Mastery of learning







My oldest son is a musician. He has been since the day he was 11 months old and his uncle put his first guitar in his hands. For years it was called a “dingtar”. When he was three his piano teacher said to him “we are going to play jingle bells” and so he played it for her. From ear, never being taught before. It would have been easy in that moment to force my agenda on him. You are a musical genius. More lessons, more practice. Instead I sat back and took his lead. We never went to another piano lesson.

There were always guitars in the house. He spent seven months when he was four standing with a full sized electric guitar in front on the TV watching Green Day’s Bullet in a  Bible and being Mike Dirnt. I could see he changed his strumming based on the song. He was clearly learning the rhythm and maybe a chord or two by simply watching. Again, I could have jumped in and put him in lessons to learn these skills instead I took his lead, “no I’m good thanks.”

He sold his guitars at one point because having pokemon cards felt more important. And he saw a way to get those cards for things that in the season of his life he really wasn’t spending much time using. So we sold them. He was happy for many months with those cards that he got. Even though I wanted desperately to intervene to stop him.

I bought myself a Ukulele for my 40th birthday. I plucked away making little to no progress for well over a year. Then we had one of those visitors who brought his awesome guitar playing self into the middle of our living room. The boys fought over my Ukulele for the days following. So I ordered two inexpensive Ukulele’s so we could all learn together.

They arrived. We started plucking a bit together. But really what happened was that my oldest son disappeared into his room and emerged, what felt like instantly to my struggling musician self, playing full songs on the Ukulele. Which meant we then needed a junior guitar which he transferred the knowledge to seamlessly. Now less than a year later there are two electric guitars, four ukuleles, two acoustic guitars and a mandolin scattered throughout our home.

We spent a short amount of time in guitar lessons. Which were frustrating more than they were rewarding. So once again I sit back, take his lead and watch as a skilled musicians continues to blossom before me. Easily picking up music on the instruments he comes across. He has a confidence in his own learning ability that allows him to approach each new instrument like he already knows it’s insides. And with a little attention and time he finds a way to make it come alive with sweet music.

I can not put into words the wonder it is to hear my son make music. His own style. His own learning. But if I had to put a cherry on top of it all, it would be what he has taught me. I had struggled with the Ukulele and with in ten minutes he had me playing more than I had in the months before. Not only does he understand how to make music, how to learn new music, he also holds the ability to transfer that knowledge to another person. If that is not mastery of learning I don’t know what is. This is why, I stand back, each time and watch where the learning takes my children. Never forcing it to go where I think it should.

Let’s make this different


Being in the world witnessing all the stages of a human being has got to be one of the most amazing gifts life on this planet could ever provide. And here I am gifted two amazing souls to stand side by side with full time. In our world this journey of parenting is so rarely celebrated as the gift that it is. You can search the internet and find more articles about the “challenges” of parenting that you can the celebration of it. There are more people discussing the “terrible two’s and horrible teenagers” than there are parents waxing poetic about the opportunity to hold space for a sad child or provide safe boundaries for an emerging adult. And most tragically you can find a whole lot of posts on social media of parents shaming and blaming their children for the simple act of being a human who makes mistakes in the world. Cause come on that is all this big ole human journey is about right? Trial and error.  Wouldn’t you rather be the cheerleader in the story of your child’s life than the villain?

So, let’s here today decide to throw about stories that celebrate the gift of being a parent. That speak of the challenges we encounter, while navigating the world with them, as they are, a chance to conquer some of our own issues in order to support our children.  Let’s share the unique beings  our children are with a sense of pride. Let’s talk about ways to support each other in being our children’s allies instead of their enemies. Let’s hold them up when they make mistakes instead of tearing them down. Let’s decide they are as human as you and I and deserve the very same level of respect we give our other loved ones. Let’s replace shame with quiet moments heart to heart uncovering one another’s strengths. Let’s decide love comes without conditions and give it away to each child until their buckets run over. Let’s, right now, here today, choose to honor, children as the precious resource prepping to sustain our future,
that they truly are.

Please Stay on Path

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The world would like it if our children would “please stay on path” the one designed by brick buildings and curriculums created without knowing the child. I’d rather witness my child reading a map written on the heart of their own desire.

Roots and Wings


I have been going along this journey of parenting for 13 years now. Building a close and trusting relationship with both my boys so that they would have deep roots from which to fly. And then the saying “be careful what you wish for” pops into my mind as my oldest son took a hold of those wings and went on a solo adventure a whole state away from me for nine days.  I am beyond proud of the courage it took for him to get in the car and drive away. I am drop to my knees grateful for having built into his life the sorts of relationships that leave me knowing he is being cared for in the very same way he would if he was here, while he is away.

And as this entire journey has shown me the hardest part was me doing my own work away from him. My oldest son wants to process a lot when he is making a big decision. His whole life he has needed a little extra in the moment nudging that we have worked to find a balance with. We have a saying in our family called “skates on the ice.” It goes back to his hockey career that took an incredible amount of courage every single time we were at the rink. When the feelings where super overwhelming I would always say “just put your skates on the ice and if it still feels like too much you can come right off.” He never came  off but knowing he could gave him the extra boost he needed to take the leap. This was the first nudging I wasn’t sure I could do. Because he couldn’t just get out of the car and head back home. Yes if it was not going well all parties involved would do everything we could to get him back home but it would not have the same immediacy of “skates on the ice.” So this time we were having different conversations to find his new edges and  uncover the best  way for me to support him.

My oldest also likes to consider my opinion in most of his decisions. This is where I was having to do a lot of my own work. Because when those big blue eyes looked into mine and asked “do you think I should go” in all honesty I wanted to stand up and scream “no hell no do not leave me this is too soon what if you hurt yourself what if you need me and I am not there.”  The day after my son was born I had a nightmare where he was kidnapped. In the dream the biggest thing that was making me desperate was knowing he would be crying for me and that I wouldn’t be showing up. It was a new feeling and one I have carried with me throughout his entire childhood. This was playing loudly in the background of all of these conversations. Again, our close connection has lead him to want to know some of what is going on inside of me. It was the art of word choice and clarity of mind that I wanted to share with him. I wanted his process to be his and not clouded with my shit. When the words were finally ready I said “I want you to go out into the world and have as many adventures as you can. I also love spending time with you and will miss you like crazy. There is only one person in this world that can know if you are ready for this.”

Our conversations went on like this up until the Friday before he was set to leave and then he said “Okay can we stop talking about this now.” I did my best not to bring it up. His friends arrived and I watched as he shifted to asking more questions about what they would be doing while he was visiting. I felt him pull just a little tiny bit away from me. And it was in that moment without any words that I knew he was preparing all the courage he had ever stored up to do what he had said all along would be the hardest part, say goodbye to me and get in the car and drive away.

I was left holding the most mixed bag of emotions I have had to work my way through on this wild and crazy ride as his mama. This journey of parenting is an art of letting go, of grieving while simultaneously celebrating of trusting without a net beneath you that all the love and connection will remain in tact no matter the miles between you. And based on the text messages, the SnapChats and the FaceTimes I know without a doubt he is out there in the world wings wide open having an amazing time while still deeply rooted in the love of his family.


It’s true

It’s true all those things the veteran mom’s tell you when you are bleary eyed and exhausted with a new born in your arms, about time traveling faster than the speed of light. And moments like this one being what you will look back on fondly in the quicker than you can imagine approaching future. I have stood firm in my commitment not to pass those adages along to new moms. Because I remember feeling so not validated or heard in those moments of overwhelm. Now however with a teenager stretching his wings so wide I want to call out to all new mothers to drink in every last second of wailing babies and nagging toddlers cause it truly does disappear before your very eyes. I won’t though cause truly all us mom’s at each age and stage just wanna be heard where we are.

Why do I bring this up now? Cause it’s been meaning a few thing lately. I might be crying a little more often as I witness these humans launching themselves into the world. And I might be searching the world for the sort of time machine that allows me to jet back and relive each one of those sweet and sour moments over again and again and again.

But truly what it has me doing is recommitting to say YES all the time. Slowing down commitments outside of my family. And drinking in all the ups and downs and sideways of our life together right now because I have it on good authority that this here moment is going to vanish just as quickly as the others and I’d be a fool to let it pass unnoticed.

Ode to my second born

I am not even sure how it happened that we could be days away from your eleventh birthday. It seems like just the other day that you shot out into the world like a cannonball, as the story goes and completed our family of four. I have so much to say and still wonder if the words will ever capture just how much you are in the world.

You my second born have taught me much about love. The first time I argued with you about how I was certain I loved you more you set me straight, “mom all the love you give me I take it and make it bigger, that’s Kinny love.” You remind me of this when I slip up and think I could possibly love you more then that magnifying heart of love you were gifted with. It’s a reminder, to me, that we all arrive with the ability to make the love we receive bigger if we can just remember to keep our hearts open.

I see your determination to learn in the way that works with a brain designed only for you. That day in the park, when you looked to the seat on my bike and saw the world DEMO explaining to me that it was “the first letter of dad, the last letter of the and the first two letters of mom.” You did not know the names of the letters yet there you were reading, right in front of me. A testament to the fact that each one of us learns in our own way and the best thing I can do is walk alongside you as your partner in wonderment.

And your frustration at being called a girl, for many ages and stages. When I stopped to listen I heard it had nothing to do with any preference for either gender. But was pure outrage at a world that thought they could know something more about your gender than you did. A world that thinks with one single glance they can put a person into a category based solely on appearance.  This has been an important lesson to me. To meet people eye to eye with our shared humanity, free of the screens placed on my eyelids by a media crazy world that judges first and listens later.

Your brain wanting to pull apart each and everything you encounter to understand it from the inside out, challenges me. It challenges me because long ago I forgot it was okay to be curious and not to know things. To be the one holding less information. This is how we buttheads so fiercely now as you demand accuracy in my language and surpass me in knowledge. I hope you continue to pound head to head with any person who doubts what you know to be a truth. This sort of self knowing puts me in total awe of you so confidently in the world.

I could likely write a short novel of things that you have taught me both large and small. I will pause here though and bow the deepest bow of gratitude to you for the chance to be your mother, your partner, your loudest cheerleader, one of your closest allies and a dear friend. May this next year of your life be just as bold and adventurous as the last ten.



It’s about the love

My father was sixty years old when he changed churches. Shortly after this his new church was discussing whether or not they would perform same sex marriage ceremonies. My dad arrived with his argument in hand. “Marriage is a sacrament.”

“Not in this church Rick.”

About a week later, during Sunday service, the entire sermon was on why they would indeed welcome all marriage into the church. My dad came home and called me in tears (a rare thing for my pops) and said “It’s about love Shannon, how could I have ever been against anything that was about love.”

This is one of my favorite stories about my dad. People who know me have heard this story likely more than once. Because it gives me hope. That folks who are stuck in one place of their understanding can shift to seeing that all we are talking about is people loving each other. And honestly, looking around the world right now, it’s clear we need a whole LOT more love.

And that is why I write here. I write to inspire folks to love their children, even more, without conditions, or punishments or anything that doesn’t feel like love. Because I believe in the deepest places of who I am, that love matters most. That loving our children from a place of respect, raises allies for all the other human beings they will bump into in life.

That loving our children just as they are gives them the gift of an open heart that will be kind and accepting as they step out into the world away from us.  That it will build a large foundation of courage and belonging that will allow each and every child to be confident in the person they are, all the pieces of who they are. So they will know, long before they are sixty, that really it’s all about LOVE.

Love as an action




It’s almost 11:00 am here and I just got a peak of my sleeping ten year old. He opened one eye half way and caught me pulling the covers on to his body and gave me a sleepy smile. My heart melted. I am so in love my kids.

I know I spend a large portion of my time here talking about how much I love my children. But I am still swept away by the moments where they truly catch my breath. And waves of gratitude wash me over. I get to be their mom.

I love covering them up when they look cold. I adore seeing them stumble half asleep out into the waking world. I live for the moments when one of their hands slips into mine as we wander about the world together. I’m honored in the moments they open their hearts and tell me what the world is like to be in from their insides out. And I treasure the moments I can show up with something in hand that tumbles gratitude straight out of their hearts and into mine.

It can be easy in day to day life to loose sight of the honor it is to be a parent. I like to not everyone gets the chance to have a child and not every gets to see their precious children live to the adult years.  So go ahead and be fully in LOVE with your child. I mean the action of love not the feeling.

Here’s a few samples. Squeal with delight when they walk in the room, like you might when you see a lover for the first time after months apart. Pack a picnic and head out to lay under the stars for as long as they’ll stay. Grab their hand and skip a little just cause. Pull up a chair (and maybe a controller) and play that game they’ve been immersed in for all those hours. Sing their praises, when they are just in earshot, as you might when telling family members why you’ve fallen head over heals in love with a particular person. Take a few extra moments to linger at their doorway to catch the smile that starts in the corner of their eyes. Shower them with the sorts of gifts you might someone you were hoping to impress, with a heart stamp.

This childhood of their’s is gonna pass at warp speed. And I have it on high authority that when old age is knocking you back in to your seat, what’s going to hold you up are the memories of these right now moments with your children.

I’m a mother not a martyr

I do my best to be aware of my reactions to keep them coming from a place of  connection and love but when life throws down a long string of stressful events I can get off my game and revert to patterns learned I’ve long let go of. Many of my examples fall around food prep and house keeping. Storming around deep in martyrdom proclaiming we would be over run by nasty disease and rodents if it weren’t for my efforts to keep this place slightly above pig stye. Or snapping at the child who gently reminds me that he prefers the meat on top and cheese underneath when preparing his favorite snack.

When I hear these words spilling out of my mouth, I know it’s time to check myself. Likely, I need to take a nap or a walk or a deep deep breath. But on the wider front I need to turn around and reframe the language that is running my internal dialogue. My beautiful friend Renee Cabatic gave a talk at a recent conference all about language and how the words we are using can shape our experience. It was a great refresher for me. Especially in my meltdown moments.

It is TRUE that I do NOT HAVE to do ALL the cleaning. Dishes piling in the kitchen are not killing or harming anyone. And if left there will eventually get clean. By someone how chooses to head in there and make space for a meal they’d like to make. Or by a well meaning child who remembers in the back of their mind how much their mom loves the dishwasher to be unloaded and simply does it to surprise her (true story and yes I did cry). So I change the story in my head, the ranting and raving one to remind me, I am choosing to provide a safe space for my family to grow and explore in. Oh and that a lot of the time that looks like total chaos. Refer to this post for more on that.

Wider though than how the language I am choosing impacts my experience, is how this reflects on my children. If I am storming around the house complaining about having to pick up clothing, make meals, tend to the day to day ness of life, on some level I am sending my children the message that they are in my way. They are troublesome, messy, needy etc. While simultaneously setting the tone for the inner voice that is likely to chatter away at them for years to come. When that reality check smacks me up side the head I instantly want to clean up my attitude.

Seriously, my children are not a burden. I brought them in to this world. They showed up filled with nothing more than unconditional love for me and I want them to grow on that foundation. I want them to feel welcome in this family. I want them to hear from me, in tone, body language and actual words that they matter are valued and that caring for them is something I do from a place of love. I want the voice they carry out of this house in their heads to be one that is encouraging, positive and ready for adventure (perhaps also with a side of sassy cause that’s just fun).

So I write this, here in black and white as a reminder to myself that I am not here to be a martyr, I am here to be mother. A mother, blessed with healthy, alive children who truly want nothing more than to love me back.


Seeing me through their eyes

I saw this questionnaire going around and thought it would be fun to find out just how the boys see me in the world. I loved hearing their answers. It’s clear I am NOT good at video games and that the most common words out of my mouth are “I love you”. I encourage everyone to do this with their children, if for no other reason than to catch a tiny glimpse of yourself through their precious eyes.

Kj age 10

Mitchel age 13

1. What is something mom always says to you?

I love you

I love you

2. What makes mom happy?

Me and buba being happy

Going to the beach

3. What makes mom sad?

Us being sad

When her shoulder hurts

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

Being herself. You’re just funny

I have no clue

5. What was your mom like as a child?


I don’t know cause I didn’t know you then. 

6. How old is your mom?


42 turning 43

7. How tall is your mom?

Five foot four 

Five foot eight

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

Hula hoop

Go to the beach 

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?



10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

Being a writer

Taking photos (pause) actually being a writer

11. What is your mom really good at?



12. What is your mom not very good at?

Video games

Video games

13. What does your mom do for a job?

Take care of us

Be a mom

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?

Strawberries wait no no sushi


15.What makes you proud of your mom?

How awesome she is

That she can get on stage and talk to people

16. If your mom were a character, who would she be?

Leela from Futurama

I don’t know.

17. What do you and your mom do together?


Go shopping and go to concerts

18. How are you and your mom the same?

We both really like fresh air

We both play the Ukulele

19. How are you and your mom different?

She can clean I can’t.

I can play the ukulele well

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

Cause she tells me

I just do cause you’re my mom and you have to. 

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?

The beach

The beach

22. How old was your Mom when you were born?



This was so much fun I’m scheming other sorts of questions that help us see each other on this wild journey.