We’ve been at the beach for four days now. More times than I can count I’ve dove in the ocean or the pool only to kick my way to the surface seconds later. The moment I break the surface of the water and take a breath always feel a little magical.

It’s how I feel right now. I feel like I’m breaking the surface of this funk. I’m coming up for air.

It feels so, so good.

It feels like I’m letting things go. It feels like I’m moving on. It feels like I’m finding my balance.

Of course, JUST when you get your balance life has a way of shoving you off your feet. Yesterday, at the pool, I had pulled Amos with me into the deep end to practice his swimming. He has been fighting us tooth and nail all summer, but we’d forgotten his floaties and I decided now was my chance.

He cried and hollered. I told him he knew how to blow bubbles and hold his breath that I’ve seen him do it all summer. I dropped his underwater a few times and sure enough he did exactly what I thought he would do. He held his breath and blew his bubbles.

Still, he’s a stubborn kid and he kept fighting me. I stayed calm. I told him I could stand here all day and that his friends were having fun and he could join them if he tried. I told him he was a big strong boy and I knew he could do it.

He calmed down a little but the second he’d go underwater he’d freak out again and grasp for me. I never let him go. He never choked, but he still kept fighting me.

Finally, a lady came over and said, “If you dunk him one more time, I’m going to report you. I’m a licensed reporter. That is not the way to do it and everyone is watching. I’m DISGUSTED.”

I just stood there. Speechless. Amos in my arms. Then, I went to the steps and kept practicing with Amos, who finally agreed to go under water if I went with him.

Meanwhile, I was in a full blown shame spiral. I felt terrible. Maybe I was pushing Amos too hard? Maybe I was going about it the wrong way?

I wanted it to be simple. She was a bitch and I was doing nothing wrong and that was the end of it.

I’ve had a lot of confrontations with friends and some strangers over the past few years. Confrontations that still haunt me when – like now – I’m feeling vulnerable. They’re old wounds I like to reopen when I’m feeling sorry for myself. Broken friendships. Hurtful comments. Tokens of my failings I spread out on the table to prove I’m actually as terrible as I feel.

I want my own personal brand of closure for each one. I want the person to sit down and apologize for hurting me and it has taken me so, so long to realize that is not EVER going to happen.

It wouldn’t matter if it did. It’s almost never as simple as they were wrong and I was right. I wish it was.

In an interesting twist, it was a book on organizing that finally helped me see the light. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo states simply,

Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of who you do like, so that you will appreciate those special people even more.

I want every friend to be my best friend. I want every stranger – including the lady at the pool  - to see my parenting and think I’m the BEST. 

Alas, it doesn’t work like that. Some people are only around for seasons. Some are meant to teach you valuable lessons.

The biggest lesson I need to learn is forgiveness - whether I get my cathartic closure or not. The first thing Annie says every time I come to her complaining about the latest insult or insensitivity is "Have you forgiven them?" I know she's right and I know it will be a struggle.  

Forgiveness is so hard because I'm unforgiving of myself. I've beat myself up all day about the pool fiasco. Telling myself I was wrong. Telling myself I traumatized Amos.

Instead, I should acknowledge the complexity of the situation. I was not at my best and neither was she I'm guessing. I'm still a good mother and she's probably a good person.

I can't control anything about that woman or anyone else who has hurt me in the past. All I can do is choose to learn a lesson, practice forgiveness, and move. on.

Until tomorrow,


What to do when your child fails

I became a mother six years ago and I'll always remember one of the first truths my own mother told me about raising a child.

The second you figure your child and a particular phase out - the second you think "I got this!" - they change. 

I should have known kindergarten was going a little too smoothly. Despite my own misgivings about the beginning of elementary school, Griffin handled it well. We quickly established a morning routine that worked well for our family. Except for the occasional hunt for a rogue shoe, we have breakfast without too much yelling or prompting. There were never any tears or separation anxiety at drop off. We tackled homework easily and only had one day where Griffin went beyond "yellow" or a single warning for bad behavior. Most days he was on "green" for good behavior and seemed to sincerely enjoy going to school. 

In full disclosure, Griffin's kindergarten teacher is one of the best. She is warm, fun, and stays cool and calm at every turn. She also happens to be one of my dearest friends so we were more than a little bit spoiled on that front.

Between the great teacher and drama-free days, I had JUST started to pat myself on the back for a successful year. 

That was stupid. 

The science of parenting: Is it safe to play outside?

In this series, I’m examining the science of parenting. In Part One, we discussed the the importance of the quality - not quantity - of time we spend with our kids. In Part Two, we looked at the science on what types of activities can be considered quality family time. In Part Three, I look at how our children spend their time, our perception of those activities, and what the science actually says. 

Last week, I took the boys to our local park after school. I had just read an editorial making a strong case for free-range parenting. This quote in particular left me wondering if I give my own children enough opportunities to explore.

Choosing to Love

Recently, I was listening to This American Life. For those of you who don’t listen to This American Life (no judgment but what is WRONG with you!??), every week they choose a theme and put together different stories on that theme. This episode’s theme was break ups. The first story revolved around the particular perfection that are breakup songs. It involved Phil Collins and was really everything that is wonderful about the type of storytelling on This American Life.

Specifically, I learned the story behind one of my favorite songs – breakup or otherwise – of all time Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me.

Why I'm Afraid to KEEP Having Babies

I love being a mother. I've been mothering since I was a small girl. I was always much older than my cousins so I grew up around babies. My twin half-brothers were born when I was ten years old. I remember coming home from summers in California with our father - summers spent caring for these tiny twin babies - and literally praying to God someone would leave a baby on my front porch. 

I was positively phobic about being infertile. While I did postpone children long enough to go to law school, I remember the constant temptation to have a child. As I struggled with career choices and job searches, there was a huge part of me that wanted to bypass it all and start having children. I KNEW there would be none of the uncertainty and self-doubt when when it came time to be a mother. 

I knew the job of mothering would be fulfilling. I knew I would be good at it. 

And I was right. It is fulfilling. I am (for the most part) good at it. So, I understand where Chaunie Brusie is coming from in her post I'm Afraid to Stop Having Babies.

An Open Letter of Apology to my Firstborn

I feel like every month another open letter of apology makes the rounds on Facebook. The letter is written to the second or third child and is a tongue-in-cheek apology by an overwhelmed momma for all the things she DIDN'T do this time around. 

There were no prenatal yoga classes or germaphobic protections taken. There are no baby books filled with mementos or perfectly planned outfits. Instead, the "poor" second or third child is subjected to boisterous siblings and lack of 100% supervision.

I hate these letters.