I’m Trying for Cool…For Now.

An open letter to my children, who still at this point see me as sort of cool:

Dear Noah, Luke and Grace,

I am trying for “cool” every day. I want to be the coolest mom you know, but with that, I also have to be the “mom” part of that which sometimes means not being so cool in your mind.

Luke, today you had show and tell and the letter of the week in your classroom this week is “H” (I hope). The obvious choice was “helicopter,” wasn’t it? But who likes to go for predictable? Now, I had the added challenge of you and your brother running late today because in another attempt of “coolness,” I let you sleep in an extra fifteen minutes. So I literally had a minute and a half to come up with an “H” object to meet your approval (the plot thickens).

I scanned the play room, and thank God I had given in to a garage sale purchase back over the summer; for there in an obscure corner of the room, heaped together with a bunch of little toys that never got put away, was a McDonald’s Han Solo toy. I hesitated though, remembering a conversation we had last night. You informed me that you were kind of over Star Wars. You said you liked “Sonic” now. I think my response was “What?! Sonic?! Like the hedgehog that Steve Urkel did the voice for?”  You had just stared at me blankly and all I could think was, “You are Luke, for crying out loud! Just like your hero, Luke Skywalker! You have loved Star Wars since you were in three-year-old-preschool and we wouldn’t even let you watch it yet!” I was taken aback to when Noah told us he no longer liked Thomas the Train but preferred Ninja Turtles. I won’t lie, boys, I have been a little crushed each time you’ve made these announcements. Just another thumbtack on the timeline string to let me know we’re moving along whether I’m ready or not.

But anyway, back to the show-and-tell debacle. I snatched it up and carried it apprehensively to the kitchen. Would my suggestion be met with enthusiasm or disdain? I was justifiably nervous. I knew the object wasn’t a hedgehog, like Sonic, but I hoped it would be acceptable since we’re only a day or so past your Star Wars obsession.

I tried to play it up a bit, as if I’d found something only slightly less exciting than the bones of a real Wookie. “Luke! What about…” (dramatic pause then whip the toy out from behind my back and wait for half a breath to whisper-yell) “HAN SOLO.”

A moment to process the discovery and then your merciful reaction: your eyes light up and you say, “YES! That’s perfect.”

Dad even chimes in, “Good one, Mom!”

Phew! Cool points before 7:00 a.m. That is the beginning of a great day. And maybe I have a little more time to bask in the joy of your Star Wars days. A kiss on your forehead, one for Noah, and a smooch on the lips for Daddy and you guys are out the door for school.

I know days are coming in which I will be a lot less popular around here. “Mom! Everyone has a cell phone! Why can’t I?”

“Mom, you are so lame. Everyone goes on spring break without their parents. You’re so paranoid!”

“Mom, I was only fifteen minutes past curfew! You are overreacting.”

How do I know these things will happen? Because I was young once too. And I now understand that all these “lame” decisions my parents made were not to thumb me down, but were made out of love. And someday when you’re holding your first baby at three in the morning, in that mental fog between love and delirium, you will swear to yourself, to God and to that baby that you will never ever let anything bad happen to him or her. And you will know how mom went from being the most wicked awesome mom in the world to being the most terribly mean and strict beast of a mother you’ve ever met.

I will be incredibly uncool if that’s what it takes to keep you from getting hurt. But I will also [reluctantly] let go of Star Wars and embrace Sonic if that’s what it takes to make you happy.

I love you, my angels,


My sweet Obi Wan, sassy R2D2 and the ever-lovable Darth Vader



Surprise! You’re Invited!

When I walked into our den to write this, an ornament spontaneously fell off our Christmas tree with a solid thud to the floor causing me to jump a mile. I thought it was so fitting for what I intended to write this evening.

Not long ago, I was at an event with a friend of mine and there was a guest speaker there who shared a profound concept to consider. What if we woke up each day not dreading the events that would come, but looked at each day as a surprise party? Because, as we know, the most ridiculous thing any of us can do is to try to plan our lives. Somehow, something always manages to go awry. There is always some incident that will come our way and cause us to have to change our course slightly.

Christmas Eve, Scott and the kids and I loaded into our minivan to go to church for Christmas mass. We were actually on time, for once! We had managed to eat an early dinner and had avoided any spills requiring outfit changes. Everyone was in a cooperative mood. It was all too perfect, of course. That’s why when Scott started the car and the check engine light came on and started flashing, I had to laugh. Once again, God, or the universe, or whatever it is we believe in, is always quick to remind us, we are not the ones in control of our lives.

The kids are always a surprise party. No matter where we go or what we do, one of them is ready to shake things up and make life really interesting.

Gracie has begun this “charming” habit of identifying people by their color. Sometimes it’s the color of shirt that they are wearing or sometimes by the color of their hair or skin.

We recently had new refrigerator delivered to our house. The delivery men came right at lunch time and I was in the kitchen making a grilled cheese when the doorbell rang. Gracie raced to the door to peer through the window. I couldn’t leave the stove immediately because it was seconds away from burning. Then my sweet two and a half year old shouted to me from the front hall, “Mom! The brown guys are here!” I cringed and prayed that they had kids and know how good children are at creating awkward situations as I hurried to the door to see the delivery men who did in fact have brown skin standing on the porch trying to conceal laughter.

Always quick on my feet, I resorted to my inner Jewish grandmother and said, “Hi, thank you for coming. Are you guys hungry?”

One of the merciful men said, “You know what? I am. What are you cooking? It smells really good.”

I was caught completely off guard by the response but went with it gratefully. “I was just making a grilled cheese sandwich. Do you want one?”

“Would you mind?” he asked.

“Oh, of course not!” I said. “Give me a second.” I went to the kitchen while they pulled the enormous refrigerator into the house and I whipped up a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches.

I laughed about it to myself the rest of the afternoon. Kids are the ultimate equalizers, aren’t they? They make us take a hard look at ourselves, at our expectations and prove over and over, it’s not up to us, how this day is going to go. The only thing we can control is how we handle it.

Life isn’t about changing the hearts of others. It’s about changing our own so that we find gratitude in every moment, even the tough stuff, realizing it brings us closer to understanding who we are meant to be.

As I stumble awkwardly into 2016, my only intention is to act with as much grace as I can. I am looking forward to another 366 surprise parties (It’s a leap year!). Knowing whether I am ready or not, every day will be filled with personal lessons. Instead of dreading that alarm clock each morning, I am going to do my best to view it as a wake up call to unrevealed opportunities.

Welcome to the party, everyone! Have a blessed and happy New Year!

Luke drew this picture earlier in the school year. When I asked him (nervously) how he felt when he drew the picture, he said he was sad. But then he pointed to the two green figures over his shoulders and explained the one on the right was his guardian angel and the one on the left was Jesus. Maybe something good to keep in mind for all of us on days that we feel like this.