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Category Archives: Mom Thoughts

Milestones (part two): Potty Training

Potty training is like sky diving. Or how I imagine sky diving would be…scary, intimidating, anxiety inducing. You watch other people do it and survive and you think “ok, I can do this” as you inch a little closer to the unavoidable edge. Then you just jump, fingers crossed you survive.

I dreaded potty training. It sounded miserable. Spending every waking moment watching her every move and anticipating her bodily functions? Using the word “potty” no less than a thousand times a day? I cringed. As my friends braved the trenches I tried to pick up tips from their experiences. I knew the general rule is to wait until the kids show signs of readiness. But what the heck does that mean? Leia wasn’t telling me when she would go, she didn’t wake up dry in the mornings. It was all so confusing. My main reason for procrastinating? I didn’t want to give up the convenience of diapers. I wasn’t ready to hear “mommy I have to pee!” then frantically drop everything and rush to the nearest bathroom.

My car broke over Thanksgiving. Knowing I would be home bound for several days, it seemed like the perfect time to face my fears. I didn’t follow a specific method, and tried to keep low expectations. I let Leia run around half naked and followed her around with a small plastic toilet all freaking day and night. There were lots of accidents. I was exhausted, and felt defeated. When she peed in the toilet for the first time I was beyond excited! I clapped and cheered and hugged her…I was so enthusiastic it scared Leia into tears. Days passed and eventually going in the potty clicked. She started having fewer and fewer accidents.

Just a normal day, chasing cats, naked.

Just a normal day, chasing cats, naked.

Nearly two months later I feel totally confident in saying my child is potty trained. No accidents in weeks. She can hold it if I tell her we need to wait to find a bathroom. I put her in pull ups for naps and bed, but they are consistently dry. The only time in the last month she woke up wet was the one time she didn’t wear a pull-up…figures. She’s been going by herself more often, especially if I’m busy in the kitchen or taking shower. Sometimes she announces her stuffed animals have to potty. She takes them to the bathroom, shuts the door, and all I hear is a flush before she comes out again. I’m sorry fragile planet for the water she’s wasting, it’s a temporary fascination.

New Years Eve, watching fireworks in a parking lots. I brought the potty with us just in case. Since then I've discovered she's pretty good at just squating on the side of the car if there isn't a potty nearby. My kid is awesome.

New Years Eve, watching fireworks in a parking lot. Good thing I brought the potty with us. However, I’ve since discovered she’s pretty good at just squatting next to the side of the car if there isn’t a potty nearby. My kid is awesome.

True story…it’s 11pm as I’m writing this (or it was yesterday when I was writing this…not when I published it) and she just woke up and came into the living room to tell me she had to pee. I went with her, then carried her back to bed. She fell back asleep right away. Who is a proud mom? This lady!

So we survived potty training. Stopping to find a bathroom when she needs to go isn’t as impossible as I feared. I love not using diapers. That said, it was definitely the hardest parenting task I’ve tackled so far. I realize potty training will seem like a piece of cake compared to the parenting challenges as she gets older, just let me have my moment! After the first few weeks it wasn’t as terrible as I expected. See? It’s exactly like skydiving. Once your feet hit the ground you feel like a bad ass and it wasn’t that scary.

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Milestones (Part One): Weaning

I don’t often feel those heart tugging “where did my baby go?” moments. I’d like to think that’s because I do a good job of enjoying her in the moment, free from wishing I could go back and do anything differently. Or maybe I just like each stage better than the last. I know, sort of parent blasphemy to say I think I like toddlers better than newborns, right?

Either way, I’ve been having more than a few “wow, you are growing up fast!” epiphanies lately. Leia will be two and a half at the end of this month. She is officially weaned and potty trained (potty training is part two on the topic of milestones). I’m starting to talk about things like preschool and her first overnight without me. When I think about it all together it seems like she’s driving off for college and I want to slam the brakes.

Let’s talk about the boobs. They are amazing. I love them for sustaining life and providing comfort for my child. I nursed on demand, nursed her to sleep, nursed her when she was sick or hurt or scared. I didn’t have to buy formula or wash bottles. Breastfeeding empowered me as a new mom, gave me confidence in my post-baby body. Seriously, I’m going to tattoo gold stars on them, they’ve earned it! When Leia was born my goal was to nurse for three months – it’s not all rainbows and puppies at first! Then at three months we had a good routine so I just kept going. At one year I gave myself a big high five, assumed Leia would start drinking cows milk and be done with the boobs. Ha! The girl still hates milk unless it’s in cereal. So after a year we kept nursing. I stopped offering but never refused. Around 18 months I started offering food or water instead of nursing, or trying other methods of soothing if she was hurt or upset. I never imagined us nursing into toddlerhood, but it worked for us. At two she was only nursing before bed and naps. She was also starting to fall asleep on her own. I’d leave the room after she nursed but while she was awake. So all those naysayers who told me my kid would never sleep on her own if I didn’t stop nursing her to sleep….you can suck it. Pun! One night about a month ago (or maybe two?) Leia didn’t ask to nurse before we sang our usual bedtime songs. I took it as a sign she was ready to start the weaning process. The next day she asked…and I told her the boobies were all gone, all dried up. She freaked out. She screamed. She cried. I hugged her and kissed her and told her I loved her. When she calmed down a little I patted her back and we sang songs like normal. The next night was the same, except she was a lot less upset. The third day she only seemed a little frustrated. For a few following weeks she would say “mommy, boobies are gone, all dry” when I’d lay down with her in bed. Then she just stopped talking about them all together. It was so bittersweet to realize after more than two years, we were all done nursing.

First week home.

First week home.

Three months and we're nursing champs!

Three months and we’re nursing champs!

One year!

One year!

Almost two, boob coma.

Almost two, boob coma.

So now that my boobs are my own again…I want new ones. I want firm, perky, slightly bigger ones. Pre-baby I never would have considered implants (liposuction on my thighs? That’s another story). My boobs were just fine, small but cute. Now? They just look tired and worn out, terribly deflated. I know it’s all in my head. I should embrace the pride I have in creating and sustaining life and shout “this body is perfect!” It is. My body is amazing, I don’t disregard that. It’s hard to find the right words…maybe I feel like I’ve earned the right to alter my body? I struggle how to tell Leia that I surgically altered my body in the same breath as I tell her “your body is perfect and beautiful exactly as is.” Thankfully I have friends (hi Jamie!) who know what I’m talking about and can give me advice if and when I decide to invest in new boobs.

Til then I’ll be shopping around for comfy new bras that give the girls the lift and support they deserve!

Leia is two

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The picture on her birthday e-vite.

That amazing little girl turned two on July 31st. I’m geeky and get a kick out of us both being born on the 31st (one month and obviously many years apart). This year we celebrated at our pool, friends and family came to swim and eat really colorful cupcakes. It was a beautiful day, an affirmation of how much love and support is always around us. I would post pictures of the party, but since I was running around in a bathing suit I didn’t have my iphone handy. And yes, it’s a shame I consider my iphone my camera. So until I harass my friends ask around, two pre-party photos will have to do.

Helping me make cupcakes the day before her party.

My mom spent the night and worked really hard all day to make sure her party was perfect. She’s the best.

Celebrating on her actual birthday at Grammy’s house. Uncle Randy bought her a bike.

Whoever said the days are long and the years are short really nailed it. Most cliches about time going too fast really hits home these days. It’s such a blessing to watch this little person I nurture grow into herself. Everyday I love her more, everyday she gives my life more meaning.

Leia here are some things you might like to know when you’re curious about your childhood. I know they’re things I’ll enjoying reminiscing on when I stumble upon this years from now.

Being silly.

You surprise me everyday with new words, lots of them. I really have to watch what I say now because you repeat it right back the first time I say it. This week’s favorite phrase: “Not yours, mine.” I can’t help but giggle, I love your verbal assertion of self. You know a lot of colors and shapes (today you said your cracker was an oval). When asked how old you are, you excitedly say “two” but usually hold up anywhere from 1 to 4 fingers.

Swings at Balboa Park.

At the park with her friend Joanna.

When we’re in a crowd or around new people, you prefer to stay close and quietly survey the scene. When you feel comfortable you’re silly and full of laughs, you’re kind and gentle. At the park, you’re happiest on the swing or climbing through the ladders and tunnels with a friend or me close by. I guess you take after both parents, preferring a cozy group of familiar faces to a loud and busy crowd. Your comfort zone has increased exponentially in the last several months. I remember being shocked the first time you were just fine turning to me and waving bye, holding someone else’s hand to go exploring. Now those moments happen more often, knowing you can always come back to me when you need a home base. In public I’ve never had to worry about you running off, you’re great about holding my hand if I need to keep you close. I realize I’ve got it incredibly easy, thank you.

This is what naptime looks like. Leia has just fallen asleep. Daphne is almost always glued to my hip. Now is when I tiptoe quietly from the room to go catch up on Facebook or read a book.

After the cats climb into bed, I usually get one small corner, maybe some blanket if I’m lucky. Leia twists and turns all over the place when she sleeps. Sometimes she sits up in her sleep and flops back down with her head at the foot of the bed.

All that tossing and turning makes for awesome morning hair.

You’re still an early riser! Most days we are up and running between 6 and 7. I make breakfast while you watch cartoons, then I take a shower while you play in the bedroom. After we get dressed it’s off to whatever adventure we’ve got planned for the day. You like to nap for a few hours in the afternoon. Sometimes we go out again after naptime to run errands or go to the park. Other times we stay in and play at home until dinner. At night we usually read a few books and clean up around the house before it’s time for a bath. You love the tub, pretending to be a fish and make tsunamis, but you despise water on your face. This makes washing your hair tricky. You scream like the world is ending for about 5 seconds until I can wipe your face dry with a washcloth. One time I leaned into the tub and poured water on my face to show you it was ok. You thought it was funny, I just ended up wet. When you get out of the tub I always say “burrito time!” and wrap you tightly in a towel. Then I hold you next to me and we sing and make funny faces in the mirror. After pajamas are on you run into the bedroom and tell kitties “night night” before climbing into bed. I nurse you to sleep, and it’s one of the best parts of my day. I get to relax, reminded to live in the present while I watch you drift off to sleep.

I used to wait until you were napping to do the laundry or dishes, now I do them when you’re awake. I encourage you to help – it’s fun to watch you put my bras on your head or socks on the cats. I like to think I’m earning “good Mom” points by making you a part of the housework at an early age. My favorite is when you help me cook. You sit on the counter and you scoop things into measuring cups or pour them into a bowl. Today I let you crack an egg, you were pretty good, you smashed the whole thing yourself! It reminds me of helping my Grandma in the kitchen.

One of three times I’ve styled her hair in the last six months.

Your hair is getting so long! You like to pick out your own clips from the bathroom drawer. A few times I’ve put it in pigtails. I wish I could tell you I styled your hair for playdates or parties or even just for fun. It’s just not something I ever think about. Your hair gets brushed and the front is twisted up in a clip so it’s out of your eyes. Mama is low maintenance.

No photo of Leia playing with iPhone
because the iPhone is my camera.

I let you play with my (otterbox covered) iPhone enough that it gives me a little mom guilt. You unlock it on your own, or if it’s Grammy’s phone you had it to her and say “code” until she unlocks it. Then find your favorite games, lately it’s the one where you line up shapes to make pictures or flip over cards to match different objects. You scroll through the pictures and play videos – your favorite is when you were riding the carousel at Balboa Park with cousin Sarah.

We go to the Zoo and Seaworld a lot, probably once a week to each place. At Seaworld your favorite thing is the Sesame Street rides – Elmo’s flying fish and Abby’s spinning sea star. Maybe you’ll be a roller coaster lover like your mom. Then we usually go check out the sharks and the turtles. You love the sharks, especially pointing out their sharp teeth. At the Zoo we always stop to see the flamingos, the monkeys and the elephants. At home you ask for an “elle ride” and I crawl around with you on my back making elephants sounds.

Riding the bus at the zoo on her birthday.

Birthday lunch.

At home we color with chalk and paint on the patio, fill up the bird feeder with seed, water our plants. You like to pretend we’re going shopping and I pull a makeshift shopping cart around the patio before you insist we ride the “elle” (elevators and elephants share a name for now). Once inside the patio-closet-turned-elevator, you shut the door and pretend to press buttons on the wall until I say “ding” you open the door and we walk around the patio again…at least 27 times. You love your play kitchen, and use the hot pad to take food out of the oven, smart girl. We roll out playdoh and cut out cookies that you serve on your tea set. We pretend to go camping in the living room with your new tent, it has fire that lights up and makes crackling sounds. Then we use fishing poles to catch magnetic fish and grill them for dinner before making smores.

Having a picnic on the patio

Tea party with playdoh cookies.

We read a lot, there’s stacks of books throughout the house. Favorites include: any of the Llama Llama books, How Do I Love You, Horns to Toes, the Dr. Seuss Dictionary and most recently Princess Millie’s Magic Wand. We watch movies more often than cartoons now. You’re only interested in the movie for 20 minutes at a time, but it’s something different. You love the Cars movies and one about Garfield and his British doppelganger.

Me: “Time for lunch, do you want peanut butter and jelly or turkey and cheese?” Leia: “Ice Cream” Me: “Ice cream is a treat, we need to eat healthy food for lunch.” Leia: “No, Ice Cream.” Me: “You need to eat real food.” Leia: *sad face*. So I make myself peanut butter and jelly. You eat some of  my sandwich and “ice cream” in the form of a frozen gogurt. I feel slightly less guilty about the sugar content because it has no artificial colors or flavors. I figure it balances out because you eat artichokes and asparagus like a champ.


There’s so much more I know I’m forgetting, but the praise for eating green veggies seems like a good place to stop. Leia Olivia you are my heart and soul and joy and everything. Thank you for being such an amazing little person, I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

One and done?

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My mom group is amazing, I’m lucky to share my parenthood journey with these inspiring women. Leia has friends, I have friends, it’s a beautiful thing. Our kids are all turning two this summer, give or take a few months. Two years seems to be the magical sibling spacing as almost everyone has had (or is having soon) baby number two – or two and three for one mom who had twins! A few families are waiting a while (to finish school, financial stability, etc.) before having another. I think I’m the only mom in our group that hasn’t even considered another child. My first reaction to realizing this was “well it’s because I’m single.” If I was married and we could afford it of course I’d be having another, right? I’m not sure. For the record I think it’s ideal for children to have two parents, but I have to pat myself on the back for doing a kick ass job as a single parent. Leia is loved by both parents and I know that’s what matters. So what if I won the lottery and could afford to have another child through a sperm donor or adoption? (Full disclosure: with this windfall of cash I would hire a part-time nanny, or at least a cleaning lady) I would probably give it more thought, but I’m not convinced it would automatically feel like the right thing to do.

It’s not that I don’t want Leia to have a sibling (she does have one! I’ll get to that…). Siblings are a wonderful thing – friends within family, people to share childhood experiences with, people to share memories of what our family was like when I am gone. I want Leia to have all that, I just don’t think I want to be a parent to another child. Seeing newborns doesn’t make my uterus tingle or make me feel warm and squishy. Am I happy for the family? Of course. Do I wish it was me? Heck no. I don’t see pregnant women and get nostalgic. As Leia gets older, I’m happy to give away most of her baby things. I love this stage so much more than the newborn one.

I got really lucky, Leia was an easy baby – thanks mostly to the convenience of breastfeeding and babywearing. She’s an easy going (as long as she’s close to me), loving, happy toddler. I look at her and see a perfect little human and think “crap the second child would probably be a nightmare to balance the scales.” Plus, I love being able to give Leia so much one on one time, so much attention. It makes me sad to think of her having to share my love with another child. I’m fully aware the goal of raising a healthy, happy child is to help them grow into independence. I want Leia to go off on her own someday filled with confidence, compassion, curiosity, to grow up and have her own life and family. One of my favorite quotes about parenthood says something about being a mom requiring strong arms to hold our children up in the early years, and stronger still when we let them go.

Moms of 2+ are probably rolling their eyes right now. I believe them when they tell me your heart grows to fit two, watching your kids love each other is magical, giving your child a sibling is a gift, and children need siblings when parents grow old and die. I just can’t wrap my head or my heart around wanting more than Leia.

Mike is getting married in a few weeks to Leilani, who is wonderful and a great mother figure for Leia. They had a little girl, Dresden Elle, on June 15th. Viola! Leia has a sister, an ideal outcome from my perspective. Is it traditional? No, but I’m hoping that makes it special. Leia also has her cousin Johnny, who is turning one in October. I didn’t know our cousins growing up. My mom’s brother and sister didn’t have kids. My dad’s relatives are all on the east coast and keeping in touch wasn’t as easy as Facebook makes it now. I didn’t experience that cousins-that-grow-up-like-siblings phenomenon, but I hope Leia and Johnny do. I’m pretty sure Mike and Leilani and Racheal and John will go on to have more kids, so Leia will have lots of family her age as she gets older. Whew.

big sister and little sister

cousins

But what if I meet someone? What if they want kids? Getting married years down the road and having another child isn’t ruled out as an option, but only slightly more possible than the lottery winning scenario above. I’m not interested in dating anyone right now, it seems overwhelming and time consuming. Typically dating comes before marriage (haha) so being married in the distant future isn’t something I think about. Although should Mr. Right come along it would be ideal if he was sterile and traveled a lot for work. This way I still get a lot of the alone time that I love and need. If I don’t want more kids, there’s no pressure on my end. If I did we could always adopt.

Yard Envy

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I grew up in a house with a backyard. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was built in the 50’s on a corner lot of a new suburb tract. In the corner there’s a tall tree, it was bigger when I was a kid and held up our tree forts. Grandpa put up a big pool, the kind above ground, which lasted until I was a teenager. There were fruit trees – plum, apricot, lemon – the lemon tree still stands. Plenty of room for dogs and kids to run around, a place to BBQ, space to explore and imagine.

Leia and I love going to visit Grammy and Uncle Randy so we can play in the backyard. As much as I love our cozy apartment, it’s nice new amenities, I miss having a yard. I want Leia to grow up knowing what it’s like to hear me scream “go outside and play!” and know that means run wild in the yard.

We spend lots of time on patio everyday, painting or drawing with chalk, blowing bubbles, watering the plants, refilling the bird feeder. Leia also loves to sweep and look for snails.

While enjoying my Pintrest addiction for all things “dream home” I realized one of the most important features is a big grassy yard. If I won the lottery tomorrow and went house hunting, the yard would set the standard. I’d even look at homes in parts of the city I’d never consider living before, just because I could get open space.

I dream about a yard with lots of trees: fruit tress and big shady trees for sitting under in the summer. I want space for Leia to have a swingset, and a fort. A fancy built in BBQ and a wood deck would be nice. A big farmhouse table under a tree for friends and family to gather for Sunday dinners and birthdays. I want space to lay out and look at the stars, listen to the crickets, without the sounds of traffic or street lights drowning them out. Oh I know, “a lawn is so much work to take care of” and “all those plants just means lots of bugs.” But shh, I don’t need a buzzkill for my fantasy.

If we’re going super fantasy yard I also want one of those eco-friendly pond pools. Pond pool? Yes, my first reaction was yuck I don’t want to swim in a pond. But the more pictures I saw (on Pintrest of course), the more I fell in love with the idea of a pool that looked like a natural pond and used plants for filtration vs. chemicals. I’m on an anti-chemical kick but that’s a whole other post.

I love the dock! It doesn’t look like a creepy pond either.

A fire pit for roasting marshmallows.

Fancy house with a beautiful deck! I love how they built around the tree.

A place to watch the stars.

Beautiful deck with a built in spa and a big grassy yard, I’m in heaven!

21 Wonderful Months

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Time goes so fast. I can’t think of a non-cliche way to say it. Leia, I am in love with watching you  grow, become your own little person, explore the world around you. There are so many fantastic things about you right now.

You’re saying new words everyday, eager to communicate, pointing out the letters “E” and “O” anywhere you see them. My phone is easily unlocked and you know how to find the games (or send texts, ha). You’re fantastic with the matching shapes games – circles, ovals, diamonds, rectangles, pentagons and hexagons. We line up your bath toys on the edge of the tub and you can count to ten. You’re learning more colors, blue and yellow (“lello”) were first, then red, green, pink and orange. You are so, so smart. I’m constantly amazed at how much you understand.

You love snails, it’s adorable. Even if I think they’re a little icky, I’m proud that you’re caring to all living creatures. You squeal with excitement and point out the “neels.” Sometimes you touch them, waiting for me to pick them up and put them back in the grass.

Your favorite cartoon is (still) Bubble Guppies. We watch those guppies every morning while we have breakfast and when we’re getting ready for our day. Sometimes we also watch Sesame Street, or Cat in the Hat. But mostly, it’s Bubble Guppies. I’m grateful it’s not Yo Gabba Gabba or the Fresh Beat Band, thank you very much.

You love corn on the cob, pretzel goldfish, raisins and yogurt. We eat asparagus and artichokes together. You prefer to dip your chicken in sauce – mostly BBQ, sometimes ketchup. Milk? No thanks you say. You’ve been on a cheese hiatus and you’re the rare toddler who doesn’t like more than one or two bites of banana.

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Just like your mom, you love lemons. You'll eat the whole slice (sometimes the skin too!)

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You love to go through my makeup bag, the lip gloss was an especially good find.

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You are kind and gentle with your cousin Johnny.

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I love this picture because I see a little girl who is determined. I've always said I hope my daughter grows up to be the 3 C's: curious, compassionate, and confident.

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The kitties love you. You love the kitties. When you nap, one of them usually ends up on the bed too. They know you'll pour out the whole bag of treats, in return they let you chase and hug them.

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Someday this will be a real car, with wild teenage friends instead of wild animals. That day will come entirely too soon, so I'm enjoying this moment as much as possible.

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The carousel is hands down one of your favorite things in life (trumped only by your love of the swing). This was taken at the Wild Animal Park. After each ride you pick a new animal, and we go around and around (and around, at least six times).

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Nap hair. You have the most beautiful, fine, fluffy, blond, wispy hair. It's always crazy in the morning and after you nap, just like your moms hair.

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Your first pigtails! My hair is in a pony tail or a bun everyday, I've never been a "styled hair" girl. So it's a conscious effort to remember you deserve hair cuteness like this everyday. I'll learn.

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Decorating a cake with your Dad on his birthday, making the same face as you concentrate on your art. I know you share his creative genes, which makes me so happy.

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I hope you always look at the world with wonder.

I love you Leia. You make my life simply beautiful.

Mother to One

I admire the mom at Costco pushing a cart holding twin babies with two more young children in tow. Kudos to the dad walking down my street with a baby strapped to his chest, a three and five year old beside him and two dogs on a leash. They give me perspective. I see them and think “wow, how do you do it?” Even as a single mom, which has its share of perks and drawbacks, I’m not outnumbered. It’s one on one – Mommy and Leia.

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Then I read this and it struck a deep chord. To The Mother With Only One Child. I first saw it on my Facebook newsfeed but forgot to bookmark it. I spent a good 20 minutes searching key words from memory until I found it again.

To become a mother, I had to learn how to care about someone more than I did about myself, and that was terrible.  But who I am now is something more terrible:  the protector who can’t always protect; the one with arms that are designed to hold, always having to let go.

Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard.  You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone.  For what?  Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left.

When I had only one child, she was so heavy.  Now I can see that children are as light as air.  They float past you, nudging against you like balloons as they ascend.

Dear mother, don’t worry about enjoying your life.  Your life is hard; your life will be hard.  That doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong—it means you’re doing it right.