Tag Archives: parenting

fist at the sky, belly full of laughter…what is up with mondays lately?


it’s a ridiculously quick stop by here to let anyone who might wonder my whereabouts or general well-being that i’m struggling to post regularly because i’m laughing too hard at life’s most dependable practical joke. consistency. HA! my outrageous life laughs threateningly with a shaking fist at all my attempts to fit myself into the routines i think i must if i’m to live well and avoid raising a sociopath. that little sociopath now has the flu. did i say HA!?**

so she’s lethargic and needy, resting comfortably and a regular two-year old in a spastic rotating circle of you’ll-never-get-close-to-a-normal-day speeds.  i’m now off to rustle up some sick food…define and select the bare minimums at my 9-5er…eek out as much work as i can on my first commercial copywriting project under HardHeadpress (HardHeadpress.com is under construction…tacky mention but i’m starting somewhere)…prepare the family, home and workplace for two more days of rather unexpected travel (not far, just far enough to be travel thanks to the twice-daily impassable monolith that is the DC area traffic spike)…and whatever else decides to join the joke.

riveting i know. oh, and i’ll squeeze in a hockey game somehow tomorrow night. it’s outrageous when i put it all on paper (screen, whatever). i’m not as lazy or as much of a slacker as i feel like i am. it’s like reading about someone else’s busier, cooler life. eye-opening. heart-opening. you should try it sometime.

so til something like a more reasonable morning, i wish you all happy, heart-filled living. and i’m not bailing…i’m not talking “haitus”…i’ve not yet earned a vacation hour at this new writing gig. i’m just announcing a high probability of an irregular smattering of thoughts and words, just enough to feed me (and maybe your curiosity)…definitely with less regularity than the irregularity i’ve already established.

there…the pressure is off…freedom on. discipline is a funny thing. maybe my best discipline is just pressing on. pressing…ha…HardHeadpress…ha again. man, i love a happy semantic accident.

** flu? no way, mundane! further inspection reveals suspected hand, foot & mouth disease or her first herpes outbreak. ah, childhood.

shaving my legs with Occam’s Razor


i’m struggling this morning, emotions sitting right at the surface of my face, the rims of my eyes…it’s all so very complicated.

we say a lot about simplicity, that the simplest lives are the most admirable, the happiest. well, guess what? sometimes we don’t get to choose simple. (i can talk myself in circles here about what we “choose” or “draw” into our lives to serve us and teach us life lessons…more on that later). i know that i could simplify my life in a lot of ways…but not without substantial emotional sacrifices…sacrifices that several people would have to make based on my choices. i’m not talking about a standard of living or of “needing” career progression or a cool car. i get that “stuff” is not happiness, that simplifying the “stuff” right out of your life is a worthy endeavor and that measures of success are ours to define.

but some things in life only get so simple…and most of those hardest ones involve people. again…we can talk about simplicity, of cutting out toxic relationships that don’t feed your soul, further your purpose or nurture your relationship with your Self…even family gets the ax if they treat us badly enough. i’ve even had people whom i thought pretty spiritual tell me that if i want to own simplicity and the health of my Self, i could choose to abandon all of what i think of as my “responsibilities” and go meditate for decade in the East somewhere…like Siddhartha did. but something about my little 2 year old “responsibility” tells me that’s just not the choice to make for fulfillment and enlightenment. and here’s where we first start to butt heads with complexity. how much toxicity must be present in a relationship before it’s time to let go? how much complexity do we accept in order to support the give and take, the unconditional acceptance that we say is the purpose of family, Love and compassion? what about when it’s your daughter’s family?

i’m a co-parenting rookie with a well-intended teammate. the complexity of raising a child in two households appears to be unavoidable, especially with two brand new parents on this field of play, in a game that started in the child’s infancy, nuanced with all kinds of different rules depending on who you ask, what level you are on, and the character you choose to embody. it’s the challenge of a couple trying to invent and practice new dance steps while they each listen to different music and a different cheering section…and where nobody wants to have to turn to the expensive Officials in order to make or enforce rules. i want the best for my daughter and right now, that means accepting complex logistics, complex feelings and complex choices that impact several parties.

i’ve always had a hard time deciphering self-care from self-ish choices. this co-parenting complexity makes that even harder. it’s all so damn complicated. it would be easy for me to choose a victim role if i was so inclined…but i’m not. i’m still looking for the simplest answer to each complex question, trying not to blame…trying to own the choices i have, and continue Loving like it’s my job (because it is).  perhaps that’s why i chose this complex life, back out in the cosmos, when my soul was deciding what to learn on this particularly trip around the 3rd rock. perhaps i’m meant to traverse the edge of Occam’s Razor, slicing up shins until i learn how to fall on the simple side…it does mean that my life is never dull…if that’s worth anything. i hope so because i’m pretty sure i asked for that. i’ve said plenty a commonplace thing, but never asked for a commonplace life…i Love the blue centerlights that pop in my world and make me go “Awww!” and i love the idea of being that for someone else occasionally.

my outrageous life isn’t simple…except that i simply love to live. and that’s worth everything…even the complexity of this day.

there is a disturbance in the force(d)


i’m the engineer of this runaway day…already cramped with a morning full of possibilities, probabilities and disturbed logistics. all of that adds up to very little time to write, even less time to answer calls and a bunch of appointment times that look slightly less realistic with every word i type. i thought through three or four different things to write about as i made coffee almost two hours ago. now i’m struggling to remember my minimum task set for successful navigation of some choppy fryday morning waters.

my daughter rose early, her father was late…they are still battling over shoes upstairs. i have little room left to flex this schedule…i’m afraid today’s blog is next on the cutback list. i suppose it’s inevitable, a day, rushed with no room to meander around in my thoughts and pontificate. i guess it’s a chance to test the flexibility of my standards, to remember who i’m doing this for, and that practice makes perfect imperfections…not perfect. perfect is boring.

it’s hard to close this page and move on to the next task at hand, but easy to want to perpetuate another recent habit of mine…being on time. so in the interest of consistency, i write…in the interests of brevity, sanity and accountability, i pause…perhaps for the day…perhaps until i navigate out of this agenda cloud and into a softer, slower fryday afternoon. we’ll see…i will be flowing with the go after these few, forced words. life is full of compromises, life is not tidy nor does it acquiesce to my desired pace or planning. it’s okay, i’m smiling, the weekend is walking up my porch steps and i’m almost ready to answer the door.  may your day and your weekend bring thrill or serenity, sanity or surreality…whatever is delivered, enjoy.

the littlest enabler never falls far from the tree


what a funny, funny morning…delightfully mixed with darks and lights and now one fresh latte. see, here’s the thing…i love coffee. i’ll go so far as to say that i am in a long term, committed relationship with coffee. if i were to display my relationship status on Facebook, it would say “in a relationship with coffee.” i both gulp and savor the coffee that i make at home using my killer Bunn coffee maker with the insulated caraffe (oh yeah)…i really do. it wakes me enough to get my daughter and i to her daycare and me back home for work, and fuels some seriously furious writing and working in my early morning hours. i love a nice french press…i’ll even drink hotel room coffee on my way to get better coffee.

and then there’s this other kind, the kind that rounds out this bottom-most layer of my personal food pyramid. that foundational element of my nutrition is…starbucks. and you purists, you big-business haters can say what you will, i also frequent my local roaster for beans and yummy things…but starbucks has replaced one of my favorite childhood treats, the happy meal, with the happy cup (also a meal in my world…hey there’s milk in there!).

and so i beget a brand new dietary legacy, developing from careful and early exposure to the crack-like attraction, the siren call of starbucks and her twin-tailed mermaid. my two and half year old will wave off a chicken nugget every time. she’s never asked for a happy meal (i’m not sure she’s ever seen one. i’ve ordered some since she’s been alive, but only for me…i get first dibs on the prize that way and take the junk food hit for the team). but this morning, as we buckled in for our short car ride to school, after a nice breakfast for her including a tall glass (aka sippy cup) of milk, she announced proudly and clearly that we “have to go to starbucks first.”

i gasped in the back of my throat, choked up, almost teary-eyed. she’s so mine. sigh.  it was the first time for her, unprompted. if you couldn’t tell she was a mini-me at first sight, if you somehow missed her becoming an obvious chip off the ol’ chatterbox these last months, the clarity and firmness with which she announced her desire for starbucks this morning, or the way she sometimes calls her milk “my coffee,” is the clearest giveaway i know. how could i say no? i didn’t need more coffee, she didn’t need more milk…but she coaxed me with repeat calls for a juicebox…the kind only starbucks can offer, the beverage i could not deliver from the front seat of my sporty mom-wagon (and before you mark me delusional, please know that i understand the oxymoronic nature of that expression).

i promise, i haven’t actually tried to indoctrinate my daughter into the starbucks culture. i’m not trying to establish brand loyalty at age 2, especially not to a global chain. (i’m also NOT giving her actual coffee…i am sane enough to treasure a toddler’s naptime)…but like Ronald spun my world of rewards as a kid, becoming iconic, and the benchmark for the fast food group that sits a bit higher on my pyramid than coffee, starbucks’ specific flavors are laying lifetime foundations in her tiny, busy brain. what i mean about benchmarks, for both mcdonalds and now starbucks, is that there are “better” fries in the world, more “gourmet” chicken nuggets…but for me, mcdonalds is a separate flavor set, striking always familiar chords on my tastebuds, dancing comforting lullabies on my tongue…kind of how taco bell isn’t mexican food, it’s the taco bell food group (six ingredients, mixed two-hundred ways).

i didn’t need more coffee…i’ve been trying to cut back actually (failing miserably, happily and spastically). so i wavered, i waffled and then decided that since she asked, and it was her first time, i really should reward her ability to articulate in words what she wants. yeah. that’s right. it’s good parenting.  granted, she faked me out with the juicebox thing and lobbied for the chocolate milk when we arrived. i caved. she eats and drinks well at her daycare…all that wholesome, home-cooked food i can’t pronounce but that she can say in three languages…a little chocolate milk in the morning never killed anyone…especially toothpicks like her and me.

“have to have starbucks FIRST (please)” –  awe….ok, i had to prompt for the “please” part…but that lilting two and half year old voice, those clear, blue velvet eyes, the call of a siren i can hardly resist anyway. what the, um…heck…was i supposed to do? i won’t give in every time, but a girl’s first time is special.

my latte is already gone, as though it never happened. her chocolate milk is in the fridge, not even half-finished. she has way better self-control than i do. hopefully she will help keep her and her mommy’s vices in check…and to herself for a while.

universally diverse…Mother Nature is my favorite weirdo


i hesitate to broach such an emotional topic, but  i’ve been poked from a couple of directions these last days by thoughts about diversity. i live in a big bowl of it here in the DC metro, diverse people, foods, shopping, cars, financial positions, attitudes and careers. i’ve lived here longer now than any other place in my 39 year-old life, a whopping eight years. in the last ten, i have lived in five different domiciles here, in different suburbs, punctuated in the middle by an 18-month sojourn in New Jersey…right at the now infamous “shuah” (translation, “shore”). in other words, i’ve done very little “settling down.”

right now i live in a predominately Korean suburb. my neighbors to the left are Ethiopian. my neighbors to the right, Louisianan (ask a yankee who’s been there if Louisianans should be included in diversity numbers), and most of the rest of them are Caucasian retirees. my two year-old daughter has been exposed already to four different languages, and some hybrids i’m still wrapping my brain around (Dora in Arabic? what’s Arabic for Spanish?). she learned heavily accented English and some Urdu first from her Pakistani daycare provider. i love that woman…she provided stability, love and a comforting ear during a rough mommy year. she watched my world fall apart, never judged me, and marveled that i spoke candidly with her, brought her flowers and gifts, and was genuinely curious about and appreciative of her perspectives on culture and of her experiences, both in Pakistan and the US. i marveled when she told me that i was the first American parent who had ever bothered to get to know her…the co-provider of care for my precious, tiny, learning baby.

when i moved from one ‘burb to another, into the Korean neighborhood where I now rent a cute little townhouse from a cute, loaded landlord (loaded with cash, not booze…though who knows?), i had to find a new daycare provider for my littlebean. i found her more than that. besides her warm and amazing teacher, she now has a third “grandpa” (Sido in Arabic), and a whole loving family to help man the village i require to care for a toddler while i work, Love and live. there she’s learned to love Halal food made with special products shipped directly from relatives in Jerusalem and Jordan. i’ve also come to love ms. tima’s home cooking…since the dear woman hands me a hot plate of something fresh at least two nights a week. ms. tima and all her relatives are Palestinians from Jerusalem. i embarrass myself privately sometimes by saying “Pakistani” when i mean “Palestinian” and “Palestinian” when i mean “Pakistani.” they are far from interchangeable…very, very far.

all around me, languages and alphabets overlap. all of my life the diversity of the US has enraptured me. i went to a university in the deep south without much diversity. our relationship with what we did have was pained at best. i see now in alumni magazine snapshots that diversity is growing there, if not slowly. (i also find it rather poetic that we teach something called “diversity” at a place called a “university.”) i’ve soaked up new cultures in New York City and the DC area, and seen tolerance foiled by the fear and homogeneity of many towns in the midwest and all over the “dirty south.” (i can call it that, i lived there and still have the t-shirt and accent to prove it).  i’ve met great people in every place i’ve ever lived or visited. i’ve found that the diversity of opinions and attitudes all over this country are like fertilizer for the progress and ideas that seem to make us unique.

i read an article yesterday, written by a Native American writer and celebrator of diversity, where he called on those of us who write to be cultural bridges spanning and linking the world’s and our country’s many peoples and ideas. (http://oscarhokeah.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/cultural-bridges-builders-weavers-architects/). i love Oscar’s perspective and felt his mission hit me right in my wheelhouse. diversity is the natural state of things…fully embraced and necessary. we work as a global community to explore and preserve it all over the planet, even as Mother Nature herself continues to mutate to support growth and survival. and we all know that mutts are generally healthier and better adjusted than purebreds. (i’m talking dogs, not people, although….) my point is that fighting against diversity is about as futile and counterproductive a fight as any there is. each of us has a choice to spend that energy differently…to use it to study the world and spread Love, to learn and experience all of the things that unify a wildly varied human species…to Love unconditionally our fellow humans as if it were our calling.

playdate with little miss Petulance


man, that first cup of coffee went quickly. i think it’s burning my stomach lining i drank it so fast. i feel rushed this morning, knowing that i have a toddler sleeping upstairs, fresh from grandma and grandpa’s spoiler factory in western new york. a toddler who will wake like the tiny sleeping giant that she is, to throw joy, tantrums and whirling winds into my morning.

i feel reluctantly rushed this whole week, trying to sort out a bunch of my own evolution and squeeze it into a regular, worldly human’s schedule. i’m not complaining, or lamenting less inspired days gone by…but i do find myself whiny and petulant and feeling what i would call selfish. my inner toddler wishes i had my own “patron of the arts” to fund my free spirit…and a live-in “servant” (aka Personal Assistant?). unfortunately, i think people like that expect you to create some sort of art before they consider volunteering funding for further adventures. and i’m just not quite established or brilliant enough to attract unpaid interns for the PA job.

i look at my daughter’s new Curious George Mood Puzzle and realize that i’m in all of those moods at once…though the ache in the pit of my stomach is not real sickness, it’s Love sickness. it’s the kind of Love sickness that makes it hard to think about serious things for very long, the kind i don’t really want to go away, the kind i will never have enough sick leave at work to cover, the kind i’m suppose to manage, not “cure.” i wish giving and receiving Love to myself, to people and to these pages was a paying gig. i wish everything came as easily to me as words do from my mouth and fingertips.

so today i will name my most recent amalgamation of moods…i shall call her Petulance. i look to my daughter for examples, for a crisp definition and easily recognizable signs that Petulance is eating up my day and spirit. she’s 2, she does petulant well. she expresses it outwardly, boldly, unapologetically and sometimes with a whine that, while irritating, is expected and correctable over time.  it is SO much less attractive on me. and even though i keep much of it concealed from the grownup world, i can see it in myself in the mirror, and in many of my recent spiritual reflections. lately, as fun and interesting things have populated my heartscape and schedule, i’ve not had much luck trying to overcome Petulance and her abhorrence for my 9-5 responsibilities.

it’s time to try something different, an experiment. today i will embrace Petulance and attempt to forgive myself for all of the whining, the sulking, the procrastination, the selfishness, the laziness and all of the inconsistencies and recriminations floating around my skull and clouding my vision of an enlightened life. i’m pretty sure that an enlightened life includes all of the moods and attributes included in these paragraphs. efforts to eliminate them feel futile (like my job sometimes)…so i will welcome Petulance and her constituents graciously as visitors, even if they are the kind most can only take in small doses. perhaps if i welcome them, feed them, comfort them and then show them kindly to the door, my magnanimity will have enough energy and focus leftover to spend on the tasks and dreams at hand.

my magnanimity may need a glass of whine…er…wine later and a grownup friend to talk to after entertaining Petulance all week. and my toddler may need a glass of (something age appropriate) and a stuffed elephant to talk to after dealing with one day of me. if anyone has suggestions for entertaining and wearing her out, i’m listening. i’m talking about suggestions for Petulance, not my 2-year old.