Category Archives: boys

Front Teeth and Growing Up: It’s Complicated.

Good morning,

I’m so excited to be published on Mamalode today with a new essay called “The Space That Holds My Heart” about my baby boy’s front teeth. Suffice it to say, it’s complicated. Mamalode’s theme this month is Growing Up, and nothing represents growing up more than a kid’s front teeth (or lack thereof).

“I endured by convincing myself that as long as he had that gaping space in his mouth and the sweet lisp that accompanied it, he would stay my second, last, and squishy baby boy forever.”

You can read the full essay HERE.

As always, thanks for your support!

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Hey Elf, Don’t Be Creepy!

Last year around this time, my older son asked me if we could “do” the Elf on the Shelf. I responded the way any smart, rational, overtired mother would. I backed out of the room slowly and came back five minutes later with a big bowl of freshly popped popcorn.

I.R.D. (Ignore-Redirect-Distract.) Elf crisis over.

I saw way too many blog posts, status updates, tweets, and memes about that smiling little prick. That spirited shit show ruined relationships and destroyed families. That perky piece of crap took the merry out of Christmas. I survived nine years of motherhood without the Elf on the Shelf, and damn it if I was going to give a f**k then.

Fast forward a year.

“Mom, can the Elf on the Shelf come to our house this year?” This from the nine-year-old with the big puppy dog eyes who will be double digits in a week.

“Can he please?” This from the seven-year-old who finally sprouted permanent front teeth.

I’ve lost my enthusiasm for a lot of parenthood-related things, like birthday parties, science fair projects, and back to school night, but I’m painfully conscious of the fleeting nature of childhood innocence. One day, your kid is writing a letter to the Tooth Fairy and the next day they’re begging for a Snapchat account.

My days are numbered. This I know.

It was impossible to wrap my arms around the concept of moving an elf around the house until Christmas, especially since I sometimes fell asleep before my kids (my husband was quick to point this out), but I caved because childhood… and innocence… and Amazon Prime.

“He doesn’t just show up.” Suddenly I was an expert. “You have to invite him.”

Ten minutes later, both kids handed over formal invitations (on index cards meant for practicing multiplication facts) that I was to put in the mail.

From the nine-year-old:

Hey Buddy, I would like you to come so you can play funny tricks! You seem so famous! This will be my first Christmas with you!

From the seven-year-old:

Hey elf come i love you

I promised to bring the invitations to the post office the next day and made a mental note that, in doing so, an overpriced dog toy would wreck my December and there would be no one to blame but me. Unless the dog ate the elf. Then, I could blame her (note to self).

The seven-year-old looked nervous. “Mommy, is the elf going to come in my bedroom?”

Why is everything magical also creepy?! “No, sweetie. The elf will hang out in the family room. Maybe the kitchen.”

Nerves turned into fear. “I don’t want him to come.”

Crap. “How about if we have a house rule that the elf has to stay downstairs? Okay? The elf won’t be allowed to go in anyone’s bedroom.” Were we talking about the Elf on the Shelf or stranger danger?

His faced relaxed. He left the room and returned a few minutes later with a revised invitation.

Hey elf come i love you

Dont Be creppy OK

Dont go upstairs elf

and dont hide in my bed OK

Turns out I was nervous, too.

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Our Gathering Place

It’s 6:20 p.m. We just got home from the reading tutor. It was an hour-long session, but traffic was hideous so we were gone for nearly two hours. Neither kid has finished their homework, practiced the drums, or taken a shower. No one has eaten dinner, and I have nothing planned or prepped to cook. The dog’s water bowl is empty again. The kids won’t have anything to wear to bed unless I fetch some wrinkled pajamas from the load of laundry that’s been sitting in the dryer for two days. Whatever is in the washer smells by now and will have to be rewashed. I have a dozen emails to return, a check to write for the PTO, and a claim to submit to our health insurance provider. We need flu shots, and if I don’t pay the gas bill online today (as in over an hour ago when it wasn’t yet 5:00 p.m.), it will be late. I haven’t gone through the mail in nearly a week, a tower of boxes in the garage need to be broken down for recycling pick-up first thing in the morning, and I need to text our soccer coach about bringing a team snack to the next game. Lunch boxes need to be unpacked and ice packs need to be refrozen, reading logs need to be signed, and the dishwasher needs to be emptied so everything in the sink can be loaded. I owe my sister a phone call or at least a text (I can’t remember the last time we spoke), there are 25 voice messages on my cell phone, and I haven’t checked in with my writing group in several days.

It’s a typical day. We’ll never catch up. We’ll never get it all done. We’ll never get it all right. We’ve definitely passed the window to do math homework without a meltdown. We’ll wake up tomorrow and try again.

“Let’s go!” One by one, we spill into the backyard.

The boys jump, run, spin, and giggle on the trampoline. They rest their eyes that have been fixed on a screen, a workbook, or a smart board all day. They breathe fresh air. They marvel in the feeling of being weightless in the air, and they surprise themselves when they flip and land on their feet. I throw the ball for the dog. When she tires of that game, she races in circles underneath the trampoline barking and jumping to catch the feet she sees bouncing above her. Distracted by the fun and physical movement, the kids tell me snippets about their day. About the game they played at recess, the book they borrowed from the library, and the hopes and dreams they chose at school for the year ahead – to be strong and make new friends.

As the fall sun sets and the noise of cars on the road beyond our yard dwindles, we let the exhaustion, stress, and anxiety of the day evaporate into the cool air. Inside, there’s schoolwork, chores, and endless household tasks to be done before we go to sleep. They are important. But so is this. We will get back to work. But first, this. Our safe place. Our happy place. Our nothing else matters no matter how much we still have to do place. Our gathering place.

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