Wherein I try to keep the seams from ripping apart, and fail.

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
Henry James

The Boy was riding his scooter, I was pulling the wagon. For nearly a mile the Girl had been screaming. One thing after another, just screaming because life is unfair. The world is totally unfair if you’re six. Or thirty-six. We waited at that terrible light, the one where the roads are shaped like a T, and we need to go from the top of the T across one of the arms to the base. And a man in a rattling POS went to run the red and then thought better of it, stopping with his back wheels on the crosswalk. A woman with her baby and I shared a knowing look from across the street.

Being in the box doesn’t matter to HIM, because all the cars need to turn.

But my son, who just starts going, my Boy needs to go around him, in front of the car like I’ve taught him–so that the car can see him–and is riding his scooter into traffic. STRAIGHT into the oncoming headlights.


I scream, and he hears me, my Boy stops, SOOO close to being a smear in the intersection.

MOVE BACK! You’re blocking the crosswalk.

I yell at the driver. He gives me a little wave and starts backing up without turning around.


The woman (with the baby stroller) yells, two inches from going behind him.


“I’m sorry,” I say, “I didn’t see you, I thought everyone went in front.” I didn’t mean it the way I can see NOW that it appears. I really was just terrified and could only see those headlights coming right for us. They are still there, my son a shadow between them. I am still waiting for the sirens.

“You would have killed us!” She was so angry at me, never looked at the car again. I don’t understand how I would have, since my foot was not on the gas.


I thought maybe now she was talking to the driver, but she was staring at me. I sputtered. I was still in shock. And the driver met my gaze. “You still need to back up,” I said. He sneered at me. It’s the sneer I’ve seen everywhere. On the news, in the paper. It’s the sneer that all men lately seem to be making at every woman. It is the sneer that says, you are worth shit, and at least that other woman knows it. (You can pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. But before the election old men kept telling me “you’re what is wrong with this country,” with that same expression.)

And so I pulled us onto the sidewalk, near my favorite part of our walk, the part where we can look over the bridge into the water and throw leaves to watch them drift down stream, over the little waterfalls.

And I cried.

And my little Boy was scared, and my little Girl was eating her lunch which she is too slow to eat at school, and I couldn’t stop crying. And then I did. Because as I tried to think of my Boy, who kept holding my hand and trying to rub my back, I tried to think of how to explain what was going on, and somehow it made it better.

“I thought you were going to die,” I said. “And I was so afraid.

“That woman was afraid, too. And so she was very mean. We are all so very afraid right now. Every one of us is just terrified.

“Being afraid is not an excuse to be mean to each other. Having someone be mean to me does not mean I should be mean to someone else.

“Right now, especially now, when we are all afraid, we need to be as nice to each other as we can.”

And it was the first time I’ve ever meant one of those crappy Hallmark-card things I’ve said to the kids. And I am trying SO HARD not to be a bitch (which another mom called me last week, for asking her to turn down her music at the park) or an asshole. And I am trying SO HARD to make sure that I was not awful in these situations. But, honestly, I’m so socially challenged that I have no idea. But two moms, calling me these names, in front of their own young children and mine… Please, let’s be nicer to each other.

The Boy just looked at me and said, “are you okay now?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him no.

Things I can control, and things I can’t

I am in control of whether or not my children have clean underwear. I am not able to control how the world treats them or their little friends.

I am able to give myself a shower. I am not able to make the world value me as a woman over thirty and overweight.

I am able to go to church, to teach my children right from wrong, to take my depression one day at a time, to volunteer to help others, to ride my bike. I am not able to pick my president and the values my fellow Americans hold.

I am able to stand. I am unable to stop crying.

#electionnight #election2016 still believe #lovetrumpshate

Geez, I wish he could remember to clean out his backpack

Church has been great for our family. We’re all loving going together, and the kids think it’s fantastic. I have things I want to say about it soon. But…

We’re setting Lev up for the therapist. I’m hoping that she’ll have suggestions for us, and that nothing will be … geez, what do I say here? Unfixable? I think he’s wonderful. But … he gets into trouble at school on a daily basis, he has no friends, he can’t let sentences go unfinished, he rushes through his work… The teacher told me I needed to work on his reading so that he’d be able to get through picture books at the first grade level while he was reading chapter books at home!

So, as I’m trying to explain all of this to the therapist we’re going to see first, I realize that the one thing I’m trying to get through is his ability to remember everything. Because how do I explain how frustrating that is? How do I explain how happy when I realized that wasn’t how Leni is? How much I wanted to kill my friends for promising to do something the following week, because my three-year-old would show up expecting that thing to happen. Of course they didn’t get it, because their child would forget about it within two minutes of it being promised. People would tell me that at the store they could put asked for things on a “wishlist” and prevent meltdowns. For me, it was just putting off the inevitable.

Four months ago there was a substitute who told Lev’s class he would bring in fruit by the foot for each kid if they behaved and finished their work (I know! I’m not super happy about this motivation style, but whatevs). They did. And I would hear about it every week. At least three times. He didn’t sound obsessive, just that he was being reminded of it somehow, the way I sometimes remember that I need to start the laundry while I’m at a friends house or grocery shopping.

And the teacher came back and Lev asked him about it. The teacher and students had no idea what he was talking about. I get the impression he needed to explain it for quite some time. You better believe that teacher brought in candy the next time he subbed. Thank goodness it happened, otherwise I’m pretty sure I’d hear about it for the entirety of the summer and next year.

And this was me. I still remember how I used to bug my aunt (Ah-nt, not Ant) for the $10 she promised me if I’d finish a puzzle she didn’t believe I could finish, but truly just to shut me up while she babysat.

And I don’t think it’s possible to truly explain how awful all this is. Especially because some kid stole his fruit-by-the-foot. And then two girls made fun of him for it the next Monday. And no one did anything until he threatened to punch them at recess. Because he wasn’t allowed to move from where he was. And I sort of get that. I lash out when cornered too.

But we need to help him. Because it’s hard enough to navigate getting older as it is, and he deserve a better map.


…open it up and here’s all the people.

Sunday 002I’ve started taking the kids to church. Okay, that’s not true. Phalene has started taking the FAMILY to church. It started with her fighting with her brother about God and asking if I believe in God why don’t we go to church.

And, well, beyond trying to explain to a five-year old how you were told to respect your parents even as you were trying to ask for help for his alcoholism; being told God was always with you, even when you cowered in your room hoping you wouldn’t be pulled down the stairs by your ear again, or hit or screamed at; after watching truly cruel people being welcomed while those you loved were turned away for who THEY loved… beyond never feeling like I had a place in the Catholic Church… it was just easier to pick up and go. To hope that we can allow her to make her own choices.

My little girl who asks me to turn off the radio in the car so God can talk to her.

But it is hard. We have chosen a denomination that welcomes all, but which doesn’t think homosexuality fits in with Christian teachings and so does not allow homosexual leaders. And if I have any belief in God, it is as a God who would have no opinion on who you love whatsoever. Really.

But the other problem: there is a strong missionary bent. And, the other strong feeling I have about God is that He loves all his children, even those who do not call out in the same voice, that there is no One Way to Love Him and that we are cruel and self-aggrandizing when we say we have all the answers. I will need to work on this.

Otherwise, I am loving church. I love this particular church, where the sermon goes into the history of the reading, where people walk around to share the Peace of the Lord, where we all sing. I love talking with everyone after church oer treats. I love that the kids go to Sunday School and learn scripture. Because, in the end, I do think this is important, even if I don’t believe everything happened as it is written, I believe it is the Word of God, and that what He had to say was important, though maybe it has been mistranslated over the millennia.

Is that wrong? And Levi goes to church and does not believe, and I have told him to keep that to himself. And … well, I’m not trying to teach my seven-year old to lie, but maybe just to not speak out unless asked directly. Because it is disrespectful.

I don’t know. I think that maybe having this internal struggle every week isn’t the worst thing I could be doing. And I think the kids learning to be good to other people for reasons other than “I said so” is a good idea.

And, well,  maybe I really like the little girl getting messages from God.

Taming the Mommy-Monster

I don’t know how to write about motherhood. I don’t know how to write about my own motherhood. How to write about the fear I feel whenever I’m angry, or how embarrassed I am when I yell at my kids.

I’ve started turning those yells into jokes, making a mommy-monster, and getting giggles. And the looks of fear that are so terrible have started to go away. We’ve worked through it. But I still have had those moments where I try to scare my kids so that they’ll listen. So that they’ll know who’s in charge. Who’s in control.

But when I remember, I realize I’m not fooling anyone. No one is in control in those moments. And certainly not me.

So we giggle and I say, “but really, I need you to do this for me…” Which sounds a lot better than counting. And usually it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it does defuse the situation, and sometimes that’s really what we needed.

I do not think I’m a bad mother.

I am a bad housekeeper. And I am not a great cook, but most of the time I’m a pretty decent mom. I teach my kids how to respect other people, to respect their boundaries and their desires. I teach them how to live their own lives so that they will be happy without making other people unhappy. Which I believe is how we should all live. If everyone lived the life you live, could we all get along? Works for a whole mess of things: littering, smoking in crowded public areas, screaming at the top of our lungs when other people have asked us to be quiet, etc. And I show them love every day. I touch them in loving ways. I accept being hugged and kissed, even when it’s the last thing I want. I give them things but not everything.

But sometimes I just get so angry and I yell. Sometimes I get so annoyed with having to be touched All The Time, when I don’t want to be touched all the time. … and that’s okay. We’ll fix the yelling and I’ll get them to do something other than touch me.

But at least I’m not an alcoholic. At least my kids haven’t learned to look out for which mom I might be today, to listen to the way my footsteps sound, or the slurring of my voice, or the fear in the people around me. They don’t see broken doors and broken cabinets. They haven’t been surprised by a new car every few months because the last one has been crashed. Their lives are a little more secure. And they’ll never know any different. They’ll never know how envious I am of that. And how much I hate my envy. How guilty it makes me feel.

And maybe that’s okay. Maybe I’m allowed a bit of guilt. Maybe I can allow the 5 year old me to stomp her feet and pout a bit. For not leaving the house late at night. For choosing a real daddy. For choosing a real mommy who isn’t angry all the time.

themartenmomma: I sit in my bathroom in the dark because if I…


I sit in my bathroom in the dark because if I turn on the light I’ll find all the things I can cut myself with.


I don’t know how to deal with emotions, especially frustration, without time to myself. I don’t know how to explain what I need to keep myself emotionally healthy. I am working so hard at building up these habits, but without help and time to myself I just … lose it.

Is my kid suffering from anxiety?

I’m having a hard time with my son. My awful neighbor has asked “what’s wrong with him” and now I really just need to accept the fact that his reactions are a bit outside of the norm. He cries a lot. He flips out. He’s a bit of a firecracker. He’s just … sensitive. Seriously I really just need to do something.

But of course it’s my fault. Because it is, right, always the mother’s fault. And maybe it is, because I am ACOA and don’t know how to do this. I don’t know what normal parenting looks like. And I need to figure that out.

It’s a vicious cycle. I know he’s worse when he doesn’t get enough attention from me, but when he’s like this I really don’t want to be around him. Which is unfair, since I’m the adult. But I need space. And the thing with having kids is that you never get space again. So in working with him I really need to work with me: force myself to do the things I don’t want to do. Like play with a kid who has been screaming at me and telling me how much he hates me and throwing rocks at cars and telling me he’s “fine!” I need to accept that it’s just what needs to happen.

So I’m reading this book, Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Worries, and Phobias, and hoping it will help. Anyone have any other ideas? I could seriously use something other than my nosey neighbor telling me to make my seven year old nap.

Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.

I stood up for my son today. It was hard, and embarrassing, but I still did it. And in the end it felt good and right and proper. It was the school’s open house night. And we saw in his classroom that there was a “calm down castle” which is just plain awesome. It’s a cardboard box that reminds me basically of the solitary confinement in The Bridge over the River Kwai or The Great Escape or something like that. But, it really was great, it had things to touch and focus on. And we’ll probably make it for ourselves.

So Levi was having a difficult time later on in the evening, it was well past bedtime and it was a long day with swim class and no real downtime. And a dad from his class turned to his son and said “looks like that boy over there needs a calm down castle.” Yes, okay, that’s right. The boy looked up and said, “who Levi?” “Yeah, Levi.”

And this was totally unfair. Yes, my son needed some way to calm down. But he has a difficult time sometimes in his class. He is an emotional kid. And we all work on it. We use meditation and talk about saying “yes” to “no.” And no one tries harder than Lev.

And the last thing he needed was some dad reinforcing the idea to his son that there’s something wrong with him. And so I told him. I told him it had been a long day and we just moved, and the last thing he needed was someone to point out that he needed a calm down castle to one of his classmates.

And he apologized, which I thought was pretty big of him.

I am all for pointing out the actions of others as teachable moments, ACTIONS. Not feelings, or dress, or appearance or anything else but actions. And only with strangers, unless it’s a class or something, and in such a way that no one hears that’s involved with the person. I overstepped this the last time I did it, thinking they group had passed us by, which was embarrassing, but … it was still an action, a kid not sharing. And I did it to point out, “when you are not taking turns all the time, this is what it feels like to be on the other side of that.” I got called out, but seriously, I wasn’t trying to be loud enough to overheard.

And when the kids notice someone having a difficult time I do my best to tell them we all have tough times. And I want everyone to cut my kids some slack. At least when it comes to being able to controlling emotions.

Am I wrong? I would love to “fix” my kid to make it easier on him, but I love him just the way he is. Being emotional is so hard. And it will only get worse as life goes on. He didn’t hear what the dad said, but what if that boy went into class tomorrow and told Levi what his dad said? What if he passed it on to his little friends?

I know it’s just that it reminds me of all my friends talking when I was little and no longer being able to come to my house because my dad drank too much at my party. And it may have been fair for them not to be allowed at my house, but their parents talked so much about my family in front of them. There were so many secrets, so many whispers, and so much talking about things that kids just don’t understand the true meaning of. And none of it was necessary. You do not ever need to gossip in front of your kids.

… I totally made it so they’ll gossip about what a blowhard I am, didn’t I? Made it even worse?

Can I just take my two little loves and live in the woods and never take them around people again?

Do all sleeping kids smell like vomit?

Okay, real time here: Why do my children smell like vomit when I open their rooms at night to say check on them? They don’t usually smell badly. But that room … I clean their sheets, they’re not always sweaty, and it’s any time during the year. Even after a shower. The room just smells like sick. We leave the door closed until I kiss them again before I go to bed, and then we keep the door open. I don’t think there’s a lack of air …

It’s nice when the ER doc compliments your child for being awesome.

Spent the evening in the ER with Levi. He has never been around coffee tables, so of course when he saw one in the home we will close on tomorrow, he decided to try to put his head through it. I have to say that we are so lucky to live in a great place where emergency care is available so easily and relatively quickly.

I swear I could see his skull…

I don’t actually think that he was up to nefarious things, I think he just tripped on the rug, but man, it was hard to not know how he fell.