Tag Archives: Parenting


Evelyn is screaming wearing red lipstick. There is a a comic-book style pow image in back of her.

I discovered recently that my biggest fear is that I’m a bad mother and that one of my children will die by suicide. It’s hard to write that because I don’t want advice or reassurance. I just want to tell you what’s really happening in my inner life. 

I woke up early from an anxious dream. I have anxious dreams a lot. They’re mundane. I’m trying to leave an event but I can’t find my car. There’s a hurt bird and I’m trying to call the Audubon Society but none of the numbers will go through. So I was laying in bed after a dream, calming my body, resting my head on a tension release thing. I decided to go through what I might be worried about, like flipping through a catalog. The tension release thing is like two humps of a camel that I put at the base of my skull. It helps relax tightness in my head. I started thinking of things…

Work? I hadn’t worked all of January recovering from omicron. No, it wasn’t work. Everyone in my business and our clients were incredibly understanding and for the first time I was letting myself rest and receive grace.

Money? Not working meant less money. No. I had a sense that things would work out. 

Child care? We hadn’t had reliable child care since mid-December, and things were still very much up in the air. Everything falls apart without child care. Strangely I wasn’t worried about this. Things had worked out before and somehow they would again. 

The kids? Boy Woww had been having anxiety attacks; the Fairy Pig and K-Pants were their intense selves. My head started to relax and rest into the tension release thing.

When I hit on the right thing my body tells me. It’s taken me a long time to be able to listen to my body, and still I often ignore it. 

I dove down this hole. Is it the kids themselves? No. Is it the intensity of parenting? No. Is it that I’m a bad mother? Yes. There it is. Is it that I won’t be able to help them? Yes. Is it that my badness as a mom will lead to terrible outcomes and one of my kids may die by suicide? Yes. 

Now let me be clear: I am not wishing these things into being. I am not writing them into being. I think that a fear of saying things out loud, lest they come true, keeps us silent and suffering in our inner worlds. And yet I tremble as I write the words. 

Here’s what’s happening at our house. Three beautiful, imperfect gemstones live here. They sparkle in the sun. They glow under kitchen lights. They have crevices that magnify the light. These three gemstones are my treasures. They’re my gifts from God. I want everything wonderful for them and I want to be whole and happy myself. 

And we live in the world. And the world is rough. 

Boy Woww has been having anxiety attacks to the point that they interfere with his daily life. He likes things to be calm and quiet. He’s lived through two years of pandemic so far, something I never had to do as a child. Boy Woww has a sister who is about to get a diagnosis of ADHD. Her body doesn’t allow her to be still. Personal boundaries are a roadblock that stop her from showing her love, so she casts them aside. When we want to watch a family show, she climbs the back of the couch and stalks the family as a predator cat, which drives K-Pants nuts. K-Pants is in his first year of middle school. Middle school has wild ups and downs. And when he has a bad day at school, the whole family feels it. 

These are the things of life. And we’re living them.

I explained all this and more to my therapist. A good therapist is a critical resource. The Fairy Pig learned to walk in my therapist’s office, which I am quite proud of because it meant I was getting the help I needed when I needed it. 

Here’s what my therapist said (I’m paraphrasing, of course):

You can’t control the future. But right now, in these moments, you’re paying attention. Paying attention is important. You’re finding all kinds of ways to help your kids navigate the world in their own ways. For Boy Woww, you’re working to get him the help he needs in big and little ways. For the Fairy Pig, it will be interesting to see if after she gets extra help for ADHD, she becomes more manageable for Boy Woww. They are opposite personalities who need each other and it’s very difficult. You’re doing a really excellent job noticing things and validating your kids.

After getting this wonderful reassurance, I felt comfortable to tell her about how I get overwhelmed and scream at my kids. It probably happens twice a month, where a fire-breathing monster takes over my body. 

What happens when you do that? What do the kids do? 

They tell me to stop it, to take a break. K-Pants will roll his eyes and possibly swear at me. The Fairy Pig will yell back at me, “Mom, you’re NOT HELPING!!” In those moments, I think to myself, “How do I have such disrespectful kids?”

That’s a really good sign, actually. 

What? How are any of these things a good sign?

They’re not afraid of you. When you’re at your worst and you’re screaming, they’re not afraid. Even though it’s awful and no one likes it. 

I was hoping the screaming would go away, and it was for a time, but in pandemic, I’ve had plenty of times where I see myself ramping up, the embers getting fueled with air, and yet I can’t walk away. But still, there are many more times that I do walk away now. Does that make sense? I’m screaming like a cornered squirrel with its tail on fire at the same rate or more as before, but I’m also walking away and taking a break more. So I guess that’s a win?

You are parenting three intense children. Whenever you walk away that’s a win. That’s your whole goal at this point: walk away. 


Hearing this was a sensation of whole-body relief. I hold myself to impossibly high standards. I don’t consciously do it. But deep in my psyche there is a quarterback playbook filled with sure-fire runs and passes that I imagine other people using. Plays that get you out of tricky situations, that allow you to stay calm and also teach your children about problem solving and gentle parenting. Plays that I don’t know how to call for. 

So here I am on Scream Into the Void Tuesday. The void screams are so necessary and freeing. The screaming at my children happens. I do walk away more, and that’s a win. I’m noticing things. I’m talking about it. And that’s good enough for now. 

This Metaphor Revolves Around Leg Hair

I don’t shave my legs. It’s not that I have translucent leg hair that serves only to give my calves an extra glow. I have loads of dark brown hair. But in the last couple years I’ve cared less and less about shaving, even during the summer. That’s not to say I’m giving up on myself or letting myself go or throwing in the towel or whatever people say. I’m quite fashionable. Here I am in bespoke Jeff Boothe jeans. 

Evelyn sits on a blue couch looking at the camera with her legs in the air to show off jeans that have wild paint splatters and print and brush strokes all over them. She holds a pillow that says "LOVE," and wears reading glasses. A painting by artist Jeff Boothe that is an abstract deep blue, teal, and black whale head kind of shape is on her left.
Jeff Boothe pants and painting: double bonus points.

Shaving and level-of-fashion-sense and sexiness are not tied together. I have lots of other things I want to do besides shave my legs. Plus I want to save that extra shower water for the hot bath I take almost every night that does much more for my well being. 

But the other night I felt like I wanted to start fresh in 2021 and shave my legs. So I got out my husband’s electric razor. Is that what it’s called? Let’s call it the Fuzz Remover. It makes a satisfying ZHUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ noise. Right leg, ZHUZZZZZZZZZZ, done. Left leg, going great. Then ZHUZZ UZZZ UZZ… It started slowing down. The Fuzz Remover was like, “Lady, this is toooo much for me! You have so much leg hair. I just. UZZ. can’t. UZ. handle. Z. it.” 

And it died. 

And I was left with a dark brown mohawk and some ankle patches down my left leg. I really willed the Fuzz Remover to keep going and it gave a valiant effort. But it died. And now I’m left with a really weird coronavirus leg styling. 

And it got me thinking. This is very much like my parenting. 

I’m a very good parent. I also (and in a not mutually exclusive kind of way) have a LOT of parenting challenges, because parenting is quite difficult. And I find myself very broken up about it sometimes. Many times. 

As a writer I focus a lot on the part of parenting where the energy runs out and it’s a mess. That’s what I share with you. It’s like we’re friends walking down the street and I pull up my pant leg in public and show you my weird mohawk leg hair. 

A lot of people like to stay covered in public in winter. They like to wear clothes that make them look good, and even add makeup. (As do I, but we’re in a metaphor about leg hair here.) It makes a lot of sense to put on mostly the great stuff and share the socially acceptable stuff.  

Sort of early on in parenting I realized I was a real mixed bag. And I also now realize that sometimes people think I’m a mess, kind of like it’s a static thing. Like the original Voodoo Donut is on 2nd and Ash. It’s a thing. Google will tell you. But unlike that fun and obvious fact about donuts, I’m more of a dynamic ball of neon, glittery slime that’s rarely in the same place. 

So I guess this is a manifest eleven years down the road. I post a lot of look-behind-the-curtain content because not everyone feels comfortable sharing the most anxiety-producing and personal and embarrassing parts of parenting, but a lot of people feel solidarity. The parenting anger and the exhaustion and the screaming into the void or in the house, the need to get help and deal with your mental health like it’s about to knock you out cold if you don’t. I don’t write about everything. I protect myself in some places. But I do lift up my pant leg quite a bit.

I very seldom desire advice. I want to be seen and I want you to feel comfort and companionship because of it. I realize that the highlight reels of social media aren’t the full picture of anyone’s parenting, but that it’s important to be able to put out the beautiful and proud moments because we need those badges of honor because the work is so hard. So I (and plenty of other writers, too) am here to overshare, possibly so that you don’t have to, and often so that I can be heard.

And I apologize if I’ve not reacted great when you’ve shared something delightful that happened in your parenting. Sometimes I haven’t seen your challenges so it makes it hard for me to be rah-rah about your awesomeness. But that’s me and my deal.

For those of you whom I’ve interacted with over DMs, I love you, and I treasure our conversations. To my commenters, I adore you. You fill me with warm fuzzies. And to all of you who share about your own struggles in ways that are somewhat public and very vulnerable, you kick some serious ass.

Jeff Boothe is an amazing Portland artist. I am in love with how he is so joyful with color and movement and I’m so lucky to have two pairs of his pants (although you have GOT to see his paintings). Follow him on Instagram. DM him about paintings and clothes that cover up your leg hair. xoxo

Sometimes the Easy Kid Goes Unnoticed

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

I worry that Boy Woww gets overlooked. He’s about to become the middle child, and K-Pants is the one who brings TNT to the parenting party. Boy Woww is mellow, and incredibly snuggly, and almost every time I come into a room he beams and says, “Mom! You’re back!”

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

I talk quite a bit with my boys about how I don’t love anyone more: I love them differently. (This conversation often comes up because K-Pants has a tough time with any kind of reprimand and will lash out by saying, “You don’t love me!” or “You love Boy Woww more than me!”)

Well, I love Boy Woww because he has lavish imaginary worlds and a strangely mature sense of humor and a remarkable way of affirming you when you need it. “Mom, I love this day,” he’ll say out of the blue.

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

So this post is for him.

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

I hope he knows how much I love to snuggle him.

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

…and watch him grow, even when I’m tired, and overwhelmed, and short-tempered.

Ode to Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

Here’s to you, our wonderful boy.

The Touch, the Feel of Whining—the Fabric of Our Lives

My favorite movie soundtrack is from City of Angels, with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage. I saw it in college with friends. The movie is lovely, especially in college, but the soundtrack is killer: U2, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Sara McLachlan.

I imagine some of my favorites, in a recording studio, wearing comfy Saturday-morning clothes—a flannel, a fitted t-shirt, sweats—laying down the tracks to my life. There they are: Natalie Merchant, Plumb, U2, Mumford & Sons, putting in coffee orders, getting the cut in one or two sweet takes.

They’re elevating the mundane, making it soulful, mystical, purposeful.

Sometimes I steal away to my home office, sitting at my beautiful yellow desk next to the diaper changing table and across from the crib, and I watch Pandora’s little white circle go round and round, wondering why my latest computer update has stolen the music site’s ability to let me float away.

Probably it has just given up, because it knows the soundtrack to my life is whining. Constant whining. With some occasional Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus audiobook for variety.

Baby Woww is three. At three, children stay healthy and balanced through the sound vibrations produced by whining. It must take a lot of energy to keep it up. When Baby Woww is done, which is not often, K-Pants starts. It makes it very hard to enjoy them. When K-Pants is doing hilarious, creative stuff, Baby Woww is in the background, serenading us. I want milk. Where is my milk? Get my milk now. Aaaahhhhhh! Now. I want my milk! [Toddler arms crossed, in a huff, then arms out, reaching for crayons to throw on the floor.]

You might think, Have you tried not responding to the whining? Have you tried giving him positive redirection? Have you tried modeling regular speech? Have you tried…?

And I would say, Meet me where I am, man. I’ve tried it all.

The whining is taking over my life and breaking my brain down into those frozen digital picture squares made by a scratched DVD. Things that seem easy are attempted in fits and starts between gasps of whining, and are generally left undone. Simple things, that, when done, give people the impression that I’m a socially acceptable human being (sending a text message, putting on pants…).

So I just want to say: Please don’t be offended if I don’t get back to you for a year-and-a-half, which is when, based on experience, I predict the whining-to-speech ratio will return to marginally acceptable levels for an hour or two at a time.

In the meantime, if you want to see if I’m alive, just text me something like the following:



These Are the Days

Please don’t respond.

These kinds of messages are generally able to navigate the broken, moving blocks of my mind. You may even receive a string of punctuation in response.