Tag Archives: SAHM

Just When You … #mommywars


I wrote a couple weeks ago about returning to the paid working world. The compulsion thrust itself at me on the heels of believing we would go penniless due to the impending college bills for our three sons. I was anything but a yoga teacher. I was anything but a leader. I panicked. 

I started a search for jobs on LinkedIn and an app named “indeed” and started to ask friends and former coworkers for their impressions and ideas. 

After a few days, I realized this wasn’t about just college. I began to feel my mortality. 

I believe that if you’re a normal, balanced and participating member of a progressive and valuable society, there’s an inner need inside you to add to that progress and that value. It’s not just a matter of “giving back” but also a matter of an exchange of a higher energetic vibration: that when you do something which you value and you are recognized for it (free or not) then that also raises the energetic vibration of the world around you. 

It’s very simple: when you are valued, and told so, you feel a sense of reward. That sense of reward goes with you to your car on your way to the grocery store / park / day care / carpool / walk with the dog / answer of the phone. That raises the energy you possess and which you share with the world (corporeal and spiritual) around you. 

This is easy for me to say, right? Last week, I was completely unhinged after a soccer game due to a self-proclaimed ignorant center ref’s increasingly faulty calls. I behaved like an ass. I regret that and I am happy to say that our coaches accepted my authentic apology and that I had repaired back to my normal cheerful self in the stands yesterday. I thought I could take a vow of silence, but … no. My son’s matches are such a pleasure to watch.  

Right after the half, one of our players erroneously made an own-goal and and gave the other team a point. Because I was visually accustomed to hoping for a shot into that particular net for 45 minutes, I cheered when that shot was scored. We were still ahead, but our coach smiled at me and said, “NO! Not ‘Yay!’ …” Whoops. I sucked it up and said, “That’s my karma for last weekend…” and those who were in the know knew exactly what I meant and they laughed. My point is that after I verbally charged that ref last week, I lowered my own energetic vibration. I put myself in a bubble of discontent, which I deserved. And to prove the point, I felt as though my karmic debt was settled with my own public display of ineptitude exactly one week later at the scene of my outburst.  

We are all learning something all the time. We are all teaching something all the time. The lessons will continue to be taught and learned until we are finished learning and teaching them. Then a new one. And another. And another. 

I feel that my outburst was directly related to my sense of needing to be “of” or to add value “to” the world. That sense of ‘place’ was suspended (I believe) until I learned my place *in* the world. Again. The week following my urges to find work, my oldest son needed me to drop off something to him at school –immediately– in order for him to complete a test in this math class he’s taking, which has problems that looks like this: 

for a math problem, this sure has a lot of letters in it…

The next weekday, which was a day off from school due to a teacher workday, my youngest son fell off his bike and hurt his knee. Then two days later, my middle son needed me to take him to the doctor’s for a strep test (negative). These things occurred in the middle of what most people would consider a 9-5 workday.  

doesn’t this happen at your house?

What I failed to realize, in the midst of all my urges and needs, was that I was right where I was supposed to be. My place in the world was clear to everyone but myself. I was not holding a space for myself. I was holding a space for everyone but myself.

I have a friend who wanted to become a therapist. She had successfully ended her graduate work, although as a mother, that had its challenges. As a form of her internship, she was engaged part-time in the services of a group home for runaway teens and was enjoying it. Just as a full-time opportunity arose, one of her children became very ill. When she was ready to return, the part-time work was still there (because it seems there will always, sadly, be kids facing troubles), and in the midst of the full-swing and coming opportunity to join full-time, another one of her children needed her long-term advocacy. Her place in the world for that season in her life was to be not far from home. 

We sighed and shook our fists at the fates, at the belief that women, specifically mothers, have to either fit someone else’s definition of success by doing and having it all (career, family, marriage, hobby, Bravo-TV), or redefine their lives for their children’s wellbeing. We sighed at our consternation of feeling “trapped” by motherhood, yet knowing deeply inside that we could never change a thing about how life has played itself out.   

She and I are the type of people who could go either way: be stay-at-home mothers (because all mothers are full-timers) or have a career. Careers change and come and go; motherhood is a one-time gig, no matter how many kids one has, and while the world might be changing, motherhood will never change: our children’s needs are constant, unpredictable, demanding and wholly irreducible. 

Despite this, some women know about themselves that they are not cut out for the doilies and teddy bear tea parties under the dining room table and other at-times mind-numbing activities. They know those moments will send them to the padded rooms. They need adult stimulation and interaction, they need not to be constantly answering “why ____” when chances are their child really isn’t tracking (and neither are they), and I applaud them. I  support those women. For some of them, that choice was a clear as tap water. For others, that choice was rife with ambivalence and guilt. I want all of them to know this: that I’m helping to take care of their child when I volunteer at school. I am honoring them by honoring their child and I know they would do the same were the roles reversed. 

The bottom line is that these mothers all fiercely love their children and to them, no matter what they decide, they know that being a contented and purposeful person means they will be a contented mother and being a contented mother means they can raise content, secure, and resilient children. 

I wasn’t there. I was nodding numbly at the imginary motivational speaker in my head, but I wasn’t there. I still felt I brought no value. Without knowing it, I was still ceding to an extrinsic value system. Then I finished Steven Pressfield’s War of Art, and it became clearer to me: my value system was what he termed “heirarchical” — I placed my value in the opinions of others. The outside world was where I had based my worth. What I needed to do was switch my perspective to what Pressfield calls “territorial,” to wit: that when you are doing what you do for the sheer SAKE of doing it, not just (or at all) for praise, you are in your “zone” / territory and that judgments of the outside world fade away (because they don’t matter and never will, nor should they) and that you fall in [love] with your calling. 

Some of us are at work at jobs we don’t like. Or those which drain our last bits of enthusiasm. I am hopeful that there is something in that daily existence which we can find that brings us satisfaction or contentment: the smile of a customer, the reliability of the work, the appreciation of a co-worker, the paycheck… that “thanks, Mom,” from a child. It’s no surprise to me that I was wanting daytime work outside the home as a possibility of escape and validation as well. Just when we think we have one situation sewn up, another one pops a seam. 

Raising teenagers can be DEPLETING — they are like zombies: dirty haired and ripped clothes; grunters, their circadian rhythms are all out of whack, clumsy, music seems to be the only thing which quells them, they turn toward the scent of food, they offer only monosyllabic replies, and roar when surprised or disturbed. 

What I liked about working is that the jobs were often finite and certainly NOT defiant; that I had support from peers; and that I wasn’t always the boss who denied and disciplined. With teenagers, everything is a negotiation. Those maternal ghosts from toddlerhood, “Do you want to move your body, or do you want ME to move your body?” are like a fantasy, an ice cream sundae, of discipline. 

I sort of miss those days. My back doesn’t.  

Once I have taken stock of my place in where I am, where things are in my life and how my family needs me, I can step back and figure out how to get into what I [want to] do in a “territorial” way which sustains my spirit and fuels me for the inevitable moments when heirarchical demands raise their heads. And maybe even then, I can find a way to become territorial about those situations, because let’s face it: unless what we do is rewarding, there is little drive to keep doing it. It shouldn’t always be about the money. It needs to serve the spirit — that sense of accomplishment, that we did it all by our BIG PEOPLE selves — as well.  

Thank you.           


Missives from the Mat #12 — Trapped and Released


Who knows why anyone does anything.

I chose to pursue yoga because I knew that I needed centering, healing and quiet.

I was a recent first-time mother, my world was turned upside-down and I had an anger simmering in me that I didn’t understand.

I knew my anger had nothing to do with the baby, but I did feel trapped, as though becoming a mother had sealed the deal: I was en route to becoming my mother, with whom I did not much agree about anything. The only thing I knew how to do was to be Not Her. I did not know mySelf.

Suddenly I had these visions of her visiting endlessly –the proposition of which was absolutely terrifying– and never leaving. Mom would corner priests at the end of Mass; she would close down restaurants. She never said “good bye.” I remember witnessing my parents’ lengthy chats by the car in the driveway when my father would Just Try to Leave for Work. My fears and visions evolved into nightmares and then full-blown panic that I’d never be able to escape her. By giving birth to my son, I’d given Mom a lifetime pass to my … life.

It was all totally irrational. It was all in my imagination. Until it started to happen.

Mom stayed with my first son for several hours a day for nine months after I went back to work as a corporate communications manager for a major telecommunications company. At work, I had it all: stimulating conversations, deadlines, feedback, actual objectives which were attainable and measurable and money. At home, I had none of that, or so I felt. Looking back on all this, now 16 years later, I can see that I had all the measurable outcomes and objectives and goals I needed — they just weren’t mine to attain; they were my sons’. My own personal growth at the hands of my beautiful boys is priceless. No therapist could ever come close to helping me see where I needed to change.

So when I’d heard from my mother that my son was beginning his first steps and that I’d not be there to see it, I had to make a choice: miss out or miss out. I chose to miss out. I chose to stay home.

The morning I decided to leave my job; I had just printed my resignation. This is my beautiful son when he was about a year old. 

The morning I decided to leave my job; I had just printed and signed my resignation letter. This is my beautiful son when he was about a year old.

So I quit work. That job… yikes. It was amazing. But I had other things to do; I had to quit my old world to light up my new world.

But I was a mess still and I had to get out. “You have anger problems,” I remember my mother smirking at me in a smirky voice, as though my unexpressed, repressed rage and anger was all about me and not at all about her and her years of addiction, parentalizing and manipulation of me, upside-down mentality, and hocus-pocus “that’s not what happened” revisionist history.

Full disclosure: I am a peacekeeper by training. Still trying to win her graces, I didn’t want to upset my mother. She offered to stay with him that first year when she learned that I was interviewing daycare providers, “I’ll not have my grandson stay in one of those baby bins…” she would hiss. (I didn’t notice at the time, but I think I was being judged.) So we made a deal: she would clean up. No more drinking and no more pills and she could stay with him. But she had a price, I had to pay her. Every day she would take a cab to my house and be his onsite Mimi. Nine months later, when I left my job, she told me her world fell apart. That I had “taken away [her] reason for being.” The guilt of it all: to quit my amazing job, to stay home with my son, to lose mySelf in his mothering and lose mySelf in diaper duty, having no one to speak to but a toddler for hours on end was all a bit too much. This was supposed to be a happy time: MOTHERHOOD! But I had anger issues, right? Who would teach him Shakespeare? She asked. What about how he likes his lunch? She continued to visit daily, but I couldn’t pick her up, I was exhausted. But because I couldn’t pay her way over, or much of anything after I stopped working — we gave up half our income — the visits atrophied. She did teach him his first sentence, “Puck bit Mimi” after my father’s corgi, Puck, bit my mother rendering a dozen stitches in her right hand … much to the chagrin of our relatives and my mother’s friends, my father kept Puck. I could write vast tomes on my mother’s relationships with my father’s dogs.   

So I took up yoga at a local rec center on Sunday mornings. I’ve never been very churchy. This was a perfect compromise. It was the conscious breath with movement that was a nice departure, but the nap svasana at the end which hooked me. I remember thinking to myself, “And we get to take a nap too??” when each class was over.

I’m not an athlete, but I am athletic. I’m not a super-still person, but I can meditate. Get someone to tell me what to do and I’ll do my best to make it happen, so it was that people pleaser in me that helped yoga become a successful element in my life.

It was yoga’s subtle push to open my mind to my inner Self and see what’s inside it (rather than what’s outside it) which ultimately made me stay.

If You Go Looking for Crazy …

Anyone can flap their arms and kick up dust when crazy is going on all around. If you go looking for crazy, you will find the crazy. There’s never a shortage of crazy. So… why not try to be the stillness? Why not contribute to the silence?

After a few months of yoga, I realized that how I felt about / related to / fit in with the outside world was a direct mirror of how I was dealing with my inside world.

I’m reminded of those spin-art cards created at carnivals and festivals: you drop colors of paint on a card and then someone sets the card on a turntable which spins. The centrifugal force sends the gobs of paint to  radiate from the center and then you have your art.

Instead of being like the spin art, when our inner world starts to leak through to our outer world, I’ve learned that I need to go inward, go inside, and settle down and figure out how to deal with myself instead of oozing on to everyone else. That’s what yoga does for me: it keeps me from oozing on to the people I exist with. Yoga keeps me from being like spin art (which is always left behind at the carnival anyway).

Yoga’s near-compulsory / encouraged mindfulness has taught me to keep mySelf in mind in all of my reactivity. Do I still react? Yes. It just takes longer to happen now and is over much sooner. Also, my apologies are more freely offered. I’m also a much better listener. Not perfect! But better. I also have gained the freedom to be OK with making a mistake or to draw back on a boundary if I’ve spoken too soon. It’s OK to change our minds.

No Longer a Baggage Handler.

Yoga also gives me a more open mind which helps me allow people their baggage if I get static from them. I don’t have to take their baggage either — that’s another benefit of yoga. What’s on my mat is mine and what’s on your mat is yours.

I used to get terribly enmeshed with people. Now, I just smile and nod.

Some people come to yoga because they want better abs. Some people come to yoga because they need to stretch after sitting in a desk all day. Some people come to yoga because it’s cool. Some people come to yoga because they don’t know why, they just know it works.

I teach yoga because it has changed my life.

It’s been quite a year for me. A year ago, I had just written the check to attend a 16-day yoga teacher training retreat which beautifully humbled me. Three weeks after that, my mother suddenly died and the next day, school started for my kids. Three weeks after that, I pushed through to complete my RYT-200 written exam as my birthday gift to myself. Then on a snow day from school, I wrapped up the final stages of my yoga certification. Three weeks after that, I was teaching yoga in this beautiful room:

nice huh? it's a 40'x40' space surrounded by woods. all you hear when it's silent is the ticking of the wall clock, the chirping birds and children at the nearby pool in summer. i can't imagine myself teaching anywhere else.

nice huh? it’s a 40’x40′ space surrounded by trees. all you hear when it’s silent is the ticking of the wall clock, the chirping birds and children at the nearby pool in summer. i can’t imagine myself teaching anywhere else. at night, when the evening class ends and it’s dark outside, you hear the peep toads and crickets. in the winter as the snow falls outside…it’s like a dreamland.

The first time I stepped into that room to take yoga from my own teacher several years ago, I remember saying to myself, “What a gorgeous space. I would love to teach yoga in this room.”

Yogi Bhajan, the man who taught my yoga teachers Kundalini yoga has a saying, “Start and the pressure will be off.” That’s basically how my teaching started: I was trapped.

My first adult class came on the heels of serendipitous and universe-at-work, power of attraction, power of intention woo-woo: I set the intention, I got the room. I got the students. They came with the deal. They have stayed and re-upped and brought friends. It’s all a little too magical to believe, so I just accept it. I don’t try to figure it out.

Practicing Vs. Teaching — Oy.

Teaching yoga is quite different from taking yoga.

When you join a class, you go, you practice and you can leave. When you teach, you teach, you demonstrate and you don’t leave until the last person leaves. I get to lock up the beautiful space.

Last month, I wrapped up an eight-week session teaching children for pay and this coming Monday will mark the end of my first 12-week two-class session of being an actual paid yoga instructor to adults. I pinch myself from time to time. The earnings are very modest, but it lets me take the kids to Starbucks or pay for haircuts, or low-grade car maintenance.

Kids are honest, funny, physically adventuresome, openly competitive and curious. It was a blast to teach them; they were game for anything. The hardest thing I had to do with them was rein them in. Adults are not always like kids: they don’t tell you when it hurts, they keep their expressions to themselves and so it’s largely a mystery how things are going unless they offer a comment. I have learned to accept that if they keep coming back it’s because they like it. I can’t go looking to them for my happiness or fulfillment as that would be completely unhealthy; so I need to grow-up and see the data for what it is: proof.

Part of the Work of teaching yoga is practicing care for our students while also practicing detachment. All of my teachers have privately spoken to me about the varying personalities in a yoga class. I remember myself when I started: I was a super-pissed people pleaser. Somehow it worked out.

For Students: Respect the Space.

I encourage my students to be self-aware too.

The yoga room is a sacred space. When joining a yoga class — whether it be the first time or the 1,000th time — it’s crucial for the success of your own practice as well as your classmates’ that you leave your “day” at the door or at least with your shoes. Why? Because not everyone just got engaged. Not everyone just got fired. Not everyone just lost a friend or dropped the roasted chicken on the floor (guilty as charged). It’s because not everyone lives the same life. I try to do my best to allow everyone’s humanity while at the same time protecting everyone from everyone’s humanity… it’s a delicate balance.

I love that the students mostly know one another — after all, I was the new kid. They were already assembled, I took over the classes. That said, whether the students are adults, children or families: we are there to practice yoga, not share and have coffee — that can happen after or before class. I respect my students enough to begin and end on time, which I think is a rational expectation; everyone pays the same price to be in the room for the same amount of time.

you, your mat and your strap.

no matter where you practice, at the end of it all it’s just you, your mat and your strap.

The thing is — while these 90 minutes are all we have, everyone’s 2′ x 6′ rubber rectangle mat is all anyone needs to come to terms with themselves. They don’t need me to do it for them, in fact I can’t do it FOR them. They might need me to keep them in alignment, to help them not hurt themselves, to inspire or encourage them to go to their edge, but in the final analysis: it’s all them. I’m just there to hold the door open. They are the ones who step over the threshold.

Get Lost to Find YourSelf.

Many people look to find friends or a Teacher (not just of yoga) at a yoga class or session. That’s not what this is about.

Some of these yoga teachers out there are like rock stars to their students followers. I do not have that ambition. I’m not there to want you to love me. I’m not there to get you to trust me — either you do or you don’t. I’m not there to get you to hold that adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog) for three minutes. It might be a goal, but it’s about YOU being willing to Listen to YOU and not try to impress anyone. ‘Get lost and find yourself,’ I say to myself when I get on my mat. That mat above is my fourth mat. I’m still looking, apparently.

When I first started this teaching gig, 14 weeks ago, I wanted to be liked. I’ll totally admit that. I also wanted to be The Best Teacher Ever and reinvent yoga and create lasting memories in peoples’ lives about how amazing and revolutionary my yoga classes are… now that I’ve exhausted myself trying to live to that standard, and have realized that people just want to be guided in movement, stretched out and relaxed, I have given myself the gift of my own perspective and have released myself from the crazy expectations I placed on myself. Why? Because I never expected that from ANY of my teachers. I just wanted them to tell me how to move.

Practicing yoga is truly about you giving yourself and your mat the time of day. It’s about you trapping whatever you are dealing with on that mat and then working through it so that you can release it and come off the mat that much kinder to yourSelf.

The best gift I can give people is a moment to help them to find themSelves.

Thank you.

Missives from the Mat 2 — Value: #Identity #Parenting #Fear #Ability #Yoga


If you want to see a radical shift in someone’s consciousness or value in themselves as a person, parent, writer, artist, doctor… human, threaten to change, alter, dilute, remove or diminish that identification. It’s at this point when you will learn how much they value what they’re doing.

I don’t know the origins of the lines in that sappy 70s song, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” but right now the sentiment runs true.

No catastrophe is looming, but a fairly significant shift in our family unit is about to occur in five hours. Not only will I travel for 16 days straight away from my team — something I’ve never done ever, EVER — to train to become a yoga teacher, but my team will experience changes too.

Most people do this training over a course of several months. Some take a couple years, but I’m a great summer school student: I love the quick hits of info and the intensity. I’ve always thrived in some sort of chaos, deadlines… and so this is like that to me.

Other than myself, our two older boys will go on a train ride to see some relatives all by themselves.

My husband and our youngest son, Thing 3, will have the castle and the dog to themselves for five days straight while the brothers are away.

So yes, this is a tremendous opportunity for growth for all five of us; I hadn’t thought about it that way until last night when I was packing for the retreat.

The older ones will ride on a train for 7 hours unescorted. They will be picked up by their aunt and spend some time with their closest (in peer and friendship) cousins. Their aunt will likely grow from this experience as well, in her relationship with my sons as their surrogate mom for a few days. I suspect Thing 2, who is quite demonstrative with me and his father will be needing a little cuddle from his auntie whether he likes it or not. Same goes for Thing 1, although he’s 15 and will be much more stalwart about it.

I tear up a little at the prospect of leaving them all. No Cap’n Crunch… here at least. No brie, unless they have it.

I found out that there is no coffee at the retreat, so I did this:

I don't have a coffee "addiction" in the least; I drink one cup a day, but it's sort of my "moment" in the morning. So there's that...

I don’t have a coffee “addiction” in the least; I drink one cup a day, but it’s sort of my “moment” in the morning. So there’s that… The “Ultima” is actually a hydration / electrolyte beverage mix. Who knows what I’m in for…

I also bought about 10 packets of BumbleBee Tuna in water and some Parmalat milk. So… no real growth for me, I guess.

The thing is, that for years I’ve not so much doubted my mothering, but I’ve doubted my value in my mothering. There’s something very very wrong with our society where (soapbox time) stay-at-home mothering is derided.

I don’t poop on the moms who work; I get it. Mothering toddlers can be MIND NUMBING. School-age is fun, but it’s a lot of repeating. Then preteens is nuts: they are insane people. They act like cats. And now teenagers: Fuhgedaboudit.

But I will staunchly defend those of us who give up sacrifice pause, yes: PAUSE, on their careers or professional growth to raise children into sentient, honorable and contributing members of society.

Not everyone does that. Not everyone raises their kids to be good citizens. It’s unlikely their intent to raise cretins, but to be really honest with both of you: conscious, mindful, calmly assertive parenting is INSANELY HARD and I falter all the time. Some parents just give up.

Yesterday, Thing 2 (mini me) and I had it out. I’ve got this retreat on my mind, packing mentally, where will I hide the Slim Jims? all that… He wanted to go somewhere, I wasn’t thrilled about it, but I agreed. I wanted all of us to go. My sense is, “I’m out of here in 24 hours, let’s do something together…”

Then his brothers didn’t want to go, but T2 really wanted to go somewhere with me, he cried and moaned and snuffled about it, so I suggested the place that he really wanted to go to a couple days prior while I was away. He said, “No, it’s OK, let’s just go to the place we planned to with everyone.”

For those who stayed behind, I set my edict: “NO SCREENS. So that means: outside, guitar, soccer in the yard, read, mow the lawn… clean your room, do something, but no screens.”

This caused a row. In the meantime, I’m getting ready to go, my word is law… all that stuff.

“That’s my order — no screens. Come with us or no screens. You’re not sitting on your butts while we’re out.” There was consent, albeit grudgingly so.

So it’s hot out. I’m distracted, I don’t really want to do this. I have to buy gas, I have to buy Breathe Right strips because I’m sharing a room and sometimes I snore… but I’m going to do what I said I would do and T2’s manipulations can be off the charts, so I decided that this little outing with my tender son was better than being a little behind.

We get into the car and no more than five seconds later he says, after literally causing an atomic meltdown from his brothers about the No Screens law, “No, it’s OK. Let’s go to the place I wanted to go the other day…”

I pulled the car back in the driveway. Turned off the engine, opened the doors and said, “Get out. Go back in the house and stay there. I’ve got things to do and I won’t be manipulated by you any more. It doesn’t matter where we go, so long as we’re together, you say. Then you cry and toss a fit, then you get your way and the you CHANGE YOUR MIND?! Are you insane? Do you hear yourself? I don’t need this… you’re almost 13 years old…”

Apparently when he went back inside, and did lose his mind. Backpacks flew, people Murphy (people) ran and hid, soccer balls went careening into bookcases.

I could hear it, but I went to buy gas. I needed a time out. He has a tendency to do these things from time to time; he’s a really smart kid, he’s just got to get a handle on his emotions at home. He doesn’t pull this stuff at school or at other peoples’ homes, so I know it’s something he saves for us…

I went to buy gas. He called me two times on my mobile. I came home as I intended, sort of: I forgot to buy the Breathe Right strips. I sat him down, interviewed all the boys in my room as I packed and warned them to not interrupt each other. I watch a lot of Law & Order around here, so I know how to handle an argumentative witness. They all spoke, Thing 2 couldn’t argue with the testimonies and I told him his sentence:

“Sentences. You have to write out this entire experience: from the moment we were ready to leave to my proposal of the place you wanted to go to a few days ago, just us alone, to your suggestion we stick with the plan to my rule for your brothers, to our walk to the car, to your changing your mind to your tantrum at the house. That’s it. I will not review it, your peers will.”

That sucked. It was work. I went to clean out my car while he was writing. What’s funny is there was some clever editorializing in his notes and excellent detail, so the kid’s got chops. But there were some missing facts, such as his freak out and backpack tossing and other stuff. So he had to revise it.

You know what he said when he was through?

“This was good mom. I really blew it. I can see now how crazy the whole thing was.”

That was a hole-in-one moment for me. I knew at that moment, I’d done the right thing by him.

So I see it now. I see my value in what I do here. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, and that’s the way these things work, I guess.

I’m about to lose my post: I will not be supreme ruler, guide, mother here for 16 days. And with that shift looming, it makes me cling even harder to my value and see in sharp relief, what value I do add to this tribe here. The contrast is stark, the lens is clear and the lighting is perfect: I add value.

We all do. All of us parents who sit on our hands, or bite our tongues, keep our tempers together, or remove privileges and stick to them. We all work so bloody hard.

Just the other day I had to count to five for my eldest, Thing 1, who is now 5’9″ and about 140lbs. He grew an inch in two months this spring. He was belligerent toward his father and myself. I told him to go to his room. He didn’t want to. He wanted to fight with us, get in our faces, give us grief.

I started: “FIVE …. FOUR …. ” up he goes a few steps. My hand is pointing all the way up and to the left, “Go on… GO. … THREE …” a couple more steps. He stops. I glare at him. “TWO.” He put his foot on his bedroom carpet and said, “I’m in my room.”

I glared harder. Squinted like Clint Eastwood. “iPod. Hand it over.”

He did. “I don’t care. Take it. That’s your only thing on me!”

“This is just the beginning. How do you like that Stratocaster? GO. IN. YOUR. ROOM. Do you want to move your body or do you want me to move it for you?” (And I would too…)

“You can’t. I’m too big now.”

“Watch me. Do IT. NOW …. ONE.”

And his door slammed. He picked up his guitar and started some Hendrix. We wanted him in there for only 10 minutes, but he stayed an hour. Jammed away. Zeppelin, the Beatles, some Who…

He emerged smug and sly, “I needed that, I guess.” He said.

“We all did.” I said.

So I leave soon. They will have no mommy here. It makes me want to stay. To say to the world, “They need me! I’ve been awesome to them!” But I need to grow too. I know that if I don’t do this, then I will regret it.

It’s time. They can all swim well now, they know how to use the microwave. I have friends who will check in on them all, their father will be working from home. We can do this. We can swing this. We got this.

I’m ready. RIGHT?!

I am. So moms, dads: do something like this for yourself when the time is right. When the kids are old enough to understand the consequences of their actions and when you are ready to give yourself back to the bigger world and let the bigger world give itself to you.

Namaste. Sat Nam. Amen.

Thank you.

What Do We Want? Clean Laundry! When Do We Want It? … Sunday?


She should have known better.

All the typical telltale signs and warnings were there.

The kindly husband hunched over, silently searching for socks in the dawn’s early light; shower steam rising from the bathroom door’s opening.

The children milling about in two-day-old mustard-stained t-shirts, their socks shiny and sticking to their feet.

The tweet went out as this,

“Fed-up mother unleashes hostile laundry rampage. Colors carelessly mixed with whites, perm. press & delicates ‘Just for the hell of it.’”

When the officers arrived at the scene, it was sheer bedlum.

Cottons with polyesters.

“I could build a garrison around myself with the hampers. They would never find me… My body wouldn’t be discovered for days due to the clean laundry smell… yoga pants… yoga pants… socks,” the perp was mumbling.

Quick-dry performance wear and pajamas pulled from the dryer; the fabric softener sheets clinging to them for their dear inanimate lives.

“Everyone knows you don’t use fabric softeners with pajamas — it’s a fire hazard,” said the first investigator.

“Fire hazard, shmire shmazard. Better the PJs than the athletic wear. If you use a drop or a one-inch square of that stuff with the dry-fit, you can kiss your moisture wicking good-bye,” scoffed the forensics lead. She didn’t look up once as she scanned over the laundry with a black light looking for unwashed clothes mixed in with the clean, a common crime associated with mothers whose laundry tasks overextended their abilities or mental bandwidth.

A boy’s small blue and red striped t-shirt draped over a heap of yellows; a twin-size ecru sheet, the fitted one, and probably 500-thread count, was mixed in with dark blues with little regard for the tan dress socks at the bottom of the heap, crushed under the weight, but visible through the cheap plastic basket’s vents.

“That basket looks like it was part of an elementary school’s basket raffle. It’s definitely not up to the task of this family,” said the lead.

Turkish spa-quality towels clung to cheap, Target-brand bed sheets.

In fact, everything was smothered and wrinkled. Even the “Spider-Man” costume’s muscles were crimped.

“I don’t care anymore. I can’t take it. I don’t care anymore. Stripes with solids. Plaids with polka dots. Hot wash, cold rinse. Double rinse. Whites with bolds. Colors with solids… cold water colors… extra long spin cycle… solids…coldsolidstripes… sweatshirtsinaugust… flannelpajamapantsinjuly… delicates… coo-coo! coo-coo! What time is it? What time is it? I’ll tell you what TIME IT IS!!! IT’S TIME TO DO YOUR OWN LAUNDRY! YOOOU baaaaaastarrrrdssssss! Who wears socks in the summmmmerrrr?!” the alleged laundry mother hissed scathingly.  Her eyes, dazed and eerily dilated, were locked on the TV screen showing a re-run of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

Silencing Vincent D’Onofrio required pushing the power button on the set as the remote control was lost.  “Probably under a blanket or a pair of board shorts judging by the looks of this place,” said a rookie.

Permanent press was permanently unpressed, disheveled.

The traditional nattiness of this family’s fashion legacy was unraveled and tattered on one sultry August afternoon.

This isn’t your grandmother’s laundry pile.

“Chief! Over here — I’ve found a wicker basket loaded only with socks. Who does this?!” asked the rookie, barely able to control himself.

“Keep your pants on. This basket is the work of a laundry veteran. The socks are reserved for the mind-numbing task of sorting them later,” she said.

She had tried to make jokes about it before. Showing another pile on the ottoman, surrounded by irony: a clean house. Posting it on her facebook wall, as an attempt at self-effacing satire, a joke about herself and her miserable laundry skills.

This isn’t funny. Even though it is. Don’t laugh. Don’t feed that dog.

But it wasn’t funny.

“She didn’t even look for the union label,” was the last thing the lead officer said as she stretched the POLICE CRIME SCENE: DO NOT ENTER tape around the entry of the home.

Thank you.