Category Archives: Parenting

To Emma

For my beautiful girl, I give you these words.

Well, my dear, it may seem this world was never meant for us, not the way it is now, not the way it has been.  But, my Darling, nothing worthwhile was made perfect from the start. Everything craved, lusted for, and containing real value started in someone’s dreams. It took molding and shaping and relentless perseverance on the part of some Great Creator to turn dirt into the smooth painted walls of the cliff.  The dust had to gather and settle and harden, the river had to etch in it it’s name.  That is what it takes to make true beauty and art and you, my precious darling, are art.  They’ll lie to you every day.  You’ll see these lies on television, in movies, on billboards, from sources deemed reputable by leaders and authority.  You’ll hear them in songs and out of the mouths of the ones you trust, but, listen to my voice, child.  Let it ring loudly each time you need it.  I’ll scream it into a jar for you to keep safe.  I will tell you the truth as I’ve learned it the hard way and I’m telling you now that this truth will not change.  You’re beautiful, that’s true, but what can that body do that will last more than a century?  Nothing more than a memory in the minds of those you meet will that body become.  But, your mind is your asset, your strength, your own source of energy and with it you will create poetry and think great thoughts that will be repeated endlessly by others who seek to feel your souls starlight.  Your strength and your will, your wit and your might will travel through time while your body will rot, but not the fruits of your mind.  Your voice will echo forever if behind it you place intentions that are pure and words that are wise. Your soul is sacred and eternal so let it be free and unspoiled, untainted and untethered by the fleeting expectations of a society that is only as valuable as a tear drop in the sea. If you let them smother you with their misguided truth and intentions, you , my sweet girl, will break your own heart.  No one can break it from the outside because, unlike man you are not made of stone but of gold, malleable and soft, precious and rare. As they try to break you, you will bend and stretch under the hammer.  You will sway as their screams of inequality create hurricanes of wasted wind, because some Great Creator that cannot be fathomed made you with a great purpose.  It is one that will remain unexplained until you are capable of understanding it and strengthened enough by experience to head into it without fear while holding His hand with a faith that no religion could contain.  You, my sweet one, are exquisite, far beyond the words of all languages combined.  There is no term for what you will become because they will coin one when you reveal what it is you were created for.  You are capable of creating the future we have fought for and the one you deserve.  The responsibility may seem too great and too heavy and you may falter and fall but never give up, never stay down.  Your spirit is a magnet and others will join you to help you carry the weighty load and together you will become more than the bearers of life but the creators of a world worth living in.  You, my little girl, can do anything and no one can stop you for you are magnificent in a way that transcends their realm of understanding and enters into one that exists to you alone.  You are a dancing and sparkling spirit, affecting change, fortifying the future with goodness and justice.  You are a gift to all mankind and should be treated as such, without exception.  They will try to lessen you and attempt to dull you down and this is the time to take out that jar.  Open it in front of them and the screams of those who’ve fought the battle before you will force them back and deafen them.  They will fall to their knees.  The strength is yours.  The wisdom has been freely given and rightfully earned.  Use it and never forget that your power requires no explanation, justification, or excuse.  It needs only an outlet in the form of a song, an essay, a speech.  Whatever you choose, if you use it well and with grace and love, it will live inside the souls of the ones you’ll save with it, for eternity.  You, my baby, can do anything.  Let no one steal that from you with noise and normality.  With these words I deliver into your hands your own destiny.  In your hands is where it belongs.  Hide it from no one so others may see you and seek you out.  Let them be fortified while taking shelter under your wild wings above.  Teach them to be strong.  You’re more than they’ll allow you to realize, so, I’ll tell you now and repeat it as often as needed.  You are the way forward, the answers, the truth.  Shine bright, little darling.  Be brave, teach others, stay true.  You are the future you’re wishing for.  The entire universe lives inside of you.  Use it.

What I learned at the lemonade stand.

My children and I ran a lemonade stand yesterday.

So many lemons died. Mourn these poor lemons.

Anyway. I learned a lot during the process.

We set up shop in an empty parking lot adjacent to a church. I learned some things about some church folk that day.

A group of people who came over thought it appropriate to immediately kill the joy of this experience by criticizing my 7 year old son’s business model. They repeatedly mocked him for charging only a quarter per cup of fresh squeezed lemonade. As they stood by us and their other church friends came over they would laugh at my son and his choice to charge what he was charging.

The night before we set up his stand I had gone over the logistics with him. I told him all about covering costs and what his competitors may be charging. Etc. Etc.

I told him I thought 50 cents a cup was more than fair. He thought that was too much. He wanted to charge 10 cents. We settled on a quarter.

My children were engaged in every step of the process. They squeezed lemons. They made the sign. They helped set up and they operated the stand entirely after it was operational.

Here is my younger boy doing some excellent and enthusiastic advertising.

I told the older boy that I’d like him to offer free lemonade to police officers and soldiers. He smiled immediately at the idea. After the younger ones finished coloring the sign he added to it. He wanted to write “free for heroes” but I wasn’t sure that everyone would know what he meant.

His intentions to run the stand were never about money. He wanted a new experience. He wanted to make people happy.

As the crowd of critics mocked him I ended their battery of his innocence by saying, “We aren’t doing this to make money. We’re doing this to make people happy.” They quieted down. Thank God.

What surprised me was that these people had literally just walked out of church. Only a small clearing of grass separated our lemonade stand and their place of worship. Somehow in the short distance between those doors and my children’s lemonade stand they had lost their perspective on generosity and morality. Maybe that isn’t what they’re learning there. It certainly wasn’t their focus in the moments directly following their Sunday morning service.

They had gotten into his head though. After they left my son asked for a pen. He was thinking about changing the price on the sign. I gave him one, but I also told him I thought it was important to follow his heart. I told him he should stick to his decision and not let the opinions of others direct his choices.

I added, “What if a very thirsty person came to get a drink and they didn’t have much money?”

I have never been more proud of my son.

He said, “I would give it to them for free.”

I have to admit there was a strategy in the back of my mind that wasn’t entirely altruistic. My approach relied on people rewarding them for the good they were doing.

I knew that if good folks saw these three adorable children under charging for a quality product that their generosity would prevail.

Not one person left that lemonade stand without paying at least a dollar. Had these children charged 50 cents that is probably all they would have gotten during more than one transaction. Some of these people saw the innocence and philanthropic nature in these kids and paid 5 dollars a cup.

I wasn’t counting on that reaction. I wasn’t trying to be manipulative.

But, I know people.

We haven’t counted the money yet. It’s still in the piggy bank. The kids haven’t asked about how much they made even as the container of their earnings sits out in the open, in plain sight.

That isn’t why we did this.

By the end of hour one, outside in the hot hot Alabama heat, I was the one waving the sign by the highway while the kids sat in the shade. The big boy had set his hours of operation. He said he wanted to stay 2 hours. An hour and a half in he wanted to quit. I told him he needed to stick it out. He had set his hours and he wasn’t going to be clocking out until he had put in his time.

This wasn’t about money. It was about much more than that. Ethics, altruism, workmanship to name a few.

It’s a shame that a few religious folks sullied the joy in the occasion and tried to destroy what I had set out to do. They tried to realign my children’s value system with their own.

The really sad thing is, these types of folk will always tell my kids that they’re better than they are because they go to church and have a religion, one they don’t actually put into practice.

That mentality caused me some pain in the past. I hope my kids don’t suffer the same.

My kids did something great yesterday. I sincerely hope they realize that their actions mean much more than the words and religious status of a few misguided others.

They were honest in ethics.

They were generous and polite.

They were hard working and diligent.

They are far better people at 7, 5, and 3 years of age than the so called “Christians” who walked out of that church and over to us that day.

I’m incredibly proud of them.

I’m certain the Higher Power that cares for them is, too.

Father’s day adventures. 2016

I’ve written about my Daddy before.  I love him.  We all know that.  He’s my HERO.   He’s stuck here in this foreign land with me for the time which makes me feel awful knowing how much he loves his home.  That’s part of the reason I wanted to let him know how much I appreciate him today. 

Father’s day,  2016.  I don’t have much to offer.  I gave him bedding for the mattress and box spring he has in his room here.  The one that sits directly on the floor with no frame,  no head board.  For months he’s been sleeping without even a fitted sheet.  So,  I got him a sheet set and soft blanket,  king size naturally.  It must fit who it’s meant to cover, after all.

He loved it. 

Yesterday on my excursion to the book store I bought him a trivia book.  He loves filling his head with interesting (yet less than useful) facts.  He’s been reading it since I gave it to him.  I think he likes it.

Today,  I panicked.   I had no idea what to do.  If we were home we could go fishing or see family.  Have a party, or,  at the very least,  share the day with my sister.  But,  it’s just the two of us.  Living in a borrowed home.  None of his personal belongings within 2,000 miles. 

He likes to drive.  I tried to find a cool scenic highway.  There aren’t any nearby.  I remember the Sunday drives growing up.  We would change clothes after church and get in the car.  We’d get lunch or pack a picnic and we would take off into the country side. 

My memories of these trips are all filled with warm yellow light and hazy sunshine.   There was no music playing on the speakers, only stories being told.   We would pass something interesting or familiar and Dad would spin his tales.  My sister and I would often look at each other and smile, often giggling under our breath when we wondered if what he said was true.  Our Dad is one of the goofy one’s.  Always willing to make a fool of himself to make his little girls laugh.

I’d poke at my sister.  She’d take it for awhile.  Then she’d say,  “Mom!”.   I’d stop and do my best to look innocent.  It never worked.  That woman knew me better than I’ve ever known myself.   I remember watching her from the backseat when the car was silent and the bumpy roads would bounce me toward sleep like my mother did when I was just a baby.  Her face was often the last thing I saw before my eyes finally closed.  They’d put up a good fight but slumber won out.

Today there was no drive, though.  Nowhere to go.  No memories to recall fondly.  Another plan needed hatching.

I thought about the museum.  Civil rights or art.  I didn’t think he’d enjoy either of those.  No go.

I thought about a movie but nothing he would be interested in was playing.  Again, I had no idea what to do for the most deserving man in the world.

My sister wired me money.  “Take Dad somewhere.”, she said as she sat alone without a Father to celebrate with today.   My circumstance forces uncomfortable absences on people who don’t deserve it.  She misses Dad today and she has no mother on Earth to talk to about it.  Sorry, Sarah.  It will all be sorted out soon enough.

So,  I took him to the bookstore.  A passion we share.  He had no idea I was taking photos.  He didn’t know I’d write this either.  I wonder what he will do when he finds out I’ve secretly documented our day. Like a ninja.


Off we went to spend Sarah’s money.  Woohoo!  I LOVE spending Sarah’s money.


THIS is where I get it from.  It all makes sense now.  Give me books. ALL of the books.  BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS!  I NEED them ALL!

He got seven books for himself, and one for me, of course.  If there is one thing my parents were ALWAYS willing to buy, it was books. I’m sure he’d have bought me as many as I’d asked for (within reason) but, I’m gratefully spoiled, not rotten.

Then we went to eat.  As we were trying to pick a place I wasn’t very helpful.  I will literally eat any type of food and enjoy it.  I like food.  I like it as much as I like books.  THAT’S saying something.

My Dad and I decided on a place eventually.  In a surprising way.  I didn’t see it coming though I probably should have.

He asked me, “What would Mom like?”
I listed a place we ate at a lot as children. It rhyme’s with schmerkins.  They don’t have those here, though.  Her next favorite was a popular “italian” chain.  Luckily for us, the local equivalent was right next door to the bookstore.


There’s Daddy.  Embracing the age of technology.  Making sure I know all about the interesting facebook stories,  whose birthday it is today (happy b-day Pickles), and how to get an alligator to open it’s mouth if one ever tries to eat me.  Good to know. 


There’s my masterpiece.  I call it “moonlit flower by pre-k student”.  Medium, Crayon.  Pallette, orange, blue, and red.   Canvas, butcher paper tablecloth.  It’s one of my finest creations.  Before leaving the table I wrote “To Mama” above my signature.    I don’t really know why.  I suppose I was just trying to invoke her spirit somehow.  Especially since I killed a cardinal with my car yesterday.  That sh** f***ed up my whole day.  Poor bird.

We got back “home” and Dad started reading.  I took a nap, on accident.   Dad grilled steak for supper.  He’s still reading now.  He shared with me why he loves to read and I felt like I’d heard his words before.  In fact, I had.  When they had come out of my own mouth.

When we read,  we aren’t really here.  We’re in a story somewhere else.  Better than a movie because we create the imagery. We decide what characters look like. We decide how their voices sound.  We decide how they move and glance at the other characters around them.  While reading a book, we write short stories of our own while taking breaks away from the pages, imagining where the story goes next.  How would we continue the story if we were the author?  We have hopes for the outcome of the imaginary lives that only live inside the binding.   I find my mind is much more colorful than reality or even movies can possibly depict.  I suspect that my Father’s is, as well.  He taught me how to use my brain.  He taught me well.

Happy Father’s Day,  Pops.  Thanks for teaching me to create.  Thanks for teaching me to be kind.  Thanks for teaching me to work hard.  Thanks for being there, always, without fail.  I enjoyed our day together.  I hope you did as well.  I hope we get another year together.  We both know there is no guarantee.  But, today, I hope you saw how appreciated you are. It’s always difficult to show emotions so grand as there is no action, gesture, or material item big enough to properly express it. 

The sentiment would be best expressed if I could take you to the moon for a picnic.   I would tell you tales on the way up of all of my memories of you.  Of lessons you taught me.  Of character you gave me by simply being an outstanding example.  Looking toward the Earth and then out to the stars, I’d tell you then that that is how much you mean to me.  You were the Universe when I was small and as an adult I see it clearly.  The abilities I possess, the attributes I claim, my ability to travel through this life are all mine because of how you raised me.   Yes, a spaceship picnic.  That’d be the only fitting gift.  That’d be the only proper expression of how grateful we are for you.

Maybe next year.

Love ya Dad!



I’m a single mother now.  This is new for me.  Sort of.  I was prepared.  I knew it was coming.  Even still,  I sit here,  exhausted. 

Three kids,  one woman,  and my 66 year old father.  We live in a trailer.  I’ve recently applied for food stamps.  I’ve been a stay at home mom for 10 years so the job hunt isn’t really panning out at the moment.  I’ve even applied for fast food and chain mega stores.  No word. 

We won’t starve due to the generosity of my daddy,  my hero.  We won’t be homeless either because of his kind heart.   But,  he’s not responsible for these kids.  I am.  I feel like a leech with three baby leeches attached to me just SUCKING EVERY BIT OF LIFE OUT OF THE OLD MAN’S BONES.  Christ. 

I have an abundance of faith helping me sleep at night and my father shares the same virtue so he walks around sharing the same smile I wear.  Which is nice. I just can’t help but wonder when I see him mowing my lawn,  when will he get his day of rest?  

He loves helping us.  He was born to serve.  A United States Marine in his teens and a dedicated father throughout my life.  He’s amazing.  It’s his birthday tomorrow.  I have nothing to give him.  He won’t expect anything but I feel bad,  nonetheless. 

When I’m exhausted it’s become a tendency of mine to focus on the plight of others because sometimes I’m just too tired to be optimistic and focus on the good stuff. Its everywhere.  It’s easy to see.  It’s all around me literally screaming in my face but when my wretched soul gets weary,  I have a difficult time focusing on it.  It’s just easier to look at the struggles of others and feel grateful in that sense while doing whatever I can to help them rise as altruism is a state of mind most fulfilling.

And my father,  he’s the closest.  The nearest and dearest. Someone who has sacraficed great things and has basically been forced out of retirement to help myself and my children survive.  He’d never complain.  He doesn’t show any sign of pain.  Much of the empathy I’ve felt for him is based on what I would feel in his situation and have surmised.

The thing most unfair for him in this situation isn’t in the work,  physical labor,  or financial worry.  He has watched his daughter suffer,  too long,  too great.  As a parent myself,  I can tell you that sh** hurts.   I would do,  and have done, incredibly painful things to make sure my children won’t suffer but,  sometimes we’re helpless in the struggle to keep our kids safe.  Sometimes,  they’re in God’s hands and it hurts like hell to turn over that control.  To allow an angel to guide and guard them.  To let the Creator form and mold them through pain.  It hurts.  It hurts like hellfire. 

My entire family feels helpless.  They’re so far away.  Here I am,  fighting for my life, and they can’t reach me.  But,  I believe I was meant to do this mostly on my own.  I have had tremendous help and support.  We’d be homeless and hungry without my father.  But,  for the most part,  this fight is mine to wage.  I’m not alone in it.  The back up and support I’ve received has been life saving and some of it has rained down from God Himself.

Tomorrow is my Father’s birthday.   I have nothing material to give him.  So instead of material nonsense,  I’ve decided to gift him with words.  They’re all I have to offer,  as usual.

I have always been a daddy’s girl and a tomboy.  I followed him around the garage with eager ears as a child.  He taught me to fix things,  properly,  to last   and to be reliable.  Most of all,  he made me laugh. That has been an invaluable gift for me throughout my life,  as I often found it difficult to smile from the inside.  

If I had a question,  and I had many,  he always had an answer.  Sometimes he made the answers up entirely,  as I discovered when I learned to read,  but with his willingness to be ready with these responses,  often humorous,  he showed an attentiveness and interest in my learning that created this knowledge thirsty beast I’ve always been. He never shushed me or turned me away,  he always answered.  He always answered with a proud smile. 

He worked hard everyday and he did it for us and refused to carry stress into our home.  He didn’t have the heart to punish me,  rarely ever raised his voice.  He was wrapped around his girl’s little fingers and he didn’t care who knew.  

He loved my mother,  with all his heart.  For a little girl,  that’s an important thing to see. He treated that amazing woman like the queen she was,  every day,  every way,  until the day she died,  he never left her side.  He made it damn near impossible for my sister and I to find any man good enough for us as he treated us all so well.   But,  he also taught us that we didn’t need to go looking because within ourselves we would find everything we would ever need. 

As a child,  his life story amazed me.  I couldn’t believe anyone could be that good and that strong.  To briefly sum things up,  as if I’m any good at that,  he’s a total badass with a soft heart and selfless nature.

He left his family when he was 15.  Never graduated high school,  dropping out in the 9th grade,  but he had to take the military intelligence test twice because he had such a high score that they thought he had cheated.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps as a minor and went to Vietnam as soon as they could send him.  He stayed for over 2 years in that jungle.   He hasn’t said much about his time there.  The veterans of that war rarely do.  He came home to cruelty and dishonorable treatment, but he still went where directed as an honorable man does,  battling forrest fires with his fellow soldiers.   They were the only cats crazy enough to drive into the flames.  Thank God for brave men like my father.

He had some wild years then.  Some turbulent ones.  I understand it all too completely.  And his understanding of my trying times was something that kept me alive.  There was real empathy there,  between him and I,  and it was the only thing that made me feel I wasn’t alone.  It kept me from giving up when he’d tell me,  “You’re strong and you’ll make it through this.” I KNEW he knew.  I KNEW he felt it.  I KNEW he meant what he said and even though he had to say it hundreds of times,  those words, from him, never lost their meaning.  His words saved my life,  many times.

He has always been present.  He has always been kind.  He has been my biggest fan and comedian during very dark times.  He’s come to my rescue every time that I’ve called,  even if the best thing to do was to make me suffer my own consequences.   He had, and still has, the strength to let me fall and the intelligence and knowledge to know just when to step in. 

He’s my hero and the only real hero I’ll ever have because,  to this little girl,  he has been and will always be, the picture of exactly what a man should be.  He’s been treated poorly so many times but he refuses to be unkind.  He has had to endure incredible suffering but he still laughs from his belly and makes sure others smile.  He’s cooked my meals and tucked me in without shame or any fear that these acts would damage his masculinity.  He made sure we knew that a man’s measure isn’t in muscles,  bank statements,  or power.  His ability to love and protect the lives he’s been charged with caring for is what really matters in the end.  My Daddy,  well I measure his ability to do this in the way his daughters and wife love him in return.   

Love ya Dad.  You’re my hero.  The words “thank you” can’t express what I feel.  You’ve saved many lives while you’ve lived your own with integrity and decency and you saved mine a hundred times with your kindness,  encouragemnt,  unfailing love,  and clear example of exactly what a person should be.

Losing a mother.

I’ve never experienced pain like I felt when I lost my mother. People who haven’t experienced it will not understand until they feel it themselves.

A mother is special. A mother is irreplaceable. That bond. There is nothing to compare to it.

I knew my mother before I was born. She is deeply set in my memories. Her heartbeat and muddled voice were the first sounds my developing mind ever heard. She held me in her belly before anyone had the chance to place me in their arms. She was the only familiar one I met when entering into my new life. The only one that needed no introduction. The only one I had ALWAYS known.

It was her voice singing me lullabies. Her face peering into my crib hour after hour, night after night. She woke repeatedly to feed me, change me, bring me comfort if she could figure out how.

I was a fussy baby so this bond was very strong because she had to spend extra time holding, bouncing, swaying, rocking, singing, patting, burping, feeding, smiling, crying, breathing calmly while she wept furiously in exhaustion so I wouldn’t sense her fear.

She continued to grow in patience, strength, and love as I grew in inches, pounds, and feet. No matter where I wandered or wondered, her watchful heart was with me. No matter what I said or did, she loved me openly, loudly, without conditions.

She was the one who did the most so she was the one who took the most blame. When my rowdy teenage years hit, this woman who was in charge of figuring me out, well, she just couldn’t. So, of course, in my desperate state, I blamed her. I blamed her for not fixing me. I blamed her because I was broken though she tried every possible thing to mend my broken heart.

I couldn’t see how much love was in every gentle nudge and hard shove that led me in the right direction until I became a mother myself. Looking down at my baby who was crying in that crib, I’d wondered if she felt the same. The overwhelming amount of affection and protection that are born in a mother when given a child to care for. She had it, I have it, we bonded again. This time as mother’s, the two of us.

Then I moved away to try to keep my family together, for the first time my hard heart missed someone. Not my hero, my daddy. Not my best friend, my sister. But the woman I was just starting to know as she really was. My mother. I missed my mother.

I remember the first time that missing someone brought me to tears. I got sick and used chest rub and the smell overwhelmed me. Euphoric recall of some sort set in. I felt like a child. I remembered the soothing sense that came as my mother rubbed it on my chest and sang over my bed. I finally missed her. I finally knew her. I finally appreciated her as ALL of the memories flooded in.

Then the bad news came. I was desperate to keep her. Desperate to be with her. It just wasn’t possible. They said she had 6 months. I was on my way to the airport. She died before we got on the plane.

I felt shame and guilt like never before. Impossible for my softened heart to bear. I felt like I’d hurt her. I owed her my LIFE, literally. I was supposed to be there. All of the years I had struggled while blocking out her voice must have felt like torture.

I heard that as she lay dying she hallucinated about me. About myself and my children being in that room. That thought killed me inside knowing how badly she wanted me and sadly, I wasn’t there. Later on, I reflected, I felt grateful for her imaginings. To her, we really were there.

The most powerful thing I inherited from my mother was not money. I got her fire and strength. And as I battle real demons, as I fight for my own, I intend to use it. Without hesitation.

She’s with me when I need her still. Butterflies and red birds appear every time I feel weak. Every lesson she taught me flooded back to me.

Her words have been uncovered, once buried in my subconscious, no longer lost under resentments and fear.

I miss her every day. I will never be able to thank her. No one with a great mom can truly repay what’s been freely offered. The sacrifices, the hours, the damage to her body, the exhaustion on her spirit, I cannot repay. But, I can do my best to be as loving as she was with my babies whom she loved as much as she loved me.

I’ll repay her by being the woman she raised me to be. I’ll repay her by making her proud one more time by being her reflection, using the lessons and gifts she gave me to make the lives of her grandchildren great. By making the life of her baby girl great. By being happy, joyous, and free as I was when she rocked me in her arms as a child. Because, as a mother I know, that is our one greatest desire. For our children to be whole and happy as I finally am. Because of her.

Even as I sit here now without her I realize, she gave me everything I need. She protected me by teaching me how to protect myself and anyone else that I feel needs protection. I suppose she did as I have done. Whispering promises into an infants ears. I won’t fail because of her. She never failed me.

I was crying on the steps as a blue bird came near. Honestly. It sat close by. Closer than a wild bird should. It looked at me. It stayed still. Then I smiled and said, “I love you” outloud. THAT is when it flew away.

Thank you, Momma.


One more unsolicated and probably obnoxious word of advice.

Not that you asked,  but while it’s on my mind,  I’d like to offer this statement: Accentuate the positive to eliminate the negative. 

Kids with a fuzzy view on morality and right from wrong are always gettin’ into sh**.   If all they hear is stop,  no,  don’t do that,  get down, etcetera, their world will be dark and negative.  So will their self image.  Trust me,  I was a problem child myself.  Luckily,  my parents were/are amazing.

I’ve found my children who have difficulty determining the difference between detrimental and positive behavior make better choices when they are praised for the good they do with enthisiasm,  rather than only receiving the stern reprimands that are the more common choice of discipline.

The “troublemakers”, myself included,  hear the bad things about themselves much more often than they hear about the good. 

Adding positive remarks to the corrections in their behavior being made helps kids, kids like mine and kids like I was, realize that they aren’t bad people. 

Ok,  I’m f***ing DONE!   I promise.

For now… 

Take and break

Having a good day? 
Well,  let me go ahead and ruin it for you  if you happen to be a middle child by drudging up some possibly unpleasant memories of your childhood. 
Unless your answer was no.  Then we’re good here.
Let us proceed then.

I have three kids.  They are all incredible little humans and I am incredibly proud of them all.  They’re each unique,  talented,  and special.  Each has a gift given to them by nature or God himself.  Having children really woke the amateur sociologist in me,  sincerely,  and I have been doing experiments on them since they were born.  Nothing cruel, like depriving them of affection like they did to those Russian orphans and those poor little monkeys.  I promise.  Harmless, all of it, but…SCIENCE!

Being analytical,  curious,  and outward thinking,  I took it upon myself to at least attempt to solve the world’s greatest behavioral mysteries! (Insert maniacal laughter). Here is one thing I have learned about those poor little Middles.

There seems to be a reoccuring issue,  something I like to call the “take and break dilemma”.  Let me explain with a clear example.

My Middle had a birthday recently and I noticed something. As soon as he got a new toy out of the box,  Big brother would try to manipulate him into letting him play with it.  In fact,  at times,  as Middle played with one of the new toys,  Big was in the background opening up a box.  He claimed he was trying to help Middle get at his stuff faster,  but it was obvious to any intelligent adult what was really going on. Big shouldn’t be punished about this. His tactics were innocent. He’s still learning the boundaries of brotherhood himself but, that is the “take”.  

Middle idolizes Big,  relies on him for assistance in many areas and thusly feels an automatic sense of pressure to comply to his requests. 

Meanwhile,  Little is grabbin’ sh**,  left and right.   Haphazardly tossin’ sh** around like a maniac.  She doesn’t know any better,  really.  She has been given indestructible baby toys her whole life that haven’t nearly as many removable and delicate pieces.  She’s still learning to take care of material goods. And there’s the “break”.

Middle loves his baby sis.  He protects her and falls for her big brown eyes and pleas every,  single,  time.  He and Big receive swift punishment if Little is hurt,  physically or her feelings,  because,  from the moment they met her,  she was fragile,  small, and guarded by the adults.   Something Middle and Big can’t remember mommy doing for them in their infancy, but are seeing clearly with the Little. I’m sure he feels that if he says no and makes Little cry,  he will get in big trouble.

Middle gets something new and it is RIPPED from him with Big’s manipulation and absolutely DESTROYED by Little’s carelessness.  Bummer,  dude.  Sincerely.

How can a kid enjoy their stuff when they live in a state of pressurized paranoia, feeling they have to share the newness under the direction of adults,  being conned into submission by the wisest of the siblings,  and being fearful of the inevitable damage that will be done by the smallest?   Poor Middle.  

This particular problem effects Middle more because,  well,  he’s right there in the middle.  He’s big enough to have stuff that still interests Big and little enough to get things that Little is beginning to enjoy.  Big wants nothing to do with Little’s things,  Little doesn’t understand the belongings of Big.

It’s a habit as a parent to tell them to share.   Share it all!  Share it now!  Share!  Share!  Share!   I know I’ve done it.   My fear of them growing to be greedy and selfish caused that annoying tic.  

But,  poor Middle has ALWAYS had to share.   Even his mommy.   BIG had years with no competition.  Middle had to deal with the confusion and frustration of a first time parent of two.  Honestly,  having a third was easier than having my second.  All the kinks were worked out by the time number three came into being.  Those kinks were worked out on poor One and Two.  Baby number three had a professional parent from the very beginning.

While working out those kinks,  mommy had to gently and patiently teach Big to share mommy,  to detach and become more independant,  to require less from momma bear.  Less attention was given to Middle in order to fulfill the needs of Big,  but Little never had to deal with this because Middle was born to share mommy. So Little got all the attention she needed because Big and Middle had already been taught that mommy only has two arms but one big heart made for three.

Middle has always been required to share.  So,  and this is just me,  I don’t make him share it all,  at least not right away.  

He needs to feel special,  important, a priority.  When he gets new things,  when they all get new things,  they’re not forced to share immediately,  or even at all if it’s a very special thing.  I allow them all to make the choice,  let them rub a little of the newness off of their toy before everyone else gets their turn.  If they haven’t made the decision to share after a few days of play, we have a discussion about the importance of having a gracious nature and they usually turn their “my stuff” attitude around.

I feel the need to be very attentive with my kids,  every child is unique,  they know the same rules apply to all in most situations but,  because they’re individuals,  sometimes different rules are enforced for each.  All the while, they’re told REPEATEDLY (to a degree that must annoy them) that my love for them is equal,  never divided, always multiplied.

Middle’s struggle with the “take and break” scenario is something I monitor very closely.  

Obviously, the importance of personal time and special activities designed for each individual child to experience with each parent is very important.   I feel it’s necessary to seperate their experiences in their youth to help foster their own personal identities as discovering one’s self is difficult enough without constantly being grouped and lumped together.  By giving them a baseline of interests and qualities to look to for guidance during the safety of their formative years is incredibly beneficial.

From what I’ve seen,  no child struggles more to find their center than the Middle.

For this reason,  I feel the need to make sure they aren’t constantly being forced to place their things into the destructive hands of the Little or be subjected to the misguided reasoning Big uses to get at Middle’s stuff.

They all need to be taught ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY EVERY SINGLE EFFIN’ THING.   It’s exhausting to help children form beneficial behaviors and perceptions.  Other than natural instinctive body functions,  we are all born clueless.  Thoughtful measures are taken,  research is done.  Sh**,  I even survey my friends and family and develop statistical overviews and conclusions.  Nerd.

I can’t help it.   I was born to evaluate and decipher,  reform not conform.  I hope parents and their kids can benefit from my hours of informal behavioral studies. 

I have no degree.  I am not a professional anything,  anywhere.  But,  I am dedicated and diligent.  I’m well informed and well practiced.  I’m a mommy.   Good ‘nuf.      

Bee-tee-dubs, this mommy thinks the hours of tireless introspection, research and fact checking,  objective cross examination of multitudes of opinions,  is worth every ounce of intuitive understanding these kids will gain and have engrained in their subconscious minds. It is worth the effort,  sleep deprivation,  and the “diligence wrinkles”.  That’s what I affectionately call the marks between my eyebrows from pondering and thinking things like,  “Why the eff would any creature,  anywhere, ever, think it was a good idea to smear poo all over the television?”.  All while making that face.  You know that face.  The one that is often accompanied by a hand over the mouth that is desperately holding in the obscenities as you realize you’re about to have to lysol and q-tip someone else’s sh** out of the cracks and holes of an old t.v.  Sigh.

The “Fun with Feces” phase is proof we came from monkeys.  Only explanation,  man.  No other sense can be made of the amount of excrement I have cleaned out of hair,  appliance’s,  and off of other children.   “Look what’s in the toybox, mom! “. Yikes,  dude. 



Boxes are like clouds


When you look at a box,  what do you see?   This one started as a rocket ship then it was a submarine,  currently it’s a slide,  next it will be a television,  last in line is the classic puppet theater.
Creativity with kids goes a long way.  Imaginations need nurturing,  and having children help you transform a box into something spectacular is one great way to get them to think outside of one.

I was born with a wild mind.  Had my creativity not been fostered,  I would’ve been lost to the world’s darker side,  of this I’m certain.  My parents saw something special inside of me.  I was a storyteller,  an artist,  a poet.  They appreciated every blue ribbon drawing and praised me for every trip to the young writer’s conferences I’d won my way into with essays.

I have three children,  and as I’ve watched them grow,  I’ve realized that some children are born with definite ideals while others wander aimlessly in gray areas and uncertainty.  I was always a wanderer. 

Right and wrong weren’t clear to me.  I knew if I hurt someone,  stole something,  broke something,  there’d be consequences,  but when it came to a moral compass,  mine was spinning wildly.

Then there is my sister.  She seemed to know everything.  She’s my big sister so I idolized her for her ability to do the right thing effortlessly.  She was just so damn good,  all of the time.  Honestly,  it’s amazing how good she is.  An angel,  really. 

Then there was me.   “Little sh**”,  “Troublemaker”,  these were my nicknames.  I took pride in my ability to stir things up.  There are benefits to being a wildflower.  No one can predict the power within.  No one sees it coming.  God gave me the element of surprise when he put this blonde hair atop my head,  disguising my big beautiful mind.  Wink wink,  smiley face emoji.

Having an ability to decide north from south outside of the magnetic field most find shelter inside of caused some trouble and confusion,  I’ll be honest,  but I found that it’s pretty rad to be able to think laterally. No one sees the world like I do. No one can explain it using the words I choose. In a world full of folks who fight to fit in,  I felt the need to stand out.  

I’m only called odd because I’m unexpected.  Im only labeled as weird because I’m unique. I like that.   I don’t want to be you,  I don’t want to blend in.   I just want to be me. Strange and unusual.  Bold and brave.  My place is wherever I decide I want to be.  I fit in wherever I go.  

It’s nice to be a lunatic. Sincerely!


Words from a boy

I just asked my oldest son if he knew I kissed his cheek and whispered “I love you” into his ears while he slept every night.  His reply made me cry for the tenth time today.  He told me that often in his dreams,  someone he’s talking to will whisper those words to him, in my voice,  and then carry on the works of his imagination without regard to the comment I’ve implanted in his slumbering subconcious.  He recalled it instantly,  genuinely,  with amazement.  He responded as if a great mystery now made sense. 
I guess my work is done.  All I have ever wanted for my children is that they KNOW,  with certainty,  that my love will never fail or flee.  He knows.  I’m sure his brother and sister know as well.  I can’t stop smiling and looking at their sleeping faces with awe.
I have had a rough mother’s day.  I miss my mother greatly,  though her strength lives within me.  I want her,  especially now.
Now that I have found some of the memories, hidden away. Not hers, but his.
I found a movie stub for “Juno” and a familiar phone number and name on a scrap of paper I have saved for nearly ten years.  They brought back too many memories for me to keep from rolling forth from my eyes. 
I saw how my motherhood began and compared it to it’s current state.  I have to say,  I’ve become one of the best.  But,  I’m only human,  still seeking approval,  validation,  and praise.  No,  I don’t need it,  but it would feel nice.
I’m never lonely,  always dripping in hugs and snuggles,  but I’m aching to be held by someone bigger than me.  Cradled,  protected,  cherished.  I haven’t had that in such a long time. 
That’s the biggest problem with being a tough chick. No one seems to realize that you desperately need the reassurance of a soothing embrace. I’ve often shuddered as many have tried to hold me, force me into a place of warmth. Help is uncomfortable for those who are unfamiliar with it, especially those who have fought long and painful darkness, years unending, to become self sufficient, knowing that needing someone often causes more pain when they fail.
I can metaphorically say God is holding me,  because he is,  but it’s not the same.
But,  I’ll be patient this time.  I’ll wait.  I can now.  I’m not the lost little girl I once was.
I’m a woman,  with abilities and assets that shant be wasted,  unappreciated, unloved anymore.
I can’t be hasty.  I need to be free again.  Freedom can be lonely when looking back at what’s been lost.  I’m not going that way,  though.  So,  eyes forward for now as I’ve managed to turn another house into a home,  lifting furniture like a beast and working all day,  into the night,  to create comfort in a time of disturbance. 
I fill my lonely spot with memories today,  ones I won’t insult with the terrible taste of tears.  I’ll feel the joy fill me without the thoughts of how it could’ve been, because it isn’t,  it just isn’t.
Happy mom’s day, beautiful creators.  Let my son’s words reassure you.  No act of love,  ignored or small,  goes unnoticed or to waste. Every bit lives inside of them,  even if you never know it.  So keep loving them like only YOU can,  Momma.  They need it.