4.26.15 My Weekend is Officially – Bipolar



So I wish that my weekend were a person, so I could tell it the quote I found on Pintrest … “I’m dizzy from riding your bipolar coaster!”  Seriously, from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows … it went a little something like this – buckle up.

High: It was Friday.  It was jeans day.  It was payday! 

Low: It is April.  It was forty degrees.  It was freezing rain.

High: We had a benefit to go to!  I got to dress up!  I ate great food! 

Low: The speaker quoted the wrong school.  I was allergic to the dessert.  The old man in front of me was so ancient, I was afraid he might not make it through the speech. 

High: It was Saturday.  I slept in!  My kids slept in!

Low:  I couldn’t find the soccer uniform.  I found the soccer uniform – dirty – he wore it anyway.  The car was below “E” and we literally made it to the game on fumes and prayers. 

High:  We were only fifteen minutes late for practice, not the game!  My son got a goal.  They won!

Low:  It was still forty degrees.  My lips turned purple.  My 90 pound dog sat on me the whole game.

High:  We got to pick up our kitten from getting declawed.  We were on time to the vet.  My kids loved all the animals they saw.

Low: We waited forEVER!  I mistook a Chihuahua on a lady’s shoulder for a quivering rat.  The trip cost over $500!

High:  We had two hours before the next event.  We had forty minutes of “quiet time” in the car.  My daughter asked me if octopuses love God, since they have three hearts.

Low: My kids crawl on the floor of Walmart, pretending to be cats.  Meanwhile, my real cats are squealing away in the car.  I spent another $70 on God-knows-what at Walmart.

High: We made it home!  I tackled some laundry!  My son managed to put the stinky uniform in the laundry basket by himself!  

Low: I’m interrupted mid-laundry by both kids.  My daughter (the marathon-pooper) was supposed to give her brother a towel, but stopped to “go” first; she’s stranded without toilet paper.  He’s shivering naked in a tub … still without a towel.

High: We make it to two birthday parties ON TIME!  I discovered a new library!  I fell asleep early … because I could! 

Low: The new declawed kitten doesn’t trust the “post-surgery” kitty litter.  My son discovered a suspicious wet blanket.  My husband found a small poo in a sock under his desk.  

High: It is Sunday.  We went hiking!  We visited my grandmother.

Low:  I forgot to give my grandmother something.  I had to turn around.  I drove too fast and get pulled over … again … with my kids in the car … again (mom-of-the-year … again). 

High:  I get off with a warning!  My kids slept the whole way home and I got to make two phone calls!  My husband made dinner!  

Low:  My laundry has officially beat me.  It is almost Monday.  There goes the dryer.  

High:  I’ve got a clawless kitten purring on my lap.  I’m writing for you.  You’re reading for me! 

How could I ask for more?  Here’s wishing you more “highs” than “lows,”  and, at the very least, a whole lot of in-betweens.  

Literarily yours,


4.19.15 For You, I Will



So it’s almost that time of year again.  The time where I have to part with 80 of the messiest, craziest, most annoying, demanding people that I absolutely adore.  My students.  I know that being a teacher is all about the Mary Poppin’s theory, you know the “I’ll be here until the wind changes” and all of that … but sometimes I wish those darn winds of change would make a change themselves and stay put.  Because I hate goodbyes.  Hate them.  Anyone who has ever really known me, knows this is true about me because they’re obviously still in my life as I’ve never let them go!  And yet I’m forced to … year after year.  Kind of a dramatic irony when you think about it.  Or maybe a test of will?  Either way, I am not looking forward to June for one reason, and one reason only – I am going to have to say goodbye.  Again.

Believe me there are some lovelies I will miss less, but the truth is … they’re my kids.  I am with them for better, but mostly for worse, (they are middle schoolers after all) but none of it matters because they are mine.  When people ask me “Why middle school?” (and they do) I try to explain that these kids, these emergent human beings, just need someone on their side.  And it is true that they’re sometimes awful, and it is true that they are always exhausting, and it’s even true that sometimes they go too far.  But I come back to them day after day, because while I believe in going too far, I don’t believe in a point of no return.  So I am their return.  

As important as I feel that it is for you to know this, it’s even more important that they know it.  So below is a poem that I plan to give my students this year for graduation.  I’d like your thoughts to make sure it’s “good enough” first.  And if you love and live for anyone who deserves to hear this … then I also wrote it for you to give to them.  

For You, I Will

Sometimes, (most times maybe) you make me crazy –

but somehow, your version of crazy keeps me sane …

and I need you

Maybe even more than you need me …


I know you know how much I care about you –

but I don’t think you know what I will do

For you, I will cross the fissure-cracked social lines that others dare not pass

On the shattered shards of broken reflections and unforeseen potential

I will walk …

for you

For you, I will confront the darkest shadows –

the ebony-ink choices that stain,

and scar

I won’t close my eyes; I won’t turn away

though many times

I might want to, because seeing you hurt,

hurts me

For you, I will stay

I will stand beside you as you face down your demons

so that if at any time you lose your way

I can take your hand

and bring you back to the place of remembering who you really are

or might be,

if you let yourself get there

I know I am not strong enough to chase the light for everyone

but for you

I am … and I will

Because I believe that one day, your constellations will be cast,

and the vast sky will blueprint an iridescent future you couldn’t yet imagine

Someday doubt will be a road you have passed and you will find yourself sure

reaching toward the sun as high as your roots are deep

I know something true, that you soon will …

you are almost ready

So I, almost have to be

Your time with me has been a chrysalis – a home of transformation,

but your wings are steady, and must now be tried on winds much farther than I can sail

It is only because of this that I would ever find the strength to let you go …

for I do not say goodbye easily

But time is no longer on my side –

it’s on yours

Your silver-linings are set on the dawn, full-glowing

And you have already begun to outgrow me

please know it’s okay … all is as it should be

Loss is a beautiful pain to endure,

but for you …

I will

So sometimes, (most times maybe) you make me crazy –

but somehow, your version of crazy has kept me sane …

and I need you

infinitely more than you need me …


But I love you

and love is at its best when it is letting go

So I refuse to part with you for me,

but for you … to allow you the chance to begin your own precious adventures …

I will

4.12.15 Between Laughter and Tears



This entire weekend I have been caught precariously between laughter and tears.  It’s really quite something how close the two emotions can be.  And the funny thing is … that slight balance, that tips so easily into imbalance, starts so young.  Saturday morning, my five-year-old daughter had ballet pictures.  In a rush, and without reading the “suggested sizes” on the tights package (major mistake) I inadvertently bought an extra-small (because in my mind my daughter is extra small).  Well apparently, extra small was made for dolls, because twenty minutes before the pictures, standing in a cramped public bathroom stall, I took out a pair of tights that just barely made it up to her knees!  The two of us were roaring with laughter.  I literally lifted by the waist-band, shaking her a little bit in midair in an attempt to stretch the non-compliant elastic nightmare.  

Giggling until we couldn’t catch our breath, I told her that it was no big deal, we’d just put her dress on and no one would even notice.  Tugging up the dress with sewn-in bloomers, the midsection stretched down to where the tights stopped, making her now as mobile as a waddling penguin. That’s when she lost it.  “I can’t wear these!” she cried desperately, little hot tears rolling down her freshly-blushed cheeks. “Everyone will laugh at me!”

        “No, no one will laugh at you,” I assured her, still laughing myself, “no one will even see, remember?”  At which point, she began laughing again, but it was a shallow sound – unsure. I reminded her that she needed to try not to cry, that it would show in her pictures.  Author Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less to clean up afterward.”  Something about my little ballerina knew this, so … walking slowly, and bravely out of the room, she kept her little wobbly chin up.  And I was so proud of her, I could have cried. 

Before Saturday was even a thought, Friday was its own emotional roller coaster.  You see, Friday was the day that my students finally met Riley … the precious, Austistic girl they had adopted months before.  I know I have told you the story, but to recap, Riley became a part of our classroom family when my students responded to the bullying she had been succumbed to.  Through letters, video clips and gifts, they restored this beautiful young life, and she, in turn, softened the hearts of over sixty eighth grade students who hadn’t much to unify them before.  Friday, that changed.  Each of my students, whether rich or poor, bright or plain came together, bringing gifts purchased and passed on to Riley.  They filled a “treasure basket” for her with hopeful messages and trinkets.  I think the well-loved teddy bears were my favorite, because what had so obviously brought my students comfort in their own childhood, was now being given in love.  

The next hour was again a tightrope balance between laughter and tears.  I couldn’t contain my chuckles when one of my students asked young Riley to sign his arm, holding up her signature like a trophy … and maybe it was.  But for every smile came a tenfold of melancholy tears, as I saw the frozen souls of my usually desensitized students melt with compassion, and empathy, and change.  

So today, I end with a quote from writer Washington Irving. “There is a sacredness in tears.  They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.  They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” 

Be powerful … cry often, and laugh even more. 


4.5.15 That’s Just What Mommies Do



So I’m not sure if I have a cold, a sinus infection, or some supernaturally-green combination of the three, but this something I’ve got has rendered me completely exhausted lately.  I think it is sort of a sad irony that people say you need “beauty sleep,” because I’ve seen myself after just waking up and my reflection is anything but refreshed.  Especially this past week, with a packed-plugged mind  and unattractive mouth-breathing status … let’s just say I wake up more beast than beauty.  I especially love the way one side of my head feels heavier than the other, because all of the stuffed-up-stuffiness has inherently slid to one side of my brain when I sleep on my side.  The pillow creases are another delightful reminder that I’ve slept hard, as is the one-eye-fully-open, the other half-shut from allergy swelling.  So cute.  This morning, I might have been branded half ogre, half Medusa, my semi-dreads rolled as I tossed my head repeatedly side-to-side for better breathability.   

Easter morning, you want to feel your “Sunday best,” but as I crawled toward the shower, I had to remind myself of what the Swedish botanist Linnaeus once said, “Nature does not proceed by leaps.”  It was obvious there would be no miraculous transformations through my wishing alone, so … in the order of forced steps toward presentability, I began, because that’s just what mommies do. 

Step One: Husband (too productively for my congested-state) cheerily goes to run the dog while he kindly suggests I shower first (like I said, Sleeping “Beauty” didn’t show up today, and I kinda think he knew it). 

Step Two: Take longer than necessary in the shower, spacing out and becoming a saturated raisin. 

Step Three: Realizing that even with great conditioner, it was going to be a “hair up” kind of day (Medusa having amped up her tangled game regardless of my efforts). 

Step Four: Abandon ship on my own appearance in order to get the kids dressed and looking lovely.  (What happened to their hard-sleep faces?  They bounced back, of course, because they have perfect baby skin! Grrr.) 

Step Five: Choosing flats over the better-matching-heels because, well … they were flats!  

Step Six: Coming to terms that no amount of foundation was going to “lift” those ginormous bags under my eyes.  (Maybe a bit more mascara would hide them? … Maybe not.) 

Step Seven: Rolled up to Starbucks with sunglasses on to caffeine-boost my attitude, because yes, I had one at this point. 

The French author Francois de la Rochfoucaula (who I would listen to just for the severity of such an important-sounding name) once said that, “When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.”  And it’s true.  Even that delicious dose of a latte did little to quell my self-deprecating attitude.  It was only when I “got over myself” that I was able to enjoy the day, even with my groggy head and the slightly disheveled-Bohemian look I was rocking.  My ninety-two year old grandmother still thought I was beautiful, and told me at least three times.  My children had as much delight searching for haphazardly-thrown eggs as if I had placed each one with care in the yard.  And, I was able to small-talk and catch up with relatives, none of whom, miraculously,  mentioned my current haggard state. 

The truth is, sometimes, life doesn’t care that it’s a holiday.  Even though I might “feel” like a creature from the sleep-deprived lagoon, you better believe I slapped on sunshine smiles for my little egg-hunters.  I hid my yawns and applied a few mid-day reapplications of blush to keep that inner-zombie at bay.  Because, no matter what day of the year, no matter what you’re fighting off … that’s just what mommies do.