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Why I Am Teaching Ferguson

December 12, 2014

Because I have been teaching my students To Kill a Mockingbird and discussing Jim Crow laws, the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement, the history of the n-word, and I cannot ignore the continued repercussions of institutional oppression as they play out right now in our country.  In our own city.

Because I live out my white privilege every day, and people of color do not have that luxury.

Because my students of color talk tentatively and quietly about being followed around in stores, about assumptions of drug use, about questioning their choice of honors classes because black girls aren’t supposed to be smart.

Because the racial divide is sort of like global warming:  you can say you “don’t believe in it,” but it still exists and is exacerbated by those who do nothing because they want to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Because we are trained as a culture to see non-white males as threats.  As potentially violent.  As barely restrained criminals.

Because my brother and my cousins and my uncle are police officers who put their lives at risk every time they go to work to protect and help their communities.

Because I stand in solidarity with the non-white community but I will not march next to someone carrying a “Killer Cop” sign.

Because talking about race is not racist.

Because I was too afraid to talk about Trayvon Martin last year.  And I have been too afraid to talk about race in current culture.  And we must have the uncomfortable conversations in order for anything to change.

Because I want my students to experience a breadth of media coverage, including first-person accounts, in order for them to gain an understanding of media bias as well as the content itself.  If they only listen to the news outlets that their parents listen to, it perpetuates the idea that Judge Taylor says in To Kill a Mockingbird:  “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

Because our system is broken; our lofty ideals of what Scout calls “equal rights for all, special privileges for none” (To Kill a Mockingbird) is still an illusion.  Racism did not end with Martin Luther King, Jr., as many of my past students have believed.  Racism is woven into every level of our society.  It is about poverty, and race.  It is about the disparities in public education, and race.  It is about housing, and race.  It is about college and job opportunities, and race.  White privilege means the belief that race is not an issue.

Because there seem to be two sides:  one who calls cops “killers” and one who says that Michael Brown (and Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner and on and on) “deserved” their deaths.  Because I cannot stand on either side, or look at this issue as clearly as right and wrong.  Because there must be middle ground we can find.  Always.

Because this dialogue needs to happen.  The wounds must be revealed in order for anything to heal.

The Anatomy of Light

December 1, 2014

In November, the light can be as clear and crisp as the air to show the mountains cutting into the sky across the water.

In November, the light can slice through heavy clouds to flame yellow leaves still clinging to trees.

In November, some days never emerge from twilight, and the rain is unceasing.

Three Novembers ago was the hardest.

With my husband back to work, a new nanny, three four-month-olds, one of whom struggled with eating, I had slowly made my way from angry to numb.

This November.

November is the accumulation of chilling and dimming and turning inward that September begins.  In nature.  In me.

How to explain the weight of exhaustion?  The sense that I had stripped my life of everything non-essential and built a precarious house of cards out of all the essentials.  And then two more Big Things got piled on top, and what was left to let go?

My cycles–downward spiral followed by clawing back up to the light and resting, only to spin downward again–got closer and closer together.

I was very, very tired.  Of fighting my kids to cooperate when I didn’t have the energy to be creative and playful and make everything a game.  Of breathing that felt more like hyperventilating.  Of fighting so hard to regain my center.

It took a long time to talk back to the voice that told me, Why is this so hard for you? Don’t you dare fall apart.  Not in front of your colleagues.  Not in front of your kids.  Not in front of your neighbors.  Keep it together.

It got heavy and dark.  There were moments of light, but I couldn’t make them hold.  This November reminded me in so many ways of the previous dark November.

I would not go back.

This time, I asked for help before I fell too deep into shame and paralysis.

I trusted true and beloved friends to catch me as I fell.

This time, I understood that the shame is a myth that I created, like the Ideals that I try so hard to live up to.  That the bravest thing I can do is to reach out for support from a place of worthiness and strength, not weakness or failure.  That reaching my breaking point is an opportunity for more light to come through, not what defines my value as a parent or as a person.

As November ends, I am coming back to myself.  Probably not in a linear way, but still.  Progress.

My friend and neighbor wrote this to me:

“Somewhere along the line you will learn to navigate these turbulent waters instead of waiting for calmer ones. There will be more storms but with a healthy you, you will be able to marvel at how big and beautiful the storm is and not be holding on for dear life. I pray for peace, for hope, for you to be able to weather this storm. Until then, I am here.”

I am slowly learning this anatomy of light.  How the color, texture, brilliance changes.  What it reveals and what it hides.  I am learning to love whatever light there is.

I don’t have to wait for spring, or for calmer weather.

I will whisper a prayer of light, my version of the loving-kindness meditation, to my own soul as I whisper it to my children as I tuck them in after they’re asleep:

May you find peace.
May you find comfort in loving arms.
May you forgive and be forgiven.
May you speak and act with love and kindness.
May you cherish the light in you.

Green Monster (…smoothie, that is)

November 16, 2014

I’m on the bandwagon.

The green smoothie bandwagon.

I know.  I can hear the eye rolls and gag reflexes too.

Here’s the thing.  I first tried a green smoothie when Maya was here visiting.  Hers involved all ingredients being green.  Avocado, cucumber, chard, and I forget what else.  She added blueberry juice for sweetness.

I tried it.  It was…not my favorite.

Then I got a good recommendation for protein powder that isn’t some weird concoction of manufactured enzymes and “natural flavors”–this one is just pumpkin seeds, ground up.  I played around with recipes until I found one that works, with some variations.  It keeps me full for a whole morning.  It tastes good.

That’s the thing:  I love eating enough not to eat something that tastes gross or has a disgusting texture just because it’s healthy.  These smoothies taste good to me, and even better, make my body feel energized, not weighted down.  I feel really good when I have one of these for breakfast.

Plus, I got one of those coffee-shop to-go iced coffee cups with a straw, so I can eat as I drive:  messless, healthy, tasty breakfast.  Win!

My kids love helping me put everything into the blender, and sometimes even drink some with their breakfast (I think they like the novelty of using a straw as much as the smoothie itself).  Someday maybe I can get them to eat more.  I might not be able to convert Alan (maybe not ever), but I’m not out to be a food-vangelist.  I’m just sharing new info in case you wanted to go for a test ride on the bandwagon.

My Green Smoothie Recipe

adapted from various sources, including the Nutri-Bullet recipe book and other blogs


  • 2 handfuls of greens*
  • 1/2 – 1 cut-up apple or pear
  • 1/3 frozen banana*
  • 1/2 – 1 cup frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, or mixed berries)
  • 1.5 Tbsp. pumpkin seed protein powder
  • 2 Tbsp. ground chia seeds or ground flaxseeds (flaxseed meal like Bob’s Red Mill is available at most grocery stores in our area)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 cup coconut or other dairy-free milk (more or less depending on how thick you want your smoothie)


  1. Since I have a Nutri-Bullet, I put everything into the cup in the order above, and blend for 1 minute.  When I used my food processor, it was helpful to blend the greens and raw fruit, then put the frozen stuff and liquid in and blend again.
  2. Drink up!

*I have found best results with the following:  just spinach (best for newbies), just kale, or a spinach-kale-chard blend from Trader Joe’s.  Chard by itself was weird in both taste and texture.

*I peel a banana, split it into thirds, and keep a ziplock of banana thirds in the freezer.

Make-ahead note:  these do not taste great after sitting, even in the refrigerator, for a while.  Instead of making the whole thing ahead of time, I assemble all ingredients except the frozen fruit and the liquid the night before.  Then in the morning, I just add those things, blend, and go.


The Best Stuff

November 13, 2014

This kid owns my heart because she draws a picture for Santa because she likes creating art for people to make them happy.  She also drew a picture and when I asked whose name I should write, she answered, “Gomblan.”  “Who’s that?”  “My friend.”


After I said, “Oh, bummer” on realizing that I had forgotten something, she said, “You can bring it next time.  I can bring it for you, Mama.”  One of her favorite things is using the stool to get cups for herself and her siblings, pull the stool to get water in each cup, and bring each sibling their cup and her own at the dinner table.  She is ever looking for opportunities to help.

She wants to grow up and “go to college to learn to be the Cat in the Hat.”


This kid owns my heart because she wanders around giving hugs, especially to me, and making up stories for her babies and animals.  Pictured: in Superman costume with lei, she blankets her pony, puts him on a towel to dry, wraps butterfly wings upside-down around his muzzle to “shub” him (???), and puts a hat on “to keep him warm.”


She collects every soft animal available everywhere we go.  One of her favorite stops at the Aquarium:  the gift shop, where she can hold stuffed otters.  (And put them back before we go.)

She wants to grow up to be:  “a doctor, then a nurse, then a dentist.”  After asking me if I wanted to be a doctor, I said, “No, I’m a teacher.”  She asked, “What are you going to be next?”


This kid owns my heart because he loves his Bear and puppies and monkey named Lumpy so much that he has storytime with them.


He is able to articulate his feelings and requests so well, especially in new situations with new kids.

He has the hollowest of hollow legs–last night he ate more mac’n’cheese than Alan or me (or maybe more than both of us combined).


These three own my heart because they were outside when I came home from work today, and as I crossed the street to our sidewalk, each came shrieking and running into my arms.  And when I stop worrying and pay attention, I can watch their brains expand with new understandings and knowledge.  Like their awe at the sky lanterns that their preschool teachers sent into the twilight tonight.


Also:  my dear friend Jen Crystal is publishing her book Et Voila:  One Traveler’s Journey from Foreigner to Francophile, coming out in January.  She is amazing and brilliant and brave.

Also:  my sister-in-law sent me a video of my niece reading.  S. started kindergarten this year and is also now swimming the whole length of the pool by herself.  She is amazing and brilliant and brave.

P.S.  We all are amazing and brilliant and brave.  Much love to you.

Never Boring

November 9, 2014

Last Tuesday, one of the kids, excited to help set the table for dinner, carried a heavy Pyrex lidded bowl of beet soup to the dinner table.  It was on the tip of my tongue to say That’s too heavy; let me do it.  But I stopped myself, and watched, self-congratulatory at letting my kids be independent and responsible.

Then (maybe predictably?) the kid’s socks slipped on the wood floor and suddenly:  glass and pureed beets covering a 3-foot-square area mostly under the dining room table.

Miraculously, no one was injured by the glass.  Also miraculously, all three kids stayed on the other side of the dining-room-chair-blockade that I set up to keep them away from any glass shards.  For all thirty minutes it took to clean up.  (It was everywhere, man.)

Which brings me to my tagline:  It’s never boring around here.

Like the day I spent 3 hours in the ER at Children’s Hospital to make sure Theresa didn’t have a concussion after she fell backwards in a dining room chair and hit the back of her head so hard on the floor.

Like the day I called the pediatric dentist to check on what the signs of tooth trauma were, because Audrey chipped her front tooth after falling off her bike.

Wednesday, at the Children’s Museum, I left two kids playing safely and went to switch zones with Nicole in a different room.  In the less than 10 seconds of the hand-off, one of the kids went looking for me and couldn’t find me, and was found, very upset, by a Museum employee.  The employee helped the kid find Nicole who found me.  Then the employee needed “to remind [me] of our policy that children are accompanied by an adult at all times.”

Which I’m sure they have to remind everyone, but with a sobbing child in my arms, I felt bad enough without being called out for negligent parenting.

Thursday, I cut short an after-school meeting and rushed to accomplish everything I needed for a sub on Friday in order to get home in time for the kids’ preschool lantern walk at the lake.  Which was cancelled due to high wind, but my e-mail had accidentally been deleted from the mailing list that day, so we got all bundled and out there in the cold wind only to have to do it again next week.

Friday, one of my dear friends got married on a beautiful day in a beautiful church with a beautiful ceremony that had everyone crying and laughing–the best kind of wedding.  And we ate and chatted and danced and whooped and celebrated their journey together, and it was glorious.


Yesterday, I spent an hour and a half talking with a mama who is 17 weeks pregnant with triplets, reliving my own pregnancy and the early days as she asked me, “What surprised you?  What do you wish you had known?”  And I told her lots of logistical details and advice on how to get the 15 servings of protein per day that she needs and suggestions for gear, and above all:  Be kind and gentle with yourself.  Really, really kind.

And today, Alan left on a three-day mission of mercy and I brought the kids to Mass but there was no babysitting, and I had no books or crayons or church toys but we were there and I couldn’t just bail and come home.  So we sat in the soundproof children’s room and my kids were so polite with other kids and well-behaved…and then one of them pooped.  And I realized that I had schlepped two kids in a double stroller and one in an Ergo on my back and did not schlep the diaper bag.

As I ground my teeth at my own disorganization and started getting their jackets on, explaining as they asked why we had to go, a kind dad pulled out a correct-size diaper and container of wipes from his bag.  He looked exactly like Jesus in that moment.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus carried extra diapers and wipes with him in case he ran into unprepared parents of young children.  Even in the desert.

And now, after I thought I was finished with this post, tonight at bedtime, Theresa dove into bed to avoid being caught out of bed, and nailed her upper lip on the bedrail.  Blood on the comforter and I foresee a fat lip tomorrow.

A few weeks ago, I was being capsized by fewer things-gone-wrong.

Instead, I’m digging deep and finding the space beyond the annoyance, the relaxed jaw just after the teeth-grinding.  I’m finding the inspiration to pretend to be Mary Poppins in order to garner cooperation.  Inspiration coming out of nowhere after ten minutes of goading and nagging them to pick up the total mess they made on the kitchen floor with pretty much every kitchen implement they can safely get their hands on, after they’ve stalled and run away and ended up all three prostrate on the floor and fake-crying, all facing the same way, to avoid picking up.  The fake British accent and “A Spoonful of Sugar” sung with different words worked this time.

I don’t understand why some weeks feel like my soul has been torpedoed, and other similar weeks feel simply long.  I don’t understand why some cyclones of crazitude pitch me under and keep me there, while others become funny stories I tell my friends.

For now I’ll just feel grateful, that this week in its insanity was punctuated by the joyful festivities of a wedding and seeing many of my old friends, and also punctuated by Moments of Yes:

  • finding an elusive and beloved animal lost before bedtime
  • trimming 30 fingernails and 30 toenails in two days
  • Audrey, while listening to The Nutcracker and having us narrate the story:  “Drosselmeyer should have set the timer, but he didn’t.  Then when the timer went off, Fritz can have a turn.”
  • Theresa, after Alan asked her if her Bath Baby had cradle cap:  “No, she doesn’t have cradle crack.”
  • Jamie loves spelling his own name, his sisters’ names, and now is interested in everyone’s name:  “What does your name spell?  Mine spells J-A-M-I-E.”
  • my kids–all three of them–spontaneously telling me they love me
  • these days of mostly solo care that I can actually enjoy

The Relentlessness of Hope

November 2, 2014

“Hope does not disappoint.”  (Romans 5.5)

This was the beginning of my reading at Mass today:  All Souls’ Day.  Hope does not disappoint.

These past few weeks, I was going to write about dark places.  Being squeezed by the relentlessness of parenting three three-year-olds, and constant crises, and lost time.  About panic, the desperation to claw my way out of those spaces, because they are familiar and frightening.

I was going to write about how feeling trapped and lost and alone squeezes the heart and the mind until that feeling is the only feeling there is–no room for logic and truth.  That story becomes the only story, told over and over into the foreseeable future.  Relentless.

I was going to write about the toxicity of shame:  what I’ve learned from my prior experiences with anxiety and shame and panic, and about how this time I called my therapist right away.  About how I reached out to a couple of mama friends who hugged me and cried with me and told me that it would be okay.  That light exists on the other side.  That this parenting, this teaching, this being a person is hard, hard, hard, and that it gets better.

Then at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, one student brought an entire community into pain.

Then I was going to write about how several days a week, I walk through a high school cafeteria 23 miles from that cafeteria, and how I teach freshmen like the freshmen there.  I was going to write about how I wept when I looked out over that sea of teenagers this week and imagined any of them lying in a pool of their own blood.

I was going to write about how my colleagues in counseling and social work were at Marysville this week, helping people in that community wade through the swamp of grief and shock that they found themselves in.  And how I don’t know how they do it, and return to their own schools, and try to figure out a way to prevent this from happening again and again:  this violence that seems relentless.

I was going to write about the medical struggles of family and friends, which are different swamps we need to learn how to navigate.  We learn how not to sink into the fear of the future, of other prognoses, of the dark uncertainties we imagine.

Maybe what I need to write is about the relentlessness of hope.

I was going to write these things after they passed.  How one day I turned on Pandora and the first song that played was “Here Comes the Sun.”  And then when I was driving back from my therapist’s office, a rainbow appeared against dark storm clouds.

Then I went for a run in the rain and felt joy again.  My kids’ hysterical giggles at letting go of a blown-up balloon and watching it squirt around the room were contagious.  My students discussed how to support someone who is struggling emotionally:  their insights and compassion will heal hearts.

It can feel like hope disappoints us.  I have been there.  Where hope seems like an illusion, like a unicorn, like fairies.  Hope seems like another form of platitude, like “Stay strong,” or “It’ll be okay,” or “Keep your chin up.”

But it exists.  Relentlessly.  It waits.  Sometimes for a long while.  Like my mountains that hide in fog and shadow and reappear surprisingly, around the curve of the highway, or between houses on a side street.

Even when healing seems impossible.  Even when the darkness feels all-consuming.  Even when we don’t recognize ourselves or the future we expected.

I keep finding that the relentlessness of hope overcomes the relentlessness of despair.


More Good Things

October 16, 2014

Some Good Things of the past couple of months:

Sometimes even their conflicts are funny.  An example:

J to T, across the dinner table:  I’m hitting you.  Hit.  [gesturing a hitting motion]
T to J:  I’m wiping the hit off.  Wipe.  [gesturing a wiping motion]

Hide-and-seek with three-year-olds is pretty awesome:

Me:  One…two…
A:  Wait for me to go to my hiding stump.  (There is only 1 stump in my parents’ yard.  She stands on it and waits for me to “find” her.)

Some recent highlights:

  • Audrey sometimes calls Jamie “James,” which is immensely adorable.
  • Audrey climbs the neighbor’s tree (from the ladder attached to it, but still…).
  • Audrey’s “I’m gonna tell you how it is” face and mannerism is awesome:  earnestly wide-open eyes, head tilted to one side, hand gestures punctuating her explanations.
  • I have had to hide my salad spinner because it became a carousel for small stuffed animals.

photo 3-3

  • Theresa taught herself how to pedal a trike, and shrieked gleefully as she rode down the sidewalk.
  • Theresa loves giving hugs, to me:  “I’m giving you gentle pats on the back”; to her animals: “I’m hugging my [insert animal] because I love him.”
  • Theresa will say in her Sorrowful Voice, “I’m just having a rough day,” and then take deep breaths to help herself feel better.
  • We have indoctrinated them to the Disney canon thanks to Aunt AJ’s gift this summer and the loan of Nana’s Music of Disney cds.  For a while, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” was the only song, on repeat; now “Be Our Guest” and “Under the Sea” vie for top billing, and for a while we read nothing but Disney every night at bedtime.

photo 1-5

  • Jamie knows left and right with excellent accuracy.
  • Jamie made up a game riding down the very small hill of our driveway and taught himself how to balance–he zooms on that little bike.
  • Jamie loves making up stories.  They often involve elevators, Mike Mulligan, Jenny from Disney’s “Once Upon a Wintertime,” and more recently, Ariel.
  • I either can’t find kitchen items like dish towels (used as baby blankets) or strainers (used as helmets, bathtubs for stuffed animals, etc.) but also do find very unusual things in kitchen cabinets:  storytelling cards in with my baking dishes, blankets with the cutting boards, rubber ducks in muffin tins.


They say the awesomest things:

  • Audrey, always trying to be helpful and kind:  Grampy, thank you for a very nice trip.
  • A:  I have a strong brain so I can carry my pumpkin.


  • T:  I would like two apple slices and six hashews please.
  • T, remembering falling fully-clothed into a filling bathtub:  I was doing my yoga and my clothes got all perklunkty.
  • Alan:  We were in New Hampshire!  T:  Nick Hampster?  J:  New Hamp shirt?


  • J:  One is my favorite number!  Two is my favorite number!  Three is… [and on through ten]
  • J:  I’m Grampy!  Alan:  Grampy, how’d you get so small?  J:  I’m…retired!
  • All:  the “Bear Nesesames” (from The Jungle Book)


  • They make up their own words for things:  scabby-doody-doody is the bottom kitchen drawer of baking dishes where they slide play cards into the slot between drawers, pretending it’s a ticket machine, and duck-a-pookie (we can’t figure out what that means).


Gratitude in October

October 14, 2014

It was pretty rocky here for a few weeks.  Now things are evening out.  I’m working on a post of kid updates, but that sort of thing takes a while because it has to be just right.  In the meantime, some gratitude observations:

photo 2-5

  • for everything pumpkin.
  • for fractal romanesco.


  • for audiobooks during my commute:  most recently, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, and Finding Beauty in a Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams.
  • for autumn days at the beach, cool sand on the toes, and practicing balancing with “airplane arms” like Coach Jordan taught.


  • for working with students on personal narratives–the kind of writing I like teaching and reading best.
  • for chatting and laughing with former students as I walk through the cafeteria.
  • for finishing long-term projects.


  • for giggles at dinnertime, and singing.  Always the singing.
  • for Tuesday night yoga that heals my body and my brain and my spirit.
  • for leaves flying through the air and crunching underfoot and dangling from the nearly-bare branches.


  • for my tribe, near and far.

Let It Go. (No, seriously. All of it.)

October 6, 2014

“Let It Go” from Frozen had become my mantra this summer.  On my runs, or after bedtime while doing chores, I would sing along with the gloriously-voiced Idina Menzel in my not-glorious voice.  “The past is in the past.”  Move on.  Let go.

And then school started.  And preschool.  And we dropped naptime.  And the kids’ oppositional behavior ratcheted up.  And I kind of forgot about it.

Well, I didn’t really forget.  Instead, whenever I remembered it, it would just make me mad.  I would run through my complaints with the Powers That Be:

My kids are so crabby in the late afternoon, and we’re in process of figuring out this new routine, so instead of routine-that-works, we have routine-in-process, which involves lots of screaming and crying and fighting and everyone exhausted.

Let it go.

My house is a disaster and I can’t find anything because my non-kid time has shrunk dramatically.

Let it go.

My body and my psyche feel off because I haven’t been exercising or eating right or sleeping enough and I know I can’t do All the Things, but can’t I at least have one thing?

Nope.  Let it go.

My days and weeks feel like a stream of plans interrupted by unexpected crises.  Like having to drive my signed contract to HR because I had blanked on the deadline.

Let it go.

I screwed up my interaction with this kid today, and that reminds me of all the times I have screwed up recently, and the Litany of Shortcomings gets stuck on repeat.

We’ve been through this.  Let it go.

One kid makes a whiny whimper that sounds like nails on a chalkboard; one kid’s default angry reaction is to scream in the nearest person’s face; and one kid ignores simple requests and refuses to comply with nearly every transition.

Let it all go.

Dammit, I HAVE been letting it go.  I’ve been letting go how long it takes me to grade papers and get them back.  I’ve been letting go cooking time, and organizing, and running, and sleep, and friend time.  I have tried to let go of the Lost Things.  I have let go of ever getting anywhere on time.  I have let go of errands and of getting breaks during the day and…and…  When do I get to hang on to something?

No, seriously.  All of it.

I was am sick of letting everything go all the time.  I want things to go MY way.  I get stuck in Unreasonable Expectations-Land (that’s an area of Disney that parents could identify with).  Things like:

  • assuming that my kids will respond to my directives. My recent method of handling defiant children sounds something like YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME.  It doesn’t work.
  • anticipating that my own clothing is clean and easy to find.
  • having time to figure out a probable food allergy (to peppers and also I think tomatoes but am too wary of trying them again).
  • finding parenting strategies that address both preschool-age behavior and multiples.  Apparently the market for parents of three three-year-olds is pretty small.

So it looks like my standards will need to relax.  Again.  I guess they can’t go completely rock-bottom because it would be against the law to go to work naked due to lack of findable clothing at 5:45 am.

And I am brought back to the hard truth that the only thing I control is my reactions to things.  That’s it.  That’s all I get.

This phase feels Hard.  Not Hard x3, but Hard cubed.  Like we’re in a pressure cooker of Needs and Feelings and how it’s just really hard to be a person, no matter what age.  And I’m emotionally exhausted and the Middle Way seems really hard to find.  So I’m working on letting it go.  Showing the same compassion to myself that I try to show my kids, my students, my friends, and my family.

P.S. I also like this multi-language version of “Let It Go,” and this Jimmy Fallon version.

Reason #5921 that I love yoga night:  watching the sunset on my walk home.

Reason #5921 that I love yoga night: watching the sunset on my walk home.

Do Not Go Gentle into That Last Nap

October 1, 2014

This past weekend, we entered into a new Twilight Zone:  the end of naps, for good?

It has been building for a while.  No one told me about the weird phase of toddlerhood when they fall asleep readily at naptime and then are awake and partying until 9:30 or 10 pm.

I could have let this go for a while, if they were awake but quiet after bedtime.


The other night my kids made up a game called “Fox Ball,” in which Theresa’s stuffed fox is thrown from bed to bed like a turn around the bases.  Audrey has a wicked sidearm.

In an attempt to keep them awake but still give me no-kid time, we moved into a new phase of “rest time” in which each kid gets several books and maybe a puzzle, for an hour and a bit.  Jamie and Theresa started off in pack’n’plays, and graduated to little cots.  Audrey got her own bed, and I think she pretty much stayed there even though she had the whole room at her disposal.

But even then the girls–and sometimes Jamie–would fall asleep among their books and in full light coming in through the windows, and then the after-bedtime-party would shake the kitchen ceiling.

Dropping a nap has been a challenging process both times we’ve gone through it before–not necessarily for the kids, but more so for me.  I cherish that kid-free time.  Need it, in fact.  Especially on those days when I am by myself.  How will I manage without that break?

As usual, the transition is a process of trial and error.  We currently have individual quiet time for half an hour, followed by an hour of storytime to ensure no one accidentally falls asleep.  We think we need to move bedtime earlier rather than keep it at its old slot.

I am glad to have that post-bedtime quiet back.  I am glad not to have to go in five times for potty time or to break up fights or confiscate stuffed animals.  Really, I miss the days when we had peace at naptime AND peace after bedtime–those were glorious.

I know there are glorious days ahead of us too.  We will navigate the cranky-pants late afternoons, the meltdowns over tooth-brushing, the loss of all coping skills as their little bodies adjust to a different rhythm.

For now, I offer this, with apologies to Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that last nap.
Parents do burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the toddler sleeping gap.

Wise parents, who’ll lose sanity’s last scrap
Without those brief reprieves of silence; they
Do not go gentle into that last nap.

Good parents, who feel their patience will snap
Like fishing line pulled taut across a bay,
Rage, rage against the toddler sleeping gap.

Wild toddlers, whose energy does not sap
But builds to crabbiness with no delay,
Do not go gentle into that last nap.

Crazed parents, who anticipate this crap
In bedtime wars where both sides lose the fray,
Rage, rage against the toddler sleeping gap.

And you, my children, cuddled on my lap,
Exhausted from your growth but want to play,
Do not go gentle into that last nap.
Rage, rage against the toddler sleeping gap.


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