Tag: children

Cian Turns Six and Has Questions: Maybe He’ll Help Me Figure Out the Answer to Some of Them

Cian Turns Six and Has Questions: Maybe He’ll Help Me Figure Out the Answer to Some of Them

Cian has a bit of a speech impediment–if you’ve just met him, you might have some trouble understanding his “th” sounds, say–but that doesn’t stop the child from talking, usually constantly, usually about thirty different topics in the span of as many seconds. Last Saturday, 

The Transition from Full-Time Mom to Working Writer (Mom): Settling In

The Transition from Full-Time Mom to Working Writer (Mom): Settling In

I’ve been staring at my laptop screen for the past five minutes, trying to think of something to say. It happens a lot. The blank stares. The empty right brain. I’m outside on the back deck right now, squinting through the sunshine at the computer 

Because the Mountain Will Always be There

Saoirse was home sick from school today, which meant no basketball practice for her tonight. David was off to Connecticut for work for a couple of days, so I held court at home, getting water and making eggs-in-a-nest and kissing warm foreheads. I snuck in some writing, but today, I did a lot of…sitting. And it was okay.We picked up Quinlan from school later this afternoon, and the ride home along the cold, wet streets was calm. Even Cian was quiet, for the most part, and Quinlan and Saoirse were tucked into the books they keep in the car. Back home, the simplicity continued: homework was out of the way early and kid pajamas were on by four. By 4:30 I’d abandoned plans to cook a chicken soup and placed an order for Panera delivery (one upside to living within walking distance to allllll of the chains). By 5:30, the kids had eaten, dinner had been cleaned up, and we were all under blankets in the living room, with a fire roaring and a candle lit and Ella Enchanted playing on the TV. Like Quinlan said, it was easy to forget it was a school night.

It was the absolute most perfect afternoon. We needed this today. We needed time to slow down. We needed, frankly, time to stop. We’ve been hurtling along, and lately we haven’t had much of a chance to figure out why we’re in such a hurry.

What I noticed, though, tonight, was a change in me. In my almost 10 years of parenting, I’ve never been able to slow down without feeling the low drumming of anxiety coursing through me–the chores not being done, the to-do list not being checked off. I feel that if I’m not on top of everything, it will all shift out from under me. But do you want to know the truth? It does all shift. Of course it does. I am not, nor ever will be, on top of everything: my to-do list has a backlog. The house gets–and stays–messy even when we’re trying our hardest. Paperwork still piles up, dirty laundry still makes its way to the kids’ floors and bathrooms and hardly ever the hampers. The writing–the writing–is always, always there, waiting for me to pick up pen and paper again and get back to it. It’s never finished.There’s always a mountain to climb.

But for the first time, this week, I’ve just stood at the base of it and said, okay. The mountain will still be there tomorrow. And I went about my day with these children of mine, mindful of its presence, but not worried by it.

That has never happened before with my honest acceptance.My kids are so tall now. The girls’ hair is growing long, which makes both of them ridiculously happy. When they curl up on the couch, their limbs go everywhere, spilling out over the cushions like spaghetti noodles falling out of the bowl. Quinlan talked my ear off today: asking about romance, asking about knitting, telling me about braiding and her friend Natalie’s cartwheels. Quinlan is always overshadowed by Saoirse’s first-born dominance and Cian’s, well, four-year-oldness. Meanwhile, she’s pulling in perfect test scores and building friendships and reading everything in sight. I heard her today. Without the drumming.

My kitchen island is covered with papers and catalogs and school worksheets right now. I still have dishes I have to put into the dishwasher–it’s 9:08 p.m.–and I need to do all the nighttime chores that David usually takes on without complaint (looking at you, taking out the dog in 38-degree temperatures). The house is not exactly Visitor Ready, which is how we try to leave it at night. I look at my schedule for tomorrow, and it’s… a lot. And I’m forging ahead with a new approach to Book 3, which is exciting and time-consuming and, as always, pulls me away from the regular rhythm of “normal” life. 

But I type that without the usual panic. I don’t know why it’s so. But we took a break today. It was a good break. The mountain is still there and I’m standing at the base of it, but it doesn’t seem to scare me at this moment.

It’s a good feeling. And I’m rested and willing to get back to climbing it tomorrow. Which, I suppose, is progress after all.

They All Said, Don’t Blink: A Farm Market Causes an Existential Parenting Crisis

Our girls don’t have soccer games scheduled for the upcoming weekend, so most of their practices this week were cancelled (wait, do you hear the choir of angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus, too??). We’ve been running nonstop this fall with soccer and school and family activities (I’m 

Well, I Know What’s Right: Las Vegas and Ethics and Being a You Liberal

My little guy is sitting beside me, drawing, and his tongue is sticking out of his mouth in concentration. “Mom?” He looks up from his coloring sheet, one covered with superheroes and villains. “Why is Ironman called that when he doesn’t do any ironing?” I 

Long Eyes: On Seeing the Big Picture (and Not Embarrassing the Kids)

It’s Thursday, and the weather has finally cooled enough here that you can walk outside without the humidity slobbering all over you like a drunk date. David drove the girls to school this morning, so Cian and I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood before I got ready for work (more on that in another post–I’m still writing from home, but my approach to it has changed). As we rounded the block, Cian was looking for our house–he really wanted to know what the back of it looked like from down the hill. Finally, he spotted it: “There it is! That’s our house, right?” Now, I’ve needed glasses since I was five. “You can see that far?” I asked, totally impressed–and maybe a little jealous–by this kid of mine with perfect vision.”Yup!” he said. He was skipping. “I have long eyes.”

Long eyes. Oh, to have long eyes.

For the past few months, whenever I’ve sat down to write something here, I’ve stalled. I write half-finished drafts that never get posted, or stare at the screen long enough that my eyes lose focus, or more often, just get up and walk away. I’ve been working on Book #3 (Book #2–called A Version of Lucky–is being shopped to publishers), so that has something to do with it: when I’m writing fiction, it’s hard for me to transition out to write about, you know, life. My sugar-addled brain can only handle so much.

There’s another concern, too: the girls are already old enough that I can’t write whatever I’d like about them anymore. It’s mainly Quinlan. She broke her collarbone right before the school year started, and on one of the very first days, she came stomping down the parking lot, her sling tugged across her chest in some sort of indignant fury: “MOM. Why did that grown-up tease me about JUMPING OFF THE FURNITURE? MOOOOOOOMMMMM!” 

(I may have posted something on Facebook about her leaping across the dining room chairs two days after she cracked the bone. Honest, I just thought it was funny.)

I need to figure out what to do here. Before, with my “short eyes,” I would take this blog day by day, and just jot down the stories I fell on as they happened. But now, with two kids away from me most of the day and evening, and one of those kids already into the tween hormones (actually, that one is the one who doesn’t mind the stories–Saoirse thinks I’m making her famous), I have to figure out what to do here.

So, long eyes, guys. I’ve always been someone whose best decisions were made by the seat of her pants: marrying David. Becoming a teacher. Joining U2. (Okay, that one isn’t true). But this writing thing–the blog, the books, maybe the teaching again–needs shaping. It needs me to look at it from all angles, including from way down here at the bottom of the hill. I’ve got to work on being able to stretch myself to see a bit further than I do now.

I’ll still be writing about the kids, of course. I mean, how can I not? But don’t tell Quinlan I told you that. 

Something tells me she’d rather I keep this to myself.






Get the Message, Already

“Hey,” I said to David on Saturday. “Let’s try to go to the 9:45 mass tomorrow so we can have the rest of the day to ourselves, okay?” “You think you can do that?” he asked. “Um, yeah,” I said. I was super sweet about 

But Not So Fast: The Oldest is Nine

Our Saoirse Kate turned nine a couple of weeks ago, and I’m still recovering. (Just kidding. I only cried twice.) (In one day, I mean. I only cried twice in one day.) She is now just a foot shorter than where I stand at five-nine,