Thursday, December 7, 2017


This post is going to be … gratuitous.

I only want to post 10 of my very favorite pictures of you and have people remark on how freaking cute you were/are and have my little nostalgic pity party of one as I reflect on the fact that you’re turning 10.


In 2007

You were born the same year as the iPhone. I used to say that I was born the same year as the height of the Iranian hostage situation – deep, dark, yes, but it’s what my own Mama wrote in my baby book under “News and Noteworthy” – I think you’ll have much more traction (not to mention relatability) with your claim to fame. Lucky.

It’s actually impossibly insane how fast time goes – how’s it’s always been lightening fast since you barreled into this world at 12:37pm on Friday, December 7th, 2007 … after 31.5 hours of labor and missing your due date by a solid ten days past. And there wasn’t any barreling to be clear. I was hungry and you needed to come out in order for me to eat, so I pushed without stopping in between 10 counts for all of 45 minutes and out you came, not crying, very calm, very girl, and you looked right at the doctor and sneezed into her face.

You’ve always had a way with first impressions.

I didn’t want them to keep you in the nursery. After all, you’d taken up permanent residency under my ribcage for all of 276 days, give or take. I couldn’t NOT have you in that postpartum room with me. Sleep, they told me. Rest now and we’ll keep her just down the hall. You can see her in the morning.

I pushed my nurse call button.

“Yeah … I’m gonna need her back, like now,” I whispered since the Dad was passed out cold on that unfortunate Partner Couch Bed. And dutifully, those lovely nurses returned you to me and we settled into that mechanical hospital bed in the cold dark of December, and drifted off into mother/daughterland.

Those were some of the very best days of my life. I’m grateful for my ironclad memory that places me back into that tiny sterile room and hovers above the lovely scene, soaking in every memory – how the visitors poured into our room and cooed over you and prayed over you and played guitar solos over you (that’s a true story) welcoming you to our amazing village. I remember dressing you in your almost-too-small fuzzy newborn going home outfit in neutral greens and whites and just having an overwhelming sense of peace now that you were here and real, and part of us.

And We Went Home

Just this week, a dear old friend of mine sent me a picture of a sign with a verse scripted onto it; she said it reminded her of our sweet family.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 

Ecclesiastes 4:12

The timing leading up to your birthday and the fact that exactly 10 years ago, I was recovering from childbirth, waddling around our warm, decorated house in my sweats, slippers, and postpartum … glow, well it was just too perfect. As you’re very well aware, I’m living this week much in the same manner. Padding around our warm, decorated house in my sweats, slippers, and post-hysterectomy … unglow. The parallels between now and exactly 10 years ago have been an oddly satisfying. I’m reveling in the nostalgia and soaking up sweet memories of when you were a fuzzy pile of sleep sacks, pacifiers, and that intoxicating newborn scent.

Life has been so good to us.

My surgeon said you are a miracle of God – that medically speaking, your existence is truly a wonder given the circumstances that led me to this week of recovery. When you’re a parent, you know children are miracles. That biology and science and human reproduction aren’t nearly as easy to manipulate as your parents or health teacher might tell you as an agitated teenager in love for the first time. The surgeon told me that you, Kid Rock, are an inexplicable miracle, obviously hell-bent on being in this world.

I’m taking her word for it.

Thank you for fighting the fight and beating the odds to join Daddy and I here a decade ago. You’re our third and final strand, and probably everyone’s favorite, including his and mine. Over a sprinkled pancake breakfast this morning complete with a candle, Daddy told you what the doctors have been saying all along – you are our miracle, and we love you so, so much.

You smiled a sticky sweet smile and said, I know.

Mama loves.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Face Fear

(I used Face instead of another four-letter F word)

You’ve never been a scared kid. You’re so anti-fear that when you actually tell The Dad and I that you’re scared, we scoff at you, and admonish your feelings. We just assume you’re bullshitting us as a default. Rock solid parenting right there.

But you’ve always just been full-throttle, wide open on the highway of life.
And maybe fear comes with age and exposure. You simply might not be scared because you don’t know what to be scared of yet. That makes sense. Fear is commensurate with experience.

What's So Scary?

I think of the things in your decade of life that to outsiders could be scary.

  • Getting eight stitches in your tiny cheek. You heard there would be Popsicles post.
  • Riding the school bus. You only cared that your BFF would sit with you.
  • Hearing that your Grandma G. had cancer. You simply wanted to know who would buy groceries when she was sick.
  • Going to your great-uncle’s funeral. You said you wanted to sit between Grandpa and Grandma in the chapel and brought tissues to share.
  • Saying goodbye to your dog. You only wanted to know how Daddy would handle it.
  • Cliff diving. You actually had zero questions about this.
  • Trying out for basketball. You just needed to know that we’d wait for you outside the gym.

Girlfriend. Looking at your history, where the perception of fear has emerged, you handled it with aplomb. In most of those scenarios above, your mother was in fact losing her own shit, fear bubbling beneath my surface, sure to come out at any moment, preventing you from experiencing any of those things.

Then again, I’m quite a bit older than you and I know what’s scary.

And I for sure will never, ever cliff dive.

Why am I Talking About Fear?

Because for the first time in my life, I can see the world embracing fear more than any other emotion out there. Humans are scared, and rightfully so. I won’t get too much into politics or racism, feminism, or any other hot button topics, because that’s not what I want you to remember. I want you to remember you have a choice.

I remember a few bad things that evoked fear in me as a kid, but nothing so overwhelming mundane or seemingly everyday like it happens in 2017.

When I was a kindergartner, the Challenger blew up.
I was a freshman in high school when the Oklahoma City bombings took place.
I just got my license when the Atlanta Olympics bombings happened.
There was Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.
And then Eazy-E, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., and Big Pun died.
Columbine happened when I was a freshman in college.

That shitty timeline played out across my entire childhood, while today it seems like your childhood is experiencing tragedy, despair, malice, and hate nearly everyday. The fear is there, alive and well across all of our lives. You’re aware of it because our house watches the news and discusses social awareness as an everyday part of life. Not to be afraid or fearful, but to be aware. This is not the time for ignorance; there is no bliss in that state of mind.

Parenting Through the Pain

It’s important for me to manage parenthood in this day and age as realistic and delicate as I can. I can’t protect you from the garbage, but I can expose you to it so you too can give it a name. You can recognize the obvious good from the bad, and choose yourself where to shine your light. Just as the newsreel fills with more anger and devastation, I fill your feed with stories of good and people in the literal streets post-storms scooping up puppies and grandmas and bringing the good to the darkest places. I live that way so you may, too. It’s not easy, choosing positive over negative every single day or shrugging off fear or complacency instead of embracing activism.

Fear, if you let it, will creep across everything holy and good. It will leave you empty and sad and a shell of the bright, beautiful girl you are now. It leaves a bitter aftertaste, and hardens you against all of life’s flowers, rainbows, and unicorns. It has a place in the world, of course, and will always present itself. Let it live there on the periphery, never giving it enough oxygen to breathe and grow. That is your choice.

And eventually you’ll find yourself amongst people who either invite or invoke fear on their own. Respect them, but choose wisely. Staying will increase the likelihood that you too will let fear be part of your life. I’m giving you license and permission to walk away, even if those people are close to you. It’s more fun and easier to coordinate outfits with the people who root for the same things you do, Kid Rock. Trust me on that.

Fear is a Liar and Fear is an Asshole

And you certainly don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Be awesome.
Mama loves.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September 5th, 1989

September 5th, 1989

That was my first day of fourth grade and I remember it quite well. I remember it because it was one of the best days of my life. You see, I was entering a new school in a new town. We spent the summer moving and getting situated and living in between houses as we waited for ours to sell in the Metro, and ours to be ready in Brainerd, which is my hometown.

How does it become my hometown if I started school there as a fourth grader? I was born there nine years earlier when my parents were students at the community college. That town has always been part of my story. And now, my story was about to get even better.

I had brand-new black and red Nikes that morning – boy shoes because duh, they were infinitesimally better than girl shoes back in the day. I refused to wear anything pink or purple and Nike had yet to catch on to that little concept. I had a mullet; something my own Mama defends by saying it WAS THE STYLE BACK THEN dismissing my claim of child abuse. I had on dark denim and a denim jacket. I stepped on the bus that morning at my grandparents’ lake house – the very lake coordinates I have tattooed onto my thigh – ready to take on the world.

As a fourth grader.

Just Like You Are Today

I’m telling you this story because that day was one of the best of my life. I would go on from that moment to meet all your aunties and even your Fairy Godmother a few years later. The group of women who have shaped my life in so many rich, hysterical ways in the nearly 30 years we’ve been running and gunning. And, I feel so damn nostalgic (and hopeful!) as you don your own Nike Frees today to take on the universe from your point of view.

I was teased pretty hardcore that first day of school. Not only was I the new girl, which I guess sort of invites the attention, but damn. Is she wearing boy shoes? You’re goddamn right I am. That way I can run faster than you and your little white Keds with their pristine white laces. I’ll run faster, jump higher, and wear them tomorrow to do it all over again. Also? All my friends in the Minneapolis area are wearing these shoes today – that’s right. Even the girls. So I’ll wait until this little backwoods, backward tree town gets up to speed on fashion.

And eventually, it did. Those black and red Nikes morphed into Adidas shell toes, B.U.M. Equipment boots (okay, those WERE ridiculous), Eastlands with the little green tag, Doc Martens, Steve Maddens, and eventually, always back to Nikes. A girl never forgets her first love.

What Does My Past Shoe Collection Have to Do With It?

Because I always wore what I wanted to. And yes, sometimes it happened to be what was in style. But I was unapologetic about the choices I made, and I always stood my ground when it came time for criticism or merciless teasing.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks because you shared a little flash of this with me of your own. Because you are your Mother’s daughter, you’d been begging me to take you school supply shopping since approximately June 15th. I put my foot down and told you to wait until August. That was a fun conversation to have every single day for 67 days. When the time came to hit the pearly gates of Target, you’d been agonizing over your list, circling, adding, rewriting, giving priority number to items, and on and on for months. You had your sights set on all things Yoobi – a new brand of school supplies. Trendy, colorful, with a side of philanthropy. You loved knowing another kid in the U.S. would receive supplies with your purchase. You ARE your Mother’s daughter.

You shopped with a military-like precision while I tried not to sob into my Starbucks. Man, things like school shopping change when you started to read. You even brought a highlighter for efficiency. I was only tasked with being patient, driving the cart, and paying the tab.

You ripped into everything on the short drive home. Couldn’t wait to show Daddy. Spread things out on grand display, ran your thumb across all the shiny newness of untouched pages and fresh tips of wooden pencils, and simply oohed and aahed over your haul for hours.

Yet when I went to tuck you in that night, you whispered to me while clutching your new binder to your chest, Mama do you think my new stuff is lame?

You often choose night time to come at me with unexpected or out of proportion ideas or philosophies. I call that your Bedtime Ambush. That’s a stalling tactic to avoid sleep. But I felt like your question was different on that night.

I perched on the edge of your bed. I asked you if you thought they were lame or silly. I didn’t mention the pencil case you HAD to have was shaped like a giant yellow banana.

No, I LOVE my stuff! I knew that would be your answer. So I asked you why you wondered that. I mean I knew you were mentally taking yourself through your first day of school, unpacking your backpack, and filling up your desk and locker with all your Yoobi newness.

You Were Wondering What Other People Would Think of Your Swag

You didn’t tell me that in the darkness that night. I simply said, “If you love what you have, and are proud and excited, that’s all that matters. Period, end of story.”

You know that. You don’t have to defend or explain anything to anyone, ever. Not even to Daddy or I. We should be the place and people who question or challenge you the least on your own choices. Ever since you were small but old enough to understand language I’d ask you, do you feel good about it? To reinforce your ability to make personal decisions and stand by your choices.

To be quite honest, that’s always been my biggest … challenge or blessing? in motherhood. Raising a girl who is confident. Raising a girl who isn’t a carbon copy of someone else. Raising a girl who has the voice to defend who she is, even in the darkness.

Raising a girl who knows she wants a yellow banana pencil case, and raising a girl who proudly owns one.

I hope fourth grade is as good to you as it was to me, Kid Rock.
I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told you for the last six years.
Work hard and be nice.
And – don’t forget to be awesome.

AND if some little insecure punk says ANYTHING about your yellow banana pencil case or your shoes or face or ANYTHING … let me know and I’ll kick his ass. And his Mama’s too.

Just kidding. I don’t condone violence.

But if he does or she does, walk away. Head held high.
Think of the lyrics of our favorite summer song – our anthem from all our days in the sun:

Raise a cup up for all my day ones
Two middle fingers for the haters
Life’s only getting greater

Mama loves.