As we wander towards re-opening this and that in our world, I like so many others wish for a one right way to do this. I want the answers. Mask no mask? Travel is it say is it not safe? I can turn on my computer and find more than one article that supports both sides of the question. It’s all a little overwhelming. 

Back when the boys were younger we created a family mission statement. A place that we could return to time and time again to make important decisions from. It hangs on the wall in the kitchen and has stopped me more than once from launching into a decision that might harm those I had committed to live so intentionally alongside. 

I’ve started to wonder if I can create a similar sort of place to move from when it comes to reentering the world with a pandemic still very much at play. I know I don’t want to make decisions based on individualism but instead want to consider the community around me. Before engaging in an activity, I can ask “could this put my community at risk,” and if the answer is yes, then it is time to either get comfortable with the discomfort of missing out or get creative in finding solutions that keep each of us safe. As a white woman this sitting with discomfort is unfamiliar so it’s going to take practice, commitment and patience. 

There is going to need to be a level of humility as well. The rate at which information is changing means that what I do to make a difference today may not be the right thing to do tomorrow. I can get all caught up in my own shame spiral, stamp my feet and cling to outdated information. Or I can return to my original commitment to the health and safety of the community I live in. Similar to the family mission statement, I want to return here to ensure I am living from that same place of intentionality. 

I realize that just like life before the Pandemic there will be individual choices. Each one of us will read, will learn and will decide what to do based on our personal experience. I hope I will be able to be patient with my judgment of others. Because maybe they are still living on last month’s information. The rush to judgment is my go to especially when I feel fearful or judged myself. I am hoping with the lessons of the past months and the rapid rate that things are changing at that  I can invite in curiosity to  lead toward compassion in hopes of connecting across divided lines for the common health of the community. 

It’s never before been more true that I don’t know anymore than my sons about what the right move is, or when the right time to do it will be. As a good friend reminded me the other day, “we are writing the manual,” parents have not lived through a pandemic like this before. I hope as they continue coming to me as a sounding board that I can guide them toward their own internal compass by exposing mine with an honest commitment to untangle the broken systems that have brought the world around us to collapse under the weight of a tiny virus. In the best case scenario it will give them a roadmap to grow from,  at the least, I’ll be proud of who they see in front of them. 

Pandemic – Real Life – The Game

Anyone who has ever read anything I’ve written about being a mom knows that we are a gaming family. If my boys were reading this they would say they are gamers and I kinda of pretend to be one. So it’s know surprise that when life got out of control challenging, I turned to the world of games to find some footing. It started by picking up Jane McGonigal’s SuperBetter (which I think everyone could benefit from reading) and thinking about how I could bring a game into our day to day lives as a way to stay connected in these uncertain times.

It started with writing a few quests on a white board and an angling it so it was the first thing people saw when they stumbled out of bed. With in the first day I started to see the benefit would go beyond what I had imagined. My youngest son immediately began to find ways to hack through the game. Taking my words literally and turning them to his advantage so that he could get as many points with as little effort as possible. Which upped my game in writing the quests the next day. Which of course made the players up their game. Only four days in and I love how each day the game expands ands stretches based on the previous days questing adventure.

Our super powers include fighting viruses, alchemizing everyday materials, sniffing out bullsh%% and conquering games. Our creativity it stretching both in what we create and how we are creating. We are expanding our resilience. More than that though, we are having fun together as the unit that we are and in doing so reminding ourselves of all the ways that we can do hard things together.

Please Don’t Rescue Me!

He sits breathing heavily at the edge of the pool. 5 laps into his goal of 15. A goal he has chosen for himself. I long to call out “you could just start with 10.” Or maybe even that 5 is enough. I bite hard on my tongue, reminding myself that this is his goal, not mine. That I am here to witness and nothing more. I do ask are you okay? He gives me a look of determination that indicates, as I suspected, that I am not to speak right now. The 15 laps finish. He tells me how hard it was. While also how happy he is that he did it. I share about my tongue biting moments. He reminds me that he can do hard things. In fact he is looking to push just that part of him.

He sends me a text. “I has no money now.” It’s his first time away in the world managing his own funds. He has watched them. Made decisions on what to buy and when not say no thanks. I want to rush to the app and put more money in his bank account. Instead I ask “do you need more money?” He says “I don’t know.” We chat a bit more and he says “can I let you know tomorrow about the money?” Of course he can. I will sit quietly with my angst and trust he can handle this. When he comes to me to ask for money it’s because his friends will buy pizza and he wants to be able to contribute. I swell inside and get the funds to him. He is only asking for what he needs. He doesn’t require me to decide that for him. He in fact doesn’t want me making those decisions. He’s out here trying new things. Gathering skills that will sustain him beyond me and he wants room to own that outside of us.

My heart breaks and expands wider. I hear the request to stop rushing in for the rescue. So that they may both succeed or fail on their own merits. It’s bitter and sweet all in the same breath. And exactly, naturally where we ought to be in this season of their growing.

Crossing boundaries.

In a moment of frustration I said to my husband the other day “this parenting of teens business is all about do this for me, get this for me, help me here, now back the fuck off and leave me alone. ” Pardon the cussing but I was in a heated moment. When I can take a moment to breath and re-center myself I can pull back a few layers of what is going on.

I truly believe that this whole business of parenting is a long series of letting go. Whether it is letting go of expectations, or letting go of societal stories about what should be happening or the hardest for me the letting go of the child themselves. When they are little and needing so much of my day I show up to help them meet their needs. All hands on deck. Now that what they need is for me to pull my hands back and trust in their independence it’s challenging me. And when I am challenged my tendency is to fall back on to those patterns I learned growing up in my own childhood. So I turn first to blame. Clearly it is their fault, they are ungrateful, they are insert other words that toss about blame. When blame begins to feel bitter on my tongue I switch up the outdoor motion to focus on me because clearly I am the victim of something here. My feelings are hurt, I am not being heard, I am not being respected. And on goes the misplaced emotions.

All of these big emotions are happening. The responsibility for them though does not lie within my children. Just as when they were younger, the owner is me. This reminder they bring to me is that there is another layer of work that needs to be done so I can continue to show up and parent from a place of intention and not a place of reaction. Sigh. Though the work of taking responsibility for my own reaction can feel hard loosing the connection and trusted role I have in my boys lives would be devastating. So I do take the step back. I untangle all the feelings to trace them back to their roots so that I am able to let go of that which is holding me back from showing up with both joy and support in the lives of the human beings that are before me. When blame and judgement want to be the leaders of the party I am reacting from stories that are woven from the past and missing the chance to witness the actual moment in front of me.

It is true that I am faster at returning to my center these days. It is also true that I can get knocked of course without warning. Which is why I surround myself with that sort of friends who won’t take sides in an argument, who will ask gentle probing questions and will continue to hold the well being of my children and our relationship as highest priority. One tip that I am certain I will visit again was the sharing of the story that essentially pointed out my reaction might just be the feeling of boundaries being crossed. There is some deep food for thought with in that. Even deeper than my own boundaries, is to ask could the reactions I am witnessing from my children be because I am trying to cross their boundaries. And if that is the case might I bow down in gratitude to a journey which has allowed them to know the edges of their boundaries and defend them with a confidence I’m still myself building up.

So yes, this phase of letting go of the children launching toward adulthood may feel as though it will pull my heart straight out of my chest it holds the most magic if I can stay  present. If I can be grounded in my intention, within all the circumstances, I up the odds that I will, for all the adult time, still have a seat, in the front row of these awesome human beings lives.

Messy mistakes and right now moments

I can’t help but wonder sometimes about this world we are tossed into that makes us believe as parents all that we are is wrapped up in who our children become.

Setting up all sorts of adversarial barriers right from the get go. A crying baby in a public space subjects a new mother to dirty looks and shushes as though she has already failed the world by making it louder. When the only darn mechanism that child has for communicating is crying.

Then onward to toddlerhood where that same parent is given all sorts of side eye for a curious child climbing on this, asking about that and trying out their independence. Clearly this parent is failing as she has yet to drive all that creative curiosity on out of the child who is meant to fit quietly into adult spaces. When by design this child has nothing but exuberance and energy to fuel their unending desire to learn about this still rather new to them world through all five plus of their senses.

Then when launched into childhood the parent better have that child ahead of the game no one really know the rules or what winning entails. Reading early, polite behaving, sitting still for all the hours except those hours spent prepping to be an elite athlete. When by design children were built for wide open spaces of time to explore through play this big world that is built for such a short time on fairytales and imgingary friends. The parent already shamed into believing they have failed for not head starting their child into a future no one can even see yet.

And then there are the teenagers who by some false analogy have become the enemy of each and every adult in the world. Deserving of eye rolls and “you pour thing” with the mere mention of having one in the house. Parents brain washed into believing each of their children turns into demon on the doorstep of adulthood. Coerced to believe they best have a set of harsh rules, strict standards and FBI level servialliance lest they loose their child to the evils of experimentations that ensure a future of poor decisions and failure. When these precious human beings, at this ripe time are by design launching farther out into the world, experimenting with all sorts of this and that’s. They are meant to push back in order to find their own edges to stand firmly with in as a well adjusted adult.

All of this with a misplaced promise of the a prize at the end of a high functioning adult to wear as some badge of honor on a coat most people can’t even see. But at what cost I?  Lost childhoods, angry words, misplaced expectations and forever gone opportunities for loving moments. I’ll take my chances of ending up with that misplaced, poor decision making failure for all the right now moments covered in messy mistakes, late night cuddles, sideways conversation and loved built memories. Because the truth is, not all children get to be adults.

The labels we apply

I’ve been in a couple of situations lately that have left me with some food for thought. I often walk around in the world with a pretty solid confidence in the choices we have made in regards to the boys education. When people ask me what grade they are in or where they go to school I asnwer with “oh they don’t go to school.” Which 99 percent of the time is followed up with “Oh you homeschool.” I smile and nod and leave it at that most of the time because explaining the nuance of what we are up to is more than most casual interactions call for. In my mind these random people walk away still with an image of my boys in their mind. Naive of me. Yes quite possible. I’ve lived in a rather sheltered bubble for a good portion of my life. Recently though I’ve had some deeper conversations where people have shared with me more about what hearing those words does in their mind. And it’s left me questioning and exploring the labels I so easily attach to other people and what misintrepetation about them I may be carrying about in the world.

In the first instance, I was in an environment that was created for conversation of the honest, open and potoentially vulnerable sort. One woman revealed she was under the impression that everyone who homeschooled was doing so under religious influence. Another admitting to believing those who are homeschooled lack the skills required to interact with their peer group and the world at large. In the other instance a woman approached me with curiosity. She wanted more information on homeschooling in the teen years and I launched into a ten minute explanation of what it is we do to support learning day in and day out in our home. At the end she said “ever since I met your boys and they seemed so well adjusted and happy I’ve been curious about how you did that while homeschooling.” I know she was curious and her intent was well meaning but it still made me wonder what she thought about my children before meeting them. I do wish I’d been quick enough to ask that question.

With this new information pulling at the edges of my mind I am going out into the world with a more cautious approach to how I take a label and apply it to any one person. Wanting to take a step further to ask the follow up question of  “and what does that mean to you?” so that I might not walk away thinking I know something about an individual based on a social construct built outside of their individuality.

PEP Talk Number One

Welcome you fabulous human being tasked with raising up another human being. Is your heart about ready to burst with all that love? Or is it the fear that’s winning out today? Well this here is a little pep talk for you.

I know the world out there can set you up to believe someone else knows what’s best for your child. From diapers, to feeding, through nap schedules, school choices all the the way to the teen year transformations. I am here to remind you or perhaps even tell you for the first time, that you are the only expert their is on your child. You know their favorite sleep postitions, snacks and what outfit helps them shine brightest. You know what brings that special twinkle to their eyes and what will help mop up the tears. You know best.

So in today’s very first pep talk I am handing back to you all the parenting awesome that lives inside your heart space. Asking you to lean into your own wisdom to find the best way to show up for your unique child, especially when the world tries to hush that part of you. Go ahead love a little harder, laugh a little longer, trust a whole lot deeper your inner parenting rock star.

Love is a language

The youngest of the two threw the door open and met me arms wide open in the driveway. He held me tight and the whole entire five days of my absence spilled out his mouth. He found me on the couch and wrapped himself around me. He took me for a walk to keep the chatter of his mind spinning out into our shared experience. He explained how when I’m around he’s less bored and better fed.

The oldest was too fatigued to move from the couch and had me bend to him to receive a well held hug. He noticed it felt like I had never actually left. He yawned, stretched and returned to his room. He asked me to cook him a pizza. He took the remote from my hand and put on hockey. Then asked “hey mom did you know,” more than once so he could catch me up on all the stats I missed while I was away.

Love is indeed a language we all speak in our own tones. It’s the paying of attention that allows for proper interpretation. I am well loved by both these human beings.

Raising up Peace

I’ve never really understood a world that treats children with less respect and dignity then their adult counterparts. It’s never quite made sense in my brain. And for the most part I am grateful for this as it has allowed me access in to the magical world of children over and over again.

I want to pull this back to my most favorite bumper sticker that I purchased from Kelly Lovejoy. It read “world peace begins at home be nicer to your kids.” Ironically it was stolen off my car and I have to believe it was because someone needed it so badly they took it as a reminder to make the world a better place. There is so much truth in that one sentence. Children who are loved up fully don’t go out in to the world looking to hurt other people. Children who are treated with respect, don’t go about disrespecting others. This idea that a child needs to be trained up right is lost on me. The idea that raising a well adjusted, thoughtful human being can only be done through restrictions, deprivation and punishment, is illogical.

I am going to use some examples here to hammer my point home. If my adult friend turns to me in tears, with heart break all over her face, because something that to her is terrible has just happened, I hug her and I listen with my full heart. Because that is what I would want for myself in the very same moment. This is the principle I also apply to my child. I don’t ask my friend to make sure her reaction happens at an appropriate moment or that she make sure it is an issue I agree holds the merit required for such an out burst. And I most certainly don’t ask her to go stand in the corner for two minutes until she can calm down. Why then would I expect this of a child who has less experience in the world? Knowing my child is newer to the idea of working through big feelings it is logical that I would apply an extra dose of compassion and patience, to support them in being able to apply the very same thing to themselves and others moving forward. Compassion, empathy, respect are things one can only fully understand through witnessing and experiencing them. They are not something that can be taught through lectures and punishment.

Another big idea that this world of adults often works to put upon children is the idea of holding their needs. That some how there is a great value in being able to hold ones needs for long periods of time. I think another term for this is delay of gratification. The idea is that making a child wait to express or have their needs met will set them up well for the real world, where this is what happens. My gut response to this overall idea is, why would one choose this as a way to prepare the child for their future? Hey guess what life is gonna suck when you grow up cause you are always going to have to wait to be gratified. Dismal! Who wants to excitedly grow up in to that world? And it is in direct contradiction to what many children will witness. I am going to use my loving husband as an example in this situation. I remember one time when he was frustrated that one of our boys desperately needed a new toy. In a way that he just could not imagine it was possible to wait for the time we imposed on him (it is worth mentioning that what he wanted would not break the bank at all). I said to my husband “but when you want something you just go out and buy it,” (sometimes even when it breaks the bank), “why should he have to wait?” Bless my husband that he is the man he is, cause he took a moment and realized, just how right I was. It just doesn’t make sense to me to expect children, who again are much newer at being in the world, to do things we don’t expect of ourselves. If I am driving on a long road trip and I really really really have to pee, I pull over at the next rest stop. So why would I say to my child “you’re gonna have to hold it it’s not time to stop yet.” Children who continually have support in meeting their needs, know they can meet their own needs and with in that comes a patience and understanding that can never be born out of deprivation.

There is also this way, where some folks raising a child think that you can raise a good listener by making a child be quiet and listen to you. I am going to invite my imaginary friend back in to the conversation. When I am out in the world as a grown up looking for new connections and I bump in to someone who wants to talk at me all day long, we won’t be staying friends. This I am sure of. In fact, I am more likely to befriend the person who is willing to toss a conversation respectfully back and forth with me in to my circle of friends. So in my brain if I want to raise up a human being who is good a listening to others I need to be the one to sit down and shut my mouth. To listen, with my full attention to what my child has to say, so they feel heard. The gift of listening, is something I can freely give to my children so they have the reserves to give it to others.


And for my last example I am going talk about ditching any conditions on the one thing we ALL have tons of extra to go around, LOVE. Love is free. It is in fact one of the truly free things in this world we live in. It never needs to be earned. Nope it is always right there for the giving. So it should make sense that we give it in spades to our children. No matter how messy, snotty, loud, dirty they may be. Or how many times they interrupt, erupt, melt down or cry. In fact I might go as far as to say, the dirtier, louder, messier the more love they need. People who are all filled up on love, know they have extra to give away. They go out in to the world whole, with their needs met, looking to connect with others, in healthy ways. This is the foundation of the statement “world peace begins at home be nicer to your kids.” If we are raising children from a place of respect and unconditional love we are sending whole, complete adults out in to the world. Children who are shown respect from the beginning of their lives know they are worthy of respect and seek it out in others. Children who are given buckets full of compassion and empathy have it to give to those who need it the most. Children who know how to meet their own needs will do so over and over again, in the time line that resonates with them and without infringing on others to do so. Children who are listened to, will know how to listen, with their full attention. And children who are raised on unconditional love, will make our world a more peaceful place. I promise.

Showing up in love notes !!

A few years ago I got the beautiful opportunity to meet this fabulous woman Sherry, who is making all sorts of magic in the world. One of the spectacular things she brought into my life was the creation of love lists. You can check her and her work out at (and really you should go there).

I am here today to encourage you today to bring some love list making and gifting into your everyday being with the sweet humans you are living alongside. Who doesn’t want to wake up to breakfast with a short list of the top five things you are loving about them in that moment? Or tucking into bed for the night to find a slip of paper under the pillow that lists three reasons for loving them.

Here is one thing my family gets up to. When we are finished visiting friends or family we take sticky notes and hide them throughout the house exclaiming the things we will love and miss most about the folks we have been visiting. This idea can be turned around to do at home as well. Your child goes to their computer screen and their is a tiny love note from you to them. A sticky note on the toilet seat with a good morning wake up love message.

And I will tell you this stuff spreads. Because I woke up one morning to find my entire computer covered in heart shaped sticky notes. Wanting to persevere the awesome I opened up my laptop to see my little love bomber had thought of my next move and also decorated that space. The awesome of spreading love is contagious.

In our busy life of doing it’s easy to forget love can be an action item and not just a feeling. Of course you know you are carrying that crazy big LOVE inside of you a love list lets some of that out into the world so those you love most can get in on the action of feeling all that fabulousness.