Full Moon


There are thunderstorms. A lot of them happen right here in the midwest. We hear the sirens. Take cover. We anxiously or routinely wait it out. Feeling the thunder, winds and rain beat down.

There are winterstorms. We occasionally get a few of these in the midwest too. Crazy amounts of snow and ice dumped in a short amount of time. Everything quietly blanketed in bright white. Snow shoveling galore.

And then, there is a whole different kind of storm. It’s a kind that even the most accurate meterologist cannot predict. You can’t take cover. You have to work through it despite the damage it may cause.

These are the shitstorms.

They tend to happen most of the time at work. Especially if you work in the hospital setting. You can casually clock into work and have no clue what the next twelve hours will bring. You may have a feeling, but there are often no signs outside of the hospital to warn you of the impending doom. The heinous stressful atmosphere inside. Somedays, you would be willing to put your paycheck on the fact that it will be a full moon tonight. You walk outside at the end of your shift and look up. Case in point. Hello there, you big bright moon.

There’s no announcement. No watch. No warnings. No code. And no denying the full force of the shitstorm touching down inside of the walls of the place you don’t like today. Not at all. You actually decided you hate it. You hate it’s sole existence. It doesn’t matter how many brightly colored murals and amusing elevator animals decorate it’s many walls. It’s an easy place to hate on days like today. When you’re caught smack dab in the eye of a shitstorm. Stuck with some of the biggest hearted, most self-sacrificing people you know. And also some of the most vulnerable and dependent children and families. You wish you could protect them all. And if every work day was like today, you would just take cover and never come out. Ever. You would clock out for the last time. It really doesn’t make any kind of sense that you can love a place that you hate so much. And still come back. Over and over. Again. And again.

But you will come back tomorrow.

Today you’ve had many opportunities to master the art of compartmentalizing. Sadly, you’ve created several new compartments. You’re strangely equipped and fully capable of walking into one happy alive room then quickly switching gears as you close the door and walk the halls to slowly open the door to an eerily silent room. It’s what you have to do. Keep going. Don’t feel that feeling.

Especially that one feeling.

Chest throbbing emptiness smothered in disbelief and surreal sadness.

How could you not go home and immediately search for another job? Like tonight. Maybe stocking the shelves somewhere. Serving kids somewhere else. Some place where nobody cries. Some place where no one screams. Or bleeds. Or dies. A place where horrible accidents and non-accidents don’t happen. A place. Any place. Somewhere else.

You’re still close to happy-tear-crying grateful. Because you’re in good company. You’re constantly rescued by the familiarity and love for the people who you have briefly talked with today. Your coworkers. Held captive in the storm with you. You’ve gotten to make eye contact, subtle faces back and forth. Eyes that could say a million words. And express a hundred different emotions. In just one glance. It’s solidarity at it’s finest. Strength, love, comraderie and hope shoved down, yet not buried beneath the darkness. You will find it later. You have to. It’s still there. Always.

It can be hard to break past the debris, the damage, the misplaced, scattered, torn and the forever lost. The forever changed. The anger. The sadness. Disbelief. Disgust. Pain. The unexplainable.

You have the intermittent overthinking moments. Wresting with the overwhelming feeling of trying to lift the invisible gargantuan weight of another’s pain. And knowing that you can only do so much. Or so little. You can’t reveal that sometimes it’s too difficult to carry. Not here. Not yet. Switch gears again. Focus on stopping the heavy incessant thoughts of your own world outside of these walls.

There’s a constant struggle with hospital work. It’s internal. A good versus evil tug-of-war going on inside of your heart. And in your head. Throughout the days. And nights. A brain overfilled with thoughts. A heart bursting with emotions. Temporarily tied up. It’s bulging at the seams. When you drive home, you will began to untangle the knotted twine capturing the feelings that have not been felt yet. It often gets messier before you get the knots out. You know you should try to feel the feelings now. While you’re in control. Outside of the walls. While everyone sleeps.

You survived. Again. Most will not know tomorrow what you’ve endured these past two shifts. Because you will do what you’ve learned to do. Cope. Compartmentalize. Keep on keeping on. And hope for tomorrow. Then wake up to a new day with a post-shitstorm perspective. Grateful and readily available to engage in the life-filled moments with those you love the most. Because you’re resilient. You’re a survivor. And for today, the shitstorm is over.

That Old Loyal Bra


I know it’s a little strange to think that an inanimate object, like a bra, has feelings but that doesn’t change my irrational thinking. I can’t help but feel sorry for replacing my old loyal bra. I really detest clothes shopping. I don’t like the process of trying things on that don’t fit. Repeatedly. And clothes are expensive. I get a little claustrophobic in the changing rooms. Especially when three little boys are with me, bumping into the door or curtain, mirror and walls. A few months ago, I had to abandon the ill-fitting bras at Kohl’s and get the heck out of there. My youngest boy gave me about a thirty second warning. He had to go to the bathroom. BAD. I knew that I could just keep wearing my old loyal bra.

I’ve been putting off or neglecting the task of shopping for a new bra for a while. Like several years. I’ve had this one loyal bra that was there for me a long time ago, before I got pregnant with twins. Eight years ago. It patiently hung out in my drawer as my breasts grew to gigantor twin pregnancy and post-pregnancy nursing sized breasts. Then, the nursing bras took the reins. I never knew my entire teenage and adulthood life the trials of running with bouncing breasts or the bother of strapping down milk jugs, for fear of the let-down. More accurately described as the milk sprinkler system. Holy cow. Look out below.

All the while, my temporarily forgotten sad loyal bra waited patiently in my drawer. It even got repeatedly shoved to the back by the bigger, fancier role players.

When you get done nursing several kids, sometimes you look down in the shower. What the heck happened? Gravity? Age? Nope. Kids. Straight up kids. There’s no denying the changes in your once small, yet full-of-life before pregnancy and nursing breasts. And with most potentially self-esteem lowering body issues, I try to find the positive. Love on myself. Especially my imperfections. I nursed three dependent scrawny babies into walking, talking boys. That’s pretty huge and amazing. And as you endure anything time consuming, sacrificing and hard in life, there are going to be scars on the inside and outside. Mother battle wounds. Tired nipples that literally have had the life sucked out of them.

There were so many challenging moments of trying to get preemie twin boys to latch on to my cantaloupes, maybe they were more like small watermelons. It was me crying, the boys crying, milk dripping or spraying everywhere. A luke-warm mess. Literally and emotionally. If not for numerous lactation consultants, my mother and sisters, and my uber encouraging and supportive husband, I would have never made it past the insanity to the beautiful gift of breastfeeding. The moments where my infant twin boys would hold hands. The moments where my third baby boy would look up at me and grab my mouth. Or my hand. All of the middle of the night moments where I could comfort and feed my children because my body did this crazy and amazing thing of making the exact nourishment my children needed. My broken and diseased body did something so perfectly and beautifully right. That’s a gift. Something to be proud of. No matter what.

I headed to the mall last week by myself. I took a detour from my search to buy some pants for my boys that would not get holes in the knees. That really was an impossible endeavor anyway. I bypassed the shoe section and rode the escalator up to the third floor of Nordstrom’s. The kids section. And the lingerie section. Honestly, I was a little hesitant when the kind, young bra fitting woman asked me if I needed to be fitted. I wish they had a designated tired mom employed there that had nursed a boatload of kids and would kindly share that with you when you got that insecure look. Time to be fitted. Strip down. Oh, man. Cue the diarrhea of the mouth. I think this exact moment was why I had tried on awful fitting bras in Kohl’s with my three boys. By myself. I know she recognized the hesitancy in my voice. “You can turn and face the wall, if you want,” she said. Okay. Less awkward than looking her in the eyes as she measured me. She left and came back with several really cute bras. Three of them fit. I put my loyal old school bra back on. Then, I felt a sense of conquering a beast and a sense of sadness for my bra that I don’t even know the size or brand of anymore because it’s so worn out.

Shhh. I do have to admit that I feel proud to wear my new bras. Accomplished. Impressed that I finally went shopping for something for myself. Even though, it’s not a new pair of shoes or anything visible that anybody except my husband sees. But, a part of me also feels a little sad to shove my old bra to the back of my drawer. Again. I know it’s absurd, but I’m not throwing that bra away. I just can’t. Who knows how long these new ones will last anyways? They just don’t make stuff like they used to. I may just need that old loyal bra again someday. You never know.

Golden Sevens


It’s really a win-win situation. We buy Costco amounts of produce and we need help eating it. Also, I have stacks of papers I need to shred. If I know two guinea pigs desperately need some bedding or a comfy place to take a dump, surely that will motivate me to get organized. Lastly, and most importantly, my boys have been begging for hamsters. I can’t. Just too many traumatic hamster stories growing up. Like the time our babysitter tried to kill our hamster with a broom. She thought it was a mouse, despite our yelling that it was our pet. They also ate their babies. And constantly escaped into the bathtub, of all places.

So, guinea pigs it is for the seven-year old boys on their golden birthdays. Since we’re a little crazy. I promised them last summer in a weak moment. Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. Especially not with a child. Or twin children. You will be reminded. Times two.

My twin boys are different in so many awesome and beautiful ways, but they also have similar characteristics and interests too. Maybe that has to do with their ages, their innocence, their creativity or their rapidly pounding hearts. They were born only a minute apart (maybe less)on the seventh day of the eleventh month of the year, 2008. I will never forgot the happy tear eruption that filled the operating room when we heard their itty bitty, yet loud cries. They came early. We were scared, nervous, and excited. They entered the world and it’s as if they were saying, “Hello, everybody, Mom, Dad. Since there’s a crowd, we thought we should do our best, in our tiny five- pound bodies, to let you know that we are here. We have arrived.” And our hearts swelled up and grew a million sizes bigger that morning. They continue to grow to this day. Overflowing with mad love for our seven-year old boys. Our lucky number sevens.

If I had the power to pause time, I could make a strong case for keeping them seven forever. I can tell you exactly why. Their thoughts literally leave me speechless at times. The things they say and genuinely feel dance freely out of their mouths. They don’t hold back. They will stop and point out the beautiful fall leaves or talk about a project they’re working on with this endless passion, persistence and tone of voice that you just can’t resist. “I love this day,” one of them said yesterday. They will spontaneously ask to hold my hand or say totally out of the blue while we’re driving, “I love you, Mom.” For no reason. Except I guess that the thought popped into their heads. So they said it. And it’s like a surprise delivery knocking on the door of my heart. Every single time. Because they’re old enough to know what it means and if they say it, you can believe it. It’s pure joy to both unexpectedly and knowingly receive their sentiments.

They’re fearless climbers. Both of them. You turn your head for a moment and they’ve shimmied up the door frames in our house or a tree or onto a wall or up a slide. “Hey Mom! Look fast!” They say in their proud voices. They’re multi-talented at trying and figuring things out, but they will still ask for help too. They aspire to be restaurant owners, police officers, road builders, drummers, musicians and they’ve told me they want to work at the hospital too. “Can I have five jobs, Mom?” They see no reason why they can’t hold all of these jobs at the same time. Their imaginations and creativity captivate, inspire and overwhelm me. I can’t help but feel so damn lucky and proud to be their mother.

They giggle and belly laugh every day at  words pronounced in a funny way or silly poop jokes. One of my favorite things is how they both get to laughing so hard that they can’t talk or breathe really well. It takes a moment for them to recover. And it’s awesome. They’re overly genuinely happy. And caring. And kind-hearted most of the time. They believe in things they can’t see. Like God’s strength and power. And love. They simplify and explain enormous concepts in a way that stops me in my tracks. To say that I love them seems like an understatement. Not quite enough.

We used to say at bedtime, “I love you.”
“No, I love you more.”
“I love you the most.”

Now, we compete to see who can say, “I love you the morst!”

We have a bedtime ritual of playfully arguing about who loves who more. I will love them to infinity and beyond. As far and wide as the ocean. To all of the stars and moon and back. And I tell them since my hands are bigger, then my heart is bigger. So, naturally, I have more room to love them the morst. And thats what I tell them. They usually outsmart me with some reason how their hearts can hold more love than mine. I don’t know if they will ever truly be able to fathom just how constant, unconditional, never ending, always growing and readily available my love for them is. Those two wrestling, giggling, crying, running, snuggling, loving boys unexpectedly made me a mother seven plus years ago. Their sole existence, dependence on me and unconditional love for me has shifted how I view and care for others. They’ve unintentionally adjusted my perspective and my priorities. They have stretched my heart to experience, feel and love in ways I could have never imagined. Thank God for my golden boys. My lucky number sevens.


Fear Less


The fears that I have for myself in this world do not begin to compare to the fears I carry for my children. The truth is I really don’t like fear. I typically don’t engage in fear-promoting activities like watching scary movies. Or jumping out of planes. Especially since I became a mother. I don’t like the unexpected. It’s uncertain. And nerve wracking. It makes me feel a little hopeless. Or maybe helpless. Fear grabs the wheel in my head and turns my thoughts in a direction I don’t like to go. I feel kind of trapped. And I just want out of the worry-filled, overthinking, false predicting, pseudo-powerful fearmobile.

I worry for my kids, as I imagine every parent does. Sometimes my worries come from a place of experience, like my own experiences as a kid. Things I did. Things I saw. Or things that happened to me. Sometimes my fears come from hearing other parent’s painful stories. Just today a friend told me how classmates would regularly put trash in her daughter’s lunch. In kindergarten. I know I can’t bubble wrap, stand guard or hover over my children. I’ve learned when they leave my home, there are great unknowns past the front door and down the hill. And so I do a little worrying from time to time. I worry about the power of their peers’ words to rattle their emotions and shake their self-confidence. And I think I worry for good reason. One of my boys didn’t want to wear the tail on his costume to school because he said, “I think kids will laugh at it.” This stopped me in my breakfast making tracks. And it kind of pissed me off. A lot.

Because I know. Because I’ve heard the stories. Because I’ve been there when a child couldn’t take the pain of being bullied anymore. I’ve talked to beautiful kids, life-filled kids of all ages who have confessed that they have no friends. And I’ve believed them. I’ve experienced the awkward pause, the silence when I ask kids questions about school and friends. I’ve heard the gut-punching answer slowly and sadly escape, “Nobody likes me” or “I don’t have any friends.” I worry when my own children come home and tell me playground stories of children being cruel. I worry about the other kids. The victims. And I worry about my own. The bystanders. “It’s too soon, they’re too young,” I think. I feel like we’ve been thrown in deep waters and my kids are still doggy paddling. Sometimes, I learn it’s the most “popular” children. Yuck. And this is first grade. This hurts my heart in a way that is hard to handle in a calm, level-headed rational way.

It’s hard to not get angry. It’s hard not to march through the doors of the school and demand better. To be honest, I know my children have witnessed unkind behavior outside of the school walls, even from me before. I know I’m far from, dare I even type the word, perfect. Parenting is hard. Really. Really. Hard. And demanding. And life-sucking at times. But I know if our children are not learning how to treat one another with respect, kindness, love and forgiveness at home, will they even recognize or embrace these lessons elsewhere? Or will they bounce right off of their fake tough skin? Coloring a worksheet is not going to change hearts, attitudes or minds. I know if I’m not teaching my children to accept and appreciate diversity at home, the school counselor’s lesson may fall on plugged ears.

Somehow, I keep having to help my children understand really difficult lessons. After school. Lessons learned from kids acting in cruel and intentionally unkind ways. Honestly, like little punks. And unfortunately, I’m not blindfolded to the misbehaved and unkind adults that exist in this world too. I’m well aware of the deep cutting power of nasty looks or hurtful words. The excluding attitudes. Fake nice grown-ups. Or just plain mean ones. So naturally I think about kids’ home lives. I understand that kids may be the recipients of mean words and unloving treatment. They may be under appreciated, unheard and disrespected in the place where these lessons matter the most.

One of the most intentional reasons I drive my kids to parks and playgrounds all over town is because I hope that my kids will to learn to play, include and get along with kids everywhere. Not just on our street. In our neighborhood. Or at our church. A few months ago, one of my boys got called a “butthead” by another kid at one our favorite playgrounds. My son ran over to me visibly upset and told me what happened. He asked this boy if he could move from blocking the slide so he could go down. The boy didn’t want to move, I assume, so he called my son a “butthead.” And stayed right where he was. The boy probably got the reaction he hoped for, since my son came over to me in tears, asking me through labored crying breaths if I was going to go talk to his mom. I didn’t see this boy’s mom or dad around and I didn’t plan on addressing this name-calling episode with a complete stranger. I told my son maybe he could play in a different area. (Later, when that kid was throwing rocks at my kids and other kids, I did address him in a calm yet firm tone.)


When we got home from the park, I thought of something I could show my boys to explain what happened using nature, specifically a fish’s defense mechanism. We talked about how the boy didn’t want to move from the slide, so he puffed up. Like a pufferfish. I showed them a video of a pufferfish getting agitated then blowing up. I explained that some kids and adults don’t like being asked to do something they don’t want to do, so they get mad. They puff up. Call people names. Push. Shove. Try and make themselves look bigger. My boys wanted to watch the video of the pufferfish blowing up over and over again. Thanks, YouTube. So, now I can say,”remember the pufferfish?” It helps to know that sometimes you just have to leave some kids and people alone. They’re gonna puff up. No matter what.

The truth is a lot of times I hope and try to help my kids understand why things happen or why people may act a certain way. But I’m at a loss for words sometimes especially when it comes to people’s behavior. It seems to me like we’re all on the same team. Team Human Beings. Sometimes, we just don’t know how to accept and appreciate the many different roles we all play. We’re all working towards some pretty complicated goals like the feelings of belonging, acceptance, and being unconditionally loved. These come easier for some than others. I realize that I can be an example of acceptance, love, strength, and hope for my kids in the walls of our home, our van, and any other place they are with me. They’re watching me. Listening to me. Learning from me. Especially at the most unlikely times, when I may not even recognize it. Until a later time when they bring up that something they saw or heard me say. Or do. It’s quite unnerving to physically feel the loss of control that accompanies your children growing up and experiencing both the beauty, the good, the ugly and painful of this world. Without you there carrying them or walking by their sides. Shielding them, when possible from some of the pain their little hearts aren’t prepared for. Not yet. But will they ever be?

When I’m up late thinking about how much it hurts to know that my son sat crying at his desk because of false accusations of kids in his class, I have these slow sad, yet motivated and passionate tears that urge me to do something. For my son. And for other children not equipped to handle tough peer situations. What can I teach my son from this, besides the fact that sometimes kids and people will be mean and cruel? I can build my son back up. Speak truth into his tiny ears. I can try to explain kids’ behavior. I can teach him how to be the one that encourages others, looks out for others. And I can continue to teach him empathy. It’s hard because what I really want is for this not to happen. Ever. But especially not in first grade. And I want to have a conversation with a parent or bring that kid to my house and teach him how to love, respect and care for others. Repeatedly. Until he gets it.

I dropped my son off at school today and I watched him walk up the steps inside as sat in my van. He waved at me. I couldn’t see the hallways that lie ahead. I couldn’t be there to build him up if someone’s words broke him down. That’s really hard. But I have to make a choice. We won’t let the unkind, cruel people win. I know that I have to keep teaching my children about who they are and about the phenomenal gifts that they possess, despite what any child may say or do to shake their confidence. I believe that it is our job to invest in our children’s emotional intelligence. We have to be conscious and go out of our way to be kind, loving, accepting, forgiving and compassionate towards one another. Little eyes are always watching. Learning and growing. It’s our responsibility to provide the curriculum of our kid’s home lives.

In our house, we will not let unkindness alter us and we won’t let fear win.  Or people who puff up. They will not get to determine or influence our thoughts, actions or the decisions we make in regards to what’s best for our children and their future. Our end goal in raising our kids is to put more grown-up human beings out into the world that love on, care for and help others. Because this world is good, beautiful even but it’s also hard and complicated. And we need each other. We all need the high fives, the hugs, and the encouraging chants. We need to recognize that we’re all wearing the same colors on the inside.