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Learning and trying to be kind and living my life as fully as I can stand it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A brief

Sometimes I quail at the thought of my children experiencing the painful things about being a person. Other times, like right this minute, I look forward to and hope that they get to feel the heart-clench and shivers of hearing a song they really love.

I will write more soon. It's been a weird week.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Oil change

The last time I got the oil changed in the minivan I was pregnant. I unloaded two babies from their car seats into the double stroller  and had the dog jump out of the back. Why did I bring the 70-pound dog? Because I am an insane person.

I answers the service guy's questions and he said he'd call me when it was done. I didn't even ask to use the shuttle service because I assumed they wouldn't take is anywhere. We wheeled our way to the back of the dealership parking lot and looked for a spot to set up camp. We ended up on our striped blanket spread out on a narrow strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk.

We ate snacks. We watched cars and trucks drive by.  I kept Lily from crawling off the blanket into the street. We pulled up grass and some of us ate some of it. We spent a pretty contented hour and a half there until we finally decided to go check on the van. It was done but they hadn't called us.

Today  I'm  alone at the dealership; the kids are at home with Super Stephanie, our baby-sitter. I have a novel to read when I'm done writing. I just had a quick phone meeting with a colleague.

What a difference a few months and a few thousand miles can make.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cries in the night

I think the big kids are getting molars. I'm not sure what else it could be. They are just. . .not themselves. My daughter was crying at 4 am today. Unlike her. As a parent of twins, and I imagine a parent in general though I don't know the difference, I try to be fair. But when it comes down to it, fair does not mean doing the exact same thing for each child. They are so different. I check myself though when I'm about to do something I wouldn't do for the other. Hell, even now months later I think about the fact that I wrote a post about my eldest daughter but still haven't written something about my son. . .the little girls weren't born yet so I haven't included them in the "not fair, you haven't written about me" category. Plus none of them can read so all of this is just a mental monologue. It's a tiring, exasperating, sometimes glorious place to live, this head of mine. I keep making steps to get out of it.

So my daughter was crying, in sad distress. Not screaming, more like weeping in misery. I know. Even writing those words out sounds so sad. How could I even think about not going to get her? Well, for one thing, it was 4 am. I didn't want them to get up that early because it would make for a very rough morning for everyone. For another, I knew I would most likely not be able to get her out of her crib without upsetting her brother. I didn't hear him, but from past experience I knew going in there would start a two-link chain reaction. And finally, because I was checking myself for fairness. I almost never go get my son. He sometimes cries in the night. He also sometimes cries after an hour or so of napping, but will go back to sleep after a few minutes.

I never thought I would do Cry It Out (CIO in the parenting world). It sounded too sad and too hard. When we ended up doing it, it was incredibly sad and hard. Would I recommend it to another parent? I think so, but probably in my head because I try very hard not to give parenting advice unless someone specifically asks. Am I glad we did it? Yes. Do I know it was the right thing to do? No.

I made a choice not to read many parenting books for two main reasons. One is that I felt like I had pretty good instincts when it came to kids and the other is that I know myself and I like to do things "right". I have a tendency to read a book and fall completely under its spell, whether it's well-written or well-researched or not. "The book says this is the way, so this must be the way!" Nope. Didn't want to do it. I read one part of one book about sleep and it helped when it came to getting my eldest daughter to sleep. She would fuss and cry at about the same time every night and it seemed like she was tired. The book told me to look for signs that she was ready to go to bed, and it seemed like we were seeing those. Sometimes she would cry for a couple minutes when we put her down and then fall asleep. Often she didn't cry at all and went right to sleep. This was from a young age, probably three months or so, and has stayed consistent. She just likes to sleep. She falls asleep in the car and is almost always happy to go down for a nap.

Our son did not follow that pattern. He absolutely hated being put down in his crib. He would scream and scream, even back in his mellowest baby on the block days. A title which Baby #3 seems to have taken over for the time being, hallelujah thank you my one mellow child. We'd end up keeping our boy out in the living room with us until he eventually fell asleep on the couch. Then we'd move him to his crib. Where he would proceed to wake up many times throughout the night.

Their pediatrician, who is not bossy and whom I trust implicitly, started telling me he should be sleeping through the night. I would sort of cringe and shrug and think "You don't know. I can't leave him, he's too sad." I thought about how long he was in the NICU--two months of sleeping alone, without his parents. I thought about how long it took him to finally eat well. How could I deny him if he was hungry? I also didn't understand how human beings would need to be taught how to sleep. Isn't it a natural thing? Would it make evolutionary-sense to need to figure out how to sleep? So we kept going with multiple wake-ups and feedings through the night. Often I'd end up sleeping on the twin bed in their room with him curled against me. I was grateful for that time, even though it meant I was tired.

I went to listen to a sleep talk given by a self-proclaimed expert. She was a bit kooky and said a handful of things that made me question her credibility. Like "Oh, SIDS isn't really a thing, it's caused by babies sleeping on their stomachs and breathing in some chemical from the mattress." Ummmmmm. Maybe that is true but I've worked in the health care field long enough to not follow someone blithely dismissing a cause of death in infants without any data. I digress.

She said some things that made sense though, including the idea that babies need to learn how to be alone. Well! I don't know if that is true but it resonated with me. She also said something about it being the parents' job to take care of their children's health and that when it came to matters of safety and health, parents shouldn't be afraid to be firm. I believe getting enough sleep is a huge part of being healthy. My son at that time had transitioned from super mellow to a state of extreme sensitivity. He would scream when we went into the store, or into someone's house, or into the doctors' office. Not a little screaming. Prolonged inconsolable screaming that only stopped when we walked out of the offending location. He did not want to be held by anyone other than me or my husband. He was having a rough time. So were we!

This sleep person made some suggestions to the group. Like having play dates in their cribs during the day. Most of us love our beds, she said. You can teach your children that their cribs are a great place to be. This worked for us. We also got a white noise machine. Holy cow was that a delayed purchase. And we started sleep training our son, letting him cry it out. It took a few nights the first time and it was brutal to listen to him. I lay in bed, worrying that he was scared and miserable, that we were traumatizing him. Once or twice I got into the shower so I couldn't hear him. And then it worked and he started sleeping through the night, although it took a while for him to stop waking up at 4 am.

We had to do a couple sessions of CIO over the next two months. Once because we stopped being consistent and starting going in to get him. And once after we moved into our new house and their sleeping schedule went out the window with all the transition. One night, six months pregnant with the little girls, as I went in to get him for the third or fourth time I burst into tears and thought "I can not do this!" That was the one parenting moment so far where I felt like it all might just break me. So we let him cry for another couple nights and he's been sleeping through the night since then.

My belief is that when he cries in the night now it's because he's momentarily woken up and feels sad or scared. I think and hope that he looks around and sees his blankets and crib. Sees his sister in her crib. Sees the curtains and the walls of his room. Hears the rain sound of their noise machine. And all of this reminds him that he is safe, so he falls back to sleep.

When he started sleeping more, he became a happier kid during the day. I know my husband and I have been very glad that the big kids sleep through the night, especially once the littles arrived.

All of this to explain why I didn't immediately go get my daughter. It's rare for her to cry at night so I usually go check on her because something is usually wrong. I always pause to worry that it's not fair. I don't know what would happen if we started responding to my son's cries in the night, but experience showed that once he knew we'd come in, it would start happening more and more. This morning I did go in. My son was sitting up quietly in bed, my daughter was laying on her belly crying. She got more upset when she saw me and wanted to come out. I lifted her up and my son started wailing. Two very sad babies at 4 am. I went to get some Motrin for what I think is teething. They cried louder. I went to get some small bottles of milk and told them "It's not time to get up yet" and walked out. It's almost 7:30 and they're still asleep.

It's scary to write things like this out. Parenting is not a science. I think it's like being a good doctor--the practice takes a mix of art and science. And you need to let your patient (or your child) inform you what you do. There's data out there about what's happening developmentally. There are lots and lots of opinions, informed or otherwise. It is easy to second-guess and doubt, especially when it comes to worrying that you might be damaging your child. I think they're okay though.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What I Used to Do

It's 6:46 am and almost pitch dark. Three babies have bottles with them, the fourth is asleep on the couch where I was recently curled around her sleeping. I'm drinking from a mug of tea and eating a toasted bagel with cream cheese. It feels earlier than it is, because of the darkness. Ten years ago at this time I would have been almost to work, arriving in time to start a twelve-hour shift that started at 7.15. I didn't work every day, but each time my alarm went off at five I'd cringe and drag myself up. I was never a snoozer--just got up to pull myself into the day. I didn't like waking up that early but often as I'd be driving East across the lower deck of the Bay Bridge, I'd see the sunrise. Driving early in the morning when there are few cars on the road can feel sacred, and the sky fired with orange red violet pink made me glad I was one of the lucky ones who was awake.

I worked in the Placement department, allocating organs for transplant. Meaning talking to surgeons and nurses to help them decide which of their patients was the right fit for the liver, kidney, heart, pancreas, lungs or small bowel. Together we'd go down their lists, starting with patient number one and comparing the information of the donor to their possible recipient. How tall, how heavy, how old, did their patient have a fever, were they strong enough for the transplant surgery. It was the coolest job I've ever had. When it was busy the phones rang all the time. Text pagers making noise, fax machines going off. Terrified I'd make a mistake. A few times I did make a mistake and I had to call the doctor immediately to 'fess up. The consequences could be really bad--death of a patient, giving the wrong organ to the wrong person--so there was no trying to hide it. I learned so much in that job and for a long time it was the most important thing in my life. It was like a boyfriend--sometimes the kind you know you should break up with. That work sucked me dry and made me feel crazy. My brain would be so full of stories, needs, rules, conversations, timelines and personalities that it would take an hour or so after my shift ended for it to settle down. In other ways that job fed me. Made me feel smart, competent, like what I did mattered. I helped people get transplanted and that felt amazing, especially the times when it almost didn't happen but I kept working, working, working until it did. I could talk about it for hours At a cocktail party or a bar you pretty much win the "What do you do?" conversation. People were always interested and I loved explaining how it worked. It was a fun, stressful, exciting time.

Because of how I did that job, I eventually moved up the ladder into other jobs. As a friend and colleague once said to me, it wasn't that we'd taken a step up the ladder, it was that we'd stepped off the ladder entirely and climbed onto another one. Management was a different ballgame. And I really hated it, for the most part. I didn't realize how much I hated it until I stepped away from it. There were parts I liked--I liked solving problems, I liked being able to listen to someone who was having a hard time and help them out. I liked making decisions when I was on call, using my expertise to make cases go more smoothly. I didn't like never being able to make people happy. I didn't like not having concrete accomplishments at the end of my days. I didn't like feeling so under-qualified so much of the time. I didn't like not feeling like myself. i had a whole set of ideas of how a manger should be. Not getting too personal with colleagues. Fair and impartial. Standing up for the decisions made by upper management while also speaking up for the people who reported to me. Finding ways to walk that line. I stepped into my "manager role" and it didn't fit very well. It was exhausting and disorienting. Now that I'm not doing it anymore I can feel how I was changed by it. The way I  think, the way I work with people, the way I approach a problem. I learned a lot.

It's challenging to write about my work because. . .well, mostly because I love the mission of what we do and I never want to speak less than positively about any aspect of it. Like any job, there are things that could be better. Processes that could run more smoothly. People who could work harder. But this job is so important to so many. And so few people know anything about how it all works. I'm afraid to give even one person the wrong impression, to make them doubt or mistrust organ donation. That's ultimately why I made the decision to step away. The kids and the fact that I was losing perspective. Getting burnt out. I've worked with way too many people who stayed too long, got mired too deep into the problems instead of seeing the magic. It truly is magic. Hard-earned, holy magic that few people have the opportunity to be a part of. I will keep searching for the words to describe it the best way I can.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mom brain

The way my brain works these days. . . it's a challenge. I'd heard about mom brain before but I didn't really believe it was a thing. Or I thought it was similar to "tired brain" and I'd had that before. But no. I can almost watch a thought appear in my mind and then disappear, like some text in Powerpoint that has been animated to fade out. It's there. . .but if I don't write it down or immediately do something about it, it goes away. Maybe forever. This makes switching between my paid work and my mothering very challenging.

I work from home. Usually this means I work at Starbucks, drinking an absolutely delicious venti soy latte from a ceramic cup. I open up my laptop, type in my various passwords, check my to-do list and slowly switch my brain to a different way of functioning. It takes a while, longer than it used to. Then once I'm up and running, really firing, it's time to shut down and go home. Well, I decide when it's time to shut down and go home so I technically could stay longer. It's hard to leave when I'm on a roll. But I don't like missing too much of the day with the kids--I feel pulled home after being gone a few hours.

This brain situation makes blogging a challenge. When I have time to sit and write, I want to get caught up on the project I'm getting paid to do. I'm in a new role so I'm still learning how to do it, learning how to organize my time, learning how to produce a good product. The way I want to write requires time devoted to the writing and to the editing. Making a goal to write every day (which I already haven't met but I am undaunted!) makes writing that way difficult because I haven't carved out any sacrosanct writing time. I try to fit it in, but my funny brain is making multi-tasking very very hard.

What to do? Post this half thought out post for now. . .because I said I would.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Last night I decided I was done pumping. The girls are a little over three months old and I've been pumping every day since they were born, though less and less each day. In the beginning I pumped every two hours because I wanted so badly to establish a good supply so I'd be able to feed them both. I didn't have enough for my big kids when they were little and it made me feel bad.  My breasts ache right now. It's been more than 24 hours since I've hooked myself up to the hospital-grade pump, though I've nursed my youngest since then. She's the only one who breastfeeds. With my first set of twins, my daughter was the only one who nursed. My son did it once after many attempts and I thought we'd cracked the code and would do it from then on but that wasn't the case. He was a bottle guy. My heart aches too as I try to find the words to describe my experience.

I wrote that paragraph last Friday morning but stopped because. Because I had paid work to do. And because I wanted to take time to live the experience of letting go of breastfeeding before writing about it. Ceremony is important and my heart told me there was mourning to do. I imagined sitting outside, quietly nursing Daphne, paying attention to the sensations because soon they'd be gone. But what really happened is I had a weekend full of mothering and housework and swimming and birthday party and I didn't spend any time focused on the end of nursing at all.

Luckily my body did what it needed to do and by paying attention I've been able to feel myself letting go. The first night I leaked a puddle into the green sheets on our bed. The first day I had a couple moments of tightness, hardness, slight pain. I nursed Daphne and it went away. I nursed her very early this morning but haven't since then and my breasts feel fine. My silhouette shows that I'm not back to non-nursing size but I don't feel full or uncomfortable. I'm changing, day by day.

Before I became a mother I actually dreamed of nursing. It was nights like those that made me believe that the doctors were wrong and that I would someday give birth. I could feel it in my body--the pulling sensation, the warmth of the heavy body in my arms, laying against my chest. In reality, I never really connected with the experience like I thought I would.

I remember Lily's face the first time I put her to my breast. She looked so tiny and her eyes grew wide in amazement as she looked up over the mountain of my breast. Her tiny mouth, opened as wide as she could hold it, closed over my nipple and she stayed there, not nursing. That was our first attempt. It took many more tries before milk was exchanged. Those first few days in the NICU I hooked myself up to the pump in an effort to fill the tiniest of vials, smaller than my pinkie finger. A few drops splashed in and we used a syringe to suck up the drops left behind--so much effort to capture the precious colostrum. Every day I walked myself into the tiny pumping room down a short, hidden hallway in the NICU. Sometimes I sat with other mamas, sometimes I sat alone. Noon, 2 am, 7pm. The other blended together, the radio station played the same Top 40, I scrolled through articles and blogs on my phone, and I pumped. We grew to recognize one another as the days passed and sometimes we'd share stories or tears. It was a funny little place, an initiation ritual none of us wanted but one we became grateful for as we settled into our new lives.

I felt like a failure more than once. Not enough milk. I hated having to supplement with formula but it quickly became normal. I guess I thought once we got home we'd all settle into the nursing rhythm--I pictured myself tandem nursing. Turns out Cyrus preferred to eat without being touched so he'd lay on the couch with a bottle propped up (a no no in the baby world but an everyday occurrence in our twin household). My husband and I mixed many, many bottles of formula and we were able to split the nights, each getting some sleep because I wasn't the only one feeding. It worked.

When both Cleo and Daphne latched on the day they were born I thought we'd have the breastfeeding experience I'd always imagined. But no, again. Maybe it's because in the NICU they bottle-feed and the babies were focused on that. (Of course it's possible that if I'd been present for every feeding we could have tried breastfeeding every time but that was not to be). Whatever the reason, I settled into pumping again, though this time on my own on the couch at night. I ferried bottles of milk to the hospital. This time I felt proud that I was filling up their freezer. I was sure I'd have stores to last a year or so when we got home. But I pumped less and less, we went through the freezer bags at home and I started to think about stopping.

The first time my milk dried up because I got pregnant again. Before I knew I was pregnant I thought my milk was just drying up for no reason and I felt so sad. I wasn't ready to stop. But this time I started thinking about it, gently and with no pressure, just with curious. Maybe it was time to stop. It felt early but it also felt. . .ok.

So on Thursday as I sat on the couch, sinking into the stained cushions happily watching my favorite TV shows, I thought about getting up to get the pump pieces from the drying rack. And then I decided I was done. It felt right.

I've been more of a pumping mama than a breastfeeding mama. That's just how my story has turned out. Instead of quiet nights with a dozing newborn, I've sat alone on the couch listening to the quiet hum and hiss of the Medela. It's allowed me moments of quiet privacy when I needed them. It's invited me to sit down and rest. It's allowed me to fill my babies' bellies with warm breast milk, all four of them. And in the next few days I will be done forever.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What to wear

Most mornings I drive up Clayton Road to Starbucks so I can sit and do some work without my Bigs trying to climb up into my lap to push the laptop keys or feed me Cheerios off the floor or take bites from my toast. Today I changed out of my sweats and put on a gray and yellow skirt, a darker gray t-shirt with a yellow etching of a San Francisco city bus, a colorful cotton headband from El Salvador, and sparkly flip flops. No make-up, hair pulled up into a messy bun at my neck in addition to being pulled back by the headband. I beheld myself in the full-length closet-door mirrors in our room and shrugged. Not hot, good enough.

On Monday I spent the day, sans children, in San Francisco. I took my time getting dressed and chose a pair of skinny jeans (non-maternity WOO HOO), a rust colored t-shirt from Target, tan and brown snakeskin flats (faux, of course), a statement necklace with a chunky olive-colored piece of glass on a copper chain, and a fitted gray stretchy blazer. I looked fabulous and when I saw my friends they told me so immediately. Later on in the day I walked alone down Mission Street, heading back to my car after having a burrito. I felt people checking me out. That hadn't happened in a long, long time. I wasn't strutting but I walked powerfully, shoulders back, head up, eyes ahead. Owning it. It felt good.

I lived in Madrid when I was twenty where men stopped me on the street and checked me out almost all the time. I was a tall, foreign-looking young blonde and people noticed me. Especially male people. At least, they were the ones who talked to me about it. Once while vacationing alone in Italy a man driving down the street passed me, stopped his car, backed up and told me in Italian "You are beautiful" and then kept driving.

It was the late 90's so fashion was much different than it is now. Among my clothes was a pair of absolutely gigantic denim overalls--extra-large overalls from the Gap. I'd wear them with Doc Martens and either a tank top or the softest grey cotton Timberland long-sleeved shirt in the world. I lived with a family during my year studying abroad and my Spanish mama Nella has a closet-full of dated but feminine, sexy clothes. She was constantly trying to dress me. She smoked three packs a day and spent almost all day laying in bed watching TV and smoking, unless she was cooking or ironing or cleaning. And also smoking. One morning she said to me "Odio those overalls." She said the whole sentence in Spanish but I can't remember the word for overalls. I do remember the verb she used--she hated my overalls. Hate. It carries more weight than in English when people say it all the time. She could have used a less intense word to say she didn't like them but no, she really hated them. I think it actually caused her pain to see me walking out wearing them.

I wore those overalls like armor on days I felt like being ignored. I've never really minded having men talk to me on the street. Often I've appreciated it. I know many women really dislike it, or hate it, and feel violated by men feeling free to comment on their appearance. I can understand that and if pressed to choose one social reality that worked for the most women I would choose to abolish cat-calling, whistles and comments on the street if it made more women feel safe and respected. I don't need those comments. I certainly don't dress for those men.

I think I've always felt that, if I don't want people to see me, they don't. I know that's silly and not true. On an overall-wearing day I would walk the streets feeling hidden, sort of like a little kid who covers his eyes and assumes that because he can't see anyone they can't see him. Whereas on a day like Monday I walked the streets knowing I looked good and feeling good about it. It wasn't an invitation for comments but I didn't mind. Having my female friends exclaim over how good I looked was welcome. So was being noticed on the street. And hell, after being pregnant for two years it felt amazing.

So often I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and am absolutely shocked at what I look like. Hair in wisps all around my face. Circles under my eyes. Freckles and wrinkles and sun damage on my Irish skin. Small, soft belly. Bigger breasts than usual. Many days I'm wearing a pair of cut-off sweat shorts and a tank top with bra straps showing. My grandmother would be appalled. It's hot where I live and I get spit-up on or touched with dirty hands many times a day. I walked downtown in that exact outfit yesterday and didn't think anything of it. I felt comfortable and unseen, even as I pushed one of two double-strollers down the streets.

I like being comfortable. But I also like feeling feminine, powerful, sexy, elegant, womanly. Depends on the day. I used to dress for the occasion--not just the event but the people I'd be hanging out with. To fit in, to show the side of myself I felt most comfortable being with whatever friends I was with. Was I with my outdoorsy, music-festival friends? My super-stylish, done-up friends? My sporty friends? I shape-shifted. Back then I believed that I controlled what people saw in me and thought it mattered what version of me they saw. Now I just try to be. Part of that is finding a style that fits who I am.  A mama and a wife who works at home. I want to feel pretty and comfortable and like I care enough to put some effort into the face I present to the world, even if I really don't care who is looking. It's also important that I wear pants that don't show my butt when I bend down at the playground. Priorities, people.

A few months after the Bigs were born my friend the closet organizer, stylist came over and helped me clear out my closet, saying good-bye to many things I was holding on to for the sake of nostalgia. She laughed at me a few times, but she's my friend so that was ok. And it was 2013, not 1995 as she kindly pointed out. The next step was to buy a few key pieces and then try dressing in comfortable, age-appropriate, pretty, machine-washable outfits. She also taught me the term "statement necklace". Then I got pregnant again and all those clothes got pushed to the bottom of the bins again. Hello, old friends! Time to try again.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why I blog

At my moms' club book club a couple weeks ago we discussed the book Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton. I didn't choose the book but was happy to see it chosen as I read her blog regularly and had read her book on my own many months before. Our book club does not always spend a ton of time discussing the book; we spend lots of time talking about motherhood and our kids and life in general. When discussion turned to the book at this meeting, the responses were varied.

It's a book of essays, many of which appeared on her blog before being included in her book. While a discussion about a novel can be about the characters or the arc of the story line, a discussion about personal essays often ends up being about the person. In this case her focus on Jesus. The way she talks about her kids. Her addictions. What some people felt was her tendency to talk too much about herself. Talking about her book was so helpful to me because it allowed me to solidify my own ideas about why I'm writing a blog.

I've wanted to be a writer since I was young. In fact, I guess I've been a writer since I was eight or nine if you count keeping a journal as being a writer. I would never have used the term "writer" but now I am claiming it. I am a writer. Wow! Scary and exciting.

Glennon Melton was actually one of the reasons I decided to start this blog. She wrote something about not waiting until everything was perfectly in place before starting to do the thing you've been meaning to do. She wrote about the world needing to hear your voice. She did give those of us with kids under 5 an out, saying that we're in the thick of surviving early parenthood and that is enough. Phew! But it was a push that helped me finally say to myself "I've been saying I'm going to write for a long, long time. I'm 37 years old. When exactly do I think I'm going to start writing?"

Two sets of twins gave me a topic and I assumed I would write mostly about my kids. In fact, I've struggled with the identify of this blog since it began because I've been unsure about so many things. Wanting to protect the privacy of my kids and worrying about writing too much about them on the internet has been the main thing. Even though the blogs I love the most include pictures and very vivid stories about the women's children. I've also struggled when big events have happened--like the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson. I've felt unsure about how deep I wanted to get about my politico-social beliefs while also feeling weird about not sharing something that's weighing heavily on my mind. Quite frankly, I don't want to get in fights about things. The comments that Glennon gets can be excruciating. Every blogger I've followed has had at least one post about how they deal with the things people say to them, not just about what they write but about who they are. Finally I've wondered about creating a disjointed conversation with the people who read this. Does it matter if I bring up a subject and then don't come back to close the loop? Are we in a conversation? Am I sharing my journal with you? What's happening around here anyway?

Our book club helped me see that I'm viewing this blog as two things--a writing exercise and a chance to be as real and authentic as I can be. I will sometimes write about my kids but mostly from the perspective of how I feel as their mother. I'm the one with my hands full (my husband too but he can start his own blog if he wants to). I will write about myself, even though it feels scary to open that up to the world of the internet. Even though it's easy to worry that writing about myself is dumb and self-indulgent and navel-gazing. I actually don't feel worried about that. I want to develop my written voice, write true and interesting words for other people to read. The written word has reached into me and saved me many times throughout my life. The experience of reading something someone else wrote and stopping in recognition--wait, I've felt that way! What a gift. What a relief. And what an opportunity.

Handsfull also creates accountability but I'm raising the stakes. I will write here every day in the month of October. I will!