Nothing can prepare you for parenting quite like reading parenting blogs. Here, you’ll find my field notes from the front lines of parenting: the wonderful, the awful and the downright terrible. I tell it like it is. Parenting isn’t always a picnic, but I wouldn’t trade this job for anything. Anything. My girls fill my heart with their laughter, and soothe my frayed nerves with one slobbery kiss or sweaty hug. I don’t think it helps anyone to sugar coat the trials of parenting, but I also don’t think it helps to do nothing but whine. Sure, we all need to vent, but it’s just not fair to your kids if every post about them is negative. They’ll read this someday, you know. So, I hope you can find comfort, inspiration, commiseration and above all, a community within these blog posts.

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Mommas and Poppas, Nanas and Popis, these are strange times. This morning, I was wishing I had a story to read my little guy. He’s 5 and doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. We don’t want to overburden our children, but we can’t keep them in the dark, either. So, I just wrote something myself.

I made a little video, “Taming the Stress Monster.” Play it for your darlings, or mute the sound and read aloud. Enjoy, and please share. You are loved.

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Last week my daughter brought home…the blue note. She’s in fifth grade, and apparently, this colored piece of paper is a symbolic rite of passage for pre-pubescent and newly-pubescent youth. I went to a Catholic grade school, and while we had a puberty talk, I don’t remember what color the permission slip was. But “THE BLUE NOTE” was a big deal.

My kids bounded through the front door (middle child, oldest, then youngest with the rage of a lion, always in that order). “Mom, LOOK what we got at school!!!” She was equal parts horrified, excited, nervous and thrilled. Honestly that’s probably how most kids feel about puberty in general.

Ahh, yes. The school puberty video. In all it’s cringe-worthy gloriousness. ūüôā

I knew this was coming. I knew there would be “the talk” in fifth grade…and …

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The Autism Post

I’ve written about ¬†nearly every topic under the sun on this blog. Light stuff. Heavy stuff. In-between stuff. But there’s one thing I haven’t written about.¬†(I have on this blog’s Facebook Page, but not as an actual blog post.) And that is my 8-year-old daughter’s autism. I used to say her “autism diagnosis,” but that’s just a blip on our journey. Yes, the actual diagnostic process is fascinating, sometimes confusing or frustrating, but ultimately, it’s a phone call from a behavioral health specialist who confirms what you’ve known since your child was an infant. They’re different.

And it’s not like I’m scared to tackle tough subjects. I’ve written about my brother’s suicide, sexual abuse, my father’s death…big, hard-hitting things. But this autism thing? Folks, I’m exhausted. And sometimes the daily madness in our household must sound …

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“You should open a dessert stand! You’re the best cooker.”

My two daughters sat devouring their berry crisp, their short hair a mess, their ever-longer legs dangling from the bench seat at the kitchen table. A blueberry/strawberry/crumbly mess gathered at the edges of their stuffed mouths. Was this thrown-together dessert really that good? To them, it was. It was just sweet enough, warm, and made on a whim. A little, I suppose, like the way I mother.

As a mother of three, I’ve just now begun to take stock of the way in which I’m raising my children. I no longer pore over pages of parenting books and while I still read parenting blogs and turn to others for advice, I’m standing pretty firm on my own two exhausted legs. For the most part, I’ve got this …

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Love, Labor

The contractions hit harder and faster than I imagined. This couldn’t be the real deal, though. While I’d been dilated and effaced for weeks, with an induction scheduled the next morning, I didn’t let myself believe this was actual labor. After all, I’d had two false alarms before, and I knew they’d just send me back home if I wasn’t officially 39 weeks. I SO wanted it to be go time though. I wasn’t quite miserable yet, but I’d always dreamed of that quintessential “honey it’s time” labor sequence you see in the movies. I’d grip my belly and grab his hand while we raced to the hospital. My other two were scheduled inductions, and I always felt like all the fun was taken out, even though I enjoyed the predictability.

I took this pic …

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Time is Drawing Near

Soon. Soon love will fill this corner of the bedroom.

The wee hours of the morning. That delicate span of time when either you’ve stayed up very¬†late, or gotten up very early. My husband is the latter. He leans to kiss me in bed, my hour tousled unattractively against my pillow. I tell him I love him, words spoken¬†through my lisp-inducing mouthpiece used to prevent nighttime teeth grinding. Baggy black sweats with holes in ever-increasing places sit across my hips, purchased when I was 10 weeks pregnant with my first baby. They’ve served me well. I wear a soft-because-it’s-old faded gray t-shirt, screen print of a sporting goods store cracked and disappearing on the front. It’s his. Just like this squirming life inside me.

I’m 36 weeks pregnant with our fifth child. Two are in heaven, …

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We fought her, and then we fought FOR her. She’s amazing. She’s brave. And I don’t deserve her.

Brave. Not a word I would have used to describe my oldest daughter only six months ago. With a mental disposition much like me, I feared she would follow in my anxiety-laced footsteps. Her fear made me fearful. My nerves made her nervous. We’re a sometimes-challenging duo, her and I.

You see, I don’t want her to be like me. I want her to run through the sprinklers of life instead of skirting the edges. I want her to be Ria. I want her to live with less fear, but I know she’ll never be completely free of anxiety’s bonds. Or will she? Will she break free of the walls within own mind…and mine? …

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A Boy to Dance With

All motion. No insecurity. My daughter dances to the beat of her own heart, and may she always.

As our small town’s annual Fall Fest approached, my 31-year-old mind slipped back a few years and I was reminded of the insecure adolescent I used to be. Awkwardly tall and skinny, I wasn’t exactly the most sought-after girl on the dating scene. Also considering I’m related to half the population, my choices for potential suitors grew even slimmer. But still. There were boys. Boys whose hands I longed to hold. Boys whose smile would make my bony knees wobble a bit. Boys who might actually notice me if I wore the right jeans, a bra with enough padding to build several squirrel’s nests, enough Cover Girl makeup to conceal my God-forsaken acne, and a nice big …

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Your adorable little self at 18 months old. Prophetic t-shirt? I certainly think so.

Hey baby, it’s mommy. You can’t hear me right now. You’re sound asleep in your bed, Frances the bear tucked under your arm. You had a hard time falling asleep tonight, and I can’t blame you. You’re a little nervous. Mommy is too. Tomorrow is your big day. The day you start Kindergarten.

I can tell you’re excited, and I can see a little bit of uncertainty in your eyes. Will you like your teacher? Will you make new friends? Will you know what to do?

I remember the moment I first saw your face. Your red, naked little body was placed on my chest, and I stared deeply into your wide open eyes. You looked strong. And I could tell you were …

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Sisters strolling in the park. I pray they’re always this close.

 

Last night was a doozie. One of those evenings where every button is pushed, and by the end, every hair is pulled out. Tempers flared. Words hissed. Patience broke.

My youngest has been particularly difficult lately. Every other word is spoken as a whine, and when all 42 pounds of her 3-year-old body decide they don’t want to do something, it’s a back-breaking exercise in frustration. And she thinks it’s funny. And I used to let her get away with too much because, well, she’s my¬†baby.¬†And her older sister had me so wound up with her melodramatic preschooler-acting-like-a-preteen drama fests that I quite welcomed a different kind of naughty. But now? Now? My oldest has entered a “mommy’s little helper” phase while my youngest is …

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