessed it but this work suits me. (p.s. I don’t mean to be weird and not drop the name but I also don’t like to name drop so if you’re curious about who I’m working for, check out the portfolio).

Currently I am enjoying having child care. And feeling guilty about just how much I am enjoying having child care. As if the little burst of joy I feel when both of my children are well cared for and happy and gathering life experiences with other people that I can already see playing out in amazing ways in their little developing lives while I work to contribute to our family and maybe chase a dream or two makes me a bad mother. (No, it doesn’t make me a bad mother. No, it doesn’t make you a bad one either. Yes, there is a post or an essay or a spark there. See, this ‘currently’ thing is working out already).

Currently I am reading Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I’m wishing that I could get through Daring Greatly faster (it’s not her, it’s me). I’m also feeling sheepish about ignoring all of the amazing reviews for Yes, Please for so long. I’ve never been a huge Amy Poehler fan but y’all, read this book. Of course, I’m also currently reading Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?! What’s that you say? You too? Oh how sweet! All joking aside, I just read my own story in that book last night. Is that weird?

martinis & motherhood

Currently I am making guacamole. A lot of guacamole. Because my girl just revealed that she likes it and she’ll eat it at dinner and take it to camp for lunch and that is some good nutrition right there so I’ll mash up as many avocados as it takes to get the good green stuff in her.

Lately I am struggling with parenting a five year old who can roll her eyes as if she’s been doing this for years. I’m learning that her when moods swing low, they hit me hard on the scar tissue of previous heartaches and these are low parenting moments for me. Lately, I’m looking for grace. A lot of grace.

IMG_3724

Lately, I’m struggling with parenting a little boy who has not only found his voice but also fully grasped it’s power and volume.

Currently, I am still trying to accept that just two months separate us from first grade. And I’m feeling sheepish about attaching emotion to Kindergarten graduation as I compare today to the even bigger moments yet to come. But I’m still working through the sadness of knowing that an era, as short as it may be, of her life is over. That the school where she learned to separate from us and make friends and be brave and sing and dance and perform and love and think, is now officially in her past. And I’m struggling to remind myself that it is ok that it is in her past. That she’s taking all of that with her and it will always be a part of her. (Another spark here? Maybe).

Lately I am enjoying summer but also missing it. I’m craving Fall and pumpkin patches and birthday parties while also wishing July could go on forever.

Currently I am listening to podcasts, specifically this one which has me thinking about curating my life. Writing needs to work it’s way back into my curated life.

And, finally, currently I am congratulating Tamara for winning my Motherhood & Martinis giveaway! The rest of y’all will go buy it, right? It’s really delightful. My favorite so far is a story called Purse Person, Plural. So good.

June 24, 2015
by Tricia
7 Comments

One year later, not a fool

desk time

“And in the very big sense, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Is this for me? Am I cut out for this? Am I going somewhere or will I look back a year from now and think myself such a fool for leaping to begin with?”

~ me, one year ago

Almost one year ago to the day, I took a flying leap. I leaped into the giant unknown. I talked a lot of how, when you leap, the safety net will appear. It just will. That’s how life works, beautiful and amazing and magical. I believed in that safety net so hard. To me it was always real. I couldn’t feel it or see it and I had no idea where it would come from. But, to me, it was always there. Still, I talked a bit about back up plans, the options I was keeping in mind for the horizon should the safety net not materialize or should it show up full of holes and I’d slip through.

And let’s not pretend. Let’s just be real for a minute and acknowledge that, of course, I slipped through. Dozens of times. Dozens upon dozens. I slipped and fell hard and it hurt. And I cried. Oh I cried a lot. I screamed and sobbed until I thought I might be sick. I wallowed in it, sometimes past the point of appropriateness.

And then I dragged myself up. I clawed my way back onto that net and I leaped again. And again. And sometimes I soared. The soaring is magical and exciting and spawned many a ridiculous happy dance in my dining room to the complete delight of my toddler. But I learned that the soaring can be just as hard as the falling. The tears that come from soaring feel different inside, sort of, than the ones that come from falling but they pour from my heart just the same.

Along the way, I stopped wondering. I stopped wondering if I am doing the right thing. I stopped wondering if this is for me, if I’m cut out for this. I stopped wondering and starting doing. Climbing. Reaching. And then, along the way, I started being. I gave up pretending and just started being a writer. I practiced saying it out loud until it just rolled from my lips without a second thought. Until the days when I wasn’t a writer felt so far away that they may as well have been another life.

Through the absolute magical speed of time, I’m looking back a year later, now, and I do not think that I was a fool. I think that leaping was the best thing I ever did. It was the most intentional thing I’ve done in my life, though it didn’t feel that way at all at the time. I think that leaping was written in my stars, the thing I had to do and perhaps my life was just waiting for me to gather up the courage to do it. I don’t wonder anymore and a year later, I couldn’t be happier with the leap and where it’s taken me.

listen to your mother

soaring and happy

And part of me wants to smile big and confidently say that I believe I did the right thing, that I was not a fool, because of how I feel when I sit down to write. Or how I’ve been able to figure things out, find my way in words. That the leap feels right on the inside and that’s all I need. That it has nothing to do with external validation.

But let’s keep not pretending. Let’s be real a bit longer and acknowledge that it’s a lot about external validation. Because I didn’t leap just to write for myself. I leaped to write, to put my words out there, to make a difference and to make money. I didn’t leap to devote more time to a hobby, I did it to make a new career. As a writer, as a creative, it is just as important for my words to connect, to move, to influence or educate or make an impact as it is for them to feel right to me. The words I write must do right by me and my audience. For this to work, for this to not have been a giant mistake, the outside world needed to validate me. It needed to say yes, your writing does something.

And, more often than not, the world said yes.

One year after leaping into the life of a freelancer, putting my livelihood at the mercy of my words and their ability to move and connect, I’m doing it. I didn’t have an exact picture of what I hoped life would look like right now, but I am so pleased with how it turned out. The ride is still as dizzying and, at times, nauseating as it was a year ago but without the vertigo and unsettled stomach, I’m not sure I’d feel alive anymore.

martinis & motherhood

So, in celebration of this year of mine, the success and the failure that kicked me in the tush towards more success, I’m offering a gift! Last week, coming in right before my little freelance anniversary, my words were published in a book! Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe, & WTF?! released early last week and the response has been nothing short of amazing. And that book could be yours! Of course, if you don’t win, you can always hop over to Amazon. I promise the stories in this book will make you laugh and cry in all of the good ways that we mothers need to laugh and cry.

Giveaway is open until Monday (to only folks in the US, Canada, and UK).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 27, 2015
by Tricia
3 Comments

Notes from the middle

feet and chair

We took the last high chair away at dinner time.

Not while cleaning out. Not in the midst of a mid-afternoon wander around the house, taking care of those things we meant to do but never quite did. Not, as I usually do, after weeks of working up to it, mourning the loss of it before it’s actually gone so that the actual removal doesn’t hurt as badly.

No, we took it right out from under him between bites of chicken. At his request, of course. We moved it to the corner (because I can look past its placement and emptiness and still think of it as a thing we’ll use) and moved one of our spare dining table chairs in it’s place. He hopped on, smiled big, and that was that.

The big high chair sayonara came at the end of his first day of potty training. After a day of wearing undies and telling me on every trip to the bathroom, “Me big. Me go potty!” (The caveman speak and frequent accidents did little to convince me that he isn’t just as big as he thinks he is, growing just as rapidly as he wants to). It came just hours after her last Daisy meeting. The last time I dropped her off at the big school in the big kid classroom for just an hour because soon she’ll spend all day long in that kind of room, surrounded by desks and backpacks. (The way she clung to me as I tried to leave did little to convince me that she is not just as big as she thinks she is, growing more and more independent every day). It was promptly followed by discussion of the next big goodbye – the crib. We all sat there on the same kind of chair, using the same kind of forks, all of us wearing underwear (which oddly feels like the thing that makes us equals) and we talked about his big boy bed.

And we stared at them for a minute. Because yikes, there they are. People. Little people growing real fast and growing all the time but most of the time we don’t realize it. So when the moment smacks you in the face, when suddenly you look and realize that they’re just a bit bigger, just a bit older today than they were yesterday, you have to stop and stare. Just for a minute. Take it all in. Savor it, the wonder of them and everything you know that came before to get you to this moment, just for a breath. Because, of course, in the next minute there will be bickering because her hand is on his chair or whining because she doesn’t want to eat, or wet undies because it’s still day 1, or any of a dozen things that remind you that yes, they are growing real fast and growing all the time but they are still small and young and babies in the grand scheme of things. Soon you’ll have no need for diapers.com. Soon the crib you watched arrive with anticipation, holding your big belly and feeling excited and terrified all at the same time, will be reduced to a collection of pieces and handed off to someone else. Soon sitting together at dinner, all of you wearing underwear and sitting on chairs without buckles won’t be such a novel thing. It will be the thing you do and it will be comfortable and exciting and amazing because it will be the kind of family moment you dreamed of. Soon these things will happen but today, we’re still in the middle of the ride.

It’s been, and will continue to be, one of those years for our family. One of those in which all of the ‘soons’ become ‘nows.’ One of those in which big changes happen at a dizzying rate, all of us reaching and growing and changing and taking on big things. Our growth curves won’t level out until 2015 comes to a close, when we’re three months into first grade and preschool, several months into new jobs and more time spent on career, half a year without the baby supplies tucked into every corner of our home. It seems wild and crazy that so much will be packed into just one year, that just six months from now, our life will look completely different than it did when we toasted to the new year. That right this very minute we’re grown in some places and completely unchanged in others and we’re feeling the awkward growing pains here caught in mid-transformation. But this seems to be the way with young ones. So much growth happens in these first handfuls of years, our little people morph right before our eyes and we have no choice but to change right along side them, experiencing the pain and the beauty of it all.

I used to run to escape the pain of it all. I used to close my eyes and pretend nothing had changed until everything was done and the change seemed irrelevant because the new routines and ways and feelings had already taken their place. Of course, in running to escape the pain, I also evaded the beauty. The pain and the beauty are a bit like play dough, you know? You try to keep the colors separate but really, they are meant to be melded and mixed and blended. And once you bring them together, there is no getting them apart.

So these days, I’m working hard to let myself feel it all. I’m taking a minute when the realizations hit and I’m letting my heart ache at goodbyes and farewells and sayonaras. I’m letting the ache linger and I’m sitting with it, even curling up in it a little. When I remember that tomorrow starts her last two weeks of Kindergarten, her last two weeks in the sweet little school where she has grown so much and that has loved her and nurtured her, I don’t push away the pain of saying goodbye. I let the pain mingle with the delight that, today, it’s not over yet. When I count the number of days I have left at home with him, playing away the hours and living the sweet, toddler life, I linger in the sadness. I linger and smile because, it’s not over yet. I mix it all together because I’m starting to realize that letting myself feel every feeling that goes along with it all is the only way to really live it.

May 19, 2015
by Tricia
1 Comment

Not goodbye

kids at creek

photo credit: Miss N.

Almost five years ago, we interviewed our first nanny as my belly swelled in front of me and my mind danced with a chaos that made me dizzy. I spent weeks in the middle of my pregnancy preparing and planning ahead for the complete unknown, as we all do. I talked to women and tried to suss out whether they’d take good care of my little girl before I even knew what that meant. To think back and come to terms with the fact that I chose a near stranger to take care of my baby before I even knew the color of my little girl’s eyes, the shape of her nose, the shade of her hair, (that she was a she and not a he) feels impossibly awkward and scary to me now. To remember how that first nanny did not work out feels painful and, yet, with the perspective of years, makes sense.

Almost four years ago, we interviewed our second nanny. I remember more about the second time around – the people we met, the questions we asked. We knew more. We knew what we wanted and, more importantly, what we didn’t. We interviewed so many very lovely women, sitting at our dining room table with our little girl balanced on our knees. But what stands out to me most is the one line that most of them said as we talked about qualifications and expectations. It went something like, “I’ll make sure your little girl is loved and cared for while you aren’t able to be here.”

No doubt they all worded that better but it hurt every time. I wanted to work but I didn’t want to be away. I wanted to pursue my career but I wanted to be the one loving and caring for my baby. I didn’t want to think about someone else doing that job. I didn’t want to think about someone else making my little girl giggle and laugh, watching her play and soothing her to sleep. I wanted those things to happen. I knew they needed to happen without me. I just didn’t want to think about them.

Whether Miss N. said those exact words or not, I don’t remember. What I do remember is knowing, as soon as we met, that I did, in fact, want her to take care of my little girl when I couldn’t. To be honest, I kind of wanted her to take care of me too. I wanted to hang around home for art projects and music and outings to the park and story time and trips to the old caboose that sits in the field about a mile away. I wanted mornings at the creek, hands dipped in paint to make decorations for every holiday, afternoon dance parties in the living room. If I had written down a list of the things I really wanted for my little girl, the things it felt silly to say out loud because these were the things that were icing on the cake and not solid care requirements, I’d have checked every one off the day we met Miss N. She had it all. I knew that she’d nurture in my little girl all of the things that were important to me and that, in doing so, she’d push me. I knew she’d push me to up my game, let go of my fear of messes, my need for control, my tentative nature and tendencies to tip toe into new waters. She’d introduce my little girl to the feeling of paint between her fingers and mud between her toes. She’d teach her to launch into the world and go bravely with her head held high. She find seeds of passions and interests in my baby and she’d carefully care for them and make them grow.

I knew that she’d push me towards the mother I wanted to be. She’d push me to be a better mama.

And I trusted my still new motherhood instincts enough to know that I needed and wanted that pushing.

It’s a completely underrated responsibility of motherhood – the responsibility of choosing the people who become a part of our children’s lives, the people who will weave themselves into the fabric of our babies’ childhoods and make a difference there. For a short time in our children’s lives, we get to choose who joins their inner circles, we have some degree of control over who gets to know them well enough to fall in love with them. It’s a huge responsibility and it’s so easy to mess it up. I have. Twice. Probably more than twice.

But there was this one time that I got it right. So right. And that time is up there as one of the best decisions I’ve made since my children were born.

Miss N did care for my little girl when I wasn’t able to be there. And my little boy too. She cared for them selflessly and wholeheartedly and she did it more than I ever imagined. I grew to love the idea of her being there when I wasn’t, experiencing things with them that I didn’t, being the one to love them in person when I couldn’t. And she did take care of me too. She helped my kids become the people they are today and helped me become the mother I am today. But most importantly, she taught me how about the magic that happens when you open your heart and let the right person into your family.

Miss N moves away this week. She has big things ahead and I’ll be watching closely because I know her one precious, wild life only gets better from here. And though there is an empty space in our home these days that we will never fill, I’m reminding myself and my little ones that this is not goodbye. Because she will always be part of us.

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