“Ryan didn’t know it, but his response soothed my heart and made me feel good. Here was a flashing neon sign that our son was okay — more than okay. Here was the confirmation I needed that despite all the changes and the scary situations, Ryan felt safe and secure. After a year-and-a-half of distance learning, masked walks to our favorite neighborhood cafe for smoothies to go, and celebrating holidays with grandparents over FaceTime, Ryan was okay. More than that: he was optimistic, positive, and confident.”
I’m proud to share the news that the paragraph above is taken from a recently published essay, “My Son’s Optimism For the Future Continues to Amaze Me.”
You know how, as parents, you often wonder if you’re doing enough? If you’re handling a difficult situation well-enough?
This was my son’s way of saying, “Yep. You’re doing enough.”
You can click here to be re-directed to Moms Don’t Have time to Write to read the essay in its entirety.
They are “birthday buddies.” My son arrived about a week earlier than expected — the most incredible gift for our family!
Naturally, today I’m thinking even more about my son. About the young man he’s becoming. Sometimes I look at him and think Who is this almost-as-tall-as-me, hands-bigger-than-mine, deep-voiced teenager?
Back in fifth grade, my son was given an assignment — Think of an adjective that describes your personality, but it has to start with the same letter as your first name.
He chose “rhythmic.”
Rhythmic Ryan absolutely fits.
We’ve been enjoying the rhythm of books and music since I was pregnant. My husband and I read Goodnight Moon to my growing baby bump. For several years, that was the last book read at bedtime. (We went through several copies over the years.)
During those nights of teething and just-not-going-back-to-sleep-no-matter-what that every parent knows, I danced with Ryan to songs such as “Angel Baby” by Rosie and The Originals and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli.
Now, as a fourteen-year-old, it makes me so happy to see music and books continuing to play a huge part of my son’s life.
Readers, which adjective would you choose to describe your personality? Remember, it has to start with the same letter as your first name.
It’s a difficult question for me. I automatically think of “Weird.” It’s a word doctors have used (more than once) when speaking to me about my autoimmune disease. (You can click here to read “The Hard Realities I’ve Faced After My Doctor Told Me, ‘You’re Just Weird’.”)
I’m on the search for a new word.
But for today, I’m happy to celebrate Rhythmic Ryan and Ageless Anne (my mom).
Here’s the incredible part about this book — I found myself relating to so many of the authors. The specifics may differ (where we live, how many kids we have, the ages of our kids) but the emotions are universal.
Not only did I enjoy reading this anthology, but I have also added to my ever-growing list of “want-to-read” books. Many times, after reading an essay I found myself looking up the writer and then adding their books to my Goodreads “want-to-read” list.
Allow me to share just a few of the book’s gems:
From “Room for One” by Allison Pataki:
“I could read the surprise on my husband’s face. He’d asked me what I wanted for my upcoming birthday and I’d answered quickly and simply: a night away. A night away from him, away from home, away from our daughters, our dog, our laundry — all of it. One glorious night in a hotel room by myself.”
From “While I Was Sleeping” by Camille Pagán:
“But mostly, I’d been the one to grow. As mothers, we do so very much because we can. Because we think we should. Because who else will do it? The rest of our families will.”
From “The Little Pink Unicorn” by Heather Land:
“These days, I have a new perspective on self-sacrifice. I will always give my love, my time, and my attention to the ones I care about most. But from now on, that has to include me. I’ll probably never quit tending to the needs of my children (when they have their own), but I will continue to remember that I should love and tend to my own heart as well.”
“Little does Ryan know that when I drive to school to pick him up, I’m usually rocking out. If I can’t find a good song on the radio (I like the spontaneity), I’ll play one of our mixed CDs. Ryan says the fact that our car plays CDs and doesn’t have an auxiliary jack for my phone makes it old – another faux pas.”
The paragraph above is taken from my most recently published personal essay, “Singing Out Loud Helps Ease My Chronic Pain (At the Risk of Embarrassing My Son)” which was published at Moms Don’t Have Time to Write.
It’s mid-November. Which means there are weeks, mere weeks, until kids will be home on winter break (for weeks!). For many families, it can be an uphill battle to get the kids to do anything academic, anything that even hints at school.
Which means you need to get creative and disguise it as fun!
I’m pleased to share that Moms Don’t Have Time to Write has recently published my article 5 Ways to Ensure Your Kids Don’t Forget Everything They Learned in School While On Winter Break.
To read it, and maybe become inspired to try multiplication volleyball, click here.
“As Ryan pierced a slice of cucumber and pushed it around the puddle of French dressing forming at the bottom of his bowl, he said, ‘This is the first time I didn’t miss you when I went back to school.’
I smiled. I knew exactly what he meant.
No parent really wants to hear they’re not missed, but I also knew the larger significance of Ryan’s words. I realized the importance of his statement.”
I’m thrilled to share my personal essay, “I’m Proud My Son Said He Didn’t Miss Me” was recently published on Moms Don’t Have Time to Write.
You may recognize the name “Chris Erskine” from his columns in the Los Angeles Times. While I primarily write about “books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability),” Mr. Erskine writes about “the absurdities of suburban fatherhood.”
If you’re a parent and live somewhere in the vicinity of Los Angeles, you’re sure to find many of these tales relatable. But readers of any background will find sentences that make you stop, sentences where you think, “Damn; that’s good writing.”
Let me share a few with you:
“I like how, when you open an old treasured book, the binding crackles like a log fire.”
“The baby is now her obsession. Frankly, I don’t understand it. Sure, his skin is like linen. His eyes as bright as a winter sunrise. But his butt is all diaper. He constantly spits up. He has no visible means of support. All in all, he’s me twenty years ago, fresh from college.”
“Like Santa, the little guy seems to see miracles that no one else sees. He spots something, and his eyes glisten like the crystal of a watch. I worry, sometimes, that he might grow up to be a writer.”
“With each new day, a fifth grader fills more of the world. He’ll add muscles between breakfast and lunch. I see him now stretched out on the couch he outgrew this afternoon, taller than he was five breaths before.”
“Her chestnut hair is thinner now, but she still has those killer cheekbones and the cutest dimple – like an apostrophe – on just one side of her smile.”
“Half Sicilian, Posh has been cooking lasagna since she was three. Her version is seven layers deep, as thick as a good quilt and built with the same care craftsmen put into a Lamborghini.”
My son just completed a summer basketball league through our local Parks and Recreation.
Though Ryan is eleven years old, and now a middle schooler (gasp!), up until his request to play basketball this summer, he had never wanted to enroll in any sort ofenrichment class or activity (either after-school or on weekends).
And that was always fine with me.
You can click here to be redirected to RoleReboot to read my personal essay, “Why My Son Doesn’t Need ‘Enrichment’ Classes,” that was published back in 2018 to find out more.
But that was then.
Ryan decided he wanted to play basketball, and play he did with one hundred percent heart and soul – at every practice and every game.
About half-way into the summer session, there was a major scheduling snafu.Only ten children showed up at game time.The other team Ryan and his teammates were scheduled to play, kids from a neighboring park, didn’t show.And the coaches didn’t show.
But we had 10 kids who came to play.2 referees ready to work.And 1 park employee prepared to keep track of points, fouls, and timeouts.
The 10 kids were split into 2 groups of 5, and my husband and another parent were asked to serve as coaches.
My husband coached the way we parent.Not stressing the outcome, but praising the effort.Paul walked over to “his team,” introduced himself, asked each kid his name and gave each one a fist-bump.(And yes, Ryan was on his Daddy’s team.)
At each timeout, Paul shared fist-bumps and high-fives with his group of kids.He clapped while they played, encouraged them to pass the ball and communicate with one another.And for most of the game, he let these boys just run the court and play.
When the game was over, (Ryan and his teammates won), my husband had them all line up to shake hands with their competition.And while the other coach had begun to walk away from the court, my husband walked over to him, shook his hand, and congratulated him on a good game.
That’s a big part of the lesson I wanted Ryan to take away from this basketball experience.
Yes, it’s been great to see his layups improve.
Yes, I’m impressed with his defensive playing.
Yes, his long-range shots are dramatically better than they were when he started.(And he made a big shot in the last game of the season!)
But ultimately, I’m proud of his good sportsmanship and his wholehearted effort.
And the biggest takeaway is one Ryan provided himself.The ability to know yourself, to trust yourself.
It was Ryan’s choice to play basketball.On his own time-table.When he was ready.
Do you sit at a table or in front of the television?Do you all eat the same meal?
My idea of a successful family dinner has changed since becoming a parent.And it’s my son who has taught me that what is on each of our plates isn’t nearly as important as what is happening at the table during our family dinner time.
Click here to be re-directed to parents.com to read my personal essay, “Choosing Peace over Peas.”My essay was written in response to a Parents-sponsored essay contest, with a 300-word limit on the theme, “”The Parent I Thought I’d Be.”I was a finalist and won a $100 gift card!
I have a confession to make.I never planned on being a stay-at-home mom.I was a teacher before my son was born, and I planned on being a teacher after my son was born.
At least, that was my plan.
But for those of you who read my blog and know me, plans started to change in 2010 when I became ill.They really changed in 2013 when I retired from my twelve-year teaching career.
There is a lot to read about the difficult decision to become a stay-at-home mom or the equally-difficult decision to return to the workplace.But I didn’t find a lot to read about moms who become stay-at-home moms when it wasn’t their choice.And as much as I love my son, as much as I feel lucky to take him to school each day and pick him up each afternoon, being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t my choice.
You can click here to be re-directed to mother.ly and read my recently published essay, “I Never Planned To Be a SAHM – To Be Honest, I’m Still Adjusting.”