All tagged FAMILY

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 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.

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.

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. 

"I want to be brave," says my daughter

It's the first thing she says when I ask her about what kind of adult she wants to be. Also: "a good job, a nice home, and two best friends—one of whom I've known since high school." A pretty solid list, especially at fourteen.

"Bravery is something you can learn," I tell her, "like any other skill."

The Things That Birds Evolved From

"What's the most important moment of your life?" I say and my son rolls his eyes. "Gastrulation!"

His mom is pregnant and so we've been talking a lot about where babies come from. Revision: He is a nine year old boy, so we've been talking about everything. 

What school do astronauts go to? How many days does it take for Komodo Dragon venom to kill you? When did Tyrannosaurs Rex live?

Of colons and men; and learning by contrast

When my husband sends me a Google calendar invite for Colonoscopy @ Thu Apr 12, I shrug and accept.

"What did you do, book us the Couple's Colonoscopy Suite?" I say. "I'm imagining luxurious sheets, our tables side-by-side, the scent of lavender."

"I knew you were going to give me a hard time about that one," he says. 

Walls: how kids know we love them enough

Why set firm boundaries for your kids?

A friend described it this way: that our job as parents is to create these strong walls around our kids. Our kids will push up against them to test, Do you love me enough? Do you love me enough to hold this wall for me? 

What many parents of teenagers see as frustrating acts of rebellion, my friend sees as a yearning for love. So beautiful.

On: sitting with grief

When we came home Sunday night, Basil was gone and he's not coming back. Basil (BAH-zil) is—was—my cat. Sweet and soft and exactly the size of my lap.

I had no idea it would hurt this much. Grief, that is. The absence of him.

My yoga teacher says that our bodies talk to us without words. And so it was with Basil; he talked to me without words. And now, where I feel his absence the most is in my body.

Being with Mom

My alarm went off at 4:50 this morning. My mother was already up, fully dressed for swimming, and munching on cereal at the table while reading the newspaper.

"It's Distance Friday!" she says happily as she drives me through dark city streets. "On Fridays, Marg and I always do Distance Friday."

Wishes from the Colorado mountains

Mountain cabin. Nighttime. Stars spilled across the sky as carelessly as flour across a granite counter top. The Milky Way herself, visible as a faint luminescence spread as if with a butter knife. I've been coming here since I was a little girl.

Tonight we are roasting marshmallows under a clear sky.

"Look," I say. "A shooting star."