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Know a single mom who needs a break this holiday? Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your best friend or your sister. Maybe it’s the woman who lives in your building, who you don’t even know that well – yet.
Here’s a contest. Let her know that you are thinking about her, that you see how hard she is working, and you’re proud of the job she is doing. Trust me. That’s all she really wants anyway – to know she is appreciated.
You can nominate a mom, nominate yourself, or make a donation. Spread the love!
(But do it quick. Deadline is May 6)

Click here for UrbanSitter’s Mothers Day Contest

SMN - Urban Sitter Single Mother's Day Giveaway

Write Now.

Last week at AWP, a national conference for about 15,000 writers, a very well-known author told a single mother/struggling writer in the audience (whose baby was sleeping in a stroller next to her) that she could put pen to paper later, that now was the time to spend with her baby because these years are fleeting. They would be over before she knew it. Cherish it, he said. There’s time to write later.
I think this is total and utter bullshit. Of course we should cherish our children, but if you have something to write, write it now. When your children are sleeping. When they are napping. When they are watching television, playing on the floor, eating lunch or splashing in the bathtub. Write your story in a notebook that you keep in your purse, in the diaper bag, on the nightstand. Write it in a notebook that you keep in the bathroom.
Write it on a fishstick coupon, a Friendly’s receipt. Write it on the back of an envelope, a business card, a Starbucks napkin. It doesn’t fucking matter. Just write it.
There’s time to write now AND later. This isn’t an either/or scenario.
Writing is a practice. Nobody is born good at it, not even this very famous author at AWP. I don’t know him personally, but I’m fairly certain he wasn’t born writing books that get turned into movies. We all suck at first. We all write crappy first drafts. But if we keep telling ourselves later, later, later – then there will never be any first drafts. There will never be any practice.
Here’s the truth: There will always be something standing between you and the page. Maybe it’s the baby’s first few months of life. Maybe it’s the baby’s first day of school. Maybe it’s the baby’s soccer practice or orchestra practice or art class. Maybe it’s those pesky teenage years, or the stress of sending your baby off to college.
Maybe it’s guilt. We shouldn’t be writing! We should be cherishing! We should be watching our children as they sleep, as they eat, as they play. Writing is selfish!
I call bullshit on that.
Here’s what isn’t bullshit: If you don’t practice writing now, then you won’t practice writing later either. If you don’t start sitting with the guilt of balancing motherhood with writing, then you will never learn how to let that feeling go. And we all need practice with letting that feeling go.
Cherish your baby. But cherish yourself too.
And write, write, write, write.

Nerve

If I run my fingertips along the outside of my left thigh, the feeling there is dull and numbed, more irritating than soothing. The sensation contains an eerie kind of distance, as though I were touching my own body through layers and layers of cloth.
It’s been that way since I was pregnant, when the weight of my growing uterus pressed on the large nerve that wraps around the pelvic bone and extends down the femur. It was worse then, the numbness so overwhelming sometimes that I had to sit down and rest. After my daughter was born, things never completely went back to the way they had been. The feeling, though muted, remained.
Add it to the list of things about my body that haven’t been the same since the day I became a mother. My waistline is thicker. My ribs are wider. My breasts are saggier. A patch of pale pink lines adorn my stomach, and whenever I sneeze, I pee a little.
My body isn’t the same on the outside, nor is it the same on the inside. I’m a bundle of nerves. Every day, I worry that something or someone is going to hurt my child. Will we get into a car accident on our drive to school? Will she fall on the playground and break her arm? Will today be the day we get that earthquake everyone’s always talking about? Will she huddle beneath her desk, scared and crying and waiting for the shaking to stop? Will she encounter a pedophile? Will he be a stranger or someone she knows, someone she trusts?
Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t have had her, not because I don’t love her but because I do. Too much. More than I can bear. I don’t know what to do with all that love. It presses on me from the inside, leaving me frozen and fretful and anxious for her to come home.
At least when she was inside my womb I could keep my eye on her. Now she’s out in the world, exposed to things that terrify me. And as she grows, the risks only become greater. Will she make friends? Will she feel lost? Will she do drugs? Will she drink and drive, have sex, get pregnant? Will she be depressed or angry or confused? Will she get sick? Will she love her body? Will she love herself? Will she love me?
That patch of skin on my thigh may still be numb, but I can run my fingertips from knee to thigh and feel every single thing.

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Single mom. Superhero.

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Buon Natale

This photo popped up on my Facebook page the other day. It’s from six years ago, during Angie’s and my first Christmas in our own apartment.
I wasn’t ready to look at it then, and I’m not sure I’m completely ready now, but after a few days of mulling it over, I can see the beautiful things in this photograph. The dignity of that gorgeous staircase. The hopefulness of ornamentation. The togetherness of two stockings instead of three. I sold my diamond ring that year to buy a tree and presents for my daughter, and it was the best damn thing I ever did. Well, one of the best things anyway. That Christmas morning was unforgettable. Angie, in her Hannah Montana pajamas, tearing at wrapping paper. And me, sipping coffee, exhausted but satisfied.
Not long after this picture was taken, I went to California for the first time ever. I saw blue sky and possibility and knew that Angie and I were bound for something else.
This weekend, we’re going to put up our tree and hang some stockings. Three now. Not two.

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Pushcart nomination

This week brought news of a Pushcart Prize nomination, my first. The nomination is for a collage/lyrical essay titled “Sand Dollars,” which took about three years to write and appeared in Hippocampus Magazine in March 2015.
It’s always been a secret dream of mine to be nominated for a Pushcart. Winning doesn’t even matter really (though it would be nice).
Cross your fingers, friends!
But before you do, click here to read my essay.

Not a day goes by.

Seven years ago, I had a whole different life. I had a house and a family. I had a plan for the future. I had a sense of purpose and identity. And then one day, it was all gone. Gone. It happened so fast that I wondered how much of it had been mine to begin with.
After that, there was a whole lot of pain, a whole lot of questioning, and a whole lot of suffering and surrendering. But every second of sadness and despair I’ve ever been through, I would go through it all again to get here, to this place where I am now. I have all the things I had before, and then some. I have a beautiful child and a man who adores us. I have a new life, more purpose, and the deep understanding that I can endure anything. I don’t make plans anymore. I let life surprise me.
Not a single day goes by that I’m not grateful.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
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Letting Go

This morning’s yoga class was very challenging – the kind of class where you think, oh shit, this might have been a bad idea. This might have been too much.
In some of the more difficult poses, as my breath quickened and my mind raced to all the other things I could have been doing instead, a thought popped into my head.
Let it come. Let it go.
What was it? I suppose it was discomfort. It was resistance. It was feelings of inadequacy or regret. It was that voice that says, not today, Wendy. Not today.
Let that come in.
Let that go out.
I found myself staying in each pose a bit longer. I found myself not freaking out, not wondering whether the teacher would notice if I snuck out the back door.
I breathed a little slower. My shoulders softened. My heart opened. Those uneasy feelings still came, still burbled somewhere under my collarbone or in the back of my throat. But instead of dwelling in them, instead of attaching to them, I let them wash over me. I let them move through me as though I were made of water.
I think I’ll take that with me through the rest of the day, maybe even the rest of the week. When traffic sucks. When work isn’t going the way I’d like. When my daughter is being difficult. It may not make the challenges any easier, but it might help me get through them with a little less struggle, a little less anxiety. And isn’t that all that matters anyway?
Let it come.
Let it go.

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Kicking Up

Lately, in my yoga practice, I’ve been working on handstand, which happens to be my second-least favorite asana (first is wheel). Handstand, or adho mukha vrksasana in sanskrit, is scary and requires lots of arm strength and abdominal control. You literally turn the world upside down. Whenever the teacher makes us do it, I grumble a little and think of excuses to get out of doing it.
Today, as I was at the wall, kicking into my handstand, I almost made it up. My feet nearly grazed the wall. And it scared the heck out of me, how close I came to landing the pose. After that, I couldn’t kick up at all. My feet barely left the ground.
How often does that happen, that we dream and work toward something, and when it is finally about to come true, we suddenly back off, thinking maybe we didn’t want it that much in the first place?
I don’t just do this in yoga. I do it with my writing, with teaching, with trips and new projects. Any time the thing I’ve been dreaming about looks as though it’s about to become real, I’m suddenly frightened away, talking myself out of wanting it.
What scares me about kicking up into headstand is that I might fall. My arms might collapse. I may not be strong enough. I could hurt myself. The world looks different and strange when you’re upside down. But today, when I almost made it into the pose, what scared me most is that I may be stronger than I realized. I maybe have more control and more courage than I knew. If I can do this, what else might I be capable of? Sometimes it is our potential to do great things is most terrifying.


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
~Marianne Williamson

Filthy Mama

Last year, we went to Hawaii. We chose the Big Island because we wanted to see everything – the beaches, the volcanoes, the touristy spots and the quieter areas where tourists don’t usually go. It was the most beautiful, magical, relaxing vacation I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to go back.
My favorite part? Pahoa, where an erupting volcano and its lava flow were encroaching on the town. I loved standing at the top of Kilauea with my daughter and about five hundred other people, watching the orange-red glow of the center of the volcano. Breathtaking.
The best thing I brought home was a bar of soap from the Maku’u Farmers Market, and after I got home and settled back in to life on the mainland, I went online and ordered more. All my mom friends got a bar of this, Filthy Mama, a mix of lavender flowers, oats, coconut oil and a bunch of other natural stuff. At first, it was the name that grabbed me, and the sassy illustration on the packaging. But the products smell divine and they make my skin softer.
Another good one to try: strawberry sweetheart smoochie lip balm. Good for kids (like mine) who don’t like the minty, stinky lip balms.
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