Dear moms: one day, your kids will miss this.

One of my least favorite lines of parenting advice is the the phrase, “you’re going to miss all of this one day.” I dislike this advice for two reasons.

For one, it’s advice that is in the same vein as telling a grieving person that “everything happens for a reason”, or the person struggling to stay afloat to “shoot for the moon so they can land among the stars.” It can seem more like a brush off than an actual attempt to encourage or commiserate.

I don’t want advice that sounds like a middle school motivational poster telling me how I’m going to make it through each day when there is chaos up to my elbows or the world is on fire. I want practical wisdom that tells me how to get it all done, and advice that tells me that someone else has been right where I am.

The other reason is because it’s too much pressure on us parents.

I get the idea. To savor every moment with your children before they’re gone. Only…it’s hard to see why I should hate the idea that my house will eventually be empty when the other day I had to wash and fold three loads of laundry just to keep the baskets from spilling over.

It’s hard to see a downside to a full eight or nine hours of sleep every night, using the bathroom in complete privacy or not having to break up petty sibling disputes over the t.v. remote – by the way, with the advent of so much new technology, will we ever reach a point where siblings don’t have to argue over a remote of some kind??

We mothers already know.

We know this is a long game. This game where our kids spend eighteen years rearranging our lives, invading our space, losing all of our tubes of chapstick and growing into fully fledged people who leave just as we get used to having them around.

We know. Because we are the ones that put away the baby clothes, drop off the used toys to Goodwill and take kids back to school shopping in the fall because they’ve grown too tall for their jeans. We are the ones that carve the notches into the dining room trim at the tops of their fuzzy heads.

We can look back and tell you where we were in our own lives when they were born, when they were learning to walk or said their first words.

We measure our own selves by how much they have grown.

By how much they have grown us.

We know where the time goes.

I know what meets me at the end of this road. And it pains my heart sometimes that I can’t enjoy everything. That I’m the mom who sucks at being meaningful at bedtime because for the love, children, you have had me all day. Close your eyes.

I’m the mom who can’t fold paper well enough to make origami, can’t sew on a button back on a favorite toy, and who has no desire to visit group story time at the library.

I’m the mom who is still in her pajamas at noon half of the time. I’m the mother who notes every second it takes her six year old to enunciate the word “stem,” who smells like dry shampoo in the checkout line at Target, and who looks at her phone while her kids play at Chick Fil A. I’m the mom who shrivels inside when her toddler asks her to play Paw Patrol.

I already torture myself enough knowing that I don’t savor every.single.moment. with my children like I live inside a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.

Just last night, though, as I listened to three children voice their displeasure with dinner and then move on to fighting over three dollar plastic toys like they were the treasures of ancient Egypt, I whispered to myself that one day, THEY would be the ones to miss this.

They will miss this place where not much is required of them but to do their best. To be happy. To thrive.

Where beach trips just happen, and they aren’t the ones who have to worry about all of the sand in all of the places and slathering sunscreen onto their squirming bodies.

Where someone made sure they had perfect sprinkle covered cookies on Christmas Eve, ice cream on hot summer evenings, and boiled eggs to dye on Easter.

They will miss hot meals served on clean plates (plates they didn’t have to clean), around a table where all of us have locked fingers and bowed our heads in prayer. A place where their sock drawer is always full. Where there is always someone who cares deeply about their hopes and fears and feelings standing at the kitchen sink.

They will go out into the world and realize how much others require of them without caring much about every turning cog in their minds, or how they feel about the movie Jurassic Park.

They’ll find a world that is mostly indifferent to them, save for a handful of good friends and people back home who really know and love them.

They will miss the times when this every day life was their constant.

I try not to let the pressure sink me every day. I try to fight against the urgency to make sure that I get it all right the first time because there aren’t second chances. Even though every new day is ripe with the opportunities to nail this parenting thing.

I succeed when I remind myself why I’m doing all of this in the first place. That I’m building a home because one day, they will understand and it will all matter to them. The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and folded clothes and late night snuggles – they’ll see it as the lifetime of labor that made them who they are.

I hope to build the place they will one day miss.

I hope they know that they had a place where they were held and valued and watched over.

Even if their mother never did papier-mache with them.







Just take the picture.

About five years ago, my husband gave me a swanky camera for Christmas. 

Upon opening my gift, I was speechless.

My mind immediately jumped to worrying over the cost of such a gift – a gift with all of the bells and whistles. I knew that he had spent more on me than he would ever expect anyone to spend on him, or that he would spend on himself. I can’t even tell you the last time he bought a new pair of shoes.

This is his generous heart.

My new camera opened up the world of photography to me.  And he, being the supportive and wonderful husband he is, made it a point to encourage my newfound pursuit. For him, it was as much an investment as it was a gift. He was investing in a happy wife who could pursue creative outlets and build her confidence, while hopefully helping to preserve my sanity in the meantime.

It was a pivotal moment for me. 

(He gave me a way.)

This past Christmas, I gave him an album full of photos from the year gone by. It was wonderful to give him something tangible that was produced by my hobby five years after he gave me a leg up on a new journey in my life. He had encouraged an outlet that wasn’t directly related to chasing small children, even though it at times has been almost exclusively used to record those child-related happenings.

I can look back between when I unwrapped that wildly unexpected present and now, and see a pronounced change in my abilities from that first Christmas to this last one. I have much to learn, but I’m further than I would have been without his generosity.

(I found a will.)

Recently, our computer decided that its memory was too full. So lately, I have spent time tediously deleting unnecessary photos and files from it in order to create more available storage. Try not to be jealous of my totally fast paced life.

Just this morning, I found dozens of videos, and hundreds of photos from a seemingly bygone era in our home.

A time when we just had one child. When the kitchen was still painted yellow, and we didn’t have the white shoe cabinet in the corner of the dining room that smells like cedar. Our son was a chubby-cheeked, floppy-haired chipmunk who kept two fledgling parents on their toes. 

As I thumbed through these photos and videos, some slightly blurry and a bit fuzzy, I realized that I had no immediate recollection of having even taken them.

The video of my son and me in the cozy green chair in the living room, nestled up with a pile of books stacked high. Him sitting on the back steps in the kitchen, covered head to toe in Crayola markers – I’m still to this day praising Jesus that they were washable markers.

Videos of my son, turning on the shower head, and drenching himself while naked in the tub, and the look of amused shock on his face. 

Then there were the photos. Pictures upon pictures of yellow haired and tiny. Ice cream mouthed children asleep in their car seats after a day at the beach. Afternoons spent at the park or out in the backyard. Afternoons that now seem like a short lifetime ago. 

I looked at that tired mother in some of the photos. I studied a version of myself with less gray in my hair, and a lot more brightness to her face. It’s a face I don’t see anymore. I was transported back to feeling every ounce of anxiety I felt in those moments. That gnawing fear and wondering if I was doing a good enough job. I still don’t know the answer to that, quite honestly.

Those days at home with two small children that seemed endless and tedious are now just one small footnote in the pages of our family’s story. 

The mother in those photos was so tired, so unsure of herself. Today, I wish I could have given her a hug to say thank you

Thank you for taking those photos.

Thank you for not giving up and putting the camera down even when the kids weren’t being cooperative.

Thank you for not closing the camera on your phone just because someone at the park might have been giving you side-eye.

Thank you for not worrying over whether or not your house looked clean enough, if your kids looked like they fell off the pages of a Baby Gap magazine or if your hair was even brushed that day, because you knew an Instagram filter really can help mask those piles of laundry on the dining room table, and the deepest of dark circles under someone’s eyes.

Thank you for ignoring the thousand and one articles on the internet say that you can’t ever fully experience a moment if you have a lens out. 

Thank you for having enough presence of mind, even though your eyes were so heavy with exhaustion that you thought they might fall out, to think to snap a photo of the things I truly want to remember.

Thank you for clicking away even when everyone in the photo had a bad attitude, because you knew you’d get at least one shot where everyone was looking at the camera. 

Photos tell our stories. Photos let us relive our story. Again and again. 

No, not every photo is of a pivotal, life changing moment. 

But a photo in the hands of the heart that’s looking to remember is like eyes that set themselves on a hidden jewel.

The things we take photos of are assuredly the things we love. The things we seek. The things we want to think about one day, when we’re old and we have forgotten. When we are gray, and crows feet branch out around our eyes, and time creeps in through every crevice like a thief in the night.

Our photos will only ever be precious to us, like some distinct, bespoke treasure.

This is why I click. 

So listen, all of you non-photography inclined people, I get it. 

It’s the holiday season.

And if she hasn’t already, your mom or wife or grandmother or girlfriend will soon want you to put on an odd sweater that you realize at the Thanksgiving table matches everyone else’s odd sweater. She might make you stand in front of a wooden barn or out in some Christmas tree field or in front of some odd background that looks like it came from a school yearbook. You might feel like a JC Penny catalog model.

It’s going to be uncomfortable.

She’s going to want you to shave, and wear that tie you never wear. She’ll want you to dress like you just emerged off the pages of an L.L. Bean catalog. She’ll insist you all wear matching denim tops and Santa hats.

She’s going to want you to help her dress the kids in stockings and button down shirts that will get messy if the kids even breathe. She is going to want you to load the kids into the car, and drive to the park or to some photographer’s studio.

Or maybe she’ll just drag you out to the backyard where she has a tripod set up, and she’ll be hurrying everyone up and yelling something about the lighting being perfect

She’s going to want you to spend half an hour smiling so hard that your cheeks hurt, while you have to pretend like you’re having the greatest time of your life. She might cry. She might even threaten you a tiny bit. She will turn into Gestapo, and you’ll see a side of her that you have never seen before. At least one of the kids might cry. She might tell you where she’ll hide someone’s body if you all don’t smile, and you’ll wonder how long she’s been planning for this day. 

She’ll tell you that she spent nineteen hours in labor with you, and then six months after that dealing with your crying because you had colic. She’ll remind you of the time you let her leave the house with spinach stuck between her teeth as she was heading to the PTA meeting.

She will call in every favor you could ever possibly owe her (even though you’d never be able to repay her for, like that time that your threw up in her hair while she was laying down or when you taped the superbowl over your wedding video.)

She will turn into some unrecognizable, scary Kanye-West type person in the pursuit of one Christmas card worthy shot.

You must actively fight off the instinct to resist her every step of the way. In fact, you should cooperate so willfully that it will encourage others to do the same.

I say this, with an urgency and sincerity: the memories of you, on this day, mean more to your mom/wife/grandmother/girlfriend than literally almost anything. 

These photos will warm the nooks and crevices of their coffee stained hearts for years and years to come.

Whether they end up in an album or stuck to the fridge with a magnet, on someone’s desk at work or on the side of a mug. Or maybe, they will end up in a pair of hands weathered by time belonging to someone who loves seeing the people the love. These photos now are the stored treasures for when these moments are long gone. For people who will one day be long gone. And for those of us who are left.

These photos show that we were here, even if we might have been pissed off at the time because we didn’t want to wear a bow tie.

And one day, when times have changed, and you’ve gone the way that we all eventually do, when you’re old and gray, and you’re holding in your hands the faces that smiled long ago, no matter what’s happened in between now and that day to come – you’ll remember that you were there. They were there.

And that you all lived. 

And it will be your hidden treasure. 













Moms: you shouldn’t do everything for your children just because its easier.


My husband has a gift.

Besides his handsomely rugged smile and trademark “dad voice” that can make little people listen instantly (unlike when mom’s been yelling that “it’s dinnertime” for the last fifteen minutes to no avail), he has one more trick up his cardigan sleeves: his ability to successfully encourage our children to do things for themselves.

When it comes to daily life, even the tiniest every day task can immensely frustrate or prove challenging for our children. Fastening the button on their pants. Fetching a cup of water for themselves. Finding their lost shoe. Remembering to do what few daily chores we give them

I don’t know about you, but when little things like that happen in our home it can easily become an international event. My first reaction as a mother is to quickly intervene and problem solve on behalf of my children.

My husband’s approach is usually different. 

He works his magic and coaxes our children to solve their own problems. He talks them through the process in a bid to see if they can find a reasonable solution independently. He reminds them to finish a set task that is given to them, or to remember the daily behaviors and manners we expect from them. And to make matters even more mysterious, they are actually willing to listen to him!

What sorcery is this??

We can talk about the fact that moms are (usually, but not always) the parents who are inherently programmed to want to meet of their children’s needs on an almost molecular level without it sounding reductive, right?

This isn’t some special skill-set we develop all on our own, either. This is one that nature and biology figures we will be needing post-birth, along with hemorrhoids and thrush apparently.

Since our children spend almost an entire year inside of us developing, moms get a jump on the whole lifetime-of-service-and-hospitality-thing starting when we are hunched over the toilet with morning sickness and indigestion, long before baby is even born. 

We moms are programmed to hear the crying, coughing and sneezing in the middle of the night. Our brains are never turned completely off. That is, unless we are trying to accomplish something that doesn’t directly pertain to our children, like remembering what day it is and our real name. Here’s a hint, it isn’t, “mom!!”

It turns out that since having children, my brain is sometimes about as useful as a pile of soggy spaghetti noodles…unless I need to assemble a sippy cup in record time.

There is scientific proof behind the notion of “mom brain.” It is real

Not only am I programmed with the inescapable urge to meet all of my tiny love demons’ needs, I am also a woman who has ten things on her to do list at any given point during the day.

Stopping suddenly to teach someone the proper way to tie their shoes, sort toys into the correct bins, and scrape bits of food off dinner plates into the trash requires time. And we all know just how much extra time we have as parents, right?

More often than not, I will stop what I’m doing. But it’s to finish putting my children’s toys away for them. To tie their shoes and help them button their pants. It’s to search out that long lost My Little Pony toy from underneath of the sofa. It’s so I can clear their plates for them when they forget. 

Because the quickest way through each obstacle is the one that doesn’t require too much of my patience and sanity. It’s the one that doesn’t require me to teach life lessons when we have somewhere to be in eighteen minutes. 

But…is this behavior on my part really the quickest way through?

Or, am I actually setting my children up with the expectations that someone will always be there to help shoulder their responsibilities and cover for them when they fall short?

Am I crafting a world where my children value my service to them as a mother, so that they in turn develop an deep appreciation for other people serving them throughout their lives, like a server at a restaurant, the cashier at the grocery store or even a friend who helps them when they’re in a bind?

Am I actually being too child-centered to realize that part of being an efficient, dutiful and loving parent is teaching our children that our world does not revolve exclusively around them?

I don’t actually want to answer those questions. I was just asking.

I don’t know about the rest of you reading this post, but the daily challenges of parenting are difficult enough. There is no such thing as having enough patience, because it is constantly siphoned out of you in a steady stream of requests for cartoons and string cheese.

For a long time, I have fallen into the trap of thinking that it was better to resolve an issue quickly, rather than using it as a valuable teaching opportunity that could slowly bear fruit, and change the way my children and I relate to one another.

The gist? I am not their maid. I am not their nanny. I am not their personal chef, their cruise boat entertainment director or their personal sock finder.

Im their mother. And also, as it turns out, I’m a person.

There are many practical and spiritual reasons why we should empower our children to become their own problem solvers.

Here are just a few:


1.) You already have a lot on your plate

You already feed, clothe, bathe and tend to your children. You already facilitate their routines and schedules. You already manage their belongings. You already take them to the doctor, get them out the door to school, tend to them when they’re ill and comfort them when they’re upset. 

It sounds like the most basic of truths, but it IS true: momma, you already have a lot on your plate when it comes to taking care of your children. 

Which means that it is totally reasonable to expect that your children can accomplish age appropriate tasks for themselves as they grow.

It’s that simple. 


2.) Chores never hurt anyone

I don’t ascribe to the way of thinking that children need to walk fifteen miles uphill in the snow to school in order for them to turn into decent human beings. But chores and hard work actually DO build great character. 

Your children should know the pleasure of a job well done, and sense of pride that comes from accomplishing something on their own. And the best part is that it won’t kill them. Even if they moan and act like it will. When they resist, you know you’re on the right path.


3.) Fostering independence builds confidence

Much like potty training, zipping their jackets for the first time, or the moment they realize that they have cleaned their entire room themselves, there is nothing like seeing a child’s face light up when they have accomplished something entirely on their own. 

We can’t expect independent thinking to stem from the schools they attend, the friends they hang out with or to pop up when they finally move out of the nest on their own.

A strong sense of character and identity starts at home. And it can come from encouraging them to problem solve and work dutifully over the course of their entire lifetime. 


4.) We are seeing the negative affects of a child-centered culture

Parents today, in my very personal view, are afraid of upsetting their children. They’re afraid of the tantrums. They’re afraid to let them down. They’re afraid to simply say no. 

When we work for our children, instead of positioning ourselves as the guiding parent, we are fostering lifelong view where they subconsciously believe that all of their needs will always be fulfilled exactly how they want them. Where they believe that they will always be happy.

And if they aren’t? Then it must be someone else’s fault. 

Part of life is difficulty, pain and even disillusionment. It is never the job of the parent to be the causes of those things. We are never called to exacerbate or provoke our children.

But it is our job to love our children enough to give them a positive outlook on such things. Part of that is not shielding them from something that is hard simply because it’s hard.


5.) You don’t want to raise brats.

So, I know that sounds horrible. And I’m the first person to object to naming children as “a*******” or “brats.” Because children are children. But, really….

I’m not saying that you’re going to destroy your child’s entire life if you find their missing shoes for them. I’m not saying that if you cut the crust off of their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that you’re enabling their privilege. 

But we must correct the heart behind negative behavior as much as we must address the actual behavior.

I want my children to not only become capable people as they grow, but I want them to do it for the right reasons. I want them to have a sense of gratitude for the food on the table, the warm blankets on their beds and the shoes on their feet.

I want them to know that raising a family requires work, even on those lazy days out to the park with a picnic lunch. Every good thing requires the work or sacrifice of someone else. It is never free. Nothing ever just happens.

Encouraging independence in our children, giving them chores and enabling an attitude and cultivating a heart that is helpful and grateful and joyful for all that they have will help them open their eyes to the privileges and blessings that we are afforded in this country. It is teaching them to be aware in this world.

And it all must start in the home.

It is one more successful notch in the calling to send them out as straight arrows, tried and true.


Ready to fly.