Category Archives: relationship

Real Mom Talk– What I Think vs. What I Actually Say and How it Enables Toxic Masculinity


Emily is in first grade now and the mean girl club has started with a vengeance. This has been a seriously rude awakening for both of us. For whatever lucky ducky reasons, my son (who is four years older and five grades ahead of Em), did not go through social crap in the same toxic, manipulative ways my seven year old daughter is already navigating with her peers.

Emily is a sensitive and empathic child, which makes the whole issue all the more heartbreaking. I’ve addressed it with parents, her teacher, and the principal and we’ve come up with some supportive ways to help Em cope with the stress of being a sweet little lamb in a lion’s den.

This week she went back to school after the holiday recess, and happily applied herself to her studies. She loves to read and is thrilled by participating in art. This morning, as I was in the bathroom getting ready for work, she approached me.

“Mama, when you go up to dress, can we have a talk?”

“Of course. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I just need to do some talking about my feelings.” She said with a serious little face.

So, here’s another difference between Em and Jack. Both of them have the same goopy, social worker mom, but my son rarely willingly divulges his emotional space to me. Em on the other hand is all about the deep, emotional bonding.

As I pulled myself into my undies and leggings I asked her what was up. She disclosed to me that after school, when she was playing in the school yard, under the watchful eye of her babysitter, one kid had stolen her hat off her head and her special new toy, and run off with them,  and threw them over a fence.

She told me this calmly and clearly as if recounting the forensics of a crime scene.

My heart sped up and it was all I could do to keep the steam inside my head. I hugged her. Her glossy curls brushed against my cheek and I felt the little bones of her back under my hands.  We talked about how it made her feel and how she solved the problem and what she thought we should do next.

Then she wanted to play on the iPad.

She moved on, but I didn’t. I couldn’t.

I was pissed.

Had it been an isolated incident, maybe I could have let it go a little easier, but dude, I’ve been dealing with this social crap for the past four months now and I don’t understand why it isn’t getting any easier. It also seemed to suck and confound me because the bully this time had been an older boy.

So, at pickup, I approached the kid’s mom and mentioned to her that her son (who is four years older than my first grader) had been physically aggressive to my daughter. I let her know that Em is just super sensitive right now and I’m trying to keep tabs on things, and I knew her kid probably didn’t mean to hurt her hat, toy, body, or feelings, but that was the end result. I told her directly, but politely.

She told me it was inappropriate to mention it in front of her son and that she would talk to him and get back to me…….

Here’s what I REALLY wanted to say, “Heya bitch face, tell your poorly socialized excuse for a spawn to keep his grimy paws off my precious little baby and while you’re at it, maybe you want to have a convo with him about consent and how to treat women because clearly you are training him to be an abusive little shit! Boys will be boys after all!”

I didn’t tell her that at all. I smiled and thanked her for her time and then I went and privately had an anxiety attack that I had confronted this woman who was clearly pissed with me and didn’t have a grasp on where I was coming from.

TBH, I’m pretty much still shaking, even after texting and talking to several friends who validated that I was advocating for my daughter and did the right thing.

It is hard to address these issues with other moms. I appreciate that. Furthermore, I get that the other mom was also advocating for and protecting her son, but oh man, in this day and age, maybe we all wanna double down on those discussions with our sons about respecting the physical space of female bodies and set some good examples for future generations.

IDK. It got me thinking about all the things I sorta wanna say as a mom, but don’t.

Smile and nod. Smile and nod. . .

When does my politeness become complicit? When do I actually enable the abuse of my daughter on the playground by saying what is polite instead of saying what I really mean and feel?

What do you think?

Only Forever


i recently read
everything changes,
life keeps moving and nothing
stays the same forever-
they were words meant to comfort,
but i look at the ocean
and think it’s only forever
and that is forever, 

whatever that means.
my insides fill
with the same icy, salty water
that somehow slips in steaming streams
down my cheeks.
nothing and everything is
only forever and i cannot see
as far as the sky can fly
over this freezing body-
but silly woman,
the ocean never freezes,
look at it pulse like blood in a stone,
like love in my marrow.
only forever.
i cover my face with my hands,
feel the heat of your name
whispered against my cold palms.

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the Cemetery 



I don’t believe you’re here,
although, technically,
you’re down there,
nestled like a hibernating animal
under mounds of dirt,
snug in your cavern,
fingers curled stiff in the dark.

It scares and thrills me,
at once, how we still sit together,
although our conversation
is rather one-sided these days,
so I spend most of the time
companionable, silent with you.

I don’t believe in ghosts or haunting,
although it is strange how you whispered
words long forgotten
in my ear, and how I laughed
(with you?) as the “murder” of crows
flew over my head.

Can you feel the heat of my hands
pressing down on the earth over you,
as though trying to pat you
through thin covers
of a hospital bed?
Can you hear my voice tremble
with grief and embarassment as I
tell you about my day, about
squirrels chattering in the tree
that shades you, about
your neighbor’s wind chimes, about
the bizarre parade and
all the shades of grief and loss?

What a conversation we would have had,
thee and me, about all this.

There was a poem I meant to share,
a missed chance almost too great to bear.

The breeze stirs up in the trees,
I kneel with my hands on the ground,
and even though you cannot feel or hear
me, I do it anyway.


Written for my dear E., who I continue to love and miss with every breath. . .  

Part of the WordPress daily prompt challenge.

Big Shirt


Grief is a big, sloppy shirt.
It is ill-fitting on me,
unbecoming, slovenly–
oh, that’s a great word, you’d say.
Grief is missing our banter,
hearing your voice, but not
being able to make out what you say.

Grief is drunken, ragey, and frightening.
Grief is vomiting repeatedly,
until I’m scared I’ll
never breathe again.

Grief is purple, striped.
Grief has buttons and no bra.
Grief always wears a pin
on her lapel.

Grief has blue eyes that sparkle,
and doesn’t care
when I make bad metaphors in a poem,
because you’ll never read it.
Not now.

Grief surges at the sight of daisies,
chokes on sobs at a cardinal
perched on top of your birdhouse–
Yes, the birds are moving in, I’ll say
because I know you’ll want to know.

Grief is a raised glass of pinot noir–
oh, that’s a good choice, you’d cheer.
Grief is your tiny fingers, and neat
nail beds, and a kiss on a cheek
I never knew I’d never see again.

Grief is swans and secrets.

Grief is not being able to read the
ee cummings poem to you.

Grief is missed chances.

Grief is laughing at your messy
handwriting on cards and in books.
It is wanting to believe there is
just a bit more than nothing
because otherwise it is just too much to bear.

Grief is not being able to cook
dinner for my children,
even though I hear you tell me to do just that.

Grief is frustrating my husband,
friends, coworkers.

Grief is wanting to talk about you,
and feeling like I never deserved you,
and wanting to forget you,
and loving you because you were
my champion, and you saw me.

You saw me.

Grief is imagining you,
in your big shirt, as you leave
your body and look around you
with that insatiable curiosity.
I think you look back at it all
maybe just for a second,
and then you smile,
tug at your shirt
and say okay, yeah.


—  for my dearest dear, E.

How Quickly “IS” Becomes “WAS”


Over the last week, I noticed when I talk about Patty, I use the past tense.

I loved her.

She was dear to me.

She was a good friend.

To know her was so love her.  

She was an amazing person.  

I caught myself doing this and was kind of like, WTF?

Of course I still LOVE her.  Present tense.  And of course she IS still dear to me.  Present tense.  She will always be a great friend and an amazing person.  Those are just facts that go on and on ad infinitum.


Fuck it.

I’m trying hard to remember a specific memory about Patty.  Truth is, after I left that job, we didn’t spend a ton of time together.  But that didn’t matter much.  We had a bond and a very deep mutual affection.  Like family you don’t see for many years because they live far off.

See, I did it again.

We still HAVE a bond and deep mutual affection.  Death does not get to put that in the past tense.

Death, that fucking fucker.

Anyway, the last time I saw Patty was when I was on maternity leave with Emily.  We went out to lunch.  I was still struggling with nursing Em and I sat there, scrunched up in this booth, trying to get Emily to pay attention to my boob and latch. But Em was fussy.  Patty held her patiently while I ate and the two of them made a love connection.  Patty loved babies.  She never had any, but she sure loved them and never was bitter or begrudging that other people had babies and she didn’t.

I guess it was her calm energy and sweet spirit Emily responded to that day.

We stayed in touch on Facebook and email, me and Patty.  Then we fell out of touch for about a year.  Then she died.

I didn’t know she was sick.  Turns out a lot of people didn’t know she was sick.  I think she tried to keep it private, and tried to protect people from the ravages of her illness.  She wasn’t one to make a fuss or draw attention to herself.

She was one of the best of the best.  

Um yeah.  Fuck you death.  She still IS one of the best of the best.  Present fucking tense.

I may not believe in God as such, but I very much believe in Love. And I believe Love doesn’t die.

So, I’ve got to focus really hard on not letting that black hole suck up my present tense and turn it into the past.  Because that would be the real loss.


Down the Drain


There was an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in which he spent a good deal of time in the bathroom.  

He was trying to explain and show children that they could never go down the drains of the tub, sink, or toilet. 

As he did, he sang a song specific to the occasion. 

I’m singing this song in my head today as I prepare to leave work early for my friend, Patty’s funeral. 

Grief has a way of making me feel like I’m spiraling down some big, cosmic drain. It feels scary. There could be icky stuff on the sides of the drain that gets stuck to me. My arms and legs might lose control in the strength of the water as it cyclones down and away. 

There is a helplessness in grief. 

You can’t go back and do or say anything differently. 

You can’t say anything now that really changes the pain of the situation. 

And there is no way to truly know what the other person would say back, just our imagination that concocts situations to either comfort or chill our souls. 



It’s spring and we kiss under
fresh sheets
the scent of lilac
and jasmine
and vanilla blossoms waft
to where I let you
touch my neck
to where my fingers
twirl a lock of your hair.

The open window brings
sounds of the street
and a breezey innocence

and we’ve never known fear;
we are alive simply to be here.

But it is winter and wrong
and I have forgotten
what to say
as the distance becomes
an ocean in our way,
and I’m snapped
back from my regression
into my own chapped skin
and raw days.

Flowers do not bloom.
I cannot hear you
sigh my name.



I miss the idea of you,
not the actual you,
who I really never knew.

My fingers twitch to text
or snap a photo of a sunset
or bough of branch,
blown bare,
the way you left me,
I snark,
bitterly drifting on lyrics
of sad songs and dreams
of springtime in London,

reliving the grief of past lives,

over and over in agonizing clarity.

It’s too late to bridge
whatever was true,
but my blood pumps hard
as I build a dam
to block the stream,
memories of you

and my feeble attempt
to teach you to dance.

My Gift To You (via NPR)


On Friday mornings, I look forward to hearing National Public Radio’s “Storycorps” segment.  This little treat I enjoy during my morning commute is a showcase of stories told by everyday people about their everyday lives, which are touching and extraordinary.  The stories are then archived in the Library of Congress.

They recently did a retrospectives of some of their special episodes, and followed up with the people to see where and how they are today.  I heard the best Storycorps I have ever heard.  It was entitled, “Never Say Goodbye:  A Love and Life Kept Vivid.”  The retrospective took us back to 2004.  An elderly couple, Annie and Danny, told the story of how they met.

Annie read aloud one of the many notes Danny left for her every day, “To my princess, the weather outside is extremely rainy.  I will call you at 11:20 in the morning.  And I love you, I love you, I love you.”

If you do one thing today, go to NPR on Youtube and watch this piece, set to animation.  I promise  your breath will catch in your throat, or you will make an involuntary little moan, or you will just start to cry as though you are witnessing splendor in the universe.  It is four minutes of sweetness that has the potential to change your day, maybe even your life.

It gave me comfort to think there are everyday people out there who live their love in every little thing they do.  Their innocent actions make the world better.  Danny and Annie have a love that permeates the very fabric of space and time.  It sounds corny, I know.  But go listen to it and you will understand.

Storycorps recorded another segment on this couple two years later.  Danny was living with a very lethal cancer.  Annie cared for him.  Selflessly.  Tenderly.  He said, “She lights up my life. . .  just by asking me “wouldn’t you like a little ice cream?”  Or “would you please drink more water”. . .  I mean, those aren’t very romantic things to say, but they stir my heart.”

It made me think.  When was the last time someone lit up my life just by asking me a simple, everyday question.  Or more precisely, when was the last time I allowed my life to be lit and stirred?  Furthermore, when was the last time I did something to stir someone else?

Of course I got to work and immediately texted my husband to tell him I loved him.  It wasn’t as good as something Danny would have written, but I had good intentions.

Some blogs do giveaways and special gifts to their readers.  That’s nice, but I’m not going to do that.  At least not materially.  My gift to you is to encourage you to go and read this piece, listen to or watch their story, and be awed and inspired.

Or maybe you won’t like it and you can quietly exchange my gift for something else.

What did you think of Danny and Annie’s story?  What have you done lately to show your love?