Scary moments in parenting

anaphylaxis in young children

Image courtesy of Flickr user Rolf Larsen

Hello all!  It’s been awhile…life has gotten crazy busy these last few weeks, but I’m looking forward to things slowing down a bit in the next week or so.

In the meantime, please check out my essay that was posted over at The Momoir Project:

[Bess] was playing with blocks on the living room floor while I loaded the dishwasher in the next room. Her piercing shriek brought me running. I found my daughter lying on the ground, face swollen beyond recognition, desperately clawing at her sausage tongue. With that inner calm that people find in moments like this, I picked up the phone. I dialed 911.

“What is your emergency?” I was the picture of composure.

“My daughter appears to be having an allergic reaction and is not breathing.”

Read the whole thing here.

Kids say the funniest things

kids say the funniest things

At a birthday party recently, Harry took a moment out of the action to pose for a photo op. He thinks he's awfully cute.

So busy!  We were in Washington, D.C. for almost a week, and work has been crazy, and Bess has been sick…and I’ve had no time to write!

And there’s so much I want to write about, too.  Our trip to D.C. provided much food for non-violent parenting thought, I’ve finished two books I want to review (both novels, unusual for me), there have been some interesting articles and blog posts that beg commentary, and I also read Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams (it’s free, you can download it in every format imaginable here).  Alas, all those things will have to wait for another day when I have some free moments to put together a coherent thought.

In the meantime…more funny things my kids have said recently:

  • John: “Harry, have you brushed your teeth yet?”  Harry: “I brush my teeth on Thursday, Tuesday and Sunday.  Is it one of those days?”
  • Harry has had a cold, and whenever he sneezes he runs around the house saying “Snot alert!” which sounds like “Snot aloit!”  And then, usually, he wipes his snot on my shirt.
  • The other day, my mom put Harry in the bath and then went home.  When I started taking the toys out of the bath so I could wash him and get him out of the tub, he reprimanded me: “No, Mommy!  Oma (pronounced Oooh-ma) put those in here for FUN!”
  • Bess wanted Harry to get out of her bed, so she said: “Here’s the rule, no boys allowed in my bed!”  I thought this to be a most excellent rule.  But then she amended it to “No boys allowed in my bed except Daddy and Evan”.  Evan is her friend across the street.  This is a significantly less excellent version of the rule.  I suspect that we will have to revisit that rule in approximately ten years, specifically as it relates to Evan.
  • Harry asked me the other day: “Remember when the police came and Bessie was a little bit arrested?”  I still have no idea what he was talking about; I do not recall Bess ever having been arrested, a little bit or otherwise.
  • Over the weekend, Harry was supremely uncooperative and I may have become uncharacteristically impatient at a few points in time.  After he lay in bed for an hour chatting me up and I was desperate to go to sleep, I may have asked him in a less-than-pleasant tone to stop talking and go to sleep; the next morning, when I needed to go to work and he refused to put his shoes on after approximately seven hundred billion requests, I may have made my request a bit louder.  So Sunday night he had one of his epic meltdowns, spearing me with a hockey stick and throwing toys at my head.  When I finally got him to calm down, he said: “Mommy, remember when you yelled at me last night?  I didn’t like that.  And remember when you yelled at me this morning?  I didn’t like that either.  Now that we’ve had this little talk, I feel much better and now I am sleepy.”  And he rolled over.  And he went to sleep.

What does breastfeeding have to do with feminism?

exclusively breastfed on demand

One of my (exclusively breastfed) babies

I recently found a new (new to me, not new new) blog, Mom, JD, where I read about an article by Elisabeth Badinter called “The Tyranny of Breast-Feeding: New mothers vs. La Leche League”.  It is not available online unless you want to spend $17 for a year’s subscription to Harper’s, so don’t bother looking.  I got it at the library.

Given that the article contains the words “despotism of an insatiable child”, it is no surprise that I agree with very little in it.  Mostly it is a history of La Leche League from the perspective of someone who believes that LLL’s real motive is to repress women and that it has co-opted the authority of organizations such as WHO and UNICEF in a global conspiracy to promote their women-repressing agenda.  Using quotes from extreme militant breastfeeding supporters, Badinter argues that LLL is full of uncompromising lunatics who support an “ideological shift toward…dedicated motherhood”.

Badinter’s indictment of breastfeeding culture does not jive with my experience.  I spent five days in the hospital with my first, and there was no lactation consultant available.  The nurses strongly encouraged me to bottle-feed when I found nursing difficult.  I have been chastised for nursing in museums and doctor’s offices.  I have been relegated to a bedroom to feed my babies during family gatherings.  When I spent a week in the hospital for a heart issue, I could not get a breast pump from the maternity floor to relieve my engorgement.  An “orthodoxy of nursing”?  Hardly.

I loved nursing because it made early motherhood so very much easier.  Sterilizing nipples, mixing formula, adding another thing to my grocery list, packing bottles every time I left the house…not my cup of tea.  With Harry, I got way more sleep than I would have otherwise because when he was hungry, all I had to do was roll over, lift my shirt, and go back to sleep.  (With Bess it wasn’t so easy, but that’s a long story.)  I had an ace-in-the-hole when my babies were sick or crabby.

But every situation is different.  I worked from home so it was easy to nurse on demand.  I could take a break whenever I needed to, and I never had to deal with pumping or low supply.  I recognize that I had a pretty sweet arrangement.  While I am an ardent supporter of breastfeeding, I know that it doesn’t work for everyone.

I do, however, believe that it is the height of hubris to believe that humans could manufacture a formula that is equal to breastmilk, which was shaped by millennia upon millennia of natural selection.  I believe that males and females serve different functions, and that even as 2,000 years of civilization has expanded our choices and our expectations, it has not changed our essential natures.  My feminism is primarily about choice, and that includes the choice to stay home with one’s children in lieu of working for pay.  If that makes me a “maternalist feminist”, then I will wear the label proudly.

In the end, LLL and its supposed anti-feminist agenda is a red herring.  Badinter’s readers catch a glimpse of the real issue in a quote from the International Pediatric Association: “this right [to breastfeed] is associated with another, the right to benefit from adequate maternity leave and a re-adaptation to the world of work.”  BINGO!

Badinter’s claim that “thanks to bottle-feeding, couples can share roles” is, frankly, absurd.  It is women who endure the discomfort and indignities of gestating and producing new human beings.  It is women’s bodies who expand, contract, and pulse with hormones.  A few midnight feedings can hardly be considered sharing.  It’s not about breast vs. bottle, people.  It’s about people who give birth (women) vs. people who don’t (men).  Instead of insisting that women fit into the patriarchal system that was designed by and for the benefit of men, maybe it’s time we start restructuring the system so it works for all women regardless of how they want to feed their babies should they choose to have them.

What I’m reading: The Anti-Romantic Child

This review of Priscilla Gilman’s book The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy is running over at Woman in Washington.  I hope you’ll visit, and if you like reading and talking about books on motherhood in all its agony and ecstasy, I hope you’ll join the MOTHERS Book Bag group on Good Reads!

the anti-romantic child by priscilla gilmanIn her book The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy, author Priscilla Gilman chronicles her experiences as the mother of a special-needs child. Though Gilman harbored suspicions that Benj was unlike other children, it was not until he was almost three that Gilman’s worries were confirmed. The director of a potential preschool delivered the upsetting news that he suspected something was amiss.  What their pediatrician had initially assured them was perfectly normal turned out to be hyperlexia, a disorder characterized by early reading and vocabulary acquisition coupled with a delay in spontaneous speech, motor dexterity, and social skills.

Gilman and her husband, Richard, quickly had Benj evaluated and started him in various therapies which ultimately helped him to achieve a relatively high level of functioning. With the help of expert educators and therapists, Benj learned skills that led him to overcome, or at least cope with, his difficulties. Gilman’s unwavering commitment to her son, her absolute conviction that he possessed unique and wonderful gifts, was undoubtedly the major force fueling his success.

A high achiever who grew up immersed in the arts, Gilman met her husband when they were both students in the Ph.D. program in English and American Literature at Yale. She brings her literary background to bear in The Anti-Romantic Child, scattering quotes from Wordsworth liberally throughout the book. She uses these works as a jumping-off point for examining the ways in which her romantic notions of love, marriage and childhood shaped her expectations and heightened her disappointment over the failure of her marriage and the struggles of her son.

Gilman’s seemingly superhuman efforts on behalf of her son are impressive, but her story left me vaguely disquieted. After all, my children are mostly healthy and high-functioning, I have a stable marriage, and my paying job is relatively undemanding, and yet sometimes I lose it. I do not “listen attentively to [my child], at every moment…to always make sure I’m giving him what he…needs.” I am a mostly attentive mother – but every moment? Gilman recounts the extraordinarily amicable divorce she negotiated with Richard and describes the ingenious therapeutic activities she concocted for Benj. What she does not do is delve into the depths of frustration, despair and loneliness that she must have felt. The story would be more authentic, and more interesting, if the reader was given a real glimpse into the inenviable struggles and failures of Gilman’s life.

Perhaps her reluctance to shine a light on her difficulties is a function of her desire “to make life just right for those [she] loved,” or perhaps she was trying to protect the privacy of her family and friends. She dances around the issue, admitting that she periodically “felt so lonely, in a disconcerting, frightening way,” that sometimes “it can be extremely exhausting and overwhelming” to be a wife (and ex-wife), a mother, an advocate, a daughter, and an employee. Yet, she is quick with the disclaimer that “the blessings…far outweigh the worry and stress and fatigue.” In this, Gilman is no different from any mother who feels the pressure of perfection and confuses isolated failings with utter failure. We are so concerned with justifying our choices and validating our parenting that we are afraid to expose our inadequacies. The brave among us couch our admissions with declarations of maternal devotion or cite fatigue or busyness in self-defense. How much more support and validation could be gained from candid and compassionate discussions of the dark moments of motherhood!

Is homeschooling illiberal? Part 2

homeschool child outdoors learning

image courtesy of flickr user spree2010

(My continued rant about Dana Goldstein’s Slate article, “Liberals, Don’t Homeschool Your Kids: Why Teaching Children at Home Violates Progressive Values”)

No one thinks that teachers or administrators are out to oppress parents or children.  It is the system that is, inherently and fundamentally, oppressive.  Public school staff are placed in an impossible situation.  They are given large groups of children who vary from each other in every imaginable way (except for chronological age) and are expected to teach these children the information they need to perform well on standardized tests created by people who know nothing of their particular students or situation.  Their schools’ funding, not to mention their jobs, depend on their ability to achieve this task.  No matter how hard they work, how much they sacrifice, they are told they are not doing enough.  Curriculum becomes increasingly standardized, laws become increasingly strict, and ultimately schools become little more than child management facilities.  No amount of vociferous debate will change this central fact.

How could it be any different?

If “government is the only institution with the power and scale to intervene in the massive undertaking of better educating American children” – the government that allows children to starve while bazillionaires drive around in private jets, that is more concerned with playing party politics than enacting legislation that will benefit its people – then we are doomed.  Perhaps other Western democracies enjoy a greater investment in public education because in other Western democracies the public enjoys greater government support.  Other countries provide guaranteed health care and paid family leave to citizens.  Other countries take food and environmental safety seriously.  Perhaps other Western democracies have earned their citizens’ trust.

As a counterpoint to Betsy Blanchette, I proffer the story of my friend F. whose son has Down syndrome.  At the time he was required to enter school in order to continue to receive special services, he was non-verbal.  He did, however, have an extensive sign language vocabulary; unfortunately, that did not do him any good.  You see, his school district refused to hire an aide who was fluent in sign language, saying that it was not necessary for this three-year-old boy who could not chew or reliably use the toilet to have the ability to efficiently communicate with a responsible adult.  Despite his parents’ retaining counsel and entering into litigation with the district, exercising their legal recourse, the school would not budge.  I have heard similar stories from other parents of special-needs children.

Are you f*&%ing kidding me?

Luckily, his parents had the means to move to a different school district, one more in touch with its “expertise, resources, and legal responsibility” with respect to this child.  But what if they hadn’t?

Broad scale buy in followed by kicking and screaming at school board meetings is unlikely to cause any meaningful shift in the behemoth that is American public education, at least not any time soon.  On the other hand, is it possible that the best way for education reformers to be heard is to homeschool – boycott if you will?  Gandhi, King, Chavez…need I go on?

Frankly Ms. Goldstein, your judgement regarding social values practiced versus preached is offensive.  Your accusation that I either enroll my children in public school or practice piecemeal philanthropy is disrespectful.  I want my children to grow up to be kind, compassionate, honest, generous, courageous, self-disciplined, wise and principled individuals who are motivated and passionate about making this world a better place.  After my daughter’s short time in our public school (in one of the top-rated districts in our state) it is clear to me that although lip service is paid to these qualities, they are not really valued.  Obedience, academic performance, and conformity are most highly prized.  In order to be taught, they must first be subdued.

If you can convince me that children who are trained to obey, conform, and be people-pleasers are well situated to bring about broad social change, then I am willing to reconsider the whole public school thing.

Good luck with that.

Is homeschooling illiberal?


is public school or homeschool more liberal, progressive

image courtesy of flickr user Pink Sherbet Photography

Dana Goldstein’s Slate article contending that homeschooling is antithetical to progressive social values has hit a nerve.  Homeschooling supporters Astra Taylor, Conor Friedersdorf, and Stephanie Baselice have offered rebuttals.  Since we are leaning toward homeschooling Bess and Harry, I am eyeing the debate with interest.

Goldstein’s thesis is this: Truly community-minded, liberal, progressive parents enroll their children in public school, become involved in the PTO and/or school board, and work to make things better.  I used to see her point.  I have come to understand that no amount of money or parent involvement is going to make public education anything other than what it is: too big and dysfunctional to be fixed.  I believe with every fiber of my being that each human being on this planet deserves an education.  American schools contain children but, unfortunately, fail to educate them in fundamental ways.

For what it’s worth, here are my two cents:

  • The number of homeschooling families who fail to support public education with their children’s presence (an estimated 1 – 2 million children) represents only a fraction of the children not enrolled in public school.  There are 5.5 million children enrolled in private schools, yet the focus of Goldstein’s argument is on homeschoolers.  Why should this be? Is there some fundamental difference between withdrawing from the public school system and placing your resources in a privately funded school as opposed to no school at all?  Is her gripe really about taking resources (i.e., children) out of public school, or out of school altogether?
  • Homeschooling parents will be the first to tell you that it is hard work and it isn’t for everyone, but that even single parents and families who struggle financially can make it work.  This does not stop Goldstein from accusing  homeschoolers of exercising class privilege “rooted…in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families, in which at least one parent can afford (and wants) to take significant time away from paid work in order to manage a process—education—that most parents entrust to the community at-large”.  Does having money make it easier?  Of course it does.  But wealth or unemployment are not requisite.
  • Molesters in schools are bad for PR, but they aren’t driving people to homeschool.  Parents are afraid of school violence and bullying.  These things are not rare.
  • Homeschooling is about teaching children to respect and trust themselves.  If that means having a distrust of public institutions, maybe that lack of trust is justified.  When children starve and go without medical care in the richest country in the world, when lies are used to justify sending people to war to kill other people, such trust is hard to defend.
  • Low income children attending middle-class schools may earn higher test scores, but correlation does not imply causation (Statistics 101).  Is this a peer effect as Goldstein argues?  Or is it that middle-class schools have more money, resources, and good teachers?  If you created a school with identical conditions and filled it with disadvantaged children, would they perform just as well?  And what of those low-income kids, anyway?  Their test scores may be higher if they go to school with middle-class kids – but what does that mean for them in real life?  Anything?  Nothing?  Just because school is capable of addressing poverty doesn’t mean it actually does.
  • Goldstein declares that public school makes children better people.  As evidence, she cites research suggesting that “adult graduates of integrated high schools shared a commitment to diversity, to understanding and bridging cultural differences, and to appreciating ‘the humanness of individuals across racial lines.’”  Though I did not read the research, I think it is safe to assume that the comparison is between individuals who attended integrated high schools and those who attended homogeneous high schools. I wonder what such research would find if they compared either (or both) of these groups to homeschooled children.

To be continued…

(This post has been featured on the front page of BlogHer Family, and is part of the Seasonal Celebration Sunday Linky Party at Natural Mothers Network.  If you’re visiting from one of those places, WELCOME to Ahimsa Mama!)

Three corny ideas for enlisting cooperation from your little ones

frazzled mom cartoon

My week (except for the nursling)

Our family has been minus John for ten days. During this time I have been unable to cobble together two minutes of uninterrupted thought. As an extreme introvert who needs some quiet time every day for optimal functioning – let’s just say that I am currently operating at suboptimal.

To make it all worse, Harry has entered a phase of, ahem, extreme independence. It is challenging to maintain a peaceful demeanor in the face of a three-year-old who insists that the world, or at least our family, operate at his pace. Which is very, very slow. I spend my days trying to shift him out of neutral or sometimes reverse, like when I get him ready to go, spend twenty seconds in the bathroom, and come out to find that he has removed his coat, shoes and socks. Since I couldn’t just leave him home with Daddy while I shuttled Bess around I was left with three choices:

  1. Manhandle him into the car which doesn’t work anyway since he learned to unbuckle his seat, albeit only when the car is in motion (when I have my hands full and it’s pouring rain this skill suddenly and predictably eludes him);
  2. Scream like a crazy Mommy, which is exceedingly effective but not ideal; or
  3. Get creative.

I recently invested four minutes in a video on The Greater Good blog, “Getting Kids to Listen – Without Nagging!” and gleaned this tidbit of wisdom: if you don’t give kids something to push against, they won’t need to push. Indeed: Do you like being told what to do? Should kids be any different? If we use a sing-songy “It’s time to put on our shoes now!” rather than a stern “PUT ON YOUR SHOES!”, it’s still an order.

Since defiance in the face of coercion is human nature, it’s up to me to find a better system. My mission, should I choose to accept it (as if I had a choice): concoct more playful and respectful ways to inspire cooperation rather than creating a resist or obey dynamic. Here are three ideas that are working for us right now:

  1. Fill your tank. Harry hates eating unless it’s chocolate. He doesn’t even bother asking what’s for dinner, he just goes straight to “I don’t like that”. Solution: Instead of creating artificial incentives (“If you’re not hungry enough to eat dinner then I guess you’re not hungry enough for dessert” is really a dressed-up bribe) I tell him that he’s a car and he has to fill his tank with good fuel or his engine won’t work very well.
  2. Head to the roundhouse. Transitions are a major sticking point for us right now. Solution: Instead of nagging, or giving five-, three-, and one-minute warnings which works for some kids but not Harry, when it’s time for us all to go out, we pretend to be train coaches and head to our roundhouse (the car) to prepare for our next job (grocery shopping, ballet class, whatever).
  3. Take a knee. Simply telling Harry what to expect solves a lot of problems, but he is usually too absorbed in whatever he is doing to listen. Solution: Instead of getting all lecture-y, we pretend that I am the coach and he is a hockey player, and I ask him to “take a knee” like the players do when their coach needs their attention during practice.

Of course, there’s always the old standby: ask and listen. Why don’t you want to go? Why don’t you want to eat that? Sometimes it’s the answer you expect, but sometimes you learn something new and a solution will reveal itself. You’re in the middle of the World Grand Prix? You can bring your cars to the barn! You have a tummy ache? Then you don’t have to eat! It may not be easy, but usually there is a way to solve problems where everyone wins – or at least nobody loses.

Funny kid stuff

Seriously. Tell me this picture doesn't make you smile.

I don’t have anything profound to share today.  It’s okay if you want to go read something else now.

I do want to share some funny things my kids – my three-year-old in particular – have done or said in the past few days.  It’s time for a little comic relief around here.  I always try to write the particularly humorous or cute moments in my journal to get me through those other moments.  You know the ones I’m talking about.

  • “Mommy, I peed in my underpants.”  “Harry, why did you do that?”  “Because I was wearing my underpants when I peed.”
  • “Mommy, will you please call Evan and ask him over for a playdate?”  “Honey, I can’t call him, I don’t have his number.”  “I think his number is six.”
  • After being especially fresh:  “Harry, is that how we should talk to Mommy?”  After a thoughtful moment or two:  “Yes.  Yes, it is.”
  • Bess carrying in the ice cream from the car like she is part of a transplant team bringing in a heart to the OR
  • After leaving a friend’s house to head home:  “Mommy, turn around!!!”  I turn around:  “Yes, Harry?”  Bess:  “No Mommy, he wants you to turn the car around and go back to Abba and Maddie’s house!”
  • Reading Hat Tricks Count: A Hockey Numbers Book by Matt Napier, on the page about “Mr. Hockey”, Gordie Howe, who wore #9: “No Mommy, that’s not right!  9 is Isaac!”  (That’s Harry’s favorite player on John’s team of 8-year-olds.)
  • “Mommy, can I have dessert?”  “Harry, you have to eat your dinner first so you can grow big and strong.  Then you can have dessert.”  “No Mommy, I think we should fwip.”  “What?”  “Fwip.”  “Harry, I still can’t understand what you’re saying.”  “Fwip!  Fwip!  You know, fwip them so dessert is fiwst and dinnew is wast.”  (Accompanied by wild gesticulations to emphasize the point)
  • I pour Harry a glass of juice, and he swirls it around and sniffs like he’s some sort of sommelier

What funny moments did you have with your kids this week?  You know, the ones that make the other ones worthwhile?

Talking to kids about race

photo courtesy of flickr user voxefx

I have a guest post running today over at Humane Connection on talking to kids about race.  Head on over and check it out:

What I said was: “Shoshana is one of the girls who has very dark skin. She played ‘The Two Grenadiers.’”

“Oh, yes!” Bess said. “I didn’t tell her, but I will the next time I see her.”

Was that the right thing to say? I don’t know. It felt right at the time. Or at least it felt less inappropriate than the alternative. What I said is absolutely accurate. Shoshana’s skin is darker than my daughter’s Mediterranean complexion, just as my daughter’s skin, inherited from her father, is darker than my northern European shade of pale. In one sense, it is as simple as that.

And yet…in another sense, it couldn’t be more complicated. It isn’t accurate to pretend that the difference between Shoshana and Bess is melanin-related in the same way skin color differentiates Bess from me. To imply otherwise is insincere, and unfair, and disrespectful. It is easy for me to describe Shoshana that way, given that I am speaking from a place of relative privilege. I cannot even begin to imagine all the ways in which people of color do not experience the world in the way that I do.

I’d love your feedback, either here or there.  How do you talk to your kids about race?  How do you teach them about diversity, especially if you don’t live in a particularly diverse community?  What kinds of words do you use?

My word of 2012 (drumroll please)

This would be a good word of the year, but it's not the one I chose. image courtesy of flickr user libookperson

It seems that a number of the bloggers I follow are forging a new tradition.  They are not making resolutions this year (a practice that never appealed to me anyway); they are choosing a Word of 2012, words like “yes“, “edit“, and “focus“. This idea, to choose one word that has the potential to inspire and create intention, has captured my imagination.

Looking back over the American Dialect Society‘s list of Words of the Year (WotY) brings a sense of recognition and nostalgia: “tweet” for 2009, “metrosexual” in 2003, “chad” (as in hanging) for 2000, “Not!” in 1992, “google” for the decade 2000 – 2009.  It’s like turning the pages of your high school yearbook.  This year’s winner, “occupy”, seems a no-brainer: the word is brilliant shorthand for a complex idea that has come to capture public imagination.

Oxford Dictionary named “squeezed middle” the word of 2011 (significantly less compelling than “occupy”, and not even a word but two), and dictionary.com bestowed WotY honors upon “tergiversate”.  Yes, it’s a word.  ter-JIV-er-sate, to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.  Hold onto that one for a crossword puzzle, because I can’t imagine any other context in which it would be useful.

I see choosing a personal WotY as less of a resolution-making-type activity and more of an intellectual exercise in wrapping my mind around the complexity that is my life.  I already am painfully aware of the areas where I need improvement – but can I create a code word that can help keep me focused?  Can I find one word that identifies and teases out the underlying current that runs like groundwater through my being and springs to the surface through my many faults?

I have pondered and meditated, and I have chosen for my 2012 WotY: foundation.  The basis or groundwork of anything.  In a nutshell, what I need to focus on right now is laying the foundation for a healthy life.  I need to work on sustaining my mental health.  I need to take better care of my physical health.  Most importantly, I need to focus on living my message and building a healthy home for my family.

When I am not at my best (a euphemism for hypomania or agitated depression), I forget to make dinner, keep track of our schedule, and give the kids a bath and get them to bed on time.  This tends to happen when I am not eating well, exercising enough, or getting enough rest.  I jump from task to task without finishing anything, and I can’t focus attention when my kids want to tell me about their days, play a game of checkers, or read the next chapter of Junie B.  I am always scrambling but never really getting anything important done – because, let’s face it, those are the really important things.

This is not good for my children, and it is not the kind of mother I want to be.  I want our home to be a place of peace, consistency, solace, love, hugs, laughs, and fun, a place where my family feels cherished and cared for.  My personal code word – foundation – will remind me what is important, and to remember that laying a good groundwork will make everything else fall into place.