The days that will not end

As I write this, it’s 5:15 pm. I should be making dinner, but I’m sitting comatose on the couch. This happens, you know. It’s a crystal clear snapshot of what parenthood can do to a person, yet something the outside world never sees.

You see, this whole day (save for the 5 minutes I was shoving warm homemade chocolate chip cookies in my face) I have wanted it to end. And I am one of those new-agey type people who really tries to “stay present” and enjoy the ebb and flow of life. But, still, I sometimes watch the minutes on the clock tick by at a painfully slow pace. I sometimes want to—or do—scream into the sky “please, just let it be bedtime!” I sometimes cannot find it in myself to read my child a book, or answer her (never-ending) questions (why? why? why? MOM, WHY?!!). I sometimes find myself pleading with a 2-year-old 3857374 times a day for space, and some silence.

I am cranky in a way I can’t snap out of. The type of cranky only a mother can understand. After too many days without adult interaction, or too many nights being woken up 5 times by a crying child, or too many days without help or a break, or a way too busy week, or way too many tantrums or fights with a person whose prefrontal cortex is not nearly developed enough to reason with in any sane way. It happens. And, oh man, is it fierce.

Sometimes, some sort of super human powers invade my body in these moments, and I spontaneously jump off the couch and clean the whole house, do all the laundry, read Emerson 17 books, put together some insane Montessori experience, make homemade lotion for the whole family, set up appointments, pay the bills, and giggle with my child for an hour. Miraculously.

Other times, like right now, my body, mind, and soul shut down, and I go on some sort of involuntary strike. And I send my husband a text saying “sorry, no dinner tonight” and he responds, “aww, great,” all while Emerson begs me to play with her….talk to her….something, mama….anything. But, nothing.

These are the days that will never end. They come in all shapes and forms in parenthood, but they are all long. These are the days that I start thinking about bedtime about 20 minutes after I wake up in the morning. It’s an unfortunate fact, but true. But, the beauty in these moments is that they will end. We will all crawl into bed at some point, the silence will come. And I will close my eyes knowing that tomorrow will probably be completely different from today…because that’s parenthood.

Sweet boredom

I take a lot of walks with Emerson. In the mornings, we take the stroller to the lake to watch the ducks swim as the sun rises over the water. We both seem to enjoy a bit of silence in nature to start our day. But, this morning, Emerson protested to our routine. We only made it a third of a mile before she began whining and trying to free herself from the three-point harness. She wanted to get out. To explore. To not be silent. So I decided to let her do her thing.


em 16 mo3

This was certainly not my first Emerson-led walk. I hold her hand while she roams around our block every afternoon. But, I have never attempted a third of a mile before (which is really the equivalent of like two miles in an adult-sized world). Toddlers move at an impossibly slow rate when you let them free in the world.

And so, I took a deep breath and let Emerson out of her stroller. She sat on every stone wall she saw, weeded every yard on the street, watched DOT men paint lines on the road, stopped to listen to a dog bark for five minutes, walked into our neighborhood café (with a big stick and four dandelions in her hand) just to check out all the patrons. It took us nearly an hour to walk a third of a mile.

em 16mo4em 16 mo

It was amazing to see the world through Emerson’s eyes, to be led through a series of experiences that appealed to her freely (without me suggesting or leading). It was one of those perfectly sweet moments in my life as a mother. A truly wonderful morning. But, I couldn’t help but contemplate the feeling that often accompanies experiences such as this one: boredom.

Yes, I said it. Hanging out with a very young child all day can be boring.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love it. I have made enormous sacrifices in every other area of my life in order to spend all my time at home with my child. But, I sometimes (or often) can’t control my sense of impatience. I want nothing more than to be present for Emerson, and so I work daily at slowing down and ignoring my adult impulses. But, as much as I can totally let go and hang out reading books by the light of a lantern in a tent for hours with my child, I also find myself fighting to stay engaged in filling up bowls with dry pasta….dumping them out….filling them again….dumping them out….oh wait…..filling them up again.

em 16 mo2

My days consist of some crazy combination of total boredom and absolute wonder and gratitude. There is so much satisfaction to be found in those moments when I put my adult self on hold to be in the world as a child.

This is our life: Toddler eats

It’s snack time and Emerson is dancing around the kitchen. She’s pointing every which way—at the counter, at the refrigerator, at the toaster—while emitting a terrible grunting/whining noise and giving us the sign language sign for “eat.” Alex and I try to decipher her code, as per usual. “Apple? Toast? Hummus? Puffs?!” we call.

No. No. No. She shakes her head.

What is it, Emerson?!! What do you want?

“Mmmmmnnnttttpffffft!” She stamps the floor.

Just then, a package arrives at the door. I bring it in and place it on the kitchen floor. As I unpack the box, Alex tries to force a baby food packet into Emerson’s mouth after she insisted that he open it and subsequently refused to eat it.

Emerson is very interested in the now empty box. She decides to climb in. Amused by her new location, she opens her mouth and accepts the food Alex is offering. But, just as soon as we are relieved that she is finally eating, Emerson notices the new toddler forks that I am unwrapping. She once again closes her mouth and begins to flip out until I hand her a fork. She points. I give her another. She points again. I hand her a third. She gives us both a coy little smile and giggles, then begins to slurp down her food hungrily. As long as she is standing in a box, and holding three forks (and no less), she will eat.



So, we feed her…..while she is standing in a box, holding three forks.

This is our life.


Growing a family is the ultimate form of creation. What starts as two people joining their lives together becomes a living, breathing unit complete with its own personality, rules of operation, inside jokes, and shared history. Every new child, every act of parenting, every affection between members, every struggle and dysfunction shapes the experience of everyone within the unit. I mean, it’s really an incredible phenomenon.

aug13 fam family2

I’ve been thinking a lot about this ever since Emerson was born. Before, it was just me and Alex. We had our thing—our rhythm, our dynamics, our bond. And then, there was Em. Suddenly, this new little person entered our sovereign nation and it somehow felt as if she was always there. She belonged and claimed a part of our hearts that had unknowingly been set aside just for her all along. So, if she was always meant to exist, who else is waiting for us? How many more members are out there (or down…in my ovaries)? It boggles my mind to think about. And even more so, to know that I already love them the way I did Emerson.



These thoughts were put into overdrive when I met my new niece, the third child in her family, last weekend. I’ve watched three little girls come into this world and become a family with their parents….sisters become sisters….a unit become complete. And wow. Just WOW.

Subsequently, after watching these three girls in action, I feel like it’d be awesome to birth a 5-year-old instead of a newborn, because they are so great at taking care of younger siblings….and also, Emerson is much less threatened and jealous of older children sharing her mama.

Although, I must say, I felt I reached a new level of motherhood when I instinctually pulled out my breast to nurse my upset toddler while holding a newborn. She immediately relaxed and began giving the baby “gentle touches” instead of feeling threatened. A preview of things to come…..



A year of fathering

Someone once told me that in deciding whether or not a man was “the one,” I should ask myself this question: if we had children and some tragedy subsequently took me out of this world, would I want this man to be the one charged with loving and raising those children? At the time, I sort of understood what this wise woman was trying to say, but not really. Not until I had a child of my own. Not until the part of my brain was turned on that is used only for compiling lists of horrible, violent, depressing, tragic, or life scarring events that could possibly happen to my child (or to me, thus affecting my child).

Fortunately, I married a man that passed the “what if I die” test. Sure, if I weren’t around, my child’s clothes might not match, she might always walk around with her last meal still plastered across her cheeks, and there may be a few more bumps and scrapes due to all the wild fun going on without motherly supervision. But, the important things would definitely be there. Sometimes, I even imagine a life without me in it just to calm the irrational fears that attack my mind at random. And in that life, I see a little girl holding hands with her dad at the zoo, an unending array of tight hugs and wet kisses, bedtime stories and all-night snuggles, a girl being cheered on at soccer games, music recitals, and graduations, long, honest talks over coffee. I see a dad who does things his way (without me there to micromanage….wink), but always honors what he knows the mother of his children believed in and wanted for her babes.

And the beautiful thing is, Emerson has that life I’ve imagined. She has that dad. Yes, I managed to marry the right man—for me, and our child(ren). He will listen and understand, he will be humble and apologize when necessary, he will give of himself generously and with unrestrained love, and he will do his very best to support and guide his children toward the life they were meant to live. And, I get to be here to give myself to her too, and that’s just the best, most wonderful thing in the world.

So, “Happy Father’s Day” doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I wanted to say to my husband yesterday.

Thirteen months of Emerson

I guess I’m not quite ready to give up these monthly updates. It just seems that Emerson is changing more rapidly than ever before. I can’t keep up. So, I need a place to slow it down a little…

The past month has probably been the most exciting month yet. Certainly not the easiest….in fact, it’s been one of the toughest. But, the most exciting. We suddenly have this little person living with us—a walking, talking person full of character. After months of only being able to take a few steps, and then walking part-time, crawling part-time, Emerson finally gave up crawling all together.

The day I noticed Emerson was no longer taking breaks from walking by crawling was huge. In an instant, with a pair of new shoes placed on her feet for the first time, she was off and running. And part of me knows, she’ll never return. Not to the place and time when she was in my arms all day. Not to this sacred year (and nine months in utero) that she needed me to carry her. That moment woke me up to the reality that she is her own separate being. As obvious as that may seem, it’s not always so obvious to a mother. It can be difficult to distinguish the line that separates you and your babe when you share a body, or a breast, or a bed with them. But, there comes a day when it’s impossible to ignore. And it’s as thrilling as it is sad to realize. For I get to be an observer, watching my child blossom and create her own Universe. But, I will always want just one more sip of this unparalleled closeness.

But, back to the thrilling parts. Our little full-time walker is so amazingly joyful. I thought she was a happy baby when she learned to crawl, but O.M.G. I’ve never seen such excitement as I have when I set my baby toddler down in a field of grass. Or anyplace outdoors, really. She squeals and screams and toddles every which way until her feet are good and dirty. In fact, the bottom of her feet tell so many stories these days. Full of dirt, grass stuck in between toes=best day of her life.
There is much more than just walking going on around here, though. There is so much communication, and declarations of personality and independence (see her new form of personal expression here). There are new words daily, gestures and hand signals, and an array of facial expressions. Speaking of facial expressions, Emerson has learned how to scowl and it’s not only intense, but frightening. Can you see the sideways scowl?

Emerson has also developed a handy diversion tactic for times when she is caught doing something she is not supposed to. When she gets the “Emerson, what are you doing?” look from one of us, she immediately starts waving at us and saying, “hi, hi, hi!” over and over. As if to distract us with her enthusiastic welcome and cuteness. God help us.

Mostly, we are in awe of the person we created. The more Em develops, the more we are allowed the privilege of getting to know exactly who she is. And who she is is so beautiful that my heart can barely process it.

Emerson gets dressed

One of my favorite things about small children is the day they develop an interest in dressing themselves. It’s one of our earliest forms of expression, and oh, so precious—sometimes hilarious, sometimes shocking, but always interesting! I never thought Emerson would develop a love of clothing or her own signature style until she was a bit older, but she has been into the clothes for a few months now. And she has recently begun walking around the house in my clothes. She comes up with a way to “wear” each article and then stops every few minutes to adjust the way she’s wearing it. Her creations are so creative! And tell me you don’t agree that she is flat out posing in each “look!” She seems to think she’s on the runway without even knowing what one is….

I can’t wait to see what kind of getups she wants to wear to school someday…

New buddies

We’ve had a handful of stuffed animals lying around since Emerson was born. She has never been interested in any of them, though, save for the occasional play session with the ABC dog we (begrudgingly) inherited from her cousin. But, all of a sudden a couple of weeks ago, Emerson began falling in love with any animal or doll-type friend we put in her vicinity. Now she hugs them, plays with them, lies down on the floor and cuddles with them, and carries them around the house where ever she goes. She lights up with complete joy and begins laughing and clapping when she sees them. I’m telling you, it’s love.

All of this means that we now have extra company at the dinner table, in the car, on the changing table. Very often, Emerson will also refuse to eat unless her doggie is sitting with her….and singing. The minute the song loop on doggie ends, Emerson shuts her mouth and turns her head. The minute we hit the button and make it sing again, Emerson opens her mouth wide. Sigh…

Mostly, Emerson’s tightness with her new buds is pretty adorable. Yes, sometimes it’s difficult to do everything with an extra “baby” in tow. But, it’s so heart-warming to watch your child “love” other things and people….to see her giving out all of the love you worked so hard to put in. And right now, Emerson really wants to share this experience with me. It’s not so much about her being like sorry mom, I have my own life now, I’m gonna hang with doggie and dolly. No. It’s more like Emerson handing me her buddies after she’s done hugging them so I can see how awesome they are and hug them too. She loves to watch me cradle baby doll or pat teddy’s back when he gets hurt. She knows I will take care of them. She knows that if they are important to her, they are important to me. She knows. After twelve months of devoting myself to building a strong, loving foundation to my child’s being, I am beginning to catch glimpses of the result of all that effort. My baby has faith in my mothering…..she knows how to love, because she’s watched me love her.

Of course, it won’t always be this way. Emerson will soon grow attached to real, live buddies. And she won’t want to share that experience with me. Instead, she will tear across a playground, away from me, at the sight of her future buddies. They will be the bee’s knees and I will be….mom. This thought is so hard to accept, but it also presents itself as an opportunity. An opportunity to instill gentleness and kindness into my child. To love her, play with her, and share with her so she will do the same with others. To show her how to create relationships that will enrich her life and put a smile on her face. Because, I may be her Universe right now, but I want more than anything for her to go out into the world with an ever-widening support system that will hold her, encourage her and keep her company. These “buddies” are a first step…