Monday, August 22, 2016

Remembering another "First Day of School"

Today my oldest started his last year of elementary school, and my littlest is not so little anymore.
I am the mom of a fifth grader and a third grader.
We have gone from light up superhero sneakers to high-top Vans.
In honor of today, I go back to another First Day...a pivotal one (probably more for me than them), when my oldest started kindergarten and my littlest was still quite little.

The First Day
*Originally published here on August 23, 2011

I was not prepared.

I bought all of the supplies.

Attended the meet-and-greet.

Packed their backpacks.

Reviewed shoe-tying.

Charged the camera battery.

Woke up extra early.

But I was not prepared.

On that first day

when I had done it all

checked it all off the lists

made sure we were all ready

I was not prepared.

I was not prepared for the pain

of the realization

that I was leaving my littlest one


for the first time


in a school

without his brother.

I was not prepared for the onslaught

of memories brought upon

by a moment captured on film:

a big brother helping a little brother

find his cubby

tuck his lunchbox

begin his day

exactly as he, himself, had done once

on his first day at the same little school.

With it came the sudden awareness

of the passing of time

the acknowledgement, for the first time,

that it is true

what they say:

they grow up too fast.

I was not prepared for the look of panic

fleeting and barely noticeable

but definitely there

in that second

just as we left.

I was not prepared for the sobs that choked me

shocked me

the whole way from one school to the next

where it started all over:

more shock, more tears

all my own.

I was not prepared for the swell of pride

unexplainable, almost.

After all, I had never been one of Those Mothers

and really, it was "just kindergarten"

and certainly, yes, a day of note, but of pride?





I was not prepared for this feeling

that I was a mother

more than ever before

in that insignificant moment:

a nametag found and pinned

a bookbag draped over a chair

a boy

my boy


finding his seat

in kindergarten.

"Look. This is where you put your lunchbox."
This was the exact cubby Ben had used when he attended his preschool.
Coincidentally, his little brother was assigned the same exact one years later.
The fact that I captured this moment on film still makes me tear up.

The precise moment when the nametag was "found and pinned."


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Look who's on Mamapedia (again)!

This is the second time I hesitate on posting a piece, fearing it's not "good enough," and then I'm contacted about having it featured on

Surely, there is a lesson to be learned here...

Honored, once again, to be the featured voice today

Saturday, August 6, 2016

How buying my son his first phone broke my heart a little bit

Three garbage bags of toys are sitting on my front doorstep waiting to be picked up for donations. I did not even look in them. (Hubby handled this round of clearing out toy bins and outgrown school uniforms. I know. I'm lucky.) I have been a bit sentimental lately about the boys growing up. I didn't need to know if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Van he had wanted "soooo bad" was in there. Or any of the Hot Wheels cars. Or mini action figures. No need.

I was once told to enjoy the constant mess of strewn toys everywhere. Soon enough...sooner than I could living room floor and coffee table would be clear again, I was warned, and they would only be interested in their phones, their tablets, their headphones, their laptops. I would miss stepping barefoot on those Legos, I was promised.

And now here I am...getting my soon-to-be-11-year-old his first phone.


He deserves it.

He's a straight A student. He's going into 5th grade. He's honest. He's responsible. He is, as many people (from strangers to family) have told us, a little old soul.

And we are hard on him.

I like to think that's why he's as awesome and reliable as he is...but... who am I kidding? I question myself as a parent constantly. Don't we all want to credit ourselves when they are turning out good and throw our hands up in the air when they are...well...not so much?

We are hoping, I think, that this will send him a very loud message: we trust you.

I realize most kids these days have phones (and a million other devices and game consoles and whatever else exists out there that my husband and I continue to fight against). In fact, one of his classmates got the iPhone #493 when he was in second grade. But to us, in our home, this is a big deal. We spend hundreds on bikes, skateboards, trips, books, surfboards...but anything that has a screen? I believe we are a complete and total embarrassment to our children. And if we are not yet, we will be in a couple more years...

So, our Ben...I think he gets it.
I hope he gets it.

I remember when he was 2, it was all about the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Good Lord, how many times did we have to get our exhausted, sleep-deprived asses off the couch because he insisted we had to dance (and often, sing) the Hot Dog dance? He desperately wanted "a Mickey that dances Hot Dog" (and here, he would usually demonstrate the kicking motion he wanted his Mickey to do). We thought: Sure, how hard could it be to find a dancing Mickey? (Did I mention we were first time parents?). Only several hours and $84 dollars later, we found our first son's precious dancing must-have Mickey. He used it, like, 4 times.

Then there was the Go, Diego, Go! stage. Everything had to be Diego for this 3rd birthday: the outfit, the cake, the card, every single present. There were little animal figures and Diego's cousin Dora and Backpack and plastic little trees evvvvverrrrywhere. ("Swiper, no swiping!")

When we lived in our old "big house," we had a cavernous room devoid of furniture but lined with bins literally overflowing with toys. There was a Little Einstein's table ("Pat...! Pat...! Pat...! Blast offffff!") that was chronically covered with poorly closed containers of Play-Dough and dried out markers and scribbled, wrinkled drawings that we absolutely could not throw away, apparently, under any circumstances. The giant mess in that giant room drove me crazy.

Surely, the Universe is laughing at me now: the girl who started a blog because she was so overwhelmed and sometimes miserable raising these babies. Now, that girl is writing about getting that same little boy his first phone as if he were going away to college. WTF? You mean all those people were right?!? When she would complain about surely never being able to go to the bathroom alone again? When she would complain about feeling like the rest of her life would surely be spent sprawled on the floor pretending to be interested in the Mickey Mouse train that was laying down railroad track and singing "Chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-choooo-chooooooo!""? It really is all over before you know it? She really should have enjoyed it more? She really should have stressed less? Damn. Good one, Universe.

Today surely marks a big day for Ben. But probably even more so for me. As a mom, this is definitely one of those days when you can hear the flipping of the pages as one cliched chapter is closed and another is opened. I will have to remind myself to enjoy every question he asks about Instagram and ringtones and apps. I will have to remind myself that this time period, too, will pass and I will miss it and look back and think "Aw, he was so little...only 11 years old..."  I will probably chuckle and laugh at myself: "Ha! And I thought that was a big deal back then...?!?"

In the meantime, I think I'm going to dig around his little brother's toy bins and see if I can find some cool action figures and Hot Wheels cars to tempt Ben with...even if he just wants to take some pictures of them with his new phone.
One of the smaller messes- circa 2009