Category Archives: movie

What Dory’s Memory Loss Made Me Remember

Good morning,

I’m honored to have an original essay published on The Mighty about my experience watching “Finding Dory” with my son. You read the essay here.

As always, thank you for following my journey as a mother and a writer.

Talk soon,




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Filed under movie, sensory processing disorder

The Snapshot

On Sunday evening, Mike and I took the boys to Chili’s to eat dinner and watch USA play Portugal in the World Cup. Upon being seated, we discovered that Chili’s has tablets on each table that can be used to order drinks, pay the bill, and play games. For a mere 99 cents, the kids could play unlimited games while we ate, and I thought it was awesome because it meant we had a fighting chance of lasting more than 30 minutes before the kids expired and/or Riley announced that he had to poop…badly. I was so excited that I posted this snapshot on my social media accounts.


Later, I received this comment:

“Such a shame when I think that dinner is a good time to talk to your kids and have great conversations.”


Believe it not, I’m relatively new at receiving and responding (or not responding) to negative comments on the blog and/or social media. (Just to clarify, negative comments and rejection are two different things.   I’ve received plenty of the latter.) I’ve been writing as The Runaway Mama for nearly four years, and this was just one of two off-putting comments I’ve ever received about my writing or my social media presence. The other – a doozy – came a few weeks ago about my Mother’s Day post from a person who wrote: “what a self-absorbed bitch.”


Dylan is really funny in that he can watch an explosive, large-scale, and violent scene in super hero movie like “Man of Steel” and be totally and completely fine, but he is forever scarred from watching “The Lion King,” “E.T.,” “Finding Nemo,” and the scene in “Toy Story 3” where Lotso tells the story of how he and Big Baby were lost and replaced by their owner. One is too big and shocking to absorb, and the others tug at where he’s most vulnerable…his heart.

Similarly, the “self-absorbed bitch” comment was so crazy hateful that it meant far less to me than the passive aggressive words of disapproval about my parenting (ouch). The thing about our Sunday night dinner at Chili’s, though, is that so much else happened outside of the snapshot of the boys playing on the tablet.

Mike and I stole some quiet time to talk, reminisce, and laugh without interruption. We felt connected and happy, and that doesn’t happen often enough these days!

We talked about healthy eating with the kids. Mike insisted that the boys try the guacamole because avocados are tasty and full of protein and “good” fat. They refused (of course), which prompted a friendly debate over whether or not an avocado is a fruit or a nut (it’s a fruit, by the way).

We celebrated futball! When USA scored their first goal, Mike and I laughed (again!) because we both missed seeing it live due to intense guacamole negotiations.

We had a sensory victory! Dylan ate a french fry (a french fry!), which made me explode with pride. If you’re more than a first-time or one-time reader, you know that Dylan has a limited diet due to sensory processing disorder, so trying any new food, wherever it falls on the healthy eating spectrum and even if it’s a fatty, greasy french fry, is a very good thing!

We explored concepts in math and money. For every three bites of macaroni & cheese Riley ate, I gave him one dollar. For every one dollar he paid me, I gave him a handful of tortilla chips that were leftover from the guacamole, which he eventually did taste and immediately declared, “I don’t like it.” In then end, he ate a pretty good dinner and went home with two dollars in his pocket.

We had a bathroom adventure (of course). Riley inevitably announced that he had to go to the bathroom. He promised he just had to pee, so we let him and Dylan go together. Mike checked on them a few minutes later and discovered Riley in a stall with the door locked saying he couldn’t get out. Dylan was going to crawl under the door to free him and said to Mike, “Don’t tell Mommy,” because he knew I’d be upset that he touched the floor (my valiant son!). In the end, Mike talked Riley into unlocking the door on his own, and they all returned to the table with a bath in their future and great story to tell.

We experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat (or the draw). Dylan was standing next to me when USA made their second goal. It was amazing! We hugged and cheered and yelled “GOOOOOOAAAALLLL!” along with every other crazy, screaming person in the restaurant, and I’ll never forget that special moment. Soon after, we watched stunned as Portugal scored in the last seconds of the game. Boo.

Chili’s is my new favorite restaurant to take the kids, and the snapshot I shared on social media was just that – a snapshot that was a part of a much larger story about a family sharing a meal together at a local bar and grill.

One of the most important lessons that being a parent has taught me is to resist the urge to misinterpret or judge others (and myself!) because the journey is long, surprises await every turn, and I’m doing the very best I can from one moment to the next all the while hoping they add up to something authentic and honest in the end. I like to think most parents would agree with me on this. Regardless, I still look forward to your comments (gulp).


Filed under bathroom, eating out, food issues, math, movie, parenting, sensory processing disorder, writing


You know you’re in trouble when only one cup of coffee into the morning, your six-year-old kid asks, “Mommy, when the twin towers crumbled in New York City, did babies die?”

I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and wiser or if Dylan is older and wiser, but although I had no idea where the question came from, I felt comfortable – confident, even – answering it.

I’m actually not sure if any babies died on 9-11, but I’d like to believe none did, so I said, “No, sweetie.  The buildings that fell were full of grown ups.  The twin towers were a place where grown ups went to work.  Babies were at home and kids were at school.”

“Were people on fire?” he asked.

“The buildings were on fire,” I said, “so yes, I believe some people were probably on fire.”

Then, “How did the buildings catch fire?”

This is where I lost my footing.  Dylan loves super hero movies that are filled with action, destruction, and good guys and bad guys.  He understands the concept of good and evil in movies.  But in real life, I really, truly, didn’t want to tell him that the reason the twin towers were on fire was because airplanes flew into them.  Airplanes flown by bad guys who purposely hit the buildings filled with innocent people to cause fear, harm, death and destruction.

I was afraid if I answered his question, he’d fear tall buildings or airplanes or both or worse.  But, if I didn’t answer his question, it would’ve been awkward, like he time he asked me how babies were made and I froze because I had no idea how to answer without lying or explaining sex, neither of which seemed like a good option.  In that situation, I was saved by Dylan himself when he interrupted my panicked silence with, “I know, Mommy, babies are made by a baby machine inside women’s bellies.”  Who was I to argue with him?

This kid is chock full of curiosity and difficult questions, especially about death.  The evening before, while watching “Bedtime Stories” with Adam Sandler, Dylan asked me, “Who are your uncles?  Are they dead?”  (In the movie, Adam Sandler’s character is an uncle.)  And then, “What are your grandparents names?  Are they dead?”  (Adam Sandler’s character’s father dies in the beginning of the movie.)  I answered openly and honestly as I had many times before.  “I have an Uncle Richie and an Uncle David.  Richie is alive, but David is dead, so he’s in my heart.”  And then the grandparents.  “Their names are Dorothy and Leo, and Arnold and Ruth.  Yes, they are dead.  They’ve been gone for a long time, but I carry them with me inside my heart.”

“How did they die?” He asked.

“Dorothy, Leo, and Ruth died because they were old and very sick,” I said.

And then I veered into new territory because I had never before told him how Arnold died.  “Arnold died in a car accident.  He was old, too, but he was healthy.  His car was hit by a truck, and that’s how he died.  That’s why it’s so important that we wear seatbelts in the car.”

Dylan asked, “Why didn’t he just stay home?”

I said, “Well, he must’ve had somewhere to go.  He didn’t know he was going to get hit by a car.”

He said, “Mommy, I don’t want you to ever die?”

I said, “I don’t ever want to die either.  Let’s keep each other in our hearts always.  Okay?”

He said, “Okay.”

Then, we finished the movie (while I obsessed about just how freaking much I loved my children).

Back to the next morning.  Back to the twin towers.  Back to, “How did the buildings catch fire?”  Before I had a chance to say anything (or nothing), Riley called from the other room, “Mommy, come quick!  I peed in my pants!”  This time I was saved by Riley, who did, indeed, pee in his pants.  On the floor.  In the bathroom.  Next to the toilet.

Perhaps I should thank Riley for his perfectly timed accident…but I won’t.


Filed under death, movie, September 11th, tough conversations