At the end of the night

Slipping into bed at the end of the night is the glorious absolution at the end of the day. All is finished, all is forgiven. My back aches and my feet are heavy from carrying the weight of motherhood with me throughout the day. There is the satisfaction of a job well done, and the knowledge that tomorrow is another chance to try again. 

Every night there are toys scattered on and around my bed. Small cars driven into my room to see if I was finished getting ready yet. Books they had wanted me to read before the sun had even awoken. Figurines that had been launched at brothers during an already forgotten battle. 

During the day I look at these toys with annoyance. I pick them up time and again, until I eventually just ignore them and instead grumble about the incessant mess whenever I walk by it. When people tell you of the exhaustion of parenthood, you expect the sleepless nights and the emotional drain. No one tells you how many times a day you will bend over to pick something up. 

At night, however, these toys remind me of little offerings. Tiny bits of tribute at the end of a long and hard day.

I think I was a good mom today. There were hugs, and snacks and  homemade dinner and stories. That’s not true every day. Other days there is yelling and frustration and a desire to crawl into a bed that is very far from my own. 

On those nights, there are still toys scattered around the foot of my bed. Most likely they are accidental gifts of forgetfulness, but I tell myself they are small gifts of forgiveness.  


Sister Suffragette 

When I was 8, I wanted to be the first woman president of the United States. 

It was a sweet response, the one that would make parents beam and teachers pat you on the head. But now it strikes me as a bit sad that I had assumed no other woman would be elected president in the next thirty years, and indeed, it took nearly that long before one would. 

Now I will decidedly not be the first woman president, not only because I did not pursue a career in politics, but also because someone will beat me to it before I turn 35. 

The instances of sexism in my life have been rare, and thankfully mostly minor, or perhaps I’ve grown too accustomed to them to notice. My high school had no girls’ soccer team. A professor preferred male students. A few weeks into working at a day shelter for homeless people under the influence of alcohol and drugs, my boss told me, “I wasn’t sure about hiring you – I didn’t know if you could handle it as a woman.” A little down the road I was turned down for a job doing the work I had taught others to do during grad school because I was pregnant. The Human Resources representative that I talked to later assured me it was “all a misunderstanding” and encouraged me to reapply. I declined. 

In my school days, when I dreamed of becoming president, women were mere footnotes in history, side bars on the page. They were never central characters or part of the actual story, just side notes as clearly the contributions of cooking, cleaning, raising children (as if that was all women had ever done) were not as important as whatever the men were doing. And now that my days center around cooking, cleaning and raising children, there are dark moments where I wonder if what I do is worthless and if I will be forgotten once my sons have accomplishments of their own. 

When I was 16, I worked in the Senate and once held the door open for then Senator Hilary Clinton. She said thank you, and walked through heading towards her next important meeting. I burned the image into my brain – my own glimpse at history. 

I hope today there are no eight year old girls planning on becoming the first female president, or even the second. I hope my children will offer me confused looks when I try to explain to my kids that when I grew up there were no presidents of color, and never women either, just as I did when I heard there were days of separate drinking fountains and when women marched in the street so there voices could become part of history. 

I  pray for a world where my children  will be able to meet the demands of work and family without financial difficulties or fear they are letting one or the other down. I look forward to the day all children can actually become anything they want without being held back by their sex, skin or zip code. 

In two weeks, I am voting for a woman for president. In two weeks I will have to explain to my children why, for the first time, wearing that sticker has made me cry. 

A parable

Two people went to the church to pray. Both were me. 

I took my position and spoke this prayer to myself, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of the people on my Facebook feed – selfish, uncaring, ignorant. I eat organic twice a week, and donate money to major disasters when they hit mainstream media. I support the right causes, tsk tsk at the right injustices, and vote for the right candidates.”

But the other part of me stood off to the side, and prayed, “I offer concern for my neighbors across the world that is rarely coupled with action. I mean to donate money to causes and often forget. I buy what I want when I want, often without regard to the impact it has on creation. I donate tin cans filled with slop I would never eat. I drive my car without thinking about whose sacred homeland the gas has been pumped across, and whose lungs are left to breathe the air. I grow angry at injustice, yet I do not know my neighbors’ names. 

O God, have mercy on me, a human.”

In case you missed it

I’ve had a few published articles around the interwebs lately. Check them out! Or follow me on Facebook and Twitter so you never miss a beat.

On Scary Mommy: “How Donald Trump Affects Us as Parents”

On Parent.Co: “Debate Club: Should Schools be Nut Free?”

On Mamalode: “You Can’t Quit, You’re a Parent.”

Also on Mamalode: “Why We Keep Saying We Can’t Believe How Much They’ve Grown”

Thanks for following along!

October has its hold on me

October has its hold on me
It takes me by the hand,
Leads me through forgotten paths
Of strange and foreign lands.

The setting sun lets out a howl
On the whispered rising of the night.
Stars sing their sweet farewells
To its fading firelight.

The unclad trees stretch overhead
Swaying, surrounding me.
Wind whips through empty branch
Signaling for solemnities.

The forest knows what I do not
It hears of magic in the dark
And witnesses the silent odyssey
On which our souls embark.

But in this place I cannot stay
Lingering in its dusk.
We steal away to anointed lands
Footsteps fall in trust.

Fading colors

The colors roasting in the oven are the same as the ones fading outside my window. Red beets, orange sweet potatoes, green herbs softly turning brown.

Fall is here, and I am celebrating with a autumn breakfast, a harvest I did not plant, grow, or pick. My talents have always seemed to involve baking the bread to go on the side of the plate rather than coaxing the carrots to grow and claim their place in the center, so I rely on the skills of others.

The bacon now is sizzling on the stove. The sun has started to shine over the mountains, the leaves illuminated as they catch its rays, and my sons are beginning to rub sleep from their eyes. It is only morning, and already I long to hold onto this day, a day I did not create.

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow…. We are prophets of a future not our own.” These were the words written on the wall of the first home my husband and I shared together, painted by former residents to remind us that we do not have to do everything on our own. And that is our blessing – that we cannot.

I scrape the discarded peels into the compost bucket as news of the latest election scandal drones on in the background. This is my children’s world. What inheritance are we creating for them?

I am harvesting a world I did not plant and planting seeds I will not sow, hoping that one will yield more than the other.