Stepmotherhood: a reckoning now that Dad’s back

So this idyllic and companionable relationship I’ve had with my 15-year-old stepdaughter the last six months while Dad was deployed? Weathering and cracking like unfinished wood since he returned.

Last Saturday, my husband and I returned home after a late-night groceries run. I was in the kitchen putting the last of the produce away when Sean came in and said, “A— is crying on her bed. She says you are over-controlling, but then when there’s things she wants you say you don’t have to because you’re the stepmom.”

How sports free us from chronic stress; and an Oceanside 70.3 recap

One way to think about sports is as a structure for overcoming obstacles, in competition. Get from here to there, jump from this to that, take this thing and move it over there—and do it fastest, or farthest. Sports is a recognition that strength and self-transformation don’t happen by sitting in the bleachers.

Many of us now live in chronic stress and anxiety. In response, there is a trend toward slowing down: slow food, gentle movement, meditation.

How parents are bad for their children

Since my husband’s fifteen-year-old daughter moved in with us in September, I’ve seen A transform and become radiant. I didn’t realize the gravity of A’s anxieties and insecurities until I saw her shed them, week after week, as she started at a new school, joined clubs, and (joy of joys!) made awesome friends. She carries herself with more confidence now and even my parents and friends remark on how her face glows.

Why do so many men do Ironman? Why do so many women do yoga?

If a woman wants “me” time, that’s assumed to be code for grocery shopping without the kids, going to a one-hour yoga class, or indulging at a spa. 

Have you ever heard a man say, “I need some ‘me’ time”?

A woman should be toned, but not muscular; be fit, but not by taking time away from her family; eat well, but not the whole bowl; glow, but not sweat; be confident, but not want to win.

Take the Leap: Recaping the 2018 World Championship in South Africa

You know that thing where you are working hard for something, over months or even years, and you keep imagining it in your mind, in pieces, like what you will wear, and just how hard will you have to push your legs, and what will the expression be on your face at that particular moment—and then it happens, you really live it for 4 hours and 35 minutes, and you’re just like, Wow.

The fight in yoga and how Richard became the Lionheart

There’s a legend about how Richard the Lionheart, a famous king and warrior during the 12th century, got his name.

Richard was imprisoned on his way home from the Crusades by the King of the Roman Empire. As the story goes, the King decided he would first starve his prisoner—and then he would unleash a wild lion into the cell. What did Richard do when he heard of this terrible plot? He did the only thing he could do: He prepared to fight. Richard took the candle in his cell and melted the wax into his palm where it hardened, giving him a stronger fist.

Negotiating fear: It's going to take more than hot chocolate

No moon tonight and it’s darker than dark, especially if you have to walk through the woods to the outhouse. 

Kids are up in the loft, their daddy is reading to them from A Wrinkle in Time and Z is making his own starry night with a battery-powered turtle that casts starry illumination across the ceiling as his sister lies next to Sean in rapt attention.

Dealing (not dealing) with injury

I’m grounded from running right now. I have screeching pain in the area around my left hip flexor. Despite improvement every day, full recovery remains out of reach. What I originally thought was a small hiccup, three to five days off, has settled into an ever-present prohibition against the freedom of opening up into a long stride at the track, kicking too hard in the pool, or bouncing down the stairs.

It's telling that I recently said to someone I’d been off running for a month—when in actuality it was only two weeks. But when you’re stuck in a limbo of waiting for something to arrive over which you have so little influence, the imagination obliges with worst-case scenarios. 

The things we measure

In 2008, I was listening to the head of the World Wildlife Fund speak about the importance of collecting data: "We measure the things we care about," he said. Carter Roberts was arguing for why, when we care about saving a particular species, we can't just pour all our money into buying up habitat: we also have to measure how the population is doing.

Roberts went on to describe how, growing up, his dad would mark his height on the back of a door in their house. Every birthday, another pencil mark at the top of his little boy's head.

You're a military wife now.

This is what my therapist says somewhere in the middle of our first session together.

Military. Wife.

This should be an obvious statement, but the way it struck me and how it continues to echo around inside my head highlights my resistance to the label. Military wife.