Green Eyes


Someday you will not be near me. Someday you will cry and I will not be there to hear you, to see your face turn splotchy or watch as your tears slide down your cheeks. I will not be there to witness your gigantic bright brown eyes as they turn to the beautiful mossy green when they fill with the hurt, frustration, sadness or painful tears that change them. I won’t be close enough to witness your enormous eyelashes cling together from sopping up a tear here or there as you blink, plead through labored breaths and say, “I don’t want to be “it.” Or “Why do I always have to be thiwd(third)?”

This pains me to think about because as much as I hate to see you cry, I always want to be there for you. Always, as in forever. Like I have always been with you. And you have always been with me. Through everything. I want to hold you, carry you, hug you and look you in the eye and help you understand life’s frustrations, both the big hard-to-comprehend ones and the tiny, yet completely unfair ones.

I never realized that sadness could be so beautiful until I looked into your eyes that day. You came running over, then stood in front of me with your body slouched over, crying with your head pressed up against that giant tree. You looked so small. Again. The sun must have hit your face perfectly. And that’s when I saw your big tears transform the color of your eyes. They did the beautiful color changing trick, in a dramatic way, a way that I had never seen before. I think I will hold that picture of you in my heart forever. Your dark brown eyes turned green. See-through-green, like the moss growing above the tree trunk that cradled your head, only a million times more beautiful. I knew your brown eyes always had green in them, like mine, but with your head rested up against that tree, I stood trying to comfort you mesmerized.

You hate when your brothers run after only you and tag you in the game of “hide and seek.” You hate to be “it.” You’re a little scared to count by yourself. It seems unfair. Because they’re older, taller and quicker than you right now. Because you are third. Please don’t hurry, slow down. Don’t grow up so fast, my sweet youngest boy.

Yesterday, in the car, you asked me,

“Why did I gwow up third?”

I answered, “You were in my belly third.”

Then you added in your precious, figuring out-the-world voice, “Because it was so warm in there and I wanted to stay in there.”

It was too precious to correct you. You are my third child. My third son. You possess so many breathtakingly beautiful characteristics that impact the world for good. I hope one day when you cry without me there that you will always remember how important you are and that you will always, always carry my love with you in those beautiful brown eyes. And in the green eyes too. But most importantly, stored up inside that tiny mighty heart of yours.

Grass Stains




As I pulled the wagon up the hill, holding my four year old, and carrying the portable soccer goals, one of my sons lagged behind, barely walking as he held his soccer ball in his hands. Everybody had low blood sugar. It was nearing dinnertime. I looked back and I noticed that my son was visibly upset, with his head looking downward, while his shoulders stooped. I stopped the wagon and saw his tears. I asked him why he was crying.

“He’s gooder than me.” The words sputtered out. “He’s gooder than me at soccer.”

There was something so painfully innocent, yet heartbreaking hearing the words escape through the gap of his missing front tooth. A beautiful seven year old boy with disheveled, sweaty blonde hair and one pant leg pulled up. I had just finished watching and playing soccer with my three boys. Throughout the games, I stopped and talked about the rules of soccer after several (overly) competitive bouts had landed one or two boys tangled up on the grass. It looked more like rugby or football. “You can’t elbow or tackle each other. You can use your shoulders. Soccer is a contact sport, which means you’re going to bump into each other, fall down and most likely get some bruises.” Their boney knees were covered in grass stains. I shuffled the teams around. My youngest boy happily played goalie, unaware or perhaps painfully aware, of the battle going on in front of him between his older two brothers.

Our walks home from the park tend to be the perfect time for talking about important issues like nature, bullying, death, or today, sibling rivalry. I talked to my boys about growing up with sisters. I talked about my older sister, specifically, and how great she was at basketball. Much better than me. She could score on any defender from any where on the court. I spent countless hours after practice in high school rebounding her free throws and three pointers. I talked to my boys about why I think I became such a good defender besides the fact that I was skinny as all get-out and I had to out-hustle all of the bigger girls. It was also because I grew up guarding my older sister. I think I should credit the majority of my skills to the fact that I usually had to guard “Miss Basketball(she literally was)” in driveway pick-up games and practices. And I had my own fair share of frustrating, tear-filled moments of my sister being “gooder than me.”

We talked about how different we all are from one another. We talked about how our weaknesses can help us get stronger if we don’t give up. That it’s okay to get upset, maybe sad or disappointed, but then we have to keep working hard to figure out how to be better. Or maybe different. I talked to my boys about how young they are, how they have so many things that they haven’t even tried yet. It’s these kind of moments, when I’m talking to my twin boys, that help me realize how important it is to not define ourselves by comparing our strengths, weaknesses, or capabilities to somebody else. Not even to our very own twin brother.

I know as a mother to three boys that I will be dealing with this battle for years to come. My husband and I work really hard not to label or predetermine the places or heights that our children will soar. But it’s a tricky business navigating the places we’ve never been or experienced through the eyes of a parent and vicariously through the lives of our children. We do the best we can with the knowledge and experiences we have, both good and bad, which sometimes feel inadequate. At the end of the day, the most important and truthful thing we usually have said all day is how very much we love them. That will be something that they will never ever have to doubt. No matter what. No matter how good they are at soccer, no matter how good they are at playing the drums, drawing, reading, riding a bike, or any other thing they try. They will always know they are loved beyond measure.

Kitchen Table for Two


Thursday nights are rough. Daddy’s gone all night. It’s the end of the week. Everyone’s tired. Or at least the mama is. And we’ve always got homework to do. We sit at the table before or after dinner. Most Thursday nights, there are gigantic quiet tears that slide down one of my boy’s faces onto his paper below. The dreaded paper that holds the week’s spelling words.

Siblings, with the help of parents, can both intentionally and unintentionally be the earliest and most phenomenal teachers of life’s most important and hardest lessons to one another. They can help teach children and adults about love, loyalty, compassion, empathy, sacrifice, sharing, conflict resolution and so many other valuable life lessons. They can also teach challenging lessons having to do with resentment, jealousy, and competition. Siblings can shine a spotlight on strengths, weaknesses and striking similarities and differences in people raised under the same roof. At this point in our household, sibling rivalry has more to do with one child possessing a skill or personality trait or toy that another sibling does not. Like the ability to spell or read. Or the skill of properly writing the letters that create the words.

I aspire as a mom to work on homework with my twin boys at separate times of the day. It’s one of many of my motherly aspirations. I just need an extra day added between Wednesday and Thursday. I think this setup may reduce some of the frustration and competitiveness that comes with two boys trying to get their homework done. The quickest. However, life happens. Busyness always takes over. And honestly, most times, my boys happen to love each other a whole lot. So that results in all of us playing tag at the playground or hanging out together. Leaving a limited amount of time for working with each boy separately. Time constraints: the struggle is real.

Tonight, I sat next to and rubbed one of my boy’s backs at the kitchen table. I encouraged him and told him that he was almost done. I couldn’t get inside his head but I recognized his expression and the big slow tears that dropped onto his paper were tears of frustration. Frustration that his brother finished and he was still sitting at the table. With me. Frustration that I had him correct his mistakes. Repeatedly. I knew that he had to persevere and finish his work. And it sucked. I would rather be “it” for a never-ending game of tag. Any day of the week. It’s a hard, handcuffed type of a feeling as a mother to watch your child struggle and know that you can’t pave every gravel road for him. Or just pick him up and carry him. My hope is that by sitting next to him at the table I can teach him to push out some of the negative thoughts. Those debilitating thoughts can wreck a person. Especially a young child that has a lot of years left to complete in school.

I hope he will feel less alone too. I hate feeling not good at something. I hate having my mistakes corrected too. But it’s a part of life. For all of us. Maybe spelling will help make him more hopeful and aware that even when something is hard, he can finish it and be proud that he pushed through. I’m also hopeful that this skill will carry over into much bigger and more important things in life than spelling words. Afterall, there is spellcheck. I won’t tell him about this phenomenon yet. It’s just not the right time.