the daily thing

I’m sweaty from running C to school in the stroller, breakfast dishes are still on the table, I’m hungry, and I need a shower before my 9am call.

But I told my friend Wig I would do a 21-day writing challenge. Because I can’t run away from needing a daily writing practice any longer. Every writing teacher will tell you that if you want to be a writer, you need a daily writing practice. Well, I’ve always bristled at the notion of a daily anything.

As soon as I think, “this [fill in the blank] is good for me, I should do it every day!” my internal debate cranks up: “…unless I really don’t feel like it, or if something urgent comes up, or if I need a break, I can give myself permission to skip.” And then I don’t really do it at all.

My first blog was called “I should be writing” and contained 2-3 posts. No, maybe 1 post!

Yes, life is BUSY. But I can do 20 minutes. I can.

Every day, I get up at 5:30am and feel overwhelmed by the options–meditate? exercise? pack lunches? read? meal plan? drink lemon water? sip coffee? work? write? It’s the only time of the day that’s just for me, and lately I’ve been absolutely squandering it looking at who knows what my phone. (When I give myself zero downtime, this is how I “act out.”)

I crave the satisfaction of knowing that I’m not running away from my thing.

I’m in the middle of several writing projects and ideas so half the battle is figuring out which to focus on. This blog is one of my writing projects! I’m amazed that it’s still rolling along after almost TEN YEARS! So grateful you’re still out there listening.

My sister started a daily podcast. She’s so awesome at it. I can see her momentum building and her ideas flowing and she hasn’t even officially launched it yet but it’s already taking her to exciting new places. And it’s DAILY!

That’s what I want.

Figuring out where this fits in my day is a true puzzle. But I have to start. I GET to start.

And now I’ve (re)started! xo


idea list

On Friday, my newly-minted second-grader came home with a homework assignment: come up with 10 story ideas from your personal experience.

In the instructions, the teacher made it clear that parent(s)/guardian(s) should help with the brainstorming, but the child should actually write out the list. As such, we decided to keep the story ideas short–but with enough information to trigger the actual story in E’s mind.

The teacher also asked her students to keep the ideas very specific: instead of writing about a whole vacation, write about the moment you found a jellyfish on the beach. Instead of the whole watermelon, write about a seed.

As we started to brainstorm, I had the passing thought that it might be hard to come up with 10 interesting stories, especially given the limitations of the past 1.5 years.

Nope. E’s list looked like this:

  1. sturgeon
  2. kindergarten table
  3. sting ray
  4. vulture
  5. spider door
  6. spider bed
  7. goal
  8. turtle
  9. aunt nose
  10. monarchs

This exercise taught me a lot. Here are 10 things I got from it:

  1. I consider myself an experienced writer–yet I can still learn a lot from a simple second-grade exercise.
  2. Animals factor into most of E’s story ideas–animal stories are the most fascinating and meaningful to him at this stage of life. I’m excited for him that he’s so excited about them.
  3. Even if you’ve only been alive for 7 years and have spent the past 1.5 years largely at home in a pandemic, you have interesting stories. Everyone has interesting stories!
  4. There was one story on the list that I had never heard before: “kindergarten table.” When E was in kindergarten working on a math problem (“a problem that would be so easy now”), he got really frustrated with it, banged the table with his hand, and broke the table! Wow! The janitor had to be called! This news took almost two years to reach me. Interesting stories are happening to our children all the time and we don’t even hear about some of them. He told me he must have gotten busy and forgotten to tell me about that one.
  5. It took us less than 10 minutes to come up with 10 story ideas. I was surprised by how effortlessly the ideas popped into both of our heads. And now, when E has to write a story at school, he doesn’t have to waste time on wondering what to write about. Deciding what to write ahead of time is an awesome idea. (I usually don’t do this.)
  6. E has memories back to age 2. The sting ray story took place in San Francisco and we moved to Chicago when he was 2.5. (Then again, the story is about how the sting ray “attacked” him, so…)
  7. Sometimes it’s all in the title. You would read a story called, “That Time I Accidentally Broke my Aunt’s Nose at the Playground,” wouldn’t you?
  8. This exercise inspired me to write this post after a months-long hiatus. I also recently stumbled across this amazingly inspiring quote of Martha Graham (speaking to Agnes de Mille): “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” Stop doubting yourself and write, self (I need to hear this as much as anyone). Or paint or dance or sing or teach or organize or whatever it is you’re called to do. Even if you’re only 7!
  9. I’ll do this brainstorm with C too, since I now realize she’s going to have an amazing list.
  10. I love lists.

See you soon, lovebugs xo


february notes

I’m sitting at the dining room table in a silent house. Refrigerator humming. Cars splashing by occasionally out front. A foot of buttercream snow covers the houses and bushes and yards–we’re living in a snow globe.

The freshly-made coffee sitting beside my laptop has milk in it. After going nearly a week drinking black coffee (because we were out of milk, because for some reason milk from Fresh Thyme goes bad a week before its date), this feels like a great luxury. We really have to notice luxuries right now.

It’s February, a famously tough month for people in a normal year. It’s gray, the cold drags on, the holidays are over. This year, we’re 11 months into a pandemic. People keep on getting Covid. I had a work call yesterday with someone who lost her father and grandfather. Meanwhile, I’m starting to see Facebook acquaintances posting photos of large-group gatherings of people posing as if times were normal, aka no masks, no distance. A birthday, a memorial service, sitting around tables in a restaurant eating, big, unabashed smiles. I can’t fathom this. I’m starting to experiment with double-masking.

We have a new president (omg I couldn’t believe how much crying I did on inauguration day), now we’re flailing around trying to get relief to people so desperate for it and the Rs are exposing themselves as the truly hideous people they always were. It’s been a relief not to hear about that other horrible guy who moved to Florida but indeed he was simply the one who gave them permission so now we’ll see the fallout. Hopefully the relief will come, the vaccines will make their way to those who need it most.

We’re chugging along. My own weird physical symptom of longtime quarantine, winter, and stress is that I somehow displaced a rib without any obvious injury… I was sitting down to read to my kids at bedtime when I felt a pinch in the center of my back, which graduated along my side with muscle spasms and acute pain for 10 days before I got to a chiropractor. Three weeks and 3 chiro visits later, it’s…the same. Is this aging? Does it simply take forever to heal an intercostal muscle tear? Am I a medical mystery? I live on ibuprofen every six hours and I’m not exercising at all. The whole thing is very unsatisfying.

E’s school started in-person hybrid classes yesterday and I opted to keep him home. The school re-opening debate is so contentious in all respects (I can hardly stomach the threads in mom groups on this) but I’m glad that here in our village we were given options. We could opt to go or stay home. Yesterday morning, when I peered into his iPad to see how many kids were in the classroom, I saw only four–and I felt thrilled for his teacher!

At this point, it’s only in-person 8am-12pm then they come home to do 1-3, kids Zoom from their desks, and the teachers aren’t vaccinated yet. There may be a new plan starting March 1 so we’re hanging tight to see. If I can avoid kid pickups at noon AND 3pm, my work day will be better off. Also, E is doing fine at home. Yesterday he surprised me by adding 7 + 7 + 7 etc. all the way up to 84. He’s starting to get engrossed in reading about things like frogs and interrupts me during work calls to announce cool facts. He hit his goal of being a “Seesaw Rockstar” 5 days in a row so I ordered him a Robot Dog ($12 from Walmart)–he’s very motivated by a reward system like this. He’s angling for the next one. He sort of wants to go back to school but has expressed that he will really miss watching YouTube Kids during all the breaks. Yep.

C is suddenly a big girl. She sleeps like a real kid now (aka deeply and through the whole night until after 7). When she wakes up, she gets herself dressed and comes out looking like this, making my heart explode with pride:

The other night at dinner, she started telling us about a new boy in her class at preschool named “Mylove.” Now, it’s possible that that’s his name. But my guess is that that’s what the teacher calls him (“Put your boots on, my love”) and how cute is that?? She also said that he’s “thirty-eight years old” so who knows.

These are precarious times for so many people. We have to try to notice when our stress starts to send us messages through our bodies (chronic pain, sleep issues, mood swings) and take time for ourselves. I’m not doing a good job at this even though I know the power of breathing exercises, meditation, gratitude journaling, stretching…

At least try to drink enough water, friends. And know that you are loved.



life right now

These are strange times. It’s the peak (here’s hoping) of the pandemic and we’re in the days between the (second) impeachment and the inauguration. (As someone on Twitter said, “I can’t believe it’s time for another impeachment already–I feel like I just took down my decorations from the last one.”)

I wanted to try to capture what life feels like right now, because I know I’m not the only one feeling this weird mix of emotions.

In the past two months, Biden won the presidency by a landslide. Dems flipped the Senate. We have an effective vaccine and I already know many people who’ve been vaccinated and/or have an appointment (including my parents!!).

There’s so much to celebrate and lots of reasons to be hopeful.

But but but. This is all happening against a backdrop of thousands of deaths per day, so many people (everyone?) stressed and/or sick, and then: a horrifying attack by white supremacists on the U.S. Capitol.

As 2021 approached, everyone was so excited to turn the page on 2020. But even on New Year’s Day, I knew the memes were coming… 2021 is the same. 2021 is worse.

Lots of hopes pinned on the Georgia election–and then the joy of that victory was obliterated by the dismay and horror of watching the Capitol under siege.

One week later, yes–of course glad to see the president impeached a second time but it felt…empty to me. Anti-climactic. Pelosi signed and walked out. It was the right thing to do but nothing to feel happy about. Millions of Americans have lost their minds.

In my daily life, I’m in a fog. That’s not exactly it… It’s more like I feel like I’m putting the usual amount of effort into my work and my daily goals (which is, you know, a lot) but not much is coming of it. I can’t seem to make sense of my inbox. Yesterday I really tried to get through all of the messages and only got through the letter “K.” And it’s not like I’m just sitting there watching the news either… I’m just not productive. I’m unfocused. I’m all over the place.

I can’t remember how to do basic processes, can’t remember the history or who’s the contact person or what’s the due date. I’m always on the wrong line of a spreadsheet. I’m reaching for easy and obvious words and not thinking of them.

This morning I put the oatmeal away in the refrigerator.

After spending a lot of winter break organizing, purging, and ordering stuff we needed, we somehow couldn’t find the basic hats, mittens, snowpants, etc. etc. to get out the door for a playground meetup on Sunday. (yes, I lost my temper)

I feel antsy and itchy.

And, starting today, my new workday soundtrack is the ukelele that I ordered for E for Christmas that took over a month to arrive via the U.S. Postal Service and got here yesterday. I told him he can play it while at school, to help him sit still. Play only while on mute. Keep the ukelele out of the picture.

The constant strumming is not helping my brain function!

If you’re feeling any of this too, let me give you the advice I need to hear today:

Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Go easy. Make it “good enough.” Watch a mindless show and take a bath. This will all keep changing and evolving. Soon we’ll feel the warmth of the first rays of sunlight of a new era.

In the midst of all of it, the kids are doing well. C turned 3 (amazing Daniel Tiger cake baked by her cousin) and E lost one of his front teeth. (OF COURSE the tooth fairy forgot to come but $5 showed up under the pillow later that morning)

Hang in there, grown-ups.



2021: and we’re back

This morning, I emerged from the fog of 2020 into the promise of 2021 and found myself here, back on my blog. After quite a long hiatus (let’s say… 7 months?).

I just said “Happy New Year” to E and he said, “Yay!” then “Well, not exactly yay.” And I know what he means, even though he was distracted and couldn’t elaborate on what he meant by that. Kids are good at boiling things down and not even knowing why.

While I do not mean for this to be a retrospective (because who wants to relive 2020), it was pretty uniquely terrible. Living through a time of so much suffering, so much loss, so much dangerous and distressing political drama… A time of little to no child care while work doesn’t stop. A time of fear and guilt and blame over whom we see and don’t see. And all of this while we are relatively fine, in our safe bubble of privilege, ability to work and do school from home, good health care, etc.

The “not exactly yay” part comes from the fact that we’re still in the middle of it.

And here’s a big giant however: HOWEVER, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it makes a huge mf-ing difference.

My kids recently went back to listening to Circle Round, a charming WBEZ storytelling podcast. They listened to it constantly last March/April/May, which, for me, was the worst part of 2020. There was so much we didn’t know and it felt like it could be YEARS of lockdown. Plus work got really busy, my kids had almost nothing to do, and every day was a marathon of competing needs.

Now, when the sweet theme song of Circle Round comes on, I have mild to moderate PTSD.

Back then, we didn’t know much about the disease, we didn’t know if Trump would be re-elected (and/or stage a coup or some other alarming nonsense), we didn’t know how long the vaccine would take.

Now a new presidential administration is coming in (not a minute too soon), people are already getting vaccinated, and masks work. We have every right to be hopeful about the coming year! (and yes I intentionally wrote this before getting hit with a ‘2021 already sucks’ post somewhere online this morning)

We have so much grieving to do. 300k+ people didn’t survive, more are still sick or long-haulers. The pandemic has more fully exposed so many weaknesses in our society, primarily the racism embedded in our systems of education, healthcare, criminal “justice,” extreme poverty… there’s so much work to be done.

But, if you’re reading this, you did survive, and we can look ahead. And get to work on healing.

We learned a lot in survival mode. I know that the minute I have full-time child care again and/or both kids out of the house for any length of time, I can move mountains. I can accomplish great things. I can be incredibly focused and productive and still have time leftover for dishes and meditation and a run. And we’re getting closer to that moment, but we’re not there yet.

As the clock struck midnight, I’d been asleep for two hours already. But I did some chicken scratches earlier in the day about my intentions for the coming year. And I have too many. I’m craving newness like never before. It’s a lot of typical stuff about exercise and drinking water and reading audiobooks.

But the main one that is relevant here is that I wrote down something like “free my voice.” During this time of not seeing people, and not finding much time to talk on the phone, my main social outlet has been social media. And I have kind of a constrained voice on social media. I appreciate it very much as a passive consumer as I keep updated on other people’s news. But my shares are limited and don’t contain much content. In short, for the first time in my adult life, I haven’t been writing.

I’m also an extrovert. Fortunately, I have two little humans who give me lots of interpersonal connection and bodily contact. I also am on the phone all day with talented and smart co-workers. And we Facetime a lot with family. But I MISS MY FRIENDS. I miss making new friends. I miss developing friendships. All my friend timelines of who called last and how long ago are broken. I’m out of touch with everyone–and I’m never out of touch with everyone.

Which is why I’m back here, freeing my voice again, which is a much friendlier way of saying, “I should really be writing” (which was the title of the first blog I ever started and then never did anything with). Writing is my path. And it’s a way I connect with people. I put it out there, and sometimes things come back. Both the act of putting it out there and the connections that bounce back are nourishing. I don’t know where it will take me, but at least I’m on the path. (Oh, and I recommend watching the new Pixar movie, “Soul,”–the meaning of life IS the path, living life on the path–never the destination.)

I’m also starting a journal again. Man, I have boxes and shelves of filled-up journals but haven’t journaled since the babies came along (and E is now 6.5). In the end, it helps me know what I think and get out of the whirlwind of thoughts.

“Freeing my voice” also pairs nicely with a past New Year’s blog topic I wrote about, maybe just a year ago?, titled “New Year, More Me,” because you never have to make yourself new. You don’t need to be like someone else. You just do you, and that’s it. You’re the one who will be the best at this. Unharness the you-ness.

To make time for this, I’m going to stop putting away toys. (Just kidding, I’m literally going to publish this post and then try to unscramble a few puzzles that are intermixed across the living room floor).

I wish you and your families a hopeful 2021 and send you lots of love! xo


Talking about race in all the spaces

I was just getting into the groove of occasional pandemic blogging when George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis. The world was already on fire before it happened, but this event took us to another level of anguish and devastation. Millions of people expressed their collective outrage as they took to the streets to protest yet another horrific killing of a Black person by the police. A huge awakening was and is taking place as more and more people are committing to taking action to dismantle racism in this country.

I stopped writing in here. There are always many reasons not to get around to writing (see: single working mom with two little kids at home in a pandemic), but after a while it dawned on me that I was very much paralyzed on the topic of race- couldn’t go on without writing about it, but unsure how to write about it in this space, thus far dedicated to capturing details of my life as a solo (white) mom.

I wasn’t sure what to write about racial injustice (who wants to hear a white lady’s interpretation of all this?). But I also couldn’t go on writing about my usual topics of day-to-day cute kid stuff as if nothing ever happened; with no acknowledgement of the uprising taking place, of continued police brutality, of the sickening racist systems on which our nation is built. Of all that we can and must do.

I’ve watched many a Facebook group melt down over this in recent weeks–someone posts, “Do we have to talk about that here?” And then all hell breaks loose.

Well, I don’t expect all hell to break loose here, because it’s my blog and I can write whatever I want. But I now realize that yes, mamas. We have to talk about it here and in every space we’re in, because it’s related to everything and we have to stop pretending it’s not. Silence communicates ignorance, apathy, or (at worst) conscious complicity. I’m creeped-out and nervous in that space of silence and I’m no longer OK with it, I’m no longer giving silent people the benefit of the doubt. So that’s why I’m writing about it here, because I have a small platform, and because otherwise I’m not sure I can continue writing here at all.

I posted on a local single mom Facebook group on this topic, because no one had posted about it, and I was getting that creepy feeling– like, who’s in here? Are there Trump supporters here [gag]? And if I’m feeling uncomfortable, how are the Black moms feeling about this silence?

I wrote something and deleted it. Wrote something and deleted again. Spent two hours revising a post and chickening out and deleting AGAIN. I admitted to myself that I was terrified–of saying the wrong thing, of making it about me (“centering”), of “virtue signaling” or”performative allyship” and every other thing that clueless white people do when discussing race. I also had no idea who I was dealing with in there and what responses might be coming my way. I could imagine someone posting a comment like “All lives matter” or worse, sending me completely over the edge.

I phoned a friend who is good at this stuff and she encouraged me to go ahead and post. I did. The post acknowledged the painful time we’re in, that I personally have a lot of work to do to be a better ally to BIPOC, and that I’m learning. I asked how other white moms are thinking about our role in making change happen and how they’re getting involved. And how we can make the next generation better by raising anti-racist kids.

I also addressed the Black mamas and those raising Black children (and I want to do that here too): I stand with you and support you. You belong here.

Posting was mostly a relief by that point- and responses were thoughtful. Lots of people didn’t engage (which makes me wonder). But I had no responses that weren’t fully supportive.

I had no idea how difficult that would be–and it was just a post on social media. Imagine being on the receiving end of a lifetime of racist actions, policies, assumptions. Fearing for the safety of loved ones.

I’m very sheltered in my liberal bubble (and therefore have little practice with this) but damn- I can post. And if I’m faced with racist responses, then I will stand up to it. It’s the least I can do.

Maybe it will come out clunky and awkward, and maybe I’ll F up, but it’s really important to do it anyway. Thus my post here today.

I came across this quote today:

“While many people are afraid to talk about race, just as many use talk to hide from what they really fear: action.”

~Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want to Talk About Race

So far, I’ve been talking about talk. But most important is taking action. Sure, we can cancel Aunt Jemima and “master bedrooms,” but if Black people continue to be brutalized and murdered by police, our biggest problem remains unsolved.

Clearly SMCs have no free time, especially in a pandemic, but if you’re a white person looking for a way to integrate action into your daily life, I highly recommend this 30-day Justice Plan to get started- an awesome curated list of articles, books, podcasts, TED talks, action steps, organizations to donate to, etc.). Doable and eye-opening.

And just the beginning. Hopefully we keep this momentum going forever (so it’s important that we pace ourselves). (and, full disclaimer, I haven’t worked through all of it yet–I’m thinking of it as a Summer Justice Plan.)

Yesterday was the 4th of July. We had a completely normal day with not one ounce of patriotic activity included. It never even came up. 2020: obviously not America’s best year. I believe that taking action to support the Black Lives Matter movement is one of the most patriotic things we can do right now. We have many generations of healing ahead of us before the pain of slavery’s legacy subsides.

I took my kids to a protest in our village a few weeks ago, and I hope we’ll be doing much more of this together in the years ahead. I want to raise white kids who are anti-racist, and who understand white privilege and our history. And who’ve learned how to fight for change.

Stay safe. Black lives matter.

Miss you!! xoxo






living our lives now

The goddesses have blessed me with a quiet moment at 7:14am with my cup of coffee, chirping birds, and two sleeping children.

The sun sneaks through the north-facing bay window of my dining room at this time of year at this time of the morning, for only a few weeks. I’m always really conscious of this- I keep track of splashes of sunlight in unusual locations, sometimes due to a reflection. The angles of the sun orient me. Today it feels like the sun is going to revolve around our house, filling it with light and warmth, and very welcome after two days of chilly rain.

Oh, friends. What a time. As nature does its spring bloom explosion and celebration of birth and life and rebirth, the air is clear and the streets are quiet. And, behind closed doors, humans are suffering everywhere. In more ways than I can even imagine. From loss of life to loss of livelihoods to loss of control, sanity, confidence, faith. It’s so hard to get any perspective on it because we’re in it and we each have our individual epic battle to fight. But it’s out there, churning, evolving, charging ahead into a future full of unknowns.

Meanwhile, we do our days. I remember times in life when I had something really big to look forward to, when I was counting the days until it happened, like reuniting with a long-distance boyfriend. It would be a time period like 3.5 weeks. I wanted it to fly. I wanted it to disappear. I wanted to shortcut ahead to the reunion- those weeks were drudgery. But I knew, even then, in the back of my mind, that those were days and weeks of my life, and I should never wish them away. I also knew that my time with the boyfriend would be fleeting and that the relationship itself was impermanent and nothing is more valuable than my time on this Earth. I was wise! Even though I was impatient and frustrated.

I really feel that now. Obviously we’re so limited compared to the endless options of our previous times. But it’s still our life. It’s still our kids’ lives. We didn’t actually go on pause.

We were on a Zoom call yesterday with C’s Montessori teachers and C basically never stopped talking, telling them in paragraphs all about the train she was playing with, connecting phrases (often incorrectly) with “so,” and “because,” and “but.” They were wide-eyed and exclaimed at her language development in these seven weeks. We might be sheltering in place, but this two-year-old will keep on growing. Maybe she can’t hug her favorite teacher or bounce around with other two-year-olds, but she is learning a lot. Her development adapts and finds its way.

E has probably built 50 different forts in the living room since we’ve been at home- and they’re not your run-of-the-mill roof and four walls. They’ve got tunnels and secret exits and surprising hallways and a side-cave for C. He needs prodding to do his virtual school work but he will build and build and build- pillows, Magnatiles, legos. He’s constantly honing his technique and bringing in new ideas. This is a different type of education and it continues.

And how about me? Sigh! I knew that motherhood would be a giant exercise in multi-tasking but never imagined this extreme merger of parenting, work, and whatever tiny threads of self-care I can weave in. Yes, I’m getting better at it, though there are good days and rough days. Eventually, when I can compartmentalize work and family again, I will have laser focus and be hyper-productive. I’ll get my job done in three hours a day. I’ll build in exercise and all kinds of self-care. I’ll know what’s the most important thing to get done. I will meal plan to the moon and back. I’m sure of this. My brain is going through its own transformation to handle this time, and while it’s hard and brings little to no relaxation, I’m learning the tricks.

We did have a relaxing moment last night, totally organically, which is how they probably have to happen. We had gone on a failure of a walk around the block, starting at 5:15pm in 48 degree rain, with E on his scooter and C on a little car and everyone complained and cried the entire time until I was pushed to my limit and unleashed the sarcasm (“I’m SO GLAD this walk was such a GREAT opportunity for FRESH AIR and EXERCISE and FAMILY BONDING”) and we kind of limped home with E crying about his freezing hands and me carrying C and the car. I threw together a dinner of leftover turkey burgers, leftover rice, roasted broccoli, and corn on the cob, which turned out perfect–and we had classic jazz playing on Alexa, which kind of chilled everyone out.

I gave them mango for dessert and pretty quickly cleaned up the kitchen. I heated up some hot water and lemon and sat down with them where they’d gotten into doing puzzles spread out all over the floor. It was like 7:40pm. We were calm. We were engaged. I wasn’t rushing to finish something to get to the next step of the day. We finished three or four little puzzles, all of which were missing a few pieces. It was still immensely satisfying. I hate to put another thing on my list of things to do, but I want to let go of the daily upkeep sometimes and get more into the present moment with my kids. Because that’s where they are and I don’t want to miss it.

And with that, friends, I have completed a blog post with no one waking up. I leave you with this idea to chew on (as I do the same): how will you continue to live your life, your precious days, in spite of everything? Or maybe inspired by everything? I’m not talking about what we’ll do “when this is over”–I mean right now.

I’m sending you moments of peace and a whole lotta love. xoxo



taking it easy in the chaos

I’m sitting with E on the couch on a rainy Saturday afternoon. He’s watching Wild Kratts while I write on my laptop. C is napping.

E asks me for a sandwich because it’s 3:30pm and, aside from dinner, meals are requested at super random times. He mostly wants to live on cheese sandwiches and tortilla chips, but I’ll sneak some fruit or veggies on there for him to ignore. On my way to the kitchen, I pick up several dishes from the dining room table so as to make my trip as productive as possible. An important trick to this whole solo management of everything is: no wasted motion like walking from one room to another empty-handed.

I remember when I was a clueless waitress at 19 years old, the restaurant’s manager sat in my patio section, sipping on a glass of wine while watching me work. At the end of my shift, he pointed out how many times I passed stacks of dirty dishes on tables and trays without bringing them back into the kitchen. He was a jerk, but he was also right- I was so focused on getting orders placed and delivered that I was creating quite an unsightly and unnecessary mess. As a 46-year-old solo mom, I have so deeply learned this lesson by now. Unfortunately, it also means staying On Your Game practically all minutes of the day if you don’t want the housework to snowball and then eat you alive.

In the chaos of lockdown, I long for that satisfying feeling of the house being clean, like when I sigh with relief after the cleaning lady has been here. I miss her. Back when I had full-time child care, I would reset the house almost daily and the cleaning lady took care of actual cleaning.

These days, the pillows in my living room have not found their true homes in weeks due to the creation of forts that evolve daily. There are many crumbs on the living room carpet, despite my initial rule that no one should eat in front of the TV (that one went by the wayside early on). There are random toys in random places- books scattered, legos underfoot, evidence of home school activities cover half of the dining room table. There is ALWAYS clean laundry piled on the guest bed waiting to be folded and put away. I’m one meal behind in cleaning the kitchen and the counter tops are not visible. Also- what’s for dinner???

Even more annoyingly, there are stacks of boxes clogging up the back bedroom, waiting to be taken back downstairs to our storage area, including Christmas ornaments (sob). And disorganized piles of giveaway clothes as both kids recently moved up a size. This stuff takes up mental and physical space and I can’t seem to prioritize getting it moved (maybe now that I’ve announced it I can get it done?).

The question is- how to get ahead of it when there are two little whirlwinds quickly undoing my work? It feels like every time I’m getting into the groove, it’s time to prepare another meal.

Do I need a plan for this? Lower expectations? Break it down into steps? Focus on the kitchen and bathroom and let everything else go? I really don’t want to engage in Sisyphean tasks, especially when time is extra precious.

Life is messy right now.

Clearly I need to get the kids to help! And to accept that the end result may not be perfect or even helpful.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to incorporate more moments when I’m doing nothing.

The other night, I was sitting in the living room with the kids after cleaning up dinner. They weren’t doing anything special, just bopping around on the furniture, listening to music. I happened to look out the window because it was extra windy and the trees were swaying violently with the sun setting in the background. I spaced out completely. I didn’t decide to- it just happened. The kids bounced and played and I stayed fixed on my outdoor nature show for like five minutes. It felt so restful and meditative to do nothing, to let go of anticipating whatever needed to be done next. I don’t think I’ve ever stared out an ordinary window as entertainment.

It felt at least as good as a pedicure. This really redefines my idea of a “getaway.”

So- are we all safe and healthy right now?  Yes- and that’s more than good enough.

I’m wishing the same for you, and hope you’re going easy on yourselves right now!






running in my apartment

My manager recently mentioned to me that she was walking 2.5 miles per day in her compact NYC apartment. That really impressed me. Granted, she doesn’t have two small people to block her path and ask for snacks but, still- it planted a seed.

I’ve been grateful to have the double stroller that I acquired at the beginning of quarantine because it allows me to get out even if no one is in the mood. Strap them in and give them trail mix with M&Ms in it. I’ve done up to four miles with it and it’s a smooth ride. But yesterday, when I felt like my body really needed it, it was snowing. Again. And I was just not up for the double stroller AND the snow AND the cold. And, gosh, the virus. Because let’s be honest, every outing includes some level of stress about sanitizer, surfaces, and who’s touching what.

So, I thought- I’m going to try running in the apartment. I can do a loop, thanks to two doors in my bedroom; a loop I’ve mainly used to pace while on important phone calls. I’d never tried running it, because why would I????? I used to have 9 hours a day of child care (sob). I was also hoping my kids would chase me because they needed exercise too.

So I put on my sports bra under my jammies (not really jammies but these days I only wear clothes I can exercise or sleep in) and some running shoes that I hadn’t used outside in a long time. I started a workout in MapMyRun, wondering if GPS would even be able to tell if I had left my couch. I even put in my earbuds to listen to a talk by Tara Brach.

The kids ran with me for a while. C was giggling and running in her Crocs, E was in socks and soon twisted his ankle, and after about 7 minutes they were both crying and whining so I put them on the tablet. On one of my loops, I stopped to take a lasagna out of the oven (I can’t say I’ve ever done this in the middle of a run). I noticed that my postpartum incontinence is a thing even on a slow interior run, but that only made it seem more legit.

My only injury was clipping the doorway with my shoulder a couple of times but when you’re running like 1 mile/hour, there is no pain. (PS I am not exaggerating my pace to be funny- I actually did half a mile in 30 minutes.)

Toward the end, I noticed that my perspective was changing- my place felt bigger, fresher, and I had the sensation of coming home after a long walk. Like I was seeing my place with new eyes, in the context of the larger world. I felt taller.

Survival strategies are important right now. Desperate times call for desperate measures! I would do it again, but hopefully spring arrives before that’s necessary.

We got the news yesterday that schools are closed through the end of the school year. I absorbed the news and kept going. It was expected. It’s hard for me to conceptualize the future right now, when we’re so very busy in the present. But I did find myself pausing on how to tell Evan that he wouldn’t be going back to kindergarten.

I ended up telling him today, when we were out romping in the blessedly uninhabited woods on an unmarked trail along a river in the warm sun. He paused and said happily, “but I’ll still see my class every day on Zoom!!!” Sigh of relief. He’s lucky to have a wonderful teacher and, dare I say, home life (read: lots of screen time). He’s also much more focused on his 6th birthday, which is only one month away.

Lately, these two are going by “Henry” and “Zoe,” which I guess are characters from a show they watch. Henry and Zoe drive me nuts and also make each day delightful in some way.

I’m off to clean my disaster of a house and, you know, do weird, earthy quarantine-inspired things like set up to brew kombucha, feed my sourdough starter, and make a vegetable broth out of veggie scraps. Maybe get some seeds planted in cups.

Thanks for reappearing out of the woodwork to read and comment on my blog, friends. It’s been a long time since I’ve written and I’m happy you’re still out there reading. I’m sending awkwardly-long hugs to each of you. Lots of love xoxoxo

henry and zoe



A typical pandemic weekday

I’ve wanted to write forever but guess what- there’s a reason you don’t hear from any solo parents lately. Like- I haven’t read an excellent single parent perspective essay since the pandemic started. And that’s because there is no time, energy, or bandwidth. We are slammed.

I just finished eating dinner, alone, because I mis-timed the snacks and my little housemates are not hungry, playing with magnatiles around the corner from me in the living room. Thank goodness they have each other.

Then I realized my laptop was in reach. And charged. And no one is looking at me or asking for anything. Go go go

I also realized that this day is pretty representative of our lives lately and someday I’ll want to remember. So, let’s start with my 7:45am wakeup.

I woke up out of a dream- my company was going under, and I had been tasked with figuring out how to phase the layoffs. I was collaborating with my friend Janet and we’d been given very little information. We kept getting calls from the company president, barking out a few details and then rushing off to another meeting. I was relieved to wake up (my company isn’t going under).

It was snowing. A maddening, mid-April, post-daffodils snow. Accumulating on the little green shoots and buds.

Chloe is newly night weaned, so she eagerly looks forward to “shay-shay when the sun shines.” In fact, sometimes she puts up a fuss at 5am which is pre-sunshine and starts kicking me and her brother, so I round up and give her the goods. Most often, though, she wakes at 6am, exactly with the sunrise, and I have more milk than she can even handle, and she rolls over with a full belly and goes right back to sleep, giving me an hour or so to do whatever most needs my attention.

On this morning, though, I had been up for two hours in the night, eating cereal and reading about the world which is never satisfying or enjoyable. So I wanted to let myself sleep. Sleep is everything right now. Sleep is the secret.

Evan got up and started playing with his new remote-control car, C with her new magnetic train (Easter gifts from our upstairs neighbors that sat in the closet for two days before opening). I think I showered briefly. I let C prepare my coffee by spooning the coffee into the filter (messy). She also served herself yogurt with “cherries” (blueberry jam) (also messy). I fried some eggs and made toast. While they ate at their little table in the living room (moved in front of the TV for last night’s Elmo’s Playdate, which we missed because I couldn’t find the right channel), I scanned my emails, my schedule for the day, and E’s schoolwork for the day.

They graduated to building a pillow fort, which is their go-to activity when no screen is on. E finished it and called it the Chillax Cuddle Zone (lots of cuddling is required lately). It seemed like a good place to kick off the school day, so we piled in with my laptop and started with the daily school announcement video. Every day, this 4th-grade girl says, “I pledge of allegiance, to the flag…” and it drives me nuts. Otherwise, cute- there are birthdays, jokes, and inspiring messages.

Then E filled out his attendance form, adding about 30 exclamation points to his first and last name. (he also added them to my email address and the form wouldn’t go through so we had to delete them…)

We did the question of the day, “What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone?” E’s answer: “I brought a picture for my bus driver.” He always finishes with “the end.”

Then we looked through the slides of potential content for the day. I’m telling you, there is an insane amount of work in there to choose from. I can’t even describe it without getting stressed. I’m lucky if we complete one thing and upload it to the kindergarten padlet (today we did…nothing).

At 9:30, E gets on his kindergarten Zoom on my laptop, which means I can’t do much work but I did have a call with my boss at 10, occasionally emerging from my bedroom to find out why someone was crying. At 10:30, I put on Zumba, which is Facebook Lived from C’s school Zumba teacher, and my kids almost never actually do it but we like to hear the music. In between, I tried to have them do a project that E’s teacher sent in the mail- two coffee filters that you’re supposed to color with blue and green, then squirt with a spray bottle and paste to a piece of construction paper for Earth Day. Both of them started crying and were unwilling to do it so I shifted gears. You can’t transition them too quickly or it falls apart.

Next I got C dressed, which required some cajoling, and then it was time for her Zoom call. I quickly looked up what was required: draw a big E and little e on a piece of paper and get little one-inch pieces of paper and glue. Then I confirmed the Zoom link, there are so so many (some days she has two). Then I got her started and left the room.

From my office, I heard the teacher say, “Buenos dias, Chloe, cómo estás?” and she actually answered “muy bien,” which she never, ever does when I’m in the room. Mental note to always leave the room. Meanwhile, Evan expressed having no choice but to get on his tablet. OK.

Somehow he has learned the tablet inside and out and knows how to download (free) apps. I am wise enough to limit his access to the most kid-friendly, tame stuff, but I’m also kind of horrified that he’s playing video games and downloading games within games and is getting dangerously savvy. (e.g. I took YouTube off but he has a workaround)

After her Zoom call, I set them up to watch the replay of Elmo’s Playdate from yesterday and at some point Evan came to tell me it was below his age level and could he please go back to video games. Yes.

I delivered snacks and water. And then lunch. And then we decided to go outside because it was snowing and the snow was melting and they wanted to try this “snow chalk” a friend gave us. First, Evan’s feet were hot in his boots so he changed to shoes. Then his feet were wet and freezing and he wanted to come in. We were outside for about ten minutes. I can’t quite motivate to go running with the double stroller in this cold.

We watched a show together called “If I were an animal…”, while I ate some leftover quinoa from the night before. Then C was asking to shay-shay on the bed.

I nursed her down quickly. Some days recently I’ve been very nervous that she’s dropping her nap, because… she won’t nap. But today she slept for 3+ hours (!!!) and I got a bunch of work done and an important hour-long work call while Evan watched Wild Kratts. Miraculous. I worked until 5pm, made gnocchi, roasted parsnip and carrots, and collard greens, served it on three plates and they ate none of it because they had just had a snack. I drank a can of kombucha which is my best treat these days.

E is furious with me right now because I haven’t come to see his fort, and C just nursed and then started poking my keyboard very annoyingly so I put her on the floor and now she’s in distress so I have to go. [here I took a break to go sit with them and cuddle and inspect the fort and nurse and be present with them. They need it.]

It’s a lot. I’m dead tired every day at 6:30pm. I don’t have time to reflect on this now (or ever?). I hope you’re all keeping safe and well during this strange time. xo

Chloe: “You need to turn it off now!” (reaching for the power button)