An Open Letter to You From a Mama of Kids With Special Needs

Oct 22 2014

An Open Letter to You
From a Mama of Kids With Special Needs

 

Dear You,

Dear You, my friend,

Dear You, my neighbor,

Dear You who have kids without special needs… kids with just, you know, the usual slew of bottomless needs,

Dear You who are kids,

Dear You who were once kids,

Dear You,

I want to tell you about my son.

Just for a minute.

And about me and what it’s like for us who live full-time here in this world of kids who are different than normal, whatever normal is. 

I want to tell you about my son.

My son who is beautiful.

My son who is sensitive. 

My son who is compassionate, funny, and kind.

My son who loves Doritos the way some people love the sunrise or the rain on the roof or the majesty of the ocean, with a sense of awe and wonder and bliss.

My son who’s a total butt nugget and says GEEZ, MOM and WHATEVER and FINE and who also says I love you, Mom, and means it as fervently as he does the Geezes.

IanMy son who experiences developmental delay, pronounced anxiety, and expressive and receptive language disorders — meaning he can neither speak nor understand speech as easily as others — and who lives, therefore, every minute of every day trapped inside his own brain, unable to communicate well; at once imprisoned and also more free than we’ll ever be because he hasn’t learned to hide himself the way we so often do. 

Sometimes you ask me how my son is doing. You who know us well, and you who know us just a little. You ask because you care and because you’re curious, and I want you to know both are OK. I appreciate your kindness, and I understand your curiosity. It’s OK to want to know. It’s good to ask.

Sometimes I give you an answer. Sometimes I can’t find the words. When I do respond, it’s usually short. 

How’s school going? you say. How’s Ian and how are you? And I don’t know what to tell you, because, even though you’ll listen to my whole answer — even though I believe you actually, really want to know — I don’t know how to access the complexity of my grief and my longing and my hope in order to find a whole answer to give.

My son is a child who will, on some level, always finish last when measured by the standards of success the worlds gives us. He will always be an outsider. Always be different. Never belong. And so we work to create the safe haven. The place of belonging. The soft place to land. The true meaning of family. Which, it turns out, is hard, because families are made out of humans and we’re fallible. Imperfect. Messed up. And we’re the ones he’s stuck with, poor kid.

It’s hard for my son to be different. He knows. He can tell. And it’s hard for me, too, because I grieve that which cannot be. The same life and opportunities the other kids have. The limitless potential to DO. I must wrestle with myself most days to remember my son has the limitless potential to BE. To be loved. To be valued. To bring joy. To be my son. To be enough as he already is.

Grief and hope make for awkward companions. Awkward lovers, never quite sure where to put their hands. Always bumping teeth. And yet, because the grief abides, I work to make room for hope, for without hope we are lost at sea, adrift and alone.

While I’ve learned to live inside this new reality — while I’ve learned to look for hope and to cheer victories of every size and to regroup when we’re forced to fall back — I have neither “gotten over” nor “come to terms with” my son’s disabilities like I expected I would by now. Instead, I’ve learned there are new phases of grief. New sorrows. New things he can’t now and will never do. New realities that are mine with every new age of his.

So you ask how he is. How I am. And I want to answer you. I do. I want to champion my son. I want to spread awareness. I want to hand you my heart. But I don’t know how.

I stick with facts for my longer answers. School’s going well, I say. Or, He got to play a sport this year! First time he’s played a season. I might even tell you, The counselor is AWESOME — she is, it’s true — or say, The medication is really making a difference, and I mean that, too. Even though medication isn’t right for everyone, I wish we’d given him that relief earlier.

But I more often give you a chipper Fine! or a cheerful Good! or, when I’m overwhelmed and can’t muster my optimism, an Ugh! or a Pfftt! or Well, it’s hard right now, but we’ll figure it out.

And there’s a whole world of things I don’t say.

About what it feels like when it’s dark outside and I wonder about his future.

About how hard it is to tell him again, day after day, sometimes hour by hour, that I don’t understand what he just said and I need him to say it again.

I don’t tell you he didn’t sleep through a single night for the first 11 years we had him.

I don’t tell you about the panic attacks that leave him flailing and breathless.

I don’t tell you what it’s like to hear the sounds of my son crying in his sleep and to revisit what his first 3 years must have been like, abandoned and alone. 

I don’t tell you about the guilt I carry for not being with him, even though there’s nothing I could have done to change his early life.

I don’t tell you about the family vacations, for which we try to be grateful, which are raw and agonizing because he is outside his routine and his safety net and therefore bewildered and afraid.

I don’t tell you about the ways my body tenses when he bursts into our room in the middle of the night and the door bounces off the wall while he yells, “DAD? MOM?” because he needs to make sure we’re still there.

I don’t tell you how fragile he is. Or how fragile I am. Or how much I’m afraid we’ll all break.

Instead, I give you an answer, a Fine! or a Good!, and it’s a true one, but it’s also incomplete because my brain is short-circuiting. Stuttering. Blanking. There’s just too much to say, and I don’t know where to jump in.

guatemala 014When Ian was three (and four and five and six and probably seven), he used to throw himself on the ground and play dead whenever he felt overwhelmed by the world around him. I took this picture of him at age three, in the airport in Guatemala City, just after we adopted him, when we were bringing him home for the first time. 

Frankly, I think it’s a pretty good strategy. Very effective. 

It’s also an excellent visual aid for the route my brain travels when you ask us how we are. How are we? We’re… good… we’re… fine… fizzle, fizzle, kerthunk… PLAY DEAD

And so I take this long route to tell you this: I’m a mama of kids with special needs. I’m hopeful and I grieve. And I need you, my friends, rather desperately, even when I don’t know what to say.

I need you to keep me on the side of hope.

I need you to whisper in the dark that it’s going to be OK.

I need you to keep asking how we are, even though my answers are pathetic.

And I need you to know I remember every kind thing you say to me about my kid. Every compliment. Every ounce of compassion. Every time you try to include him in your games and in your parties. Every time you inconvenience yourself to bring us in. 

For every kindness to my child, to my family and to me, I’m nearly unbearably grateful. And I’ll ask you to please, keep being gentle with us. 

Yours Truly,
A Mama of Kids With Special Needs

 

If I Had Time to Write, This Is What I’d Say…

Oct 21 2014

I have things to write, you guys. Stuff to say. Some of it’s drivel, as usual, but some of it’s important.

I want to write about having a kid with special needs and what it means to live with constant, evolving grief while still looking for the joy.

I want to write about how annoying it is when people say, “You think two is hard? TWO? Just wait ’til your kid turns THREE. THAT’S hard,” because three IS worse than two — it TOTALLY IS — except when two is worse than three. And parenting teenagers is WAY, WAY HARDER than parenting littles, unless, you know, parenting littles is harder than parenting teens. 

I want to write about how our experiences and our feelings about parenting and life are valid and important even when they’re different than someone else’s experiences and feelings.

I want to write about the ways close families have to WORK and WORK to be close and to compromise and to champion and choose each other, because family — even really wonderful family — is hard. Life-giving and hard. Joyful and hard. Beautiful and hard. Because the people closest to us are the people most able to hurt us and the most motivated to help us heal, and that’s a strange, awful, awesome mixed up mess to navigate.

I want to write about farting and why 8 year old boys like to sit on their mommy’s lap and snuggle down and then let a giant one rip. Why? WHY? WHY IS IT THIS WAY?

I want to write about ages 8 and 9 so often being the gateway to preadolescence and how we never see that one coming. Just never. And so, no matter how many children we raise, we’re always blindsided by all the feelings and the oh my gosh, FREAK OUTs, and the ups and the downs… and the downs and the downs. And I want to write about how it’s worth it because these children, even with all the FEELINGS, can get themselves and all their stuff in and out of the car by themselves which is a MIRACLE. A MIRACLE! They get themselves IN AND OUT OF THE CAR, you guys. You don’t have to carry them there! You DON’T HAVE TO HELP WITH SEATBELTS. You can say things like, “Jump in the car. I’ll meet you there in a minute.” AND THEY DO IT. Do you understand what I’m saying? DO YOU?! THERE IS HOPE. Even with all the EMOTIONS and ups and downs downs downs, THESE CHILDREN CAN PUT ON THEIR OWN DARN SEATBELTS. 

Home3I want to write about my front door. How it’s dirty and scratched and stained and how the red paint has faded to a dull, fingerprinted orange. I want to tell you about how happy it makes me to write on it with a chalk pen, even though I know it’ll add another stain like the skull and crossbones you can see etched into the paint from Halloween last year. I want to talk about the joy of welcoming people to our mess this way. To the madness. To the chaos. And I want to talk about the small smile I smile when I walk through the door and remember to look for the magic here.

Home4I want to write about Autumn. About the sunset maples outside my house and the way they’ve turned orange and red.

I want to write about the changing of the seasons and how this one feels so much slower than summer and so much faster all at once with Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas barreling down upon us. I want to write about how unprepared I am for the season that’s coming and about how I don’t care and also about how I do.

I want to write about whether I can stop long enough to enjoy this season of life or whether, like I suspect, it’ll move past me in a blur. I want to write about the ways I wonder whether my writing will be a comfort to me in my later years. Will I know I at least wanted to be present? Will it be a reminder that I wasn’t somehow ignoring this life? Will I know I was just very busy trying to love my people well? To feed them literally and figuratively. To comfort them. To heal the hurts I caused. To heal the ones I didn’t. To fully live, even at the speed that is this season. 

I want to write all these things, but I can’t because I’ve run out of time. 

P.S. The kids keep getting sick. Not real sick. Not pukey sick or up-all-night sick or, heaven forbid, wash-all-the-sheets sick. No; they’re they best kind of sick, really. Snuggly sick. I-can-get-my-own-popsicle sick. Go-to-sleep-early sick. But sick nonetheless. So I don’t have time to write the things I want to write. But I will. Soon. Because sick only lasts a season, too. x’s and o’s, fellow warriors. x’s and o’s.

 

Shopping for Jeans Sucks: Which Jeans to Buy If You’re Short and Round

Oct 17 2014

Shopping for jeans sucks. I like to think it’s because I’m short and round and a terrible shopper with mediocre-to-bad fashion sense, but I keep hearing from my tall friends and my skinny friends and my friends who love to shop and my friends who look great all the time, and they all say the same thing. Shopping for jeans sucks. 

This news, like all of life, is both good and bad. Good because we jeans shoppers are not alone. NOT ALONE in the suckage! Hooray! But it’s also bad because shopping for jeans takes TIME and angst and ugghhh and pffttt and GAH!

I turned to you on Facebook the other night when my jeans meltdown reached critical mass, and I discovered, like usual, things are less bleak when we face them together. Even silly first world problems like jeans. OH MY GOSH, the JEANS. 

OK, I need help. For real. If you’re a shopper or a fashionista or a short girl with hips and a butt and a favorite brand/style of jeans, I NEED YOU. 

Here’s the sitch:

MyAssMy two favorite pairs of jeans are shot.

One went down to inner thigh holes and the other to the world’s biggest butt tear.

My 3rd string jeans are in the wash because I accidentally laughed at dinner the other night. Laughed HARD, man. And repeatedly. And – fine – I wet my pants, OK? (Promise you’ll still talk to me after this.)

So I’ve been wearing my 4th string jeans around town, which thrills them because they, like, never get any playing time and they’ve been begging the coach to put them in FOREVER, and I’ve tried to cheer them on and be a team player and believe in their ability to succeed, I swear I have, but they keep fumbling the plays. I’ve found my zipper down at least 7 times the past 2 days, and YES, I did consider it might be user error, considering the user, but 7 times is excessive, even for me.

I just think, I don’t know, my 4th string jeans need to find another passion besides being pants.

Maybe they could be potholders.

Or a really scratchy, nonabsorbent towel or something.

Which will leave me, once I do the laundry, with 1 pair of jeans.

And, well, I’m grateful for 1 pair — I am — but I’m an Oregonian and we’re headed into winter, and jeans are kind of the uniform around here, so I’d like another pair. My problems, though, are as follows: 

  1. I have no real fashion sense. 
  2. I hate to shop. 
  3. I have big hips and a big butt. 
  4. I have a comparatively small waist.
  5. I’m short. 5’2″. 

If you have any tips, friends, like links to places to buy the perfect jeans online, or a favorite go-to brand/style that always comes through for you, or suggestions that I abandon jeans forever and stay in pajamas and invite you over for guacamole night so we can talk about how much we HATE jeans shopping, I’m all ears. 

Help. You’re my only hope.

And then you helped! In my hour of jeans need, you were there for me.

Just in case there are other short, round women out there who need help like I needed help, I went through all 200+ comments and made a spreadsheet, counting all the comments and all the likes, so we know where to buy our stupid jeans.

Here are the results. I’m sharing every brand, store and recommendation that received more than 20 comments/likes, in order from most recommended to least.

Which Jeans to Buy If You’re Short and Round and Where to Get Them

  1. Thrift Stores. True story. The overwhelming majority of you get your jeans from places like Goodwill and Value Village. Bethany writes, There are lots of different options all in one place and, if you bribe a fitting room attendant to keep a room open for you, you can try on all the cute jeans in your size, marvel at the odd inconsistencies of U.S. women’s sizing, and come away with a pair or two in less than an hour for less than $20. Until then, yoga pants all the way, baby.” 
  2. Speaking of Yoga Pants, the next most popular answer to the jeans question was “SCREW JEANS. Wear yoga pants.” You know, in essence. You really are my people! And then we get into the specific recommendations, as follows:
  3. Demi Curve, Bold Curve or Supreme Curve from Levi’s
  4. Diva or Sweetheart from Old Navy
  5. Julie jeans from LOFT
  6. Long and Lean from the GAP
  7. Not Your Daughter’s Jeans from Nordstrom or NYDJ 
  8. Other popular places to shop for unspecified or various brands of jeans — places with lots of selections for multiple body types — are Maurice’s, Kohl’s, The Buckle, Torrid, and Lane Bryant.
But I gotta tell you… I just ordered a pair of jeans from a place recommended by only one of you. Jessika’s suggestion intrigued me so much, I had to try it. She wrote, “Beth, I’m not sure if anyone here has mentioned this yet, but I had good luck with MakeYourOwnJeans.com. They have lots of fabrics, finishes, and price levels, and you can either enter your measurements when you order or they also have a clone-your-jeans service where you can send a pair of jeans that fit well and they will use them as a pattern and return them with your new pair (I think they also store the pattern in case you want to order again, but not sure). I bought a custom made pair for $80 including international shipping. The ordering process is kind of irritating, but worth it for what I got.” 

Interesting, right?

So I went to MakeYourOwnJeans.com yesterday, armed with a measuring tape and my credit card. I entered my body measurements, double checked my numbers against my former favorite pair of jeans, chose the fabric, wash, length, design, pocket embroidery, etc. They’ll be made to my measurements (and the heavens opened and the angels sang), as in already hemmed to length which is a MIRACLE to us short girls, and I should receive them in 3-4 weeks.

The total cost was $87 including shipping, but would’ve been $15 less if I hadn’t picked extra fancy back pocket embroidery. That’s expensive for my pocketbook, but comparable for nicer jeans, and, since my previous Goodwill finds have all gone down in flames, I thought I ought to try something different.

I’ll update you when they arrive to let you know how it works out. In the meantime, soldier on, friends. Soldier on. And DO let us know in the comments which brands work for you, which don’t, and what this post is missing. It take a Village, I tell you. A sometimes bare-assed, jeansless Village, but a Village nonetheless. 

xoxo,
B

 

Remind me to never get Botox. I mean, YOU can, but my face isn’t responsible enough.

Oct 16 2014

I made a video for you yesterday while my tongue, lips and facial muscles were still frozen after dental work. The dentist worked on the top teeth – both sides – and bottom left. So, like, my whole mouth minus the teeth on the bottom right which he fixed last month.

The dentist said I need to knock it off with the soda. I said, self-righteously, I don’t drink soda. He said I probably ought to knock off the coffee, then. I said I’ll go ahead and hand over all my teeth right now as long as I can keep my coffee. I said keeping the coffee is tantamount to keeping my children, since I’m doubtful I can parent without it. I said coffee is a spiritual practice and he probably shouldn’t go around maligning people’s religions like that. I said none of those things because his hands were in my mouth, but I think my whimpering gave him the gist. 

After the dentist, I went to volunteer at my kids’ school.

I practiced smiling first, because, you know – frozen face.

USUALLY, my smile looks like this.

photo 2 (75)

But this time, it looked like this.

Face1

And like this.

Face2

And, when I used my fingers to help, it looked like this:

Face3

So I decided to volunteer at the elementary school without smiling. On the down side, I’m pretty sure there are some kids who are now frightened of me since I kept forgetting not to smile and ended up grimacing at them instead. On the bright side, I sat with a bunch of 2nd grade boys for lunchtime, and I couldn’t drink from the tiny carton of milk without dribbling it down my front, so there are some kids who think I’m funnier than God.

That’s when I made you this video, which is mostly just self-serving because I realized I may need you to remind me in the future to never, ever, ever get Botox. 

Never.

Ever.

I mean, I’m not opposed to those of you who use Botox. Knock yourselves out. You inject poison into your face, I eat off-brand mac and cheese with its fake orange dye and delicious, dehydrated cheese product and simple carbohydrates; who am I to judge? And I don’t ever expect to have the extra funds available for Botox, but just in case I accidentally invent the next Microsoft or Google or a whole new internal organ that neutralizes cheese product ( <– someone invent this! ), I wanted to make sure to record this so I remember why some of us need facial expressions more than others. 

……….

P.S. I couldn’t remember what those teeth that aren’t molars are called. Now I remember they’re just called teeth. That’s why I’m a writer; because I’m so good at words.

 

For the Love of Books (And 5 Books I Hope My Kids Will Read)

Oct 15 2014

Throughout October, we’re going to periodically talk about books because
a) books are rad and b) we’re raising funds for a 5 Kids ComeUnity project, A Girl With A Book,
which will put books in the hands of Kindergarten through
Second Grader boys and girls at Title 1 (high poverty rate) elementary schools.
To learn more and to join our effort, please see A Girl With A Book.

My aunt and uncle kept The Joy of Sex low on a bookshelf in their old Portland home. I found it when I was 11. My cousin, who was 12, and I surreptitiously slipped it off the shelf, stuffed it in my shirt, and tore up the long, wooden staircase — clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp – to her bedroom to pour over the detailed drawings with our eyes wide and our hands over our giggling mouths. We were very sneaky, and no doubt our parents didn’t suspect a thing. 

I’m not sure our giddy, shocked delight was the kind of joy the author had in mind when he wrote the book, but, truly, the title delivered. At any rate, The Joy of Sex was, in my preadolescent mind, a much better book than Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Too Afraid to Ask, which my parents kept low on a bookshelf at our house, because Everything You Always Wanted to Know didn’t include any pictures at all and, therefore, was definitely not everything I always wanted to know.

I found Clan of the Cave Bears on my grandmother’s bookshelf when I was in high school. I took it home for safekeeping because my sweet grandmother shouldn’t have access to that kind of trash. That kind of awesome, awesome trash. Eventually, I had to steal the entire series of books from her. For her safety. 

I’m a giver.

Or a taker.

Same same.

Regardless, books opened whole worlds to me, and not just the mildly naughty or nefarious worlds. No; books were my friends. My educators. My confidants. My escape. My solace. My sighs of relief. My open doors. My welcoming arms. My constant companions. 

Ah, books. How I love you.

Books taught me I’m not alone, that stories can set us free, and to look for the wild, weird places inside us because those are paths that teach us grace and lead us to each other and help us find our way home together. 

Books taught me to look for the magic in the hidden places. And to long for the Village. And to believe my people are out there, too. 

So, to honor the books, and to promote books for others, and to steal book ideas from you for my kids, and to pay penance for stealing my grandma’s Clan of the Cave Bears series (which I eventually returned) (a little more dog-earred in certain sections, but whatever), I’d like to share with you my 5 favorite books as a kid.

 

5 Favorite Books From My Childhood
I Hope My Kids Will Read

 

ALittlePrincess1. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgsen Burnett

“Whatever comes,” she said, “cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.”

“Perhaps to be able to learn things quickly isn’t everything. To be kind is worth a great deal to other people…Lots of clever people have done harm and have been wicked.” 

 

endersgame2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.” 

“I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not “true” because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about someone who lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself.” From the Introduction 

 

narnia3. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

“All shall be done, but it may be harder than you think.” 

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.” 

 

4. PrincessGoblinThe Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

“Seeing is not believing – it is only seeing.” 

“People must believe what they can, and those who believe more must not be hard upon those who believe less. I doubt if you would have believed it all yourself if you hadn’t seen some of it.” 

“It was foolish indeed – thus to run farther and farther from all who could help her, as if she had been seeking a fit spot for the goblin creature to eat her in at his leisure; but that is the way fear serves us: it always sides with the thing we are afraid of.” 

 

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

WrinkleinTime“Wild nights are my glory!” 

“We do not know what things look like, as you say,” the beast said. “We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing.”

“But a planet can also become dark because of “too strong a desire for security … the greatest evil there is.” Meg resists her father’s analysis. What’s wrong with wanting to be safe? Mr. Murry insists that “lust for security” forces false choices and a panicked search for safety and conformity. This reminded me that my grandmother would get very annoyed when anyone would talk about “the power of love.” Love, she insisted, is not power, which she considered always coercive. To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.” – Madeleine L’Engle on A Wrinkle in Time

 

Your turn! I’m assembling a list of books for my 8-to-12 year old kids to read.
What’s one of your favorite childhood books… and why do you love it?
Also, because it makes me giggle, what books did you sneak off a bookshelf? ;)

 ……….

AGirlWithABook

P.S. THANK YOU so very much to those of you who’ve already donated to A Girl With A Book! 

So far, we’ve raised $998, enough to benefit one Title 1 school! I’m so proud of us! ESPECIALLY because we’re seeking many, small donations of $5, $10 or $15, which is both harder and awesomer because it requires greater involvement from our whole, amazing community. Please consider joining our effort by 1) making a donation of any size and 2) sharing the campaign with others. Together, we can make a difference in the life of a kid. Because a kid with a book is a powerful thing.

P.P.S. Thank you, too, to Chapters Books and Coffee, the independent, family-owned book store partnering with our 5 Kids ComeUnity on the Girl With A Book project. 

I have almost everything I could want in life: 5 rad kids I want to keep almost all the time, a husband with emergency zombie apocalypse preparedness plans, a nose made out of my ear, and almost 2,000 likes on a Facebook picture of my ass. Only one thing’s missing.

Oct 12 2014

This is a Weekly Wrap-Up Post
… and A Birthday Request … 

Ready?

Here we go:

 

1. IMG_0635I returned this week from an amazing trip, paddling the Stillwater section of the Green River with my dad and friends. John of the Just Finding Our Way blog is writing a description of each day’s events. He’s on Day 6 now, the day my dad and I joined the trip with a box of doughnuts and a box for poop, both to share. Do we know what to bring to a party or what?

You can see all the pictures (none of which John offered to let me vet for angles that make me look skinnier… pffttt… ) and follow our daily events here at John’s blog.

P.S. The first picture John shares of my dad and me on the river is one in which I’m gazing adoringly at the box of doughnuts which just proves some people have an intuitive sense for how to capture the essence of a person on film.

 

2. ForTheLoveofFootballI asked my middle school daughter to attend her brother’s football game. Once. This entire season. And by “asked” I mean “cajoled” and “bribed” and “pleaded” and “tried to make her feel guilty” and then, when none of those worked even a smidge, I told her to get her adorable self in the van because “we are a family that supports each other, so you will go to that game and you will like it” because it’s really important to choose your battles and, when you tell your kid what she will do, that you have the follow-through and ability to make sure she does it. 

I knew if we could just get her out of the house and away from screens, she’d feel the excitement in the stands and breathe the fresh air and learn about the snack bar and be grateful we made her go.

And I was totally right! She was HUGE fan. OBVIOUSLY. I took this picture of her in her most enthusiastic moment. Literally. Her most enthusiastic moment.

Chalk this one up as a Parenting Win.

 

3. I shared this picture on the 5 Kids Facebook page because it’s important to me to be an example to my teenagers that we never, ever, ever take pictures of ourselves in our undies because they might end up on the internet and then TERRIBLE things happen. 

TERRIBLE THINGS. 

For example, one guy totally accused me of using run-on sentences. The jerk. I use fragments. Not run-ons. Geez.

MyAssDear The Internets,

I went to my son’s football game today. It was at the big high school stadium with other parents and football players and high schoolers and concession stand workers and cheerleaders and at least one candidate for city council. 

Then I ran errands. LOTS of errands to little shops with other shoppers and the ice cream parlor just FULL of Saturday afternoon ice cream eaters and the grocery store with kids and grown-ups and check-out people and managers and baggers.

Then I went to a friend’s house to drop my kids off for a party which is where I met up with my husband who, as my husband is wont to do, checked out my ass. My partially bare ass, as it turns out, because, unbeknownst to me and at a time that shall apparently remain a mystery, my jeans had ripped from stem to stern, right across my ample bum and purple granny panties. Wheeeee!

In conclusion, I remain, as always, fully committed to my ongoing mission to make you feel comparatively AWESOME about yourselves. If, in other words, you didn’t go out in public today with your ass is the wind, you are doing better than you know. Better than you know! Give yourself a pat on the back. 

And you’re welcome, friends. I do it because I love you. 

Yours Truly,
Beth Woolsey

 

4. AGirlWithABookGreg woke me up Friday morning with the news that 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Two years ago almost exactly, on October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Malala in the face, an assassination attempt due to her persistent and outspoken commitment to promote education for girls in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.

Today, Malala is a Nobel laureate – the youngest ever – and, more importantly, she continues to strive for all children and their right to equal access to education. 

“Extremists have shown what frightens them the most: a girl with a book.” ~Malala Yousafzai

 

5. Tomorrow’s my birthday. You’d think I already have everything I could want in life: 5 rad kids I want to keep almost all the time, a husband with emergency zombie apocalypse preparedness plans, a nose made out of my ear, and almost 2,000 likes on a Facebook picture of my ass. I mean, there’s not a lot more a woman of 41 can want, you know? But I’m going to ask you for something anyway, and it’s this:

Will you join me in giving $5, $10 or $15 toward A Girl With A Book? 100% of the funds we receive from this GoFundMe campaign will go to purchase books for Kindergarten through 2nd Grade boys and girls from Title 1 (high poverty rate) elementary schools. 

Books have always been some of my best friends, and I can’t think of anything I’d like more for my birthday than to put cherished words into the hands of kids who might otherwise not be able to keep them.

It’s a way to honor Malala’s work. And it’s a way to give back. I hope, if this space has brought you joy and mamaraderie over the years, you’ll join me with a small donation and by sharing the campaign with your friends. 

You can read about all the details at A Girl With A Book here: http://www.gofundme.com/agirlandabook

 

And P.S. You people really are the best. xoxo

I Know We’re Not Supposed to Compare Ourselves to Others or to Try to Figure Out Who’s Sucking Worse Than Us But Sometimes We Need to Know We’re Doing a LITTLE Better Than Someone Else And That’s Why I Tripped Over My Own Pants This Morning. For YOU.

Oct 9 2014

I tripped over my own pants this morning. Not because they were on the floor and I didn’t see them. Not because someone maliciously tossed them in my path while I was walking by. Not for any of the usual, discarded-them-in-the-middle-of-my-bedroom-last-night-because-I-was-really-tired-and-DONE-WITH-PANTS-so-let’s-keep-the-housekeeping-recriminations-to-yourselves reasons.

PantsNo; I tripped over my own pants this morning because, as they were halfway up my legs, I suddenly thought of 4 other things I needed to be doing — I have to go potty! I have to take my meds! I have to remind my boys to put their homework in their backpacks! I have to find a shirt because Topless School Drop-Off continues to be “frowned upon.” – and I marched off to do those things without completing the pants pull-up maneuver.

Literally, my hands were still at my knees, mid-hoist, and I just walked off as though, having thought about pulling up my pants, I was done.

It was a fantastic trip, just so you know.

More of a jump, really, like in ballet. 

I know! It was a jeté! A jeté which, according to WikipediatheSourceofAllKnowledge, is a large leap in which one leg appears to be thrown in the direction of the movement. 

That’s totally what I did.

grand jeté except not quite so grand since the leg I threw was already securely lassoed by my pants.

Perhaps a pathétique jeté is a more accurate term, as it ended in me lying on my bathroom floor, trussed up like a turkey.

Or like a calf at a rodeo steer-wrestling event.

OK, fine; calf roping may be the tiniest bit more precise than ballet.

Like calf roping almost exactly, except I roped two calves and, no offense to all the accomplished calf ropers out there, but I’m pretty sure I beat your time hands down, because the whole event, from putting my feet in my pants to finding myself face-down in the ample dirty laundry pile on the bathroom floor was only, like, 5 seconds. 

Frankly, I think Getting Dressed should be a recognized as a sport, and I should have this move named after me. The double-footed leap-and-trip, known from now on as a Woolsey. As a Gainer is to diving, so a Woolsey is to Getting Dressed. The half-Woolsey, of course, would apply to the single-footed leap-and-trip, which I’ve also performed at least twice. 

In conclusion, I think we forget to thank Jesus for the little things, so I’d like to take this moment to say, 

Dear Jesus,

Thank you that there are no video cameras in my bathroom.

Amen

………

Blue Jean image credit Suat Eman via freedigitalimages.net