December 14th, 2012 By Molly
Yesterday our school district sent out a strangely vague message about end-of-the-world rumors and the Mayan calendar. A few sentences in, I’ll admit, I stopped listening. It was hours later when I learned what the message was really talking about; threats of violence, planned for today, from a student at our local high school. Facebook airwaves went crazy with parents weighing in on this horrible topic and I went to bed, like other parents, worrying about my kids.
Two things from that online conversation, in which I was only a stalker, stood out:
Parenting is not for wimps.
Our world is scary.
As I fell asleep with my parental concerns, the rest of the world did, too. Except for 20 parents, it really was the last night before the end of their world. When they kissed their kids goodbye this morning, they had no idea.
Somewhere, evil was at work. Who knows why he did it or what his story was, but he unleashed terror on a small, quaint town and 20 tiny souls with their whole lives yet to live. His “why” and his story don’t matter. Nothing matters to me except what he took from this world.
Nothing happened at our local high school, thank God. But it happened nonetheless.
I was working today and didn’t see the coverage until late. Nothing that I write here will be enough. All I can think is that something has gone terribly wrong. Something important needs to be fixed. I feel like packing up our three kids and two dogs and heading somewhere remote. Somewhere I can control. Somewhere I can keep my kids safe. Somewhere. Where is that?
Tonight, two weeks before Christmas, I pray for comfort for all those touched by this senseless, senseless act.
At this moment, the loss is too much for me – how will they survive?
Sometimes there is just no good to grab.
December 6th, 2012 By Molly
For almost 11 years, I have been a “girl mom”. My “boy mom” years are much shorter, at just over six. I swear, there is something new to learn about these interesting little creatures every single day.
Most recently, his showers have gotten long. I’ve been patting myself on the back for having a 6-year old boy that has taken his bathing off my currently full plate. Foolish me.
Life has been unimaginably busy, challenging, exciting, and blurry lately as my weekly work hours have gone from 25 to over 50. You might have noticed my posting frequency has hit the skids. The idea of someone, anyone, taking anything off my plate is welcome with a capital “W”! I believed those showers were actually showers because I needed to.
One night, after Finn emerged from his non-green 30-minute cleaning session, I noticed a lack of that wonderful shower-fresh kid-smell. (Some necessary background, Finn also likes to wear clothes for several days in a row, including socks. Our December summer in Chicago has left him with some pretty stinky feet.) His “shower” did not work on those feet.
I leaned down and smelled his hair. No sign of Suave’s Cowabunga Coconut. So I asked, “Um, Finn? When you’re showering, you’re using soap, right?” He sort of nodded a weak, unbelievable yes.
“What about shampoo? You’re using shampoo, right?”
“Well, not this time,” he said, slightly annoyed at my audacity.
“Tomorrow night, Daddy will be giving you shower training. Be prepared.” I responded firmly. (Nice delegation, huh?) He shuffled away, mumbling opposing arguments. But he knew the jig was up. His 30 minutes of wet superheros in the shower play time was over.
The next night while I cleaned up dinner, Mike headed upstairs to instruct Finn on ALL the NECESSARY steps of showering. “Wash your arms, wash your legs, wash your FEET!” He sounded like a drill sergeant having too much fun.
Finn came down after in mismatched jammies, his glorious coconut smell proceeding him, and snuggled into the couch.
I jokingly asked Mike how it went and he said, “Great. I said, ‘wash your arms, wash your bottom, wash your balls!’ ”
“What?” I asked.
“Well, then he said he only knows two words for them, ‘balls and nuts’, so I told him that if he keeps showering well, I’ll teach him all the names.”
I’m all for bribery, but not for encouraging a testicle name savant. Even when they’re 41 I don’t have boys figured out. I think it may be time to accept the fact that I never will!
November 27th, 2012 By Molly
It seems like I just finished prepping Thanksgiving dinner, but since before Halloween, the stores have been singing carols and telling me that the holidays are already here. Even with three joyful young souls crowding around me and begging to decorate on Black Friday, I stuck to my guns and said, “No.” Thanksgiving deserves its own day, if you ask me. But now that it’s visible in the rear view mirror, I’m beginning to focus on the chaotic December holidays that lie ahead.
Every year, I wonder if the holidays really need to be this nuts. I vow not to add needless gatherings to our docket. I try to keep lists contained, stick to a budget, and accept that there is no perfect gift, but still, I end up spent and exhausted. Sound familiar? Let’s make a pact this year, a holiday manifesto if you will. Join me in grabbing the holiday good like never before. Repeat after me:
I will not beat myself up for shopping online. I won’t earn extra points for braving the stores this time of year.
I will not feel bad for purchasing foods that make recipes easier. It is okay to skip steps in the spirit of sanity.
If I’m lucky enough to finish my shopping list early, I will not continue shopping.
I will not recreate the burning bush with our Christmas tree. There are enough lights already.
I will focus on the traditions I love, not dream up more ways to complicate our schedules.
I will remember that “no” is NOT a four-letter word.
I will take a few complete days off work. I will not check email on those days. Not even for a second.
When my kids need to go home, we will go home. Nothing is worth an overtired, whining kid-disaster in public.
I will enjoy holiday food without guilt. There is plenty of time to eat healthy. (The holidays are not that time!)
I will practice acts of kindness with my kids this holiday season.
I will remember what this season means to me, why we celebrate it, and more than anything, cherish my time with loved ones. Everything else is fruitcake.
November 19th, 2012 By Molly
“If the only prayer you said was ‘thank you’, that would be enough.” – German theologian and philosopher, Meister Eckhart.
I cannot think of a better quote to kick off my favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving. For those of you that have been reading this column for some time, you won’t be surprised to learn that this has a lot to do with cooking and eating and the food – oh, the glorious food! But also, just as much to do with the family time, the fall smells, sounds, colors, and the gratitude that literally fills my soul. It’s there most days, but never as strongly as it is around Thanksgiving.
Let me get the ball rolling by thanking you for being here, for reading this column, for doing all the things you do each day that make a difference to you, your family, your community, or your world. You—yes little old you—matters and makes an impression on all those around you. So thanks for your effort, your dreams, your plans and your hard work, whatever your work may be.
Getting our gratitude bearings this week is perfect timing, as we’re standing on the brink of HOLIDAY CHAOS. Most of us would be lying if we didn’t admit to a bit of anxiety as we round the bend, so let’s get our minds in the right spot before we do. Let’s focus on the good in every day. Let’s be grateful for it. Let’s look at everything with the thought, “I am thankful for this moment/experience/thing/person.” Before you know it, you will have survived the holidays with less stress and more good vibes and memories than ever before.
Once you’re looking at life through grateful eyes, it’s time to get serious about giving thanks. Make these holidays the best yet by paying it forward. Open doors for others, carry packages, buy coffee for the exhausted person behind you in line, or get a little something for that neighbor you’re always calling to come to your rescue. Want to make a serious impact? Get your kids in on the act. Not only will they watch you show gratitude for the world you live in, they’ll grow up doing the same.
Happy Thanksgiving week! May many blessings come your way!