This world. This place. This life.


Don’t imagine me drowning

So much of what I read about parenting young children focuses on how overwhelming it is. And it is.

But I’m grateful for every blog post that helps me remember the love and joy Willa brings to my life.

Because the truth is, even though I’m flailing around in the water, I’m not drowning. I’m learning to swim.

So I want to ask you—please, don’t imagine me drowning.

No matter how exhausted I may feel, I parent from a place of privilege. We can afford to have me care for Willa full-time, and I have outlets for the not-mama parts of my brain. For lunch today, Willa will eat ground lamb, butternut squash, zucchini, homemade yogurt, organic rice cereal, and quinoa; it takes a privileged amount of bandwidth to pull that off. Do I need support? You bet. But let’s save the lifeguards’ attention for those who really are drowning.


I have never done work which demanded so much of my creativity. All day long, every day, one problem-solving opportunity after another comes my way. Every solution lasts only until Willa’s next growth spurt. She keeps me on my toes, and I’ve never felt so alive. Who knew that “helping” with the laundry could begin at eight months? Or that it would be so much fun?


When you imagine me drowning, I imagine myself drowning, and I lose faith in myself. I focus on what’s hard, rather than imagining what’s possible. Liesl and I spent long months agonizing about taking a road trip with Willa, because we were afraid of how hard it might be. Will it be hard? Yes. No doubt about it. But I want to raise a daughter who faces challenges with courage and determination, with a sparkle of anticipation in her eyes. And if I want to do that, I have to model courage, not fear.

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Baby’s best friend

Willa was out of sorts yesterday afternoon when she woke up from her second nap. She was standing by the side of her crib, let go of the rail, and fell down. It made her grumpy.

She and I sat down in the recliner next to the crib for a bit of a snuggle, but she was still snuffling.

Brady can’t stand it when Willa is in any kind of distress.

He saw one of her toys on the floor across the room, went and got it, and brought it to her.

“Here, Willa,” he seemed to say. “Have a toy. They always make me feel better.”

And it worked.

As a thank-you, Willa gave Brady two cookies. She thought about eating them herself, but changed her mind (with my help).

Brady and Will


School of hard knocks, baby version

When we took Willa to her six-month check up, one of the questions I had for Dr. Kiehl was about crib bumpers. Specifically, breathable ones.

She listened patiently while I explained that Willa was getting her feet caught between the slats in her crib, and crying because she couldn’t get unstuck.

She kept listening while I explained that the interwebs say regular bumpers are bad (SIDS risk), but that there are these breathable ones that are supposed to be okay and . . . .

She finally interrupted me and said, “You can buy them if you want. Or you could let her learn how to get herself unstuck.”


Oh yeah.

Keep it simple.

Let her learn.

Let her learn, even if it’s the hard way.

Don’t shelter her from experience.


Willa started crawling last week, and her mobility is increasing exponentially. She’s fast, and she’s determined. If it’s in her way, she’ll keep working until she gets around it, or over it.

Even if she face plants or bonks her head.

Sometimes it’s really hard to watch.

It’s hard to change her diaper in the morning and see that her cute little knees are still red and chapped from the previous day’s adventures.

And then today I left her in her crib while I went to the bathroom.

What I saw when I came back took my breath away:


For the first time, she had grabbed hold of the top rail of her crib, and pulled herself up to standing.

I have a strong, fearless daughter, and she is exactly the child I need.

I’m a dreamer—and she pushes me to pay attention.

I’m a worrier—and she teaches me to keep her safe, and let the rest go.

Tonight, we’ll lower the crib mattress. And then I’ll try not to think about her standing there, because I need all the sleep I can get.


Mama’s Costco meltdown

I was raised to be nice.

You know that photo that’s going around on Facebook? The black and white one with a roller coaster cars full of women? The women in the first car laugh uproariously, their skirts flying up. The women in the second car are more subdued, but smiling, and clearly enjoying themselves. The unsmiling women in the third car sit with knees pressed together, hands clasped politely in their laps.

We were third car kind of people.

So when I had a mini-meltdown in the parking lot at Costco today, it was a big deal for me; a first-car person watching would probably still be laughing about it.

The meltdown was set in motion a few days ago.

Brady needed to go to the vet, so I made an appointment for Wednesday at 2:30 in the afternoon. That felt like a time that would work with Willa’s schedule. After her morning nap I would drive to town, stop at Costco, head to the vet, and be done in time for her to nap on the drive back home to Girdwood. Seamless.

But then I watched the weather, which forecasted a big snowstorm on Tuesday night. (And it was a big one. I think we got about two feet of snow.)  Friday looked better.

I called the vet. They didn’t answer, so I left a message. They called back when I was pulling my hair out trying to do something with Willa. “Friday at 11:10 a.m.?” I said. “Sure, sounds fine.”

Except it wasn’t.

Friday mornings I finish up The Interdependent Web. At 11:10, Willa’s just starting to think about wanting a nap.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up at about 5 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. Then Willa woke up early. I fed her, and put her back to sleep, and I got about an hour’s more sleep.

We rushed around, getting breakfast for me, tea for Liesl, a bit of solid food for Willa and a few minutes of nursing, and then we bundled ourselves up and headed for Anchorage.

Willa started getting fussy at the vet. She was more fussy at Babies R Us, where we stopped for a diaper change and feeding. And by the time we got to Costco, she was in full meltdown mode.

When we finally got back out to the car to head home, I was relieved that the person parked next to us was leaving. I could pull the cart up to the side of the car, and swing Willa’s carseat out of the cart and into the Subaru.

I was in the middle of doing that when, over the din of Willa’s screams, I heard someone say, “Excuse me?”

I turned around. A woman in an SUV asked, “Could you move your cart so I could pull in there?”

I snapped.

“My baby is having a meltdown,” I said. “Just chill out.”

She apologized, said that she’d been there with her kids, told me to take my time.

I realized I’d been snippy, and apologized, too.

And that was that. But I’ve been thinking about human nature today, and so I wondered how much of the world’s evil comes from accumulated stress. From the crankiness that builds up in us from lack of sleep and disrupted schedules and parking lots that are always over-full. From snippy comments and unkind words that we trade like toddlers trade germs at daycare.

I don’t know. But I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep tonight, and a fresh start tomorrow.



If I stole your shopping cart


shopping cartIt has probably happened to you. I know it’s happened to me.

You’ve just started shopping. Your cart’s empty. You walk away, and when you return, your cart is missing.

It has always annoyed me.

But today I was on the other side. Today I stole the shopping cart.

Willa and I went to Fred Meyer’s for some much-needed groceries. It’s always an ordeal. An hour’s drive to town, and an hour home. This time our only other errand was dropping off recycling, but I still had to think about nap, feeding, and diaper schedules.

And where to put Willa while I’m shopping.

My usual trick is to put her, car seat and all, in the cart, packing groceries around her as we go.  It works pretty well, until we get to the checkout. Groceries in bags are bigger than groceries not in bags.

Today I had planned to wear Willa in her Ergo carrier. But the logistics of that are tiresome, too, and Willa is the kind of child who wants to see  everything.  The Ergo is fine for the boring old condo. But in the grocery store? I couldn’t imagine her being happy in a carrier where she’s not facing the world.

So it was back to the car seat in the cart. And the problem of too many groceries.

I decided I would get one of the smaller carts for the overflow once I finished shopping. I would drag the small one behind me with one hand, pushing Willa in the bigger one with the other.

Except that the carts are stored on the other side of the theft-detection monitors.

And I have a deep-seated phobia about people thinking I’m shoplifting.

I kept thinking, “How am I going to get a cart? Maybe I’ll find an empty one somewhere.”

And I did. Close enough to the door that maybe someone meant to abandon it. Far enough that the person may have just walked away for a moment.

I’ll never know.

So the next time someone steals your shopping cart, remember this: maybe it was a stressed-out mama, just trying to figure out how to get her kid and her groceries to the car.

She was hoping you were done with the cart. If you weren’t, she’s really sorry, and she hopes she hasn’t made your day too much more stressful.

Because she’s learned that we’re all just trying to get by, as best we can.


Photo by MIKI Yoshihito, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.