20160930_111808

[Quiet Thoughts] Mommy’s Book of Morals

Photo: Major’s first elementary school field trip ever was, of course, to an apple orchard. There is nothing more New England than an orchard and, I must say, this is probably my favorite orchard ever. Not wanting to show other people’s children on the interwebs, this is the only one I can show from my chaperoning.

 

Major lied to me this week.

It was a little lie, a silly one. Evidence of his marvelous brain working, him flexing his muscles of language and persuasion. Lying has only recently emerged–it was going to happen eventually, so I’m not terribly surprised. Yet, here I was with no time yesterday morning, having to face my 5-year-old, his lie, and all the consequences.

“Why is Mommy angry?” I asked my son. This is a question I ask often.

“Because I [did something I asked him not to, resulting in a mess and a significant delay in our morning routine]?”

I did a nodding-shake of my head. That yes/no shake. “Yes, that’s true. I’m angry about that. But why else am I angry?”

“Because I didn’t tell you the truth.”

“And did you know you weren’t telling me the truth?”

“Yes.”

“You have to understand that this was a silly lie. It was pretty obvious what was going on. But you still wasted 10 minutes of my time telling me that silly story. It’s a big waste.”

I have to give him credit: he was wide-eyed, laser focused. He was yawning, as it was morning and we’d had a late night, but he was with me.

“It’s important that you understand that you are a big boy and I expect a lot out of you. Big Boys tell the truth, even when it’s hard. Big Boys tell the truth, even when they think Mommy is going to be angry.”

And my Quiet Thoughts this week come from that moment. At what point do we become the arbiters of the Big Book of Morals? How do we, somehow, end up saying the same things our parents said to us to our own children? I could hear my mother’s voice, see her face, as I was saying the words.

“You have to tell the truth, even when it hurts. You have to do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking,” I said. “You have to choose the right thing, even when it’s not easy.”

He listened, nodded his head. I asked him to repeat what I told him, and he did so dutifully. These are lessons that will need to be taught over and over again, expanded and refined as he grows older. They are rules that I understand aren’t hard and fast, but he can’t know that yet. (I’m a fool. He already has an idea that breaking them without ending the world is possible.)

Truth be told, my Quiet Thoughts come from my guilt about it afterward. Long after I dropped him off for school and went on about my insane day, I wondered if I’d been too hard on him. I wondered if I was being too old-school, too strict. Who am I to be dictating such edicts and dictums? I break rules all the time! Often with a smile!

There is also an understanding that a new chapter in parenting is beginning for us. My role shifts and changes as his needs do. Here I am, teaching again, but these lessons are forever. Am I really the right person to teach these lessons? I know that I have to be, but that doesn’t mean that I am. Time will tell. You never stop wondering if you are royally screwing this up.

The heat is on in the farmhouse tonight. The Husband made it so. I was holding out until October 1st, but he caved last night when it got down to 62 in the living room. We could have snuggled! Whatever. I’m grateful for oil in tank, cider donuts in the kitchen, the opportunity to sleep in and then catch up. Drought-cutting rain is supposed to fall this weekend. A blessing… even if our garden is already on its way out. The best part of all? there are many apples in the house! Over a half-bushel! So, I must make apple butter this weekend. This house is going to smell awesome. I can’t wait to fill up a few little jars and send them off to dear friends.

I send to you, on this last Friday of September, a little bit of warmth, a little bit of light. Dear Reader, this world feels deeply dark, sometimes intensely scary, and  very often isolating and uncaring. So I wish you an outstretched hand, a welcoming smile, a warm moment with another person who sincerely cares about you. I wish you food that feeds your body well, preferably with all these wonderful foods from the harvest–tomato, leek, potato, fennel, beets. I hope that food feeds your soul, too, bringing you memories of happy times in happy places. I wish you moments alone with your thoughts and your desires, a time to reconnect with what you want and how you want to achieve it. I wish you moments of laughter with favorite people. I wish you two kisses on the cheek and a tight squeeze of a hug, someone looking into your eyes and seeing far beyond the shield you put up for yourself. When was the last time someone saw you, fully? When was the last time you took a moment to see a friend?

Above all, I want you to remember how loved and admired you are. Remember how much your story means to the people who care about you. Remember that who you are and what you do has consequence in this world. Choose to be kind, choose to reach out, and always know that what you put out into the world will come back to you twice fold.

Until Monday, Dear Reader, be bold, love fearlessly, take a positive risk, roar with laughter, and take care.

20160925_160231

Kindergarten Diffusion

Photo: Whoops! I haven’t taken any pictures this week! So, here! Have another of the awesome fire pit. To be clear, the fire pit is so awesome that it deserves another appearance on the blog. But still… I should probably take some pictures between now and Quiet Thoughts.

 

There were many lovely things about my birthday yesterday (THANK YOU to all who sent me birthday wishes!). My husband gave me a beautiful new necklace and a pretty matching bracelet. My youngest went to school until 2 yesterday. I got to go have a delicious sushi lunch with a fantastic friend. I fielded calls from Maryland, always a wonderful thing.

But then the afternoon came, and stuff sorta unraveled. First, I opted to call my Father instead of leaving well enough alone and accepting his annual “happy birthday” text. Second, my eldest came home after another great day at kindergarten and introduced a new idea into the household.

“Wanna see what I made?” He asked as he walked into the kitchen. I was elbow deep in lasagna construction (wondering who the hell makes herself lasagna on her birthday? Seriously? Awful idea. Delicious, but exhausting).

This is not a new thing to do. Usually, boys build with legos in the playroom and then come into the kitchen at regular intervals to present their creations for my praise. I went with the script: “Why yes, I would like to see.”

Major presents a long stack of blue and yellow megablocks constructed in haphazard pattern. One block on the end was skewed slightly off so as to be a handle. “I made a gun!”

What the fuck? Where the hell did you learn that?

(I did not say these things out loud.)

“Oh, um…” I stammered. Minor came in right after him, looking at Major’s creation with the eyes wide with awe. Big Brother has created a new sort of thing. I could just see him concocting his own way of making one.

This is the second time in as many weeks that Major has come into the house with something he learned on the playground that I’m not terribly thrilled about. Some kid at school loves to use the word “freaking” the way that we adults use “freaking” (The exact line that Major is parroting is “I can’t see the freaking numbers!”), and I’m not delighted by it. I’ve told him multiple times to stop saying it. “If you don’t know what it means, there is no reason to walk around saying that,” has been the parental line. It’s only moderately effective at the moment.

But this?

“Mommy doesn’t really like that, [Major]. Mommy doesn’t think that guns are toys. Mommy thinks that life is precious, and life has value. Guns aren’t about that at all. So we aren’t going to play gun here.”

Major, of course, needed to ask his requisite “why?”

“Because, baby, guns aren’t toys. They are very powerful and they are very dangerous. They hurt people and they kill people. They serious, very serious things. Where did you learn  to play guns?”

Turns out, he learned it from the same kid who says “freaking” the way adults say “freaking.” This is his new chief playmate. Fantastic.

“We were playing soldiers. I asked if I could play and [Freaking Kid] said I could, and I thought that was nice.”

“Well, sweetie, that’s just not how we play, ok? This isn’t how we play. I’ll explain a lot more when you are older but, for right now, you need to understand that guns aren’t toys. Guns aren’t games.”

Now, look… I’m not as anti-gun as you think I am (or may want me to be). My father owned guns, so did my husband. I’ve been to a shooting range and fired a weapon before. There is nothing more terrifying and humbling to me than to know that I can pick up a firearm, point, shoot and hit my target. I want my boys to feel the weight of responsibility when it comes to guns. I want my boys to know how to be safe around guns, to respect and fear guns, and never ever to see guns as toys. I want all the gun safety without any of the gun culture.

And, frankly, this is something I thought I could address when the boys are older. There is nothing in anything that they watch or read or love that involves guns. It’s developmentally inappropriate for 4- and 5-year-olds. And yeah, I actually do think that there is a difference between swords/shields/lightsabers and guns. There is a thin line between fantasy play and real-world stuff, but it’s still a line, and that delineation is important.

“This isn’t one of those things where you guys get to keep pushing and poking at the line until you figure out what does and doesn’t make Mommy. Leave this one alone, do you understand me? We will teach you about this when you are older, but now is not the time and I am very serious when I tell you that we aren’t fighting about this. Do you understand me?”

Both boys nodded their heads. I don’t know how seriously they are taking me. I know it didn’t come up for the rest of the night.

Recounting the story to The Husband, I huffed, “Damn, this makes me want to homeschool them. I mean, for the love of God!”

“No, you don’t. You know you don’t.”

I don’t. Diffusion of new ideas and the expansion of boundaries is one of the chief reasons why school is important. It’s a good thing for Major to be exposed to what the rest of the world has to offer, bring those ideas home, and then have to evaluate the values of his family versus the values of the rest of the world. I recognize that there will be times when he will break with us. I look forward to the times when he challenges us and we get the chance to evaluate together. But, for now, I am enjoying my waning reign of absolute authority and unopposed arbitration over what’s right and what’s wrong in his world.

Kindergarten, man… full of all sorts of things I wasn’t anticipating!

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.

20160924_145536

Happy Birthday to Me (?)

Photo: Dear Pumpkin, what? Where did you come from? We didn’t think you were going to grow! And now it’s… well, it’s late, bro! What are you doing!? We are grateful for your existence, even cheering you on and reveling in the sight of you, yet we mourn you a bit… the first frosts will be here soon, and you probably don’t have much of a chance. You sure have taught us a lot though. The Husband and I already have our melon/pumpkin patch marked out for next year! Digging starts next weekend!

 

Being a suburban mother with young children means fighting in Wegmans with your four-year-old about your own damn birthday cake.

I should back up. I didn’t even really want a birthday cake, and I certainly didn’t want to be in Wegman’s today. But this morning, which was fraught with issues anyway because of one Mister Ursa Major, I got into a conversation that set events into motion. The scene is the upstairs landing, just outside of the boy’s bedroom:

Minor, on the floor, crying.

Me: Baby, what’s wrong, sweetie? Why are you crying?

Minor: Because it’s not Friday!

Me, groaning: Ok, well… I’m sorry about that!

(Context: as you recall, Friday mornings are for muffins. He was disappointed he was subject to eating cereal this morning.)

Crying continues. Major sighs with his own impatience. He isn’t helping.

Me, desperate for a distraction: Well, as you may recall, something special happens tomorrow.

Minor, only slightly interested: What? What special?

Me: Well, tomorrow is someone’s birthday.

Major and Minor, simultaneously: Mine?

Me, smiling through my pain: No.

Major: Oh. It’s Daddy’s.

Lord in Heaven. Me: No… he had his birthday last month.

Minor, not old enough to read context clues: So, whose birthday is it?

Major, old enough to read context clues, fingers on his chin: Um, wait. Is it…your birthday, Mommy?

Me: Why yes! It is!

Minor: Oh great! That means there will be cake!

Major: And ice cream!

Me: Well… I mean… Mommy doesn’t love ice cream… I was thinking we’d try–

Major and Minor, alarmed: No ice cream? 

Me: I’m just saying that I’d prefer sushi and a beer, and maybe a cupcake, but Mommy doesn’t live for sweet, so–

Major and Minor, not listening, still alarmed: Sushi? No way! 

 

It was a hole I couldn’t dig myself out of. In order to get my children down the damn stairs and to the damn breakfast table, I had to promise cake and ice cream for tomorrow. And that meant a trip to Wegmans because there was no way in hell I was spending my day baking my own damn birthday cake.

So there I was, with my four-year-old, fighting with him about my own damn birthday cake. I picked up a pre-made round chocolate cake with beautiful red roses

and Minor thought it was the end of the world.

“No! I want you to pick the one with blue flowers!” 

Baby, it ain’t your birthday, and it ain’t your cake!”

We fought as I walked it over to the bakery counter. We fought as I handed the stupid cake to the baker and asked, stupidly, for him to put “Happy Birthday, Kyra” on it.

“I want the words in yellow!”

Me, to the baker, smiling brightly: “Can I have it in red, please?”

Yellow!

Me, with a sigh: “Fine. Yellow.”

We fought as I wheeled my full cart of groceries with my heavy and annoying four-year-old with one hand through the grocery store toward the checkout, carefully cradling my precious birthday cake with pretty buttercream frosting in my other hand.

And we fought as the checkout lady carelessly and clumsily shook and jostled my cake as she rang out in, flipping it completely on its side, it’s bottom sliding up a bit, the pretty red roses smooshed on the top, leaving pretty red smeers on the plastic, mixed, of course, with a bit of yellow.

She didn’t even notice.

Happy birthday to me.

And this was all a very welcome distraction. I’ve been so freaked out about the debate all day that I actually would rather fight with my child than think about it.

At least I have happy thoughts of the firepit to think about.

20160925_142652

You need one of these in your life, Dear Reader. It’s the greatest of all things. Better than television. My locs smell like the sweet smelling smoke and I’m elated by it.

Ok… 10 minutes until the apocalypse. Better pour some wine.

Until Wednesday, stay focused, and take care.

 

20160921_162826

[Quiet Thoughts] The Way He Walks

Photo: Major learned E Chord today for no other reason than his teacher thinking he’s cool. He was supposed to learn G7 chord this week, which is did, but that was after having fun and learning E. Sharing this picture because there is so much love in the child’s eyes, a reverence for this thing that he loves so much. Damn it’s expensive… but I am so glad we did this. Of course, the boy is asking for a blue one for Christmas…

 

I dropped off Major at school on Tuesday and stopped right at the sidewalk as his teacher waved for him. “He can walk the rest of the way! He knows where he’s going!” She called as she waved. Major went bounding forward, stopped short, then came running back to give me a hug. Just like a commercial! I gave him a hug and a kiss, told him he was going to have a great day, (“I know. It’s going to be so great.”) and then watched him traverse the space between me and his teacher.

My Quiet Thoughts were born by watching him walk away. His head was held high, but his steps moving forward were uneven. His backpack is bigger than he is, he’s so small compared to the older children who were making their way to the building, yet he’s so big compared to his classmates… so much bigger than his brother. Unlike his preschool, which was small and cozy (he’d walk up to the building and it didn’t seem to loom so large), standing there, watching him move forward, that’s all I could see: how so very big the building is, how so very small my son is in comparison. He’ll grow into the space. We all will. We’ll grow into this new life. Yet still, standing on that sidewalk, watching my son walk away from me, there was raw understanding of just how far we’ve come, and yet how very far we have to go.  I had to remind myself that this is the first month of the first year at the first school. Stay focused.

There was affirmation in that moment, however: I saw that my son was comfortable and confident in his movement. There wasn’t dread or trepidation in his steps. He moved forward with the energy of a child who felt safe and loved, who felt secure in himself and his surroundings.

In a big wide world, expanding by the day, my son walks forward, with a keen eye, a confident spirit, and an open heart.

There is faith in that. There is hope in that.

This is the beauty of childhood, for sure. And a childhood of privilege, no less. I understand that this will be lost and relearned multiple times as we progress through the grades, moving upward and outward toward other challenges. Yet, when you get the chance to see it what full faith and self-confidence look like when on display, you can’t help but stop and marvel. You  try to dig deep to find it in yourself again, remembering what it was like to know that you are going to be ok, without a doubt, because the world is good and you are free to be yourself and make mistakes.

While I’m not convinced that it’s possible to fully return to that space as an adult, I think that it is possible to capture it and rekindle it in temporary bursts. That we can, in order to propel ourselves to the next great step in our lives, return to a place of faith and full trust in ourself and all that we know to be true about ourself. In knowing that, if nothing else, we are capable of walking forward in a big wide world, and that we’ll make it to the other side of whatever challenge presents itself.

Or maybe I’m an optimistic fool. Maybe this is the best I can do in a mean world.

This week felt damn close to normal. Maybe this is normal now. There is still a lot to smooth out, so much still unsettled. Yet, I sucked less this week. I did everything I had to do, even most of the things I wanted to do. I still feel behind. I still feel like I should have accomplished more.

I attended that PTA meeting on Tuesday and decided it’s not for me. Fundraising sucks, even if it’s important. I will say, though, that the principal of the school specifically greeted me during the meeting, expressing his happiness for my being there (I was one of two women of color at the table). And people there were friendly and certainly care a lot about the school. But the meeting ran way too long and, more importantly, it was boring beyond measure. I just… don’t care… about pizza nights and wrapping paper. At all. But, I did learn a lot about the workings of the school and its philosophy. I love being in the know… you know? But, is it worth being bored out of my skull once a month?

Lordy. I messed up the Quiet Thoughts with petty laziness, didn’t I? Well, Dear Reader, I never said I was perfect.😉

There is rain falling outside of the farmhouse windows for the second time this week. A welcome wonder in drought-stricken MetroWest Massachusetts. The smell of it is intoxicating, the sound of it is mesmerizing. I look forward to  drifting off to sleep while listening to it, and enjoying the green that will result from it. We all could use a little nourishment, Dear Reader. We all could use a bit of refreshment, a bit of help raining down from high places. A little peace, a little mercy, a little joyful love. These are among the things I wish for you this Friday, Dear Reader. I wish you warmth from the sun’s rays and from the smile of someone dear. I wish you a tight squeeze from a sweet embrace, the snug feel of your favorite jacket, the electric awesomeness you can only feel when you put on your favorite Fall boots. I wish you brunch, a little sweet, a little savory, served with a side of laughter and storytelling. I wish you stillness and comfort, an easing of pain, an easing of a mind darting and racing. I wish you calming hands on your shoulders, on your neck, on your cheeks, in your hair. May they heal a bit, comfort a lot.

In a world that feels dark and anxious, I wish you a protective spirit to surround you, but I also wish for the culture to change. Where all beings, of all shades and colors (and shapes and sizes, etc etc) are protected, respected, and welcomed. If it’s true that thoughts are born of intention, and actions are born from our thoughts, then may our intention be to cultivate this. (Special thanks to a wonderful reader who sent me this  powerful wish.)

 

Until Monday, stand strong, be kind, love fearlessly, laugh loudly, and take care.

“One Bad Dude”

I’m so glad that people are taking a look at this beautifully written post. I want to emphasize that this is a re-blog. I didn’t write it.

Afroculinaria is a blog I’ve followed for a long time. Michael is phenomenal, a special sort of person in the world. I hope you will read about his work and follow his blog.

Furthermore, I think these are the perfect words to live here this Wednesday. It’s another week in America, another week of Black death and Black outrage and little change. There won’t be change. Two officers get to go on “murdercation” (I didn’t come up with that, someone on twitter did), two families grieve, two communities go into tense upheaval… and the rest of us simply have pain.

PBS posted an article about how scenarios like this may cause PTSD-like reactions among people of color who continually watch it over and over again. If we don’t watch our mental health, we’ll just flame out. The exhaustion of this, the oppression of seeing Black death on continuous loop, dulls all of the senses, disables all energy for continuing to fight, continuing to speak truth, continuing to teach, continuing to be in a peaceful and thoughtful way. Each death, each injustice, each outrage… it kills is slowly. Ever so slowly.

So yes, please read this post, please follow Michael’s blog, please read his articles. He’s an awesome thinker, a beautiful member of our larger body.

And please be quick to love, make haste to be kind. Choose your better angels. Choose life.

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.

Afroculinaria

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/21/terence-crutcher-wasnt-bad-dude-just-black-man-in-america

This is the piece I wrote for the Guardian on Terence Crutcher.

I have not been able to sleep since I learned about his shooting/murder. Sometimes I’ve just burst into tears, and I never met the man.

I’m just almost 40, a big guy, and Black. So maybe I have met him.

It was edited for length and content but I also wanted to share with you the original “Last Testament.” I want to assure you I don’t ascribe to respectability politics, however knowing the triggers the mainstream media uses to snare Black victims of police overreach often face, I included everything I knew that would go against the stereotypes that are often used to condemn Black men and women to death, to claim that our lives weren’t as worthy of saving…expressed clearly or covertly. Know that I love you sisters and brothers, and we must work together to…

View original post 301 more words

20160918_170446

Seeking New Tactics

Photo: Oh yes, there was work done this weekend. As you can see, the heavy duty equipment was brought out. Two little boys were a big help with their little red wagons! Of course, we finally build our fire pit and it’s freaking hot and freaking humid. So, no fire… probably not until next weekend. Honestly, it’s so parched around here, I’m a little worried about it anyway.

 

I woke up on Saturday, had a pancake breakfast, got dressed in fancy clothes, went to Starbucks and conducted a meeting. Like an adult. A grown-ass adult who has her shit together.

It made me feel better.

I’m still treading water, but it was nice a reminder that, yes, I’m a person who can still conduct business and, yes, I’m organized and professional, not a mangled mess of mother-emotion and pent-up frustrations. Of course, I walked away with lots of work to do, but that’s not such a bad thing. The result will be money, and money is good to earn.

I came home and cut fabric for holiday crafting. Pictures of the various designs will come as we go through the coming weeks. I was able to do some lingering freelancing work that I had not been able to get to during the week. I went to bed on Saturday night feeling satisfied in a way that I had not felt since school started. Stuff is slowly coming back, a rhythm is starting to be felt.

Of course, it’s 10:30 at night and I’m sitting here writing my blog post… so maybe I just spent two paragraphs writing beautiful, beautiful lies.

Either way, it’s Monday night and I’m not panicked. Not like I was before.

Wisdom came from my mother and grandmother yesterday. They both said the same thing: “These are the busy years. You are going to have to change your expectations and go with what comes. It doesn’t have to be perfect.”

So easily said. Easier to dismiss. We’re going to have to meet somewhere in the middle. If only I had a roadmap for such a place. They both to seem of the mind that I need to give into my exhaustion, let go of stuff in favor of giving more to the boys. This is not the advice that I’m looking for. I thought that this was going to be a break-out year for me! Instead, I feel more tied down than ever!

The boys started Sunday School and were thrilled to be there. Minor is already asking me if Jesus is magic and I’m like like, “uhhhhhhhh…. welll…..not…. technically….?” So, you know, I have to fail at no less than 3 things at a time. The first PTSA meeting of the year is tomorrow night and I’ve decided to go just to know what it’s like. Are you shaking your head at your screen, Dear Reader? Don’t do it! I’m just going to one! Just to see! And you know the resulting post will be interesting!

I know, I’m overbooked. It really doesn’t feel like there is enough time in the day.

So, I broke out my crockpot to give it a good cleaning. On Wednesday, I think I’m going to make my first crockpot meal in years. If I can add a slow cooker meal to the menu once, maybe even twice a week, I’ll get a little time back. I hope.  I confess: I hate the taste of stuff that comes out of the crockpot. I would describe the flavor as tasting the color gray. If gray could have a taste, if would be a crockpot meal. That’s usually the color that comes out of the crockpot, too. I hope I can change my perception of it, because, well… I need it. I need it badly. So if you have a favorite go-to crockpot meal that you would suggest, please link it! I’d be so grateful! I’m sure some hilarious blog posts will come out of it, at least!

It’s last September. I can’t tell if I want to laugh or cry about it. Somehow the school year feels long already. Life we’ve been at this forever and I need a break. I know! It doesn’t make a lick of sense! Does anyone else feel this way? Moms of older kids, does this get any better? Were you snickering at me the whole time I blogged during the summer actively praying for the start of school? Welp, the fool is finally in on the joke. I most certainly didn’t know what I was asking for.

The time is 10:50 and this mother is ready for bed. Off the top of my head, there are no less than four things to do before I can get there. So, I’m getting up off this couch to start the journey. Happy Monday to you, Dear Reader. It’s the start of another week. I hope that you are challenged, but not overwhelmed. Let’s march toward Friday together, yes?

Until Wednesday, take care.

 

 

20160916_061506

[Quiet Thoughts] Progress is Slow

Photo: I love Friday mornings. Friday mornings are for the renewal of the covenant between flour, sugar, butter, spices, and flour. A little heat, a little time, a stretch in the early morning light, and wow–you have a house full of good smells, a moment for savoring the end of a busy week. You can’t feel bad when butter, sugar, flour and yeast combine do good things in your oven. You can’t feel bad when your Friday starts out with those things! It’s impossible. Now, imagine putting pumpkin cream cheese frosting on those. Yeah. T’was a good Friday morn’.

 

Ursa Major is having a fantastic kindergarten experience.

Ursa Minor, having completed his first full week of school, including two days of Lunch Bunch, is having a fantastic kindergarten experience.

The Husband, daily walking out the door with a custom bagged lunch and coming home to a clean house with educated children and a well-cooked meal, is feeling pretty good about the way things are running around here. He gets to go to work and be validated as the big-brained amazing man that he is, and then he gets to come home to relax and be loved. What more could a man want? So, fantastic experience for The Husband.

Of course, someone had to make all that happen. Someone had to facilitate all of this fantasticness.

Which means that Mommy is not having a fantastic experience.

I sat in the office of a dear friend today and, upon being asked how I was doing, I couldn’t tell one more lie.

“I’m absolutely miserable. This is absolutely miserable!”

For every giggle and smile, every happy sigh after a hearty meal at school or work, every satisfying moment of intellectual stimulation, there was a groan, huff, grunt, pop of a muscle, under-breath curse, or growl coming from the woman of the house. Super Mom. The woman who did all the things, mostly in service to everyone else.

And when I did do those few things for myself… the results were mediocre at best. Fiction was not written. Blogging was barely done. I want to submit a short story and I haven’t had a moment. I have holiday crafts that must be prepped before the end of the weekend. I haven’t been to Wegmans in over a week.My locs are screaming for a retwist. Even just a deep conditioning would do wonders!

It’s one thing to get to the end of a week feeling accomplished and badass, knowing that you conqured your week, feeling ready to do it all again. It’s another thing to just feel spent, aching, dreading all of the things you’ve left undone. It’s hard to find the necessary stillness to recharge, to regroup. It’s a vicious space to be in. For me, it creates more anger at myself than anyone else. I want to be better, more efficient, more diligent. This is, of course, not helpful.

My friend told me that I’m not alone. A lot of women go through this. Life with young children is draining. Life with a busy family is draining. Caring for everyone else is draining.

This is what it feels like when the jar is damn near empty.

I accomplished one thing, at least: I sucked a little less this week. Major got picked up for guitar on time. We made it to Back-to-School Night. I freaking made cinnamon rolls.

That means I have the opportunity to suck a little less next week. And the week after.

Ambitious as I am, it is painful to make my weekly goal to be “suck just a little less this week” but this is what starting from scratch looks like. I have so much to learn, but most of that learning has to do with myself, my household and my mothering. I didn’t realize how much growing I’d have to do to make this transition work. So much rests on how well I manage my stress and obligations. It feels so unfair in a way. How easy it would be to sink into a warm, deep sleep all weekend… to order out every night… to ignore my husband and children…to let it all fall away …

Next week is another hard week. I’ll be there with my game face on and my best foot forward.

On this Friday, with a full Harvest moon and an undeniable chill in the air, I wish you rest and refuge. Soak those aching bones, calm your restless mind, silence the inner voices who are saying that you aren’t doing enough. Even if it is only for a short bit of time, take care of yourself, Dear Reader. Love yourself a bit, giving yourself the gift of stillness. I wish you soup, Dear Reader. Your first bowl of the new season. Savor it with crusty bread and crispy salad with late summer greens. I wish you rustling leaves, maybe a few starting to blush, another few taking the leap a little early. I wish you laughter and music under a sunny sky, the warmth of a held hand, the magic of a kiss on your cheek. Be kind to yourself and to others this weekend, Dear Reader. And don’t forget to tell someone you love them. I tell you every week, and I won’t stop. This world is so crazy right now. Being loving and kind can only do good in a world that needs it. Remember, as you speak the words to others, that you are loved as well. Deeply. Unabashedly. What you do in this world matters to someone out there, even if they don’t tell you so.

Until Monday, get some sleep and take care.