When the girls were learning to walk, I cannot remember a single time they fell on their bottoms or turned a corner too short where I shamed them. I don’t recall ever scorning “you weren’t paying attention” or expecting balance. Rather, I buffered and bumped and directed and encouraged.

I watched them learn to walk.

As I sit here with my morning coffee, I am fully aware of the butterflies in my stomach related to the parenting ahead of me today.

David has office space in our little downtown now, so today is my first day with all five kids under my jurisdiction without the protection of David working so be cool or his live and in color reinforcement for my plans.

A big butterfly is related to the inconvenience of teenage freeloading and entitlement.

Another butterfly is related to the task of waking the household in hopes for some sort of order for the day.

Another butterfly is related to the fact I need to address a late night door dash that was done without permission and whose evidence was hidden in an heirloom toybox.

Sigh.

There are other butterflies too… related to dog training and in laws coming in town, to wanting to carve out my writing time in my new main floor creative space and some other things. The butterflies aren’t helping me at all.

As I walked the dogs towards home just a minute ago, I really was permeating this idea – reminding myself over and over – that how I handle all of this is a choice. My desire for some structure is a choice. My handling of the door dash annoyance is a choice. My joy or lack there if is a choice.

Any choice that feels anxious and tense is not going to allow me to find that inner hum that consistently swings at the proverbial balls thrown to me today with some sort of grace and love.

If I don’t want my day to be ruined, I can’t ruin it.

And that’s when the relaxed but ready stance of the batters from Friday nights Cardinals game came to my mind. The game that kept me up too late and had me a tired mess all weekend had also given me a lovely 40th birthday gift reminder via two really joyful home runs: keep a good eye, a ready posture, beware of distractions and knock it out of the park.

It’s easy to think your teenager should know a lot more than they do. They are a rat in a maze looking for cheese and their shitheadness is being discovered…. though you really really really want to think they know better, they don’t until they do.

But just like I didn’t label every learning to walk tumble as unfortunate or imbalanced; I really don’t want to label every learning to live tumble as lazy or shameful.

I want to encourage and direct them to better choices, more fun and therefore have a fun and more open day myself.

Swing batter batter swing…

Wish me luck 🙃

A Shrimp Taco Away – 7.1 @ Bellingham House Kitchen

It is amazing to me how many ideas I have on how to control things.

I have had half a million ideas on how to control the food in this household in the last half hour alone (each time prompting the first line of this blog post).

I have had ideas on how to curb what the teens eat out of the freezer at midnight. How many flaming hot cheetos makes sense to eat in one sitting… How to balance kids wine with watermelon, why you should finish this bag of chips first before starting a new one…

It is true: I do find actual joy and solace in gems like how long big batches of popcorn stretch and perfectly hiding David’s rhubarb raspberry pie in the refrigerator.

And though I will continue to tuck Oreos away on top of the fridge, I grow in my desire to be more like David. David tends to shrug and laugh more than me, even when we are “almost out of snacks already”.

Even though he can grow annoyed by the incessant teenage grazing, his response is more “damn kids” as he pours the crumbs of the Doritos down the hatch. It loosens me up. I like being like that better than trying to control things. :)

***

I was tucking away a water bottle when I thought of my mother. I had just had one of those creative ways to shame come to mind and I was instinctively compelled to change my thinking. My mom would get so stressed out in the kitchen sometimes. And, because life is inevitably stressful and over the kitchen sink *is* the perfect place to cry, I don’t want to waste stress free days allowing anxiety about how the ice cream is gone.

Like for sure ice cream and anxiety are not supposed to go together.

Today was a marvelously relaxed day. The weather was perfect for being inside and keeping the kitchen humming. Eat, drink and be merry. No need for anxiety.

***

If I spend my time coming up with fun little rules and red tape, not only do I risk the joke being on me when the food I wanted them to avoid goes bad… I miss out on sharing the laissez-faire vibe with my soon to be husband.

If I was talking to the kids right now on how to make midnight meal decisions, I would not be  writing and taking little peeks up to look over at him: enjoying a shrimp taco at the counter and watching the end of the Blackfish documentary.

It’s not the kids’ fault that I find self identity in an organized fridge and a clean kitchen floor. Nor is it their fault that I was raised with four others on a potluck budget, where you bank on church events for feasting. My love of a well run kitchen can sometimes take precedence over my actual love for them. And – for obvious reasons – I challenge that as wrong thinking.

I have a feeling as I keep letting go of my grip and desire to manage the snot (nod to COVID) out of the kids and, instead, replace that grip with being present and communicating: serving them and encouraging them, that I will resemble more and more my childhood best friend’s perfectly cool mom.

Laid back, comfortable behind the kitchen counter, a steak sizzling on the cast iron grill behind them. Ask her for a ginger ale or a pizza and you’d get a “sure, babe” through an afternoon buzzy smile.

See? Doesn’t that just sound so much better?

The end. :)

“I’m Multi-Tasking!” (10 Year Old Milestone)

I was folding laundry when I heard Lucy make this announcement.

“I’m multi-tasking!”

I looked over and sure enough her body was turned towards this little blue bowl where she was mixing an egg with a fork and then she would turn towards the stove, where she was tending to scrambling the egg she had going. Then back to the bowl. Then back to the stove.

I smiled.

This may seem like nothing. But Lucy does *not* multi task. As her “high functioning single mom” (words of my friend), I need to be mindful of how my extreme task-orientation (“Hey babe can you grab the towels on your way upstairs – make your bed and we will be ready to go as soon as you have your shoes on, don’t forget your charger”) can stress her out.

For me, I kind of see the opportunities as I move through my house. I have progressed even to where most rooms have “transition baskets” – artfully placed bowls or baskets that are for those things that are on their way somewhere else… This, ahem, efficiency can give Lucy anxiety. So the fact she was doing two things at once, naturally, on her first night making scrambled eggs – was. a. big. deal.

It was one of those parenting moments you don’t try for – when they grow in big ways because you were both confident in their abilities and a little tired.

We went out to my parents tonight to drop off a birthday present for my dad and an anniversary parent for my parents to enjoy. The girls swam for a little bit and we decided to make a run to Lucy’s new school to time and clock mileage.

(Side note – I gave my 13 year old daughter the task of being my phone personal assistant and today, over the course of driving from Webster to Kirkwood, she had cleaned up all my apps, cancelled subscriptions I wasn’t using, organized them into folders and updated everything pertinent. I highly recommend this service. “Next, mom, we are going to do something about all these photos.“)

Anyway – by the time we got home from our test run, I was tired. We fed the animals and Lucy wanted to make the cat a treat. Out of cat-obvious options, we decided to try and give her scrambled eggs. Lucy asked me how to make them and I just talked her through, without moving from my seat.

Pet friendly, of course.

Grab a bowl.

Water instead of butter.
No milk. No seasoning.

Stir egg with a fork, counting to 45. (Even though I have never counted stirring eggs, I find the more specific I am, the more trusting the girls are of my instructions.)

She did it entirely on her own. She turned the stove on and off. She got the bowl down, she cleaned up her dishes. She purred over her kitty (who, we discovered, doesn’t like eggs) and she multi-tasked.

She felt grown up.

I sat there and finished my La Croix then folded laundry, simply because I wanted the sweatpants that were dry.

I like this phase of parenting. I like allowing them the space to do the things they want to do because I like validating their ideas about how to live their life. I like supporting anything they want to do that is to care for, feed or tend to a human, animal or plant. I like seeing them really proud of themselves and process their results.

I like that I am about to have (human) scrambled eggs at 9:30 at night because she knows how to do it now and so – well – we’ll probably be eating scrambled eggs a lot.

But not before school.

Because, according to our test run, we need to leave the house at 6:50am CST…

Till next time :) erin

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