O: Mom, I'm discomfortable. I'm too too hot. 

K: Take off your jacket.

O: But then I'll be cold like a popsicle.

When it comes to ambient temperature, O has about a three degree window of comfort. She is hungry constantly, except when she's not, and then she will pick delicately at whatever is placed in front of her. She is often hungry for only one particular food group, usually carbohydrates, namely bread. 

O: But Mommy, I'm not apple hungry. I'm bread hungry.

K: Aren't we all, kiddo. Aren't we all?

Hard work and a sandy tushy are rarely comfortable, but so worth it. 

Hard work and a sandy tushy are rarely comfortable, but so worth it. 

I feel responsible to provide for my children's basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, and so on. I even feel responsible to provide them with an engaging and enriching life: swim lessons, education, vacations, trips to museums. As O gets older and more self-sufficient, however, I feel less and less responsible for her overall comfort. Even as I'm typing this I realize how harsh that might sound. I really don't care much about her comfort. 

I want her to have agency and understand consequences. I want her to make the choice to not carry her jacket and then deal with the natural consequence that extends from that choice.  

But even beyond that, I don't want her to always be comfortable. Most of the big, wonderful things in life are uncomfortable at some point. Learning something new, putting yourself out there for a new relationship, getting your PhD, mastering a skill, swimming in the big pool, these things are not comfortable. They require someone with the resilience to move through discomfort, to see the big picture, to chase the dream.

Unfortunately, what that looks like right now is my dragging a hungry, inappropriately dressed preschooler through the world, while she wails that her bag is too heavy and her shoes hurt her feet, while I stride forward, deaf to her cries and blind to the judgmental stares from anyone in earshot. Mostly. 

Mother of the year.

A Museum, a Park, a Beach, Repeat

O: Momma, are we starting the day, or ending the day, or in the middle of the day?

I love summer, or at least I used to, when I was a kid. As I trudged into adulthood it has started to mean less and less. Sure, it is warmer and it is light later into the evening, but gone is that free feeling of having nothing to do, nowhere to be. I no longer live in my swimsuit, my hair in an eternal matted pony tail. 

But here we are, at the beginning of O's second summer off from pre-school, and somehow, that tingly summer feeling is returning. This week I rolled down a hill, swam in the ocean, and ate ice cream for dinner. Our bathing suits are living on the line outside and haven't been fully dry all week. In a few days, we are going camping. We will return home, exhausted and that first post-camping bath will leave a dirt ring around the tub as satisfying as the trip itself. Summer is a time to be dirty, to roll in the sand, to eat cherries until your fingertips are stained red, to lay in the dirt on your belly and look for bugs, to lay in the grass on your back and watch the clouds. I'm ready. I suppose, if O and P want to join in, they are invited too. 

This summer, my recipe is this: a museum, a park, a beach, repeat. Every week, we are going to attempt those three things. That should leave plenty of time for cloud gazing, getting dirty, and cherry eating too. 

Grand Plans

O: Mooooom, slow down. You walk too fast. Why do we always have somewhere to be?

Summer is nearly upon us and I was making grand plans.

I have a tendency to make grand plans, aspirational, over-reaching plans. I love schedules, lists and graphs, but I don't alway love following them. Sitting with a lined legal pad, a sharpened pencil, a cup of coffee and a world of possibilities is one of my favorite things. Everything feels possible from that place. I like possible.  

A friend shared her goals for the summer with me, and it got me thinking about how I set goals and measure my own success at reaching them. I will usually set a detailed (no joke: like by the hour) schedule and attempt to follow it and as soon as I miss one bench mark or time stamp, I will chuck the entire thing out the window, because my perfect plan has been sullied and is no longer viable.  We will then proceed to spend the entire day in our pajamas, watching Frozen on a loop and counting the minutes until bedtime.  

Photo Credit: O Felton

Photo Credit: O Felton

My friend's goals didn't need a time stamp or bench marks.  They were big-picture goals about what she wanted for herself and her children. They were attainable, reasonable, and exciting. My list-making mind instantly saw the smaller steps that they needed to be dissected into, but the goals themselves were beautiful in their simplicity and focus: one for her alone-a commitment to her own physical health, one for her family-embarking on a creative project on behalf of her daughter that she would share with her husband, and one for her kids-to spend as much time as possible exploring our beautiful city.  These clean, lovely goals instantly made me realize my own lack of focus, in spite of my color-coded graphs and charts.

So, following the rubric of my dear, and very wise friend, here are my summer goals:  (I am not sure I will be able to resist the compulsion to schedule, graph and color code, but if I am at least working from a big-picture place, perhaps that will help.)

1. A goal for me: I want to begin making relationships with theaters closer to home. There is a lot of theatre in Los Angeles and I need to start putting in the time and energy to make relationships there, so that I can do more than one show a year and not kill myself with the Long Beach commute. 

2. A goal for my family: A move away from our beloved screens. Frozen and Curious George have become a huge presence in our house over the past few months, and I am not apologizing for it, but I am excited to see a lot less TV time. As for Jim and me, we have both made a commitment to be more present and less plugged in this summer. We've been looking here for that inspiration and support: The Hands Free Mama.

3. A goal for O and P: Spend as much time outside as possible, recognizing that our adventures don't have to be grand in order to be exhilarating.

It is a place to start.  I will still use my giant blackboard wall calendar in my kitchen. I will still draw out schedules on those legal pads. I'm not sure I know how to stop myself, but I will also try to forgive when I fall short, to pick-up and carry on where we left off, instead of chucking my well-meaning plans out the window. 

I can't wait for summer. I am replacing my grand plans with trips to the beach, playdates, and days with no schedules, where I will say yes as much as possible, slow down, and try to quiet my own mind when P wants to spend twenty minutes talking to a leaf or O wants to take pictures of some flowers. I can't wait. 

These Three


This is my happy place, right here, with these three.  I try really hard to hold the feeling that this picture gives me in my heart all the time: when both of the girls are screaming, when the house is mess, when I am struggling.  

I try to remember how easy it all can be, when I remember the important things.  There really are only three important things, when you get right down to it. Okay, maybe four. I am trying to remember to put myself on that list too.