Ready, Jet, Go

My kid watches PBS every morning. This is mostly because we don’t have cable and it’s the only kids show on in the morning. But, it’s also because both we and she love the shows. Sure Daniel Tiger is whiny, and Pinkalicious is a name I didn’t know existed, and Thomas is pretty selfish. But still, it brings forth topics that we can talk about. And I trust that I can walk away, and for the most part, her brain won’t take in mindless nonsense or insensitive messages that I will miss.

This morning she was watching “Ready, Jet, Go.” It’s an odd show, but all about the universe and outer space. She has learned a ton and enjoys the banter of the characters named after random vegetables. When she was watching this morning, I heard the young character Jet (last name Propulsion), talking to his mom, Celery (random vegetable) and he was worried he was too big for a lullaby. She instead told him he’s never too big and sang him a lullaby about it. Jet is likely about 7 or 8 in the show, and I was so grateful for this moment. I have no idea the context of what caused this song, but yes! We all deserve a lullaby every once and a while.

I recently had a memory of my sister listening to me sing when I was much younger. My family is very musical and I am not the singer of the group. This simply means, that I’m not the record maker or the lead vocalist, by my definition of course. But I remember this moment singing to myself and I remember her thinking the world of me in that moment. When that memory came to me, I thought that we all must have a perfect voice to the right listener.

I sing to these babies all the time. I used to never sing because I was fearful of what others thought of my singing. Well my kids think I am the most perfect singer. And not because of how I sound, but because they love me and enjoy these moments with me. There are even moments when I start a lullaby and the baby bounces with joy because it’s one of his favorites.

So sing to your kids, lullabies, for as long as they’ll let you.

Ready, jet, go.

Every moment

The baby wakes me at 5:30am most mornings. Today, it was 5:34am, an extra four minutes of overdue rest.

After 1st breakfast, (I call it this because it’s impossible to not eat again until lunch at noon) we sat down to relax. He was a bit tired and squirmy, so when this happens I turn on whatever news or nature show will help him be still as he prepares for his first nap.

Today, we watched humans rescue blue iguanas and pygmy three-toed sloths on the 1000 Days for the Planet series.

A commercial came on and I heard it say, “What’s happening to men in America? We’re being robbed of our masculinity, that’s what.” I looked up and it was a commercial for a testosterone supplement.

It then said, “We have less testosterone than our fathers, and even less than our grandfathers, threatening everything from libido to energy to strength and performance,” and further calling it a “full on vitality crisis.”

Staring at the line graph showing the downward trend on the TV screen, his little eyes staring too, I quickly rebutted, “You have all of the testosterone you need, and so does mommy.”

The commercial then went on to speak to the outcomes of the pill, stating it will help you to “to rule in the bedroom.” I quickly responded with, “You never need to rule in the bedroom.” Then I kissed him on his head.

He’s 7 months old. Yes, so maybe I should be careful about the TV, but it was a show on improving the planet, being better humans. And yes I could have changed the channel or even turned it off, but I didn’t. Instead, I got to this message first because I sat with him and we heard it together this morning.

Today…this morning…after a cisman swimming in his own entitlement with his good ole boys made it to the top of the judicial power list…I got to refute all of this by getting to this message first. His little body heard from the person he trusts the most that he needs none of that. That his body is built perfectly, he has all that he needs. And for the first time, and certainly not the last, he heard someone tell him that he doesn’t get to rule anyone sexually.

Every moment folks, every moment counts. Now on to explaining to my daughter that we’re on the trajectory towards a shift in her ability to rule her own body, both in the bedroom and in the doctor’s office.

I can smell the woods

These past four months, I have been stuck in a world of work. Returning from maternity leave, I was brought back to a job that needed more of my attention than I was able to give. But during and before my leave, I had been prioritizing me in order to prioritize my family. I was working one less day a week and instead making space for other things like writing, parenting, and loving on myself.

During the past four months, having to release that time off has been hard on my body and my mind, it’s been hard on parenting.

But mixed in there has been a lot of joy and transition. We moved to another state, selling our house and seeking a new community to raise our family. We have found a quiet, connected little town, that smells like the woods. At night, I can see the full milky way, sprinkled by stars that I have only seen in such mass in a few other places. The other night we lost power. It was so dark and so quiet, that all of these years of watching the Walking Dead made me suspect that the zombies had finally come.

Perhaps it was the smell in the air, or just that I’m tired, but a few weeks ago, I made a choice to let go. This, week I have officially stopped working. I have worked diligently over the last year to try to save money to give me some time to stay home with my family, to spend more time with my kids. Selling our home pushed this savings into a pot of reality. So one Sunday night, I looked at my partner and said that I needed to do this. He agreed and now here I am after wrapping up the final week of work at a place where I have built my life, my work for the past 10 1/2 years. I can taste the freedom, feel the liberation seeping into my soul. It’s time to step back and be me.

My Mom delivered a box of items from my childhood when she came up last month to help unpack. In it, I found a book of us 5th graders, citing our intentions for the future. “When I grow up, I want to be a writer or an artist,” I filled in. All I could think was where did that go. How did that get lost?

A while back, I was driving to work one day thinking about my kid and her love for baby dolls. I was trying to figure out how that came to be, this obsession with mothering, caring for a little one. Then, I saw it. Clear as day. The image of myself playing house with my friends, holding my Baby Talks doll tight. I was the mom, my friends were the kids. And I took the job seriously, even nursing the baby when she was hungry.

In moments like this, I remember. I remember what it’s like to not be told who I should be, what I am capable of, where I should go next. My career has been that. Noticed as a “leader” early on, I have been pointed in that direction. Given opportunity after opportunity, too young to feel that it’s acceptable to say no. Too driven by money in a time where working full time, living in a two income household, making more money than I could have imagined, still left us without a savings, or some basic needs as they arose.

These next few weeks, I will spend some time grounding myself in my art, writing, and mothering. I am blessed to have financial support to do this for a couple of months. To hold these babies close so many more hours a week. To play, laugh, love, even lose my patience for once at something so pure rather than so systematically contrived.

I hope to write more, and I hope to explore where this life takes me next. Thank you for joining along the way.

Boys will be boys?

I’m going to tell you a story.

“Can I tell you something that happened yesterday?”


“A boy tried to kill me.”


“Well first he tried to kiss me, and then he tried to kill me.”

“What did you do?”

“I told him to stop but he didn’t listen.”

“Did you tell anyone else?”

“Yes, twice.”

“Did they do anything?”

“They told him to stop the first time. Then the second time they made us be in different places.”

“Did you want this boy to kiss you?”

“No. And it wasn’t him who kissed me. It was another smaller boy who they pushed onto me to kiss me.”

“Wait, what happened!?!”

“Two boys pushed another boy at me and he got my mouth.”

“Did he want to kiss you?”

“No, he ran away after.”

“To where?”

“To tell.”

“What did you do when he was forced to kiss you?”

“I leaned back to get away but it was hard because I was against the fence.”

This, my friends, is the story my daughter told me today. She is five. This other boy who tried to kill her, by pelting her with a football was a grade older, in first grade. He was angry because she wouldn’t let him kiss her. So, he instead used his age and force to push a younger boy, who is in kindergarten, on her. Today, she said things were better but the older boy still tried to kiss her even after she said no. Today she had a friend with her, whom my kid left by accident (her words) to play with two others and her friend started to cry and ask for her mom because she was left alone with the older boy who was also trying to kiss her.

Boys will be boys eh?

I asked her what she wanted me to do. She was unsure so I gave her options. I could talk to the boy’s parents, talk to the head of the play group where it happened, or let it be. She wants to give him one more chance to see how he is next time.

I am so mad, so sad, and at a loss as a parent. We, as parents, need to work together to keep our kids safe from violence. This kid is not a bad kid, I truly believe that there is no such thing. He’s simply learned what society has offered him. He’s in charge, he can do what he wants to others, and you should get angry when a girl says no. He’s modeling what surrounds him every day, as his little body and mind start to grow into this world.

He is in 1st grade, let’s let that sink in.

This folks is where it starts. Kids this young already have this message. This young person has already learned that he has every right to demand what he wants from a woman’s body, that fury is an appropriate response to rejection. I can’t help but add that we like to talk about mental health when a young white boy kills his classmates or community in a school shooting, often in response to a romantic denial or broken relationship. Let me be clear that I am not linking this young person to this potential future. Instead, I am talking about a pattern. We are setting up young men to expect things from women, that they are entitled. And when they don’t get what they’re entitled to, that anger is appropriate. Rage even.

He told her that he was trying to kill her because she wouldn’t kiss him.

The story of my five year old is my story as a child, as a teenager, as an adult. Your story as a child, as a teenager, as an adult. And, it’s only the first chapter in hers.

Bodily autonomy

Bodily autonomy…this has been quite the feat with my 5 year old. I am constantly worried about her body and ensuring that she owns it and others respect it. This seems to be going well. We respect her “no” and help guide her when she encounters others and it’s clear she understands how important this is. For her. But we haven’t successfully taught her the same of others.

She still hugs her friends or takes their hands without asking. She does it out of love and comfort, but we want her to know that intention and impact do not necessarily correlate, nor are they one and the same.

Her learning of this is most obvious with my partner. When she’s wound up or pushing limits she gets grabby. She hangs on his legs, hugs him tight, climbs on him, etc. And he regularly asks her to stop. She ignores this request repeatedly until it blows up and he prys her off of him and he leaves the room to scream into a pillow or something of the sort.

The other night she hurt him and he was mad. While he was “taking space” as he was deserving, I talked with her more about this.

“Why do you think daddy is upset?

“I don’t know.”

“Did you check in with him?”

She ran to the door, I heard some mumbles and then she returned.

“He’s still mad,” she said.

She got teary eyed because I could tell she was sure she was supposed to be upset, but I could also see that she was struggling understanding the why.

I asked her, “do you like it when people touch you when you say not to.

She replied, “no.”

I said bluntly, “look kid, there are people in this world who hurt other people by touching them when they don’t want to be touched. I do not want you to be one of those people.”

She looked at me and said that she just wanted to apologize . So she headed out and tried again, this time with success.

I’ve been thinking about this moment a lot. My mind keeps asking, how did we miss this? Two things come to mind. As a person who has been touched by other people when not wanting to be touched, I likely hold a history in my body different than my partner’s. I wonder if my energy holds a stronger line than his. Secondly, and most importantly, I am wondering how well he and I model this for her. Today and moving forward, my partner and I are paying attention to how we ask for consent before touch.

I’m also thinking about how to do it with the baby. I see her give him big hugs as his little body struggles to push her off sometimes. She’s missing the cues and I know I need to do more for her. For us.

More to come soon

Hey Folks! I’ve had a month filled with beautiful chaos and I’ve lost my hold on getting posts up. I wanted you to know that I’m sending out love and that I’m still writing. More to come soon. Happy summer!

Lots of babies

A couple of months back, I quickly realized that I had never talked with my daughter about pregnancy options. I taught her consent, that not all pregnancies survive, and how pregnancy happens. But I missed this crucial piece. Luckily, kids are brilliant and she brought it up herself.

“Mom, when are we going to have the next baby?” she asked as I cradled her two week old sibling.

“Not sure we’re going to have any more, big kid,” I replied.

“But I want lots of babies,” she insisted.

I just looked at her, both surprised by her request because it seemed like this baby was already old news, and because she knows that the first step in having a baby is that I decide to have a baby.

She quickly noticed my reaction and said, “but it is your decision.”

Before this baby was created, she insisted on a sibling. Trying to help her learn that it’s her body, her decision, I taught her the steps of pregnancy. First, the person who will grow the baby has to decide they want to. Next, they have to talk to their partner. When both decide yes, they try to make a pregnancy. The details of making the pregnancy we learned together through reading “It’s Not the Stork” by Robie Harris. (Tip: This book is binary when it comes to gender. We replaced the pronouns and re-worded when we read to draw the difference between body parts and gender. It’s fantastically comprehensive otherwise).

When she reminded me about pregnancy as a decision, I jumped in to reinforce this and to share more about other options.

“If Daddy and I do decide to have another baby, we’ll likely choose adoption,” I told her. “Adoption is where someone else grows the baby and different people become the parents or parent.”

“I don’t know what you’re saying,” she told me. This is my cue to share simple yet explicit details with her as she’s asking to not just know but to understand.

I explained that not all people choose to be pregnant. That for some people, it happens not on purpose, for some because others make the choice for them, and even for some they change their mind after the pregnancy starts to grow. I told her that when this happens, people can choose what happens to the pregnancy. That a person can choose to grow the fetus into a baby and become that baby’s parent, or they can choose to grow the fetus into a baby and someone else becomes the parent which is called adoption, or a person can choose to stop the pregnancy and not grow the fetus.

She was stuck on the adoption piece and wanted to know more. She asked why someone wouldn’t be the baby’s parent and I told her it could be alot of reasons like not wanting to be a parent then or ever, not having what they want or need to be a parent, having someone else choose the pregnancy when they didn’t decide, or just because someone wants something different or better for the fetus.

She grabbed on to the first option and replied, “That’s a mean thing to do.”

“What is?,” I asked.

“To not want to be the baby’s parent,” she emphasized.

I knew this was a crucial moment that I wanted to get right so I went into it slowly. “There are all sorts of reasons that people choose not to be a baby’s parent,” I responded. “Yes, some may seem mean and some may seem better to you or others. But remember when I said pregnancy is your decision?”

She nodded.

“At any point, any person can choose to decide what happens to their body and their life. This includes choosing not to be a parent. Yes, it can seem mean or sad, but it’s still a decision. And there are people who can’t grow a baby, or who can and don’t want to that can become these kids parents.” I explained.

“I don’t want to talk anymore about this,” she said.

This is my cue that this is too big for her age. This usually pops up when she’s challenged in exploring values that she’s hasn’t fully developed yet. I stopped, but felt so glad that we started to talk about this. No matter what, I want her to know that she decides for her body and life first, always.

And I feel proud how quickly she remembered that the same is true for me. Besides, she can have “lots of babies” herself one day, if she chooses.

Piece of cake

I want to talk about parenting and food, because goodness do I have no idea what I am doing. I am frustrated with myself by the things I say to my daughter:

“Finish that or no treat for dessert…finish that or we won’t go…eat that or I’ll take away this…three more bites…you have to eat…ok let’s just go straight to bed…you should have eaten at dinner, I’m sorry you’re still hungry…etc”

So many messages in there, most of which I don’t want to pass on. Here are the messages I unintentionally provide daily:

– You must always eat all that’s on your plate.

– Food is a privilege, it can be taken away. I can take it away.

– Sweets are a goal to get to.

– I don’t care that you’re full, eat more.

– I will punish you if you don’t eat what I decide is best for your growing body.

– You only get to eat when I say you eat.

Meanwhile I eat what I want when I want and so does my partner. I nurse the baby at their request. They eat as much as they want when they want. She’s the odd one out, surrounded by unfairness, no control of her body or her nourishment. Why do I get to be the authoritarian? When will I let this go?

Here’s what I want her to know.

– Food nourishes your body, keeps you alive, helps you live, gives you love and energy from the earth.

-Your body tells you what it wants, how much it wants, when it’s hungry and when it’s full.

-Food is not a privilege, it’s a right.

– There are people everywhere stripped of this resource, so what resources we choose are important because it impacts others. This includes working to not waste them and giving care to our food.

Here’s an idea we are going to try with her. I will write more as we explore this. I see there being three major changes to our approach to food.

1) She can have one treat per day if she wants to. And whenever she wants it. This does not include a treat we decide to gift to her. The treat is always her choice and our gift does not replace this choice.

We started this already, the first day she ate it before dinner. Since then she has nearly forgotten about treats. I’d like to think this may be because they are no longer incentives. We’ll see where this goes next.

2) She does not have to finish her food. She’s done when she’s done. We still push a time limit because I’d like her to treat food with care rather than eating while distracted. Any leftover food gets put away for a future meal.

With some unpacking, I went deep into why I cared about this so much. As a kid, I watched my dad get so upset when we wasted food. So upset that he’d just consume the leftovers. As an adult, I get it. I type this shortly after eating a watermelon airhead (which I’m pretty sure isn’t really food) because she didn’t like it and wanted to toss it. Food not only costs money but there are people with no food and what a jerk move to just waste it because we can. So instead of making her feel bad about it, we are working to remind her of her leftovers for snacks and simply serving them with her next meal. So far, most leftovers are getting eaten.

3) This one we’ve only started to explore, but here is the concept. Meals are broken into four groups and are currently titled: proteins, grains, fruits, and vegetables. For this, she gets three options in each category to choose from. The key is that all four categories get some coverage in a meal.

In my head, I envision a magnetized board where I can put the day’s choices, but my time is limited for such a craft project at the moment. So instead, I’m laying the groundwork by offering her choices in threes. Rather than saying “what do you want?,” I’m going with “here are your choices, what do you want?” In full five year old style, when I ask her simply what she wants, she always says “I don’t know, you pick.” Of no surprise, she says no to all of my picks. She has also given push-back on the three choices when I offer this model, saying that she wants none of them. But when I’m patient and let her think for herself, she almost always chooses one of them. She’s still at that age where everything needs to be her ultimate choice so it’s a balance of autonomy and direction.

Here’s what I don’t know yet: what to do with meals I cook. She currently rarely eats them. I need to move beyond my own hurt feelings when no one eats what I’ve made because it’s not about me or my cooking. In reality, I cook what I want, what my body asks for. Or I cook what I think they need or want. This is mostly because I live with two eaters who don’t decide what they want until they want it. This brings me right back to me deciding what nourishment goes into their bodies, when I have no knowledge of what their bodies are asking for. I need to figure our how to help her learn what her body is telling her.

I have two other ideas to help balance this…two dinner nights that are standard. The first is try something new night. We make a new dish that we haven’t all had before and we all try it. The second is whatever you want night. On this night, we all fend for ourselves and eat whatever we want to eat. Even ice cream…which will likely be my choice.

I figure this will set the stage for being explorative and curious with new tastes and foods, while also opening up space to explore your wants, desires, and hunger. For all of us.

There is still so much to learn and unpack in my relationship with food, both for myself and as a parent. But I am growing and exploring how to give my kids more autonomy, more ownership of their bodies, as I seek to find a better relationship with mine. I desperately want to lay the groundwork for them, in the hopes of preventing the same misunderstandings I’ve had along the way. To prevent any socialized shame, guilt, or misinformation the world tells us about nutrition

I’ll admit this all came to head when we were attending a birthday party a few weekends back. We had a two hour food disagreement where my socialization overtook my heart, and I heard my words in a deeply troubling way.

She wouldn’t eat her lunch so I threatened to take away cake at the party. She had that look that told me she doubted I’d actually do that, so she held her ground and “lost the privilege.” Guilt consumed me so I made my partner come up with a compromise so she could “earn” it back. He made peanut butter crackers for her and she had to finish them to get cake. There were three. In the car on the way to the party, she ate two. We ended up granting cake if she took one more bite of a cracker. She did.

Participating in and leading this two hour long ordeal, and hearing what we said to her along the way, felt so wrong. It felt like we had to win. And it felt like she had had enough of our authority.

In the end, she had the cake and my partner and I came up with this plan.

Ready, set, here we go.

Giving and receiving love

I have been called a (r)evolutionary parent. It’s quite the compliment and I’m struggling with embracing it. It’s made me think about how we accept love and kindness from others. Whether or not we fully accept gratitude.

Recently my family was in town and at dinner we were having a fun time when my dad all of a sudden took the moment to share words of love. He told me how great of a parent I am, how much he loved me and how incredibly proud he was. I looked into his loving face, tears in the corner of his eyes and I minimized it. In complete discomfort, I threw it back, saying I learned from the best, waved away his words, shrugged them off. Why couldn’t I just sit there, feel the love, and embrace the kind and loving words given to me? Do I not believe it? Perhaps it was my own insecurities? Or maybe just the martini I knew he had..see I did it again…as if alcohol would create a false sense of pride in me.

Last spring, I went on a leadership retreat in a pristine place in Canada. The group leader did an activity where we had to accept love and praise. First, we stood in front of the group and shared our vision. Then the group would erupt in praise. We hooted, hollered, whistled, yelled, cheered, clapped, stomped, you name it. To say it was overwhelming doesn’t speak enough to the feeling of this love. And here was the key part, we weren’t able to leave the front of the room until we fully accepted the love. We weren’t allowed to brush it off, roll our eyes, or use whatever social cue we knew to ask the praiser to quit it…like we didn’t want to burden them to have to offer more…when really we were uncomfortable receiving.

It took me several seconds but then I felt it. And I burst into tears.

I’m told all the time I’m good at things, that I’m a leader, that I’m liked, even that I’m looked up to. But rarely do I feel these laced with pure love. Revolutionary love at that.

I tell my kids all the time how amazing they are. That I think they’re brilliant, brave, beautiful, a gift to me, a gift to us, a gift from this world.

It’s time I showed them how to receive it. That I speak highly of myself in tough moments, that in these moments I am doing my best. And that that is enough right now. That when my father tells me I’m an amazing mom, I hear it because I believe it. That when my partner tells me I am exactly as I should be, I know he’s right.

I need them to hear all of the amazing things, for them to believe it, and for them to receive this love. Sure I want them to be humble, to learn humility. But this doesn’t mean you don’t believe it. It simply means we own it and decide how to use it.

Recently, I watched a Ted Talks with Valarie Kaur called “3 lessons of revolutionary love in a time of rage“. She defines revolutionary love as made up of three things: the first being that we love ourselves, the second being that we love others, and the third being that we love our enemies.

We are terrible at self love. For some reason, we push the notion that we should love others yet we don’t even know how to love ourselves. It’s no wonder we are all so sick in this country. I do imagine that if we all loved ourselves more fully then maybe we wouldn’t focus so much on what we want to take or dismiss from others.

If cismen loved themselves deeply, would this remove the drive, the need to strip power from other genders? If white people embraced their own race with love and forgiveness, would we be more inclined to not hesitate in making reparations? If one religion believed that their beliefs rooted them in their wholeness, would it matter that other beliefs were held differently? If the U.S. loved itself enough to see its failures, would we stop claiming we are the best while simultaneously militarizing not just other countries but our own home?

If we love ourselves fully and are willing to receive love from others, then it must make it that much easier to love them back. And this includes those that may have harmed us or others. Valarie shares an example of this, forgiveness rooted in love. It’s amazing strength. It’s amazing humanity.

For my children, I will practice self love and accepting love. For me, I will work at receiving it, feeling it, embracing that I deserve all of it for simply being me. I will remind them of all of this, hoping they do the same as they continue to grow into this magical chaotic world. Today too, you should as well.

Here us an offering. Many of you I don’t know well, some I have never met. But this is no less true. Today I offer my love to you.

You are amazing. You are a gift from this earth. Perfectly created into every tiny cell. Perfectly created to thrive, excel, love, offer. You are brilliant, given the exact right body and mind to participate in this world exactly as you are meant to. You are one of earth’s greatest creations. You are love, are loved, and deserve all of the greatness that you are.

“If, then” podcast

This is a great podcast and I recommend it for a listen. One of the speakers, Eroc, is a friend and a (r)evolutionary parent.

In this podcast, he is unpacking the complicated components of punishment with two other men. It is three men talking honestly about how they want to step towards the world they envision as parents.

I’ll let you listen. But I want to speak to one part that struck me so importantly. That our parents are three dimensional. That they parented with what they knew, then learned and strived for better in their parenting. That now we get to take their gifts of experience and build on that in our own parenting, moving even closer to the world we want to see for our children.

And most importantly, this means that we are three dimensional too. That we are also learners, teachers, legacy.

I would love to chat with any and all who listen and want to talk more. Feel free to comment below or send me a message here.