For Moms & Kids Everywhere

School starts tomorrow. In some places it has already begun. In others, summer will last another week. No matter your location, if you are a mom with school-age children you face a new beginning:

Your child is going back. Or going for the first time.

Maybe you feel like this

crying

Or possibly you’re more this

excited

You could be both, but one thing is certain, you are feeling something. And that something is okay to feel. You should be anxious, a little bit stressed, not quite sure how it’s gonna pan out, and also secretly lusting over the brief moment in the morning after you’ve dropped the kid off but before the day actually has to begin for real. Savor the precious solitude of the car ride to wherever (if you don’t have a toddler in the back throwing Cheerios at your head) (if that’s the case, remember you chose to have that baby, and she is a precious cherub sent from God) because uninterrupted thinking time is vital.

To mother’s of Kindergartners, don’t panic. Kids are scarily intuitive. You might think you’re holding your shit together but in reality you look like this to your five year old

crazy

I’m gonna be real with you, most kids will lose it, or at the very least cry, on the first day of Kindergarten. That new classroom and those new kids and all that new shit on the walls they can’t quite read is just TOO MUCH. It’s hard to process, and they don’t want to disappoint you, or to look like a wuss, so they need you to be brave for them. Remember that earlier gif of TSwift? Yeah, get that out of your system before tomorrow morning. Be a Disney Princess smiling through the emotional damage you’re about to incur.

cinderella

It’s for the kids.

My son starts first grade tomorrow. I am not old enough to have a first grader. Some days, I’m not even old enough to have a houseplant. But, somehow, in the years since I had my sweet baby boy to now, he has grown tall and lean, started playing video games and decided he wants to marry the Pink Power Ranger. He’s able to read. He won’t just sink if he falls into the deep end of the swimming pool. He’s lost five teeth.

Part of me wants to pretend he hasn’t grown up at all because the reality that soon he won’t be able to sit in my lap or let me kiss him on the lips is almost too much to accept.

You could too. But we shouldn’t.

As parents, it’s essential that we give our babies the chance to be big. We have to let them face fears and conquer obstacles because the world is littered with traps and terrors they must learn now to overcome. Yes, we may want to tenderly kiss their foreheads and coo in their ears like when they were babes, but that’s not really what they need from us now.

They need us to listen. To play the game with them. To answer their questions and acknowledge their anxiety. They need us to agree that it’s scary — kindergarten, first grade, LIFE — because holy shit it really is, but it can also be great if you work hard and stay strong.

They need to learn from us that backing down from the challenge isn’t the answer. And when they struggle — because they will struggle, guys, they will hate it and they will cry about it, and around Christmas they will be DYING for a break — they need to know you care that all they want to do is veg out on the couch and watch Holiday movies while eating cookies.

And they need you sitting beside them. Just existing with them in the moment, showing them it’s okay to slow down, to say no, to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

In the end, it’s not really about school, or tests, it’s not how well they behave or what the other kids think of them. It’s about knowing they can (you can, too). We all can. Knowing you can is a powerful concept. An idea worth believing. A chance worth taking.

fly

What’s Up Wednesday: I’m Proud of All My Friends Edition*

WUWKiteWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog.

*If you can tell me which FRIEND said this, and give me the episode, I will give you a full social media shout out. And we will also need to become best friends. 

What I’m Reading

I am still reading UnSouled by Neal Shusterman, but I have a good reason. I spent a few days reading my friend and CP, Susan Crispell’s debut Adult Magic Realism novel, Love & Cupcakes this week. I definitely, heartily recommend this book if you like sweet romance and swoony guys, but even more if you have a sweet tooth. I’ll talk about it more in my interview with her next week, so stay tuned!

What I’m Writing 

I wrote about 6,000 words last week. NEW words. My WIP found it’s way back into my good graces. My characters took on new levels of honesty. I began to feel like I could actually do this thing I set out to do. This feeling gave me confidence to make some changes to my other novel, and even if they end up being thrown out, it felt good to be back in that world. I guess my Muse and I are firmly back together.

What Inspires Me

I have some very talented friends. Some are actors. Some are writers. Some are dancers. Some are computer nerds who speak in code. Conversations with gifted people get my gears spinning.

With his cousin Jubilee.

With his cousin Jubilee.

My son. I shared last week that we got a new puppy. Sam is a cautious child. His confidence and his belief in himself stammers when faced with new, and seemingly, impossible situations. In the weeks since we got him a puppy, his willingness to branch out, away from his comfort zone and into new areas, has noticeably shifted. I am the opposite of shy, timid, but that can be misconstrued sometimes as being infallibly certain. Everyone needs to be reminded they can do whatever they are doing. No one is immune to fear.

What Else I’m Up To

I have a lot of reading and critiquing to do to get ready for the Djerassi workshop in just a little over two weeks. This was pointed out to me yesterday, at which point I started requesting whiskey and silence.

My husband’s birthday is today. I’m making him manicotti for dinner this evening. The fact that I am cooking something that requires a recipe and multiple steps shows how much I care. Friday we’re having a birthday party at our house with local pizza, kraft beers, and professionally made cupcakes. My husband is the best of guys. I am thankful everyday that he’s mine.

jennifer-lawrence-oscars-gif-4-yay

Eternal respects in the form of Jennifer Lawrence’s pretty face go to Samantha Hager and Melanie Stanford for knowing that Ross is the FRIEND that bruises like a peach!

What’s Up Wednesday: the Getting my Sh*t Together Edition

WUWAutumnWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog.

(It’s been a while for me, I suck and please don’t throw tomatoes at my face. My fair skin thanks you. I bruise like a peach.*)

What I’m Reading

I binge read over the holidays. It was an avoidance tactic I employed, with great success, for everything from gift buying to food preparing to my emotional state. It was a fun time. I won’t list ALL THE BOOKS, but I did just finish These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner. I can’t decide what I think about that book yet. It was compelling, and the voices were pretty distinct, and the romance was pretty hot, but…there’s something I just can’t put my finger on. Although! The world building was pretty fantastic.

I am now reading UnSouled, book three in the UnWind dystology by Neal Shusterman. I mean, these books are pretty heavy.

marty

You don’t necessarily enjoy them. You more survive them.

What I’m Writing

Well. My Muse and I took a break from each other. Then I had to revise my pages for the Djerassi Workshop in February (in Northern California, in the mountains. Yes.) so I had to get in touch with her, and she was grumpy and maybe hung over from too much New Years celebrating, and wanted none of it. But, hot coffee and a firm hand seemed to do the trick. Then she went off again after I finished my pages, and I considered ditching her ass. She’s back now, because apparently all she needed was to know she was replaceable. I’m making progress with multiple projects (something I’ve never attempted that seems to be a stressor as well as a motivator). It’s going to be an interesting year.

What Inspires Me

Monday I was impersonating Oscar the Grouch all over the internet and Sara Biren discovered it and gave me a good talking to. (Apparently, all I need is a firm hand, too. And maybe she was actually the one who made my Muse return.) It’s not that anything prompted my grumpiness, which made my attitude all the more pathetic.

This article from Publishing Crawl by Susan Dennard (with input from Sarah J. Mass) on Maintaining Passion for your story. Not only does Susan Dennard give accessible, applicable writing advice, but the relationship she and Sarah have is truly adorable. I emailed this article to a friend, who is also one of my CPs, and we had a good laugh. (We want to grow up and be just like them.)

What Else I’m Up To

My son has wanted a dog of his own (he’s 4-years-old, so “of his own” is used loosely) since we moved back to Texas. When a friend came to us with a six month old Yorkie-Maltese mix in want of a more active home life, we couldn’t say no. And I’m glad we didn’t. My son —for the foreseeable future — is an only child. That can be lonely, even when you are surrounded by family and have two devoted parents. This puppy, whom he named James (I know, James!), has already provided him with such joy and companionship, given him confidence and responsibility, and created a new kind of joy in our home.

samandjames

*You’ll have my eternal respect, and a shout out on the next What’s Up Wednesday, if you can tell me which FRIENDS character also bruises like a peach!

A Round-up of the Internet and Life

So, it’s Friday, and I’m running out of time to post anything today. Here is a round-up of sorts, in which I digress into ranting, fangirl, and reflect. I am nothing if not varied in my interests and my moods.

1.

Libba Bray rules. She is a brilliant public speaker, funny as hell, and her writing is both totally accessible and mind-blowingly intimidating. There is nothing in YA she can’t write, to my knowledge, and I think if you told her she couldn’t write it, she’d see that as a challenge. Here is a post from her blog about getting over slumps in writing, or the depths of despair to quote Anne Shirley: On Writing Despair.

2.

Judy Blume broke boundaries with her books. To this day, you can sit down with a Blume book and be schooled in awesomeness and the art of writing transparently. The controversy that followed many of her books around after their pub date also makes her a super badass. Books should be a reflection of the hidden places, not the easily seen, and what Judy Blume touches on again and again, is that which we all want hidden. From Judy Blume: 13 Things We Learned from Judy Blume

3.

Rarely do I soapbox. Here, for a moment, I will. Rape culture is bullshit, and by bullshit I do not mean untrue. I mean dangerous and foolish. The conversation about rape in our society is painful, a weapon, and built often on prejudice or misrepresentation. It doesn’t matter how it happens, a man or woman forcing someone to have sexual intercourse or any other form of sexual act is a crime and should be viewed that way. Please, stop trying to make a case for sexual assault. Stop justifying it. Stop taking it lightly. Stop turning a blind eye. Stop making the victim feel like trash. Shame leads many to live with their assault in silence. Stop. And for that matter, stop under-educating teenagers about their bodies, what is and is not acceptable, and when or how to say no. There is such a skewed view of sex in the media, such a lack of education in our schools, such a head-in-the-sand approach for most parents, that many who end up assaulting do it from a place of ignorance and a false perception of power, dominance, and expectation.

Rape, as a word, covers a broad spectrum. Many believe it’s too broad, but I am not one of those people. Rape, whether violent or because you both got wasted and stuff got out of control, is still rape. Whether you’re a twenty five year old grad student, or a teenage boy in the locker room. Here are two, very different articles on this subject. First, how serial rapists on college campuses are evading punishment. The other is about Patton Oswalt, a well-known comedian, and his thoughts and apologies about former statements regarding the right to make rape jokes. A quote from him:

“Just because I find rape disgusting, and have never had that impulse, doesn’t mean I can make a leap into the minds of women and dismiss how they feel day to day, moment to moment, in ways both blatant and subtle, from other men, and the way the media represents the world they live in, and from what they hear in songs, see in movies, and witness on stage in a comedy club.”

Note: There are hundreds of valid articles and blog posts about rape, which should tell you, we have problem here.

4.

In case that makes you question the state of the world (and you weren’t already with the Snowden thing and our powerlessness, or the revolts in Brazil and Turkey, or everything happening all the time in the Middle East) here is a picture of my son dressed as Wolverine and his cousin, an Angry Bird, making pizza’s.

IMG_3844

There is hope for the future. 

5.

Friday’s my family celebrates Shabbat. Now, if you’re wondering why we gentiles would take part in a Jewish tradition, I assure you we do Shabbat light. We honor the Jewish people, and the concept of Shabbat rest that was part of creation from the beginning, but we do it by coming together and consciously resting, listening, and reflecting. And wine. Wine is a must, for reals. Food and candles, too.

If you would like to change up your Friday routine, here is a Shabbat prayer you can use to welcome rest. (FYI this needs to be said by a woman if you happen to have one. If not, I guess you may use your discretion.)

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights of Shabbat. (Amen)

Happy Friday evening!