Let’s Do Our Thankfuls

Last year, Jed and I began reciting our thankfuls every night at bedtime. It’s become the sweet point of our day, this quiet time of shared reflection and grace. At first we just said what we were happy about, but it’s become a time to talk about our “unthankfuls” and our “hope fors and hope for nots” as well. Even when I try to sneak out without saying them (oh, how lazy we adults, when it comes to the spirit), he always calls me back.

I don’t remember exactly what started our routine. He was an emotional, energetic 4-year-old, surging with the power of all his possibilities as they flooded his little body.  And his dad and I were at the mean end of our marriage. So the house had a lot of feelings in it, spoken and unspoken, bursting forth and being held under.

We aren’t a family that goes to church, and I back then I hadn’t taught Jed about prayer yet. I don’t follow any particular set of spiritual teachings, other than, be good. Be kind. Be grateful. Be open. Forgive. Love. But I’ve spoken with him about these things – and the way we can focus our monkey minds towards good actions – since he was born.

So I think I just asked him one night what he was grateful for, that day. What good had happened, what joy could he recall? But it is entirely possible that he took the initiative and said to me, mom, stay on my bed and let’s say what we’re happy about today.

I had a tiny green journal sitting on my desk, unused. It was still there from the time I was pregnant and thought I’d write my hopes and dreams for my unborn child, but nothing in my head sounded profound or deep enough to bother recording, so I set the journal aside. Set aside until after our bedtime chat that night, September 24, 2013, when I wrote Jed’s first statement of thanks: “I’m grateful for such a fun playdate with E.”

E is one of his best friends. They met as 6-week old babies. She is part of a group of families we met in a parenting class and the daughter of a woman who has become one of my close friends. E is  also a smart, energetic, opinionated kid, and her mom and I joke that as two only children, E and Jed are the siblings each will never have. They know the buttons, they compete, but they love each other, and her mom and I try pretty hard to make them work it out.

I also told Jed my own statement of gratitude that night, then wrote it in the tiny green journal. After all, we teach the skills of the heart only by example: “Jed, I’m grateful that on the way to E’s house you were thinking about how to not have a fight over which game to play first, and you told me that you decided to say, ok, how about we play both games, do you want to pick first or second? So I’m grateful that you are such a thoughtful friend.”

Ah. So I realize today, reading this tiny green journal, that I AM filling it with my hopes and dreams for my child. And I realize that he has the best of all the gifts – empathy and friendship.

And for this, I am so thankful.

At Jed’s first conference of kindergarten last month, his teacher reported the excellent results of his math and reading tests, then said something truly wonderful. She’d asked the students the day before if anyone could name all 30 kids in the class. Jed raised his hand immediately, she said, the highest and most eager, and recited each name confidently. Last week they worked on a couple of art projects about thankfulness. On one, Jed wrote that he was thankful for mom, dad and grandma. Then the next day, he wrote that he was thankful for R. Not just “friends” in general, but one very specific little boy whom he adores.

He is learning that to truly receive the benefits of gratitude, we must say it out loud:

I am thankful for specifically you, for all the wonderfully unique parts of you that connect with the wonderfully unique parts of me and that expand my experience of this life.

So I’m very thankful for this child who makes me actively practice, every night, the skill of awareness. He makes me notice the marks I Ieft on that day, and decide if they were worthy of one day of my life.

Today was my first Thanksgiving since divorcing Jed’s dad. But it was good. I found myself feeling so connected to my life, almost like a tree planted and growing roots below and trunk above and branches out to the sides. And I thought, I’m so thankful for my connections with people – friends, family  – because they allow me to be alone without feeling lonely.  

I’m also thankful that Jed told me this joke last week, a joke he learned from his friend R, a sweet, kind, fun loving boy that Jed met at the park last spring, well before they knew they’d be classmates :

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Interrupting cow!!!

Interrupting co… [MOOMOOOMOOOOOOOMOOOOO!!!!!!] …ow who?


And I’m thankful that when Jed told this joke to his friend E, at dinner last Friday night, she laughed, and then said, ok, I have a joke, too:

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Patient cow

Patient cow who?

(Silently waiting. Waiting. Waiting patiently. )

Moo. Moo. Moo.

Oh, I’m thankful for these children. I’m thankful for laughter, for friends, for love. I’m thankful for the daily work that keeps our hearts open and our souls connected.





It seems to me that my children live by a set of self-imposed rules and logic. Based only on their behavior, I’ve come up with a short list of these rules here.

1. A bandaid makes everything better. Even if there’s no blood involved. Even if there isn’t even a mark. Bandaids are a miracle cure.

2. The color of the utensil, plate, or cup affects how food tastes.

3. Water tastes best right before bedtime. Or even better, when bedtime is already half an hour late.

4. The later Mommy is running, the slower we move.

5. The more effort Mommy put into cooking dinner, the less appealing it is to eat.

6. A toy is at its most desirable when someone else is playing with it, or when Mommy has decided it’s time to get rid of it.

7. Sleep is the enemy. We are NEVER TIRED. Unless asked to clean up a mess… then we are SO VERY TIRED.

8. The desire and likelihood to do something is increased in direct proportion to the number of times Mommy has said not to do that very thing.

9. There’s always room for dessert.

10. You can be anything you want when you grow up. Including a penguin.

What are some of the rules that your kids live by?

Bonus rule: Your face won’t really get stuck like that, so make all the funny faces you want. They’re hilarious.


It wasn’t supposed to be like this, you know? I wasn’t supposed to be at this point in my life and still searching for Mr. Right. I wasn’t supposed to be dating.

Dating is for when you’re 14 and a boy asks you to “go out” and now that you’re “going out” you might walk around school holding hands sometimes. You doodle your names together inside hearts on the cover of your Trapper Keeper and maybe your mom drives you both to the theater so you can see a PG movie while she sits in the back. Relationships are whiplash fast because you’re 14 and it’s not really a relationship anyway and you’re just kids and you’re really too young to date dammit.

Dating is for when you’re 22 and you both have entirely too much time and disposable income because you’re only working part-time and you still live at your parents’ house and your student loans aren’t in repayment yet and you have no real responsibilities. It’s spending every free moment together making out like mad in the back seat of your car or on the dirty futon in his parents’ basement because who gives a shit. It’s getting drunk and sleeping off the hangover together the next morning (and afternoon), or going away for long weekends at the spur of the moment, or days when you don’t do much of anything except one another.

Dating is not for when you’re 33 and have two kids, a mortgage, and an intolerance for bullshit.

I’ve never been particularly good at dating. I was a nerdy and awkward adolescent. Boys were on my radar, but I certainly wasn’t on theirs. I’d like to say that I didn’t care that I wasn’t popular or attractive, but that’d be a lie. It sucked a lot. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted boys to like me. For whatever reason, though, I felt virtually invisible to the opposite sex pretty much through the end of high school.

College was better, but not by much. I do have friends who were lucky enough to find their eventual husbands among all the booze-soaked frat boys (albeit nerdy frat boys… Go Tribe!) but I was not one of those people. College was a time of personal discovery for me. A time of bad hair and weird fashion choices. A time for cultivating friendships I’m certain will last the rest of my life. It was not a successful time for dating.

I met X after college. X was my first serious relationship, ever. Because dating had always been such a failure for me, when X told me he loved me I figured, “Well, this is it!” I didn’t think it could get any better. I had no idea what I wanted or that I deserved more. I decided this must be the end all be all. We all know how well that worked out for me.

My divorce, ironically, helped foster the confidence I’d always lacked when it comes to men. Having been through one of the most stressful situations a person can endure (it’s true… look it up…), I’ve become pretty fearless when it comes to other aspects of my life. I know who I am now. I know what I want. I have a more complete of idea of what kind of man I want and what will make me happy. Now that I’m at that point, I: A) have very little time to find that person and B) have come to realize the pickings are excruciatingly slim.

Here’s the thing, the men who are available to me at this stage in my life are usually single for a reason. And oftentimes, those reasons fucking blow.

There’s the recent divorcee who wants to sow his wild oats (read: be a dickbag) and “isn’t ready for a relationship.”

There’s the man who’s never been married, but who also hasn’t moved out of his parents’ house because why should he? It’s more economically savvy that way. And you know, the fact that Mommy still cooks his meals and does his laundry just happens to be a perk.

There’s the guy who has all his ducks in a row, but won’t date a chick with kids because Ew. Kids. Gross. (On a certain level, I agree with him… but I digress…)

After eliminating all these douchebags, there aren’t very many prospects left. Most of the really nice, decent guys have been scooped up before they’re thirty. In an attempt to not seem completely jaded, I have met some really fantastic dudes. They’re just few and very far between and, so far, not my type.

I’m trying the online dating thing again in an attempt to broaden the pool. I say “again” because I’ve done this a few times before. It’s a vicious cycle really. I create a profile. Field a bunch of messages (many of which are downright offensive and disgusting. What IS it with dudes?? Why do they think the internet makes it ok to be gross and inappropriate?!) Maybe go out on a date or two. Get bored. Deactivate my account. Rinse and repeat.

Given the fact that my custody agreement affords me only one night a week where I can go out unencumbered, I don’t have much time to dedicate to actually meeting new people. And even with that free night, I don’t want to solely dedicate it to blind dates. Sometimes a girl just wants to go out drinking and dancing with her friends (and honestly, that’s what I’d rather do anyway…)

Part of me wants to say fuck it. I’m gonna live my life as a glamorous divorcee who travels the world and has international trysts with tall, dark, and handsome lovers (you know… once the kids grow up and move out that is…)

This is much closer to the truth, though:

I don’t really think that’s too much to ask, do you?

What Do You DO All Day?

Lindsay Horvath is a 36 year old stay-at-home-mom. She writes, photographs, mothers and drinks her way through each day. If you want to know more, she blogs at horvathhappenings.wordpress.com.

Ahh…the proverbial question all stay-at-home-moms encounter routinely…the proverbial question that has no clear answer, because to piece it all out in words and descriptions often doesn’t even come close to what SAHMs do all day.  (Though, for the record, there’s a Forbes quote floating around that I recently read stating that if SAHMs were paid for all that they do–childcare, housework, chaufferring, etc –their annual salary would be $112K. ) But then, someone made this.  http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/this-beautiful-short-film-shows-exactly-what-it-is-that-a-st And not only does it show what all of us SAHMs do all day (hint: it’s not watching daytime television in pjs while eating bon bons!!) but it also lights a fire under why  moms do what they do and why it is such important work.  I would say this video extends beyond SAHMs, because in a lot of ways working moms do all this and then go work an 8 hour job, only to come home and do more.  And of course, they have weekends.  I implore you to watch the above link–it’s about 3 minutes long–but if you don’t, it’s a short video capturing moments throughout a day of 3 different moms-of-small-kids’ lives.  Of course set to sappy music, so if you have any amount of estrogen in your body, break out a few tissues first. Being someone who is in the thick of this life that is known as Staying Home With The Kids I can state that this video really did bring tears to my eyes.  Because it so poignantly captures the things that are so mundane and tiresome and weary-inducing to moms are actually so instrumental in how we raise and love our kids…from letting them “help” us make breakfast to wiping noses to simple acts of patting their backs and holding them.  Wah.

And, as I get to the point where I’ve had more years in this gig than I have left in this gig, I start to wonder what am I going to do once Stella starts kindergarten?  Even though there are lots of things that I know I want to do and there’s still a whole lot of SAHM’ing left when the kids start school, namely in the form of chauffering.  And I think, I’m going to miss them terribly even though I don’t miss Gabey terribly since he started kindergarten (I do miss him…but not terribly.  I’m happy to drop him off in the morning and just as happy to pick him up in the afternoon.  It is what it is, and will probably be what it will be when Stella starts school too.) And yet…so much of what I do is exhausting, mind-numbing, and challenging.  But its hard to put it into words, and when I’ve tried–both to non-parents and to working parents (to a degree) I sort of get a look that says “Oh…” because it just doesn’t sound that taxing.  You have to get your kids dressed and feed them breakfast?  Yeah?  You hang out at home with your 2-year-old all day?  Sounds rough. And to complain about anything involving being a SAHM, ever, puts you in the category of “people who have a luxury afforded them who are complaining”.  Because it IS a luxury, to me and to them, but that does not mean that it’s all a big rainbow and unicorn macaroni necklace-making naptime party for all.  It doesn’t mean I don’t love it, cherish it.  And I think that’s why I love this video so much. Every single morning I make my kids something simple for breakfast…every single morning they fight.  EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING.  The little one often falls off her chair because she’s screwing around, and my morning is spent making food, feeding, wiping messes, kissing tears, prodding and nagging “put on your shoes” “15 more minutes!” “brush your teeth” “let’s go potty!”  Nearly every morning I eat standing up, between making food, cleaning the kitchen, breaking up fights, preparing for departure.  Yes, preparing for departure. There’s no such things walking out the door.  There’s the bringing of stuff.  The packing of bags.  The putting on of coats.  The last-minute cries of I need to poop right now!  The crying and fighting over who opens the door first.  The fight to put the 2-year-old in the car seat (every day.  EVERY car trip.)  The dog running in and out.  The backseat fighting Its mine…no, its MINE!  It’s not like when adults walk out of the house and get into the car, buckle up, and go.  Not in the slightest.

gabe 1

And then there’s the drop off at school…waiting in a line of cars.  The daily grind of chores, or errands, or perhaps a playdate or library class.  Everything centered around 12:30 being nap time, or centered around skipping nap time and planning for the inevitable behavioral fall out.  Leaving the house 30 minutes before school gets out in order to get a parking space so I don’t have to carry my 25 lb child across a large field to meet my 6-year-old at the school door.  Waiting.  Dealing with the whining and the crying and the boredom of waiting on the 2-year-old end.  The inevitable fighting that begins before even pulling out of the parking lot…over a random red pool ball that sits inexplicably in the backseat (how?  why?  I can’t even…)  Yelling from mom, threats to call Santa, tears from the 6-year-old, screams of angst (or something) from the 2-year-old.  Arrival at karate.  The dragging of kids from the car across what is always a crazy parking lot due to it being in a strip mall.  The rush to get inside, with just minutes to spare.  To get changed, take the 2-year-old to the potty, where she fights if she doesn’t get to turn on the light, shut the handle on the door, pull down her own pants, do it by myself!  So I let her, but sometimes I forgo washing her hands because we need to get back out to help the 6-year-old get his uniform tied and his belt on before class begins.  So after kneeling on the floor of a public (more or less) restroom, you choose between hand washing and a little boy being on time for class.

gabe 2

And then you sit, for 30 minutes, and watch this (twice a week).  With a 2-year-old.  Who wants your phone.  And your drink.  And gum, which she isn’t allowed.  And she pulls unsavory items like tampons and lighters (??) out of your purse and offers them to strangers.  And she begs to go “see da fishies!” so you walk down the long, cold hallway of the strip mall, many times, to the pet store.  Inevitably you end up carrying her both ways, and sometimes she will nestle her head in your neck and murmur “I lub you Mommy” and it makes the screaming back pain feel like nothing.  Other times, she will for no reason known to anyone on earth, hit you in the face and wrinkle up her nose and lower her eyebrows and grin like every bully in the history of bully-dom and you will want to drop her right there and send her the bills for your chiropractor when she’s 18.  But of course, you don’t, you calmly explain we don’t hit and keep walking.

stella 1

This is a pretty accurate description of my day, many days.  And then we go home.  Depending on the night, it’s either bathtime while Gabe cooks, then dinner – which is often like a 3 ring circus – then TV and then bed.  Or, if he’s working, its dinner a la mom, bathtime, TV show, and bed.  Dad dinner nights are bit smoother because OMG there are TWO adults working here.  Mom dinner nights are either (a) highly innutritious or (b) highly stressful or (c) take out.  Tonight, I cooked a 3 course breakfast for dinner type dinner and it was all I could do to keep things together.  Between the kids fighting over who was “helping” me to complaining when I DID ask them to help by setting the table, letting the dog out, etc.  Gabey announcing in the middle of the most precarious timing moment (fried eggs!  flipping French toast!) that he was “just going to go take a bath because I’m bored” which led to me saying “NO” which led to Stella screaming and sobbing because “I wanna take a BATHHHHH!”  Then there was a falling-off-the-island-chair incident.  Then I realized the dog was let out…but not back in.  And I burned some French toast.  And Stella “stole” Gabe’s chapstick from his back pack which resulted in a Hunger Games-esque chase around the house.  And then I served them dinner.  And repeatedly filled cups, got more syrup, cut up bacon, got an extra napkin, etc etc–all of which led to me sitting down to eat as the two of them were finishing up.  For just one moment of peace, and at this moment, Gabe walked in and took sight of the three of us at the island, blissfully chewing away.  “Ohhhh, breakfast for dinner.  Nice.  So what did you do today?” Yes.  What DID I do?  Because I suppose, from an outsider point (and I don’t mean Gabe per say, just anyone in general) it would look like the only thing I did all day was decorate our mantle for Christmas.  Not the whole house mind you.  Just the mantle. And then we went up and did baths, and Stella screamed at Gabey because he was pooping while she wanted to dump the pee from her little kid potty in the big potty and then more screaming because the water in the bath was too hot, but the water coming out was too cold and I not washing my hair! and Where’s MY jammies and How come Stella gets to wear Christmas jammies and I don’t? No fair.” And Where MY t-shirt..Gabey have t-shirt…where MINE!!?? and on and on and on down to the living room for a half hour of TV before bed.  In which one kid mercifully, wonderfully sits and stares like a vegetable (and I used to complain about that haha!) and the other is climbing in baskets, stealing my water, spilling my water, rolling on the dog bed (freshly bathed and in fleece pjs, mind you), hitting her brother for no apparent reason, begging for my phone, begging for food, begging for juice until finally.  FINALLY.  7 pm.

stella 2

And that’s when the paradox kicks in.  You just want the madness of little people to end, to drink some wine, talk to grown-ups, watch television shows with the F word and do whatever the hell you want even if it’s just Facebooking and watching The Walking Dead, which you will certainly fall asleep during.  But then you carry a little, not so heavy, body upstairs…take her to the potty and marvel that she’s already potty-trained.  Read her a Disney princess story that you swore you’d never read but you do because she loves it so much.  And feel her little body and kiss her little cheek against yours as you read.  Talk about your day and feel flooded with warmth when she cocks her head and says sweetly, “Tell me something” as you said to her when she just learned to talk and you just wanted to hear her talk at night.  Then she tells you funny things and uses proper grammar in the voice of a baby and you want to squeeze her and eat her up.  Then you go through the nightly song rendition in which she, not you, performs–in no particular order–The Elmo Song, Beat It, Jingle Bells, and the ABCs.  Then you tuck her in, cover up her and 4 baby dolls, turn on the turtle music.  You say “I love you” and she says “I love you Mommy!”   And you walk out with just a bit of bittersweet pangs of…what?  All day, just wanting a little break and when it comes?  You’re tired, and you already miss them, and every scream, tantrum, refusal, mess, and disobedience is rendered null and void by the tiny little sing-song voice. “I love you Mommy!” And then you listen to your 6 y ear old try to read you a book, and listen to his ramblings about his day, and think about how you can’t really carry him anymore, and think that you need to spend more time just talking to him and hanging out with him.  And you will, tomorrow.  When it starts all over.  When you get up at 6:30 so you can have an hour and 15 minutes of silence with nothing but coffee, a dog, a computer and if you’re feeling ambitious, laundry going.  When inevitably the 6-year-old will come downstairs fully dressed and he’ll quietly play next to you and it will remind you of when he was a toddler and did this.  And then you’ll realize “Shit!  Its 7:45!” and you’ll get up the 2-year-old, who will greet you with kisses and love and immediately scream because her potty seat is still drying, or she doesn’t want to get dressed, or “Gabey has the pink bowl!  That’s MY bowl!”  And so it goes. But the very essence of what we, SAHMs, do all day lies in those quiet moments.  What all moms do really.  A hand on a kid’s back.  Band-aids applied.  Cardboard boxes turned into forts.  Meal prep.  Feeding.  Driving.  Cleaning.  Caring.  Holding.  Loving.  Mothering. So simple, vague, so hard and so profound.  So time-consuming, so exhausting, so boring at times, so enchanting.  So fun.  So rewarding.  Frightening.  Painful.  Important. So I guess a really good answer to the ever-pondered question what do you DO all day would simply be this: I’m raising my children.  It has its perks (hello, pool days and jammie days and art projects) and its downfalls (hello, many hours spent in the car listening to fights, being exhausted more days than not, dressing little bodies, wiping noses, sharing food…).  But THAT is what I “do all day”.  Raise my kids.  And in the thick of it its hard sometimes to grasp those tiny moments of wonderfulness and brush off the many big moments of for the love of God just. stop. screaming. crying. complaining. fighting. pooping. carrying on. And sometimes you watch a little video that totally encompasses all of it so eloquently it makes you want to drink a glass three glasses of wine and write about it.  Because someday they won’t be little and needy and you will know that what you’ve done all day, every day, was the very, very best you could have done.

Plus, kids are really cute.

Nine Years…and Counting

I’ve been trying for several days now to write a post about today. And, y’all, I just can’t write anything that doesn’t sounds like a big cliche pile of mushy, braggy crap. Today is my 9th wedding anniversary.

Our wedding day!

Our wedding day!

Here’s the thing though…there are a lot of cliches in my marriage. We have good communication, we are friends, my love for my husband has grown in depth and breadth as these nine years have passed, and it doesn’t feel like it’s been nine years.

On our way to our honeymoon..or just home from it?

On our way to our honeymoon..or just home from it?

I’m also mushy about it…I am defensive of anyone who wants to be critical, unless it’s me. I feel sentimental and nostalgic over the steps we’ve taken to get here. I couldn’t imagine walking this road with anyone else.

Our last picture at our "house of firsts".

Our last picture at our “house of firsts”.

And there’s a lot to brag about. Joe is such an amazing man, friend, husband, and father. We’ve learned how to push each other’s buttons, and thus how to avoid pushing them. We are also good at building each other up and making sure we acknowledge the sacrifices and triumphs of the other. Anyone who is friends with Joe knows you’ll never find a more loyal man with more integrity. He’s a great catch and we have a great marriage.

He's so good at playing with the kids...perhaps because he's mentally the same age?

He’s so good at playing with the kids…perhaps because he’s mentally the same age?

I’m not suggesting that our marriage is all unicorns shitting rose-scented glitter…but I can’t imagine that it gets much better than this. Really.

He has grown so much as a dad of three girls. And they love him for it. As do I.

He has grown so much as a dad of three girls. And they love him for it. As do I.

I’m not perfect. Joe isn’t perfect. I think that we are perfect together. I’m grateful for our little family and for such an awesome partner.

The whole famdamily.

The whole famdamily.