How’s School?


As we’ve hoped and predicted?

It’s left me untethered, which is a word my blog software doesn’t recognize, so that makes two of us.

The people in my life, near and far have been amazing. Checking in. Treating me to a first-day-of-school pedicure. Checking in more. Sharing stories. Laughing. The Swedelock is making our extreme new schedule work, even though it sometimes means bed time starts right when Daddy gets home.

The first two weeks, I spent six hours each day in constant, panicked motion. I got a million things done, none of which are apparent. And I can’t tell you what any of them are. There is a giant pile of clothes in the office which do not bring me joy. You wanna come look at them?

Saturday I went to a yoga class for the first time since moving here, and it drained off so much of the anxiety that it was horrible. I went back to a yoga class today, wrestling with the luxury of that act, the appropriative nature of it all, and set my intention as: don’t let the anger run you out the door.

My blog software also doesn’t recognize appropriative. Which is how I feel: unrecognized.

I had few problems adjusting my ego to being a stay-at-home parent and homemaker. This new thing, however, is hard. And the first one of you who tries to tell me to calm down or to take a drink is going on The List. Careful. You might already be there. I’m sober, and I’m refocusing. You might not want my attention.

My anxiety is 10% usual “child growing up” stuff. Maybe 5%. Because 95% of it is OH MY LORD FOOD ALLERGIES!

One day last week, for drop-off, I gave a kiss and said, “There’s your line, see you later!” Then I got home and slapped my forehead. Oh, right. No designated medically-aware adult has sight of him until the bell rings; I need to stick around in case of emergency. Will there be an emergency? Probably not. But the next day in line I got to ask a kid to wipe, then wash his hands after he was done eating a peanut butter granola bar. So maybe.


Also, The Child is writing numbers, and sings a song that involves the phrase “boogie on down.” He drew a lion and neither of his parents could believe he did it himself. He is excited and exhausted. That makes two of us.

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The past week The Child hit up whatever he wanted to do with his friends. Last week of summer! Children’s museum. Trampoline park and shakes. Catch Air (and indoor play area), twice. We had around 15 families from play group over to scream and play. We got passes from a friend to visit a premium sports complex, and had a spectacular indoor & outdoor pools-splash pad-water slide-sandy play ground. For some reason, we were the only children there for hours.

These are many of The Child’s favorite things. On the day before of his first day of school, I wanted to write a list of some of my favorite things about my kindergartener.

  1. He points to things with his middle finger. Especially when counting.
  2. He skips “thirteen” when counting.
  3. He has a sense of time, days of the week, how long a month is. But his time-related phrases often sound like the poetry of an EFL speaker. “We have never eaten bacon for a long time.” “Remember some days from now when you said we could play with trains?” 
  4. His literal mind is learning to be silly.
  5. He likes shutting himself up in tiny boxes.
  6. When he wants to do something, often he will pitch it to us: “Oh, I have an idea! What do you thiiiink abouuuut mayyyybe having TWO COOKIES FOR DESSERT?!”
  7. This summer he could not get enough of our one box garden and herb pots. The Swedelock and he planted sunflowers that grew to be so large not even Dr. Suess could have imagined them.
  8. Crafts or writing endeavors take him eleventy hours.
  9. His favorite colors are, in order they appeared in his life: orange, pink, purple, and his “favorite color [shade] of blue.”
  10. He is a kind and gentle person.

All these favorite things pile up in my heart. There are tons more, and tons more to come. Now let’s go for a bike ride, then get ready to go to the gardens, and rock.

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Six Easy Steps Toward A Perfect Kindergarten Lunch Box

Step 1:

Ask around about lunch containers. Get told by oodles of people to go for the billion dollar solution, because, “Really, it lasts for years.”

Step 2:

Agree with longevity and quality argument, but refuse to buy the container on principle, because you can’t be tricked by clever marketing. Believe there has to be something out there between Dollar Tree parts you’d have to replace monthly, and this bandwagon.

Step 3:

Angst about that on-sale Target lunch bag you posted on Facebook that everyone laughed at. “What the hell, Alana? It’s bigger than your kid! He can’t even carry it!” Know that no one is the boss of you, but wonder if your child really will break an arm trying to carry it.

Step 4:

Just buy the billion dollar brand name lunch solution already. Of course you also buy the water bottle and some replacement parts, because you’re no dummy, and if that one mouthpiece goes missing in October, and you have to order a $1 part online with $8 shipping, you will lose your mind.

Obviously it makes sense to buy the coordinating carrying bag, and the custom-fit ice packs as well. Get purple, because there is no favorite-orange option, and second-favorite is pink. But you’re so sad kids might make fun of a boy with a pink lunch container. So you opt out of pink, and reinforce the gender binary.

Feel like a real failure for every aspect of this step. Except the extra parts foresight.

Step 5:

Do a test run of the new lunch box at home. Learn that the sandwich will only fit if you cut the crusts off. This makes you angry because you’ve trained your child that you’re not a crust-removal service, and they can simply leave what they don’t want to eat.

Step 6:

Have child refuse to eat the billion dollar crustless sandwich, because they don’t like that part of the bread, and it tastes funny.

It’s that easy!

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A Letter I Stopped Writing To My Immigrant Grandmother

I attempted to write a letter to my grandmother, who escaped Serbia after World War I. My post was meant to apologize to her. And to her sister-in-law, who only ever hinted at the raping of her German sisters during World War II. And to a beloved, wholly uneducated great-great aunt who crawled out of the dirt of Russia, and went on to send her daughter to college in Illinois.

I started to say I am sorry for what we are doing to this country they fought to get to.

But I stopped when I realized: They would not see the connection between what was behind them, and what lies ahead in Future President Trump.

It is so very difficult to see outside ourselves. These women were survivors. Immigration. Multiple Wars. The Great Depression. They did not mean to be pioneers. They did not mean to be feminists. They scraped by with nothing, and still managed to pay off their homes. They believed that hard work in this country leads to prosperity. It did. It did for so many in their community, in their generation. But that time is no longer, and wasn’t a time for so many Americans.

In the words of Rev. Dr. William Barber II, speaking at the Democratic National Convention:

Our constitution calls us to commit our government to establish justice, to promote the general welfare, to provide for the common defense and to ensure domestic tranquility.

Now, to be true, we’ve never lived this vision perfectly. But this ought to be the goal at the heart of our democracy.

We’ve never lived this vision perfectly (emphasis above mine).

I stopped saying I’m sorry to my foremothers, because this America is not a new America. It is the same country they walked, trained, and shipped to. Many of us whose families lived the American Dream are just now waking up. We are realizing our successes come from genocide and colonization, that the house in which our President lives was indeed built by slaves, and that Mississippi isn’t the only state still burning.

If I want to honor the women in my family, then I must live in a way they would not understand. I will speak out against our Milosevic-Stalin-Hitler-on-the-rise. He is an embarrassment to my race. I will put aside any notion that politics are icky. I will educate myself. I will understand that Democracy is a system, and a process, and it’s messy and uncomfortable. We are called to commit our government. We are our government.

I will stand with my foremothers by standing with Hillary. Not because I vote against a demagogue rising, but because I wholeheartedly support our Democratic nominee.

Sadly, history shows my family that my vote will likely be a losing one. This letter I’m not writing to my immigrant grandmother can’t cross over to the heaven she believed in anyway.

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My Knife

I like this guy who’s here from the gas company, replacing our gas meter. I appreciate anyone who comes into our home, because it’s always an adventure.

Of course he has to cut into our basement closet wall, so that he can actually reach the shut-off valve. As in: the hole is not big enough to, you know, SHUT OFF GAS…YOU KNOW… IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.

Gas Company Man came to inform me of this unsurprising surprise, and to ask if it would be okay to use “my husband’s knife downstairs.”
“The utility knife? First of all, it’s mine. My mother gave it to me. Secondly, of course. If you need it, I also have a saw attachment for my drill.”

Truth? I can’t remember if that particular knife is the one I brought to college, or if it was The Swedelock’s originally. And, sure, sure my husband technically bought our drill after we bought our house. But I’ll be damned if I let patriarchy stand in my kitchen without speaking up.

Also: Because our home is so consistently our home, Gas Company Man called to cancel his final appointment of the day. Because he knows this is going to take a while. 

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Mother’s Day Flowers

This morning I got lilacs and coffee in bed. 

Until the lilac-bringer’s eye started swelling shut. Now it’s just coffee. Which is enough.

In short, this is motherhood.

LILACS?! OH! MY FAVORITE! THANK YOU! Their smell is the very security and attachment of my own childhood. Yes, that is the bud, and it will become a flower. If we leave it on the bush.

Three minutes later, watching a children’s video on the parts of a flower.

Oh, you’re disastrously allergic? Oh well. Here marks the end of my childhood. No problem! I’m cutting our tree down anyway. It’s too close to the house.

Do not mistake this for martyrdom. And do not think it is always easy to flip the “can’t have it any more” switch (See: sleep, five minutes of quiet, peeing alone). But on my fifth Mother’s Day, it’s now easier to see when I lose something, but I still have enough. And when I do not. And that it isn’t “can’t have it any more,” but “can’t have it any more right now.” Some Mother’s Day The Child won’t come out of his room until noon, and I can go smell some neighbors’ lilacs. Some day he’ll move out, and I can plant a new bush outside our window.

Right now, my cup is full. It is enough.

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On This Day

Facebook has a feature called, “On This Day.” It pulls up posts from previous April 30ths, and gives you a cozy (or sometimes uncomfortable) flashback.

Today’s from 5 years ago was: “Off to the spa for my first afternoon without The Child. Hope I don’t fall asleep during my eyebrow wax, because after that comes the massage!”

This was such a big deal, 3 months post-partum: a gift to me and the two other new moms on the block. I had to schedule a pumping session during our pampering, which meant locking myself in a bathroom stall / changing room, and pretending I was already self-assured when other women came in to my whee-whoo, whee-woo sounds. By the end of my pumping days, I was no-big-deal fitting sessions in airport family bathrooms, and hopping on conference calls. But that first outing took ounces of reserve and confidence I did not quite yet have.

I remember being so grateful my therapist had been a breastfeeding mom (“I’m gonna leak,” I said, “My kid still eats every two hours.” And, “I’ve never had breasts before, so I might be uncomfortable on my stomach.”) I was grateful my two friends were 6 and 12 weeks ahead of my motherhood journey, and could model the relative collected breeze that was in my near future. (LOL J/K WE WERE ALL WRECKS, but it was good to be together, faking it.)

That morning I’d been awakened by The Child smacking me in the face with a power chord arm jerk in his sleep. It was 6:30, which must have felt heavenly. Although he was sleeping a maximum of 4 hours at a stretch, so heaven is a relative concept. I wasn’t yet back at work, but soon would be. My body was still achy and reshaping itself. Actually, body was not my own in any way.

There is sweetness in these memories. But I have no idea how any of us survived. And, honestly, if it weren’t for my two-sentence posts on Facebook, I would have little recollection of these days. At least I would not remember the specifics.

A friend told me while I was pregnant, “The sleep deprivation is hell. It also makes you forget precisely what happened. So then you have more children. It’s how the human race survives.”

He was not incorrect. Sleep deprivation, faking it, and a massage every three months. Apparently that was my method. At least that’s what Facebook tells me.

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