Car Shopping for My Son, and Other Existential Crises

Today we will go see another car as we continue the search for an appropriate vehicle for our 17 year old son.

Allow me just a minute to deconstruct the parts of the sentence that are killing me:

  • my son is 17
  • he is getting his own car

You may note some slight anxiety in my all-caps tone. If you know me well, you may even recognize that I could possibly be approaching a full scale panic.

Because it’s all happening too fast.

I already feel like I am counting days til he leaves us and my heart is breaking.

First the license. Then the college visits began. Then the SATs. Now the buying of the car, with more college visits on the horizon. National Honor Society induction. Junior year finals approaching. Senior pictures about to be taken.

This kid. This no-longer-a-boy. This young man.

Cooper Blanchette

He makes me so proud every day. He annoys the crap out of me. He makes me laugh. He misses the bus sometimes and I am secretly so happy when he does because I get another chance to chat with him, one on one, as we drive the 15-20 minutes to school. We have great conversations.

Also secretly, I will miss the chance to have these conversations once he does have his own car.

And not so secretly, I will desperately miss him when he goes off to college. What will our lives be like when he is not here every day? What will it be like when I don’t have to scream his name up the stairs because he is playing video games with his noise-cancelling headphones on? What will it be like when I get home from my morning workout and he is not there in kitchen drinking a protein shake or eating a Clif bar while I drink my coffee before he goes to catch the bus?

Some of these moments are precious and some of them…uh, less so…but I will miss all of them when he goes.

And yet, he will go. And he will continue to make me proud every day. And annoy me. And make me laugh.

I will text him every day and want to know what’s going on with his life as I will no longer be privy to the day to day details. Hopefully he’ll answer often.

Hopefully he’ll come home sometimes and still sit on the couch with us and watch our favorite shows. Hopefully he’ll still want to play some Yahtzee or Scattergories with us when he is home.

I can only watch and wait and sometimes cry as I anticipate him going, hoping with futility that time will slow down during the next year-and-a-couple-of-months.

But I am confident that I’ve done my job. I’ve prepared him to go out into the world and be a good person, and his core personality of kindness, geniality, and sarcastic humor (once you know him well enough) will not change. He’ll develop some new habits and characteristics; he’ll make mistakes; he’ll try new things and sometimes succeed and sometimes fail.

And my heart will continue to break even as I cheer him on in his independence. This, for me, is the hardest part of parenting. You prepare them to say goodbye and go off on their own and you watch them go and they take a large part of your heart with them when they do.

That’s the job.

And so we car shop.









Shut Up, Judgy Voice.

So I’ve had a wicked cold for coming up on a week. So many things suck about being sick, such as:

  1. I get really tired of laying around
  2. My work piles up as I am foggy-brained from taking medicine to help me feel better so I can work (irony)
  3. The breakneck pace of our weekly schedule carries on despite my being sick
  4. I can’t work out, even though it would bring me some endorphins, which might help me feel better (more irony)

Yesterday I did feel a bit better so I decided to give training a try this morning at my usual 5am class. I just felt like I needed to move my body a little, even if I wasn’t at 100%.

This could be a blog about showing up, but it’s not.

This could be a blog about doing your best, no matter what your best looks like, but it’s not.

This is a blog about the judgy, bitchy voice in my head that told me, as I decided not to do my fourth round because I was just DONE, that I had not done enough.

I hate this voice.

I made a decision this morning, as my body felt weak and shaky after my first three rounds, to cut my workout short and head home. I had done enough for the day and I was determined not to feel bad about this.

But the voice…the voice in my head told me that I had not done enough.

That voice often tells me that I don’t do enough…

That I don’t keep my house clean enough…

That I don’t keep in touch with friends enough…

That I don’t do enough for my kids or my husband…

That I don’t work hard enough at my job…

That I am not enough.

This morning, I made another decision. I decided that, even though I couldn’t completely silence the voice, I wasn’t going to listen.

I gave what I had this week–whether it was around the house, with my family or work, or at the workout this morning–and that was enough.

Sometimes, “enough” is going to look different based on the week, the day, or even the minute. Life seems to move at warp speed and we can’t always give the same amount we do on other weeks/days/minutes. And that’s ok. We give what we can, and that’s enough.

So today, I choose to tell that judgy voice to shut the hell up.

I am enough, and so are you.


The summer has slipped through my fingers, a mess of work and driving, driving, and driving some more. Driving the kids to the places. Driving the kids home from the places. Driving kids to other places, and then home again. I feel like I spent the summer in my car, and that’s a little bit sad.

But it’s not just the summer I feel slipping away from me; it’s so much more.

Emma turned twelve just over a week ago. We’ve decided that at 12 she’s allowed to wear makeup. She’s also switched from glasses to contacts recently, and a few days before her birthday, I taught her how to shave her legs.

How did we get here? How did we get from this:

IMG_1183 2

To this in, like, four seconds?


Oh, my heart.

And don’t even get me started on this one…this no-longer-a-boy. This nearly-a-man who will be a junior in high school this year, who we are teaching to drive, and who has two college visits set up in the fall.

IMG_1184 2


I sometimes get incredibly irritated with him when he has been sitting at the computer with those infernal headphones on while playing Overwatch for, LITERALLY, hours. He “doesn’t hear me” when I ask him to help empty the dishwasher, feed the dog, or take out the trash.

But then at other times I stop and think that in two years, just two short, precious years, we’ll be sending him off to college. Watching him go and taking my heart with him.

And he is kind, and hilarious, and good-hearted, and smart, and generous, and, yes (when he “hears” me), willing to help out around the house. If the worst thing about him is that he plays video games too much, I think we’re not in too bad a spot.

And as for her, she is still the same mix of sweetness and sass that she’s always been, smart, compassionate, and by turns sensitive and tough-as-nails. But she’s looking so grown up these days. I have lots of adults tell me that she is mature beyond her years, and I do believe it’s true that my Emma is an old soul.

She still has a lot of physical growing to do, as she is still the height of about a 9 year old. I mean let’s face it, our whole family is short so it’s not like she has much of a shot at being taller than average (if that)…but I think for a while now her height has tricked me into thinking I have more time.

I don’t.

With her I have just six years left, and if the rapidity with which her brother has grown up is any indicator, that six years will slip through my fingers probably more quickly than this summer of driving them to all the places to do all the things.


Days do feel long. With work, and making sure everyone has all their stuff, and running around doing errands, and the driving of the kids to the places, and the general doing of all the things, the days are long. (Except vacation days. Those are always super short, as we all know.)

But then suddenly I turned around and it’s more than halfway through 2018 and I realize that the long days of the doing of the things has brought me to this place where they are nearly grown. They don’t need me as much, but in some ways they need me more than ever and just don’t want to show it.

They are so big, and my heart breaks thinking of all the little ways that I am forced to let them go every day. That’s what it is, really. It’s a slow process of letting them go, and it happens so subtly sometimes that you don’t feel it until  suddenly you realize that, dear God, one is driving and the other is wearing makeup and shaving her legs and how the hell did this even happen?

I love those kids so much that it is painful sometimes. Drew and I have worked hard as parents to raise them to be good people, and I think we have done a decent job (barring the usual parenting screw-ups).

But here is what I call the Great Paradox of Parenting. We are “raising” these kids. Growing them. Putting all this work and love in so that they can become adults and leave us as they go off into their own lives. I know that’s the point of parenting but it hurts my heart so much to see it happening. To watch them slip away slowly and quickly at the same time.

I know they will never really be “gone.” They’ll always love us and we’ll always be a big part of their lives. But the day to day togetherness–no matter how much technology allows us to keep in touch via text or FaceTime–will no longer be there. They won’t be with me every day, needing to be driven to all the places for all the things.

This, this is the part that makes me feel like a super sticky bandage is being slowly and painfully ripped off.

I try to enjoy every stage of their lives and I have to say, for the most part, I am really loving this pre-teen/teen phase with both of them. But it’s so close to the end that it makes me want to hold on tight.

Of course I’ll let them go…I already am little by little. They’ll both grow into amazing adults doing good things in the world and I’ll still be so proud to call them mine.

And I’ve already told them both that they’ll have a tough time getting rid of me anyway, so there’s that.

In the meantime, I’ll try to let go gracefully, knowing they won’t always listen, that they’ll make their own mistakes and have their own victories…some of which I may never even know about. And that’s ok, because that’s all part of the rollercoaster journey of parenting.






On “cherishing every moment” (Alternate title: Yes, I know someday I’ll wake up and there won’t be anyone to take to practice anymore.)

Can we just talk about this?


Because I feel like I can’t be the only one who is tired of being told–absurdly–to “cherish every moment.”

This may just be a matter of semantics, but even so…no. Just nopety-nope to this message and the horse it rode in on.

Because I am certain the moment that I spent cleaning the dog’s diarrhea out of my brand new carpet–or any memory that involves my children and vomit– will never be “precious” in my memory.

I am also sure that there is no way for me to “enjoy” any moment when my kids talk back or just generally act like jerks, which even the most lovely of children (and, let’s face it, adults) tend to do from time to time.

I humbly submit that–despite what this well-intentioned inspirational quote wants you to believe–not every moment in life is meant to be enjoyed.

Every moment is meant to be experienced and lived. But not necessarily enjoyed. Not necessarily catalogued as “precious.”

And why the hell would we even want it to be?

Sometimes life is boring. Sometimes life is a total shit show. Sometimes it is sad, terrifying, absurd, embarrassing, mundane or miserable.

And these parts of life are good. They are not “precious” or “enjoyable” but they are good because they are part of the package…part of the “full experience” of life. And without the full experience, well, you haven’t had the full experience. (Should I find a way to say “full experience” again?)

If every moment is joyful, then no moments are joyful. Because without experiencing anger, frustration, fear, sadness, or pain, how can we really experience joy?

And in parenting, the same holds true. If I am not occasionally/sometimes/possibly frequently annoyed or frustrated by my kids and the hard and often mind-numbingly boring work of parenting, then can I really say I’ve had the full experience of parenting?

Can I really feel the joy of the amazing moments if I haven’t endured the not-so-amazing ones?

I would argue no.

But in this parenting landscape, I am so often commanded to CHERISH EVERY MOMENT.

To suck up each wonder-tastic second of being a parent because it defines my entire existence and someday I will be a barren and sad empty-nester with only shattered dreams and memories of what it was like when my home was bustling with activity and schedules and cleats on the floor for me to trip over and American Girl brushes left out that can seriously cut a bitch and I will be WOEFULLY SAD and FULL OF REGRET that I did not soak in the orgasmic joy of having those needle-like bristles sear the bottom of my foot in pain because my children will be grown up and my life will basically be over and there will be no more implements of torture  precious doll hair brushes laying around on my living room floor.

Oh, did I say too much in one stream of consciousness paragraph just then? Oops. (Insert embarrassed face emoji.)

But anyway. We all know this pressure is out there. The pressure to be delightfully blissfully present at every magical instant with your children or possibly be labeled the literal worst parent ever.

If you’re the mother at the park looking at your phone, you’re probably being judged.

If you’re the father on the computer saying no to going outside with your kids to play ball, you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re the harried parent yelling at your kid to STOP WANDERING AROUND THE YARD AND GET IN THE CAR BECAUSE WE’RE ALREADY LATE, you’re obviously not cherishing and embracing your child’s sense of wonder and you are definitely the worst. (And if you’ve seen the harried parent I just described, please stop spying on me. It’s creepy.)

Listen, I get it.

I get the core of what these messages that bombard us daily are trying to tell us: childhood is short. It goes by in a flash. It will be over before you know it, etc, etc.

And this message is 100000% true. I am stunned on a daily basis at how old my kids are. When I see pictures of them from even 2 or 3 years ago, they are totally different people even though I am certain I took that photo, like, five minutes ago.

Yes, it goes way too fast. The time is, indeed, short.

Before I know it, in 2 and a half years that will surely pass faster than I can ever imagine, my son will be graduating high school, and meanwhile I’m still trying to reconcile myself with the fact that he is not ten years old anymore.


The fleeting nature of their childhoods still does not mean every moment is one to be enjoyed, and I am sick of having this message shoved down my throat…as though I should feel guilty when I don’t spend every waking moment staring meaningfully and lovingly at my children.

I don’t.

There have been multiple times when I–GASP!!–scrolled through Facebook on my  phone while absently saying, “Mmmmhmmmmm…” while my daughter recounted for me in excruciatingly unnecessary detail the plot of the latest book she was reading.

In moments when my kids bicker incessantly, sniping at each other in a way that makes my blood boil, I yell at them and even tell them to get out of the room I am in. In fact, that just happened as I was writing this. I told them to “Shoo!”

I did not cherish that particular moment in the least. Even though they won’t be young forever. Even though the time is so fleeting and precious.

Somebody call DCF. I am clearly an unfit parent.

Oh wait, no.

I am a human being who feels frustration and boredom and anger and sadness, not a robot only containing joy and moment-cherishing software.

You may be surprised to learn that I do not derive indescribable joy from watching them do the same trick on the tire swing for the 20th time.

People…I have been utterly bored at the elementary school band concert. (I know. I’m a monster.)

Final confession: every moment of my children’s existence does not fill me with contentment and joy. Because I’m a human and this is real life and kids can be maddening and tiresome and frustrating.

But here’s the heart of it: their existence is a wonder to me, even when they are annoying or anger-inducing.

I love those kids so fiercely and completely, even when I’m shooing them out of my face because they’re driving me nuts.

And they know they are fiercely loved, every minute.

Even when I’m looking at my phone.

Even when I’m watching TV.

Even when I’m working or reading or talking to my husband or going out with a friend or writing or ignoring them because I’m doing any of these things.

The messages telling us that we should feel guilty or that we are not doing parenting right unless we are cherishing every moment can shove it, because what they really should be saying is love them every moment (even when they are at their worst).

Here’s the thing…no matter what you do, the time is going to fly.

Whether you spend every second staring at them or not, you are going to turn around one day and find that they are gawky teenagers with braces who are taller than you, have full mustaches, and can do a dead-on ironic Trump impression. (That last bit might be a little specific to me, but you take my point.)

You are going to miss things, no matter what.

They are going to keep growing, no matter what.

These little bits of advice to “enjoy every minute” are just our flawed human way of trying to hang on. To romanticize parenthood in such a way that we might stop it from slipping so quickly through our fingers.

But still, it slips.

The time passes. Childhood passes. Life passes.

Some moments–rare ones–are gorgeous and perfect and some are mediocre at best. Others are genuinely awful. We won’t enjoy and cherish every kind, and that’s okay.

We can only do our best to be present in these moments no matter which variety they are. (We won’t even be able to do that every time, and that’s okay too.)

Someday I will wake up and not have anyone to drive to practice.

There will be no overflowing closets full of clothes, shoes and toys to demand someone clean up this instant.

My living room floor will be devoid of hazardous doll accessories and there will be no one staring zombie-like at a video game screen instead of doing homework or chores.

Yes, this will be sad. But that’s life, and life is sometimes sad.

But the good news is no matter how old my kids get, no matter how quickly their childhoods pass, they will always know that they are and have been fiercely loved every minute.

And so I will have done my job.








Moms, It’s Enough.

Ok, moms. We need to talk about the way we treat each other. Because I’ve kind of had enough and I’m guessing many of you have, too.

Yesterday I was in Whole Foods with my son and there was a bit of a ruckus. We had finished our shopping and were wandering over to the bakery case to see what looked delicious. Because that’s what we do. Because CUPCAKES.


As we passed the mini-coffee shop, which was crowded with a thick knot of people waiting to order their coffees, I saw a mom struggling with a crying girl, who looked to be about three or four years old. She simultaneously kept an eye on a boy of maybe a few years older who was nearby, eating a treat of some kind. My heart went out to this mom, as it always does to moms in those situations. I could see the panic on her face, and I felt her anxiety in my own gut.

We’ve all had those moments, Moms, haven’t we? No matter how old or young your child is, we’ve all experienced those in-public moments where your child behaves in a cringe-worthy way. Typically, the children are acting out in age-appropriate ways–a three year old throwing a tantrum when the answer to ANYTHING is “no,” a teenager rolling his eyes and mouthing off–but how do the onlookers in the store/restaurant/bowling alley/doctor’s office/car dealership/WHEREVER respond? Do they think, “that’s just a kid being a kid” or “that poor mom–she’s doing her best!”? I hope so.

But the truth is, so many times, they think the worst. So many times, their silent judgment is palpable. I have felt that silent judgment, and most acutely I have felt it from other women. Other moms.

Ladies, pardon my frankness, but what the ever-loving hell are we doing to each other with this judgment?

Let me go back to Whole Foods.

We passed the mom with her daughter and started ogling some particularly tantalizing cupcakes. A moment later, over the din of the busy store, I heard an angry voice start to rise. Like most of the other people in the area, my son and I turned toward the near-shouting.

“Don’t you tell me how I should be handling my children! I’m a single mom, and working my ass off, doing my best! How dare you talk to me that way?”

It was the mom I had seen before, trying to hold onto her slippery, squirming daughter while confronting another woman.

I have no idea what this woman said to the mom. I didn’t see her face, only saw the back of her head, her long, reddish hair, and the man standing next to her. She must have replied to the mom, but quietly, because I didn’t hear what she said. I saw the mom’s eyebrows go up in surprise and her eyes widen. Her voice got even louder; she was shouting now:

“My son dropped a napkin on the floor! He’s a little boy! You’re talking to me this way because my son dropped a napkin on the floor and I didn’t pick it up!”

By this point, the entire area of the grocery store was frozen, staring at the confrontation…except for a few unconvincing souls who pretended they were oblivious and tried to keep up the appearance of shopping. A Whole Foods employee swooped in and hovered between the two women, saying something like, “Let’s just calm down, everyone.”

The red-headed woman must have said something else to the mom. If she was already close to losing it, whatever the woman said pushed her over the edge. “HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME THAT WAY, YOU F***ING B**CH? HOW DARE YOU–”

At this point the husband stepped in front of his wife and told the mom she shouldn’t speak to his wife that way. The mom and the husband began to argue at that point, until the Whole Foods employee stepped in and asked everyone to calm down and requested the mom step away from the scene.

You guys, I felt so much compassion for this mom. I have been her, and I’m sure you have, too. I could see it in her eyes. She was at the end of her rope, all alone in raising her children and all alone in this sea of judgmental faces in Whole Foods. And SHE was the one being asked to leave, a pariah with her two children. My heart broke for her, especially as the crowd of people around her looked away, pointedly avoiding eye contact with the shunned woman.

Yes, she got carried away. Maybe many of the people in the store–maybe you, reading this–think she went too far by swearing at the woman.

Maybe she did. But to me, that’s not the point.

The point is that this mom, doing her best with two small children on what was clearly not their best public outing, faced unfair judgment from another woman, and she lost it. She snapped, and I don’t blame her, not one bit.

In fact, I have to say I was a little bit in awe of her. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to react in a similar way when I have been judged by others when my children chose the worst of moments to misbehave, as children do…but I never quite had the spunk to do it.

In that moment, I could see how alone this woman felt. As she started to turn away with her two children in tow, I walked over to her, touched her on the arm and said, “You’re doing a good job, Mom.”

The relief and gratitude in her eyes was evident. “Thank you,” she replied.

I’m not going to lie. I was really nervous to do that, to speak out and stand with that mom in a moment when she was clearly being cast out and vilified by the people around. My voice shook a little, but I made sure it was loud enough for the others around to hear.

Because moms, I’ve had enough, and I’m not going to look away and be quiet anymore.

I’ve had enough of us tearing each other down. I’ve had enough of us being expected by society to keep our kids quiet, and to be quiet ourselves. I’ve had enough of being judged for saying no to my kids and disciplining them, even when it means they yell and scream in a store. I’ve had enough of women’s stares and whispers, silently and not-so-silently criticizing another mother’s choices.

Now look, no one is talking about abuse here, so let’s just not have anyone read this and think, “Well, if someone is abusing their kid, I will criticize them and call the police!” DUH.

I’m talking about parenting choices. I’m talking about seeing a woman in a store, struggling with her two kids and then criticizing her because her little boy dropped a napkin on the floor and she did not immediately either 1) make him pick it up or 2) pick it up herself because she was just a tiny bit busy with her other child at that moment.

Hey, here’s an idea: instead of looking at that struggling parent and thinking, “Sheesh, she is really letting her kids run wild; she is a terrible mother!” how about looking at her and thinking, “Look at that mom. She is really having a tough time. Maybe I can help.”

Maybe, just maybe, instead of offering a criticism and a judgment, that other woman could have just, oh, I don’t know, BENT OVER AND PICKED UP THE DANGED NAPKIN HERSELF. You know, just to be a good person. Just because she saw this mother needed help.

I’ve had a couple of times when I needed help myself, and all I got was judgment and criticism. One time, especially.

My son was two, maybe three, so this was about 10 years ago. I was 29 or 30, in Target with him, wearing a baseball cap so I probably looked to be in my early or mid-twenties.

He wanted a particular Thomas the Train, and the answer was no. It’s the age-old story, am I right? Toddler demands toy, mom says no, toddler melts down entirely.

So I told my son in age-appropriate language that his tantrum was not ok, he was in time-out and I would speak to him when he was done crying. I gave hime some space but of course I stayed nearby, within sight of him at the end of the row.

It was hard. I know you know it was hard. I knew people nearby–who were pointedly NOT making eye contact–were judging me, thinking “Why is that awful mom just letting her little boy cry like that?” I could feel the hot anxiety in my chest, rising up, willing me to relent and just get him the toy so he would shut up.

And then it happened. A woman approached me, someone probably just a couple of years older than me, but it was clear she thought I was a very young mother. She had That Look on her face. The “I-Know-You’re-Trying-But-You’re-Doing-It-Wrong-And-I’m-So-Much-Better-At-It-Than-You” look.

“I know it’s hard,” she began. I was tense, so full of stress in that moment, but hoping that maybe she would say something encouraging despite That Look.


“But it’s even harder for everyone around here to listen to your little boy cry. You shouldn’t just leave him like that to cry, you know. It’s very unpleasant.”

Ohhhhh, the thoughts that went through my mind as my face, I’m sure, registered shock and disbelief. Thoughts of telling her that I could show her what unpleasant was if she didn’t shut up. This was the moment I remembered when I saw that mom in Whole Foods and understood why she completely lost it. Because I wanted to lose it. It took every ounce of my personal restraint not to yell in her sanctimonious face.

Instead of screaming obscenities, I responded in a shaky, clipped tone. “My little boy is crying because I wouldn’t buy him a Thomas the Train. I am trying not to raise a spoiled brat and if you don’t like his crying, maybe you should move to another aisle. And take your parenting advice with you.” *

(*This is a general paraphrase. It’s been ten years. I remember so clearly how I felt, and what my voice sounded like coming out of my mouth, all nervous and shaky, but the exact words are a little foggy. Chances are, it wasn’t as eloquent as how I wrote it here, but you get the general idea.)

She just shook her head at me sadly, like I was a silly little teen mom or something, and walked away. Instead of making a connection, mom-to-mom, or woman-to-woman, because she may or may not have been a mom, instead of offering an encouraging word, she chose to tear me down. I cried on the drive home from Target that day.

It hurts to be cast out in that way, especially by another woman, even more so by another mom. Because we’re all just trying to do our best, follow our own parenting beliefs, and IT IS HARD. Parenting, mothering, is hard every single day. Why don’t we choose unity and encouragement over judgment, criticism and isolation? It would make mothering at least a little bit easier.

As mothers, we all make different choices. Here’s a news flash: all of our choices are valid, Moms. You may breastfeed, she may not. You may let your baby cry it out, she may not. You may give your eight-year-old an iPhone, she may not. You may be a stay at home mom, she may not. You may let your thirteen year old daughter dye her hair purple, she may not. You might have bought the Thomas the Train for your three year old, I did not.

ALL THESE CHOICES ARE VALID. Some are mine, some are yours, some are hers. None is better than the other. They just ARE.

Let’s all join together and say ENOUGH. Enough judgment. Enough criticism. Enough tearing each other down.

Instead, let’s have more compassion for each other as women, as moms. Let’s share the difficult experience of mothering with each other, whether we’re friends or strangers, and support each other, even when our choices differ. Even when we make mistakes, because we all do at some point.

When you see a struggling mom, reach out to her with a smile, or a nod of your head to let her know you get it. Even if you are nervous like me, walk over to her and say, “You’re doing a good job, Mom.”

And the next time you find yourself in that situation, anxious and struggling, not sure if you’re doing the right thing, not sure if you’ll face criticism or judgment, imagine feeling my hand on your arm, and hearing my possibly-shaky-but-loud-enough voice telling you, “You’re doing a good job, Mom.”

Because you are.