Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lucky Girl

Multiple high priority projects demanding my attention at the day job.
Desire to finally pour onto the page, a few of the story ideas now swarming around inside my head.
The Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, Friend thing.

Not enough hours in the day, resulting in subsequent overload and shut down.

Until I received this…

This is an email from Mr. Man.  Mr. Man works an incredibly busy job, where he barely has time to scratch his ass.  Often when I receive emails from him they are pretty cryptic, as he only has a nanosecond to type them.  Usually it drives me crazy, but this time...

Is this Motivation to help get me through the projects at work?

Motivation to remind me that I have what it takes to succeed?

A cheer reminding me that he loves me and I rock, thereby Motivating me to continue rocking?

I think I’m going with all of the above.

Don’t hate me because I was lucky enough to catch a man like this,


Friday, February 17, 2012

Introducing Pep Talk Polly!

It's February.  It's grey, and today I’m struggling.

With the exception of the dark times of Little Miss Pessimist, I try really hard to remain optimistic and moving forward every day.

I DO NOT post negativity and “pity me” status updates on any of the social networks, and generally hide or block those that do.

My motto is please don’t drop your drama in my space.

I have a 3 year old with enough toys to cover the whole state of Washington, so it’s safe to say there is no space for you to leave your drama anywhere near me!

The only exception is made for Friends and Family in need. Whenever someone close to me is feeling sad or stressed or confused or lost I am there.

Anytime, Anywhere, Anything. They can call me and I’ll listen and be there.

Wait a minute... that’s a song isn’t it?

Actually truth be told, it doesn’t always have to be just friends and family. Clients, co-workers, friends of friends, acquaintances in my writing class, random shoppers at the grocery store…

It doesn’t matter who it is, or what their situation, if I sense they are struggling with something, my knee jerk reaction if to offer them some nugget of wisdom or advice. Something to help highlight the silver lining hidden within the personal grey cloud they are struggling under.

Then advice given, they can skip merrily on their way, and take their drama with them. That’s a fair trade right?

In fact I offer positive advice (both solicited and annoyingly unsolicited) so often that the other day I had an epiphany and wrote this down in one of my notebooks,

“Just Call me Pep Talk Polly!”

My super hero persona? Perhaps. One of the voices in my head? Certainly not!

Now, here’s the ironic part.

I am notorious for giving pep talks to each and every needy person I come in contact with, and generally feel obliged to point out the positive in any horrible situation I come up against, but I am completely incapable of doing the same for myself.

Even though I strive to recognize the good and positive all around me, sometimes I feel kind of lost.

My dreams and ideas seem too big, and I feel so small and insignificant. There are so many amazing talented people in this world, and I feel pretty normal and mundane. Sometimes, I have a hard time believing I will ever rise above and succeed.

Sometimes I really need the swift kick in the pants that only Pep Talk Polly can deliver.

It’s REALLY hard to practice what you preach.

While I’m struggling to walk-the-walk , I think I’m going to keep Pep Talk Polly around for a while. She seems cool, always good for a laugh, doesn’t take up too much closet space. I think we’re going to get up to some very entertaining hijinks together here in Mandyland. Best to stay tuned!

How about you? Got any alter egos? Or maybe you need a smack from Pep Talk Polly? Don’t be shy, we love to hear from you!

Naming the voice in your head isn’t crazy, right?


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Trophy's in the Mail

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed a few acts of parenting posted by friends on Facebook that went above and beyond the call of duty.

One Mom and Dad stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to blow up a bazillion balloons for their son’s birthday. Once they had them all blown up, they snuck the lot into his room and upon waking the morning of his big day, he was greeted with an ocean of balloons.

Then during the rare snow storm we were recently hit with, a father got up in the middle of the night and built a snowman in the front yard. The next morning when his 5 year old daughter woke up and peeked out the window, she spied a snowman completely surrounding by foot prints. Her only explanation was that the snowman must have been dancing to celebrate the arrival of the snow.

As I smiled over these moments, it made me remember a story of when one set of MY parents had deserved a medal.

It happened when I was 13.

My parents had recently finalized their divorce and my Dad was dating a woman name Michelle who had two young girls.

In an attempt to bring us together and let everyone get to know each other, the adults had decided we were all going camping.

The first few days of the trip were wonderful. We kids were getting along well and having a great time.

Then it started to rain.

Having lived in the land the Rain calls home for over 4 years now, I understand that oftentimes, you can simply ignore the rain and refuse to allow it to ruin your fun, but this was not that type of rain. Unlike a mist or light sprinkle, easily tolerated, this rain was epic.

Think monsoon, rainforest, Noah and his Arch! It was a downpour guaranteed to soak you to the center of your soul in seconds.

Not long after this H2O with attitude descended, we were ushered into the biggest of the tents, while my parents secured the campsite. I think maybe they thought, given the strength of the onslaught, the storm would quickly blow itself out and we’d be able to resume our regularly scheduled program. Looking out the mesh windows, I had my serious doubts. I could see my parents rushing about, their faces set in annoyed determination as, without the slightest sign of letting up, the storm raged on.

As my parents worried about damage control, my mind focused on an entirely different dilemma. Besides the obvious possibility of being washed away, the rain had thrown a serious wrench into the evening’s entertainment. The three other kids sitting in the tent with me ranged between 6 and 9 in age, and they had been promised smores.

As anyone with children knows, once a promise such as this is made, the child can think of nothing but the ooey, gooey, melty, chocolate and marshmallow, wrapped in a blanket of crispy golden graham cracker to come.

“Oh sweetie, look! It’s a rainbow!”

“What? Is it time for smores?”

“Hey, how about we all go swimming?”

“And then we’ll eat smores?”

“Who wants to catch a chipmunk and take it home as a pet?”

“Can we name it Bob…. And feed it smores?”

Sitting in the tent my 13 year old self instinctively knew it now fell on me to keep everyone happy, entertained and focused on ANYTHING except the s-word.

Except it turned out further distraction was unnecessary.

As I sat wracking my brain for something fun for 4 children to do in an 8 x 8 water logged pop tent, the entrance flap folded back and revealed Michelle dressed head to toe in a yellow rain slicker and holding a scarcely cooked, slightly mushy smore.

My parents had promised smores, and not even high water was going to stop them!

As we watched, my Dad and Michelle ran back and forth between a barely burning fire and our sagging tent to deliver one soggy treat after another.

To this day, I have no idea how they kept the fire going?

This was just one instance of brilliance in parenting that I remember. Being lucky enough to have two sets of amazing parents, I could probably write a book!

So how about you guys? Had an especially brilliant parenting moment that you are proud of? Or do you remember something your parents did that was awesome? I LOVE hearing your stories!

Remember, sharing is SEXY!!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

As Long as I'm Living....

Tonight, like many nights of late, Miss M called out in the dark. Her tearful voice full of fear called out to Mommy and Daddy to protect her from the monsters.

Shuffling into our room, hair tousled, eyes bleary, Miss M crawled into our bed to escape the terrors lurking behind her eyelids.

Gathering her into my lap, a bundle of blankets and softly hitching breath, I held her close. I whispered the nightmares wouldn’t get her, that Mommy and Daddy would make sure they couldn’t.

Despite her cries, I carried her across the hall to her room. Hysterical in my arms, frustrated and over tired, her despair broke my heart.  Sitting on the edge of her bed I rocked her. Back and forth, back and forth, I murmured soothing sounds.  Shushing and swaying I attempted to the drive the monsters away.

As I rocked, out of the dark a trembling voice whispered, “Mama, I want to go to the rocking chair.”

With a quiet affirmation I eased off of the bed and carried my life’s love to the chair in the corner of the room. The chair I'd spied in a random thrift store while still pregnant.  The chair I’d purchased on the spot, had the saleswoman wedge into the backseat of my car, and then spent hours painting the perfect shade of apple red.

Approaching that chair, Miss M’s tiny arms around my neck, I felt my heart flutter with excitement. It’d been forever since we’d last snuggled and rocked. My nights spent cradling a sweet suckling babe, were now replaced with a bedtime routine far more busy and boisterous.

Settling into the chair my sweet one leaned against my chest, long legs dangling on either side, now gangly arms tangled in the blankie snuggly wrapped around her shoulders. With our bodies properly arranged, I slowly began to rock, back and forth, back and forth.

My hand, as if possessed of its own memory, silently fell into the well-known rhythm, up and down, up and down, feeling her strong back, and its steady rise and fall.

As we rocked, her solid weight on my lap, my thoughts began to stumble.

“So big, when did my baby get so big?”

With feet moving the chair, fingers massaging her back, I began to hum Brahms’s “Lullaby and Good Night”. I don’t recall this song from my own childhood, but from the moment I brought Miss M home from the hospital, I've been humming this song. To sooth, to calm, to cure, to relax, no matter the situation I have instinctively hummed this tune.

Rocking together, locked in embrace, my little girl who can count to 20 and sing her ABCs. Who helps me feed the cats and insists on brushing her teeth "all by herself." My beautiful daughter, so smart and so independent, nestled against my chest, eyes closed, breathing steady.

Leaning my face over her soft hair, I kissed her smooth forehead. Leaning back, still rocking, still humming, and the realization hit me. Like a stinging elastic snap in my brain, four seemingly innocent little words.

“Not a baby anymore.”

Holding back my tears, I squeezed her just a little tighter, desperate to freeze her in this moment just a little bit longer. Yet, the words repeat.

“Not a baby anymore.”

That swaddled little peanut I brought home from the hospital has grown and developed into a full-fledged little girl. With her own ideas and indestructible opinions, she’s come through the first stage of her life, and is ready and excited for the next.

Not a baby anymore, a big girl now.

The thought repeats, "a big girl now", and yet a small insistent voice inside is not satisfied.  Piping up, it calms me.

“She will always be your baby,” it whispers “always.”

Slowing the rock of the chair, I shifted my baby into my arms, and carried her over to the bed.  For now the terrors are gone, and Miss M is at rest.

My baby, my sweet one, my life’s love, asleep and dreaming dreams of color and light.

Smiling, I turn and leave.

No matter how big she gets, how much she learns, or how many new things she discovers, she’ll always be my little baby, and I’ll always be here to help her keep the monsters at bay.

As soon as I got Miss M back into her bed, I was so inspired that I wrote this post. It was partially influenced by one of my favorite children’s books by Robert Munch entitled “Love You Forever”.  Not that long ago Miss M and I would read it together, and when the mother rocked her baby “Back and Forth, Back and Forth and sang", Miss M. would rock and sing with me.

This book has always been one of my favorites, and could make me teary at the drop of a hat.  Now that I am a mother myself, it holds a new place in my heart. A place of undeniable truth.

"I'll love you forever

I'll like you for always

As long as I'm living

My baby you'll be."

Trying not to blink,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's a Tough Job But...

Most of the time being a parent is great. Miss M’s kisses and silly stories make Mr. Man and I smile every day. I mean look at this face!

But sometimes being a parent just sucks.

No, I’m not talking about the new wonderland of tantrums and attitude which rear their ugly heads in a child’s third year.

FYI for those of you without children… the terrible twos got nothing on what a dear friend of ours has referred to as the…

Satanic Threes

Oh yes I actually yearn for the “Days of Mo”.

Nope, I’m talking about the times you have to say NO when you really, really don’t want to.

It happened to Mr. Man and I on Sunday.

For weeks now Miss M has been asking us to take her to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).

Miss M has loved OMSI since she was an infant. The interactive exhibits are everything an active and curious child could want, and every parent in the Portland/Vancouver area knows it.

Mr. Man and I hate crowds, and on weekends OMSI is a mad house.

So whenever Miss M has asked to go to OMSI on a weekend when Mr. Man and I would rather have a root canal than fight the crowds our response has been,

“Awww, sorry Sweet Girl, OMSI is closed today.”

Yup, we are expecting our nomination for “Parents of the Year” to happen any day now.

But this past weekend was different. In a fit of working parent guilt, we promised Miss M that if she was a good girl at Gram and Gramps house, we would take her to OMSI.


Except, when we arrived at Gram and Gramps the next morning to pick her up, the telltale signs of sick were written all over her face. Her eyes were red rimmed and running. Her nose was congested. She had a cough, and her cheeks were flushed with the beginnings of a low grade fever.

After big hugs and kisses, and announcements that she had been a very good girl she asked,

“We going to OMSI now?”

Well, crap. We both knew OMSI was the last place Miss M needed to be. She needed to be at home, in her PJs, cuddled on the couch, with her blankie watching movies.

Did I mention that sometimes being a parent sucks?

We waited until we were in the car on our way home to talk to her about it. We suggested maybe we should wait until next weekend to go to OMSI, when she was feeling better and could have fun playing.

Familiar with the 5 Stages of Loss?

Denial: “But Mommy, I’m not sick! I wanna go to OMSI!”
Anger: “But Daddy, you said if I was a good girl, we would go to OMSI!”
Bargaining: “Mommy, maybe we could go to OMSI for just a little while, and then go home… okay?”

Then Depression, and this one was the worst, as it completely broke my heart.

Mommy and Daddy had promised, and she was really excited, and she’d been such a good girl… and Mommy and Daddy had PROMISED.

With her little chin quivering with frustration and sadness, and her sweet voice trembling as she insisted she wasn’t sick and she wanted to go to OMSI, we had to be the responsible parents and stick to our guns, because that is what being a parent is all about.

It’s not about your child liking you. It’s not about doing what’s easy. It’s about doing what is BEST for your child, even if it breaks your heart into a million pieces.

On Sunday I listened to Miss M cry with disappointment.

I told her that I understood she was sad, and I was sorry.

I explained that sometimes we get sick and it ruins the things we want to do, but that when we are feeling better, the fun things are still there waiting for us.

Daddy and I promised, with a capital P, that we would go to OMSI the following weekend and play for as long as she wanted.

I did my best to help her understand, but in the end, Miss M is 3, and so she cried.

So, how do you help a disappointed little girl move from Depression to Acceptance… the final stage of loss?

With distraction! We offered Mac and Cheese and a new Scooby Doo movie, instead of OMSI.

Like I said… Parents. Of. The. Year.

With lunch and a new cartoon to veg out in front of, in no time all was right again in the toddler-verse.

Well, except for the nasty bug that got a whole lot worse and that now Daddy has too.

Thinking about investing in medical masks,


How about you guys? Ever had to be the bad guy, even though you really didn’t want to? Any comments, feedback? I love to hear from you!