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Owning the good

January 8, 2014

I spend a lot of time hearing the Should Mama’s voice.

However, these past few weeks have seen a mini victory of sorts.

We had the rush to get work completed before Christmas break, and an unexpected snow day that prevented me from finishing things at school.  The basement is (finally, finally, oh happy day!) finished, so we spent that weekend assessing and moving and organizing a tiny fraction of what will go in there.  There were a couple of days to prepare for Christmas and our Christmas Eve open house.  The day after Christmas we flew to Boston,

Audrey and Theresa look for pictures of animals or diggers in the in-flight magazine.

Audrey and Theresa look for pictures of animals or diggers in the in-flight magazine.

then drove to Connecticut for Jen’s annual Christmakkah celebration,

Four college friends, two spouses, five kids under five = one awesome Christmakkah.

Four college friends, two spouses, five kids under five = one awesome Christmakkah.

then visited with family and friends,

then drove to Maine to visit with the cousins, and awesome aunt and uncle,

Cousins, west and east coast

Cousins, west and east coast

then experienced the snowpocalypse that initiated the New Year (please note:  Audrey wishes to be a snow plow driver when she grows up),


Audrey and Theresa watching Daddy throw snowballs into the ocean.

then dealt with two cancelled flights–one discovered at the airport after schlepping all our gear there, rescheduling for a flight that might or might not make it out of Logan (but hey, we met Elizabeth Warren, who was so nice to our kids), racing to barely make our connection in DC, dealing with at least one kid always awake on the cross-country flight, one puker (thank God we bring extra clothes in the carry-on), and exhaustion reminiscent of newborn parenting,

Senator Warren discusses the financial crisis with our kids.

Senator Warren discusses the financial crisis with our kids.

and my nasty cold combined with laryngitis, which passed to Theresa as croup.  I sat for three steamy bathroom sessions in nine hours, took her to the pediatrician’s, gave her the prescription, and rocked and whispered and tried to convince the other two that they did NOT want to be sick too.

And I did not lose it with my kids.

Not once.

I got frustrated, sure.  For the ten days of our trip, there was usually one extra adult around to help distract or calm or entertain, but even during the mealtime fights, the non-naps, the throwing of objects…I didn’t lose it.

And I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but here is one I can try to keep:

  • limiting my consumption of digital media, inspired by the Hands-Free Mama.

My friends share all kinds of interesting parenting articles on Facebook.  I subscribe to a couple of parenting blogs.  I read these because I want to be better, to learn new strategies or hear different perspectives on how to raise compassionate, resilient, independent, confident children.

Although these articles have good ideas, often I end up feeling inadequate.  The Should Mama gears up again:  are you letting your kids be bored enough?  are you developing their right brain enough?  are you letting them eat too much bread?  are you setting enough boundaries?  are you setting too many boundaries?

These two-plus weeks have made me realize two things:

1.  I can cultivate more patience with my kids, and

2.  When I lose my patience, I am given the opportunity to show them how to make amends.  Not a reason to berate myself for always doing it wrong.

My kids don’t care what Korean or French or attachment mamas do.

They want me.  Me, with my imperfections and humanity.  As another imperfect mama said, “heroic and horrible, and magical and messy, and beautiful and bumbling, with love and laughter and light, and grace and gratitude and grime.”

Of course I want to improve as a parent.  This learning curve is steep and the Stuff To Be Learned is always shifting.

I also want to own the good.  It’s mine, all of it:  the little victories, the mistakes.  The moments of holding my daughter as she wheezes and curls against my torso, of helping my son have “calm down time,” of watching my daughter imitate me as she cares for her baby doll:  “It’s all right.  I help you feel better.”

Own it, mamas.  Own the good.  You have so much of it to build on.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. rayaless permalink
    January 11, 2014 1:37 am

    I echo BJ! I admire you – greatly – as a mother Michelle! You are an inspiration.

    AND, now back in the Northwest, take good care! Hope your own awful cold, and Teresa’s croup, both heal soon. A restful weekend to you!

  2. Neal & BJ permalink
    January 9, 2014 11:57 am

    You’re the “perfect Mama” for Audrey, Theresa, and Jamie, and they couldn’t ask for a better one!!


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